Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Memorial Days

Memorial Day as we know it is supposed to be a day of remembering those who've died for this country, especially in military service. Frankly, I wish there was a greater focus on the sacrifices many, many thousands of men and women have given for this nation. While BBQ and time at the beach are wonderful things, especially when enjoyed with friends and family, too much attention is paid (IMO) to the trappings and not enough to the somber occassion. Regardless of which "side" one is on, it is to these people that we owe the rights we enjoy today. And they are also the people who have protected us from those who have wished us harm. We shouldn't neglect that.

That being said, I find it helpful to focus on another memorial in addition to remembering the men and women who've given their lives for this country. That memorial is described in Luke 11:
(23)For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, (24)and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." (25)In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me." (26)For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes

What made this sacrifice unique was the identity of the sacrifice, and the end result. Jesus died on the cross, God Himself, so that we may have a way out of our self-made destiny of Hell. He gave Himself up that we may be delivered from our own sin, our own folly, our own choosing to rebel against God. And He died so that He might be raised from the dead. Unlike the brave military members, Jesus rose again, conquering death. His memorial is a celebration; no longer need we fear death. We have a means of restoration, we can accept redemption. God loved us so much to give the ultimate sacrifice - and then He exceeded even that by raising His son back to life.

We should not trivialize or minimize the sacrifice of those who've died in service to this country. In many ways, these men and women live out the greatest love that laid down life for others. But the sacrifice God Himself made, nigh on 2000 years ago, was of infinite value because it allowed us to have a relationship with Him for eternity. Remembering that sacrifice, what it means, and what we owe for the sacrificer is not just an Easter thing. That's a memorial we should observe every day.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Trippin' 'Round the 'Sphere - 5/26 Edition

Lots of catching up to do (I'm about caught up to where I was the last time I noted I was behind) and so little time in which to do it. Hopefully I'm not too late in pointing some of these out.
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Christian Carnival is up at Techno Gypsy. Interesting theme: stories of the desert fathers. Sounds like some tales I need to check out. Anyhoo, great job organizing it!

Specific shout-outs to some posts I'd like to recommend (haven't read all 50+ yet, but give me time...):

Lance at Ragged Edges entered this post which raises a humdinger of a question. I'll have to contemplate a bit to see if I can come up with something. Of course, Lance also remarks that I live in the frozen north which was true as of three weeks ago, but the weather's nicer now.

Viewpoint came up with a timely post on free will. It's a topic that's come up a bit in email discussions I've had with a fellow contributor to Evangelical Update.

I'd love to be a writer. That's why this post from Brandywine books hits home.
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The Vox Apologia theme for the week is "The Objections: Is Christianity Absurd?" Short answer, no. If I have time this weekend, I'll take a shot at the long answer.
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For the politically minded among you, take a gander at Cross Blogging's symposium this week, which asks whether the Republican Senators surrendered with the filibuster deal. I'm not a registered Republican (having voted for folks in more than the 2 major parties in my lifetime) but I am anti-filibuster in any situation. I'll end my brief foray into politics here, thank you very much.
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Amy posted this for the Christian Carnival, but I am putting it here just to point out the fact that in my house, I'm the one who gets to experience the grace of having to re-do my housecleaning handiwork multiple times per day. So, yes, even husbands can learn from the "Humble" housewives. I'm grateful for the many times 'round this here 'sphere that I do...
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Does anyone else think these polls are a tad bit early? Didn't we just get through an election? Can't a fella get a break?
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For those who I don't "see" here before Monday, have a good Memorial Day. The reason we have the freedom to blog nearly anything we want is because many men (including some in my family tree) fought for that freedom. Too many died. Let's not forget that over grilled 'burgers and a day off from work.

God bless!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Biblically Illiterate

I don't normally look to Hollywood for guidance on anything. Frankly, most celebs tend to soundstupid, manipulative, or downright crude. (Yes, I'm aware there are examples from the right, but frankly, in Hollywood, conservatives are much harder to find and I'm relatively time constrained.) However, at times, entertainment can be instructive about our society. One example of this was a Jay Leno segment of Jaywalking a few years back.

