Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween & Reformation Day

October 31 is notable for two very different "holidays." One is Halloween, a term that is shortened for the day before (or evening of, if you will) All Hallow's Day, now known as All Saint's Day. The origins of Halloween can be traced back to the pagan festival called Samhain, celebrated in Great Britain and Celtic Ireland. Because of the pagan background of Halloween and the modern-day association with many things considered evil (vampires, witches, ghosts, spirits, etc.) about the holiday, a number of Christians decide to have nothing to do with Halloween and don't allow their children to participate in trick-or-treating. There are, however, a number of Christians who do participate. I am such a one, and I rather like Tim Challies' explanation as to why he is one as well.

The other significance about this day is that it is Reformation Day. 490 years ago, a monk named Martin Luther nailed his 95 thesis to the Castle Church door in Wittenberg, Germany. Although there were some rumblings within the church before Luther picked up hammer and nail (timeline), this day stands as the recognized beginning of the Great Reformation. After years of believing that he had to do penance to earn his way to Heaven, Luther realized that it is by faith in Christ alone - sola fide - that he is made justified in God's sight.

I want to direct your attention to a few sites that are discussing/honoring Reformation Day:

Added: Challies has his annual Reformation Day Symposium, which offers many more links.

And: The Reformation Polka...

(HT: Timmy Brister)

"I seriously believe we have to start asking questions about his mental health."

That's Representative Dennis Kucinech, talking about the president's recent statements about Iran and the possible use of nuclear weapons. It's funny that Kucinech would make a statement like this, given that he believes he saw a UFO. I also think we have to question Kucinech's mental health if he really believes he can obtain the Democratic nomination after spectacularly failing to do so in 2004.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

I'm so healthy

I'm drinking soy milk in my coffee instead of some sugar-coated creamer. Is that healthy, or what?

are we in a post-gay society?

Perhaps so, given that so many are moving out of the neighborhood, presumably into yours.


My nephew-in-law first made me aware of this book - unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity... and Why It Matters. David Kinnamen and Gabe Lyons are the authors. The book has its own website, and received a mention in Time magazine. Publishers Weekly says the following about the book:

Kinnaman, president of the Barna Institute, was inspired to write this book when Lyons (of the Fermi Project) commissioned him to do extensive research on what young Americans think about Christianity. Lyons had a gut-level sense that something was desperately wrong, and three years of research paints exactly that picture. Mosaics and Busters (the generations that include late teens to early 30-somethings) believe Christians are judgmental, antihomosexual, hypocritical, too political and sheltered. Rather than simply try to do a PR face-lift, Kinnaman looks at ways in which churches' activities actually may have been unchristian and encourages a return to a more biblical Christianity, a faith that not only focuses on holiness but also loves, accepts and works to understand the world around it. It would be possible to get lost in the numbers, but the authors use numerous illustrations from their research and life experiences and include insights at the end of every chapter from Christian leaders like Charles Colson, John Stott, Brian McLaren and Jim Wallis.
Many people are talking about this one, including the following:

I haven't read the book, so I can't comment on anything the authors specifically say. That being said, however, I want to express some concerns that I have.

  1. The book seems to have quite a few folks from the emerging-church/religious-left/trendy-Christian perspective, like Dan Kimball, Brian McLaren, Andy Stanley, and Jim Wallis. Why are we not hearing from anyone like David Jeremiah, John MacAthur, John Piper, or Chuck Swindoll? Were any of them asked to participate (did they decline if they were?), or do Kinnaman and Lyons think they have nothing to say (or that what they say is irrelevant)?

  2. Who is actually guilty of creating these stereotypes? Paul & Jan and other creeps on TBN, or the Lutheran pastor down the street? Who is to blame?

  3. Do Kinnaman and Lyons see any "negative perceptions" as being unreversable? For example, Jesus sounded like He was making any exclusive claim by saying, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man comes to the Father, but by me." Do Kinnaman and Lyons think that Jesus was being exclusive, or is following Jesus just one of many paths to God?

  4. What do Kinnaman and Lyons think Jesus meant when He said, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand?" What should we repent of?

Here lies Fred - once alive, now dead

Just in time for Halloween, BBC History Magazine has unveiled the winners of an unusual contest: the search for the "most suprising, enigmatic or bizarre epitaphs" on gravestones. The runner-ups can be found here.

(HT: Metafilter)

Monday, October 29, 2007

this is a moderate post

It balances the Left and the Right. Do we have anything out there like this for us moderates? Let me know if there is.

(HT: Joe Carter)

Christian politics, or the politics of Christianity

David Kirkpatrick writes about the Evangelical Crackup. Denny Burk thinks Kirkpatrick's assessment is "deficient," (although Burk doesn't say how) but he's right about Giuliani being an unlikeable candidate for evangelicals.

Related: Michael Nwadiuko preaches the gospel in NYC. Which is, you know, what Jesus wanted us to do when he said, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations." (Matthew 28:19)

Added: I see Denny isn't the only one writing about Kirkpatrick's article. So are Joe Carter and Terry Mattingly.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Reformation Sunday 2007

My blogging friend Mark Daniels has written an informative post on Reformation Sunday.
He was born in November, 1483, in the German principality of Saxony. His father was a one-time coal miner who, through hard work, had risen to middle class status, the owner of several mines. His mother, who would exert so much influence over the boy was, in the custom of those times, a full-time housewife and mother.His name was Martin Luther. From an early age, he exhibited great intelligence and many talents. As time passed, he would become an extraordiary preacher, theologian, and musician.

