Monday, June 15, 2009

Obama talks about Jesus more than Bush

Politco says so.

Some theories:
1. To win over people who still think he's a Muslim,
2. connect with the majority of Americans who believe in God (83%),
3. Resurrect the Christian Left,
4. show up in the news.

Lego Jesus



I don't know if this Swedish church is trying to reach out to the next generation or making some statement (We assembled Jesus, Jesus can be assembled in many different ways) but I dig it.

John McCandlish Phillips: the journalist with a "Bible on his desk"

The Wall Street Journal posted a story last week about John McCandlish Phillips, who left The New York Times after working two decades on a promising career in journalism to pursue a career as a minister.

Peter Duffy explains how different Phillips was:
In the secular temple of the big-city newsroom, Mr. Phillips conspicuously placed a Bible on his desk, calling it "a statement I made of who I was and where I stood."

"Koogle": the kosher search engine

It'll be harder for Orthodox Jews who accidentally stumble upon porn or buy something on the Sabbath. There is a new search engine in town, and Koogle isn't going to be putting up with any biblically-prohibited behavior.

The site was developed in part at the encouragement of rabbis who sought a solution to the needs of ultra-Orthodox Jews to browse the Web particularly for vital services.

Via Reuters.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Crunching numbers, avoiding the Beast

Carl Bialik explores the limits of numbering, from Internet IPs to Social Security, while avoiding the sign of the Beast:
Social Security numbers should also last well into the later part of this century, according to Social Security Administration spokeswoman Cynthia W. Edwards. The agency has assigned about 450 million numbers, including 5.8 million last year, but nearly a billion are possible -- not quite a billion because some numbers, including those that start with 666, aren't allowed.

Tom Judd, the routing-number administrator for the American Bankers Association, isn't as accommodating when banks want to avoid that Number of the Beast from the Book of Revelation. "We had a bank call up, mad," because 666 was in its assigned routing number. Others have complained about numbers that included 1313, double bad luck if you're so inclined. But Mr. Judd stood firm. Customers who don't like seeing that number on their check "will have to go to another bank," he says.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Bible bending Netanyahu

Fareed Zakaria says that everything you know about Iran is wrong. Including the notion that Iran is "a messianic, apocalyptic cult"
One of Netanyahu's advisers said of Iran, "Think Amalek." The Bible says that the Amalekites were dedicated enemies of the Jewish people. In 1 Samuel 15, God says, "Go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass." Now, were the president of Iran and his advisers to have cited a religious text that gave divine sanction for the annihilation of an entire race, they would be called, well, messianic.

Obama as Moses


Tony Auth, copyright 2009 Universal Press Syndicate

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Kris Allen: Proof that the Christian vote is a game changer?

Kris Allen's American Idol win is a win for the Christian right, says the blogosphere in response to the upset Allen pulled on last night's big reveal.

"[T]he battle between an ambiguously sexual, theater-loving California glam rocker and a married-at-23, former church missionary Arkansas country rocker has all the makings of a Blue State/Red State culture war," says Randall Lane in the Daily Beast, posting a map of the voting that suggests a correlation between Allen and McCain supporters.

Michael Giltz, writing in the Huffington Post, notes that Allen represents a trend. "Look at seasons past," Giltz urges, "and where there's a clear Christian vs secular showdown, the Christians have been winning handily.

Burned Bibles

Unsolicited Bibles, sent to Afghanistan by an American church, were burned by the US Army to prevent their distribution.

Any perception that the US was trying to convert Afghans to Christianity would have endangered US troops and civilians. The military forbids troops from any religion from proselytizing. As for the method of disposal: "Troops at posts in war zones are required to burn their trash."

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Hipster Jesus Debut

Behold:

"We felt this design summed up the spirit and activity of Christ perfectly and I think it speaks for itself," says Father David Buckley, of Our Lady Immaculate and St Philip Neri Catholic church in Uckfield, UK.

Via the Telegraph.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Jesus Loves you, but I'm his favorite

The New York Times reports on the holier-than-thou syndrome: an inclination to believe that our individual morals are stronger than our peers. Such an inclination is most pronounced in the religious:
One practice that can potentially temper feelings of moral superiority is religion. All major faiths emphasize the value of being humble and the perils of hubris. “In humility count others as better than yourself,” St. Paul advises in his letter to the Philippians.

Yet for some people, religion appears to amplify the instinct to feel like a moral beacon. In a 2002 study, researchers at Baylor University in Texas and Simpson University in California evaluated the religious commitment of 249 students, 80 percent of whom were members of a church.

The researchers, led by Wade C. Rowatt of Baylor, found that the students in this highly religious group considered themselves, on average, almost twice as likely as their peers to adhere to such biblical commandments as “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

The study also found that the most strictly fundamentalist of the students were at the highest end of the scale.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

'Joe the Plumber' on the Christian Right, Gerson on why it needs to back off

The Everyman of the 2008 presidential campaign talks with Christianity Today about same sex marriage, the appeal of the Republican Party, his love of James Dobson, and his future in politics.
'Joe the Plumber' (aka Samuel Wurzelbacher), hopes "our leaders actually check with God before he does stuff" and feels that the Republican party needs to work with God more:
Does the Republican Party reach out to evangelicals enough?

No. None of them stand up for anything. They use God as a punch line. They use God to invoke sympathy or invoke righteousness, but they don't stay the course. That's why I think that all needs to be taken out of the federal level and give it back to the states. We've lost our American history. Every state has "In God we trust" or "With God's help" in their constitution. God is recognized as, if you will, America's religion.

In related news, Michael Gerson writes that a large segment of the non-religiously affiliated twenty-somethings would join a community if the religious right hadn't turned them off. Gerson quotes Robert Putnam (of "Bowling Alone" fame), who together with David Campbell, is working on a new book on the subject:
"They are not in church, but they might be if a church weren't like the religious right. . . . There are almost certain to be religious entrepreneurs to fill that niche with a moderate evangelical religion, without political overtones."

What would Jesus say about torture (and why aren't Christians saying it)?

Christians are out of step with the gospel that they preach, writes Cynthia Tucker.
Many evangelical Christians, black, white and brown, are Biblical literalists, insisting that homosexuality is a sin and evolution is heresy because the Bible says so. That same Bible introduces a simple teacher who instructed his followers to turn the other cheek, to repay cruelty with kindness, to disregard their personal safety. Yes, we may be forgiven for being afraid, but fear cannot justify inhumanity to others. How does that jibe with support for barbaric treatment of detainees?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Florida's new Jesus plate



Florida's congress has approved of allowing Jesus vanity license plates. The Times/Herald questioned Gov. Crist, who said that he would not veto the bill.
So you don't have a problem with Jesus on a license plate?