For those not familiar with the concept, Jay Leno walks around town with a camera crew in tow, with the intention of capturing "everyday" citizens in the full exhibition of ignorance. If you can watch video on your computer, this example will give you an idea of (a) what the segment is all about, and (b) to the point of this post, an indication of how much we work is required to bring Biblical literacy back to our society.

Now of course, Leno et al may have just shown the .01% of people who didn't answer these questions correctly. I doubt it. I mean Jay himself showed Biblical illiteracy when he asked how many wise men were in the Christmas narratives (hint: we know how many gifts there are, but what does the Bible say about the number of the magi themselves?) More evidence of our nation's level of Biblical illiteracy abounds. George Barna found that 75% of people believe that "the Bible teaches that God helps those who help themselves." Albert Mohleroffers even more evidence. And indications are that the younger generations are less likely to be Biblically literate than their elders. This is a fairly unsurprising conclusion considering the aforementioned Barna poll shows that younger people read their Bibles less regularly than do older people.

So what, one may ask, is the big problem? Well, there are a couple of significant ones. For the Christian, Biblical illiteracy leaves you defenseless to a sweet-sounding falsehood leveled at the faith. And really, if you're not sure of what you believe, or don't know the foundation of your faith, how important or real is it?

For the non-Christian, Biblical illiteracy leaves one open to, well, let's just say you end up sounding silly when debating an educated Christian (much like the Biblically illiterate Christian sounds foolish when debating an atheist.) In addition, Biblical speech, phrases, concepts and stories have played a huge part in our country's history. Being Biblically illiterate leaves one with less appreciation for what makes up our culture, or leaves one completely ignorant of the nuances of daily conversation. See here and here for more on the importance scripture plays in our culture, even if only as context and source material.

Knowing the Bible is important. For the Christian, it is obviously beneficial as a way to get to know God better, to strengthen one's faith, and to prepare one's self for encounters with those of a different mind. For non-Christians it's a way to learn what Christians believe, and to learn part of the canon of American culture. (Plus, really, it's the truth!)
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So how Biblically literate are you? Thisquiz can help you find out. No matter your score, though, keep reading the Bible. (Note: The quiz has the answers right under the questions - so if you want to take it for real, be careful not to read ahead!)

Monday, May 23, 2005

Trippin' 'Round the 'Sphere - 5/23 Edition

Apologies for those looking for new posts these past few days. Wrapping up another course and deploying a major project at work converged to take what was left of my non-family time this weekend.
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Oh, I'm a geek-child of the 80's, so you'd think I'd have seen the new SW movie. You'd be wrong. Too much real-life going on:) Fortunately, I have Mark Roberts to fill some of the SW void with a series on the real dark side.
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Catez offers a great reminder for those getting too wrapped up in the sin of others - in this case, gays.
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Rev-Ed interviews Alice (formerly known as Not Crunchy). Alice has her new blog venture going great guns at Evangelical Update. The comments sections are turning out to be fascinating little discussion areas. Both Rev-Ed and Alice do good work and should be on must-read lists...
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So it was that Amy who won Challies DVD giveaway for May.
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Feeling lucky?
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I was fairly pleased by this program Friday night. Much better than past efforts on ABC's part.
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I think one of our summer vacation plans is now solidified - er, liquified.
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Awesome pictures mostly side views of thunderstorms. I certainly don't like the destruction that comes of such storms, but I am in awe of their power.
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We took eldest daughter here to see Beauty and the Beast Saturday. It was more fun watching her enjoy her first stage show than watching the very solid performance!

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

I need a new local paper

It's been asked of me whether I trust anything in the MSM. The answer is that yes, I do trust some things in the MSM. When a story or editorial is researched and written with an eye towards reality, truth and some semblence of objetivity, I will at least take it seriously, even if I do discount for the bias of the writer/editor as best I can discern it.

However, when I read drivel like this I just can't take it. I've long ago stopped believing anything the editorial board at the Strib writes. While the paper has some good reporters, who I'll trust, the opinion page folks just have nothing to offer.

Let's disect this editorial, and you'll see why I hope my fellow Daily alumni learned better than this at the U.

