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Showing posts from November, 2005

Insight into the pro-abortion mind -- a woman seeking an abortion finds a CPC

In a recent television commercial, country music star Tim McGraw and rap star Nelly meet in an airport where each mistakenly boards the other's plane. (For a small fee, you can view the commerical here [search for Tim McGraw or Nelly]). Needless to say, Nelly is very uncomfortable when he realizes that he is sitting among a group of white cowboys with country music droning in the background. Meanwhile, Tim McGraw is equally uncomfortable when he looks up and notices that he is sitting in a plane filled with black rappers with some hip-hop music for background effect. It is a classic case of two people being put into an unfamiliar environment, and while it is certainly improbable that either man would have come to harm on the other's plane, I would imagine if it had been a real mistake instead of a commercial both men would have really been quite nervous in those unfamiliar (almost alien) surroundings.

The Thinking Christian recently commented on an article that ran on the Plann…

Ordering Your Apologetics

I recently picked up Peter Kreeft and Ronald K. Tacelli's Pocket Handbook of Christian Apologetics on an impulse buy at the bookstore. I thumb through it in my spare time and ran across an interesting section entitled, "The Role of Scripture in Apologetics." The gist of the section is that Christians should not expect nonChristians to accept arguments from scripture as authoritative without first establishing the trustworthiness of scripture. They also point out that proving infallibility may be setting our burden of proof too high from the beginning. Kreeft and Tacelli also make the interesting point that "for many years early Christian apologists and Church fathers argued quite effectively for Christianity without even having the New Testament Scriptures as authoritatively defined." Page 80.

It seems a basic point, but for Christians who have grown up in Christian areas with mostly Christian family and friends, it can be overlooked. Though we take the …

The Virgin Mary shedding bloody tears in Sacramento

Yahoo! News today has an interesting news video (1:12 in length) about a statute of the Virgin Mary at a Roman Catholic church in Sacramento, California, shedding tears of blood. The images on the video clearly show red streams of liquid of some sort coming from the upper corners of the right eye of the statute, flowing across her cheek and falling onto her robe.

The video also shows people gathering around a tree somewhere in Texas, but I don't find that "image" as compelling as the statute, so I will not make any comments about the image in the tree bark.

I think that Christians need to be careful about jumping onto the "it's a miracle" bandwagon. While I personally don't discount the miraculous, I understand that the Roman Catholic Church makes it a point to fully investigate alleged miracles because there have been hoaxes in the past. Some come from well-meaning Christians who think (for whatever reason) that God needs help pulling off a miracle. Oth…

The ELCA Cannot Escape the Homosexuality Issue

Back in September, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in general assembly considered whether they should pass a resolution that permits the ordination of practicing homosexuals in the church. According to the report on the issue by the Lutheran, the official publication of the ELCA in an article entitled "Churchwide Assembly: Assembly defeats ministry exceptions":

On Friday, Aug. 12—at the end of a full day of difficult and often-impassioned debate—the Churchwide Assembly defeated the proposed change to permit exceptions regarding expectations for sexual conduct of gay or lesbian rostered leaders (recommendation 3). The 490-503 vote fell far short of the two-thirds required for adoption.

The change to the bylaws would have allowed synod bishops to seek exceptions from the Conference of Bishops “to permit the assignment of a candidate who provides evidence of intent to live in a lifelong, committed and faithful same-sex relationship,” and for the synod bishops to ordain or commiss…

Thank You !

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And Happy Thanksgiving to All!

We Gather Together -- an old hymn in a new light

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Many hymns have interesting histories behind them. One of my personal favorites is the story behind the hymn "It Is Well With My Soul" which was written by a grieving man, Horatio Spafford, who had lost his four daughters in a tragic shipwreck after earlier losing his entire fortune in the Chicago fire. While on a ship at nearly the same place that his daughters' ship had gone down, he wrote these incredible words:

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
What incredible faith in the face of adversity. Like Job, who lost his family and his wealth, he did not curse God. I am sure that he had questions, but even when suffering horribly from events that probably gave him cause to questions hi…

Another example of the overselling of evolution.

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I recently read an interesting article regarding a competitor to early humanity as he struggled to survive in the race of evolution. The article from World Science.Net entitled "Giant Ape lived alongside humans" courtesy of McMaster University and the World Science staff, states:

An ape taller than a moose lived alongside early humans, and may have been among the early casualties of competition from humans, a researcher has found.

The ape was about 10 feet (3 meters) tall and weighed as much as 1,200 pounds (544 kg), said Jack Rink of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.

