Thursday, December 28, 2006
Listen: if there's anything on Earth (or in the Heavens) which we Christians ought to know something about, it's Love and Death. In fact, we should be the ones who are exclaiming the fact of Love in Death. We shouldn't be establishing a suicide cult but extolling the fantastic fact that Christ died for our sins because God Loved, and Christ was resurrected in order that death would be destroyed.
There's more art to be made in that one sentence than all the movies Hollywod has ever turned out, and more than either NYC or LA could turn out in music and TV in 10,000 years. Why? Because there is Truth and Beauty in that statement, and it doesn't force us to make false moral choices or reduce our expressions to some gloomy, dismal, atonal text.
The great topic of art belongs to us. The great purpose of art is not, as someone once said, to frame a lie which seems pleasant, but to frame truth by analogy -- and the greatest truth-by-analogy of all time is the Bible.
Inevitably, the discussion in the meta turns to music and someone brings up U2.
More on this topic by: Jan, Mark Daniels, DrKnoxPJ, Jerry Solomon & Jimmy Williams
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
His White House biography can be found here.
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
The next time you hear some Hollywood-type - be it a talk show host, movie "star," or TV personality - talk about the disparity of riches in this country, ask them how much of their paycheck they'd personally be willing to give up so that - let's say - inner-city school music teachers could take home more money.
Oprah can talk about the horrible plight of AIDS-stricken Africa all she wants (and I agree that it is a terrible thing), but is she really going to sell her multi-million dollar homes (including her Hawaiian getaway) and live the simple life in some Chicago suburb? I don't think so.
"Well, who's gonna monitor the monitors of the monitors?"
Monday, December 25, 2006
The blogs are not as significant as their self-endeared curators would like to think. Journalism requires journalists, who are at least fitfully confronting the digital age. The bloggers, for their part, produce minimal reportage. Instead, they ride along with the MSM like remora fish on the bellies of sharks, picking at the scraps.Ouch! Stings, doesn't it?
More success is met in purveying opinion and comment. Some critics reproach the blogs for the coarsening and increasing volatility of political life. Blogs, they say, tend to disinhibit. Maybe so. But politics weren't much rarefied when Andrew Jackson was president, either. The larger problem with blogs, it seems to me, is quality. Most of them are pretty awful. Many, even some with large followings, are downright appalling.
Every conceivable belief is on the scene, but the collective prose, by and large, is homogeneous: A tone of careless informality prevails; posts oscillate between the uselessly brief and the uselessly logorrheic; complexity and complication are eschewed; the humor is cringe-making, with irony present only in its conspicuous absence; arguments are solipsistic; writers traffic more in pronouncement than persuasion . .
Mr. Rago is right, of course, about the size of the blogosphere and the propensity for pontification. There are so many blogs out there, and the quality can be severely lacking. A blog may be a Mortal Human in the TTLB Ecosystem, but that doesn't mean it's worthy of your time. Technorati may show a blog having hundreds of links, but that doesn't many every single linker visits that blog routinely. I don't give equal attention to every blog on my blogroll; there are some I visit more frequently than others.
Why is this? Because, looking at blogs and deciding what to link to is entirely subjective. At the risk of sounding like a certain issue of Time, you have the power to choose what too read and what to look at. I realize that what I'm typing is nothing original or extraordinary, but it is quite accurate.
I do believe Mr. Rago is being overly cynical, however. Blogging - much like art- is subjective. People blog for a variety of reasons, whether it be a foodie sharing the menu from her most recent party or a politico listing all the reasons why his party is the best and your party has nothing but decadent and corrupt leaders. The artist uses some form of media - whether it be sculpture, music, or some other form - as a means of expression. I blog as a way to put concrete words to fluid thoughts, to keep in touch with family and friends, and to share my faith. If you blog, you have your own reasons for posting what you do.
UPDATE: Hugh Hewitt conducted an interview with Rago (who's only 23!), and he was able to hold his own.
From "After December Slips Away"
(Lowell Alexander/Bonnie Keen)
The season comes but once a year
A gift of precious wonder
For all who hold it dear
But past the sights and coloured lights
Lord, far beyond DecemberI will remember
After the carols fade away
After the Yule fire dies down
When there are no longer dreams to open and see
Because You are hope and joy and peace
Because You're the only gift I need
In my heart the season will remain
After December slips away
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Monday, December 18, 2006
An Indian runner who won a silver medal in the women's 800 meters in the Asian Games this month has failed a gender test and is expected to be stripped of the medal, according to reports Monday.