The White House has gone ballistic over the retracted statement in the May 9 Newsweek that "investigators probing abuses at Guantanamo Bay have confirmed" that "interrogators, in an attempt to rattle suspects, placed Qur'ans on toilets and, in at least one case, flushed a holy book down the toilet."

I, of course, don't blame the White House for their reaction, but I think it's more than a tad over the top to say the WH has "gone ballistic." Frankly, I'm amazed at the Administration's restraint considering the fallout from the story.
White House spokesman Scott McClellan flat-out said Newsweek was responsible for causing the rioting in Afghanistan that led to at least 17 deaths. Newsweek editors appear to have accepted that responsibility. They shouldn't have;

Um, and why is that? Howard Kurtz at the not-so-much-conservative Washintgon Post even says the "report on the treatment of detainees that triggered several days of rioting in Afghanistan and other countries in which at least 15 people died." While it is true that the ultimate blame for the deaths goes to those who physically took part in the riot, the Newsweek folks bear some responsibility for recklessly putting inflammatory material into an obviously fragile environment. Newsweek yelled "fire" in a crowded theater, and people died.
the White House is simply changing the subject from abuse at Guantanamo to Newsweek's journalism.

Hardly. This wasn't "journalism" as taught by reputable organizations and schools. This was ill-conceived rumor mongering. The WH did exactly what it should have done - defended the country from the damage resulting from Newsweek's considerable lapse in judgment.
It would have been prudent, and more responsible, for Newsweek to have confirmed the story with a second source; that failure gave the White House the opening it has now seized to such good effect. Newsweek then compounded the error by going only halfway in its first correction.

So, which is it? Newsweek made an error, or the Administration is shifting folks' eyes away from the abuse? It can't be both. If it's an error, then there was no abuse from which to shift attention.
Newsweek used as a source a "senior government official," normally a Cabinet secretary or someone fairly close to that rank, who had previously been a reliable source. It then showed the report to two Pentagon officials before publication. One declined comment and one corrected another aspect of the story. Neither challenged the Qur'an-in-the-toilet statement.

Ah, so instead of getting independently verification, Newsweek used the Pentagon's lack of a condemnation as confirmation? If that's what passes for journalism in the MSM, it's no wonder their trust numbers are in the toilet. It's not the Pentagon's responsibility to tell Newsweek how to do its job. If Newsweek takes shortcuts in verification of stories, Newsweek needs to take responsibility when things blow up on them. See, Rather, Dan - National Guard memos.
Only after the report had been printed did the original source back away from his assertion that he had seen the confirmation in a military report on abuse at Guantanamo. On reflection, he thought perhaps he saw it in other reports or drafts; but he did see it.

See, this is why independent verification is necessary. Newsweek took a shortcut and got burned.
As for this short Newsweek item causing the rioting and deaths in Afghanistan, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan told Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Richard Myers that the violence was "not at all" tied to Newsweek, but was an insurgency seeking to prevent the national reconciliation that President Hamid Karzai is trying to promote. Before the Newsweek item was even published, both the Associated Press and Agence France-Presse reported a new surge of Taliban-led violence.

This like saying the forest fire would've happend had the lit match not been tossed in, because the forest was already dry. If the AP and Agence France-Presse had already reported the Taliban was stirring things up, Newsweek should have realized that they needed to be more careful than usual to get things right lest they inadvertently, well...start a riot or something.
Besides, the White House itself committed much more egregious errors in the way it so casually used dubious intelligence to make a case for going to war in Iraq.

Ai. This is about Newsweek. Newsweek. Now who's trying to shift attention from the real issue?
As the blog Daily Kos pointed out Tuesday, McClellan seems to have a double standard. In his discussion with reporters on July 17, 2003, he was asked: Bush is "president of the United States. This thing he told the country on the verge of taking the nation to war has turned out to be, by your own account, not reliable. That's his fault, isn't it?"

McClellan responded: "No."