Crist: "I don’t. No."

What about separation of church and state?

Crist: “If they don’t want one they don’t have to buy one.”

Is that state endorsement of religion?

"I think it ... What's it say? 'In God We Trust' on every single piece of monetary, coins and paper we have? I think it’s fine."

Via Tampa Bay's The Buzz

"Soldiers in Afghanistan Given Bibles, told to 'Hunt People for Jesus'"

Al Jezeera has uncovered a year-old video of soldiers given instruction on how to avoid converting Afghanis while giving them the gift of the Bible in Pashtu and Dari.

"The Special Forces guys, they hunt men. Basically, we do the same things as Christians. We hunt people for Jesus. We do, we hunt them down. Get the hound of heaven after them, so we get them into the Kingdom. That's what we do, that's our business," says one military preacher.

A defense official has responded to the report by clarifying that the preacher was speaking in general terms and the Bibles were confiscated before they could be distributed.



Via Huffington Post.

Why Jessica Simpson's father hated her wedding

Rich Cohen, author of the much discussed Vanity Fair feature on Jessica Simpson, explains the pained look on Jessica father's face as he watched his daughter walk down the aisle to give up her purity ring to a member of a boy band:
As it says in the Bible in [sic] re marriage and parents: leave and cleave.

Cohen also suggests that Joe Simpson was pained to see his daughter's value as an object of sexual fantasy diminish. But that's not biblical...

Bible bending Firefox logo


Daniel Burka reveals the origins of the Firefox logo:
Little-known fact: the Firefox logo was partially inspired by this illustration in my childhood bible (Judges 15:4)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Kristof: Koran entering a period of critical scholarship

Nicholas Kristof, writing an Op-ed in the New York Times, notes that the Koran is now undergoing a period of critical scholarship challenging the consistency and accuracy of the text akin to biblical scholarship of the 1800s:
For some literal-minded Christians, it was traumatic to discover that the ending of the Gospel of Mark, describing encounters with the resurrected Jesus, is stylistically different from the rest of Mark and is widely regarded by scholars as a later addition.

Likewise, Biblical scholars distressed the faithful by focusing on inconsistencies among the gospels. The Gospel of Matthew says that Judas hanged himself, while Acts describes him falling down in a field and dying; the Gospel of John disagrees with other gospels about whether the crucifixion occurred on Passover or the day before. For those who considered every word of the Bible literally God’s word, this kind of scholarship felt sacrilegious.

Now those same discomfiting analytical tools are being applied to the Koran.
Read the whole article here.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Mother uses Bible to defend daughter's fashion choices

A Texan woman says her daughter, a 7-year-old second-grader, has the right to wear her shirt untucked because of a Bible verse, 1 Timothy 2:9, which dictates that "women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing."

"I don't want her behind showing," the mother said. "I don't want her body being exposed."

The school board agreed, 6-1, and overturned the principal and district administers' order that all shirts must be tucked in.

The article in the Dallas Morning News notes that board members discussed their interpretations of Scripture before voting.

"I'm a Christian," said trustee Valerie Jones. "There could be a Christian who believes it might be more modest for their child's shirt to be tucked in than not to be tucked in. ... There is room for interpretation even amongst Christians."

Friday, April 17, 2009

Backmasking Obama

Looking for new ways to link President Obama with the Anti-Christ? Enjoy hearing phrases played backward to reveal satanic messages? Wondering how Obama fits into Nostradamus's predictions? Browsing for new ways to apply the Bible to current events?

The Internet has heard you. Now those on the look out for Beelzebub's handmaiden can gather together on one YouTube channel where we can all keep an eye out for the strange things you do with your Bibles.

More on backmasking here. And a textbook example here:

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Obama hides Jesus


"Jesus Missing from Obama's Georgetown Speech"
This is the headline on Fox Nation, NBC Washington and the Drudge Report as of 4:19 p.m. ET.

Cybercast News Service (CNS) broke the story that the White House allegedly requested that Georgetown "hide Jesus" and "all signs and symbols" during President Obama's speech.

Media Matters reports that "several commenters on The Fox Nation--as of this posting--have used this opportunity to question Obama's faith, calling the president 'ANTI-CHRIST' and a 'Muslim.'"

Heed Paul, forego denim


Our Nation, says George Will, "would be much more [lovely] if supposed grown-ups would heed St. Paul's first letter to the Corinthians, and St. Barack's inaugural sermon to the Americans, by putting away childish things, starting with denim."

Secular Values, not guns, create criminals: Morality in Media

Morality in Media President, Bob Peters, reacts to the wave of gun-related murders this past week (reproduced in full):

"Having lived in New York City for more than 30 years, I am all too aware of the harm that firearms in the hands of criminals can cause. Having grown up in a small town in Illinois, where citizens owned guns without misusing them, I am also aware that guns aren't the underlying problem. I am not an opponent of gun regulation; I am an opponent of making guns the scapegoat for mass murder.

"The underlying problem is that increasingly we live in a 'post-Christian' society, where Judeo-Christian faith and values have less and less influence. Among other things, Judaism and Christianity taught that murder was wrong and that included murder motivated by anger, hatred and revenge. Both religions also taught that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves and to forgive others.

"For many citizens, what has replaced Judeo-Christian faith and values is the secular value system that is reflected in films, rap/music lyrics, and videogames and on TV and now the Internet, where the taking of human life for just about any reason is commonplace and is often portrayed in an appealing manner and in realistic detail. Murder motivated by hatred and revenge is also justified.

"This secular value system is also reflected in the 'sexual revolution,' which is the driving force behind the push for 'gay marriage;' and the Iowa Supreme Court decision is another indication that despite all the damage this revolution has caused to children, adults, family life and society (think abortion, divorce, pornography, rape, sexual abuse of children, sexually transmitted diseases, trafficking in women and children, unwed teen mothers and more), it continues to advance relentlessly.

"It most certainly is not my intention to blame the epidemic of mass murders on the gay rights movement! It is my intention to point out that the success of the sexual revolution is inversely proportional to the decline in morality; and it is the decline of morality (and the faith that so often under girds it) that is the underlying cause of our modern day epidemic of mass murders.

"I would add that if conservative media's irresponsible talk of revolution can 'poison weak minds,' the liberal entertainment media's irresponsible portrayal of mayhem can also poison weak minds."

An Ark of true biblical proportions


The world's first Ark replica that is made to precise biblical specifications is near-completion in Hong Kong, thanks to three brothers and their billions.

