Thursday, June 30, 2005

It's obviously not the States that have gay marriage:

Focus on the Family Uncovers Homosexual Agenda in the Bible, Denounces God:

"For us, the most painful part of this breakup with God is that it has not come sooner. If we hadn't been so distracted with religion we could have paid a lot more attention to the homosexual forces causing the breakdown of society all around us. While we have been leading Bible studies, the Hostess Corporation has been blatantly producing Twinkies, Ho-Hos, Zingers, and Ding-Dongs—all clearly designed to desensitize our children to gayness. Yesterday, with tears in his eyes, James Dobson admitted that he had given big, pink, puffy Hostess Snoballs to his own children. Today Focus on the Family is sickened that through our neglect we have willingly participated in giving homosexual junk food to children. We have not even begun to fight Froot Loops, the ubiquitous 'sprinkles,' and all those talking Veggies with no pants."
(from the latest issue of The Wittenburg Door)

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Perfection vs. Efficiency

In chapter 2 of The Efficient Society, Joseph Heath compares two possible value systems for a society: trying to achieve perfect virtue vs. trying to be as efficient as possible.

Heath argues that throughout time most societies have viewed the pursuit of good (virtuous) living as the goal of society. Whether in the world of Islam, Europe in the middle ages, or Communism in the Soviet Union, society functioned by requiring everyone to buy into the same set of moral values. Of course this required getting agreement on what actions are virtuous and which are vices - here religion traditionally (although not always, as the Communist example shows) plays a big role in determining which actions are good (those which please God) and which are bad (those which offend God).

The (potentially) fatal flaw in this type of arrangement is pretty clear - it only works if there is near unanimous agreement about what is virtuous and what is bad. Seen from this perspective, the greatest threat to this type of society is the heretic or dissident - which helps explain why heretics and dissidents have been treated so appallingly (by modern standards) throughout history and why so many societies/religions work so hard to 'convert' people to their beliefs.

Heath argues that the combination of advancing technology (which made disagreements much more lethal) and the Reformation which split the church in Europe and caused numerous civil wars led people to reconsider whether this was a sustainable model for society. He suggests that it was the 'social contract' theorists, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke et al, who developed a new set of values for society. In this new model, the state would no longer seek to impose values on society but would only use the powers which society agreed (contracted) that it should have, most notably a monopoly over the use of force to enforce contracts and prevent disagreements over values from getting out of hand and causing more civil warfare.

Heath calls this new model 'the efficient society' because, with the state's role reduced to enforcing contracts rather than values, legitimacy is shifted to those transactions which both parties enter into voluntarily. And since both parties enter voluntarily, it is presumed that both gain something - i.e. it is a win-win transaction. But in order for both parties to gain, the transaction must be doing things more efficiently than in the past. Since nobody stands to lose anything from these win-win contracts, there is no reason for violence over clashing values, and everyone can just get along.

In this model, everybody keeps their values to themselves, since to impose them on (unwilling) others would require the use of force, and this is reserved to the state which is mandated not to intervene in matters of values (what we generally refer to as the separation of church and state).
[via Crawl Across the Ocean]

Thanks to My Blahg News for the reference!

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Sound Tracks

[via Jo's Thoughts in Text]

Frustrated with a taste of stress
Irritated with a cup full of annoyance
Sick and tired of the lack of quality
Goaded with a touch of uncertainty
Discouraged with a pinch of hopelessness
Overwhelmed beyond what anyone should have bear
So what do I do?
I turn on a fresh sounding, hopeful CD that cries out "everything will be okay!"
Am I convinced?
It seems to work for the time being, and the CD sounds like a optimistic, fuzzy soundtrack to my life.
Then, when the music stops,...

Certainly most people would affirm that love involves sentiment, but can love be love without it? Can action alone be considered love? And if so, what is the normative characteristic by which an action can be considered love?
[via Hermeneutica]

An Appearance of Godliness

Perhaps, one way to understand the outcomes of the cases and how divisiveness relates to it is look at how the politicians are benefiting from the religious displays. The Kentucky display struck down as unconstitutional was only recently erected and was done, not only to send a particular religious message but to do in a very public manner. Yet, in a democratic system of governance, elected officials rarely do anything publicly unless they can get credit for it at the ballot box. Thus, in the Kentucky case we have local officials using religion to score points with the voters.

On the other hand, the Texas case, ruled constutitional, relates to a Ten Commandments' display erected 40 years ago. Elected officials today are not getting political points with the voters for having it erected. Even forty years ago, they didn't get much credit since the religious attitudes in Texas were much more uniform than they are now.

It seems to me that the Supreme Court is saying that politicians should not be having the government do open displays of religion in order for them to get credit for them with the people. Hmm, that happens to sound a lot like this principle from the Sermon on the Mount:
Matt 6:1 Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.
What sends a more powerful message about the role of religion in our legal system: erecting a display of the Ten Commandments claiming that it is the basis of our laws (when only three of the commandments are still illegal) or striking such a display down as unconstitutional by applying a principle straight out of the Sermon on the Mount?

[via Hypotyposeis]

Haunting Memories

The gentleman who wrote this letter did not "enjoy my father". He didn't know my father. What he enjoyed, and remembers with fondness, is my father's work. With all due respect, they are two completely different things.

