Prayer Request

Dear Readers,

I have been chatting with a fellow part of the little community we have here at my blog, who has a great-grandson named Jayden. Jayden's mother is a heroin addict, and Jayden was born addicted.

Listen: there's nothing you can do for Jayden and his mother that God cannot do better. This weekend, as you consider the people your church needs to pray for, please pray for Gene (our reader), his family, and particularly little Jayden who we should bring to the Father as a fatherless child.

Some would call this a little thing. I would call this your missiological assignment to make a relevant plea to God for mercy and love.

reporting vs. pandering

I found this link via JT's blog, but I'd like to offer it as an example of reporting vs. pandering, and kudos to the WSJ for getting the facts and the spirit of this issues right.

This feature is a long way more balanced in dealing with the issues involved than the one WSJ ran on "church discipline" a while back, and it deals with the subject in a way which reports both facts and viewpoints without exercising bias toward any party in the story.

BTW, I suggest to Pastor Todd Wilkin that he and his producer start a podcast called "Stumbling Block". I personally own the domain "" and I'd be willing to donate/transfer it to them for their work. If they have a solid donor base, they can set up the basics for a good podcast for less than $3000 -- I'd bet less than $1000 if they have any desktop computers less than 3 years old.

just to make sure ...

... I just wanted to say that you miss a lot on this blog if you don't read the comments. Some of the best stuff ahppens in the meta where the merciless beatings occur.

Lord's people, Lord's house, Lord's day: be there. You. Don't pretend you're the last Christian on Earth, because you're not. You're not even the last Christian in your hometown. Let Christ tear down the wall of enmity between you and the other ones, and be at peace.

Or stay at home and watch your brackets. I'm sure you can find a verse to supprot that.


read it now

Justin Taylor already linked to this essay by Russell D. Moore about Jeremiah Wright and what he actually represents.

If you didn't read it when JT linked it, you should read it now. Moore is exactly right -- and he's a baptist, dude.

which flesh and blood has not revealed

Well, baptism. It started up at Doug Wilson's blog, and because I am the resident intransigent baptist over here, we got to the place where I said this:
imagine a community where the pastor doesn't have faith, none of the congregants have faith, and they are baptizing babies into the community. The FV guy (and honestly: even the non-FV presbyterian) has to at least say, "well, not a church in spite of meeting all the external requirements, blahblahblah," but I think the consistent FV guy says, "a church which is under the curses of God."

To which I am somewhat flabbergasted -- because that event (which is hardly a hypothtical one here in 21st century America) leads us to ask upon what Rock will Christ build His church? The promise of faith? The external, objective act of baptism and then the table?

Or is it instead that which flesh and blood has not revealed, but that which the Father who is in heaven have revealed? See: the church without faith -- in spite of the objective signs -- is no church.

Somebody's going to call that "gnostic", I am sure, but I'll wait for that coin to drop. And I'm getting the 'bot editor here telling me I need to be more punchy.
And to that, Mablog commenter "Xon" has come back with a noteworthy and rebuttal come-back:
You propose a false dilemma of your own when you ask us to choose between Christ building his church on faith or on the sacraments? Faithful people trust Christ to be there when they do the sacraments because that is what He promises to do. At least, that's the "FV" view.
Which, I think, is standard FV smoke-and-mirrors. They assume that doing the sacraments (Baptists: bear with me) means "demonstrating the faith", but then say something like "Mormon", and it's all yeah-buts. Suddenly non-objective realities like what someone believes about Jesus and the Father are material.