The Wall Street Journal explains:
The instructions in the King James version of the Bible call for a gopher wood and pitch vessel that is 300 cubits long, 50 wide and 30 high, with a window, a door and three stories. (By the reckoning of modern scholars, [who?] that comes out to about 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high.)

Mr. Lu, the project's director, says the park isn't promoting religion. "We're promoting meaning."

Friday, April 10, 2009

Colbert: "I have been waiting my whole life to witness an event of biblical proportions"

"How many times do you have to bring your son to the sacrificial alter before God makes his move?"

Following in the spirit of Passover and Purim, Stephen Colbert frees his Jews:
The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Birkat Hachama - Stephen Frees His Jews
colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorNASA Name Contest

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Miley 's Bible tutor

“He’s really made me read my Bible. He’s made me actually read the stories in the Bible—not the quick little verses--that not only help me, but show you how to help other people."
-Miley Cyrus, discussing the influence her boyfriend, Justin Gaston, has had on her.

Jesus loves condoms

--and can kick Pope Anonymous's ass:

"Is there Proof of Christ's Resurrection?"

I didn't realize that it's "Prove the Bible" day today. I didn't even send out cards this year.

Thankfully, Rev. Randy Singer has the holiday spirit. Over at CBN Rev. Singer investigates the resurrection "from a different perspective."

At least, that's what I assume his video is about. Every time I try to watch it my Internet server crashes. Unless... maybe that's the Rev. Singer's point? Heavy.

Scientific explanations for the parting of the Red Sea, the 10 plagues, and the burning bush.

Michael Lukas, writing for Slate, explores the scientific explanations of the Exodus story in sources as varied as "Modeling the Hydrodynamic Situation of the Exodus", Colin Humphreys' The Miracles of Exodus, John Marr's "domino theory" of the ten plagues, and an article by Norwegian physicist Dag Kristian Dysthe on the possibility of spontaneous combustion.

Lukas ends his article on an uplifting note. Acknowledging that some are "attempting to cast doubt on the foundations of monotheism" Lukas adds:
But not all the explanations of the Passover story are motivated by such ardent secularism. In The Miracles of Exodus, Humphreys writes that "a natural explanation of the events of the Exodus doesn't to my mind make them any less miraculous. … What made certain events miraculous was their timing."

Is Christianity's influence wanning?

A recent Newsweek Poll asked: Is religion increasing or losing its influence on American life?
19% said religion was increasing its influence
68% said religion was losing its influence.

Christopher Hitchens, from Vanity Fair and author of God is Not Great, joined Kenneth Blackwell, from the Family Research Council, on Hardball last night to discuss whether Christianity's influence is fading in America.

Notable quotes:
Blackwell: "There is a separation of Church and State; there has never been a separation of faith and politics."

Blackwell: "It is flat out nonsense to suggest that this country was founded on anything other than an understanding of Judeo-Christian principles and precepts that gives us the moral
foundations that allows free enterprise and the primacy of the individual in our political system."

Blackwell: "I believe you have the constitutional right to be theologically wrong."

Hitchens: "The United States of America's founding documents are secular. If you don't know that, you don't know anything."

Hitchens: "When people look around and they see the amount of theocratic bullying and sabotage going on, and murder and sadism conducted by the parties of god--it's not as simple as it used to be when the right wing could say 'well, our enemy is godless communism.' Now our enemy is the most godly imaginable group."

"I don't know how this all happened. It's not in the Bible."

The Florida woman who killed her son and herself at a gun range this Sunday believed she was the Antichrist, reports the Orlando Sentinel.

In recordings made prior to the shooting, she said: "I have to die and go to hell so there can be a thousand years peace on Earth." In a note she wrote: "I had to send my son to heaven and myself to Hell."

Later in the recording, she adds:
"I don't know how all this happened. It's not in the Bible. No forgiveness for me. That's not in the Bible. The Antichrist being a woman."

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Jesus and Muhammad against the Man, and for homosexuality

“When people quote the passages in Leviticus condemning homosexuality, I say to them — if you read the whole of the Old Testament and took everything that was there in a literal way, as being what God and religion is about, you’d have some pretty tough policies across the whole of the piece. What people often forget about, for example, Jesus or, indeed, the Prophet Muhammad, is that their whole raison d’ĂȘtre was to change the way that people thought traditionally.”
- Tony Blair on why the Pope should consider the Catholic Church's stand on homosexuality.

More:
“I think there is a generational shift that is happening. If you talk to the older generation, yes, you will still get a lot of pushback, and parts of the Bible quoted, and so on. But if you look at the younger generation of evangelicals, this is increasingly for them something that they wish to be out of — at least in terms of having their position confined to being anti-gay.”

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

"Neither have you tasted my Jesus"

A young creationist shares a Bible story (actually, an antidote from a college classroom) to defend her position with the infinitely quotable punchline: "neither have you tasted my Jesus."

Her defense has been helpfully animated courtesy of the good folks at B3ta.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Bringing the elders back into Eden

Yesterday on NPR's Talk of the Nation, Dr. Bill Thomas describes a new kind of nursing home that he developed called Eden Alternatives:
Well you know how I think about this, it has to do with a question of risk. If you look back on the story of the garden Eden, risk was an important part of the picture. You had this sort of paradise and at the center of it was risk. And that's really what made it really a human environment--the first Eden. And one of the problems we have with nursing homes in America is we try to take all risk away from the elders and to protect them to a degree that in some cases can be smothering. One thing that we teach is that the only risk-free human environment is a coffin, and we'll all be there soon enough. So risk is a part of the garden, and it needs to be kept as part of the garden.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Playmobil to German Pastor: stop Bible bending our toys!


Playmobil toys have been subjected to plastic surgery under the hands of an evangelical preacher in Germany to transform them from ordinary child's toys into models of biblical stories.

"We are quite tolerant if this is done in the privacy of the home but if someone crucifies a Playmobil figure, or, as in the case of Eve, glues on breasts, then this is a completely different dimension," explains a Playmobil spokeswoman.

You can view Rev. Markus Bomhard's creative/subversive work here.
No word yet on whether The Brick Testament has pushed the limits of Lego's tolerance.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Washington Post defines circumcision in two acts

Reporting on a rally marking Genital Integrity Awareness Week, the Post explains:

How much of the medical community defines circumcision: a simple, nearly painless operation that removes an obsolete part of the body that can increase a man's susceptibility to infections and sexually transmitted diseases (circumcision reduces the risk of getting HIV by 60 percent, studies show).