Rink, associate professor of geography and earth sciences, found that Gigantopithecus blackii, the largest primate that ever lived, roamed southeast Asia for nearly a million years before the species died out 100,000 years ago. This was known as the Pleistocene period, by which time humans had already existed for a million years.
The article included the sketch which I have added in this post. From the arti…

Ben Witherington Reviews Anne Rice's New Jesus Novel And Releases Own Book on Evangelical Theology

Prolific and conservative New Testament scholar Ben Witherington has read and reviewed Anne Rice's newest novel, Christ the Lord -- Out of Egypt. As I wrote earlier, Anne Rice has returned to her Catholic faith and embarked on writing a three-novel series about Jesus. Professor Witherington is welcoming of Rice's latest venture but offers some informed criticism, though mostly about historical and biblical details. Helpfully, Prof. Witherington provides this synopsis of Rice's novel:

The novel is in essence about the mental journey Jesus makes over the course of a traumatic year which also involved much actual traveling (leaving Egypt, coming to Nazareth, visiting Jerusalem both before and after arriving in Nazareth) as he comes to realize who he is as he pieces together that the “Christmas story” is in fact all about him!
I have bought Rice's book and read the first chapter. It is interesting but so far at least I do not find the writing style compelling. I have no…

Where is the outrage from the Islamic community?

"Bombers Kill 74 at Two Mosques in Iraq " by Chris Tomlinson, Associated Press writer:

Suicide bombers killed 74 worshippers at two Shiite mosques near the Iranian border Friday, while a pair of car bombs targeting a Baghdad hotel housing Western journalists killed eight Iraqis.

The suicide attackers targeted the Sheik Murad mosque and the Khanaqin Grand Mosque in Khanaqin, 90 miles northeast of Baghdad, as dozens of people were attending Friday prayers, police said. The police command said 74 people were killed and 75 wounded in the largely Kurdish town.

At sunset, dozens of people were still searching the rubble of the three-story Khanaqin Grand Mosque. As the men dug, 12-year-old Sarkhel Akram collected copies of the Quran, the Muslim holy book, then she kissed them and put them away.

The suicide attacker walked into the mosque and detonated his explosives in the middle of a group of people, said Ali Abdullah.

Omar Saleh, 73, said from his bed at Kalar hospital that he was bo…

The Final Word on Whether the Church Opposed Zero?

Those of you who have been following the topic of zero here know how Bede of Bede's Library has been indespensible in his knowledge of the time period and his research. The issue was raised after I read Charles C. Mann's book 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus. I blogged on the issue and wondered what evidence there was that, as 1491 claimed, the use of zero in Europe was opposed by the church. As he stated, zero "didn't appear in Europe until the twelfth century. Even then European governments and the Vatican resisted zero--a something that stood for nothing -- as foreign and un-Christian." Mann, 1491, page 19.

Mr. Mann responded here, listing his references and admitting the phrasing of his book was poor on this point. He still believed, however, that his sources indicated that "in europe, governments and church authorities resisted zero."

Bede responded and said that he would look into the referenced sources and get back to …

Where the fetus/infant distinction becomes absurd.

From today's Best of the Web at that Wall Street Journal website:

Here's a truly bizarre story from the Associated Press:

Skeletal remains discovered by hunters last week in Audubon County in western Iowa are those of an infant or fetus, Audubon County sheriff's officials said.
The sheriff says "further tests" are necessary to determine if it's an infant or a fetus. Is he serious? Everyone knows an infant is a human being, while a fetus is just a clump of cells. How could anyone have trouble telling the difference?
This is priceless. Think about it: if the baby was aborted at 38 weeks, was it a fetus or an infant? What if the baby was stillborn at 39 weeks? What if the baby was aborted at 41 weeks (it was past its due date) but still had not been born?

I certainly have no idea how an examination of the bones of the fetus/infant will give the examiner any relevant information on whether the dead "thing" was a fetus or an infant. After all, it seems as if…

Using Tax Exempt Status to Control Churches' Speech

When I was in law school in the mid-1980s, I was a teacher's assistant for a professor who was writing a book about taxes and the law. Part of my job was to locate cases brought by various tax authorities that threatened to revoke a church's tax exampt status for speaking politically in violation of the Internal Revenue Code (Title 26) and tax regulations.

For those unfamiliar with the law, churches are considered exempt from federal taxation under the provisions of 26 U.S.C. Sec. 501(c)(3), which specifically states that among the entities exempt from taxation are included:

Corporations, and any community chest, fund, or foundation, organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, testing for public safety, literary, or educational purposes, or to foster national or international amateur sports competition (but only if no part of its activities involve the provision of athletic facilities or equipment), or for the prevention of cruelty to children or a…

Did Pope Benedict XVI adopt or accept Intelligent Design?