Anyone old enough to remember my father is also old enough to know that every public figure has a private side that no one but those closest to them will ever see. Surely no one over the age of 12 believes that what you see on television is a reflection of reality.

But therein lies the problem. Childhood memories become idealized. We think of everything we loved from those days as being completely good. Do you remember how endless the summer seemed to you? How long we waited for the weekend to come? And when, as an adult, have you ever thought that Christmas took too long to come?

The mere mention of my father's name evokes bowls of cereal on the floor on Saturday morning, a sense of wonderment and a suspension of disbelief we don't have as adults. His work was magic to us.

And it was to me as well. I loved his work. I was at every puppet show, every recording session, every supermarket opening and public appearance. I was his biggest fan. Never at any time, will you ever hear me discount his talent or his accomplishments.

My father was an extremely gifted man. He did amazing things with his intellect. He contributed not only to television, but to medicine, society and technology. Some of you have even said that he was infinitely more talented than I will ever be. You're probably right. But I was never in competition with him, nor am I jealous of his accomplishments. I am very, very proud of them. I can honestly say that he left this world a better place than he found it.

I sometimes wish I too, could have had the experience others had of him. If I could have known only his public persona, I'm sure I would have had nothing but warm and happy memories of him. I envy you that.
---from April Winchell, daughter of Paul Winchell (voice of Tigger), June 27/2005, emphasis mine

Thanks to On the Fence for the reference!

Monday, June 27, 2005

Take Two Tablets...

From the Publisher's Weekly review:

Feldman, a legal rising star and author of After Jihad (a look at democracy and Islam), turns his attention to America's battle over law and religious values in this lucid and careful study. Those Feldman calls "legal secularists" want the state wholly cleansed of religion, while "values evangelicals" want American government to endorse the Christianity on which they say its authority rests. Feldman thinks both positions too narrow for America's tastes and needs. Much of his volume shows how those needs have changed.

[via Nimble Neglect]

Embrace the memories you and I shared
While you still have the fingers strong enough
To close the gap between us.

And I shall cherish the memories I've had.
But like all good things, they will fade.

This is not a statement of inevitable negligance,
But a promise that memories are destined to be tainted over time

And will no longer carry the same effect.

Something Not to Boycott

Seth Godin sees consumers voting with their dollars, to get companies to act responsibly. I wish I could share his optimism, but if it isn’t happening now, it won’t in the future....

If there is anything the consumer can do, it is to fight attempts to stall change and innovation. The real enemy are not specific companies, but patents, boundless copyrights, and other trade barriers that try to forestall the inevitable.

So if you want to make a difference, take a stand against the forces who oppose progress. Everything else will sort itself out.
[via KasLog]

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Belle-Laide by Undercover

I am dreaming of another place
where grime accents cathedrals
and beauty lives with dread
Bird-littered sky belle-laide

in modern and the baroque
the sublime and grotesque
in gargoyles and angels
passage and opaque

you are

I am sinking in my heart
The hunchback is mute with love
the secret in his head is our head
tender monsters belle-laide

in gawk and grace
in embrace and distain
the erotic and the chaste
in restraint and safe

you are

a mind-numbing smog
creates these glorious streaks
but if sunsets spill danger
even as they shine down on the weak...

I am driving a lunarscape
madness whirls upon the earth
a manic calm in my head
ungainly, stunning, a belle-laide

bliss and grief
withhold and release
chaos and form
the eye and the storm

the eye and the storm
chaos and form
withhold, release
bliss and grief


You are precious more than I could express. Melodies and words are poor at best. You are a gift to me. A treasure from heaven. You were created to fly. To decorate the blue sky. Show the world your colorful wings my butterfly.

[from Butterfly by The Choir]
The Greek name for a butterfly is Psyche, and the same word means the soul. There is no illustration of the immortality of the soul so striking and beautiful as the butterfly, bursting on brilliant wings from the tomb in which it has lain, after a dull, grovelling, caterpillar existence, to flutter in the blaze of day and feed on the most fragrant and delicate productions of the spring. Psyche, then, is the human soul, which is purified by sufferings and misfortunes, and is thus prepared for the enjoyment of true and pure happiness.
[via brain lint]

Friday, June 24, 2005

Ummm...I'd probably prefer VHEMT instead, but thanks anyways:

Are you (finally) tired of the drudgery associated with the heterosexual lifestyle? The constant dating, or the pressure to marry, or the expectation to birth or provide for children? Are you locked into the gender expectations (femininity, masculinity) that are endemic to this community? Wouldn't it be fun to crossdress just like all those queens do in Gay Pride parades? Do you find that the institution of marriage is like another institution that so many others want out of? Are you tired of defending it through referendum and state and national constitutional ammendments? Are you realizing how lonely and desperate such a lifestyle is anyway?

Learn how you, too can be saved, freed from the falsehood of heterosexuality from PFOX:[read more]...

Angels dancing on the head of a pin dissolve into nothingness at the bedside of a dying child.

When looking death in the face things get very real very quickly……..

A wave of incredible anger sweeps over me. All this poor girl wanted was a drink of water. It turned out to be her last request

Even this small thing was denied her.

I crush the cup in my hands. Ice scatters on the floor. Hot tears run down my face. This girl had nothing – less than nothing. She died thirsty and alone.