How religion defines circumcision: as a covenant with God, as conveyed to Abraham.


Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Rep. John Shimkus: "The earth will end only when God declares it is time"

On March 25, 2009, at a hearing of the U.S. House Subcommittee on Energy and Environment, Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) explained that global warming is nothing to fear.

After a rousing reading of Genesis 8:21-22 and Mathew 24, Shimkus explains that "man will not destroy this earth, this earth will not be destroyed by a flood. And I appreciate having panelists here who are men of faith and we can get into a theological discourse of that position but I do believe that God's word is infallible, unchanging, perfect."

Shimkus then has two other issues: a bit about dinosaurs and carbon levels and workers who are suffering due to the Clean Air Act.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

No Bible bending here!

The Texas board of education is reviewing is science guidlines this week and they are not, I repeat, they are not considering teaching the biblical creation story alongside evolution. Rather, if changes are adopted, they will highlight "the strengths and weaknesses of Darwinism."

In fact, if there is any religion bending going on here, its Darwinism, according to Christian Broadcast News.
they [scientists?] say Darwin helped open up the whole new reality for us and help us understanding our place in the impersonal universe. This is about religion for them, it's their religion, it's a religion really of materialism.
Whose calling who religious now?
[When did Christians begin to use "religion" as a put-down?]

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Bible loophole


Link: http://miscellanea.wellingtongrey.net

The Year One

More biblical entertainment headed your way:

Micheal Cera and Jack Black star as Zed and Oh, two wandering men stumbling through the early chapters of Genesis, encountering Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Abraham and Isaac as they go along.

Black and Cera told MTV:

"It's not prehistoric, it's just pre-Christ. It's like an old, biblical tale. Cane and Abel type of stuff. Just two dudes wandering through early civilization," Black explained. "It's kind of like 'The Meaning of Life' or 'Life of Brian' — a funny look at biblical tales."

"A lot of the humor comes from that — the fact that it's an adventure," Cera added. "We're walking across these mountains, and I think it's gonna look really cool. Hopefully it'll be kind of epic."

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Bible empathy


A Post Secret reader replied to this secret with this message:
Sent: Monday, March 16, 2009 3:40 AM
Subject: "I just can't make myself do what's right."

"I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do." - Romans 7:15

Britney Spears under orders to read the Bible every day

It's all part of her earthly father's plan to keep her on the straight and narrow path and the Mirror thought we should know.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

David and Saul coming to a small screen near you

Tomorrow night at 8/7 central NBC will premier the new drama "Kings." According to the website:
"Kings" is a contemporary re-telling of the timeless tale of David and Goliath. This series is an epic story of greed and power, war and romance, forbidden loves and secret alliances -- and a young hero who rises to power in a modern-day kingdom.
But judging from the trailer, it looks like the show focuses on David and Saul's relationship rather than David's defeat of Goliath, but that story is probably less familiar to general audiences.

"I don't think you can get equality out of the Bible."

Today in Salon, Kathryn Joyce shares the story of Vykie Garrison, a former Quiverfull devotee, who left the movement after suffering abuse and exhaustion.
For Garrison, taking the Bible seriously is synonymous with the punishing claims of the Quiverfull movement. But having lost her faith in the Bible-proofed patriarchy principles she was taught, Garrison is unable to accept any of it anymore. "I don't think you can get equality out of the Bible. You can't get away from hierarchy, strictly defined roles for gender, authoritarianism, submission, dominating." Many believers might take issue with that, but to devout believers of Quiverfull, patriarchy is simply "the logical conclusion of what Scripture teaches," Garrison says.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Did Reagan try to convert Gorbachev?


"The eternal optimist, Reagan was convinced that Gorbachev was capable of changing the Soviet system, and he thought the key to such a turnaround might be religion."

I am late on James Mann's essay in the Wall Street Journal, but it captures American's dream of spiritual salvation as a means to political salvation.

"Hate" in the non-biblical sense

"We say, 'hate,' but not in the Biblical sense, more like a loathing, a sense of disgust and jealousy. These women bring out our worst feelings and many times unjustifiably so."

-Madeline Holler, of Babble.com, explaining the sentiment behind their list of "50 Moms We Love To Hate."

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Steele's Bible Fail

"Chairman Steele, as the leader of America's Pro-Life conservative party, needs to re-read the Bible, the U.S. Constitution, and the 2008 GOP Platform. He then needs to get to work -- or get out of the way," - Kenneth Blackwell, who, unlike Michael Steele, did not receive the RNC Chairmanship.

Blackwell was responding to Steele's interview with GQ magazine in which he expressed moderate views on gay marriage and abortion:
How much of your pro-life stance, for you, is informed not just by your Catholic faith but by the fact that you were adopted?
Oh, a lot. Absolutely. I see the power of life in that—I mean, and the power of choice! The thing to keep in mind about it… Uh, you know, I think as a country we get off on these misguided conversations that throw around terms that really misrepresent truth.

Explain that.
The choice issue cuts two ways. You can choose life, or you can choose abortion. You know, my mother chose life. So, you know, I think the power of the argument of choice boils down to stating a case for one or the other.

Are you saying you think women have the right to choose abortion?
Yeah. I mean, again, I think that’s an individual choice.

You do?
Yeah. Absolutely.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Finally tonight, Jesus...

He's everywhere and the media is all over it:



"We don't make this up, we just report it."

Lost confidence in the Bible will lead to Evangelical collapse

Reports Michael Spencer of the Christian Science Monitor:

This collapse will herald the arrival of an anti-Christian chapter of the post-Christian West. Intolerance of Christianity will rise to levels many of us have not believed possible in our lifetimes, and public policy will become hostile toward evangelical Christianity, seeing it as the opponent of the common good.

Millions of Evangelicals will quit. Thousands of ministries will end. Christian media will be reduced, if not eliminated. Many Christian schools will go into rapid decline. I'm convinced the grace and mission of God will reach to the ends of the earth. But the end of evangelicalism as we know it is close.

Here is Spencer's reasoning:
1. Evangelicals have believed in causes more than a faith.
2. The younger generation has no orthodoxy; they do not know why they should obey scripture.
3. Churches are fragile, dying, or money-driven.
4. Christian education has not produced a product that can withstand the rising tide of secularism. Evangelicalism has used its educational system primarily to staff its own needs and talk to itself.
5. The good the Evangelicals want to do will be seen as bad by many.
6. Evangelicals find themselves unable to pass on to our children a vital evangelical confidence in the Bible and the importance of the faith.
7. Money will dry up.