According to the San Francisco Examiner in an article entitled "Pope Cites Universe's 'Intelligent Project'":

Pope Benedict XVI has waded into the evolution debate in the United States, saying the universe was made by an "intelligent project" and criticizing those who in the name of science say its creation was without direction or order.

* * *

Benedict focused his reflections for the audience on scriptural readings that said God's love was seen in the "marvels of creation."

He quoted St. Basil the Great, a fourth century saint, as saying some people, "fooled by the atheism that they carry inside of them, imagine a universe free of direction and order, as if at the mercy of chance."

"How many of these people are there today? These people, fooled by atheism, believe and try to demonstrate that it's scientific to think that everything is free of direction and order," he said.

"With the sacred Scripture, the Lord awake…

Zero x Three

Continuing on with the development of the use of zero in Europe, my friend and fellow Cadre member Bede has chimed in after reading Mr. Mann's email on the subject. Bede has a Masters in Historical Research and is working on his PhD in the History of Science, so his opinion is worth more than mine. Check out his blog on the issue here. I include an excerpt:

I would firstly say that I have studied a manuscript written by the Cambridge University maths lecturer in 1508 and it uses zero as a matter of course. So do all 16th century maths textbooks. I've looked at the collected letters of Gerbert (that’s Sylvester II) already and not found anything related to zero. However, he is credited with being one of the first to introduce Arabic numerals into Western Europe. I'll also check Sacrobosco's Algorismus as that was the main medieval textbook on arithmetic. The earliest version I've seen was printed in 1488 and I think that uses zero (I wasn't looking but it cove…

God Bless America and Her Defenders

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Today is Veteran's Day. The picture pays tribute to the United States and those who have sacrificed while serving her. The picture includes the grave of an unknown soldier that is meant to represent all those who have sacrificed their lives, their time, their health, and their innocence, to protect our nation.

My grandfather is one such veteran. Leaving his pregnant wife behind, he shipped off to the European Theater in World War II. Away for years serving in the army artillery corp, he served in North Africa, Italy (at Anzio), the invasion of southern France, and the drive on Germany. He picked up a bad case of malaria and some German souveneirs, but returned intact to meet his daughter (my mom) who did not recognize him at first having only seen him in pictures. But his ordeal was not over. Like so many of his generation, when communist North Korean forces invaded the defenseless South, he was recalled to duty and spent another year fighting in literally chilling conditio…

Goliath of Gath -- Was he a real person?

"Then a champion came out from the armies of the Philistines named Goliath, from Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. He had a bronze helmet on his head, and he was clothed with scale-armor which weighed five thousand shekels of bronze. He also had bronze greaves on his legs and a bronze javelin slung between his shoulders. The shaft of his spear was like a weaver's beam, and the head of his spear weighed six hundred shekels of iron; his shield-carrier also walked before him. He stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel and said to them, 'Why do you come out to draw up in battle array? Am I not the Philistine and you servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves and let him come down to me. If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will become your servants; but if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall become our servants and serve us.'" -- 1 Samuel 17: 4-9
Goliath -- even today, 3,000 years later, we know of the giant of the Philis…

Back to Zero: A Word from the Author of 1491

In a recent post, I noted that the book 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, by Charles C. Mann, stated that zero "didn't appear in Europe until the twelfth century. Even then European governments and the Vatican resisted zero--a something that stood for nothing -- as foreign and un-Christian." Mann, 1491, page 19. Although I did not doubt the timing of zero's appearance in Mayan and European culture, I did ask whether the Vatican had opposed zero (because I honestly did not know). Fortunately, Mr. Mann has emailed me and clarified his comment and provided specific examples and references on the issue. He has given me permission to post his email on the blog:

I am the author of "1491," the book which Layman blogged
about on Wednesday. As the post says, I made a brief
reference to the Church and zero in my book -- too brief,
because I think I was inadvertently misleading. This is the
good thing about blogs -- they point out where people like

Canada and Free Speech

A few days ago BK post on this blog about Questions about homosexuality and silencing Christians in Canada. Unforunately, the article from the Minnesota Star Tribune had already gone stale dated, and could no longer be accessed. BK then said "I would like some insight from anyone who has any personal knowledge or experience as to what is going on in the Great White North."

Well, I not only live in the Great White North (aka Canada), but I live in the diocese of Bishop Fred Henry, about whom the original article was written. Are Christians being silenced on the issue of homosexual rights, and same sex marriage laws? Here is a listing of some of the stories that either have, or are now, working their way through Canadian courts and Human Rights Tribunals:

Human Rights Complaint Filed Against Catholic Bishop for Defence of Traditional Marriage. This complaint is based upon a letter Bishop Henry circulated to the parishes of his own dioceses(!!) It is now working its way th…

New Archeological Discovery: The Oldest Church in History?