These pursuits were far from his father’s intentions for young Martin. Hans Luther wanted Martin to become a lawyer in order to care for him and his wife in their old age.That, in fact, was the trajectory on which Martin’s life was moving when a shattering experience intervened.
What was the experience that so affected Luther? You'll have to jump to the link to read on....

When you're done reading Pastor Mark's post, come back and watch some classic Steve Green singing Luther's most famous hymn while sporting classic 80's hair:

Friday, October 26, 2007

Eloi and Morlocks

Apparently, this is where human beings will be in 100,000 years.

pretty young psychiatrists

I have the television on right now, tuned to the American Movie Classics channel. Monsterfest is going on right now, so AMC is playing horror/suspense movies for the last ten days of October. At this hour, Gothika is on. If you haven't seen it, the film is about a psychiatrist (played by the beautiful Halle Berry) who finds herself to be a patient at the very hospital where she works, accused of murdering her husband. While in the hospital, she experiences what appear to be visions of a young girl whom Berry learns had died four years earlier.

The media can be an important source of information, whether it be distilled through news programs, fictional books, movies, or TV shows. However, the media often shows those who suffer from mental illness in an unreleastic light. Countless films have portayed persons with schizophrenia as little more than psycho killers who enjoy indulging their "fantasies." I won't go into it here, but much has been said and written about accuracy in the media's portrayal of mental illness.

I bring up this all up because Gothika has two glaring problems.
  1. Berry's character winds up a patient in the hospital where she worked. This would never happen in real life. If a mental health worker (psychiatrist, psychologist, counselor, psychiatric nurse, or other professional) were to have a breakdown severe enough to require inpatient care, she would not be hospitalized in her place of employment. There are too many ethical issues for that to happen, beyond the fact that the persons treating her would know her personally.
  2. In my years of working in the psychiatric field, I have never seen a psychiatrist as beautiful as Berry. Never. I'm not saying she isn't out there. I'm just saying I haven't seen her.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

a fall day

My oldest daughter had the day off school, so we paid a visit to Stuckey Farm in Sheridan, not too far from where we used to live in Westfield.
We took a ride out to the pumpkin patch. That's my wife and youngest daughter in the distance. As you can tell, most of the good pumpkins were already gone.

Back at the main building, there were bins full of gourds. I couldn't tell if they were from Stuckey Farm grounds or not, but they sure looked pretty.

There were some unusual squash and pumpkins as well. Martha Stewart would have loved these.

Who hearts Huckabee?

Matthew Anderson, Joe Carter, and Justin Taylor support Governor Mike Huckabee for the Republican nomination. They've written a letter together in his support, which you can read here.
When it comes to politics, we three are pragmatic idealists. We are dedicated to the pursuit of noble principles and goals while never forgetting that politics is the "art of the possible." Because we are idealists we are choosing to endorse a candidate who most aligns with our principles and values and is most worthy of our sacred trust. Because we are pragmatists we are choosing to endorse the one candidate who we believe is most capable of defeating Sen. Hillary Clinton.

Governor Huckabee's site can be found here. Like so many of us, he has a blog.

What do you need to know about Huckabee that you can't find on his campaign site? You might find it here.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

who's the biggest spender since LBJ?

Yep. This president. And they say Republicans want a smaller government...

dusk in an Indianapolis neighborhood

This is how the day ended last night:

It appears as a fire, but it's only the sky.

It doesn't happen often, but sometimes the Indiana sky can be exquisitely beautiful and haunting.

"Korean newspapers report this with shock, horror, and Confucian righteousness."

There's a lot of talk in America about keeping up with the Jones's. This is the idea that if your neighbor purchases a new vehicle or vacations in an exotic locale, you must do something similar to be seen as even with them. In South Korea, this concept has apparently been taken to a different level.
In the Korea of old, before Seoul was a steel-and-glass jungle and a major exporter of TV dramas and breakdancers, most weddings were humble affairs. Marriage was seen as a union between families, cemented through an exchange of modest gifts like clothing and blankets. These days, however, South Koreans lament that weddings have become symbols of greed and waste, as families try to outdo each other with extravagant offerings. Houses have replaced housewares, while fur coats are now standard presents for new mothers-in-law.

"It's become ridiculous," says Kyeyoung Park, an anthropology professor at UCLA. "Now it's all about who is winning the game." The race to the top has gripped South Korea's upwardly mobile and competitive society. For much of Korean history, two traditional values—Confucian moderation, and the need to gain face—balanced each other out, but today, the latter has acquired the upper hand. "Traditionally you would exchange gifts of clothes among the extended family," says Tony Michell, a business consultant who has lived in Seoul for decades. "These days, people are talking about apartments and cars."

One man's trash is another man's treasure.

You've heard this saying before, correct? It appears someone - a woman, not a man - took it literally.
A painting stolen 20 years ago was found lying in trash along a street, and now it could fetch up to $1 million at auction.

Elizabeth Gibson didn't know anything about the brightly colored abstract work she spotted on her morning walk four years ago on Manhattan's Upper West Side. Sotheby's auction house will be selling the work next month for the now-widowed original owner.

"I would say it was an appointment with destiny," Gibson said in a telephone interview Tuesday. "I just knew it meant something. ... It was extremely powerful, and even though I didn't understand it. I knew it had power."

It turned out that it was a 1970 painting titled "Tres Personajes" (Three People) by Mexican artist Rufino Tamayo, whose work has soared in value in recent years.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

the Internet Church

So, Christendom is taking advantage of the Internet age by developing this? No need to get out of bed, get dressed, gather your family together (if you have one), and go to church. All you need to do is log on, and you're at a "worship service."