We baptists simply call the bluff before all that turns into questions about paedocommunion and/or the necessity (though biblically-unwarranted) of the practice of Confirmation come up. Sacraments are for the believer, and that keeps all the non-biblical exercises out of the picture. More or less.
"Build" is ambiguous. Does it mean that Christ is literally not going to be there at all if none of the people have faith?
Yup. Think "rolling stone concert".
(And has there ever been a church where every last person lacked faith despite their profession? How do we know?)
I love that -- not one person on Earth today has ever witnessed "paedofaith" except where John the Baptist demonstrates it in the womb, but somehow a baptist view of regenerate church membership which says that faith precedes Baptism precedes inclusion in the body suddenly requires that we can't understand what's happening inside a Mormon temple -- or a PCUSA church or the most liberal, mostly-unitarian stripe.
Or does it mean that the way Christ "grows", "builds up into strength," "establishes on an unbreakable foundation" His Church is by faith. But when the riff raff wander in and take the things of God lightly and do not trust in Him, they are going to get hammered eventually. But they get hammered in part because they were in Christ's Church and they trifled with it by refusing to obey God's command to trust in Him alone. When you come in without the right kinds of garments, that's a bad thing. But there had to be somewhere for you to be "in" in the first place.
I would propose two things here:

[1] Every single church in the history of the world has some mixture of error in it, and has some chaff among the wheat. All of them. That doesn't prove or disprove anything except that what the Bible says is true: some creep in.

[2] Some "churches" are no longer such a thing, having become synagogues of Satan. That being the case -- the confessional case -- what exactly is being said there? What's being said is that at some point, God is not being served by the community, and the community ceases to be a church. That's a baptist premise, through and through. It hangs almost all of the weight of fidelity not on the external, objective issues of word and sacrament but on the teleological problem of whether or not the men in the church are men of faith or men without faith. And I don;t think anyone writing the WCF or the LBCF was a gnostic.


Carl Trueman on church. Let the Baptists of all stripes and those who think church is their work tremble.

He interpreted to them

Now that very day two of them were on their way to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking to each other about all the things that had happened.

While they were talking and debating these things, Jesus himself approached and began to accompany them (but their eyes were kept from recognizing him). Then he said to them, "What are these matters you are discussing so intently as you walk along?" And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, "Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who doesn't know the things that have happened there in these days?"

He said to them, "What things?"

"The things concerning Jesus the Nazarene," they replied, "a man who, with his powerful deeds and words, proved to be a prophet before God and all the people; and how our chief priests and rulers handed him over to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. Not only this, but it is now the third day since these things happened. Furthermore, some women of our group amazed us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back and said they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of those who were with us went to the tomb, and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see him."

So he said to them, "You foolish people - how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Wasn't it necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and enter into his glory?" Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things written about himself in all the scriptures - that is, that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures. After that, he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as though to one born at the wrong time, he appeared to Paul also.

Too good to pass up

The Aussies say Global Warming ended 10 years ago.

G'day mate.

Oprah gets pwn'd

In no way is this an endorsement of either Comedy Central or Lewis Black. Unless you want it to be. In which case it is, and we can all share the laugh together.

Unless you don't want it to be, in which case I'm very concerned and disappointed and very, very, um, troubled and ... yeah. whatever.

Nope. Not gonna.

Not gonna blog about Global Warming or the lack thereof.

Can't make me. Or about NPR's view of how to report about it or the lack of it.


... um ...

This just in from the Joel Osteen:

The God Kind of Faith

Today's Scripture
“…the life which I now life in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God…” (Galatians 2:20).

Today's Word from Joel and Victoria
Faith is all around us. People have faith in so many different things: faith that a friend will be true, faith that your job is taking you on a certain career path, faith that the chair you are sitting on is going to hold you up! Faith is simply believing in something. But there are different kinds, or levels, of faith. There’s a difference between having faith in God and having the faith of God. When you open your heart to the God kind of faith, you’re actually allowing Him to believe through you. The God kind of faith will cause you to believe for things when you don’t even know how they’ll happen.

And it probably won’t make sense in your mind, but you have to allow your spirit to rise higher than your thinking. Don’t talk yourself out of believing. Don’t focus on all the reasons why not, instead allow God’s faith to rise up within you. Meditate on His Word that says, you can do all things through Christ and you are strong in the Lord and the power of His might. As you allow God’s faith to flow through you, He’ll take you places you’ve never dreamed. You will rise higher and higher and live the abundant life the Lord has for you!

