Friday, June 30, 2006

Our Lady of Faitma's an Alien?

If you thought the DaVinci Code took liberties with history, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!

From (needs subscription):
Eighty-nine years ago on May 13, 1917, three children watching sheep in Fatima, Portugal, saw lightning. Then a “small, pretty lady” appeared, suspended in the air at the top of an oak tree.

The lady told them she would return to the same oak grove every month for six months. Her last visit would be October 13, 1917. Then she would tell the children who she was and what she wanted.

The lady did appear on the 13th of each month after that. As word spread that a miracle was happening in Fatima, Portugal, an estimated crowd of 50,000 people were gathered on October 13, 1917, for the sixth and final appearance. By then, the Catholic Jesuits in the parish said it was the Virgin Mary, even though the apparition suspended at the top of the oak tree never called herself that.

[…] But what exactly did the three children – Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco – say they saw at the top of an oak tree?

  • She was an apparently feminine and very beautiful figure.

  • She was wrapped in a light “that blinded.”

  • She measured approximately 3 ½ feet tall.

  • She appeared to be between 12 and 15 years old.

  • She wore a skirt, a coat, and maybe a cape, which were white.

  • Her skirt and robe had a checkered pattern of gold thread.

  • She had two or three cords at her waist.

  • She wore something on her head that covered her ears and hair.

  • She had black eyes.

  • She had a strand of beads resembling a rosary, some type of hoop earrings at her neck, and a luminous ball at her waist.

  • She came from above and disappeared, little by little, back up into the sky.

  • She made no facial movements and did not move her legs.

  • She spoke without moving her lips.

  • She moved only her hands, once in a while.

  • She turned her back to the children when she rose up in the sky.

[...] Furthermore, in the “Official Interrogations of 1923” by the formal Catholic Fatima Parochial Inquiry, Lucia did not say the apparition was the Virgin Mary. Lucia told Church investigators that when she asked the small, glowing, young lady suspended at the top of the oak where she was from, the lady “pointed to the sky, saying she was from there.”

The historians were intrigued by the strong UFO phenomenon link to Fatima. In fact, the cover of their first book, Heavenly Lights, The Apparitions of Fatima and the UFO Phenomenon, has a photograph of the three child eyewitnesses above a graphic image of three grey aliens with large black, slanted eyes.

[...] Now in their second latest book in a trilogy about the Fatima events of 1917, the historians focus on a “conspiracy to cover-up the true origins of the Fatima prophesies.”

You had to know that was coming.

The two Portuguese authors formally asked Catholic Church authority for access to the original records of the Fatima incident, which had been held secretly by the Church in archives located at the Sanctuary of Fatima since 1917. Quoting from their press release about the new book:

“For the first time, they tell the esoteric history of the ‘cover story’ concocted by the Church, which has both shaped our modern view of the Fatima incident and obscured its true significance as the first major UFO close encounter case of the 20th Century. At the heart of the matter, lies a conspiracy by the Jesuits to suppress the fact that the entities encountered by the children at Fatima were not deities descending from Heaven, but rather were alien beings visiting our planet from ‘elsewhere’ in the vast cosmos.”

A conspiracy by the Jesuits? The Jesuits would be more likely to conspire to trash the heavenly origins of the apparitions than to defend them.

A man walked up to a Franciscan and a Jesuit and asked, "How many novenas must you say to get a Mercedes Benz?" The Franciscan asked, "What's a Mercedes Benz?" The Jesuit asked, "What's a novena?"

The Dominicans were established to combat the Albigensian heresy, the Jesuits were established to fight the Protestant heresy. So what’s the difference? Well, have you met any Albigensians lately?

Chesterton is supposed to have said, "When men stop believing in God, they don't believe in nothing. They believe in anything." Even if he never said it, it still remains true.

Nun Embezzles $300K

From ABC News (who, I’m sure, would never pass up a chance to diss the Church):
[…] Sister Barbara Markey, 71, turned herself in to Omaha Police on Wednesday, after a warrant was issued for her arrest on June 22. She was released on her own recognizance later that day.

The Omaha nun was charged with theft by deception, a felony punishable by a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $25,000 fine.

Markey was fired in January from her position of director of the archdiocese's family life office after financial irregularities were discovered.

According to the warrant, an audit revealed that Markey spent $307,545 for her own use or without documentation. The audit showed:

Of the money, $81,149 went to cash and cash advances; $67,656 was spent on casinos; $33,488 was spent on gifts for family and friends; and $24,775 was spent for airfare, miles and transportation, according to the audit.

The audit also showed that Markey opened a Great Western bank account in June 1999 and drew $76,628 from that account to make payments on her personal Visa.

Markey co-wrote one of the Catholic Church's most widely used marriage preparation programs, FOCCUS, which stands for Facilitating Open Couple Communication, Understanding and Study. The marriage preparation program is used by most U.S. dioceses. According to the FOCCUS Web site, 400,000 to 500,000 couples in 14 countries use the tool each year.

Based on her age, and at the risk of making completely unjustified generalizations (moi?), Sr. Markey would appear to be one more example of the “Spirit of Vatican II” generation. I do not actually think that the “Spirit of Vatican II” makes one an embezzler or any other kind of criminal. I do, however, think that there was a certain attitude of looseness that pervaded the American Church for a long time post-council. Indeed, it is only now disappearing as that generation starts to die off. (That pair of generations, actually – the ones who were too young for WWII, and my postwar boomer generation.)

In the interim, a lot of people wound up in religious orders who had no business being there, and who were never held properly accountable. Satan, no doubt, goes after the religious with more zeal than he goes after dorks like me. Priests and nuns who aren’t fully trained, tested, and catechized in the orthodox faith must be really juicy targets. The homosexual / pedophilia scandal is a case in point. I have no doubts that such sad things have always gone on within the Church, and will continue – the tares grow along with the wheat. The magnitude of the scandal, however, was definitely the result of the wind that swept through the Western Church in the sixties.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Study: Immaturity Levels Rising.

I wonder if this article from might have some relation to the previous story about ultra-orthodox Jews beating up Christians in Jerusalem.

The adage "like a kid at heart" may be truer than we think, since new research is showing that grown-ups are more immature than ever.

Specifically, it seems a growing number of people are retaining the behaviors and attitudes associated with youth.

As a consequence, many older people simply never achieve mental adulthood, according to a leading expert on evolutionary psychiatry.

Among scientists, the phenomenon is called psychological neoteny.

The theory’s creator is Bruce Charlton, a professor in the School of Biology at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, England. He also serves as the editor-in-chief of Medical Hypotheses, which will feature a paper outlining his theory in an upcoming issue.

[…] A “child-like flexibility of attitudes, behaviors and knowledge” is probably adaptive to the increased instability of the modern world, Charlton believes. Formal education now extends well past physical maturity, leaving students with minds that are, he said, “unfinished.”

[…] “But formal education requires a child-like stance of receptivity to new learning, and cognitive flexibility."

"When formal education continues into the early twenties," he continued, "it probably, to an extent, counteracts the attainment of psychological maturity, which would otherwise occur at about this age.”

So, of course, it isn’t really our fault. Our environment makes us this way.

[…] "People such as academics, teachers, scientists and many other professionals are often strikingly immature outside of their strictly specialist competence in the sense of being unpredictable, unbalanced in priorities, and tending to overreact.”

[…] The faults of youth are retained along with the virtues, he believes. These include short attention span, sensation and novelty-seeking, short cycles of arbitrary fashion and a sense of cultural shallowness.

I wonder if that list should include bishops? The study certainly explains the proliferation of Clown Masses.