Santhi Soudarajan took the gender test in Doha, Qatar, after the victory. The test reports sent to the Indian Olympic Association on Sunday said Soudarajan "does not possess the sexual characteristics of a woman," The Times of India reported. The test was administered by a medical commission set up by the games' organizers.
There are no compulsory gender tests during events sanctioned by the International Association of Athletics Federation, but athletes can be asked to take a gender test. The medical evaluation panel usually includes a gynecologist, endocrinologist, psychologist, and an internal medicine specialist.
The article makes no mention of the specifics of the test. It also gives no explanation as to how one calls for a gender test to take place. There is, unfortunately, no picture of Soudarajan accompanying the article.
More: Here (including a picture of the athlete).
Hey, I just made a total elf of myself. Check me out by clicking the link below.
Crocs seem to be showing up everywhere. The first person I knew of who wore them is uber-chef Mario Batali. I think he was wearing them when I first watched Molto Mario back in 1999. He wore - and I believe he still wears - a bright orange pair. I was in the locker room of the YMCA after I worked out the other day, and I noticed several guys wearing them.
Let me say as a man who has done his share of housecleaning: Scrubbing Bubbles is a wonder to behold.
I guess when it's a difficult decision to make, the only right one is to be all-inclusive.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Now, it's like NYC in the 80's.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Pastor Mark Daniels of Lutheran Friendship Church (Amelia, OH) emerged from such a universe. Leaving atheism behind, he could have picked one from a plethora of religions and spiritualities. He decided - or perhaps, as my Calvinist friends would say, God decided - that he should embrace the Christian faith. Pastor Mark wrote a six-part essay on why he believes Christianity to be true, and you can find it through here.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
The article, written by someone who is not in a medical or health-related field, fails to cite any specific research to support its claims.
The dangerous food I'm speaking of is soy. Soybean products are feminizing, and they're all over the place. You can hardly escape them anymore.
If you're a grownup, you're already developed, and you're able to fight off some of the damaging effects of soy. Babies aren't so fortunate. Research is now showing that when you feed your baby soy formula, you're giving him or her the equivalent of five birth control pills a day. A baby's endocrine system just can't cope with that kind of massive assault, so some damage is inevitable. At the extreme, the damage can be fatal.
Soy is feminizing, and commonly leads to a decrease in the size of the penis, sexual confusion and homosexuality. That's why most of the medical (not socio-spiritual) blame for today's rise in homosexuality must fall upon the rise in soy formula and other soy products. (Most babies are bottle-fed during some part of their infancy, and one-fourth of them are getting soy milk!) Homosexuals often argue that their homosexuality is inborn because "I can't remember a time when I wasn't homosexual." No, homosexuality is always deviant. But now many of them can truthfully say that they can't remember a time when excess estrogen wasn't influencing them.
Justin Lee believes that the Virgin birth was real, that there is a heaven and a hell, that salvation comes through Christ alone and that he, the 29-year-old son of Southern Baptists, is an evangelical Christian.Justin believes that God "blesses" same-sex unions - his essay is on that very topic is here. His opening statement is this:
Just as he is certain about the tenets of his faith, Mr. Lee also knows he is gay, that he did not choose it and cannot change it.
To many people, Mr. Lee is a walking contradiction, and most evangelicals and gay people alike consider Christians like him horribly deluded about their faith. “I’ve gotten hate mail from both sides,” said Mr. Lee, who runs gaychristian.net, a Web site with 4,700 registered users that mostly attracts gay evangelicals.
As many of you know, I'm fairly conservative in my theological views. I believe that the Bible is morally authoritative, that sex is for marriage, and that promiscuity is harmful to everyone involved. For many years of my life, I also believed that all homosexual behavior was wrong - whether it consisted of anonymous hookups or committed relationships. I believed, based on what I had read in the Bible, that even the most loving and monogamous of same-sex relationships was evil in God's eyes. But as I studied the Bible, my view on that subject changed. I now believe that homosexual behavior is appropriate within the confines of a committed, loving, monogamous, lifelong, Christ-centered relationship. Essentially, I'm arguing that a Christ-centered marriage is a good thing, regardless of the gender of the people involved.
Ron Belgau, a member of GayChristian.net, believes that a gay Christian must be celibate - his essay on that topic is here. One of his concluding statements is this:
For myself, I finally came back to the view that the Bible forbids gay relationships, in part because though I could see the reasons to doubt the traditional position, I couldn’t see any solid evidence to support the idea that God blesses gay marriages. And the more I sought to find in the Scriptures principles which could be used to support gay marriage, the more I realized that the basic principles in the Scripture for guiding sexual expression would rule out gay relationships.