Tony Perkins would disagree on the last point: "If the economy continues downward, more people will be looking upward."
So would Will Donohue: "When people feel threatened--either through national security or economic crisis, such as we are experiencing now--they begin to rethink some things."

Or, if trends continue, the next generation won't be giving up evangelism, they will be giving up religion. Dare I say that the problem may not be with its public image, but with its basic precepts?

“They like carpenters. It’s plumbers they hate.”

Coulter on why the news media compares Obama to Jesus

Monday, March 9, 2009

But the important thing was he used a Bible

Reports Brietbart:
A pastor shot and killed during his Sunday sermon deflected the first of the gunman's four rounds with a Bible, sending a confetti-like spray of paper into the air in a horrifying scene that congregants initially thought was a skit, police said.
Clearly "Police: Ill. pastor deflected gunshots with a Bible" was the take-away headline for this incident. Matt Drudge agreed.


Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Closed Zone

The Israeli creator of the Oscar-nominated film Waltz with Bashir has created a short film reflecting on life for Palestinians in Gaza.



The film was commissioned by Gisha - Legal Center for Freedom of Movement which "calls on the State of Israel to fully open Gaza's crossings and to allow the real victims of the closure - 1.5 million human beings - the freedom of movement necessary to realize their dreams and aspirations."

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Jesus and Some Grey Bloke

A recent convert explains his new relationship with Jesus:

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Everyone expects the Brownback inquisition!


Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) has induced seizures in theocon watchdogs for claiming in a letter to Catholic parishioners that five Catholic members of the Senate who are pro-choice are not really Catholic.

"These liberals siphon off huge chunks of 'values voters' who are tricked into sending, 'abortion-on-demand' politicians to represent them in Washington, DC.," writes Brownback. "Real Catholics need a new voice — not the likes of Ted Kennedy and Nancy Pelosi who have campaigned as Catholics while voting to undermine the values that we hold most dear."

"It is unusual, and perhaps unprecedented in modern times, for one senator to question the religious practices of another," writes Joe Feuerherd, of the National Catholic Reporter, who broke the news.

The NCR also reports that Brownback's office denies he has anything to do with the letter. "Our chief of staff ... had never seen, heard of, or approved it," said Brownback spokesperson, Brian Hart.

But the Damon Linker of the New Republic is skeptical. "[T]he fact is that given Brownback's longstanding support for the theocon approach to waging the culture war, there is no way for him to reject the contents of the letter on principle. He simply wants the inquisition to be conducted on someone else's letterhead."

Linker believes this is the fulfillment of a theocon dream:
Now it isn't just theocon writers (and the occasional bishop) who will act as inquisitors of Catholic Democrats but also their colleagues on Capitol Hill. That's what happens when political ideology and theological orthodoxy are brought into perfect alignment, which is what the theocons have been after for years.
Politicians as arbitrators of orthodoxy. This isn't new, is it?

The Bible's stimulus plan?

Judith Levine reflects on the over-rated virtue of thrift in Salon today. She concludes with these words from the New Testament:
You can’t take it with you. That's what St. Paul told Timothy before warning him that the love of money was the root of all evil: "For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out." What lesson does the recession teach? Live now. Be merry. For tomorrow we -- or the stock market bull -- may die.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Economy dives, evangelicalism thrives

A surprising (or is it?) consequence of hard-times:
Bad times are boon times for evangelical churches. Economist David Beckworth of Texas State University has crunched U.S. church attendance numbers and found that congregation growth at evangelical churches jumped 50 percent during each recession between 1968 and 2004.

Sullivan: Americans take the question of God seriously

Andrew Sullivan, a native Brit, on why he has chosen to make America home:

In America, the bigotry you face is real, unvarnished and in the open. In Britain, it can come masked or euphemised or deflected into humour. It hurts much more to punch a brick wall than to punch a deep velvet cushion. But if you punch hard enough, the wall will one day crumble, while the pillow will constantly absorb the blows.

There is plenty of religious bigotry and fundamentalist rigidity and crude sectarianism in America. But there is also a clear and invigorating religious energy that takes the question of God seriously and does not recoil from it in apathy or world-weariness. Give me a fundamentalist to argue with any day over someone who has lost the will to care that much at all.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!

Martha Stewart was introducing her show on pot when Channel 4 interrupted with a Special Report: the Vatican has appointed a new cardinal.

This is how Gawker reports the news (stunt?):
Martha Stewart's show today was all about pot! Pot pot pot! Jimmy Fallon was there, and he talked about pot! But right in the middle of the winky-drug jokes GOD INTERVENED.
The 45 seconds of Gawker video is worth seeing if for no other reason that for the opportunity to enjoy the parallels with this Monty Python classic:

Bring on boozy Sundays

Churches are resistant to lifting bans on purchasing alcohol, reports Time.

Obama more popular than Jesus, Bush more popular than God



...according to a new Harris poll.



Here is how American's now rank the people (and gods) they most admire:
1. Barack Obama
2. Jesus Christ
3. Martin Luther King
4. Ronald Reagan
5. George W. Bush
6. Abraham Lincoln
7. John McCain
8. John F. Kennedy
9. Chesley Sullenberger
10. Mother Teresa
11. God
12. Hillary Clinton

I think we can all agree that this is more cocktail party chatter than actual news (what does it mean to be "the most admired"?), but it seems significant that in 2001, Jesus Christ was number one and Obama was not even on the radar. We are a fickle lot, aren't we?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Christian films are the big winner

Marriage and taxes were the winning themes at the 2009 San Antonio (Texas) Independent Christian Film Festival in January but the over all winner is the Christian film industry.

While the Academy swoons over the independent film Slumdog Millionaire, audiences have voted with their feet, preferring the troubled-marriage turn-around tale Fireproof. The highest-grossing independent film of 2008 was a film produced by a church in Albany, Ga., staffed mostly by volunteers and marketed to evangelical Christians and Roman Catholics through a network of pastors and influential laypersons.

And because the films offered to Christians by Christians remain off the media radar, they are celebrated off the radar too.

The Christian Film Festival's honors the film that best explains biblical creation, best portray's family values, and best promotional video. The 2008 Best of Film Festival went to The Widow's Might a story about taxation without justification.

Two friends dream of stardom with the Western film they are making together when they learn that an elderly widow will lose her home because of the high property taxes in her area. The friends, together with their family and friends, decide to fight the system. The film's website explains: "Through political smears, on set mishaps, and a wild western ride, these families band together in a classic black hat/white hat tale of heroism!"


Preview from John Moore on Vimeo

Hollywood has weakly responded to the grass roots demand. More than half of all releases included "positive Christian characters" last year, up from just 6% in 1991, according to the Christian Film & Television Commission, in Camarillo, Calif., reports the Wall Street Journal.