A Prayer for Today
Heavenly Father, today I humbly open my heart to You. Use me for Your glory and have Your way in my life. I choose to believe in You and invite You to believe through me. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

For the record, I added the underlined, italics and the bold type in the main body. And now that you have that pearl of great price, so to speak, have a nice day.

How the church works

I just got an e-mail that looks something like this. I have edited it for the sake of the privacy of those it speaks of:
    A single mom would be interested in visiting [our church], but needs transportation. She is legally blind. She has a [high school] daughter, [name1], and a [grade school] daughter, [name2]. [name2] also wants to come to Awana. If anyone would be willing to pursue this and help with transportation for this family to attend church, or if a Community Life class would take this on as an outreach, please contact the church office to get connected to them.
Some of you might want to rail on against the limited scope of this "outreach". Tell you what: you make a list of the blind single moms your church ministers to in your way, and if it's longer than the list at our church, you can look over the top of your reading glasses and down your latte cup at us.

The church works when it is joyfully rescuing people from hell, meeting their earthly needs, making them glad in God, and doing that with a kind and serious pleasure that makes CHRIST look like the treasure He is.

Yes, I stole that from Piper. Inasmuch as he is an imitator of Christ, I will imitate him.

More from NY

You know, you have got to be kidding me.

Honest to pete, I am speechless.

Just to say it out loud ...

In spite of what some people have already said, the primary system in this country has evolved toward a democratic process and away from the idea that party elites should pick a candidate apart from an electoral process.

It's interesting in what ways the Clintons want to take our nation back to 1820.

Apologetics at Berkley

HT: Justin Taylor, Steve McCoy

This is brilliant stuff. Take 90 minutes off and watch the whole things.

an interesting magisterium

Alert Reader Gil Thomas pointed me at the Acts29 blog to some comments by Mark Driscoll, particularly about a phone call he got from Rick Warren.

I'm going to drop those comments in here, and do some color commentary:
Third, I got a call from Pastor Rick Warren last week. He called simply to see if there was anything he could do to help. His kindness was humbling and helpful.
Which, you know: I get that. I get it that Rick Warren would call Mark Driscoll to lend him a (kind of) elder-statesman thing -- especially since guys like Dever and Piper and Mahaney are doing that. I get that someone who is perceived by many as a leader in the American church would call Pastor Mark so that, as a leader, he could give him some leadership advice.

I think, however, it begs the question of "what kind of leader of the American church is Rick Warren?" And that's not a rhetorical question, but some of you will take it that way because I don't answer it right here. Let me say only, for a moment, that he's a different kind of leader than Dever or Piper or Mahaney and we'll come back to it.
I asked him how he handled his critics and he had a great insight that in our day criticism has changed. He explained that there was a day when a critic would have to sit down and write a letter and then mail it into a newspaper. With limited space, the paper would then be able to only print a fraction of the letters they received. The printed letters were often not read and quickly became dated.
See: that's an interesting insight because, regardless of what follows, it says that in the past some criticism was sort of cast away because it didn't get through the filters of newspaper editors, and that was a way to get past it.

Let's think about that for a minute: someone like Rick Warren, who is responsible for a lot of things in popular Christianity today including the irresponsible idea that churches ought to be gigantic, and program-driven, and who operates a church which at best treats baptism like some kind of party favor, has the opinion that in the past some of that could get by without answering critics because the subjects didn't interest the editors of newspapers.