It was then my innocence was taken.
[via Waiter Rant]

Thanks to Kinesis for the link!

Singled Out

Relationships among singles are often regarded as means towards marriage or as compensations for the absence of marriage. It should be no surprise that pain frequently results when one of the partners in these friendships gets married. Seemingly strong relationships can be swiftly dismantled and abandoned and those who remain single often end up feeling used, betrayed and rejected....Singleness is consistently defined in terms of two governing myths: the governing myth of the family and the governing myth of personal fulfilment....

The problem with modern society is not that it despises marriage. It is that it idolizes marriage. Alexander Schmemann writes: ‘It is not the lack of respect for the family, it is the idolization of the family that breaks the modern family so easily, making divorce its almost natural shadow. It is the identification of marriage with happiness and the refusal to accept the cross in it.’ Many in modern society regard marriage and the family as the great hedges against loneliness. Marriage and the family are the key places of psychological and moral fulfilment. The family will collapse under the weight of such expectations. Ultimately, the family is unable to save us.
[via 40 Bicycles, emphasis mine]

Why do we desire closure? Why does a woman who has been dumped by her boyfriend want to go and tell him off? Is it simply a matter of getting in the last word? We love to do that, you know. And at the root of that desire is our own need for control. Even if we cannot control what happened, we at least can master the information. We want to know the whens and whys to make us feel like we can handle it; that whatever happened had a reason and we can watch for the warning signs next time. Not knowing means we have no control at all.

Biblically I think back to old man Jacob. He wasn't that old at the time, but he soon started walking like an old man. Jacob woke up to find himself in the middle of a wrestling match that he couldn't seem to win. Finally after seventy or eighty rounds, the stranger wanted to call it off and Jacob realized just how little control he had in the situation. He was fighting a seemingly endless battle against a total stranger. And now after messing up Jacob's hip, the stranger wants to call it quits. But Jacob doesn't want to stop. So what does Jacob do? He asks the stranger for a blessing! Now doesn't that sound stupid? Hours of sweating and straining and a hip injury and Jacob wants this guy to bless him! Then He asks for the stranger's name. Something. Anything. Jacob didn't like having no control. He wanted some answers. He wanted closure.

As human as it is for us to desire closure, we have to be ready to deal with life without it.
[via Attention Span]

If one bases unity on mere words, then unity is subject to rhetoric, and can only be preserved in political power. To be sure, unity grounded in a way of life will be manifested in institutions and authority and hierarchy (even if such authority and hierarchy arise from mutual submission), but such things serve unity, rather than unity the institution.
[via This is Life!: Revolutions Around The Cruciform Axis]


For more than thirty-five years, American politics has followed a populist pattern as predictable as a Punch and Judy show and as conducive to enlightened statesmanship as the cycles of a noisy washing machine. The antagonists of this familiar melodrama are instantly recognizable: the average American, humble, long-suffering, working hard, and paying his taxes; and the liberal elite, the know-it-alls of Manhattan and Malibu, sipping their lattes as they lord it over the peasantry with their fancy college degrees and their friends in the judiciary.

Conservatives generally regard class as an unacceptable topic when the subject is economics—trade, deregulation, shifting the tax burden, expressing worshipful awe for the microchip, etc. But define politics as culture, and class instantly becomes for them the very blood and bone of public discourse. Indeed, from George Wallace to George W. Bush, a class-based backlash against the perceived arrogance of liberalism has been one of their most powerful weapons. Workerist in its rhetoric but royalist in its economic effects, this backlash is in no way embarrassed by its contradictions. It understands itself as an uprising of the little people even when its leaders, in control of all three branches of government, cut taxes on stock dividends and turn the screws on the bankrupt. It mobilizes angry voters by the millions, despite the patent unwinnability of many of its crusades. And from the busing riots of the Seventies to the culture wars of our own time, the backlash has been ignored, downplayed, or misunderstood by liberals...

The backlash narrative is more powerful than mere facts, and according to this central mythology conservatives are always hardworking patriots who love their country and are persecuted for it, while liberals, who are either high-born weaklings or eggheads hypnotized by some fancy idea, are always ready to sell their nation out at a moment's notice.
from What's the Matter with Liberals? by Thomas Frank, emphasis mine

Thursday, June 23, 2005

[noted at]

When Jesus said 'love your enemies' I'm pretty sure he meant don't kill them." From a bumper sticker viewed by a member of Resonate.

[noted at graffiti on the wall]

"If it is true that absolute power corrupts absolutely, then so does powerlessness"
-- Shaughnessy Bishop-Stall

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Even With The Storms...

How many of us have lost our ability to connect with the Creation? While I was reading the article, I couldn't help but picture Chevy Chase in Vacation hurriedly 'appreciating' the Grand Canyon because he had something more interesting waiting for him down the road. I laughed at that scene because it was uncomfortably familiar.... Nature was foreign; and well...dull.

It was a long, slow process to learn to love the quiet ways of Creation. Now I am realizing how urgent it is to nurture that love in the children in my life.
[via Intent]

You can spend the day building a most wonderful structure, to have the waves wash it away. I think many of the things I did were sandcastles and I just didn't recognize them as such. I thought they were important fortresses, made of solid stone. It has been enlightening to see how much of what I did and thought of as fortresses ended up just being sandcastles.
[via The Cathy J Weblog]

Rising Above the Culture War?