But Christians seem to prefer to sever ties with Hollywood:
"I don't think they'll ever get it," NPR quotes one of the festival's attendees. "They will try to mimic it, but you can't mimic Christ. They'll never get the love part. They'll never get the forgiveness. They don't get any of that because they don't think they need it."

This is precisely the "different kind of surge" that Andrew Breitbart called for last July: "Perhaps we can wage a different kind of culture war - and not one directed by armchair generals from church pews in Virginia. We need to break out of this mind-set and send our best young minds to Hollywood."

Friday, February 20, 2009

Jesus Bending

American Issues Project is "using Jesus Christ to emphasize the scale of the $787 billion package" stimulus bill, Politico has pointed out today.

The ad, titled Every Single Day, notes that if we spent "$1 million every single day starting from the day Jesus was born" we still would not have spent as much as Congress just did.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

More "people who agree with me have morals, people who don't, don't" from our political leaders

"Homosexuality will always be a sexual perversion. And you say that around here now and everybody goes nuts. But I don't care. They're mean. They want to talk about being nice. They're the meanest buggers I have ever seen. It's just like the Muslims. Muslims are good people and their religion is anti-war. But it’s been taken over by the radical side. What is the morals of a gay person? You can't answer that because anything goes. They're probably the greatest threat to America going down I know of."
- Utah state Sen. Chris Buttars (R), speaking in the documentary, 8 - The Mormon Proposition.

Hat tip: Joe my God

McCullough: Political leaders with no morals are raping your pockets

I'll let Kevin McCullough of Townhall speak for himself:

In other words when Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and President Obama got done "financially raping" you this week they left you with a tab to be paid that is a higher price tag than the globe's resources could combine to pay off.

Political leaders with no morals see little difference between nominating administration members who will not prosecute those harmful persons that create elements that lead to sexual assault on innocent girls, nor the physical equivalent of doing the same thing to your pocketbook, future earnings, and any ability to dream of self sufficiency.

They merely take what they want, throw you in the gutter when they are through, and laugh while you and I are left to pay the bill.

I've tried to be as tasteful as possible in explaining this comparison, and due to the passion of the natural man that was not an easy thing to do!

How kind of McCullough to undergo such a difficult trail for a natural [?] man to help us to understand the connection between child molesters and the recently signed America Reinvestment and Recovery Act.

Instead of offering any actual insight into the conversation about our national economy or the issue of "sexting" and obscenity laws, McCullough has nothing add but a cowardly abuse of language. If our conversations about ethics are reduced to imposing analogies of a brutal physical and psychological assault to victimize an entire nation and point to "those moral-less leaders" as the perpetrators, than we will be reduced to a nation of victims and evil-doers, indistinguishable from each other.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Thanks for that earthquake, Jesus.

Whatever message Jesus has for us by appearing in a rock cliff, here is a message back:

The Internet is a cynical, therapeutic place.

Hat tip: Buzzfeed

Jesus Rocks?


Jesus, is that you?

One woman thinks it is, and she's made the Channel 19 news in Alabama.

Is Bible bending impeding our response to global warming?

Mark Kleiman has a hunch:
One possible reason that global-warming denialism is more prevalent in the U.S. than elsewhere is that more Americans than Europeans are Biblical literalists. That involves believing that all biologists and paleontologists are either massively incompetent or deliberately trying to mislead the public about the central facts of their disciplines. [The alternative theory, held by some, is that the entire fossil record is a trick by Satan, intended to deceive those whose faith isn't firm.] I haven't seen any data on the overlap between global-warming denialism and creationism, but thinking about Sarah Palin and her fans you'd have to guess at a strong correlation between the two beliefs.

Freedom for non-Bible benders

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty has written a letter to Arkansas Congress urging them to support Rep. Richard Carroll's bill to lift Arkansas's Constitutional ban prohibiting a “person who denies the being of God” from holding a governmental position or testifying in court.

Eric Rassbach, national litigation director at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty said:
While it is unlikely that these laws will ever be enforced, removing them is more than symbolic. It signals to U.S. citizens and to the rest of the world, that the freedom and sanctity of conscience – including the right to believe there is no God at all – is a fundamental right for all people.
Reason magazine notes that Arkansas is not the only state that bans atheists from participating in government duties. Tennessee and Texas have similar bans.

Monday, February 16, 2009

This just in from Newsweek: Bible readers hate the rich

Jerry Adler, writing for Newsweek, reflects on the absence of class warfare in the U.S.

Adler opens his article with the Bible's rage against the rich:
The poor you will always have, the Good Book says, but as for the rich man, he will wither away like a delicate flower in the midday sun. The first prediction has certainly been borne out, but the second part (James 1:11) had not yet come to pass by the Panic of 1907, when Theodore Roosevelt warned of a coming reckoning against the "malefactors of great wealth."
And with that set up, the article closes with some sweeping presumptions (projections?) about Bible readers:
presumably Americans who read the Bible are looking forward to the day when the words of James come to pass, and "you rich men [shall] weep and howl for your miseries that shall come on you." You can look up the rest of the passage (5:1-6), but trust us, it makes living on a paltry $500,000 a year look pretty good in comparison.
Here for the thoughts of one American who reads the Bible, Dave Ramsey, on the Bible's condemnation of the rich.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Huckabee: Stimulus is anti-religious

An urgent message from Huckabee:

The dust is settling on the “bipartisan” stimulus bill and one thing is clear: it is anti-religious.

Yes, both the House and Senate bills have a provision that prohibits federal dollars for higher education construction grants to be used for:

“…modernization, renovation, or repair of facilities--used for sectarian instruction, religious worship…or a school or department of divinity; or in which a substantial portion of the functions of the facilities are subsumed in a religious mission.”

You would think the ACLU drafted this bill…
[...]
This is the opening round of the Democrats’ campaign for BIG government. We cannot afford to sit round one out, because if we do, they will only become more emboldened and their grab for power more audacious and damaging to our country and our freedoms.
More here.

So Macho, so hypocritical


The Christian Party, based in Scotland, is firing back at the atheist messages delivered via London city buses with their own public transport message. The Christian Party's signs will say say: "There definitely is a God. So join The Christian Party and enjoy your life."

George Hargreaves, leader of the Scottish Christian Party, has funded this and other campaigns with royalties he continues to receive for co-writing and producing the 1980s British hit So Macho, sung by gay icon Sinitta, Pink News reports.

(Stay with me, this comes full circle.)