To keep this brief, that's an interesting magisterium. He's right in one respect: there are plenty of quacks out there, and I might be one of them. But his point that somehow that's a valid place to decide who is and is not a quack leaves so much to be desired that I'll let you, the reader, think about whether newspapers should decide what is and is not useful to report about men who lead churches.
However, Warren said, in our day criticism is marked by the following four factors:

He forgot "mean" and "impersonal" (meaning "they don't apologize for disagreeing", and "they don't call you on the phone first"), but I take exception to the idea that internet criticism is "permanent". Blogging, or erecting a web site, for the sake of some argument or issue doesn't make it "permanent" any more than getting you book published makes its contents "permanent".

What it does do is make it public, and the question then is "will anyone read it?"

If some guy named, um, "centuri0n" sets up a blog and starts saying that Rick Warren has 3 wives and practices Shinto in his basement at an altar to his father's father, the first question is, "did anyone really read that?" And the second question is, "can that be proven at all?"

That guy with a blog may never delete his blog, but if no one ever reads it, the only one who will judge him for it is Christ. The tree fell in the woods, and nobody else cared. So "permanent" is a bizarre category for what is different about criticism today, especially in comparison to criticism filtered by local newspaper editorial staff.

I'd also like to add that the attribute of "constant" criticism is only born by those who are doing something which somehow keeps drawing attention to their foibles or errors. For example, I am unaware of Mark Dever having to field "constant" criticism -- unless I should have read Steve Camp lately or something.

Let me suggest that pastors who are in the scope of "constant" criticism either have established themselves as opponents of a very powerful and vulnerable enemy, or they are doing something which deserves criticism. There may be a third choice, but I'll bet if you can find one, it's really the first choice.

For example, there was a time when Phil Johnson took a lot of guff from Fundamentalists. Phil had made some statements -- which he stands by -- criticizing the problems with their movement, and the defend of Fundamentalism came out of the woodwork. The problem, however, was that Fundamentalism was both very powerful (in numbers, anyway) but also very vulnerable -- and it the advocates for such a thing had to try to push Phil over because, well, if he's right the movement was dead, dying, or worse.

The other example I'd tender is Joel Osteen. Why does Joel take guff from people as diverse as Michael Horton and Steve Camp? It's because Joel is off the apple cart, out of the street, down the storm drain, and rolling down into the swamp outside town.

Criticism is not just hard to bear because it seems to come often. It is hard to bear either when it is the truth or resembles the truth enough to cause us to pause. False criticism is pretty easy to bear unless it costs us money or prison time -- the rest of the time (like when people call me "mean") it's good for a laugh just to see how far someone will take their imaginary world.

So I find Rick Warren's explanation facile for starters -- but I can see why he adopts it. It is a very easy way for him to dismiss his many critics -- and to put himself in Jesus' camp, at least in his own mind.

I think there is another reason for his view here, which relates to what I started to say, above, but I'm not ready to spill the beans yet.
Warren then went on to explain that, as Jesus experienced, the strongest criticism for any Christian leader comes from rigid religious people.
See what I mean? They criticize you, Mark, not because you don't really get how to keep the pulpit free from cheap scatalogical jokes and irreverant speech: they criticize you because they are "rigid religious people". You know: you're doing ministry, and they're blogging or raving.

I think an interesting contexter here is that Abraham Piper recently called Mark Driscoll a jackass, and he wasn't accused of making an unjust criticism. Someone else points out that referencing Jesus' anatomy and digestive functions from the pulpit is unwholesome and it's suddenly a world of hurt.

So as we think about Pastor Warren's trajectory here, let's remember that it's selective at best, and that somehow I think the actual criteria for making the selection is hidden or stowed away.
When I asked him what someone should do when facing criticism, he gave the following insightful points:

1. Turn your critics into coaches by hearing what they are saying and humbly considering if there is any truth in their criticisms to learn from.

2. Never engage the critics on their terms because it only escalates the conflict and is not productive.

3. Be very careful with firing off emails or leaving voicemails and responding out of anger in a way that you will later regret.

4.Shout louder than your critics to define yourself and do not allow them to define you.
Of these 4, #3 I get. In fact, #3 is the best advice on earth to give anyone who is giving or getting criticism -- but you don't have to be a globally-recognized brand of inspirational publishing either to give it or to receive it. You just have to read the book of James.