The problem isn't that the Christian activists' spirituality is too thorough and has a comprehensive impact on their lives; the problem is it's pre-rational and manifesting in pathological ways that are socially destructive. The futility of which I speak is that the fundamental conflict involved--the war between traditionalists and those at post-traditionalist levels of development--is utterly unresolvable so long as the parties remain at their current level. Really, the only way to "win" the culture war would be to utterly demolish the foundations of the traditionalist's religion. Such an approach would surely be perceived as "hate" by the conservative Christians and fiercly resisted, even if it were offered in the spirit of love. There is no way out of the conflict to the left or right; the conflict must be risen above.

...To change hearts on gay marriage or any other social issue, we must realize our individual and cultural limitations and choose to make the difference that we are each best suited to make, given where we stand in society and the ways that we look out at the world.
[via Rising Up]

Monday, June 20, 2005

Truth is just a fraction in a plural world.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

[via The Grace Pages]

How fundamentalists create and perpetuate the 'gay lifestyle'

Sometime last year, when I was still going to the Lutheran church, the local bishop asked my pastor to assess what his congregation thought about homosexuality. (This was in preparation for the report that came out later in the year, to general disappointment it seems.) I said something like, “Well, you can decide it’s a sin or that it’s not a sin, but if you get into the ‘reparative therapy’ thing I’m leaving.”

The recent flurry in the blogosphere about Zach, the teenager whose Christian parents are hustling him into a boot-camp-like sexual rehab center, reminds me of why. It’s actually not because I think categorically that homosexuals never change. It seems unlikely that they will, but some swear they have. And perhaps more convincingly to me, some things about myself have changed that I never would have thought possible. So I’m not going to try to dictate what the Spirit will and won’t do.

It’s the way things change, though, that seems at odds with this sort of rehab model. I remember after this discussion about conversion with Dwight I reflected that, whenever the Spirit seems to have done anything to me, it’s usually been when I’m not really trying or sometimes even paying that much attention. It catches me by surprise. And that makes sense actually, because my will seems mostly to just get in the way. If I’m sitting there trying consciously to control or eliminate some aspect or feeling, then like a Chinese finger puzzle it only grips harder. And if someone else is pressuring me, my ornery nature takes away even my desire to do it. Don’t try to change me to make me into what you want, or worse, to just make me normal.

The program Zach describes fairly screams of the quest for normal. It’s less like sanctification than a high-school clique gone berserk. Only listen to Christian music, the rules say — but that doesn’t include Beethoven or Bach. What, Bach’s St. Matthew Passion isn’t Christian? Or his Christmas or Easter oratorios? But I suppose Bach isn’t in the evangelical subculture. And the codes for dress, food, behavior, speech, and everything else seem bent on turning the subjects not just hetero, but into white-bread American conservative archetypes.

There’s no room for the Spirit to move in this sort of hyper-regimented existence. And there seems to be no contingency plan if it fails to work. Another thing I’ve learned from experience is that while some things may unexpectedly change, others stubbornly stay the same.
[via The Musings and Teachings of Camassia]

Same-Old, Same-Old...

I've heard the same old refrain from the opponents of the same sex legislation. "Just wait! All we want you to do is to wait!"

Let me ask you something, take your opinion on same sex marriage as it is now. Do you imagine it being any different twenty years from now? Me Neither. So if waiting isn't going to change people's minds why should we bother waiting at all?
[via Liberal For Life]

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

"Vengeance is a lazy form of grief."
--from the movie The Interpreter

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Perceive Everything, Presume Nothing.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Since I've been tagged by Scottyd...

I've completed the form, but not in triplicate.

Number of Books I own:

At the time of posting, 308, not including my phone books.

Last Book(s) I bought:

Theological Worlds: Understanding the Alternative Rhythms of Christian Belief by W. Paul Jones

From the back cover:

By exploring five common Christian perspectives ("theological worlds"), this volume helps readers understand the basis of their own Christian attitudes, identify the sources of their confusion about life and the church, and come to a deeper appreciation of the assumptions and motivations of others.

Last book(s) I read: see above

Five books that mean a lot to me:

This was difficult, so I have grouped pairs of books into five categories. Perhaps this will offer a snapshot into the person I am.

  1. Modern Malaises:

    The Way of the (modern) World by Craig M. Gay

    In Over Our Heads: The Mental Demands of Modern Life by Robert Kegan

    from Review by Michael Waters:

    Craig Gay has penned one of the most penetrating analyses of the mutual reciprocity involved in the interplay between faith and culture. He is especially astute in delineating the subtle effects popular culture has on faith and practice. Even though he analyzes the faith-culture milieu through the lens of Christianity, many of the conclusions he makes are valid whenever faith clashes with the tidal wave of culture, such as we have in the West.
    from the back cover:

    As parents and partners, employees and bosses, citizens and leaders, we constantly confront a bewildering array of expectations as well as a confusing assortment of exptert opinions on what each of these roles entails. Surveying the expert "literatures", Robert Kegan brings them together to reveal, for the first time, what these many demands have in common.