I'll give Kos the benefit of the doubt, as I'm sure he's probably accurate here (hey, if it's good enough for Newsweek, this hearsay thing is good enough for me, right?) But here the hypocrisy gate swings both ways (if indeed it can be accurately said to swing towards the president at all.) If the left is going to say the Admin's standard was wrong, then they had durn well better say that Newsweek was wrong too. And not try to play the "well they did it too" card. That's pathetic.
The accusations concerning Qur'ans in toilets have been published repeatedly over the past three years in a number of media, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, a number of other American newspapers, the BBC and a Moroccan Islamic newspaper. The only thing Newsweek added was a claim of "official confirmation." While not a small thing, that supposed confirmation did not break this story; it is old news. And one source's faulty memory over where he saw information about it does not prove that the accusations of Qur'an abuse are untrue. Indeed, they still deserve further investigation.

Sure, accusations have been reported before. Not really unsurprising. I find it quite plausible that after the Abu Ghraib news impacted our country the way it did that prisoners would try and attack us by making false, and inflammatory, accusations. Or, maybe the desecration could have been done by a prisoner - a seeming possibility. This is exactly why Newsweek should have made sure of what it was reporting.

After Abu Ghraib, accusations of prisoner abuse seem more likely to be credible just because "it's happened before." But the terrorists aren't stupid - Newsweek had to know that misinformation aimed at hurting the U.S. abroad was a very real possibility. In this atmosphere, Newsweek's actions are doubly problematic.
The White House response fits a pattern of trying to intimidate the press from exploring issues the administration doesn't want explored. Compare it, for example, to the Dan Rather report on President Bush's military service. To this day, we don't know if what Rather reported was accurate or not, or to what degree it may have been accurate. Nor do we know whether the documents he cited were genuine. All we know is that CBS can't verify that they were genuine.

D.Nile. Calling Dr. D.Nile. The Strib is again shifting focus from where it belongs.
Yet the hullabaloo caused by that incident appears to have intimidated other journalists from trying to pin down the full truth about Bush's military service.

Yes, after looking into it over multiple elections and coming away with nothing more than innuendo and obviously faked documents, journalists have moved on because of pressure from the WH. Couldn't be that after so much time spent trying to find proof of Bush's ANG shenanigans that journalists decided that there were no more rocks to turn over. Nah...
And now there will probably be less enterprise reporting on prisoner abuse or anything else that might embarrass this administration.

Yes, all that MSM criticism of President Bush will just about stop now. The media are soooo frightened that ne'er a single nasty word will be written about him again.

Frankly, after Eason Jordan and Dan Rather, I'd think the Strib editorial board would be more worried about pressure from the blogosphere.
It also fits neatly in with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's effort to muzzle public television and radio. This behavior seems so Nixonian, except that the current crew is much better at the press-intimidation game than William Safire and Vice President Spiro Agnew were. For Newsweek and other media that come in for this treatment, we have one word: Resist.

Yes, by all means. When the WH (and numerous others - let's not put all this Newsweek criticism on McClellan et al) tells Newsweek that it was wrong, ignore 'em. When it is pointed out that the reporting was sloppy, forget that. Fake, but accurate works nowadays. Who cares if it's true if it could've been.

If the U.S. military interrogators were doing this, then by all means investigate and punish as applicable law requires. But this report was carelessly published, and at the very least indirectly it led to riots resulting in multiple deaths. Now, thanks to Newsweek, future claims of abuse will be more suspect than need be. If abuse is real, it needs to be reported accurately. Crying wolf, or jumping the gun, only hurts investigations that need to take place.

I want more from my paper than this. Have some standards. I shouldn't see more credibility on the comics page than the opinions page.
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I'm not alone on touching on this topic. Captain's Quarters, and Spanktuary provide my favorite commentaries to date.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Trippin' 'Round the 'Sphere - 5/17 Edition

Christian Carnival will be hosted at A Penitent Blogger this week. Entries due tonight!
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Vox Apologia received four entries this past week, on the use of the Trilemma. Next week's topic is Buddhism. Hmmmm...not my strong suit, so please, if you know whereof you speak on Buddhism, educate me and enter the Vox, all at the same time:)
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Hooray! Nick Queen's Out of the Wilderness Showcase has returned! New blogger Dignan's 75 Year Plan makes our acquaintance this week.
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Catez's Darfur collection is up. Sobering, yet important reading.
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I'm really starting to like the ESV. I've always been an NASB guy, but the ESV is very good.
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Finally...for all you who've wanted to take me on, have at it!