Here's what I think about the rest:

#1 seems so obvious that to mention it seems a little, um, obvious. Yes: criticism is only any good if it's true, and if it's true, do something about it. That's why PDL underwent so many revisions after the critics started pointing out its foibles.

#2 ignores the real burden and real freedom of #1 -- that is, if #1 is true, valid criticism should be used to improve one's self, and false criticism is simply false.

And #4 reveals something about Warren that I never thought we'd find him saying out loud: he's willing to admit that nobody defines who he is but himself -- that is, there are no valid criticisms of him unless he says so. That's a doozer, folks -- a real eye-opener. Someone criticizes me? All I have to do is say, "I stand for ice cream!" louder and longer, and therefore the critic can't be right. Someone once called that "the big lie", but I can't remember who that is.

So that leaves us with my yet-unexpounded subtext -- "what kind of leader is Rick Warren?" and the "other reason" for Rick Warren wanting to make himself a member of the Jesus squad and his critics "rigid religious people".

If you haven't really been thinking about Rick Warren's trajectory, it's riding on a the social Gospel, highly critical of clear doctrinal affirmations, balanced on self-fulfillment, focussed on style and allegedly "brining people together". For those of you who can't put it together, it's emergent lite. Rick Warren is the "conservative" Brian McLaren -- though I will admit that Warren's theology is not as completely wretched as McLaren's.

Warren is the nice suit for the left side of the evangelical divide. And it makes sense for him to give Pastor Mark an open hand -- just in case the MHC Pastor has one too many MHC-17 moments and Dever or Mahaney or Piper calls him on it and he doesn't want to hear it.

I think Warren's advice is bad advice, especially to Mark Driscoll. It is sketchy at best, flippant and self-deceptive at worst, and leaves one in the really unhelpful position of not having to listen to anyone who disagrees with you.

And now that opinion, apparently, is permanent. We'll see if it has any impact.

does this bother you?

Watch this video, and then ask yourself this question:

"Why are there no stories in the media about the rising cost of health care for sea turtles?"

That is to say, I am sure that turtle didn't pay for his surgery. Why can we figure out how to get free medical for wild aniumals but we can't figure it our for human beings?

NOTE TO TROLLS: this is not a post or a blog which advocates government-funded universal health care. It's an open discussion on why human beings can show pity to animals and not each other.

On Sermons

I was flitting around today trying to avoid doing work, and I stumbled onto this post by iMonk at BHT about preaching.

Believe it or not, this is not a fisking of iMonk. This is the perspective of a guy who used to be an English major on the art of speaking publicly about some piece of literature.

You know: the degree most reputable universities and colleges give out to English majors is "B.A. (or M.A.) for Literature in English" – because one doesn’t really study grammar or the alphabet for 4 or 6 years in college: one reads way too many books. One reads poems until one either "gets" it or throws up. One reads plays, which is its own special punishment for majoring in literature.

And there's something interesting that happens there which is applicable to the art of preaching: not once in 6 years of studying literature did we do a "word study" for an hour to plunge the depths of meaning in one word over the larger portrait of meaning the author was communicating in his book or play or poem or whatever.

Now, the disjunction between what one does in reading Literature in English and what one does when reading literature in translation (cf. the Bible) is that in the latter case, the reader has to grasp what the translator was doing while at the same time seek out what the original author was doing when the text in question was written. That is: was the translator seeking to be as transparent as possible, or was the translator seeking to do something independent of the original work as well as remain faithful to the work?