Seriously, "academics, teachers, scientists, and many other professionals" are the same people who tend to be portrayed in the media as experts and leaders. Dr. Charlton seems to think this all to be a good – or, at least, okay – thing. I don’t think so. When we look back at the bizarre political intrigues, constant violence, and simple ruinous folly that characterized the kingdoms of the Middle Ages, we tend to forget that, due to the high death rate, these states were frequently ruled by teenagers and twenty-somethings. Part of the stability of our modern times is that we are usually governed by geezers - less driven by hormones and less committed to risk-taking. If the geezers never grow up, we may be in for some problems. I’m not advocating reserving the vote to geriatric cases, but there is something to be said for the wise counsel of elders.

There was more, but I just couldn’t pay attention.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews attack Christian tourists

From Haaretz:
A group of 50 pro-Israel Christian tourists came under attack Wednesday from some 100 residents of the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Mea She'arim in Jerusalem.

Three of the tourists and a police officer were wounded in the attack. They received treatment at the scene.

The tourists arrived at Mea She'arim wearing orange T-shirts with the words "Love your neighbor as yourself" printed across them.

As they neared one of the squares, the local residents apparently identified them as Christians and began to hit them.

Police forces in the area stepped in to stop the violence, but did not make any arrests.

Police say they are waiting for the tourists to file official complaints.

Say, what? I don’t even know how to comment on this, except that the general insanity level of the world seems to rise with every passing day. “Whaddya mean, love your neighbor? You gotta lotta nerve, you !@%&# scumbag! I’ll kill ya for that!”

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Buffett's Charity Big Boon for Abortions

Investment guru Warren Buffett says he will donate the bulk of his fortune to the pro-abortion foundation set up by Microsoft founder Bill Gates and his wife. That the world's second richest man would leave about 80 percent of his estate to the Gates' foundation is a huge concern for pro-life advocates because of the groups it supports.
According to an Associated Press report, Buffett will give the Gates foundation 12,050,000 in Class B shares of Berkshire Hathaway. One share of the stock sells for just over $3,000, and would give the Gates foundation another $37 billion. It already has $29 billion, which makes it the world's largest charity.

The donation causes huge concerns for pro-life advocates as the Gates Foundation has given the Planned Parenthood Federation of America abortion business almost $12.5 million since 1998, including funds to persuade teenagers to support abortion and to lobby the United Nations to advance pro-abortion proposals.

The Gates foundation has also given nearly $21 million to the International Planned Parenthood abortion business over the last seven years. The funds have gone to promote abortions in third-world nations and to set up pro-abortion family planning centers in South America, Africa and eastern European nations.

Bill Gates and his wife have also spent millions promoting abortion closer to home.

Their foundation has given nearly $2 million to Planned Parenthood of Central Washington and Planned Parenthood of Western Washington to fund abortion centers. The Gates Foundation also gave the Planned Parenthood Federation of Canada more than $1.3 million to promote abortions there.

The power of money, for both good and evil, is astounding. That’s a total so far for Gates of $36.8 million. If you figure the average abortion costs $600 (figuring they are mostly in the first trimester), that’s enough dough to finance the killing of 61,333 children. That's more than the number of students at the University of Texas at Austin - the nation's largest university. Buffett’s contribution more than doubles the available funds.

Can anybody remember that “true religion” is supposed to involve care for widows and orphans, not euthanasia or abortion? This is so sad, in that a charitable act intended for good is going to end up doing bad. I guess it's a good illustration of the effects of the Fall and the limitations of human wisdom.

"There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death." (Prov. 14:12, RSV)

"Works done before the grace of Christ, and the Inspiration of his Spirit, are not pleasant to God, forasmuch as they spring not of faith in Jesus Christ; neither do they make men meet to receive grace, or (as the School-authors say) deserve grace of congruity: yea rather, for that they are not done as God hath willed and commanded them to be done, we doubt not but they have the nature of sin." (Article XII, Of Works before Justification, from the Articles of Religion of the Episcopal Church)

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

ECUSA Resolution on Eucharistic Sharing with Methodists

From an article at The Living Church.
An interim eucharistic sharing proposal with the United Methodist Church evoked strong passions in the (Episcopal – ed.) House of Bishops on June 15.

Resolution A055 would permit Episcopal and Methodist clergy to “stand together at the eucharistic table,” said the Rt. Rev. C. Christopher Epting, Presiding Heresiarch Bishop’s Deputy for Interfaith and Ecumenical Relations. However, the resolution does not call for “interchangeability” of ministers and is the start of a conversation, not a final agreement, he explained.

In the first place, given everything else they stand for, the last thing I want to get close to is an Episcopal Bishop with “strong passions” evoked. Ewwwwww.

Secondly, how can this possibly be a big deal in ECUSA, or TEC, or whatever it is now? The last time I went to an Episcopal (USA) service, the priestess invited anyone who felt like it – irrespective of faith or baptism - to the communion rail, then spent 5 full minutes telling the congregation the mechanics of receiving and not one second on what it means to receive. Had he been there, I could have wound up sharing communion with Osama bin Laden! Given that, what possible difference could a Methodist make?

Sculptor Loses His Head

LONDON--Once in a while a news story so speaks for itself that it threatens to put commentators out of a job.

In this year's summer show at London's Royal Academy of Arts, "Exhibit 1201" is a large rectangular tablet of slate with a tiny barbell-shaped bit of boxwood on top. Its creator, David Hensel, must be pleased to have been selected from among some 9,000 applicants for the world's largest open-submission exhibit of contemporary art. Nevertheless, he was bemused to discover that in transit his sculpture had gotten separated from its base. Judging the two components as different submissions, the Royal Academy had rejected his artwork proper--a finely wrought laughing head in jesmonite--and selected the plinth. "It says something about the state of visual arts today," said Mr. Hensel. He didn't say what. He didn't need to.

Read the whole thing on The Wall Street Journal. (Tip of the gimme cap to Orthodoxy Today for this article.)

I guess we should consider ourselves fortunate that it didn’t wind up as church art..

The "Jesus Loves Porn Stars" Bible?

From ABC News:
Christians agree that the Bible commands them to "go and make disciples of all nations" and that Jesus "came to invite the sinners" to be his followers and "save people who are lost." But a new Bible with the words "Jesus Loves Porn Stars" emblazoned on the cover has ignited a debate about how far is too far when it comes to spreading the word.

This weekend at the erotica convention in Los Angeles, Pastor Craig Gross, who runs an anti-pornography ministry, handed out hundreds of "Jesus Loves Porn Stars" Bibles. Gross, in his "porn-mobile," is a regular fixture at porn conventions. His anti-porn Web site is provocatively entitled

"I believe Jesus, he'd be in the show with us," Gross said. "He'd be mixing it up with these people. 'Cause he doesn't look at them as porn stars, or porn producers. He looks at us as all the same."

[…] Gross says his unconventional measures are what it takes to reach people today.

"We're trying to reach a new audience and so we can't just do things like our parents did, like the generation did before us," he said.

Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a popular Christian radio host, agrees evangelicals need to take risks to save sinners, but thinks that Gross's Bible cover goes too far.

"These younger guys seem to say that older evangelicalism is just out of touch," Mohler said. "In a rush to be relevant I think these guys have crossed a line that I would not cross and I would not commit."

Mohler thinks Gross's Bible may end up as just a kitschy keepsake.

[…] For Gross, the main thing is that people just open it.

"Whether it's a joke, whether it sits on the table and they make fun of the thing, I think if someone cracks this thing open, that's our prayer, that's our hope, then their lives will be changed," Gross said.

What makes this new Bible doubly controversial is that some say it's not a Bible at all. It's called "The Message" -- part of a new breed of Bible that veers from the standard translation to put the Gospel in modern language. There are now comic strips, even a Bible you can read in one sitting, which some find offensive.

[…] Mohler says he admires what Gross is doing, but just has questions about how he's doing it.

Hmmm. Frankly, I might actually disagree with Al Mohler on this one. I’m no big fan of The Message – the parts I’ve read are so committed to being up-to-date that, well, The Message tends to lose big parts of the message. On the other hand, though I sure as heck wouldn’t use it as a study bible, it probably isn’t a bad paraphrase for giving people with no concept of the gospel a basic intro to Christianity. It certainly isn’t any worse than Bible comic books!