  2. Involving Interactions:

    Care of Persons, Care of Worlds: A Psychosystems Approach to Pastoral Care and Counseling by Larry Kent Graham

    Women Caught in the Conflict: The Culture War Between Traditionalism and Feminism by Rebecca M. Groothuis

    Book Description:

    Care of Persons, Care of Worlds constructs a comprehensive social and systemic foundation for pastoral caretaking, which will be an invaluable guide for the activities of parish ministers and counseling practitioners. Graham's model better interprets and responds to the interplay between individuals and the larger cultural and environmental realities which contribute to their distress and its transformation.
    This is a well-documented, carefully argued, and civil discussion of the relationship between Christianity and feminism. The author convincingly shows that not all feminism is alike, and that biblical feminists (or egalitarians) have not capitulated to secular trends. She outlines how egalitarians can base their thinking squarely on the Bible itself. She continues her analysis in the sequel, Good News for Women: A Biblical Picture of Gender Equality (Baker Books, 1997), which addresses the theological issues in more depth.

    Reviewed by Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy, Denver Seminary

  3. Close Conversions:

    Suspicion and Faith: The Religious Uses of Modern Atheism by Merold Westphal

    Skeptics and True Believers: The Exhilarating Connection between Science and Religion by Chet Raymo

    Card Catalog Description:

    While skepticism directs its critique to the truth or evidential basis of belief, suspicion asks two different, intimately intertwined questions: what are the motives that lead to this belief? and what function does it play, what work does it do for the individuals and communities that adopt it? What suspicion suspects is that the survival value of religious beliefs depends on satisfying desires and interests that the believing soul and the believing community are not eager to acknowledge because they violate the values they profess, as when, for example, talk about justice is a mask for deep-seated resentment and the desire for revenge. For this reason, the hermeneutics of suspicion is a theory, or group of theories, of self-deception: ideology critique in Marx, genealogy in Nietzsche, and psychoanalysis in Freud.--
    from the Publisher's Weekly review:

    Responding in part to the rise of millennial-driven New Age spirituality, Raymo (Honey from Stone: A Naturalist's Search for God) writes along the tender edges of mystery that bind off objective science from religious faith. Using a light journalistic style, Raymo seeks to find some common ground upon which to construct mutual appreciation between science and religion. Sources diverse as John Donne, Charles Darwin, Gerard Manley Hopkins and Albert Einstein enliven the discussion.

  4. Abstract Adventure:

    Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas R. Hofstadter

    The Atlas of Experience by Louise van Swaaji, Jean Klare, David Winner (Translator)

    from's review:

    Twenty years after it topped the bestseller charts, Douglas R. Hofstadter's Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid is still something of a marvel. Besides being a profound and entertaining meditation on human thought and creativity, this book looks at the surprising points of contact between the music of Bach, the artwork of Escher, and the mathematics of Gödel. It also looks at the prospects for computers and artificial intelligence (AI) for mimicking human thought. For the general reader and the computer techie alike, this book still sets a standard for thinking about the future of computers and their relation to the way we think.
    Book Description:

    An illustrated guide to the most adventurous journey there is: Life.

    Human beings have long been addicted to maps: they tell us where we are, how we got where we are, and where we are going next. But The Atlas of Experience is no ordinary book of maps.

    While adhering to the conventions of cartography, this atlas invites the traveler to follow routes through familiar-looking topography into hitherto uncharted realms of imagination, ideas, feelings and experience.

    Cradled by the Ocean of Possibilities, the Sea of Plenty and Still Waters, this strangely familiar place has its capital Boom, its airports Escape and Freedom. It encompasses beautiful regions like the Peninsular of Pleasure as well as desolate wastes such as the Swamps of Boredom and the Bay of Melancholy. Then again there are the well-known Mountains of Work and the Safe Harbour of Home. And what about the Volcanoes of Passion and the border towns of Challenge and Doubt? That's The Atlas of Experience the very special travel book that takes you on the long journey to where you are.

    [related link: World of Experience]

  5. Perspective Possibilities:

    Since I have a very small fiction collection, I included these two because they have inspired both my analytical and creative sides.

    The Adventures and Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

    Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery

    From the Inside Flap:

    From “A Scandal in Bohemia,” in which Sherlock Holmes is famously outwitted by a woman, the captivating Irene Adler, to “The Five Orange Pips,” in which the master detective is pitted against the Ku Klux Klan, to “The Final Problem,” in which Holmes and his archenemy, Professor Moriarty, face each other in a showdown at the Reichenbach Falls, the stories that appear in The Adventures and Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes bear witness to the flowering of author Arthur Conan Doyle’s genius. “The plain fact,” the celebrated mystery writer Vincent Starrett asserted, “is that Sherlock Holmes is still a more commanding figure in the world than most of the warriors and statesmen in whose present existence we are invited to believe.”

    When Marilla Cuthbert's brother, Matthew, returns home to Green Gables with a chatty redheaded orphan girl, Marilla exclaims, "But we asked for a boy. We have no use for a girl." It's not long, though, before the Cuthberts can't imagine how they could ever do without young Anne of Green Gables--but not for the original reasons they sought an orphan. Somewhere between the time Anne "confesses" to losing Marilla's amethyst pin (which she never took) in hopes of being allowed to go to a picnic, and when Anne accidentally dyes her hated carrot-red hair green, Marilla says to Matthew, "One thing's for certain, no house that Anne's in will ever be dull."