Did Paul consider this when he said, "Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together?"

Tom Hanks

He's on Myspace. At least, I think he is. You can never tell, nowadays.


Challies has a post on husbands, wives, and submission. Ochuck has a response.

Monday, October 22, 2007

the horror... the horror

Monsterfest starts today.

I blogged about it here last year. I said then that I much prefer the gothic/suspense type of film over the bombastic gore-fests that overrun the cinema today (Saw IV? Yeah, no thanks). To give you an example, I enjoy this type of thing, from Mulholland Dr. (don't worry - no language issues here):

Sunday, October 21, 2007

presidential pet put out

We Americans love our pets. Dogs, cats, hamsters, rabbits, snakes, ferrets - they give us so much pleasure. We care about what happens to them. We - a few of us, at least - even care about what happens to celebrity-owned pets.

However, no pet in this great country garners as much attention as the First Family's pet. Just look at our past. We've had presidents with goats,parrots, lion cubs, and horses. One president felt compelleted to give a speech about his dog that he had received as a gift. Another presidential canine became a best-selling "author."

Given that we care so much about our pets - and our leaders' pets - will we care if one is given the boot?

Hmm. I see way too many people are talking about this.

ADDED: Exactly. She gave her cat away to someone she knew would properly care for it.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

it's 12:50 AM

My two-year-old daughter - who turns three in ten days - absolutely refuses to go to sleep.

She wants to watch "Dora the Explorer" in the playroom.

She doesn't understand that we have church in the morning. She doesn't care that I have to be there at 8:25 for choir mic check.


The joys of parenting...

Nephew-in-law, you will soon understand.

the lottery's biggest winners

No, it's not the winners of the $300+ million jackpot who draw the lion's share of the lottery's wealth.
Enveloped in neon lights, murmuring crowds and the tinny melody of computerized games, a convention center showroom here bears the trappings of a Las Vegas casino. But the players, mostly state employees sporting suits and name tags, haven’t come to this annual expo to gamble. Instead, they are sampling the wares of one of government’s biggest cash cows: lotteries, which rang up about $202 billion in sales last year in the United States and overseas.

Amid sales pitches and glad-handing, there’s also no mistaking which two companies dominate the landscape of government-backed gambling. Commanding the showroom’s entrance, with a booth mocked up as a convenience store featuring a Mega Bucks ticket dispenser, is the Scientific Games Corporation. Dominating the center of the hall, beneath a twirling orange and blue globe, is Gtech Holdings, its vaunted sales team strolling through a labyrinth of gleaming lottery terminals.

“You can pretty much look at the size of the booths as a guide to which companies have the most muscle in the industry,” says David Gale, executive director of the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries, a sponsor of the event, called World Meet. “As you can see, nobody even comes close to Gtech and Scientific Games.”

Over the last three decades, Gtech and Scientific Games have jointly generated several billion dollars in revenue as vendors to lotteries — a business that flourishes at the crossroads of capitalism and public policy. In the process, the companies have steadily — and often controversially — evolved from minor suppliers into an influential oligopoly with a hammerlock on lottery operations.

Every business has its titans, of course. But according to analysts, lottery officials and public documents, Gtech and Scientific Games have done more than just ride the gambling boom — they have strong-armed their way to the top of a publicly sponsored industry that they now dominate. And with the domestic lottery market plateauing, both companies are focused on securing new footholds overseas.

umm... okay

Dumbledore was gay, says J.K. Rowling. I'm sure some people will sift through the books now to look for evidence.

Didn't we already have a gay wizard?

ADDED: It figures that certain people want to politicize this.

Craziest statement of the day:
A spokesman for gay rights group Stonewall said: “It’s great that JK has said this. It shows that there’s no limit to what gay and lesbian people can do, even being a wizard headmaster."
So hold on to that dream, young gay person, of heading up a wizard school!

AND: Lots of people talking over at Sword of Gryffindor.

Friday, October 19, 2007

"Let the world see my weakness and denied high fives that my savior might be exalted."

Matt Kleberg has an outstanding post over at Common Grounds:
There are few moments more socially humiliating than the denied high five. You walk through a group of people, see a friend in the crowd and throw up a big five, but alas, the so-called friend misses the gesture and you are left with your hand in the air. You have one and only one option- the head scratch. If you can convince any witnesses that you really intended the scratch all along then you are safe, but you just know that everyone saw the denial, the rejection. You are a fool. The cover-up scratch failed, and you are humiliated, exposed, a goofy wretch.

The same idea explains why our diaries have locks on them and our moleskin journals never leave our sight. We can’t imagine what would happen if the mass public really knew what went on inside our heads and hearts. We fear the denied high five because for that fleeting moment our cover is blown. It is a full-time job concealing our true identities and convincing the world that we have all our ducks in a row. Deep down, though, we know the truth- that we are weak, hurting, and definitely not cool. This fear not only shields us from experiencing the freedom of the gospel, but it also warps the way we relate to fellow man.

(HT: Jollyblogger)

Forget about Joel Osteen's brand of Christianity - it's all about us becoming better and gaining God's favor. True Christianity is the story of God's redemptive plan for His sinful and hurting children.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

inarticulately inarticulate

(HT: the Pyros)

Hillary links

It's becoming more apparent that unless some major scandall occurs between now and the middle of next year, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton from New York will be the Democratic nominee for president. There are some intriguing links about Senator Clinton that I want to direct your attention to. Remember, I do this as much for my benefit (if not more so) as I do for yours.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

the need for Christian academics

Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, examines a new book arguing for Christian higher education:
Martin Luther once warned Christians with these words: "I greatly fear that schools for higher learning are wide gates to hell if they do not diligently teach the Holy Scripture and impress them on the young folk." The great Reformer knew of the importance of Christian education and the development of Christian thinkers, but his great fear of schools as potential "wide gates to hell" is all too justified.