For those of you who are really into this geekish analysis, think about Samuel Butler's translation of Homer's Odyssey, which is a prose translation of a poem. Butler's intent was to translate the words as best he could, but in doing that he sacrificed the matters of diction, form, and genre – so we get the story from classical literature well enough, but it's not hardly poetry: it's prose; it lacks the magic of poetic form even if all the words of the original are in tact. On the other hand, about 50 years earlier, Chapman translated Homer as a poem, and as such he took liberty with the words of the original poem in order to convey, in one poetic form/style in order to convey the art and power of the original in a second language. No real story changes were made by Chapman, but you can't line up his poem to Homer's and go line by line and learn the Greek – it would be impossible.

The translator does something to the text when he brings it from the source language to the receiving language, and understanding what he did is important for those who are only reading the receiving language. In that, word studies have a place in preaching. But my contention is that it is a subordinate place to preaching, as they say, "the whole counsel of God".

John MacArthur's excellent book on Bible study, Unleashing God's Word in you Life, makes this point clearly, as does any really good book on Bible study: you have to get the big picture before you try to sort out the details. For example, the book of Jonah is not about a big fish. There is a big fish in Jonah (or, well, Jonah does wind up in a big fish, right?), but this book is about the hardness of Jonah vs. the love of God toward the unrighteous. And if we read Jonah to try to justify the presence of the big fish, or to make the big fish into an allegory of this or that, we miss the actual point that God is willing and able to do things even for the enemies of Israel which we, as men, are not.

You have to read Jonah the first time to see how it comes together; then, you have to read Jonah to see what the parts are in order to better understand how they come together. And it's the same for any book of the Bible.

Listen: preach the word, in season and out of season – but don’t just preach on one word from the word. Preach the Word: preach Christ. Get the whole thing out there. Don't get so engrossed in one word that you miss all the others: that's called missing the forest for the trees.

Now back to your day.

Camile Furioso

Camile Paglia is the smartest hard liberal on the planet, and she always shows us why. It's a tragedy she and William F. Buckley never tried to do TV together. It would have been spectacular.

No, she's not a Christian. That doesn't mean she's not smart, especially in assessing her fellow liberals.

Needs to be said

Piper says it.

Imonk may not enjoy the echo chamber, but I do.

This is not a joke

Chuck Norris takes on Oprah and Eckhart Tolle.

Nice work, Chuck.

More on the NY thing

Take a look at the second-day coverage of the Spitzer thing and ask yourself: is hiring a prositute actually more offensive than leveraging your position as the President of the United States with an intern?

Open Mike: Shane Claiborne

At TeamPyro, Phil linked to this story about Cedarville University, and also to this story from Christianity Today about Shane Claiborne getting called off because of "some bloggers" objecting to Claiborne's lecturing (or whatever it is that Emergents do, since I am sure they wouldn't commit that level of rhetorical violence against their fellow humans).

I'm interested in this quote from Claiborne about the goings-on:
aiborne said he was "disappointed that the institution itself at Cedarville was not secure enough to stand up to these vigilante voices."

He also said he wanted to talk to his critics. "Unfortunately, it's difficult to communicate with folks who will not talk to you, who only talk around you, as in this case," he said. "There's too much constructive work to do for the kingdom for us to spend our energies constantly reacting to every destructive voice, especially those who do not honor Jesus' admonition to speak directly to one another in love (Matthew 18)."
And before we unleash the hounds here, let me say a few things.

First of all, I admit that I do not know or understand what is going on at Cedarville, and in some ways I don't really care. I'm not an alum, I'm not a donor, and those who are ought to take an active (not passive) role in being part of the trajectory of that university and its objectives as an educational institution. The rest of us don't have a stake in it.

I mean: they're not a church, right? They're a private university with a Christian heritage -- a hertitage, btw, which is not very well-defined by their website. Their site paints them broadly as a place where Christian social action takes place or is advocated, but for example I couldn't find a direct link to the history of the university which would spell out its ties to a specific church or denomination or confessional statement. So in not being a church, we don't have a stake in its goings-on.

Now, what do I mean by that? Should we not comment at all? No -- I'm blogging about it, folks: I think thinking about it and commenting on it are totally-valid ways to spend a few hours. What I think is a little randy is for people who never attended the University, and don't have any direct ties to the University, to start campaigning for or against some perceived threat to the University.