As to the “Jesus Loves Porn Stars” cover, I wouldn’t want them passing it out in front of the local high school, but it might not be inappropriate in the venue they’ve chosen. People lost in immorality – particularly flagrant sexual immorality - tend to believe the Church wouldn’t touch them with a ten foot pole. What a lot of people need to hear first is not that “Jesus forgives your sins,” but that “Jesus says you don’t have to live like this anymore.” Forgiving my sins is good, but it won’t by itself keep me away from the bar, the pusher, or the next “Adult Entertainment” video shoot. You need to know there’s a life out there.

The whole thing’s pretty tacky, and I’m not at all sure how much impact it will have, but I’ve got to applaud the guys’ efforts. Now, if those bibles start to become collector’s items on E-Bay, I reserve the right to change my mind…

Monday, June 26, 2006

The End of a Record Blog Week

Well, it was pleasant last week to log 1400+ page hits on my teeny little blog. Now, as I subside back to my normal levels of ~ 40 – 60 hits per day, thanks to those who came by. I guess I should send a thank-you note to TEC’s new Presiding Heresiarch for her help in getting my blogstats up.

News from the “things could be a lot worse” front:

So I guess I will get to work and contentedly fall back into internet obscurity.

Clowns Attack Missile Silo

As reported on
On Tuesday morning, a retired Catholic priest and two veterans put on clown suits, busted into a nuclear missile launch facility, and began beating the silo cover with hammers, in an attempt to take the Minuteman III missile off-line. Seriously.

The trio - members of the Luck, Wisconsin group Nukewatch - said the break-in was part of "a call for national repentance" for the Hiroshima and Nagaski A-bombings in 1945.

They have also called on the Vandals to repent for the sacking of Rome in 455.

The activists used bolt-cutters to get into the E-9 Minuteman II facility, located just northwest of the White Shield, North Dakota. "Using a sledgehammer and household hammers, they disabled the lock on the personnel entry hatch that provides access to the warhead and they hammered on the silo lid that covers the 300 kiloton nuclear warhead," the group said in a statement. "The activists painted 'It's a sin to build a nuclear weapon' on the face of the 110-ton hardened silo cover and the peace activists poured their blood on the missile lid."

Lest anyone be alarmed, the lids on those missile silos are reinforced concrete and several feet thick. Pounding on the personnel hatch probably broke the lock, but the missile is actually fired from a crew facility quite some distance away. The only thing they could have accomplished is made it a little harder for the maintenance guys to get access to the warhead for a few minutes.

This was all done while wearing face paint, dunce caps, misfitting overalls, and bright yellow wigs.

"We dress as clowns to show that humor and laughter are key elements in the struggle to transform the structures of destruction and death," the statement said. "Saint Paul said that we are 'fools for God's sake,' and we say that we are 'fools for God and humanity.' Clowns as court jesters were sometimes the only ones able to survive after speaking truth to authorities in power."

Are they sure they’re Catholic and not Episcopalian? Remind me to give thanks that I never attended a service at this guy’s church.

Guards responded within minutes. And when they arrived, the protesters "ate a lot of gravel," DefenseTech was told.

"The individuals were taken from the area and brought to the McLean County Jail," the AP notes. "The three are being charged with criminal trespass and criminal mischief, both Class A misdemeanors, and bond was set at $500 each.... The FBI is involved in the case and federal charges are pending."

Okay. Take a deep breath and repeat after me:
The sixties are over;
The sixties are over;
The sixties are over…

Limbaugh always talks about how aging boomers on the far left look back on the Viet Nam war protests as their glory days, and desperately want to recapture the moment. These guys are prime examples. They apparently think they’re being bold and daring with their little guerilla theater; they fail to see how sadly pathetic they look.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Political Candidate Blames Satan For Problems

Anybody who reads this blog on any regular basis knows that I am pretty conservative theologically. I have no doubts that Satan exists; I have no doubt that he operates in the world; I hope I never run into him.

Readers can also guess that I'm pretty conservative politically. Normally, I carefully study the issues and the candidates so I can feel secure that I'm doing the right thing when I go in the booth and vote the straight Republican ticket.

I am, however, very glad that this guys not going to be on my local ballot.

(From Channel 2, Salt Lake City)
Republican congressional hopeful John Jacob believes the devil is impeding his efforts to unseat five-term Representative Chris Cannon.

He says there's another force that wants to keep him from going to Washington and the devil is what it is.

Jacob says that since he decided to run for Congress, Satan has disrupted his business deals, preventing him from putting as much money into the race as he had hoped.

Jacob said during a Wednesday immigration event that the devil was working against him, then reiterated his belief yesterday in a meeting with The Salt Lake Tribune editorial board.

He says there's been a lot of adversity, and there's no question he has had experiences that believes are due to an outside force.

Really, now. Like I've said before, I think I'm going to start selling grips on E-Bay, because some folks really need to get one. (I confess - when I saw the hadline for this article, I expected it to be about Al Gore.)

Friday, June 23, 2006

1,000 skeletons found in Rome catacombs

From The Scotsman:
Archaelogists exploring one of Rome's oldest catacombs have discovered more than 1,000 skeletons dressed in elegant togas.

Experts are thrilled by the find - which dates from about the first century - as it is the first "mass burial" of its kind identified. Mystery surrounds why so many bodies were neatly piled together in the complex network of underground burial chambers, which stretch for miles under the city.

It was the custom then for Rome's upper classes to be burnt not buried, so it is thought the skeletons may be early Christians.

[…] "The skeletons were dressed in fine robes, many of which had gold thread in them, and they were wrapped in sheets and covered with lime.

"This was quite common with early Christian burials, as it was a form of hygiene, and the corpses were also anointed with balsamic spices. Again, this all shows a great amount of dignity and respect given to the dead."

[…] The discovery was made at the Catacomb of St Peter and Marcellinus on the ancient Via Labicana in the south-east of Rome. Ms Giuliani added: "We are trying to establish whether the skeletons were buried there following some form of epidemic or natural disaster.

[…] "It is possible they could have been persecuted and killed by the Romans and then buried there by fellow Christians - we just don't know."

Professor Andrew Wallace Hadrill, director of the British School in Rome which specialises in ancient history, added: "The fact that the skeletons were dressed in expensive togas is very unusual and would point to the fact that we are talking about the upper classes of ancient Rome.

Further study may or may not definitively establish whether these people really were early Christians. If so, it is interesting that they were apparently upper class. If they were Christians, this seems to debunk the popular notion that early Christianity was a religion of the losers and the disenfranchised. Acts and the Epistles seem to indicate that the new religion spread among all social classes, and had a number of wealthy patrons, even reaching into Nero’s palace (Phi. 4:22).

What I find really interesting are some of the reader comments on the article:

The skeletons were not Christian. Christianity did not spread to Rome until after the first century. As is true for many or most of the catacomb burials, the skeletons were very likely Jewish. Rome had an immense Jewish population before and after the destruction of Jewish independence in ancient Israel in the year 70.


Paul did not consider himself a Christian, and he would have been horrified to have been considered anything BUT a Jew. Jesus and His followers were all Jews, and the debates were about Judaism itslef, NOT a new religion. Christianity as a seperate (sic) religion CANNOT be considered to develop, per se, until Constantine identified it as such.

Paul's own letters and teachings were based upon his epiphany that strict dietary codes, circumcision and Jewish birth were not the basis of Judaism, and that it was possible for "gentiles" to become Jews without these things.

Paul was a Jew. His audiences were Jews and Gentiles who wanted to become Jews, and other interested parties.

It's quite possible that those skeletons were Jews who died or escaped Nero's purges of Jews. It's also possible they belonged to some other Roman cult.

Regardless, they were certainly NOT Christians, at least not in any way that we would recognize that term today. Then, they would have considered themselves Jews, or, at most, a branch of Judaism.”