Supposedly I'm supposed to tag 5, if you want to,

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Since MP Pat O'Brien is a Liberal (former) that opposed gay marriage:

from The Liberal Case Against Gay Marriage in The Public Interest:

The issue of gay marriage brings to a head, like few other issues of our time, a central conflict between two moral positions that interact like seismic plates beneath the surface of contemporary American political life. It is commonly thought that the issue of gay marriage pits secular liberals against religious conservatives. While this understanding is accurate up to a point, it is also seriously misleading. The most stubborn and intransigent opponents in the conflict are both in their way sectarian.

The first position is more or less a traditional Christian one. That is, it accepts the idea of an authority higher than human choice that must remain within limits set by that authority. New understandings of these limits have arisen in recent years, allowing the individual pursuit of happiness more leeway and removing much of the shame and guilt that once kept traditional sexual norms in place. Nevertheless, its basic familial ideal remains intact: a monogamous, heterosexual, and devotional relationship directed toward the rearing of children. For most proponents of this view, gay marriage represents a direct assault on the grounding authority by which life at its most serious and intimate is lived.

The second position, which takes human freedom as its central and highest good, could be classified as “liberationist” or postmodern. Distrustful of traditional rules as intrinsically oppressive, it seeks the individual’s emancipation from all norms that might hamper the quest for spiritual and material autonomy. For the most radical liberationists, all universal norms are suspect, with the sole exception of something like a duty to “accept difference.” Among the more moderate proponents, this suspicion is replaced by an uneasiness with respect to “moral judgment” that approaches or imitates humility of a more traditional Christian sort, at least when applied to others. Thus, for the liberationist camp, gay marriage is either a celebration of the individual’s heroic struggle to find love and validation in a hostile world, or at the very least, it is no one else’s business.

The debate over gay marriage is currently polarized by these two sectarian forces. It would be politically beneficial to define a genuinely liberal approach that is fair to both.

[for commentary at Alas, a blog]

Lutheran Like a Fox?

Fox has apparently done his own version of Luther’s 95 theses proclaiming the way Christianity ought to be. They’re a lot like Spong’s, actually, only with a lot of New Agey Eastern mysticism and pro-art items thrown in (there’s one in favor of liturgical dance!).
[via The Musings and Searchings of Camassia]
While Luther's protest was against indulgences and corruption in the administration of Pope Leo X, Fox's beef is more attuned to the injustices and power abuses he sees in the Vatican under Pope Benedict XVI and the apathy epidemic present in Protestant Churches.

"I have great respect for what Luther achieved when he protested against corruption. I also believe the church needs a reformation more today than it did 500 years ago," Fox said.

Fox and the new Pope are old opponents who had intensive debates on theological issues in the 1980s. Fox and 100 other prominent theologians were silenced by then Cardinal Ratzinger. A year later, Fox was forced to leave the Dominican Order by Pope John Paul II and subsequently converted to the Episcopal church.

"Jesus said nothing about condoms, birth control or homosexuality," says one of the Theses. Fox said it is time for Christians to choose who the Church will follow: an "angry exclusionary God or the loving God who opens the path to wisdom."

Among his other theses are: "God is both Father and Mother" and "Religion is not necessary, but spirituality is."
[via The Tao of Jeremy]

And The Moral of the Story...

LANDING CREWMAN #1: This should be the next bunch of kids. So far, the boss has recruited and robotized kids all over the country. His master plan is almost completed...
LANDING CREWMAN #2: Think of it. He's got thousands of kids so brainwashed, they aren't capable of doing ANYTHING but carrying out his plan. It's that VOICE of his...When he gets that special vibration in his voice it's like the kids are drawn to him by the very power of his words. (See note, page 4 Ed.)
[quoted at Comic Book Resources]
Moralism, a seemingly harmless practice, is actually a noxious gas...

Yes, there is great harm when the truth of a text is manipulated to force a lesson on the minds of children. The practice lacks integrity. No, sharing is not taught in this passage.

But a greater harm than forcing a moral on a text can occur.
[quoted at Intent]

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

I think the real scandal, then, is not that the Church is full of raving queers, but that the Church at large pretends they simply don't exist. It's two-faced: We love and honour our parish priests, and benefit from their gifts; we denounce and reject them by our campaigns of hatred against gays and lesbians.
[via The Grace Pages]

Save Us From Judgement?

If there was any doubt at all in my mind (and there wasn't) that these people are evil, perverting the gospel of grace into hatred, it was when the talk radio host asked Mrs. Phelps Roper, "what should I do to be saved?"

With an audience of untold thousands of New England residents listening, this woman condemned the talk show host for asking a "mocking" question and refused to answer him. She COULD NOT and WOULD NOT answer his question: "what should I do to be saved?"

What she didn't know was that this particular radio station employs a devout Christian, Larry Johnson, who has his own sports talk show on Saturdays. (I was praying they'd get in touch with "LJ" and put him on the air to rebut her.) They did indeed put him on the air to speak with good old Shirl. He asked her earnestly: "Shirley, are you a sinner?" to which she had to admit that she had sinned before. He then went on to say that she had just flunked the real test of any Christian....