You know: they have a board of trustees; they are over seen by multiple academic certification organizations. If they are doing wrong, the truth will out.

Which brings us back to Shane Claiborne. His complaint, as I read it, is that "vigilantes" stopped him from speaking at CU and that the worst reason for this is that "it's difficult to communicate with folks who will not talk to you, who only talk around you, as in this case." And the most-keen of you will, of course, recognize his "Like Ministry" plea against making his own case with them or against them.

My opinion is that it's wrong to call these folks "vigilantes". "Busy-bodies"? Yes -- that seems good. "Babblers whose talk will spread like gangrene"? I've heard that one before someplace, and it seems a little, um, dramatic, but OK -- that one might cut both ways here. But factually I can tell you that if Ingrid is one of the culprits who drove off Claiborne, I am certain she is willing to openly discuss any issue she is complaining about.

And that said, I'm opening the meta here for a discussion of what just happened at CU and what the problem is with "watch-bloggers".

Go get it.

I Love New York

I know: I live in Arkansas. You know I live in Arkansas. But I was born in NY and in spite of my new birth and heart now inclined toward God, I was born in NY and frankly I love it. I love those people and I love the drama of NY.

Listen: if you wrote a book about a hard-nosed prosecutor who was willing to go to the mat with world-class companies to expose their corporate greed and stupidity to the harsh white light of Lady Justice's torch, but in gaining the political reward for his tireless efforts finds himself the victim of a simple prostitution sting, nobody would publish it. Too corny; too unrealistic.

Except in NY, baby.

Elliot Spitzer: resign and move on. You're not a Clinton, and you have at least the right amount of civic respect to vacate the office you have used like a latrine. It's your fault. Own it.

I noticed something here

The Vatican comes out against sin, which isn't much of a story until you realize that they came out against "the obscenely rich", but not against churches with more money that some third-world countries.

Apparently, that's not a sin.
Read this, and then think about this quote from that news story:
Gamma ray bursts would also trigger smog formation that could blot out sunlight and rain down acid. However, at 8,000 light-years away, "there's probably not a large enough effect there for much of a darkening effect," Melott estimated. "It'd probably cut off 1 or 2 percent of total sunlight. It might cool the climate somewhat, but it wouldn't be a catastrophic ice age kind of thing."
No. I am not going to blog about global warming. You can't make me.

Stuff you should listen to

Because you're not this smart, you should listen to this. Mark Dever talks to Carl Trueman. I have no idea where I found this, but I stuck it into so it won't get lost -- maybe JT or Phil needs a hat-tip, but that's good listening.

Why I live in North West Arkansas

We elect reputable people to public office.

7-10 split

More Open to That

Hillary Clinton exposes her faith to some scrutiny and CBN, of course, doesn't have the tools to do so.

However, they do have Pat Robertson. Maybe that's what Hillary means here when she says "felt the presence of the Holy Spirit here on this Earth".

Eckhart Tolle

It's amazing what we get requests for at the bookstore - what people are willing to read, anyway.

As you all know, Oprah has been a boon for the publishing industry by plugging her vast audience into books - "Oprah's favorites" as they say. And she has stumbled upon a fellow named "Eckhart Tolle" who is interesting only for his, um, lack of interesting attributes.

According to wikipedia, he was born in 1948, in Germany. He lived with his father in Spain from about age 13 until he moved to England in his early 20s. He did not attend formal schooling after age 13, but rather took language and other courses. His bio says he "was educated at the Universities of London and Cambridge," but it doesn't list anywhere what degrees he received from either of those institutions. Then at age 29, he achieved or received what he calls "spiritual enlightenment", and I want to do the math here quickly. When Tolle was 29, it was either 1977 or 1978, and I mention that only because Tolle's book the Power of Now (1997) says his spiritual transformation occurred in 1980. It's an odd inconsistency, but not a deal-breaker - it just seems reasonable to me that if it took him 20 years to tell his own story, he would have some kind of narrative worked out that makes sense.