I have no idea where these “tidbits of knowledge” come from, but I have to conclude there are plenty of people who really do look at The DaVinci Code and similar things as history, and no amount of real historical evidence or scholarly opinion will ever convince them otherwise. To contradict them means you are ignorant, duped, or part of the plot. It’s the same mindset that’s convinced the CIA killed Kennedy, but with eternal ramifications.

Scary Headline of the Day

Scientists plan to recreate 'Big Bang' to uncover universe's mysteries

Sounds really cool, but they can only do it once...

It’s not really as scary as it sounds. Just a high-energy physics experiment.

"The idea is to generate a clash between particles similar to what happened a thousandth of a second after the Big Bang and see what it could tell us about the standard model of matter," according to their spokesman, an Ecuadorian physicist.

Now had the physicist been from North Korea, I might be a little concerned. They might have been planning a demonstration of the big bang in, say, Los Angeles.

I’m just glad the “big bang” didn’t have anything to do with Episcopal General Convention. And that, I hope, will be my last Episcopal joke for the foreseeable future.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Saints for the End of the Episcopal GC

In the Episcopal calendar, today is the Feast of St. Alban.  Alban, refusing to renounce the True Faith under threat of death, was beheaded and became the first martyr of the British Isles in or about A.D. 304.

In the Maronite Calendar, the 22nd of June celebrates St. Eusebius, Archbishop of Samosate.  Eusebius was an opponent of the Arian heresy, which was both popular and powerful in the Eastern empire.  Arianism views Christ as a created being, inferior to the Father and not coeternal.  Eusebius suffered exile under the Arian emperor Valens, and was killed in 379 or 380 by a follower of Arius during the consecration of an orthodox bishop.

For Latin Rite Catholics, today is the Feast of St. Thomas More, martyred by Henry VIII in 1535.   Thomas steadfastly refused to approve of Henry’s divorce or to acquiesce to the establishment of the Church of England.  His faithfulness resulted in the loss of his head.

The conjunction of the feasts of these three saints falls on the day after the closing of the 75th General Convention of the Episcopal Church, which:
  • Named a woman as Presiding Bishop;

  • A woman who approved Bishop Robinson and who permits gay unions in her diocese;

  • Referred to Jesus Christ as “our mother,” who “gives birth to creation;”

  • Declined the opportunity to proclaim Jesus Christ as the way to salvation;

  • Passed non-binding resolutions which failed to address the concerns of the rest of the Anglican Communion as detailed in the Windsor Report.

Ironic?  If a felon is someone who commits a felony, and if a glutton is someone who commits gluttony, then God must be an Iron.

None of this is my problem anymore, but I can’t help watching.  Even when I’m making fun of it, there’s a low-key ache in my heart. There was so much in the Anglican expression of Christianity that was beautiful and true.  It is sad to see it self-destruct in a grinding, disintegrating crash from its own internal contradictions, like a jet engine that’s shed too many fan blades.

For Central Texans who are ready to cry a few tears, wash their hands, and walk away, please see my church suggestions posted previously.  However bad it seems now, know that there are places that will give you sanctuary..

Episcopal Church to Select Official Flower?

Orchid Does 360-Degree Twist to Self-Pollinate
An orchid growing in harsh conditions defies gravity to twist its male sexual organs 360 degrees to fertilize its female organ, Chinese scientists have discovered.

The pink-flowered orchid, Holcoglossum amesianum, grows on tree trunks at altitudes of 1,200 to 2,000 metres in China's Yunnan province.

The plant flowers during the drought season from February to April, when there is no wind.

Under such conditions, the plant can't use the traditional means of mating used in flowering plants, such as relying on insects or other animals, wind, or gravity to carry the pollen.

In Thursday's issue of the journal Nature, LaiQiang Huang of the centre for biotechnology and biomedicine at Tsinghua University in Shenzhen, China, and colleagues report what they say is a new type of self-pollination mechanism.

[…] "Without pollinators for outcrossing, the necessity of ensuring reproductive success must outweigh the potential adverse effects of inbreeding," the study's authors concluded.

"The present self-contained pollination mechanism is likely to be an adaptation to the orchid’s dry and insect-scarce habitat, and may be widespread among species growing in similar environments."

[…] the pollen-bearing anther uncovers itself and rotates through 360 degrees to insert pollen into its female cavity, the stigma.


Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Episcopal and Unconstrained

Okay.  Now I’m just flat-out confused.  In her sermon today at the Episcopal General Convention Eucharist, the new Presiding Bishop referred to “Our Mother Jesus,” who “gives birth to a new creation,’ and stated that “we are his children.”

Now, in an address to the House of Deputies in a last-minute attempt to prevent schism, she has described the Church as "Two bodies united in one being," using examples of separating conjoined twins:

“Do not separate twins unless both can live full lives. We in the church are much like that. This creature, this body of Christ, is not Holy One and Holy Two. The resolution which stands before you is far from adequate. I find the language exceedingly challenging, but my sense is that it's the best we're going to today and at this convention. I am fully committed to the inclusion of gay and lesbian Christians in this church." (Note: quote may be somewhat paraphrased – source was posting on the fly.)

Let me get this straight.  If Jesus is the Church’s Mother, and if the Church is a set of conjoined twins, then the implication is that the Church is a divine birth defect.  Isn’t there a theological problem in here somewhere?

I’m not trying to be crass (for once).  I think this represents in a fundamental way what is wrong at the deepest level of the liberal/heretical/progressive/reasserting/whatever movement in the Episcopal Church.  At the core, there really isn’t any “there” there.  What you do or say at any given moment in response to the “movement of the Spirit” doesn’t have any connection with what you said or did yesterday in response to the last “movement of the Spirit.”  The words are just tools of the moment; they don’t really mean things.  The danger is obvious.  The “Spirit” that tells me to marry gays today may tell me to imprison them tomorrow; the one that ordains woman this week can put them in a Burqa the next.  

This goes way beyond adapting to the needs of the times.  The Catholic Church condemned loaning money at interest many years ago; it doesn’t today.  But the condemnation was in response to the conditions of the time.  If economic conditions return to the way they were in 16th century Italy, I imagine the prohibition will go back into effect.  Conditions may change, but the underlying principle remains.  For these folks, however, there’s no underlying core – nothing permanent or unchangeable.  

If you don’t really believe in Eternity, if God is found within us and isn’t objectively there, if the scriptures are the products of men and not truly inspired by God (however you think that works), then there’s nothing to which to anchor the boat.  It drifts with the currents.  Drifting with the currents can actually be a very pleasant way to spend one’s time.  (I’d be happy to rewrite the 10 commandments if I thought I had the authority!)  Unfortunately, as the Episcopal Church is discovering, sooner or later, the drifting boat invariably runs onto the rocks.

Is "Summer Solstice" in the Lectionary Yet?

Courtesy of Fox News:
STONEHENGE, England — Thousands of dancing and drumming revelers cheered the summer solstice at Stonehenge as an orange sliver of sun rose Wednesday.

Cloudy skies, dense fog and spurts of rain did not seem to dampen the energy of those who bobbed and swayed to cheerful beats with arms outstretched and shouts of "Feel the solstice!"

About 19,000 New Agers, present-day druids and partygoers gathered inside and around the ancient circle of towering stones to greet the longest day in the northern hemisphere as the sun struggled to peek out against a smoky gray sky.

"This is the nearest thing I've got to religion," said Ray Meadows, 34, of Bristol, England. The solstice "is a way of giving thanks to the earth and the universe."

Meadows, wearing a wreath of pink carnations over long pink hair-wrapped braids, identified herself as a fairy of the Tribe of Frog.

[…] Crowds of partygoers stumbled toward their cars an hour after sunrise, some clutching nearly empty bottles or beer cans.

One described the crowd as 5 percent pagan and 95 percent partygoer.