In a 2007 interview with the Times, Hargreaves explained that he had a different "biblical understanding" at the time he wrote the song. Responding to criticism that Hargreaves uses money earned by producing a hit on the gay club scene to fund campaigns berating homosexuals, he told the Times:

It says in the Bible that so long as Earth remains there shall be seed time and harvest. You could say that So Macho was the seed I sowed and now I’m reaping the harvest.

To conclude this pleasing narrative arc, this whole bus business began because of an anti-HPV vaccine ad published in the New Statesman titled "VIOLENT CRIME - SOWING AND REAPING." Underneath the text read:
There is a Biblical principle that we reap what we sow. It applies to nations as well as to individuals. What politicians sow, the people reap. When politicians sow evil, the people reap misery, and the poorest reap it the worst.
It would seem that we are all slaves to the Bible's harvest.

Coleman: "God wants me to serve"

Norm Coleman was on the Mike Gallagher show as part of his media lap defending his court challenge with the ultimate "He made me do it" defense.

Several liberal-leaning blogs have posted the news that Coleman believes God wants him to serve, with a few adding the detail that Coleman is Jewish (here and here).

"How’s this for chutzpah?" said Truthdig.

Meanwhile, the Huffington Post suspects that Coleman is tailoring his message to his audience.

Perhaps now that God is no longer managing foreign policy, he is siding with Coleman on this one because the stimulus plan (which Coleman told Gallagher he would reject) would subvert his plans for the coming Apocalypse? Or maybe God wants to take a stand on the Fairness Doctrine (another policy Coleman told Gallagher he would reject) which would almost certainly disrupted the thriving Christian radio business?

I'm just trying to follow the logic of when God's will is the people's will and when God's will needs to be sorted out in court because if Coleman is tailoring his message then its worth taking the measurements of Gallagher's audience.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Over 5,000 pastors pledge to preach... the Bible

Thousands of preachers are signing up to take The Preacher's Pledge:

I will make the Bible my primary resource in sermon preparation and preaching.

I may use other resources such as commentaries and web sites to enhance, not replace, my personal interaction with Scripture.

As I study I will strive to accurately understand and honestly apply God's Word, allowing Him to uniquely proclaim His truth in a relevant way through me.

Ron Foreth, general editor of SermonCentral.com, which claims to be the world's most highly trafficked sermon website, wants to encourage pastors to "carefully study and gain a solid grasp of the biblical passages they are preaching."

Money quote:
"Our goal for The Preacher's Pledge is to urge pastors to preach the Word, not just ideas that seem relevant or helpful," he highlighted.

Octuplets receive biblical names

Reports the Telegraph:

"This is Noah and he's doing well. He's blond, the only one with blond hair."

Describing son Jonah, the smallest of the octuplets, as "the troublemaker", she then introduced baby Isaiah – or "baby C" - who she said was getting bigger and "starting to recognise my voice". Speaking to "angel" daughter Nariah, she said: "I wish I could be here all day long".

Jeremiah is "on lights for jaundice", Miss Suleman went on, before caressing McCai and apologising to Josiah for the brief nature of her visit.
I feel better already.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Religious conviction: the tie that binds Wilson and W.

An article in Economic Principles summarizes the comparisons of George W. Bush to Woodrow Wilson:
At bottom, what the two men seem to have shared is religious conviction amounting to certainty. Early in his presidential campaign, Wilson stated, “There is a spirit that rules us. If I did not believe in Providence, I would feel like a man going blindfolded through a haphazard world.” At a National Prayer Breakfast, Bush said, “Events aren’t moved by blind change and chance. Behind all of life and all of history, there’s a dedication and purpose, set by the hand of a just and faithful God.”

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Obama and the middle way

The Economist has been following Obama's acknowledgment of godless America with the giddiness of a LDS missionary finally allowed into a home. The latest installment followed Obama's inclusive language at the National Prayer Breakfast, an event that is decidedly not inclusive:
There is no doubt that the very nature of faith means that some of our beliefs will never be the same. We read from different texts. We follow different edicts. We subscribe to different accounts of how we came to be here and where we’re going next – and some subscribe to no faith at all.
And there are signs that he's putting our money where his mouth is with plans to widen the focus of the Faith-Based initiatives to include Muslim outreach and religious dialogue and emphasize initiatives aimed at reducing abortion.

The audacity of hope...

Friday, February 6, 2009

And it was good: Vanessa Davis

Venessa Davis, the comic artist who can draw adolescent awkwardness better than I actually did adolescent awkwardness, gets props tonight for her ode to growing up Jewish.

"Dyseptic Academic" is a brief bildungsroman packed with scenes of her encounters with Exodus and Hebrew hymns, boys, Baptists, Bibles and most laudably, her struggle with the politics of the Chosen People. Enjoy.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Ex-Masturbator


Yes, their shirts say "ex-mastorbator." And they come in other flavors as well: ex-fornicator, ex-diva, ex-atheist, ex-homosexual.

Why are these smiling teens advertising their ex status? Because that's where the Passion 4 Christ Movement is headed. And what lead them in that direction? A message from the Bible.

Says one young Passionate Person:
You walk into a 7-eleven and people are going to be joking and snickering and you almost want to direct it at those people and say: "You all laughing probably because y'all still masturbating. The reality is that 1 Corinthians 6:9 says that every person who is sexual amoral will not inherit his kingdom. [...] We are officially breaking the silence so that people can be set free.
Watch the full video here:


You don't have to be too far into this video before the snickers turn into a clenching wince. The way these young adults describe the experience of giving up masturbation ("it was like being freed from slavery") suggests that their pre-Vagina Monologues version of abstinence has given them a sense of power and a mandate to convert.

The end-game, it seems, is to cram the entire spectrum of human sexual energy into a marriage because marriage, according to Dr. Ty on DaSouth.com, is the only divinely sanctified orgasm container:
Any other orgasm achieved outside of marriage couldn't handle its intense, explosive, addictive, domineering, gripping force without repercussions.
But I suspect there are other powers at work. The Passionate 4 Christ teens hudle together in a church office and tell their stories, building an "I overcame" story that makes them more powerful, more self-controlled then the rest of the big, wide, uninformed world.

