Posts

Showing posts from January, 2005
A New Archaeological Discovery Appears to Support the Old Testament

From "Archaeologist unearths biblical controversy: Artifacts from Iron Age fortress confirm Old Testament dates of Edomite kingdom" by Michael Valpy:

Canadian archeologist Russell Adams's interest is in Bronze Age and Iron Age copper production. He never intended to walk into archeology's vicious debate over the historical accuracy of the Old Testament -- a conflict likened by one historian to a pack of feral canines at each other's throats.

Yet by coincidence, Prof. Adams of Hamilton's McMaster University says, he and an international team of colleagues fit into place a significant piece of the puzzle of human history in the Middle East -- unearthing information that points to the existence of the Bible's vilified Kingdom of Edom at precisely the time the Bible says it existed, and contradicting widespread academic belief that it did not come into being until 200 years later.

Their findin…
NY Times Wrong: Pius XII Saved Jews

As hard as it may be to believe, it appears that the New York Times actually got a story wrong. This one happens to be about Pope Pius XII, and in their story the Times claims that he ordered that Jewish children that were sheltered by Catholic charities during World War II, and who had been baptized, were not to be returned to their Jewish parents, should they seek to claim them. Too bad the story is a fabrication, and one that was easily exposed by leading Italian experts on Pius XII. A full exposure of this fraud can be found here in an article by P. Thierry. The article is quite lengthy, and devestating to the credibility of the source used by the Times, as well as the methods they used (assuming they used any) in checking it before they ran the story.

Thierry begins with some of the simple errors:

"In fact, in its (January 9, 2005) article the New York Times was echoing similar accusations based on the same document made by Alberto Mell…
The Shroud May be a Burial Cloak, but It Ain't Dead Yet

For those of you unfamiliar with the Shroud of Turin, here is a brief description from "Radiocarbon Dating of the Shroud of Turin":

The Shroud of Turin , which many people believe was used to wrap Christ's body, bears detailed front and back images of a man who appears to have suffered whipping and crucifixion. It was first displayed at Lirey in France in the 1350s and subsequently passed into the hands of the Dukes of Savoy. After many journeys the shroud was finally brought to Turin in 1578 where, in 1694, it was placed in the royal chapel of Turin Cathedral in a specially designed shrine.

Photography of the shroud by Secondo Pia in 1898 indicated that the image resembled a photographic 'negative' and represents the first modern study. Subsequently the shroud was made available for scientific examination, first in 1969 and 1973 by a committee appointed by Cardinal Michele Pellegrino and then again in 1…
Determining when to Stop a Dialogue: An Example

When engaging in dialogue on matters of faith, it is often difficult to tell when to end the conversation. As people who are called to give a defense for our faith, it is sometimes hard to know the point at which we should stop throwing our pearls before swine. Naturally, each dialogue is different and must be viewed with respect to its individual facts. But as a general rule, I use generally stop when I believe the person with whom I am engaged in dialogue is being disingenuous and there is no other compelling reason to continue the conversation. As an illustration of when I think this point arrives, I want to relate a recent dialogue I had with a skeptic. While the topic of the dialogue was Intelligent Design and its relation to Creationism, the manner in which the other person responds illustrates some of the things I look for when determining the bona fides of the other person when talking about Christianity.

The conversation concerne…
Vandalizing Marriage

Yesterday another columnist from the "National Post" waded into the same sex marriage and polygamy debate. This time it is Barbara Kay, and her column is entitled "The broken window theory of marriage." I found her theory to be intriguing, especially as it related to my own thinking as to how we got to where we are today, with the traditional understanding of marriage in Canada so badly compromised as to be ready to collapse into nonsense.

Kay first deals with the arguments put forward by Andrew Coyne (which I addressed yesterday here), George Jonas, and others:

"Eighteen months ago I wanted to write a column about the creeping respectability of polygamy, but my then-editor considered the topic too far-out. And lo, look what is making headlines today.
Andrew Coyne, George Jonas and the Post Board dismiss "slippery slope" worries about polygamy gaining recognition. Jonas says polygamy may not be unnatural... but "it's…
Outrageous Media Distortions: Dr. Dobson and SpongeBob

A news wave started at the NY Times and gained force through various news outlets and blogs (including CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News' Bill O'Reilly) characterizing Dr. James Dobson, of Focus of the Family, as objecting to SpongeBob Squarepants as being gay. He was even accused of claiming that watching the cartoon character would turn kids gay. Such an accusation would be silly. And so far, among leaders of the so-called Religious Right, Dr. Dobson has avoided being characterized as silly.