"Some people here are really spoiling it," said Chris Sargent, 37, of Bournemouth. "Once upon a time it was really spiritual."

Sargent, clad in a long black jacket and pants, top hat and fighter pilot goggles, drank vodka and Coke from a two-liter soda bottle and confessed he was "really stoned."

My apologies. I posted this by mistake. I thought it was about the Episcopal General Convention. What gave it away was the “5 percent pagan and 95 percent partygoer” statement. GC was probably the opposite.

(I keep telling myself I’m going to quit taking cheap shots at ECUSA – it’s like shooting deer at a salt lick. I…just…can’t…stop…myself; it’s worse than quitting cigarettes and liquor. I am obviously still far more bitter than I care to admit to myself. The Maronites say, “Holy things are for the holy,” not for the snarky. More purgatory time for me, I guess.)

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

"House of God" Changes Sides

From LifeSiteNews:

New Brunswick Right to Life has revealed in a press release that Georges Dumont Hospital is about to take up performing abortions after all other hospitals in the province have abandoned the practice.

Abortions are set to begin at the Dr. Georges Dumont Hospital in Moncton as of July 1, according to a New Brunswick Right to Life Association press release. "What had been a rumour has now been confirmed," said executive director Peter Ryan.

According to provincial law abortions will only be funded by provincial healthcare if the abortion is performed in a hospital. Last month provincial health minister Brad Green said he had found a doctor at two different hospitals to provide abortions after the end of June. The end of June is when the Dr. Everett Chalmers Hospital in Fredericton, currently the last New Brunswick Hospital to perform abortions, will cease performing the procedure. 400 of the 404 hospital abortions last year in the province were carried out at the Chalmers.

"This news is like a bombshell for the Acadian people, with their strongly religious heritage," said Ryan. "The hospital's original name was Hotel Dieu - House of God. If the hospital doesn't want to be called 'house of death' now, they'd better change course." The Acadian birthrate is already very low, Ryan noted. "The last thing they need is to suppress more births. Abortion is genocidal for the Acadian people."

Well, I guess that’s why they call it the Culture of Death. It’s good to know you can always count on somebody to step up to the plate and make sure those babies don’t escape alive.

Monday, June 19, 2006

NEWS FLASH: Episcopal General Convention, A.D. 2021

LAS VEGAS, June 18, 2021: Holding its 80th General Convention in Las Vegas this week, The Episcopal Church broke new ground by naming as its new Presiding Bishop Muffin, a 26-year old Rhesus Macaque from the Diocese of Los Angeles. Muffin, who holds an honorary Ph.D. in Theology from Yale Divinity School, had previously served as the Bishop of West Hollywood. Muffin is the first non-human primate to be elected as a Primate in the Anglican Communion, which faces schism over the appointment.

In a break with tradition, the installation mass was held immediately following the election in the Madonna Room of Circus Circus. The service featured a magnificent new organ-grinder concerto commissioned especially for the event, as well as a moving liturgical dance by the Folies Bergere showgirls. An ecumenical sermon was delivered by Sri Svanapanda Prabhubada of The Society for Krishna Consciousness, entitled “Jesus Schmesus – The Many Paths to Niceness.” During the offertory, the new bishop herself went up and down the aisles collecting donations in a tin cup. Communion was given using banana slices and mango juice instead of the traditional bread and wine.

Integrity, a group of moderate laity and clergy within The Episcopal Church, released a statement praising the selection of Muffy as a “bold move forward which demonstrates The Episcopal Church’s commitment to inclusivity for all living things.” Integrity spokescreature Shamu expressed hope that a future convention would go beyond “animal chauvinism” to elevate a being from one of the other kingdoms of life to the primacy. Bishop Phyllis Creeper of South Florida, a split-leaf philodendron, is considered a leading candidate for the next Episcopal convention in 2024. One delegate, who asked to remain unnamed, said that he saw no objections to a photosynthesizing leader. “Most of our bishops are vegetation as it is. Putting a plant in the PB’s chair just seems like a logical next step.”

Conservative groups within the church were generally displeased. A number of archconservatives opposed the elevation of a simian to the highest position in the church, claiming that it was in direct opposition to the criteria for bishops established in the so-called “pastoral letters” ostensibly written by Saul of Tarsus. A spokesman for the new bishop dismissed the objections as “the literalistic scriptural interpretations of a fundamentalist fringe.” The American Anglican Council released a statement predicting that the election of Bishop Muffy would likely cause dissension within the greater Anglican Communion. They did note, however, the fact that the new primate, being a vertebrate, actually did have a spine. They expressed hope that this shared anatomical feature between the bishop and conservatives might be the basis for conversations that would prevent schism in the Church, but warned that – if current trends continued – they might eventually be forced to split.

In other Episcopal news, the convention approved a change to church laws removing “Trinity Sunday” from the liturgical calendar as being “too controversial and divisive,” and substituted the feast of St. Darwin. Delegates also approved a resolution to offer monetary reparations for the Church’s complicity in the extinction of a prior species of humans, describing the crime as “genocide against our Neanderthal brothers and sisters.”

The church’s Committee on Evangelization, recognizing the fact that the growing number of ordained Episcopal clergy had now exceeded the average Sunday attendance for the church as a whole, proposed a plan to evangelize robots in hopes of filling the pews sufficiently to give each clergycreature a pulpit in which to preach.

The convention will continue for three more days, or until the majority of deputies lose it all at the craps table.

For Those Who Have had Enough

Based on the recent events at the general Convention of The Episcopal Church, I have the following (totally self-serving) recommendations for any shell-shocked orthodox Anglicans in Central Texas who just can’t take it anymore:

If you want to stay in the Anglican tradition:
St. Francis Episcopal Church (Episcopal Missionary Church)
1408 W. 9th Street
Austin, Texas 78703

Yes, it’s one of the Continuing Anglican churches; it is part of a splinter group; there are only a couple of dozen parishes in the whole EMC; the demographics are skewed to the older side (that’s changing, actually); and yes, they use the ’28 prayer book with Elizabethan English. HOWEVER, the people are friendly and committed, the Sunday School discussions are refreshingly serious and well thought out, and the sermons are both good and solid. You won’t waste the whole Eucharist trying to figure out “What are they trying to put over on me today?” and you might find after a bit that you actually like the ’28 service. (A challenge for the newcomer – spend some time figuring out what things of substance got left out of the ’79 prayer book.) Try it for 5 weeks and you’ll decide you like it. A lot.

For those ready to start over:
Our Lady’s Maronite Catholic Church
1320 E. 51st Street
Austin, Texas 78723

Yes, it’s Catholic. Statues of the saints; icons of Mary; big pictures of the Pope; no general confessions (they don’t believe in general sins); rosaries; novenas; the whole nine yards. Like I said above – try it and you might find you like it. As one of the Eastern Catholic churches (as opposed to the Latin-rite Catholic Church), they avoided the post-Vatican II goofiness that swept through the Western church and is only now getting cleared away as my overindulged and unlamented generation dies out. Although in full communion with the “Church of Rome,” and obedient to the Pope, they have their own Patriarch. The liturgy’s in English except for a few parts, which are not in Latin, but Aramaic - the Maronites have been around for a while… The church is gorgeous – very conducive to prayer - and a large chunk of the congregation is made up of converts. Good preaching, a glorious liturgy. If you’re thinking of swimming the Tiber, think about swimming the Euphrates instead.

Whatever you do, don’t spend your time worrying about what’s gone south in the Episcopal Church. Do something positive, instead.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Phill. 4:8, NIV)

ACLU To Gag Members?

From the New York Times (a couple of weeks ago):
The American Civil Liberties Union is weighing new standards that would discourage its board members from publicly criticizing the organization's policies and internal administration.

"Where an individual director disagrees with a board position on matters of civil liberties policy, the director should refrain from publicly highlighting the fact of such disagreement," the committee that compiled the standards wrote in its proposals.