In his new book, Renewing Minds: Serving Church and Society through Christian Higher Education [B&H Academic], David S. Dockery proposes that the Christian college or university should not be merely an academic institution with Christian teachers and Christian students, but instead it should be "the academic division of the kingdom enterprise."

Food Network pigeonholes

I first discovered the Food Network in September 1998. The Wife and I had just moved from Chicago to Indianapolis. She was able to transfer her job from the Chicago office to the Indianapolis office, but I was without employment. After three weeks, I finally found a job managing a satellite store (on the IUPUI campus) of the now-defunct Indiana Bread Company. (IBC was very similar in design and scope to Atlanta Bread Company and Panera Bread)

For several weeks before the satellite store opened, I trained at the northside Indy location. The bakers were a pretty lively bunch, which I guess you would have to be if you woke up at 3:00 AM to make danishes and other goodies for breakfast. They talked a lot, usually about what they had seen on television or the movie theatre. One day they were talking about a guy named Emeril and what he had cooked that day. I had never heard of someone named Emeril on TV, so I asked who they meant. They said that he had a show on something called the Food Network, and he liked to say, "Bam!" and "Let's kick it up a notch" a lot.

I found the Food Network channel after sifting through the many cable channels. I was dumbstruck. I knew about different cooking shows on PBS, and The Wife and I liked to watch the show Great Chefs (which usually featured three courses - appetizer, entree, and dessert - cooked by three different chefs), but I never realized there was a channel dedicated solely to cooking shows.

Many of the shows that aired when I first started watching are now gone. Sara Moulton, executive chef at Gourmet magazine, had two airings of Cooking Live, at 7PM and 10PM. Pick of the Day, hosted by the robust Curtis Aikens, focused on vegeterian dishes. In Food Today, hosted by David Rosengarten and Donna Hanover (Rudy Giuliani's exwife), focused on the latest food ideas and trends. Ultimate Kitchens showcased the latest gadgets and utensils in... you guessed it, someone's large and usually renovated kitchen. The Best Of and Food Finds traveled to restaurants, diners, and bakeries well before Rachael Ray and those pesky Deen brothers started their travels.

Some of the people I watched in those days are still around. Emeril is still going strong with Emeril Live! Mario Batali has a few episodes of Molto Mario's still airing in the morning. Although she stopped doing Sara's Secrets a few years ago, some episodes by Moulton can be seen during the week.

Another chef still around on the Food Network is Bobby Flay, owner of Mesa Grill NYC and Mesa Grill Las Vegas (as well as four other restaurants). When I first started watching, he was ending his run on Grillin' and Chillin' but Hot Off the Grill! was still fairly strong. One of his current shows is Boy Meets Grill. I thought that he was their main grill guy, so I was surprised to read this passage in David Kamp's The United States of Arugula (pg. 349):
In its zeal to entertain and find formats that will elicit good ratings, [commercial food television] often obscures the culinary gifts of its stars. Flay, on the basis of Grillin' and Chillin', got pigeonholed as the Food Network's grilling guy, starring in the series Boy Meets Grill, Hot Off the Grill, and BBQ with Bobby Flay, even though he has proven himself capable of three-star cuisine in a variety of idioms in his restaurants Mesa Grill, Bolo, and Bar Americain. "I'm from Manhattan. It's like, how much grilling am I doing in Manhattan?" he says. "It's a funny relationship that I have with the Food Network, because my restaurants are not about that. I want to be thought of as a chef in my restaurants, which are where I am 90 percent of my time. you're not gonna get the food that I cook on TV in my restaurants. Sometimes I have a love-hate relationship with the TV part of my life - but, at the same time, it's also been a great, great thing."

it only seems this way sometimes

cartoon from

Cartoon by Dave Walker. Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at We Blog Cartoons.

"Gambling: The sure way of getting nothing from something."

Alan Wolfe, in the The Chronicle of Higher Education, writes this about gambling (and what we should know):
Not that long ago, legal gambling was confined to one state, Nevada, which, along the way, had developed a reputation as the place to get divorced or buy sex; things forbidden everywhere else were permitted there. We usually think of taboos as deeply entrenched, separating the dirty from the clean, yet not only are Las Vegas and other Nevada cities now among the fastest growing in the United States, but the industry associated with their once unseemly nightlife is featured on more cable-television stations than one can count.

Gambling, moreover, has taken root in a country with a Puritan background that is to this day marked by public religiosity. Once upon a time, religious figures were second to none in their condemnation of gambling: Billy Sunday, the prototypical right-wing revivalist, denounced it in his sermons in the early 20th century, while Walter Rauschenbusch, the left-wing founder of the Social Gospel, called it "the vice of the savage." Yet in contemporary America, not only are religious figures generally quiet on the issue, but some of them, like the The Book of Virtues author William J. Bennett, have themselves been gamblers, while others — one thinks of Ralph Reed, the former executive director of the Christian Coalition — have been implicated in efforts to charge Indian tribes exorbitant fees for lobbying on behalf of the American Indian gaming industry.