No one can take an ax to a community of people who are proud of something they did in their own lives, but its sentiments like this one that concern me:
For me, when I was masturbating, it was a time when I didn't think masturbation was a sin. [...] I am greatful for the t-shirts because there are a lot of people, like me, who didn't know its sinful. [...] It's an opportunity to share the Gospel.
That's not creating a community. That's spreading a message of shame with a cloak of biblical faith.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Hitchens: prejudice and paranoia under the cloak of faith is everyone's problem


Hitchens weighs in on the Catholicism's recent slide into pre-Vatican II practices and the messy attitudes that come with it. On the re-emergence of accussations of deicide, Hitchens responds:
The Christian consensus is that Jesus went to Jerusalem on that Passover in the full knowledge that he was going to his death. Ought this not to mean that the Jews and Romans did humanity a favor, by obediently fulfilling prophecy and by spilling the blood that ransomed the world? Evidently not. As a nonbeliever, this is not my problem. But the indulgence of prejudice and paranoia under the cloak of faith is my problem as a citizen.

Now you too can own your very own Cloak of Faith! Here's how:
Step one: Cut from the Bible your desired design. (Tip: Take care when selecting your pattern; many patterns are deceptively similar but clash when held side-by-side.)

Step two (optional): Soak your design in historical research. (Tip: Archaeology is the preferred treatment, but the social sciences will do in a pinch.)

Step three: Tie your material tightly under your chin. (Tip: The material is more likely to stay fastened if you have it secured with a rigid dogma.)

Step four: You may now roam about freely. Should anyone begin investigations into what you are concealing under the cloak, refer them to the makers of the design you wear. It is not the wearers of the cloak, after all, who are responsible for the design. They are merely its models.

And it was red and yellow and green and brown and scarlet and black and ochre and ruby peach and olive and violet and...

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

New leader of Africa Union not a Bible fan


According to reports from All Africa, the new chairman of the African Union, President Muammar Gaddafi, has publicly voiced his distaste for the Bible. Last year, on a visit to Uganda, a country with a large and active Christian population, Gaddafi commented:

The Bible we have now is not the one that was revealed to Issa [Jesus], and the Old Testament is not the one that was revealed to Musa. Mohammed is mentioned in both [original versions], but in the Torah and Bible we have now, there is no mention of him.

It means that it [Bible] has been forged. Prophet Mohammed was sent to mankind. Allah wanted mankind to have one religion. The Koran that we have is the only book that was sent by Allah.

On another occasion, Gaddafi, who apparently enjoys stirring things up (he reportedly travels with 30 virgin bodyguards), said, "Christianity is not a faith for people in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas. Other people who are not sons of Israel have nothing to do with that religion."

For a man with ambitions to create the United States of Africa, Gaddafi has a lot of uniting to do.

Jesus Lovers love the Water Torture Cell

The existence of the escape artist Kristen Johnson has caught many people's attention today thanks to a video circulating from a January 16th "Water Torture Cell" escape attempt that went horribly wrong.

While the video has probably already reached its half-life (the rescue of an underwater lock-picker fails to capture my imagination), I am more interested in the existence of Living Illusions, the Christian touring production that Johnson headlines.

With "breath-taking illusions, incredible lighting and death-defying escapes" husband-wife team Kevin Ridgewood and Kristen Johnson have been inspiring Christian audiences at rallies across the country. Their clients include the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, the Youth Evangelism Conference, and Youth for Christ.

Here is one review of their show that beams with innovative, Christian promise:
“Kevin and Kristen have an incredible on and off stage impact on people. Because of their professionalism and the top notch quality of their show, they have been able to reach people with the Gospel who I have been working on for years. Thank you for your impact on my ministry.”
Mike Ivins Youth Pastor * Bayside Chapel * Barnegat, NJ

I have no doubt that the Illusions are entertaining. I am not clear on how the Masters of Illusion inspire Christians to grow in their faith, though I may have an idea as to how it helps them to better understand the Gospel stories.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Kurt Warner on what God looks like

The Cardinals' quarterback on what God looks like. (Spoiler alert: pretty much the way he looked the first time you drew him in Sunday school.)

Evangelicals: God appointed Obama

According to George Berkin:

For evangelicals, who hold a Bible-based view of politics, it is God himself who has placed the new president in office - even if the president does not in any way agree with evangelical political views.

As evangelicals believe, the Bible teaches that God, in his sovereignty, chooses who he wants to place in office. Not in a hocus-pocus way, but through natural and "secular" mechanisms such as political parties, election campaigns and ballots, God put the guy there.

Good, bad, or indifferent, evangelicals believe, the man is in office through divine appointment.

Berkin admits that this may sound "medieval," though dangerous and flawed are more appropriate since we can only hope for the day when such a view is a relic of our past. Berkin says it is important to understand this perspective since evangelicals need to decide how to interact with a president with whom they strongly disagree.

The two thoughts seem contradictory. On one hand there is a belief among Bible believers that God has a "'behind the scenes' involvement in government." On the other hand there is a belief that Bible believers must "woo policymakers into a more 'biblical' approach to policy, even if it is not identified as such."

God does, indeed, work in mysterious ways.

Katy Perry: the trouble with Bible bending


Before Katy Perry was famous for singing about kissing girls, she was Katy Hudson, singing about faith. The tension between her background, as the daughter of two pastors, and her recent single, which has been received in some Christian communities with the sentiment best illustrated in this church sign, has been the source of much discussion both in the rags and in Christian websites.

Katy Hudson/Perry recently held a telephone conference with journalists to clear up some confusion, including Ok! magazine's failure to recognize her "vow of celibacy" as a joke.

Beliefnet now depicts a woman who is "just like thousands of other Christian teens," someone working to reconcile the tensions between her religion and her experiences. I don't know who gets to decide what those tensions are and how the rest of the world will know if and when they dissipate, but websites like Beliefnet seem to think they will know it when they see it.

Good luck, Katy.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Kathryn Jean Lopez: We're a nation for Him

K.J-Lo, editor of the National Review, having fun with italics:
We’re a nation not just where you are free to believe or not to believe; we’re a nation founded for Him — so we could praise Him, so we could do His will.

[...] But we’re not always that into Him when we’re thinking about us.

In a town of doers, it’s easy to forget Him, especially when your daily schedule is all about you — your campaign, your vote, your speech, your award.

For more on submission "to him" see here.

UPDATE: A reader asks: Is this the same Him from the Power Puff Girls?


Novak: Obama's Bible Fail

Novak is already passing judgment:
[From Obama's appeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, the ban on abortion and the closing of Guantanamo] we learn that President Obama recognizes no difference between the Jewish-Christian covenant between a woman and a man (a covenant that they will have and nurture children, if they are so blessed), and a civil contract between two persons of any sex, in order to set up a household of affection and sexual favors.

This is a relapse into paganism. The point of monogamous family networks is to treat male and female with complementary and mutually cooperative dignity and to tie the power of sexuality (male, especially) to self-sacrificing communities of love.