NorthernBurbsBlog

is a Giant Robot that has a mean Left Hook and a Metal Jaw, and is Highly Flammable and Radioactive.

Strength: 8 Agility: 5 Intelligence: 9



To see if your Giant Battle Monster can
defeat NorthernBurbsBlog, enter your name and choose an attack:

fights NorthernBurbsBlog using

Friday, May 13, 2005

Vox Apologia - The Trilemma

RazorsKiss poses an interesting question over at Vox Apologia: "The Trilemma: Useful or Useless?"

Since this apologetic argument is (most?) often associated with C.S. Lewis, of whom I am an unabashed fan, I thought it a very good topic to tackle.

In general terms, a trilemma is a logical construct containing three options. Either something is X, Y, or Z. In the case of Christian apologetics, the trilemma states that Jesus Christ was either a liar, a lunatic or Lord. In other words, He was either who He said He was, or we shouldn't follow Him because He's insane or a liar.

So is this a useful tool in the apologist's toolbox? I will state unequivocally that it might be. Or it might not. There. Problem solved.

Well, not quite. There are a couple of main reasons I think it may not be a helpful tool, at least not at all times or places. First of all, the argument presupposes that the historicity of the Gospels are not in question. That is, to argue the trilemma assumes that Jesus did actually, historically, make these very claims. If He did not, then evaluating the trilemma becomes an interesting intellectual exercise, but really not applicable to anything real. If you wish to use the trilemma, you need to ensure the listener is already in agreement with the idea that Jesus actually made the claims described in the Gospels.

A second problem is that there may be alternatives not encapsulated by the trilemma, which turns the argument into a logical fallacy, specifically a type of"false dilemma". An example would be that Jesus was sane, but really thought He was God when He wasn't. In other words, He was wrong, but not intentionally so. I'd put this under the "liar" category, but if the listener doesn't, the argument loses its force because the listener is distracted. Regardless of whether the listener is correct in categorizing the options, the argument isn't going to be very helpful if the listener doesn't buy that these are the only three options.

The final problem is that, well, we cannot "prove" any part of the trilemma is an invalid option. We do not have psychiatrist's notes from ca. 30 A.D. demonstrating that Jesus was psychologically healthy. We don't possess hundreds of pages of Roman Senate Committee reports on the question of whether Jesus was a truth-teller. We have reasonable evidence that Jesus was sane, and that he told the truth, but it is not definitive. If it were, we'd have far fewer skeptics! For many skeptics, the suppositional nature of the trilemma is an insurmountable problem. They need more evidence to decide that He was neither liar nor lunatic, so they cannot yet concede that He is Lord.

That being said, there is some power in this argument. As Lewis used it, he was arguing against one specific claim: that Jesus was merely a good teacher. While it may be true that the trilemma says nothing definitive about Christ's deity, it at the very least points out that Jesus could not have been just a "good teacher." A good man tells the truth. It doesn't make sense to revere Jesus as "a good man who taught some good things" if any but the "Lord" option in the trilemma is held to be the case.

The argument could also be useful in bringing an unbeliever to the point of realizing he or she has to make a decision on Christ, as long as it is used with other apologetic evidences. That is, if the apologist has brought the unbeliever to the point of acknowledging the Bible is historically reliable, or at least that it is reasonable to believe it is, then this argument can bring the unbeliever to a point where they have to accept or reject the next plot point in the story.

Finally, for the believer, it is useful in our self-evaluation. It forces us to examine our beliefs to determine if we're really following a liar or lunatic, or if we're following our Lord. Anything which makes us think more deeply on who Jesus really is has a great deal of value. And for that alone, if for nothing else, we should keep this particular trilemma in the toolbox.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Some fun!