"Directors should remember that there is always a material prospect that public airing of the disagreement will affect the A.C.L.U. adversely in terms of public support and fund-raising," the proposals state.

If I may be allowed to end a sentence with a proposition, you just can’t make stuff like this up. “If you don’t support free speech, then shut the heck up.” I love it.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Scrap marriage, says Christian group

An interesting thought for Father's Day, from The Telegraph (UK) for 6/17.

Marriage should be abolished and replaced by a variety of civil partnerships, a progressive religious think-tank has suggested.

Christian group Ekklesia said the abolition of legal marriage would allow couples to specify the type of legal commitment they wished to make to one another.

Ekklesia describes itself as "a think-tank and news service that promotes radical theological ideas in public life" In this particular case, it might better be described as promoting radical public ideas in theological life.

Under their proposals, couples would still be allowed to marry if they wished but the legal aspect would be removed from the ceremony and they would then have to register their partnership under law in a separate process.

The group believes the current situation is confused by attempts to fuse Christian and civil concepts of marriage into a "one-size-fits-all" arrangement.

Under existing law, if a couple marries in a Church of England ceremony they are simultaneously legally and religiously married because of its status as the Established Church.

But if a couple marries in another denomination or faith a separate act of state is required to legally register the union.

Ekklesia believes its proposals would remove the anomalous status of the Church of England.

It would also create greater clarity in the situation created by civil partnerships, which grant gay and lesbian couples similar rights to those who get married, but not comparable status.

Jonathan Bartley, director of Ekklesia, said the plans were a response to the failure of marriage.

He said: "Legal marriage clearly isn't working. A divorce rate of around 40 per cent is surely evidence enough of this.

"At the moment there is only one form of marriage defined under law, which everyone has to take or leave.

"It does not reflect Christian ideas of marriage, which are based on a covenant before God, rather than a legal contract and agreement between individuals. And it does not properly acknowledge the reality of the existence of other, secular viewpoints, either.

"Religious communities are entitled to have their own ideal of marriage which they offer to the wider society. But requiring others to accept this definition by law benefits no one. It is confusing and counter-productive."

The proposals are likely to be met with opposition from faith groups which resist full recognition of gay partnerships.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has argued that proposals to grant legal rights to cohabiting couples also risks further undermining marriage.

Mr Bartley added: "If the church wants to argue that Christian marriage, rooted in the grace of God, is preferable to civil cohabitation, it is free to do so.

"But there must surely be something wrong when the Church's defence of holy matrimony involves perpetuating what many will see as an unholy injustice against established live-in couples."

Could it possibly be that Christian marriage as a fundamental building block of Western civilization? The willingness of the European (and North American, I'm afraid) nations to commit cultural suicide is quite beyond my understanding. These people seem to believe they are ushering in the Brave New World. What they are actually ushering in is their own deposit onto the rubbish heap of history, and their replacement by more vigorous - if less pleasant - cultures.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Moslem Scholar Admits Jewish Temples Existed

The following is excerpted from an article on WorldNetDaily.

JERUSALEM – Contradicting most of his colleagues, a former senior leader of the Waqf, the Islamic custodians of the Temple Mount, told WorldNetDaily in an exclusive interview he has come to believe the first and second Jewish Temples existed and stood at the current location of the Al Aqsa Mosque.

The leader, who was dismissed from his Waqf position after he quietly made his beliefs known, said Al Aqsa custodians passed down stories for centuries from generation to generation indicating the mosque was built at the site of the former Jewish Temples.

He said the Muslim world's widespread denial of the existence of the Jewish temples is political in nature and is not rooted in facts.

"Prophet Solomon built his famous Temple at the same place that later the Al Aqsa Mosque was built. It cannot be a coincidence that these different holy sites were built at the same place. The Jewish Temple Mount existed," said the former senior Waqf leader, speaking to WorldNetDaily from an apartment in an obscure alley in Jerusalem's Old City.

The former leader, who is well known to Al Aqsa scholars and Waqf officials, spoke on condition his name be withheld, claiming an on-the-record interview would endanger his life.

That last phrase says more about the current state of Islamic culture than any number of “Inside Islam” books by Moslem or Western apologists.

While the Islamic leader's statements may seem elementary to many in the West, especially in light of overwhelming archaeological evidence documenting the history of the Jewish temples and description of services there in the Torah, his words break with mainstream thinking in much of the Muslim world, which believes the Jewish temples never existed.

"I am mentioning historical facts," said the former leader. "I know that the traditional denial about the temple existing at the same place as Al Aqsa is more a political denial. Unfortunately our religious and political leaders chose the option of denial to fight the Jewish position and demands regarding Al Aqsa and taking back the Temple Mount compound. In my opinion we should admit the truth and abandon our traditional position."

The leader said his conclusion that the Jewish temples existed does not forfeit what he calls "Islamic rights" to the Temple Mount and Al Aqsa Mosque.

"Yes, the temple existed. But now it is the place of the mosque of the religious who came to complete the divine religion [that started with Judaism] and to improve humanity," said the leader.

"We believe that Islam is the third and last religion. It came to complete the monotheistic message. The mosque is here at the place of the temple to serve for the same purpose, for the work Allah"

[…] In a previous interview with WorldNetDaily, Kamal Hatib, vice-chairman of the Islamic Movement, claimed the Al-Aqsa Mosque was built by angels and that a Jewish Temple may have existed but not in Jerusalem. The Movement, which works closely with the Waqf, is the Muslim group in Israel most identified with the Temple Mount.

"When the First Temple was built by Solomon – God bless him – Al Aqsa was already built. We don't believe that a prophet like Solomon would have built the Temple at a place where a mosque existed," said Hatib.

Say what?

[…] But the former senior Wafq leader told WND "true" Islamic tradition relates the Jewish temples once stood at the site of the Al Asa Mosque. He said Al Aqsa custodians passed down history over the centuries indicating the mosque was built at the site of the former Jewish temples.

"[The existence of the Jewish Temple at the site is obvious] according to studies, researches and archaeological signs that we were also exposed to. But especially according to the history that passed from one generation to another – we believe Al Aqsa was built on the same place were the Temple of the Jews – the first monotheistic religion – existed."

He cited samples of some stories he said were related orally by Islamic leaders:

[…] "It is known also that most of the first guards of Al Aqsa when it was built were Jews. The Muslims knew at that time that they could not find any more loyal and faithful than the Jews to guard the mosque and its compound. They knew that the Jews have a special relation with this place."

[…] The former senior Waqf leader said the Jewish temples have lost their purpose:

"As we are the religion who are here to correct everything that was before us there is no need for the Temple. Allah chose Islam as its final and favorite religion."

The denial of the existence of the first and second temples is a means of justifying Moslem occupation of the Temple Mount. It is somewhat ironic, in that it makes Moslems look (even more) like lunatics to Westerners, most of whom would uphold the property rights of the mosque in the first place. After all, the mosque has been there since about 700 – 1300 years of occupation is generally considered legal evidence of ownership. Otherwise, I would be obligated to give my yard back to the Comanches – oh, wait, they took it from the Lipans – oh, wait, they took it from the Coahuiltecs – oh, wait… 1300 years takes you back a long way around my part of the world.

The fact that this guy would go public is interesting. I can’t help wondering if there’s more behind this story than the intellectual honesty of one Islamic scholar.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Interesting (Theological) Comments from a US Biologist

The following is excerpted from an article in The Sunday Times (of London) by Steven Swinford – with a tip of the gimme cap to VirtueOnline.

The scientist who led the team that cracked the human genome is to publish a book explaining why he now believes in the existence of God and is convinced that miracles are real.

Francis Collins, the director of the US National Human Genome Research Institute, claims there is a rational basis for a creator and that scientific discoveries bring man “closer to God”.

His book, The Language of God, to be published in September, will reopen the age-old debate about the relationship between science and faith. “One of the great tragedies of our time is this impression that has been created that science and religion have to be at war,” said Collins, 56.