It would be relatively easy to conclude that gambling has become so prominent in American life because we have become a hedonistic country in which anything goes. But as the Rev. Richard McGowan, a Jesuit priest and gambling expert at Boston College, reminded me, 30 years ago gambling was considered a sin while smoking was fashionable, whereas today the reverse is true. We continue to be deeply puritanical in some aspects of our culture while decidedly libertarian in others; at a time when we see debates about hate speech, witness campaigns by feminists against pornography, and hear politicians speak about zero tolerance for under-age drinking or sexual misconduct, gambling is on the rise. It resonates with the permissive rather than the prohibitive side of our culture.

The title quote is attributed to Wilson Mizner.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

finding a Georgia

I walked through the Indianapolis Museum of Art last week, snapping pictures as I went:

I paused and thought, Is that a Georgia O'Keeffe? I drew closer and realized that indeed it is:

It's Jimson Weed, created between 1936 and 1937. The accompanying plaque reads:

This is O'Keeffe's largest and most amibitious floral work, with her signature emphasis on size and contour. In 1936 Elizabeth Arden commissioned O'Keeffe to paint Jimson Weed for the exercise room of her New York spa.

Who was Elizabeth Arden? Most women should know.

The name's Bond... Amadeus Bond

(HT: Neatorama)

Quick. Who is Kathleen Casey-Kirschling?

She's the first baby boomer.
Born one second after midnight in January 1946, the retired teacher leads the way for as many as 80 million individuals who will qualify for the retirement payout.

"I think I'm just lucky to be at the top of the boom. I'm just one of many many millions and am blessed to have been in this generation and really blessed and to take my Social Security now," Casey-Kirschling said during a ceremony held at the National Press Club featuring Social Security Commissioner Michael J. Astrue.

Julia Carson's health

Once again, the health of Representative Julia Carson (D-IN-7) is a factor in her (in)ability to perform her duties on the Congressional floor.

Rep. Julia Carson, who has been on a leave of absence to recover from a leg infection, will not return to Washington in time for a Thursday vote on whether to override President Bush’s veto of a children’s health insurance program, according to her office.

“I understand how an athlete feels when they sit one out to recover from an injury,” Carson said in a statement Monday. “The minutes move slowly, and you want nothing more than to be in for the big game. But you need to get well for the rest of the season.”

The 69-year-old Indianapolis Democrat, who has not voted in the House since Sept. 29, had requested a leave until Oct. 15.In the statement released by her office, Carson said she “may be absent from votes a short time longer” on her doctor’s advice.
Although there had been much speculation that the current Congressional session would be her last (mostly by state Republicans), Carson has made it clear that she intends to run again in 2008. I think her advisors would do well in taking her health into serious consideration. She has done much more than just "sit one out" in the past. Hopefully she will be able to fully recover and do her job for this session. I also hope that she seriously considers whether she'll be able to do an affective job through January 2011, should she be re-elected next year.

[Disclosure: I have been a registered Democrat since 1999. I had not lived in Carson's district until I moved to Beech Grove last year. I did not register in time to vote in the November 2006 elections.]

Colts bye week

The Colts had a bye this past weekend. The lights of the RCA Dome were dim. The cheerleaders did not raise their pom-poms. Tony Dungy's face may well have been as stoic as ever on Sunday, but no one got to see a televised version of it.

Ah, well. Just a few days more and the mighty Colts will be on the gridiron once again. Until then, let Peyton tide you over:

Monday, October 15, 2007

become a better you by being like Christ

There is a certain book out there now that proposes to tell you how you can become better than who you are today. It sounds like a nice and desireable thing, and it's even written by a pastor of an extremely large church. However, I'm not so sure that these verses could be found within the books pages.

Ephesians 4:17-24 (ESV)

Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

Paul says that this is the way to becoming a better you: put to death the old self, and become like Christ.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Top 12 Christians in Hollywood has listed what the folks there believe to be the twelve most powerful Christians in Hollywood right now.
  1. Mel Gibson
  2. Denzel Washington
  3. Patricia Heaton
  4. Tyler Perry
  5. Ralph Winter
  6. Angela Bassett
  7. Martin Sheen
  8. Martha Williamson
  9. Kristen Chenoweth
  10. Philip Anschutz
  11. Howard Kazanjian
  12. Scott Derrickson

I've highlighted the names which probably aren't too familiar to you. I won't make any comments about their Christian walk, except to say that every believer is known by the fruit that is brought forth.

I've heard that Patricia Heaton is a Christian, and she seems to be staunchly prolife. A few days ago, I was flipping through the TV and stopped at TBN because Tyler Perry was being interviewed. I watched only for a few minutes. Perry's movie released this weekend, Why Did I get Married?, was #1 at the box office.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Friday, October 12, 2007

death comes to all

Vanitas Still Life, by Dutch artist J. Falk. From the collection at the Indianapois Museum of Art.
From the accompanying plaque describing the work:
Popular among the Dutch, vanitas still life painting is based on the theme of death's inevitability. The symbolic meaning of the skull is obvious, while the rose and the oil lamp both serve as metaphors of life's brevity and fragility. The meaning is underscored by the Latin inscription: "All that is human is smoke, shadow, vanity and the picture of a stage."
James 4:14 - "Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away."


The sculpture Satan by Jean-Jacque Feuchère, from the collection at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Feuchère wanted to depict how Satan looked following his fall.

the red letter Christians

Stan Guthrie explains how he isn't a "Red-Letter Christian."