I often find amusing little quizzes, surveys, "what type of X? are you" tests and games through my forays into the 'sphere. Today, for fun, I thought I'd provide a little insight into who I am according to these items, and share some "fun." (I apologize for not remembering all the HT's I should have.)
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First off, I have a bit o'the green in my heritage, so I'd like to let you know my Irish name is Gavin Smith.
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I love to read, so it was fun to find out what book I am:



You're A Theory of Justice!

by John Rawls

In the beginning, you lived in a town. The town had many problems! Rather than moving, you decided to come up with the idea for the best town ever. Going all the way back to the original position, you created the idea for the best town ever! Lo and behold, the best town ever looked almost identical to the town you lived in. You
decided to stay in the town. Now you resent people mistaking your refined thought experiments for "the wall of stupidity" in high school debate rounds.


Take the Book Quiz at the Blue Pyramid.


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Being a born patriot, and lover of my home state of Minnesota, found it interesting that the country and state I "am" are:



You're Switzerland!

While most people think you're sort of stuck up, it's really
just that people don't interest you that much. That's why you'd rather
just stay out of everything and be as neutral as possible. Somewhere in
there is an ability to be a psychiatrist because you're so objective, but you
might just be too cold for that.

Take the Country Quiz at the Blue Pyramid


and



You're Minnesota!

You love hanging out around lakes, even if they're frozen solid. Given your probable Scandanavian heritage, it all just demonstrates that you're pining for thefjords. Your obsession with wrestling got a little carried away for a while there, and this should prompt some serious reflection about the separation of mind and body. It may be time to celebrate, even throw your hat up in the air. You're going to make it after all.

Take the State Quiz at the Blue Pyramid.


I've never watched this movie, but apparently I'm also


What Classic Movie Are You?
personality tests by similarminds.com
and last but not least...the world leader I am would be:


What Famous Leader Are You?
personality tests by similarminds.com

Now that I got that out of my system, back to more serious items tomorrow.

God bless!

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Happy Birthday Princess!

Oldest daughter turns 5 today! Yippee! In honor, I will be spending the rest of the day with her instead of blogging.

God bless 'til tomorrow!

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Trippin' 'Round the 'Sphere - 5/10 Edition

Busy weekend just past, with a birthday party for my daughters, Mother's Day pampering of my wife and teaching Sunday School to some lovely 3 year olds. So, I didn't do much deep thinking, and my first entry of the week is just another trip 'round the 'sphere.
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May Giveaway

Challies' monthly giveaway is here for May! Click on the image to enter.
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Christian Carnival is at semicolon this week. Entries due tonight!
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Not Crunchy has unmasked herself, and is now known as...Alice!. She's started a series on global warming here.
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Catez is seeking submissions on the genocide in Darfur. I think the situation there is symptomatic of the ineffectiveness of the U.N. at the very least, but more than that is proof that evil and sin do exist.
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Dr. Mohler has a real blog! I'm already behind on reading his stuff...
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Hope Mother's Day was blessed for all you Mom's out there. I can't think of a more important calling than being a mother nowadays - there are too many forces trying to mold kids in unhealthful ways. Thank God for all the moms out there (including both my wife and my mother!) who made/make sure those forces are countered through truth and integrity.

God bless!

Friday, May 06, 2005

Cross Blogging Question - Theocracy?

Theocracy: (n) A government ruled by or subject to religious authority.dictionary.com

Cross Blogging's symposium this week addresses the too-oft heard charge that we "right wingers" are seeking to impose a theocracy on the rest of the nation. The impetus is this article written by Robert Kuttner.

The symposium asks the following questions, to which my responses are added.

1) Is the Religious Right trying to setup a Theocracy in America?
If I may be so bold, I don't think there is such a thing, really, as "the Religious Right." What I believe is that there are myriad people who have varying levels of conviction about issues that tend towards conservatism and practice, in one way or another, religion. I think the "left" (he says, making the same generalization he is now decrying) is mistaken when they lump all conservatives of a religious bent into a homogenous group. However, for the spirit of the question...the answer is "no." There is a distinct difference between advocating for certain issues and concerns and desiring that a priest or pastor head the nation. We should not be conflating religiously-motivated activism on issues with religiously-motivated activism for a church led government. The former happens all the time (even by secularists who don't want me to "force my beliefs on them" - and avoid this by forcing theirs on me!). The latter happens too rarely to recognize as a threat.

In addition, as I pointed out, the religious right is too fragmented to come up with a workable theocracy on which everyone would agree, let alone advocate for one.