“I don’t see that as necessary at all and I think it is deeply disappointing that the shrill voices that occupy the extremes of this spectrum have dominated the stage for the past 20 years.”

For Collins, unravelling the human genome did not create a conflict in his mind. Instead, it allowed him to “glimpse at the workings of God”.

“When you make a breakthrough it is a moment of scientific exhilaration because you have been on this search and seem to have found it,” he said. “But it is also a moment where I at least feel closeness to the creator in the sense of having now perceived something that no human knew before but God knew all along.

[…] Collins joins a line of scientists whose research deepened their belief in God. Isaac Newton, whose discovery of the laws of gravity reshaped our understanding of the universe, said: “This most beautiful system could only proceed from the dominion of an intelligent and powerful being.”

Although Einstein revolutionised our thinking about time, gravity and the conversion of matter to energy, he believed the universe had a creator. “I want to know His thoughts; the rest are details,” he said. However Galileo was famously questioned by the inquisition and put on trial in 1633 for the “heresy” of claiming that the earth moved around the sun.
Among Collins’s most controversial beliefs is that of “theistic evolution”, which claims natural selection is the tool that God chose to create man. In his version of the theory, he argues that man will not evolve further.

“I see God’s hand at work through the mechanism of evolution. If God chose to create human beings in his image and decided that the mechanism of evolution was an elegant way to accomplish that goal, who are we to say that is not the way,” he says.

“Scientifically, the forces of evolution by natural selection have been profoundly affected for humankind by the changes in culture and environment and the expansion of the human species to 6 billion members. So what you see is pretty much what you get.”
Collins was an atheist until the age of 27, when as a young doctor he was impressed by the strength that faith gave to some of his most critical patients.

“They had terrible diseases from which they were probably not going to escape, and yet instead of railing at God they seemed to lean on their faith as a source of great comfort and reassurance,” he said. “That was interesting, puzzling and unsettling.”

He decided to visit a Methodist minister and was given a copy of C S Lewis’s Mere Christianity, which argues that God is a rational possibility. The book transformed his life. “It was an argument I was not prepared to hear,” he said. “I was very happy with the idea that God didn’t exist, and had no interest in me. And yet at the same time, I could not turn away.”

His epiphany came when he went hiking through the Cascade Mountains in Washington state. He said: “It was a beautiful afternoon and suddenly the remarkable beauty of creation around me was so overwhelming, I felt, ‘I cannot resist this another moment’.”

Collins believes that science cannot be used to refute the existence of God because it is confined to the “natural” world. In this light he believes miracles are a real possibility. “If one is willing to accept the existence of God or some supernatural force outside nature then it is not a logical problem to admit that, occasionally, a supernatural force might stage an invasion,” he says.

I have worked full or part time at a university for the past 30+ years. In that time, I have found that the primary hostility to Christianity – and to Theism in general - doesn’t tend to come from the Natural Sciences. Most physicists I’ve met are theists of one sort or another, while chemists range from the evangelical to the “don’t bother me about it.” Biologists tend to be more atheistic than the other sciences, but in my experience this has more to do with observing the awful things that exist out there than with philosophy. It’s hard to see the Imago Dei in some hideous parasite that slowly devours its host from the inside out, or in some virus that makes the surface of your tongue slough off days before it kills you. Besides, biologists are on an intellectual high these days, and hubris is a major inhibitor to belief.

Most of the opposition to belief in God comes from the Humanities and Social Sciences. (A great many “real” scientists consider the “Social Sciences” to be a contradiction in terms, by the way!) Sadly, a great deal of the hostility to orthodox Christianity comes from the religion and theology faculties. The humanities are the major opponents of notions of absolute truth; the physics department is more likely to tell an English professor to go jump off the bridge. After all, just because gravity is true for physicists doesn’t mean it has to be true for Literary Critics – they’re welcome to find their own more tolerant path to sea level.

Speaking for myself, I’ve never been big on “theistic evolution” or intelligent design - not because I don’t believe in Providence or an Intelligent Designer! I’ve just never been convinced that “theistic evolution” is in any way discernible from “atheistic evolution” except by divine revelation, which takes us right back to where we were in the first place. I doubt you can prove Christianity, in the accepted usage of the term, any more than you can disprove it. All you can do is demonstrate that it’s a reasonable thing for a rational person to believe – and leave someone open to the workings of the Holy Spirit.

By the way, I love how they always throw Galileo in there to discredit the Church. For a more realistic appraisal of the Galileo Affair, see (of all places) Answering Islam. There are more formal and rigorous references to the same effect, but I can’t find them at the moment.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

A Quote From ThePresiding Heresiarch

The following interesting insight into the psychology of Bishop Griswold on the proper place of the laity comes from the New York Times.

After retiring, Bishop Griswold said, he may write a book or two. Or take up invitations to teach. Or tend to his house in New Hampshire, where, he said, he can scythe a meadow.

"I like to scythe," Bishop Griswold said, with a small smile, "because grass obeys in a way people sometimes don't."

"Tolerance" is a wonderful thing, and anyone who dissents will be cut down without mercy! Any further comment from yours truly would be both out of place (not my problem anymore!) and superfluous.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Crustaceans and Colleges

A lobster that already looks like it's been cooked on one side won't suffer the real thing, thanks to a sharp-eyed fisherman.

The oddly coloured lobster "looks curious ... It was almost just the same as [being] boiled on one side," said Kirk Tulk, who caught the lobster in one of his pots outside his home in Aspen Cove, in Hamilton Sound on Newfoundland's northeast coast.

The lower right part of the lobster's body is bright orange, as is its upper claw.

Tulk said he has been told that the unusual colouring may be due to a protein deficiency in the lobster's body.

Tulk is donating the lobster to the marine interpretation centre in Terra Nova National Park, which includes observation tanks that can be viewed by the public.

The lobster will also be examined by scientists from the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

(Article courtesy of CBC.)

It looks more like a case of chimerism (non-identical twins fused into a single individual early in development) than like some sort of deficiency. Of course, any Texan will immediately recognize this orange – and – maroon animal as being the offspring of a Longhorn lobster with an Aggie lobster. The only odd thing is that the UT orange is on the right side. Normally, the Aggie part would be well to the right, and the UT part on the extreme left. I wonder where in the stadium it sits during football season?

You Just Knew Someone Would Do It

From The Mirror (UK):
Horror film fan Suzanne Cooper yesterday named her baby Damien after the devil child in the The Omen, who was also born on June 6.

Suzanne went one better than the movie by hitting the full Number of the Beast with the date - 6/6/06.

Special needs teacher Suzanne, 36, was also induced for six days before Damien arrived at 6.59am, tipping the scales at a spine-chilling 6lb 6oz.

She said: "We are overjoyed about the baby. The Omen is one of our favourite films and that's why I was keeping my legs crossed for a birth on the 6th.

"It does seem a bit weird I suppose, but he's a perfect baby - nothing at all like Damien in The Omen."

Dad Michael rushed Suzanne to hospital in Bristol last Wednesday afternoon after she began suffering back pains.

The baby was due on Saturday and doctors decided to induce her straight away, but little Damien refused to arrive until yesterday.

Suzanne went into labour in the early hours and Damien was born shortly after 6am. Electrical engineer Mike said: "It was a devil of a birth - a bit of a horror show. Once she went into labour it was straightforward, but six days in hospital is a long time to wait.

"Suzanne and I love watching horror films and we were both keeping our fingers crossed that he would be born yesterday.

"It took a fair bit of persuasion for Suzanne to let us call him Damien but it seems fitting considering the date." [...]

I trust I’ll be forgiven for feeling really sorry for this kid. “Gee, honey, we were so excited about your birth that we named you after the Antichrist.” I only hope he doesn’t see it as something he needs to live up to.

