Friday, February 29, 2008

Hermeneutics Quiz

Take Scot McKnight's hermeneutics quiz. I'm a 51.

Leap Day

How are you spending your extra day of February? We only get it every four years, you know. Personally I'd rather skip it and go straight to March, but I wasn't consulted when the calendar was constructed.

Here's what I've done so far:
  • take The Cute One to see her E/N/T doctor at 6:00 AM to have tubes put in her ears - she's had seven ear infections in the past year, three in the past three months
  • eat a peach kolache from this place
  • study for my anatomy test next Wednesday - it focuses on the muscles
  • buy the car tags for the year
  • spend too many minutes playing "Lego Star Wars II: the Original Trilogy"

Thursday, February 28, 2008

William F. Buckley, Jr. - 1925-2008

Buckley was a giant star in the conservative universe, and he has now gone to join the celestial bodies. He was preceded in death by his wife just last year.
Mr. Buckley suffered from diabetes and emphysema, his son Christopher said, although the exact cause of death was not immediately known. He was found at his desk in the study of his home, his son said. “He might have been working on a column,” Mr. Buckley said.

William Buckley, with his winningly capricious personality, his use of ten-dollar words and a darting tongue writers loved to compare to an anteater’s, was the popular host of one of television’s longest-running programs, “Firing Line,” and founded and shepherded the influential conservative magazine “National Review.”

He also found time to write more than 50 books, ranging from sailing odysseys to spy novels to dissertations on harpsichord fingering to celebrations of his own dashing daily life. He edited at least five more.

Fittingly, National Review pays tribute. Rick Perlstein has a nice article about Buckley as well.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

he is native to which country?

Ah, the Clinton camp and their wicked ways...

"This is the first country, and people across America recognize that."

What IS she talking about?? So, Somalia was the very first country EVER, and all of America sees this as a fact?

getting on "Gladiator"

Show your personality. Or, at least, your persona. Because if you don't have much of a personality, you can always try on a persona. Or try several personae. Let your friends decide which one is most TV-friendly.

"You'll probably get to know more about anime if you end up meeting me."

Is he the world's biggest nerd, just trying to find love? They say there is someone for everyone...

the (ab)use of Adderall

Matt Y. links to an article by Molly Young where the author talks about her use of the medication Adderall. Adderall was made to treat people with ADHD and narcolepsy, but since it's an amphetamine, it's often used in non-prescription ways. Young's article is quite similar to one written by Joshua Foer three years ago.

Matt writes:
Some people, though, clearly experience great effects and it does raise some questions. Do we really want to create a situation where some students may feel that they have to abuse prescription drugs to stay competitive in school? Then again, if there's a pill out there that's safe to take and helps kids learn a bunch of stuff, doesn't it seem like we should be prescribing more of it? I'd want to know more about what the real medical affects of taking the stuff before I made any kind of judgment. I will say that I was a bit shocked to hear about some of the younger faculty using it to help get their work done, but even though at the moment Adderral seems to mainly be a vice of college students there's no particular reason it couldn't be useful (in good ways or bad) for a much wider range of people.

Some people say that they smoke pot because it helps them to relax after a stressful day. Should we encourage them to continue using it? While Matt may be focusing on a drug that is manufactured by a company, whose to say (given his reasoning) that we can't examine the impact of other substances and their effects on human performance? I think there are moral implications to relying on a pill to help someone "learn a bunch of stuff." Couldn't Adderall be used as "mental steroid?"

depression study

How effective are the new medications to treat clinical depression?
New generation anti-depressants have little clinical benefit for most patients, research suggests. A University of Hull team concluded the drugs actively help only a small group of the most severely depressed. Marjorie Wallace, head of the mental health charity Sane, said that if these results were confirmed they could be "very disturbing".

But the makers of Prozac and Seroxat, two of the commonest anti-depressants, said they disagreed with the findings. A spokesman for GlaxoSmithKline, which makes Seroxat, said the study only looked at a "small subset of the total data available".
Naturally the makers of these drugs dispute the findings. Antidepressants were successful in combating mild depressive symptoms, but the effect wasn't significantly different from those that received a placebo pill.
Dr Andrew McCulloch, of the Mental Health Foundation, said: "We have become vastly over-reliant on antidepressants when there is a range of alternatives. Talking therapies, exercise referral and other treatments are effective for depression. It is a problem that needs a variety of approaches matched to the individual patient."

Saturday, February 23, 2008

"I don’t think I have a favorite candidate. There is a woman, Libertarian nut, who is running, who is of course automatically my favorite."