Though I own several Bibles with the words of Christ printed in red, I've always found the concept a bit iffy. After all, we evangelicals believe in the plenary, or full, inspiration of Scripture, don't we? Setting off Jesus' sayings this way seems to imply that they are more holy than what is printed in ordinary black ink. Sure, Christians understand that Jesus the incarnate Word fulfills the written Word. But if all Scripture is God-breathed, then in principle Jesus' inscripturated statements are no more God's Word to us than are those from Peter, Paul, and Mary—or Ezekiel.

That's why I felt a bit queasy when I heard about a group calling itself "Red-Letter Christians." In the book Letters to a Young Evangelical, Tony Campolo says RLCs have an "intense desire to be faithful to the words of Jesus as recorded in the New Testament." That's a worthy start, of course—but only that.
Compolo gave a response.
I have to say, "You got us right!"

While we, like you, have a very high view of the inspiration of Scripture and believe the Bible was divinely inspired, you are correct in accusing Red Letter Christians of giving the words of Jesus priority over all other passages of Scripture. What is more, we believe that you really cannot rightly interpret the rest of the Bible without first understanding who Jesus is, what he did, and what he said.
(HT: Justin Taylor)

ADDED: My blogging friend Doug has left an excellent comment which I've chosen to bring up here instead of leaving it in the meta: how did we get the Bible today? It's certainly not a question that deserves an easy, ten-word-or-less answer. Let me point to some places to start:

a Nobel Gore

Al Gore has won the Nobel Peace Prize.

In a statement, Gore said he was "deeply honored," adding that "the climate crisis is not a political issue, it is a moral and spiritual challenge to all of humanity."

The former vice president said he would donate his half of the $1.5 million prize to the Alliance for Climate Protection, a U.S. organization he founded that aims to persuade people to cut emissions and reduce global warming.
Al Gore has reminded us that he can be a winner. He doesn't require teams of people examining hanging chads or arguing with the Supreme Court.

Everybody's talking.

Here is the list of past Nobel Peace Prize winners. I'll let you be the judge as to how many there have contributed to bringing about actual, lasting peace in this world.

I wonder what Bill and Hillary discussed this morning over coffee and bagels. I wonder what's going through her staffers minds right now. The article mentions a source, from Gore's political past, who says that he won't run because Team Hillary is such a well-oiled machine right now. If Hillary should falter, then who knows what would happen. We've got several more months to go.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

how to become a famous blogger


Brother, can you spare a dime?

More artwork from the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

Or, perhaps you could spare $200,000:


This is Love -the original Love by Robert Indiana. You've seen it on stamps and on postcards, and it has been installed in various other incarnations around the country. This, however, is work located in Indiana's home state, Indiana. It sits on the grounds of the Indianapolis Museum of Art, just north of downtown Indianapolis.

Here is the view of the back:

I thought that the space between the "L" and the "V" was most intriguing. Is it shaped like an arrow? If so, perhaps Indiana is suggesting that love can only bring you down. Maybe he's saying that we try to love as best we can, but it's imperfect because we are only human. Is it shaped like the head of a spear? Ah... Indiana is saying that love can pierce us, maybe even destroy us. The interpretive possibilities are endless.

Why is it rust-colored, you ask? There is an explanation:

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

leaving your job

I suppose there are numerous ways to leave your job.
  • You can leave with quiet dignity, giving your place of employment the appropriate notice time like two weeks or a month or whatever Human Resources says is a good time.
  • You can leave in a huge flameout, telling your boss exactly what you think of him/her as you walk out the door. While this may feel good while you're doing it, you may find that it wasn't wise to burn the bridge.
  • You can do something quite stupid and be fired for it.
  • You can do your job well and be fired because you don't fit in or you're not a "team player" (whatever that means).

One option that you may not have considered is the mysterious way. You can call in sick one day, drive off in your car, and vanish. It's what Robert Levy, the mayor of Atlantic City, did.

From Fox News:

Two weeks missing and having admitted to lying about his military service, Atlantic City Mayor has handed in his resignation, his attorney said Wednesday.

Levy's departure will be effective immediately, according to attorney Edwin Jacobs.

Levy is in discussions with the U.S. Attorney's Office about resolving a federal investigation into whether he improperly received military veterans' benefits after falsely claiming he was a member of the Green Berets, said Jacobs. He allegedly took in about $25,000 in extra benefits payments as a result of the falsification.

book giveaway

October Giveaway

my life on the C-list

C-List Blogger
You know what this means: you've got to do what you can to raise me up to B-list level. Get to it.

lost without "Lost"

Television's new season started a few weeks ago. We have said welcome back to Dr. House, Nora Walker and her children, Hiro, Wilhelmina, McDreamy, and many others. We've also said hello to many new faces, including the Darling family and Chuck. However, the TV set has yet to thrill me so far. What is it that is missing? Something is not right. There is a void somewhere. An empty space.

Ah.... I know now. Lost isn't on. The third season DVD won't be available until December 11. The fourth season won't begun until early February. Depressing, no? Well, you'll have to take comfort in the fact that it won't be long until the cold days of February are here, but you'll be able to enjoy the warm sun and delightful breezes found on Lostaway Isle.

For now, here are some things to help tide you over:

Remember: you didn't come here by accident. You came for a reason. The Island brought you here.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Jollyblogger's favorite 2007 post

David Wayne thinks that this post is worthy of being called the blog post of the year.

the kingdom of heaven is at hand

Jon Meacham wrote this op-ed about John McCain in yesterday's New York Times, but he could have been talking about Barack Obama as well.