I don’t know these people, so I don’t want to damn them by association - they may just be a bit daft. However, the whole thing reminds me of what my wife refers to as “Children as possessions syndrome.” Not that kind of possession, please G~d! But possessions as in “objects which belong to me and which I use to define myself.”

Some years ago, when we were looking to buy a house, we saw lots of lovely new homes that all shared a common set of features. First, they all had palatial master bedroom suites, usually with Jacuzzi tubs and all closets that were larger than some apartments I’ve lived in. Second, the other bedrooms were teeny, frequently barely having room for a bed and a desk – the sort of thing that would cause monks to start a riot for better living conditions. The whole thing shouted “We’ll live like kings, and the kids – we’ll, they’ll be fine.”

I think the same attitude defines a lot of what kids put up with these days. They are shuffled from activity to activity so mom and dad can check off the appropriate box on the list that gives them bragging rights.

Kid: “I want to go play catch with the guys, mom.”

Mother (Spoken): “Sorry, son, I signed you up for the soccer league / gymnastics / polo lessons / chess tournament. It will help you increase your coordination / improve your social skills / develop critical thinking / help you meet people”

Mother (Unspoken): “Listen up, kid - I’ve been promoted to partner at Leonard, Skynard, and Sludge; I’ve managed to attract a rich, good-looking husband; I have a pedigreed Shih-tzu, a custom home on the lake, and a new BMW. It’s time for me to have the family thing now; and you, my son, have certain assignments that you need to complete so I can look good.”

Growing up as your parents’ status symbol must be horrid – no wonder so many of them cut themselves.

Monday, June 05, 2006

A Few Beastly Numbers for 6/6/06

In honor of tomorrow’s overhyped and greatly-feared date, I present the following list of beastly numbers, courtesy of Rev. Felix Just at

666Biblical Number of the Beast
660Approximate Number of the Beast
DCLXVIRoman Numeral of the Beast
665Number of the Beast's Older Brother
667Number of the Beast's Younger Sister
668Number of the Beast's Neighbor
999Number of the Australian Beast
333Number of the Semi-Beast
66Number of the Downsized Beast
6, uh..., I forgetNumber of the Blond Beast
666.0000Number of the High Precision Beast
665.9997856Number of the Beast on a Pentium
0.666Number of the Millibeast
X / 666Beast Common Denominator
0.00150150...Reciprocal of the Beast
-666Opposite of the Beast
666iImaginary Number of the Beast
6.66 x 102Scientific Notation of the Beast
25.8069758...Square Root of the Beast
443556Square of the Beast
1010011010Binary Number of the Beast
1232Octal of the Beast
29AHexidecimal of the Beast
2.8235Log of the Beast
6.5913Ln of the Beast
1.738 x 10289Anti-Log of the Beast
00666Zip Code of the Beast
666@hell.orgE-mail Address of the Beast
www.666.comWebsite of the Beast
1-666-666-6666Phone & FAX Number of the Beast
1-888-666-6666Toll Free Number of the Beast
1-900-666-6666Live Beasts, available now! One-on-one pacts!Only $6.66 per minute! [Must be over 18!]
666-66-6666Social Security Number of the Beast
Form 10666Special IRS Tax Forms for the Beast
66.6%Tax Rate of the Beast
6.66%6-Year CD Interest Rate at First Beast Bank of Hell($666 minimum deposit, $666 early withdrawal fee)
$666/hrBilling Rate of the Beast's Lawyer
$665.95Retail Price of the Beast
$710.36Price of the Beast plus 6.66% Sales Tax
$769.95Price of the Beast with accessories and replacement soul
$656.66Wal-Mart Price of the Beast (next week $646.66!)
$55.50Monthly Payments for Beast, in 12 easy installments
Phillips 666Gasoline Used by the Beast (regular $6.66/gal)
Route 666Highway of the Beast (where he gets his kicks!)
666 mphSpeed Limit on the Beast's Highway
6-6-6Fertilizer of the Beast
666 lb capWeight Limit of the Beast
666 MinutesWeekly News Show about the Beast (airs daily fromMidnight to 11:06 a.m., on Cable Channel 666, of course)
666o FOven Temperature for Cooking "Roast Beast"
666kRetirement Plan of the Beast
666 mgRecommended Minimum Daily Requirement of Beast
Lotus 6-6-6Spreadsheet of the Beast
Word 6.66Word Processor of the Beast
Windows 666Bill Gates' Personal Beast Operating System
#666666Font Color of the Beast (the gray in this table!)
i66686CPU of the Beast
666-IBMW of the Beast
IAM 666License Plate Number of the Beast
Formula 666All Purpose Cleaner of the Beast
WD-666Spray Lubricant of the Beast
DSM-666 (rev)Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the Beast
66.6 MHzFM Radio Station of the Beast
666 KHzAM Radio Station of the Beast
66 for 6A Beastly Score for an Innings (in cricket)
6 for 66Bowling Figures of the Beast
6/6/6Birthday of the Beast (but in which century?)

And, of course, I add a few others:
FM-666The Bumpy Highway of the Beast
666 FlavorsBaskin Robbins of the Beast
739.4o FBody temperature of the Beast (it’s 666 Kelvin)

Any more?

Friday, June 02, 2006

I Don't Think I'll Be Attending...

Another sign that the End of Days is fast approaching:

Tofuzilla "When Giant Tofu Takes Over Little Tokyo"
Saturday, Aug 13th 12:00-10:00pm
Sunday, Aug 14th 11:00-9:00pm

An event of the 65th Annual Nisei Week Japanese Festival



Cold Tofu

Little Tokyo, Downtown Los Angeles

In addition to over 100 imaginative and delicious tofu and soy dishes, come and experience various exquisite foods prepared by some of LA’s finest restaurants. Enjoy the world class sounds of Taiko Drums and other cultural music and dance performances. Visit our Children’s Pavilion for games and crafts. Do some shopping in the Arts & Crafts Marketplace.

Don’t miss out on the festival that was voted “the best food fest in the west” by VIA Automobile Club of America, ranked in los angeles magazine’s “TOP TEN” for July 2004 and August 2002 and featured on Food Network's Top 5: Amazing Celebrations and Unwrapped: Protein Power!

As the Antichrist will be the antithesis of, as well as a mockery of, the Messiah, so tofu is the antithesis of, as well as a mockery of, the manna God gave to the children of Israel in the Sinai desert. Clearly it is of the Evil One. The only way to purify tofu for human consumption is to crumble it into tiny pieces and mix it, at high dilution, with large pieces of beef.

Biologist Says We're Not All Human

Excerpted from a story on
We may not be entirely human, gene experts said on Thursday after studying the DNA of hundreds of different kinds of bacteria in the human gut.

Bacteria are so important to key functions such as digestion and the immune system that we may be truly symbiotic organisms - relying on one another for life itself, the scientists write in Friday’s issue of the journal Science.

[…] "We are somehow like an amalgam, a mix of bacteria and human cells. There are some estimates that say 90 percent of the cells on our body are actually bacteria," Steven Gill, a molecular biologist formerly at TIGR and now at the State University of New York in Buffalo, said in a telephone interview.

[…] Gill and his team sequenced the DNA in faeces donated by three adults. They found a surprising amount of it came from bacteria.

They compared the gene sequences to those from known bacteria and to the human genome and found this so-called colon microbiome -- the entire sum of genetic material from microbes in the lower gut - includes more than 60,000 genes.

That is twice as many as found in the human genome. "Of all the DNA sequences in that material, only 1 to 5 percent of it was not bacterial," Gill said. "We were surprised."

[…] Gill said his team hopes now to make a comparison of the gut bacteria from different people. […]

I had a professor once who referred to life on earth as “bacteria and a handful of less important organisms.” Probably not an unreasonable statement from a biological, if not a theological, perspective. Nonetheless, 90 – 99% of the total DNA? Wow. I can’t help thinking that to get that much bacterial DNA out of a human, they must have been examining lawyers…