She wasn't interested in promoting the gospel of grace, just spewing hatred and condemnation. She did not want to tell anyone how to avoid the wrath that she says is imminent. Though she believes we are a God-forsaken state under judgment, she cared little whether any of us would escape fire and damnation. That, my dear friends, is the complete antithesis of the spirit of Christ. In fact, it is undeniably anti-Christian.

There, I said it.
[via Feeble Knees]

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

The Best Defense?

Under the auspices of, The President of Canada Christian College, Charles McVety, seems to be cybersquatting on MP domain names and telling people to contact these MPs regarding their vote on the same-sex marriage legislation. Don Boudria whined about it in Hansard:
[via Heart of Canada]

For a long time I have been puzzled by the pro-family lobby in the US and Canada, particularly when they start to talk about the Christian family - by which they mean the nuclear family. It's not that I don't think family is a great thing. I think it is, [most of the time anyways]. So great is it that I think everyone who is called to live in a family should be free to do so, and the laws should recognize them. When family works it is astonishingly good. I think as many Christian folk who want to can run around saying "We think the family is great, just peachy-keen, the greatest thing since not just slice bread but bread itself." And they can add, "And we think God thinks so too" It's just that we/they can't get there from Jesus. The most you can say about Jesus is that he was ambivalent about family....

What the pro-family groups are heralding is a cultural expression that they really, really like - and that's fine. I like it too. I just wish they'd stop putting Christian in the name, because it makes it sound like Jesus would agree with them. And I can't find any evidence in the bible to support that.
[via the old bill]

How Free is Free?

Liberal MP Pat O'Brien is Liberal no more, thanks to the looming specter of gay marriage. Now, O'Brien hasn't crossed the floor. The implication: he doesn't agree with CPC economic policy; nor, one might assume, with CPC social policy. No, he's just so damn disgusted with gay marriage, with his party's stand on gay marriage, and with the fact that gay marriage isn't getting "a full and fair debate" (which I don't really understand, since we as a nation have been debating it for years now, and the politicos have been debating it since the election and times beyond), that he has chosen to betray his party....

The vote on gay marriage is a free vote. Mr. O'Brien was and is not obligated to vote in favour of the bill. So why would Mr. O'Brien take such a massive step, merely as a means of voicing his opposition to a bill which he has already had plenty of opportunities to disapprove of, and will have a similar opportunity in the near future?
[via Paranoid Left-Wing Ranting, emphasis mine]

Politicians, Thou Art Loosed!

[via Vote Saskatoon]

It seems like "Independent" is the fastest growing party in Canada. I can see two MP's bolting from either side of the house meeting the middle.

Liberal Defector: "I've had enough of these guys, I'm going to join you"
Conservative Defector: "Wait a sec, I was leaving these guys to join you."
Liberal Defector: "You can go if you want but I wouldn't. No one knows what is going on"
Conservative Defector: "It can't be worse than the idiocy over here"
Liberal Defector: "It's not like your leader doctored those tapes"
Conservative Defector: "Yeah, but he doesn't have the good sense to drop Grewal"
Liberal Defector: "You gotta point there. I don't want to go back though"
Conservative Defector: "You wanna sit as an independent?"
Liberal Defector: "Probably the best option, it is that or smiling Jack."
Conservative Defector: "Um, when you put it like that it all becomes clear"

Monday, June 06, 2005

What Would It Prove?

...perhaps I should go through some commonly used proof-texts and reflect on what they actually say and rate them as to whether they seem to actually support the doctrine they are claimed to support?
[via Theo Geek]

The Weight On Our Shoulders

Thanks to Unedited Ravings for the link!

My shoulder began aching, and also my back, because I was standing so long holding the computer bag as I walked around. I shifted the bag to the other shoulder, which temporarily relieved some of the weight and pain now moving into my back. The parade ended and I ended up walking out among the people on the closed street. Looking into their eyes, wondering who they were, their story, what their thoughts of God and Jesus were. It was Sunday late morning, so as most churches were all still wrapping up sermons and closing songs with a relatively few people sitting in most of the church buildings here in town - yet all around me were thousands of people at the Gay Parade.

It must have looked odd, as I walked down the center of the closed street hunched over a little because of the weight of the bag I was carrying. I kept praying as I walked over to the park where everyone was gathering. I was praying for people, praying for our church to know what to do.... I felt overwhelmed in thinking about eternity, Jesus, the giant gap between church and culture.
[via Vintage Faith]

what if i should try to enter
and gain suffering for all my effort?
should i sit in this hall

[via What Amalek Did]

This past weekend was Memorial Day, a time when we remember those he gave their lives for our country. These celebrations are important. We should remember those who fought for our country, even when they did not necessarily agree with the politics behind the wars.

However, I did find it odd that a local church had a sign in their lawn advertising “Patriotic Worship” for the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend. What exactly is patriotic worship? Do we gather round the flag and tell it how much we love it? Do we bow down to larger than life statues of President Bush? “We praise you, O Lord, our President, for giving us life and making us understand that Christianity is best viewed through a political lens.”

This is the problem with American Christianity.
[via They Will Know Us By Our T-shirts]

Fertile Equations

  1. If v is viable fertility, then
    v = pt - h + i

    • p = procreative sex
    • t = timing
    • h = hindrance (i.e. contraception)
    • i = interventions (adoption, surrogacy, artificial insemination, etc.)