Magician Penn Jillette on the 2008 elections:
I’m really surprised, I think, this year by how crazy everyone seems. Usually there’s people I disagree with, but they don’t seem crazy. This year everybody seems out of their minds. I mean, Hillary just seems like Jerry Lee Lewis to me. And McCain just seems like a complete wackjob. And I guess Obama seems to have some sort of sense, a little bit more sense. Don’t misunderstand me. I don’t agree with him on anything, but he seems like a person that’s not about to just explode. And Hillary and McCain really seem that way to me. So that makes the election kind of fun.

And, lo and behold, Hillary explodes:

Thursday, February 21, 2008

emerging Indy

The emerging church in Indianapolis is having the spotlight shone on it, courtesy of Quite frankly, I'm glad to see this site, which caters to the twenty- and thirty-something crowd, willing to write about church-related issues. You know, moving beyond the usual stuff like where to eat, which movie to see, and at which bar to hang out.

In case you're interested, I once attended the church where Shane Fuller used to pastor the youth. It's definitely a different kind of church than the one he pastors now.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

total eclipse of the moon

I've been fortunate enough to see several lunar eclipses, and now we have another one. The skies are quite clear here in central Indiana, so the moon is quite visible. Right now it looks as if the left lower chunk of the moon is missing. If you've never seen a lunar eclipse and the skies are clear in your area, put away your laptop and get outside. Unlike a solar eclipse which lasts only minutes, the lunar eclipse spans several hours, so you have some time left.

NASA has some good information on the lunar eclipse, including some tips for taking photographs.

Michael Moore is sad

Poor Michael Moore. His favorite leader has official retired. If you go to Mooore's site, you'll see a nice picture of a reflective Castro. Moore gives a link to the resignation letter as well as two articles, CIA Plot to Kill Castro Detailed and Bearded revolutionary who laughed in America's face. Nothing, of course, on Castro's oppression of his people and imprisonment of political dissidents. No, that' s all glossed over for articles that focus on his "struggle" against America. That's the important thing in Moore's book - if you hate/defy/demonize America, you've got a friend in Moore.

the primary leaderboard

Here are the numbers so far:

Two obvious questions:

(1) Why is Huckabee staying in the race? What does he hope to accomplish, other than continuing to assert himself as "the conservative choice?"

(2) Does Clinton have some type of extra strategy? If she continues to lose, especially in the big Texas/Ohio primaries, what will she do?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

More on Cedarville and Claiborne

I don't really have anything new to add beyond what I've already said, but I do want to bring your attention to two posts about Cedarville's (dis)invitation to Shane Claiborne. They were written by two bloggers whose opinions I respect (but with whom I don't always agree), Mark Byron and Scot McKnight.

I'm surprised that Mark Byron isn't a bigger light in the blogosphere. I don't know what his traffic numbers are, but I'm sure that whatever they are, they're not high enough. He's been in the blogging game for several years, and his posts are thoughtful and well-written. I especially enjoy his Edifier du Jour series. If you're not a regular reader of his blog, you really need to become one. (And, Mark, I'm not saying all this just because you've been a faithful reader of mine since nearly my beginning. Truly, I'm not...)

what will become of the revolution now?

Fidel Castro has decided not to continue as the leader of Cuba. His brother Raul is assumed to hold the power now. How will this affect the frosty U.S.-Cuba relationship? Only time will tell, but we can hope that things will improve.

Friday, February 15, 2008

the 30-day sex challenge

Is this coming to your church? Moving beyond mere prudery, with what might you find fault?

hope ain't the only thing needin' some audacity

One of my professors at Cedarville used to say, "If you're going to sin, sin big." I guess these thieves also heard him.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

the purpose-driven secret to becoming a better buyer

Oh, sure. You can listen to all those self-help gurus if you want to. The ones who are writing all those blockbuster books that you can get at Barnes & Nobles or Borders. The ones who, like Rick Warren, tell you that you do have a purpose in life - you just need to get out there and discover it and live it. The ones who, like Joel Osteen, tell you that this is your best life now, and that best life is all about becoming a better you - a more you-ish you. The ones who, like Rhonda Byrnes, tell you that there's this secret out there that's been hidden for many-many-many years, and it's all about wishing for good things to happen and they magically happen because you wished them to.

Enough of all that. I mean, it's all so 2007. My personal swami/guru/motivator is Representative John Boehner of Ohio, he of the flashy smile and perfect hair that makes even John Edwards enviously green. He says that we're all consumers and our purpose in life is to buy, buy, buy.

House Minority Leader Boehner, a Republican congressman from Ohio, celebrated the recent passage of the economic stimulus package by saying, "The sooner we get this relief in the hands of the American people, the sooner they can begin to do their job of being good consumers." Your title: "consumer;" your mission: "buy stuff." Echoes of the president's call, amid the crisis of 9/11, to get out and "shop."
If Oprah is your personal goddess, you now have a place to worship.