First, let's look at Meacham's words:

John McCain was not on the campus of Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University last year for very long — the senator, who once referred to Mr. Falwell and Pat Robertson as “agents of intolerance,” was there to receive an honorary degree — but he seems to have picked up some theology along with his academic hood. In an interview with last weekend, Mr. McCain repeated what is an article of faith among many American evangelicals: “the Constitution established the United States of America as a Christian nation.”

According to Scripture, however, believers are to be wary of all mortal powers. Their home is the kingdom of God, which transcends all earthly things, not any particular nation-state. The Psalmist advises believers to “put not your trust in princes.” The author of Job says that the Lord “shows no partiality to princes nor regards the rich above the poor, for they are all the work of his hands.” Before Pilate, Jesus says, “My kingdom is not of this world.” And if, as Paul writes in Galatians, “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus,” then it is difficult to see how there could be a distinction in God’s eyes between, say, an American and an Australian. In fact, there is no distinction if you believe Peter’s words in the Acts of the Apostles: “I most certainly believe now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears him and does what is right is welcome to him.”

Now, let's look at this piece on Senator Obama's recent visit to a church, where he spoke the following words:
"We're going to keep on praising together. I am confident that we can create a
Kingdom right here on Earth."
Is Obama a dominionist? It's important to note that he's talking about creating "a kingdom," not "God's kingdom." God may not even be needed in Obama's mind.

Here's the church's website. It seems to be becoming increasingly popular for large churches to be pastored by a husband-and-wife team. These particular pastors - Ron and Hope Carpenter - consider themselves to be "apostles." The website describes Ron as someone who has "a cutting edge apostolic voice for today’s church and wisdom beyond his years." (Did Ron write this himself? If not, he certainly endorses; otherwise, he would not have left it on the church website)

divorce and the Christian

This article about divorce from the October 2007 issue of Christianity Today gives much to think about.
The New Testament presents a problem in understanding both what the text says about divorce and its pastoral implications. Jesus appears to say that divorce is allowed only if adultery has occurred: "Whoever divorces a wife, except for sexual indecency, and remarries, commits adultery" (Matt. 19:9). However, this has been interpreted in many different ways. Most say that Jesus allows divorce only for adultery. But some argue that Jesus originally didn't allow even that. Only in Matthew does he offer an out from marriage: "except for sexual indecency."

Beyond what Jesus says, Paul also allows divorce. He permits it for abandonment by a nonbeliever (1 Cor. 7:12-15). Many theologians add this as a second ground for divorce. Yet some pastors have found this teaching difficult to accept, because it seems so impractical—even cruel in certain situations. It suggests there can be no divorce for physical or emotional abuse, and Paul even seems to forbid separation (1 Cor. 7:10).

As a result, some Christians quietly ignore this seemingly "impractical" biblical teaching or find ways around it. For example, they suggest that when Jesus talked about "sexual immorality," perhaps he included other things like abuse. Or when Paul talked about abandonment by a nonbeliever, perhaps he included any behavior that is not supportive of the marriage or abandonment by anyone who is acting like a nonbeliever. Many have welcomed such stretching of Scripture because they couldn't accept what they believed the text apparently said.

But does the literal text mean what we think it does? While doing doctoral studies at Cambridge, I likely read every surviving writing of the rabbis of Jesus' time. I "got inside their heads" enough to begin to understand them. When I began working as a pastor and was confronted almost immediately with divorced men and women who wanted to remarry, my first response was to re-read the Bible. I'd read the biblical texts on divorce many times in the past, but I found something strange as I did so again. They now said something I hadn't heard before I read the rabbis!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

the un-comic reality of Charles Schulz

Charles Schulz is someone I've admired for a very long time.

I guess I should qualify that and say it is his work - the acclaimed Peanuts - that I've admired for a very long time. Of all the comic strips I've followed over the years, this one is my favorite; judging by his continued popularity evidenced by the sale of these books, I'm not alone. Peanuts is an almost perfect window into life, really.

Just look at the cast of characters. A downtrodden, bald-headed kid who wants to succeed but believes that may be impossible. A girl who fancies herself as someone who could help others by offering "pshychiatric help" for only five cents, but who often presents as nothing more than a "fuss-budget." An unobtainable beauty of a red-headed girl. A wannabe concert pianist. A dog with an imagination kicked into hyperdrive on a Sopwith Camel.

Charles Schulz was a man who was caring and compassionate, filling the lives of his family members with so much happiness that no warm blankets were necessary. At least, that's how I had always pictured him. So it is very disheartening to learn that Schulz did not lead the idyllic kind of life some of us believed he led.

David Michaelis has written a biography of Schulz and his famous world - Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography. Among other details, Michaelis writes about Schulz's homelife, his affair with the woman who became his second wife, and his cold detachment from his own children.

Schulz seems to now join the ranks of artists - and that's exactly what he was - who have led lives others would find less than admirable. Does this diminish his work in any way? Instead of a salty delight, has Peanuts become a bitter pill to swallow?

Friday, October 5, 2007

why do they hate us?

Michael Spencer, also known as the Internet Monk, has written a piece on why evangelical Christians are some of the most disliked groups in society.