His credentials are impeccable:
For 14 years Dr. Dobson was an Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Southern California School of Medicine, and served for 17 years on the Attending Staff of Children's Hospital of Los Angeles in the Division of Child Development and Medical Genetics. He has an earned Ph.D. from the University of Southern California (1967) in the field of child development.

He is a clinical m…
Rolling Stone Rolls Uphill--Reverses Decision against Religious Advertising

Rolling Stone Magazine has apparently changed its mind about not accepting advertising with a religious message, or at least, so says the Houston Chronicle:

Rolling Stone magazine has reversed itself and agreed to accept an advertisement for a new translation of the Bible.

After first rejecting the advertisement, Rolling Stone sent Zondervan a contract for a half-page ad in the rock magazine's Feb. 24 issue, said Doug Lockhart, executive vice president of marketing at the nation's largest Bible publisher.

Lisa Dallos, a spokeswoman for Rolling Stone publisher Wenner Media LLC, said Tuesday that the company had "addressed the internal miscommunications that led to the previous misstatement of company policy and apologize for any confusion it may have caused."
Oh, so it was all a mistake--a misunderstanding about the advertising policies. I see.

I personally would like to think that it was my sc…
The ELCA Takes the Lukewarm Approach to the Homosexual Issue

"I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth." Rev. 3: 15-16
The results of the Journey Together Faithfully (JTF) study of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) have been revealed at the ELCA website. This study was designed to explore the Biblical teaching on the issue of homosexuality focusing on how the church should respond in two areas: 1. Should the church sanction or bless homosexual unions (and they aren’t talking about the AFL-CIO)? 2. Should the church ordain noncelibate homosexual pastors?

First, let me point out that the opinion of the Bishops with respect to this issue is not much in doubt. As near as I can tell from a meeting that I attended with the Bishop of the Rocky Mountain Synod, they will not directly tell you their positions with respect to these issues. …
What's Wrong with the "Beliefs" of the Universal Life Church

If you want to be a minister, the Universal Life Church will print you out a certificate in a little over a minute. With this certificate, you are supposedly a registered minister who can perform weddings. Michael Newdow, atheist legal advocate, holds one of these certificates and claims, as a result, to be a minister.

Legally, a person who holds one of these certificates may be considered a minister. (I have not taken the time to look into the question from a legal standpoint.) But in the real world where words have meaning, a holder of this certificate is not a minister in any traditional sense of the word. A minister, as far as I am concerned, is a person who has received training in his faith from others who have earlier received such training, such that he is able to speak out rationally about the faith and expound upon its tenets. A certificate printed out in a matter of seconds is hardly training.

More …
Same Sex Marriage and Polygamy

Last Sunday Bishop Frederick Henry of (my own) diocese of Calgary started a rather large firestorm with his pastoral letter On Same-Sex Marriage. Both of Canada's largest newspapers, the Globe and Mail, and the Toronto Star, condemned the letter, and Bishop Henry for his "bigotry", "fearmongering", and assorted other crimes against humanity, but what they did not not do, was confront the actual arguments in his letter. This is known, where I come from, as ad hominem, and is not acceptable in legitimate debates.

Fortunately, two other columnists, both from the National Post (Canada's third largest paper, and the only other one besides the Globe that is national in distribution) did confront some of those arguments, as well as others offered by opponents of same sex marriage. In this post I would like to address the position put forward by those one of those gentlemen, namely Andrew Coyne ("Panic over polygamy", Nati…
An Academic Book Review of Profit With Delight: Revisiting the Genre of Acts

A few months ago I wrote a piece about the genre of Acts. I concluded that the author of Acts intended, and his audience would have understood, that he was writing as a historian of his time.

One of the possible genre classifications that I ended up rejecting was that of the ancient novel--that is, the idea that Acts was a fictitious narrative meant primarily to entertain its audience. It's most articulate proponent is Richard Pervo, who made his case in the book Profit with Delight. I have read his book and responded with several problems with his theory. Recently, however, I ran across an excellent review by Marion L. Soards of Pervo's book that discusses some of these same problems as well as others.