2) Is the Religious Right trying to use the faith and beliefs of our Founding Fathers as just rhetoric?

As much as those who'd oppose them are, I guess. But some (on each side) have honest beliefs that the FF would agree with them. Each side tries to co-opt the FF, each side has some honest belief that the FF would disagree with the other side.

Is the Religious Right attempting to kill the independence of the Judiciary?

Can't speak for the entire RR, but I'm not. But then, the "independence of the Judiciary" is a somewhat misleading phrase. The judiciary is independent, but also constrained by checks and balances. Congress and the Executive branch are also independent, yet constrained. What I see most conservatives as trying to do is reclaim for Congress the role of legislators from the courts, who (allegedly) have usurped this legislative role under the guise of interpretation.

Is our Democracy under assault by the Religious Right?

Not that I can tell. Again, we need to be careful about conflating activism on certain issues with attacks on our government itself. This isn't about creating a theocracy; it's about how one group of people believes the Constitution should be interpreted, and about how another group reacts to the first. In fact, it's a sign our democracy is still strong that the RR is working within the system, as allowed by law and Senate rules, to act.

Should Politicians check our Faith at the door?

My, what a beautifully unconstitutional thought. Anyone holding this belief has serious need of a remedial course in the First Amendment. Politicians are as much citizens as anyone else, and as free as anyone else to inform their philosophy and politics from their worldview. What they cannot do is use their authority to establish a state church or force others to their religious point of view. But they can certainly use whatever philosophical tools they wish to arrive at answers on how to address certain issues.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Women in the Church

Kristen was discussing the role of women as teachers in the blogosphere recently. Her blog was in response to a discussion about this post from R.C. Sproul, Jr., which argued that women should not be blogging about theology. Or something like that.

Well. How to think about this? I find I enjoy the blogs of some very intelligent and eloquent women, some of whom are on my blogroll to the right. I'd start listing them, but I'd either forget someone, or this post would be waaaaaaay too long. I have enough problems with brevity as it is.

With all due respect to Mr. Sproul, I don't think scripture can in any way be accurately used to justify commanding Christian women to avoid discussion of theology so as to live up to a very odd reading of Titus 2. While it is possible God will correct me on this someday, I don't see any theological problem with women "teaching" via blogs.

But this question goes to a bigger question: what is the role of women in the church, especially insofar as teaching responsibilities and authority are concerned?

Unlike the "should women blog about theology?" question, I have no solid answer to the bigger one. It may seem obvious that the role of women as described in the Bible is one of silence (as noted here and here.) If these were the only two passages in scripture, I'd have a hard time being conflicted about it. But the Bible contains many, many passages that would seem to indicate these two "limiting" passages are intended to address a specific cultural situation in the first century, and not so much to be a rule for all times and all places.

For instance:

  • Junia is listed by Paul as "outstanding among the apostles" - which seems to indicate she was an apostle. Yes, there is some debate about Junia's precise role, but a strong argument can be made that she was an early apostle.

  • Phoebe was a deaconess in her church.

  • Priscilla helped teach Apollos.

  • Nympha had a church in her house.

  • 2 John seems to have been written to a church led by a woman.

  • Paul commends women who "contended" with him for the faith. This is a somewhat active verb to use for women who are supposedly to remain silent.

  • Deborah was a leader of Israel.

  • Huldah was a prophetess.

  • God Himself says women will prophesy. This is a "teaching" and "authoritative" position in the church.

  • Paul himself says women are to prophesy with their heads covered. Since prophecy is for the church, and since he seems to be saying it's okay for women to prophesy, I tend to think women can in fact speak out in church.

  • Phillip had four daughters who were prophetesses.

  • Jesus doesn't seem to limit who can teach.

  • The woman at the well was not told not to teach men.


There are probably examples I'm missing of women prophesying, teaching, ruling or evangelizing - even to/over men - without disapproval being noted. There are also probably people who can point out how none of these passages I cite have anything to do with Paul's admonition that women should not remain silent. Or that my citations are arguments from silence. I can point to arguments that likewise would say that Paul was addressing a specific cultural instance, and not making universal pronouncements.