Monday, December 11, 2006
I love lists, especially the ones that come at the end of a year with a ranking of "best" and "worst." This post will keep track of lists that I've found; it will be updated periodically. No commentary - in this post, at least - will be given on the merits of the lists. If you've seen any that aren't here, please let me know.
10 Best Books of 2006 (NY Times)
Top Ten Books of 2006 (Books and Culture)
2006 LAFCA Awards
Stephen King's Top Music Picks for 2006 (Entertainment Weekly)
The CD's of '06 (Philadelphia Inquirer)
AFI Awards 2006
Best Cars 2006 (CNN Money)
World's Best Awards 2006 (Travel + Leisure)
Best WiFi Hotels 2006 (HotelChatter)
Best Mistakes of 2006 (MovieMistakes.com)
Best Inventions 2006 (Time)
2006's Worst Political Mishaps (c/net news)
World's Worst Polluted Places 2006 (Blacksmith Institute)
Whoppers of 2006 (FactCheck.org)
Worst WiFi Hotels 2006 (HotelChatter)
Worst American Cars 2006 (Forbes)
Riley's most famous poem is Little Orphant Annie.
Very nice view of downtown Indy, isn't it? Nobody was around that day, but there was certainly no spooky feel to my visit. As you can see, there were still many leaves on the trees at that time. That's not the case now. All the trees now look - for lack of a better word - dead.
The Logan County commissioners want the prairie dogs dead. But two ranchers, Larry Haverfield and Gordon Barnhardt, and their allies in two environmental groups want the 5,500-acre colony on their property to flourish, for the good of the land and for the eventual delectation of black-footed ferrets. The ferrets, an endangered mammal, thrive on a diet of prairie dogs.Some of my favorite childhood memories come from the vacations my family would take every year. For two weeks each June, my father's factory would shut down, enabling the workers to have some time off. We would usually go on vacation during that period. We usually went somewhere in the East or South, but two years we vacationed in the West. Although one year was spent mostly in the Northwest and one year in the Southwest, we spent some time in Yellowstone National Park during both trips.
The ranchers’ defense of prairie dogs prompted bewilderment then anger in this county of about 3,100 people. Here in this red corner of a red state, where the sanctity of property rights is seldom questioned and the sanity of the government is questioned all the time, the prairie dog debate has turned everything upside down.
Some people are demanding enforcement of a century-old state law allowing the county to send exterminators onto the Haverfield and Barnhardt ranches — against the owners’ wishes but at their expense — to protect local property values.
This confrontation is one of several in recent years across the West that pit property owners trying to restore wildlife against local governments who see the actions as a threat to local economic interests. It also reflects the persistent belief in the Great Plains that the prairie dog is not a valued remnant of the short-grass prairie of the past, but a despised pest that eats grass needed to fatten cattle.
Alan Pollom, the director of the Kansas chapter of the Nature Conservancy, called the question of conserving prairie dogs “one of the more vexing problems you can possibly come up with in the arena of wildlife management” because property lines tend to be incompatible with the prairie dogs’ age-old practice of digging new holes and expanding their tunneled colonies across the landscape.
Yellowstone is where I became familiar with prarie dogs. At the time we were there, which would have been around 1982 or 1983, there was a prarie dog town close to the Old Faithful Inn. When I wasn't running around in the bookstore or the main floor of the Inn, I spent time watching the prarie dogs. I found them endlessly fascinating. They didnt' seem to mind living so close to humans, although they didn't like it when I ventured close to their holes. I remember one ranger yelling at me for getting to close to them, but what did I care about some weird adult scolding me? I was in heaven, watching those prarie dogs.
It's been years since I've been to Yellowstone, but I hope the prarie dogs are still there.
I admit: The Wife bought the book when it was published the first time, and I read it. As I recall, it wasn't half-bad and she made some interesting points. She certainly didn't advocate a communist state, as Senator Bob Dole alluded to when he ran against Bill Clinton in 1996.
As for the two senators and their ideas about the presidency, I think we can expect that both will be more active and vocal on the Senate floor than they have previously been. They will want to show that they care about the country.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
His letter to the Romans probably is the most important book in the New Testament. The book is short, but Paul teaches great truths about God’s grace and how Christians should live. For example, in Christ, people are no longer slaves to sin or the law, but live under grace. God’s judgment against sinners is righteous. God created government and appointed men over the people, so Christians should submit to the government by obeying the law, etc.
In Romans is where Paul said that believers were “more than conquerors” through Christ, able to withstand persecution because nothing can separate us from Christ’s love for us. Such thoughts leave me speechless.
Amen, La Shawn. Amen.