Here's a sampling of his very important, um, message:
In the Gospel story of Mary and Martha, Jesus says to Martha, "You are anxious and troubled about many things, but only one thing is needful." (Luke 10:41)

As I was writing A New Earth, people would sometimes ask me, "What is the new book about?" And invariably, my answer would be, "I only ever write or speak about one thing."

What is that one thing?

Spiritual awakening.

Can a person be awakened spiritually by a book?

Yes, if three conditions are met:

Firstly, there must be a readiness on the part of the reader, an openness, a receptivity to spiritual truth, which is to say, a readiness to awaken. For the first time in the history of humanity, large numbers of people have reached that point of readiness, which explains why millions have responded so deeply to The Power of Now.

Secondly, the text must have transformative power. This means the words must have come out of the awakened consciousness rather than the accumulated knowledge of a person's mind. Only then will a text be charged with that power, a power that goes far beyond the informational value of the words. That is why such a book can be read again and again and lose none of its aliveness.

Thirdly, the terminology used needs to be as neutral as possible so that it transcends the confines of any one culture, religion, or spiritual tradition. Only then will it be accessible to a broad range of readers world-wide, regardless of cultural background.
Now, you know, points for talking to Americans by first citing the Bible – that's marketing savvy. But what on Earth – or as Tolle might say, the New Earth -- does that have to do with anything?

But here's a much more interesting question: what does Tolle base his affirmation on? That is, what undergirds his statements in such a way that we ought to believe him?

It seems that Tolle appeals only to his own personal spiritual awakening as justification for making these claims. That is, he knows, and that's enough – if you want to know, or better still are ready to know, just listen to him speak "as neutral as possible" and you'll get it. It's practically self-evident, emphasis on "self".

I am sure I could spin out another 10,000 words on this one, but I found an Amazon review which is simply perfect, and it's written by a concerned Buddhist:
I will say this: Tolle has the brains to borrow liberally from the Great Eastern religions, but that does not make him an enlightened master. He is a salesman, and his own books are his primary product. He repeatedly congratulates readers for being "awakened" enough to read this crap, claiming that merely reading this book will take you to the next evolutionary level. Are you kidding me?? I'm sorry, folks, awakening takes a lot of effort -- your own -- and reading this claptrap won't get you there. Tolle anticipates this response, though, and says that his words only speak to those ready to be enlightened. Does that reek of the emperor's new clothes, or what? The instances of sloppy thinking are far too many to enumerate here; just pick a page and keep your eyes open. Being spiritual does not mean you should suspend all critical thinking! Although sometimes (if unintentionally) amusing, this book is a muddled, condescending, and deeply cynical waste of time.
Thanks. Back to your business.

born after Sonny & Cher

Abraham Piper has a personal blog now -- because, you know, posting at Desiring God doesn't really get him that many readers -- and he links to his wife's MySpace (I ... um ... what's a "my space? is it a blog?), where we can find out she was born in 1979.

You know: in 1979, I was attenting Jesuit High School and trying to figure out how to ask my Dad if I could get a driver's license while trying to figure out if I was ever going to be anything but a skinny little geek. And I was bemoaning the cancellation of Quark.

Until Further Notice ...

... and unless the ice cap melts and submerges NYC and LA, this is my last link on Global Warming until the summer.

Seriously now: what else really needs to be said?

A New Blog

Not for nothin', but I started a new blog -- you know, because I'm bored and I have so much free time.

But here's the thing -- this is a blog you will actually use. I call it GiMP Univeristy because it's a blog about how to use the complete-free tool known as the GiMP to produce better graphics for your blog (or whatever).

Not everyone can afford Photoshop, after all. Everyone, however, can download the GiMP and use it to do better than MS Paint allows.