Added: In all seriousness, this kind of "consumer" talk is nothing new. We were talking like this in the mental health field ten years ago. Mentally ill persons who came to our community support program seeking services (e.g., scheduling appointments to see a psychiatrist or a therapist, applying for disability and medical benefits, securing housing) were considered to be "consumers" of those services.

Cedarville cancels Claiborne

Just when I write that I haven't blogged too much about my alma mater, I see another reason to do. Katelyn Beaty, posting to the website for Christianity Today magazine, writes that Cedarville University had invited Shane Claiborne to speak on campus but then cancelled. This cancellation happened after "a small but vocal number of bloggers" complained about Claiborne's appearance because they "saw the lecture as a step toward liberal theology." Although the article indicates that several bloggers were complaining, only one - Ingrid Schlueter - is specifically named. Schlueter was unhappy with the article's focus on bloggers instead of Cedarville's perceived "step toward liberal theology," so she wrote a response.

Naturally, I have a few thoughts....

(1) Despite writing that several bloggers complained of Claiborne's scheduled appearance, Beaty names only Schlueter. Why is that? Was Beaty operating on hearsay, or could she simply not be bothered with informing her readers of the identities of the other bloggers?

(2) Think about what a church is, and what it isn't. Next, think about what a university is, and what it isn't. Should a university act as a church, even it has been "approved" by a specific denomination of churches? What is a university's obligation to its students?

(3) How many non-Reformed speakers must be invited before we can definitively say that Cedarville is on the path to "liberal theology?" How many Reformed speakers must be invited to counter that claim?

(4) Is this just a bunch of hoo-haw?

(5) Peruse Schlueter's blog for yourself. You'll be seeing a lot of this, and consider how many times those kinds of posts appear. Ask yourself, how are these posts any different than gossip?

(6) Which would you prefer: a blog that causes you to think, and or a blog that tells you what to think?

Friday, February 8, 2008

Darwin in church

Alan Boyle comments on Evolution Weekend.

Ten Tidbits, Film Edition

01. A history of the Academy Awards, examining the 2007 nominations as well as past shockers, curses, and odd moments

02. Ten Star Wars toys that look like other celebrities

03. Sure, we have a long history of "teachable moments" courtesy of our past presidents, but about lessons learned from the faux presidents? I think what the president in Superman II taught us is most important.

04. Did you start watching a movie but for some reason had to stop so you missed the ending? Are you wanting to know if the conclusion to the latest thriller is inspired or just plain silly? Check out Movie Spoiler.

05. The Hollywood sign has been around for some time. If you already know it's history, then you realize that four letters are missing:

The Hollywood Sign stands four stories high, each letter running 30 feet at its base along the rugged terrain of the Hollywood Hills. Up close, it's massive, but to those who have been around since its birth, something is missing. Actually, four somethings. Following the familiar HOLLYWOOD that still greets pilots and tourists arriving in Los Angeles today, there once stood more letters: L-A-N-D.

For Morning Edition, Special Correspondent Renée Montagne investigates the origins of the sign. Since its construction, the sign put up by the Hollywoodland Real Estate Group may have undergone a small amount of cosmetic surgery, but then again, what in L.A. hasn't? After all, doesn't the most famous billboard of all time deserve a little pampering?

06. No doubt you'll have some opinion about the 100 best film soundtracks

07. Speaking of film soundtracks, I should mention that today, February 8, is John Williams' birthday. He composed the scores for such films as The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing, Heartbeeps, and Monsignor, as well as little known films like Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jurassic Park, and Saving Private Ryan.

08. Unhappy with several aspects of the film version of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe (which I must admit, I was unhappy with several things as well), Devin Brown shares his hopes for Prince Caspian. He has five requests: (1) characters' apologies for wrong-doing; (2) an awesome Aslan; (3) a grousing Susan; (4) the consequences of choices; and (5) a good ending.

09. Nine ways Star Wars can save you money

10. Was 2007 the year the bad boys reigned in Hollywood?
''The essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic, and a killer. It has never yet melted,'' D.H. Lawrence once declared. He shoulda been a movie critic.

Mr. Lady Chatterley's Lover was writing in the 1920s, but let's face it, he might have just emerged fresh from a visit to today's multiplex, his fingers still buttery from a double feature of No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood. And he might have been left shaken, as so many of us have, after encountering two of the hardest, most morally isolated and stoic killer-dillers in contemporary movies — Javier Bardem's implacable, Beatle-cut annihilator Anton Chigurh and Daniel Day-Lewis' misanthropic oilman/bowling aficionado Daniel Plainview.