Thursday, December 7, 2006
Wednesday, December 6, 2006
Brian Jones knows how you feel. He recently bought the house featured in A Christmas Story. While the exterior of the house is as it appears on film, Jones spent $240,000 to make the interior look like it as well. All interior shots in the film were on a stage. Jones charges $5 admission for adults, $3 for kids.
“Now I watch the movie and I catch myself looking at the background for anything we’re missing in the house,” Mr. Jones said.
To make the home feel more authentic, Mr. Jones hopes to install a stereo that recreates the sounds of Mr. Parker in the basement, swearing at the furnace. He briefly considered a Cleveland businessman’s offer to blow artificial smells of food, including Mrs. Parker’s cooked cabbage, through the house’s heat ducts.
Mr. Jones borrowed $129,000 to turn the house across the street into a museum and gift shop. Displays include the comically immobilizing snowsuit worn by little Randy, who famously cried, “I can’t put my arms down!” (NY Times)
Jones and his house were featured in a segment on NBC's Today Show yesterday.
The owners of the Diamond Go Go Bar in Oslo had refused to pay VAT of 25% on entry fees as tax authorities demanded. The local authority had taken the club to court over its refusal to pay tax.
Lawyers for the club's owners argued that striptease dancers were stage artists just like sword-swallowers and comedians and deserved the same status.
"Striptease, in the way it is practised in this case, is a form of dance combined with acting," the judges ruled, according to AFP news agency.
Tuesday, December 5, 2006
The Picasso looms large over Daley Plaza and Christkindlmarket...
As the light dies and darkness crouches in, it all becomes more magical... The Wife makes another appearance on the blog! Here she is, trying to decide what to buy.
Such wonderful aromas... stollen, spiced wine, strudel, sauerkraut, and many other foods and beverages that don't begin with the letter "S."
From car parts makers to fast food chains to financial service companies, corporations across the country are bringing chaplains into the workplace. At most companies, the chaplaincy resembles the military model, which calls for chaplains to serve the religiously diverse community before them, not to evangelize.
“Someone who has never thought about this might assume they pray with people, but the majority of the job is listening to people, helping them with very human problems, not one big intensive religious discussion,” said David Miller, executive director of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture and the author of the book “God at Work.”
The spread of corporate chaplaincy programs, especially out of the Bible Belt to the North, is part of a growing trend among businesses to embrace religion rather than reject it, Mr. Miller said. Executives now look for ways to build a company that adheres to certain Christian values. Some businesses offer Muslim employees a place and the time to pray during work.
Couldn't we all use a little more support at our place of employment?
“We profess to be Christians and we think, ideally, that should make some difference in not just how we live but how we do business,” said J. M. Herr, chief executive of Herr Foods of Nottingham, Pa., a maker of chips and pretzels.
Imagine... a faith that affects all of life.
Monday, December 4, 2006
We had a nice time there. We didn't see Wicked, but we were able to visit some old (and new) favorite places. We had an enjoyable dinner at Frontera Grill, one of Rick Bayless' two restaurants in the city. (Who is Rick Bayless? Go here, please). I ate what is quite probably the best - and spiciest - mahi-mahi I've ever had. We shopped in Marshall Field's, which has really suffered with a lack of variety of available goods since Macy's took over - The Wife was especially displeased with their selection of Christmas dresses (she ended up finding what she wanted at Talbot's on the Mag Mile). We spent way too much money in the American Girl store. We had a late-night dinner of stuffed pepperoni pizza from Giordano's. We slept as much as we wanted to, because the girls were with their grandparents.
All in all, a very enjoyable two days.
The Wife was supposed to work Friday, but the office was closed due to snowy weather. Chicago suburbs got several inches of snow, but downtown didn't have much at all. Instead of the ubiquitous Starbucks, we stopped in Argo Tea for some liquid refreshment after an afternoon of shopping. The Wife sipped a Hibiscus Steamer, and I drank a Raspberry Bubble Tea. Delicious! Here's a couple pictures from our time in Argo Tea.
Can you believe it? The Wife actually allowed me to post a picture of her.
"...the Web traditionally has not been organized around geography. It’s been organized around information space."
Twenty-three cities are listed so far, but be forwarned: if your neighborhood is a in suburb of one of those cities, it might not be on the site. The cities are Ann Arbor (MI), Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Columbus, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, Nashville, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.
My town of Indianapolis, currently 12th in population, is not yet on the site, but Ann Arbor is? It's not even in the top 50 of populated cities.
Sunday, December 3, 2006
Note that four of the people are "diarists" for Daily Kos. How (un)surprising.
Pssst... if you're running for office and you want some inexpensive endorsements, email me. We'll discuss it.