So really, I have not the discernment to say, with absolute certainty that women should not teach men. I think the evidence is stronger that they may - although I will concede that the one place they may not be permitted to, in scripture, is in a formal church setting. God just hasn't convicted me on this, one way or the other.

To me the best solution is to not judge the ministry to which God calls a woman, but rather discern whether what she does teach is true and good. In my experience, women pastors tend to hold positions that are scripturally untenable. Granted, the sample size I'm working with is small, but so far I've yet to be in any service held by a woman pastor where I didn't come out scratching my head about, if I may put it this way, what she'd been doing during seminary when she should have been studying. (There are male pastors like this too - just not, in my experience, as many. And I'm sure there are orthodox women pastors too - I just haven't been in a service held by one.)

If women choose to not seek an authoritative or teaching position within the church, I see no reason to condemn them. But at the same time, if they do, then I will judge their teaching, not their gender.

And by all means, I'll keep reading blogs written by my sisters in the faith, even about those theology issues on which others think they should remain silent.

God bless!
Ron

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Christian Carnival Update

Have to head to Cubbies tonight, for awards night (eldest daughter gets her last shot at Cubbie glory before moving up to Sparks) so I'll just note that:

Christian Carnival is up!

Haven't made it through all ~66 some posts yet, but early favorites include:

The Regulator talks about one of my all time favorite thinkers and writers, C.S. Lewis, in his carnival entry.

Messy Christian takes on an...ummmm...interesting topic in her post entitled More talk on [a certain female undergarment]. A provocative entry (and good comments conversation) about what is appropriate fodder for a blogger to discuss.

Wayne at Questions and Answers offers up some thoughts on why liberals hate Christian conservatives in this carnival post.

Jeanette asks a very good questions: What Is the Christian’s Duty to the Poor? Check out her post for some practical thoughts.

Is Christianity just a retelling of a pagan myth? Um, no. Bill points to the error of some scholars giving that particular theory a shot. Frankly, the times when stories from other faiths are similar to those in Christianity, I find that to be compelling evidence that there is some truth behind it.

Happy reading and God bless!

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Trippin' 'Round the 'Sphere - 5/3 Edition

Catching up on my blog reading...some nuggets I've enjoyed.

Cross Blogging has a new symposium up. The topic is Theocracy in America. I'm against it, if you're wondering, as are most Christians I know. But it keeps coming up in the MSM that we're seeking to impose one on the country. Should be an interesting symposium.
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Considering where I work, I perhaps shouldn't link to this, but I just love this quote: "Even though it was a simulation, researchers were pleased to see the drivers reacted as though it were real life. When a computer-generated car cut in front of them, 'people were flipping off the cars,' Rakauskas said. "That didn't seem to affect their driving."

Way to encourage the behavior: "but honey, it's safe to do that!"
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Adrian Warnock is about finished with his questionnaire. Surprise, surprise - I'm tending towards the analytical.
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Dr. Mark Roberts is continuing a series on church conflict that is turning into a series on I Corinthians 13. Good stuff, as usual, from one of my favorite bloggers.
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Kentucky Packrat has the Christian Carnival this week (deadline tonight.) Instructions on submissions are in the post.
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A real bird's-eye view of things (HT: Nick Queen.)
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Todd at FiveChildren provides opportunity for a prayer of thanksgiving and a prayer for healing. Fortunately, our God does well at handling both! Keep him and his family in your prayers this week - I will be.
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Duct tape as a tool to be used by God? It's brilliant! And not just because of the Red Green reference. I could only hope to be so useful to the master workman Himself!
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Always humbling when you find out someone you respect as a blogger has taken notice of something you wrote. Rebecca's blog is a very good one - and I'm not just saying that! See here for instance.
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Vox Apologia's topic for the week is "The Resurrection: The lever that moved that world?" Timely, coming relatively soon after Easter. Think...write...submit!

God bless!
Ron

Monday, May 02, 2005

Low on time

Hey all, it may be rather boring to read about how someone doesn't have time to blog - which is interesting since he/she has time to blog that there's no time - but I thought I'd at least let folks know there won't be anything here for a day or so while I wrap up my marketing class. So...until Tuesday evening...God bless!