His points:
  1. Christians endorse a high standard of conduct for others, and then largely excuse themselves from a serious pursuit of such a life.
  2. Evangelical Christian piety in America is mostly public. Whether it's our entertainment-saturated "worship" services, our celebrity cults or our mad obsession with worldly success, we love for others to see what "God is doing in our lives."
  3. Many evangelicals relate to others with an obvious- or thinly disguised- hidden agenda. In other words, those who work with us or go to school with is feel that we are always "up to" something. You mean, they know we want to convert them? Apparently.
  4. We seem consumed with establishing that we are somehow "better" than other people, when the opposite is very often true.
  5. We talk about God in ways that are too familiar and make people uncomfortable.
  6. Evangelicals are too slow to separate themselves from what is wrong. Because ours is a moral religion, and we frequently advertise our certainty in moral matters, it seems bizarrely hypocritical when that moral sense is applied so inconsistently.
  7. We take ourselves far too seriously, and come off as opposed to normal life.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

"I was ready for the kool-aid and purple Nikes myself."

A family on vacation visits an emerging church.
"We should have gone back to the B & B the second we saw the way those people were dressed," said Glover. "They looked ready to slam dance at one of those Linkin Bizkit concerts."

"Really though." added Verna. "No suits, no ties, no Sunday shoes. I told one of the ushers that he needed to show more respect in the Lord's house. That this was a church, not the mall. Then he sassed me. Talked about how he wasn't 'at church, he is the church'. I was like, 'Oh, okay. I must have mistaken that steeple on your head for a plastic mesh trucker cap, Cooter.' Lord forgive me."
(HT: Pyros)

See-through frogs

High school students everywhere can rejoice - they don't have to complain about dissecting frogs anymore. They can just get a transparent one.


Craig Robinson has been creating illustrations of bands for years. Can you name the band? See if you can.

(HT: Neatorama)

Crispin Glover

Crispin Glover has to be one of the most unusual actors Hollywood has ever produced, and that's really saying a lot. Although many from Generation Y know him as the creepy "Thin Man" in the Charlie's Angels films, he is best known from his work in the 1980s as "George McFly," father to the time-traveling Michael J. Fox in Back to the Future. Glover refused to participate in the Back to the Future sequels, and won a landmark case against the films' producers (including a little-known director named Steven Spielberg) when they used an actor with prosthetics made to look like Glover as well as material from the first film.

His first appearance on Late Night with David Letterman has to be one of the most memorable of Dave's interviews:

His second interview took place over two years later:

Not long ago, Glover participated in an interview and talked about his first experience on Letterman's show. Granted, he didn't give any insights to his appearance:

Tuesday, October 2, 2007


Pastor Bill Rudd has written down his thoughts about homosexuality and the Christian. I find much here with which to agree. You'll find them in three parts: 1, 2, and 3.

Earlier this year, Soulforce went on a bus ride in order to visit 32 Christian colleges and universities with policies banning the open enrollment of openly LGBT students. They visited Cedarville University, my alma mater, in April (read about it here).
On Thursday, April 19th, 2007, Soulforce Equality Ride visited Cedarville University and had a great day of dialogue. The day began with a breakfast for Riders and student hosts. Two panels were held with Equality Riders and Cedarville faculty discussing homosexuality and Scripture, human rights, and a Christian response. Equality Riders also hosted a presentation on the effects of spiritual violence. There was wonderful dialogue with students throughout the day, including many great conversations over lunch, dinner, and coffee (Cedarville definitely took good care of us).

The day on campus was followed by a community rally on April 20th at Antioch College's Coretta Scott King center, where Soulforce Equality Riders had a time of informal fellowship with Cedarville students and alum, Antioch College students, and members of the community.

For any Cedarville students or alumni who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender or who are supportive of LGBT people, check out

Also: Is "Christian" the new "gay?"

religion and employment

I wonder what Christopher Hitchens would say about this. Or even Benedict XVI.
Those lucky enough to be living in countries with high employment might want to credit their governments for the economic prosperity they enjoy. But new research indicates the credit, at least in some cases, belongs elsewhere - with religion.

A new study shows that Protestant countries have higher employment rates than non-Protestant countries. And this is because of the Protestant work ethic, which makes subjects work hard, even on occasion where they do not want to.

Researchers at Bath university found that the UK, the US and Nordic countries such as Denmark, Sweden and Norway wereamong those with employment rates as much as six per cent higher than countries where other religions are practiced by the largest proportion of the population. (Times online)

As Christians, we know that God expects us to work if we are able to do so. The apostle Paul specifically warned the Thessalonians about the dangers of idleness. He made clear his stance on work in the third chapter of his second letter to them.
Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone's bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.

and I think to myself...

What a bizarre country we're living in right now.

Look at the stuff people are talking about. Not just the things you hear by the watercooler (or the coffee pot, or the vending machines, or whever coworkers gather to talk about non-work-related activities), but the lead stories on cable and national news programs.

Some members of Congress wants to reprimand Rush Limbaugh for something he said on his program. As if they have nothing better to do...

The court system believes Kevin Federline is a better parent than Britney Spears. A few years ago, Britney was the responsible one while Kevin was out partying. Now, Kevin is trying to get an acting career going, and Britney's life is careening out of control.

Terry McAuliffe believes Hillary Clinton has a "great belly laugh."

My, my, my...

Monday, October 1, 2007

"Having conceived Babel, yet unable to build it themselves, they had thousands to build it for them."

Here are the top 50 dystopian visions of the future ever placed on film. Do they truly offer a glimpse into what will eventually become our history? I haven't seen that many on the list, but of the ones I have, the fallenness of humanity is quite evident.

Especially the humanity on display in 2006's Children of Men. Powerful stuff....

First Monday in October

It's that time of year again. A chill rises in the night air. The leaves, ridding themselves of chlorophyll, start to show their true colors. The children change from T-shirts and shorts to long-sleeves and khakis. The birds take wing for warmer climates. And, the Justices leave their summer behind to come out and play.