The strongest part of Pervo's argument is that ancient novels were written to entertain and Acts was written to entertain. Pervo discusses several elements of Acts' narrative that sugg…
Rolling Stone Advertising Policy Excludes Religion

From About.com advertising:

Rolling Stone Rejects Bible Ad

Rolling Stone has rejected an ad for the Today's New International Version of the Bible due out in February. Execs for the magazine say the ad violates an unwritten policy regarding ads containing religious messages.

Zondervan, the nation's largest Bible publisher, says the ad in Rolling Stone was key to the $1 million ad campaign, adding that the print ad does not contain the word "God" in it. Similar ads will run in The Onion, Modern Bride and on Web sites like VH1.com and MTV.com.
Guess we don't want to pollute the minds of our youth with religion, huh? After all, consider what great values they are recieving from such moral, musical icons as D12/Eminem who sing on "My Band":

I think everyone's all jealous and s*** cuz I'm like the lead singer of a band dude...
And I think everyone's got a f***** problem with me dude...They're a…
Are there Purely Secular Reasons for Moral Laws?

William Raspberry has written a rather remarkable article entitled Religion Vs. Unity: Compromise Seen as Retreat From Core Values (note: you must register with the Washington Post to read it). The main thesis concerns the fact that many Americans (most largely in evangelical circles) see compromise on certain religious issues as a "retreat from core values." He says:

What, in my view, threatens to test the American tradition of working things out are issues closely tied to religious faith: abortion, homosexual marriage, the teaching of evolution.
While I could take exception to what he says, this is passable since there is certainly no doubt that these issues are issues that are important to and effect Evangelical thinking. But what surprises me in his article is a really nonsensical statement he makes later.

Public officials who think it's a sin to have an abortion, support gay marriage or work on the Sabbath should try …
Was The Inaugural Prayer a Dig at Michael Newdow?

As regular readers of this blog have surmised, I am in favor of maintaining the great tradition in this country of giving thanks to God at public functions for the benefits he has bestowed upon us. I think it is a very minor infringement upon the liberties of those who don't want to hear it in recognition of the fact that the vast majority of the country is religious.

The Reverend Michael Newdow (and I use the term "reverend" with a smirk on my face for reasons I detail here) has been the main engine for attacks on the public recognition of God. He has twice filed lawsuits seeking to ban "under God" from the pledge of allegiance, and has recently lost his second bid in court to ban the public prayer at Bush's inauguration ceremonies (he apparently tried to ban the prayer at the 2000 swearing in ceremony).

As I listened to the prayer, I wondered whether the Rev. Luis Leon, the Episcopal minister who gave th…
What is History and What is Fiction in Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code

New Testament scholar Craig Blomberg has provided a balanced, unreactionary review of the mega-hit book, The Da Vinci Code. He actually thinks it’s a pretty darn good novel, but notes that the problem is that most readers will not know where the historical facts end and the fiction about Jesus and Church history begins:

A competent church historian is needed in places, however, to help people understand just where the boundary is crossed between fact and fiction. But what concerns me most, as a New Testament scholar, are the number of people who think that the occasional comments about Jesus, his associates and the literature and events of first three Christian centuries are at all accurate. Put simply, they are not, and even very liberal biblical scholars (as in, for example, the famous Jesus Seminar) agree (see their two books, The Five Gospels [New York: Macmillan, 1993} and The Acts of Jesus [San Francisco: Harpe…
Sex: Is it Biblically bad?

A few years ago, a list of 25 supposedly unanswerable questions about Christianity was circulating on the Internet. One of them made it appear that God, who was the creator of human sexuality, was opposed to sex. Here was the question:

Explain why sex, potentially one of the most wonderful, beautiful things in human nature, is considered "bad" by your particular sect. If your sect does not consider sex to be "bad," then refute Matthew 19:12, 1 Corinthians 7 (particularly verses 1 and 9), Galatians 5:17, 1 Thessalonians 4:3, James 1:14 15, and Revelation 14:4.
Now, most Christians probably recognize intrinsically that if something was created by God, it isn’t bad. Genesis 1 reports that when God created humanity in the form of Adam, he pronounced him to be good. He created Eve to be the companion of Adam. Now, I don’t see any reason to believe that God created Adam and Eve without sexual organs and that they were only added after the fall. O…