I have been waiting to see whether any new facts came out about this discovery, but did not want the news to become stale. Archeologists have announced the discovery of what is perhaps the oldest church in the world, dating from the mid-second to early-third centuries The discovery is full of ironies. It was found by Israeli prisoners, but not in their own prison. They had been brought into a high-security prison to help clear the grounds for construction of a new prison ward. The high-security prison is home to terrorists from Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The final irony is perhaps the site of the prison and the discovery: Megiddo, the biblical site of Armeggedon.

Leaving behind the irony of the find, what of its substance? The site is about the size of a tennis court with two mosaics taking up about half of that. To date, only about 10% of the church has been uncovered.

The first mosaic is well-preserved and black and white. It contains two images of a fish, an ancient Chris…

It's Degenerate! No Wait, It's Fair Game!

From the Wall Street Journal's Best of the Web, November 9, 2005:

"It seems to me that using explicitly religious criteria--rather than jurisprudential philosophy--for judicial nominations is yet another sign of how degenerate Bush's brand of conservatism is."--Andrew Sullivan on Harriet Miers, Oct. 28

"The upshot of [Pope] Benedict's church will be indeed to dictate to Catholic public officials, including judges, what they can and cannot do and still be allowed to receive communion. Under those circumstances, a judge's religion would indeed be fair game for Senate hearings, it seems to me."--Andrew Sullivan on Sam Alito, Nov. 7
'Nuff said.

Irony thy Name is Greenpeace

No point here, political or otherwise, but I could not pass up the irony revealed in this article.

Did the Christian Church Condemn Zero?

I have been reading 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, by Charles C. Mann. It is an interesting read and unabashadely revisionist, though -- as far as I can tell -- not motivated by religious or political reasons. The thrust of the book is that the American Indians, especially those in South America, had created great empires and civilizations with their own technological and mathmatical accomplishments prior to the coming of Columbus. On one hand, this runs afoul of traditional views of American Indians as having been uncivilized. On the other hand, it runs afoul of liberal views of the American Indians as living in complete harmony in nature. The rise and fall of more than one Indian civilization can be traced to their use and abuse of the surrounding environment.

Early in the book, Mann makes a stray comment that caught my eye because I had recently seen the issue discussed elsewhere. On page 19, Mann writes that the Mayans first used the "zero"…

"Heads I Win, Tails You Lose!"

Since I became a serious thinking Christian, I realized that reading all of C.S. Lewis' books was a part of my sanctification. The current book I'm reading is The Screwtape Letters and Screwtape Proposes a Toast. In The Screwtape Letters, Screwtape writes Wormwood in his twenty-seventh letter about prayer: (As a bit of background for those unfamiliar with this classic, Lord help them, Screwtape is a high ranking "devil" who writes letters to his predecessor, young Wormwood, who's training )

"But since your patient has contracted the terrible habit of obedience (to prayer), he will probably continue such 'crude' prayers whatever you do. But you can worry hum with the haunting suspicion that the practice is absurd and can have no objective result. Don't forget to use the 'Heads I win, tails you lose' argument. If the thing he prays for doesn't happen, then that is one more proof that petitionary prayers don't work, he will, of course…

The Rioting in France Continues

Rioting in France has spread to 300 towns and cities, though the "burned car count" dipped a bit last night. It is an interesting phenomenon that the gauge of the severity of the rioting has been the number of cars burned. Blame for the rioting has been assigned to French racism, povery and unemployment (check about any AP article giving background), Islamic fanaticism, the failure of assimilation, the refusal to assimilate, friction with the local police, and a French politicians comment that the rioters are "scum."

The AP has a timeline for the riots.

I also benefited from this WSJ article comparing immigrant opportunities in the US to immigrant opportunities in Europe (free registration required).

I have to add that there is some dark humor in all of this. The former Socialist Prime Minister of France, Laurent Fabius, has criticized President Chirac's plan to impose curfews to combat the rioting. According Mr. Fabius, curfews are "repressive." Pe…

The Crusades on the History Channel

I have been watching the History Channel's special on the Crusades, The Crusades: Crescent and the Cross. Overall it has been very informative, though there is a tendency, no doubt thought to be "balanced" by some, to split time between scholars from Muslim lands and scholars from Christian lands. On one hand the input from Muslim scholars is a welcome change. On the other hand, it is not entirely successful. Because the scholars from Muslim lands see things very much from the Muslim perspective, whereas the scholars from Christian lands seem to have little affection for the Christian perspective, the effect is not balance but a tilt towards the Muslim perspective. As I said, though, taken as a whole I thought the series was pretty good.

Yet there were two scenes that I found particularly troubling. One was at the end of the series when one of the Muslim scholars said that stories of the Crusades were retold today in Muslims nations "as if they happened yest…