At the conclusion of this year's Oscars, Day-Lewis may well take home the award for Best Actor, and Bardem a matching statuette for Best Supporting Actor. By any measure, it was an awfully good year for awfully-behaved characters. Whether we're talking about Johnny Depp's demon barber in Sweeney Todd, the up-by-his-bootstraps hoodlum Denzel Washington portrayed in American Gangster, Russell Crowe's sketch-pad-wielding Western baddie in 3:10 to Yuma, or the serial killer in David Fincher's Zodiac, evil is artful in some of the best recent American movies.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

new alumni director at Cedarville University

I don't talk too much around here about my alma mater, but I'm pleased to report this news. If you cycled through Cedarville and never met Jeff, even after he moved on from the admissions office, you probably never talked to anyone else.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Today is Ash Wednesday

I grew up in regular and independent Baptist churches, so we didn't honor Ash Wednesday or the 40 days of Lent like my RCC and Lutheran (and some others) brethren. For those like me, Mark D. Roberts has written a helpful series on this season of the Christian calendar.

Last year I blogged about giving up fast food. I lasted only two weeks. This year I'm acknowledging Lent in a different way.

pride, the Super Bowl, & me

Powerful stuff, this.

And I have to say: the worst sinner I know is me.

are you not an Obama supporter?

Perhaps this might sway you....

As for the Republican ticket, take Dr. James Dobson's statements about Senator McCain for what they are worth. Which in my eyes isn't much. I stopped caring about Dobson the day he started caring more about politics than family issues.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

psychological fallout of Hurricane Katrina

Both good and bad news from a study about the mental fallout of Hurricane Katrina:

Adults forced from their homes for two weeks or more by Hurricanes Katrina or Rita were much more likely to report mental health and substance abuse problems than those who were not similarly dislocated, according to a report based on surveys conducted before and after these storms hit.

The report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), however, also indicated that most adults affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita did not evidence increased levels of mental health or substance abuse problems.

“This report shows that most people are resilient – that they can overcome tremendous adversity,” said SAMHSA Administrator Terry Cline, Ph.D. “But it also shows that when people are displaced from their homes it can be devastating, and that mental health resources can play a critical role in enabling them to fully recover from such a trauma.”

the Game

Congrats to the New York Giants for winning Super Bowl 42! They're not the team I really wanted to win, but at least they beat the team I really wanted not to win. It's always great to see the underdog emerge victorious. And, I see that the Mannings will be keeping the MVP Award in the family. (Photo by Doug Mills for The New York Times)

stopping time

I think most performance art is rather silly, but this is very cool.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Cool like Mark Driscoll

He uses a Dell, and so do I. Not one of those silly Mac things. Bleh.

123 Meme

Although he didn't ask me to, I think I'll participate in this meme to which Pastor Mark links. I'm sure he won't mind. There's a bit of mystery to it, which I think enhances almost any experience.

Here are the rules:
1. Pick up the nearest book ( of at least 123 pages).
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people.

I'm presently sitting on the couch in our living room. Directly behind me is the bookshelf. I've reached back behind me and found a book I thoroughly enjoyed reading last year, Nathaniel Philbrick's Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community and War.

Page 123 is the first page of chapter eight, entitled "The Wall." The Pilgrims had just enjoyed the First Thanksgiving with over 100 Pokanokets, which did indeed include some wild turkey. As soon as the meal starts to fade into their memories, an unexpected ship appears just off Cape Cod.
Then, at the end of November, a lookout atop Fort Hill sighted a sail making for Plymouth Harbor. Many of the men were out working in the surrounding countryside. They must be called back immediately.
From where did the ship come? Were the sailors friendly or not? You'll have to get the book to find out...

Just like Pastor Mark, I'll ignore the instruction of tagging five others. If you are so inclined, feel free to join in.

Friday, February 1, 2008

100 films to see in 2008

If I had known I had to see 100 movies this year, I'd have start saving more money long ago. My top two movies to see this year made the list, The Dark Knight at #24 and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull at #5.

the latest info on suicide

All over the world, there are certain factors that indicate a person's potential for a suicide attempt: the female, the young, the single, the mentally ill, and the poorly educated are at higher risk.
“Our research suggests that suicidal thoughts and behaviors are more common than one might think, and also that key risk factors for these behaviors are quite consistent across many different countries around the world,” said Harvard University researcher Matthew Nock, whose study appears in the British Journal of Psychiatry.

According to the World Health Organization, suicide rates have increased by 60 percent in the last 45 years. Suicide is now among the leading causes of death among those aged 15 to 44 for both genders.

“Across every single country we saw there was a significant increase in suicidal thoughts during adolescence and young adulthood,” Nock said in a telephone interview.

He said the odds of a person committing suicide rise sharply between the ages of 12 and 15 and the time between the first suicidal thoughts and an actual attempt is short.