  2. If r1, r2 are human resources, and r1 = {m, f}, where

    • m = male
    • f = female

      r2 = -a(r1)

      • a = sexual attraction
        • -1 = homosexual
        • +1 = heterosexual

        and only if

        • m = -f
        • f = -m

  3. If c = children, then
    c = v ( r1 + r2)
I leave the proofs as an exercise for the reader.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Why Karla Homolka is so...intriguing:

To most of us, she is an enigma; her behaviour goes way beyond any feeble explanations of female victimization or psychiatric disturbance, and takes us far into the dark regions of evil. For some reason, evil of this magnitude stimulates our prurient curiosity like nothing else. Why else would Karla and Paul have become the Bonnie and Clyde, the folk heroes, of modern sexual sadism?

Recently, a psychologist confessed to me that his idea of a dream date would be to share an evening and a bottle of wine with her. At first I was shocked; then I began to wonder how many men might harbour fantasies of being seduced by her. Why not? Karla is a very attractive woman. Perhaps it is her movie star looks or the healthy girl-next-door image that rouses men’s fantasies. Maybe it is her magical ability to mix the roles of servant and partner as she did with Paul. For, as she testified, she would do anything for him, including calling him “King” and telling him he deserved to take the virginity of young girls. And, after seeking out their sexual prey, she would join with him, as queen and lover, in exacting their profane pleasure. To men, she may well be the epitome of a woman who will satisfy their every, unfettered fantasy.

But, I’ll admit that as a woman, Karla fascinates me too. I see her as a co-conspirator, if not the mastermind, of diabolical deeds. This intrigues me as, I suspect, it does many women. Karla is not a susceptible waif; she does not wear the drab mantle of a submissive victim. As journalist Margaret Wente noted at Bernardo’s 1995 trial, Karla is “poised, self-assured, stylish and attractive.” Not a pawn but rather a queen, she exerts her cool control, appearing to dominate not only Paul but potentially all men.

However repulsed by her that I and other women may be, I think there is a part of us that envies the remarkable erotic power that she exudes. Pictures of her evoke a perverse, unconscious and persistent admiration. In her virginal white wedding gown and in her slinky black dress, she stands as the perfect blend of good and evil, the archetypal Madonna and whore.
---from Homicide blond by Dr. Tana Dineen, emphasis mine

from Wikipedia's entry on Karla Homolka:

Common misconceptions

There are several misconceptions that show up in the media, in internet chat rooms and on various web pages and bulletin
boards regarding Karla Homolka.

  1. Karla Homolka was diagnosed as a psychopath.

    • This is not strictly true. Although she has often been described as such, Homolka's multiple diagnoses as a psychopath have
      never come from a) trained psychiatric professionals who b) treated her directly.

    • The parole board that reviewed Homolka's case in 2001 did refer to her as a psychopath, but these were not trained
      psychiatric professionals. Numerous other psychologists and psychiatrists have termed her a psychopath, but none had ever
      actually counseled her directly, resorting instead to interview transcripts, case reports, video documentation, and/or newspaper

    • She was directly evaluated by doctors Hans Arndt, Alan Long, Andrew Malcom, Chris Hatcher, Stephen Hucker, Peter Jaffe and
      Angus McDonald, all of whom were in agreement in terms of her diagnosis as a battered wife suffering from severe clinical
      depression and post traumatic stress
      . In fact, Dr. Sharon Williams, an expert on incarcerated sex offenders and psychopaths, and who evaluated her
      between 1996 and 1999, concluded that Karla Homolka was not a psychopath, and not a danger to reoffend.

  2. Karla Homolka never received any treatment while in prison.

    • Homolka participated in every treatment program recommended, until she was asked to participate in a program that had been
      designed for male sexual offenders. She refused, on the grounds that she was neither male nor a sexual offender (since she had
      not been convicted as such).

  3. Karla Homolka's time in prison was filled with parties, and she has done nothing to better herself during that

    • Homolka took nearly every recommended course and treatment (with the aforementioned exception) during her incarceration, such
      as "Improving Your Inner Self", "Anger Management", "Survivors of Abuse and Trauma", and many more. She also earned her
      bachelor's degree in psychology from Queen's University, and achieved very high grades.

    • At one point, a released inmate leaked photos which showed Homolka at a birthday party. Since Homolka was, at that time,
      being held in the medium-security Joliette Institution for Women, such birthday parties were common. When the photos were
      published, the resulting uproar led to Homolka being placed in solitary confinement. It should be noted, however, that Homolka
      was not the first Joliette inmate to have a birthday party, nor was she the last, nor was it clear that it was even
      Karla's birthday party portrayed in the pictures.

  4. Karla Homolka and Paul Bernardo created snuff films.

    • By definition, the movies created by Homolka and Bernardo are not snuff films, because they do not show the murders of their

  5. Karla Homolka has never expressed any remorse for her crimes.

    • Homolka expressed remorse numerous times. Most notably to her family in a letter to them regarding the death of her sister
      Tammy, and to the doctors treating her throughout the years. In fact, in letters to one of her previous psychiatrists, she
      described in length the continuing nightmares she had regarding the two murdered girls. Whether this remorse is genuine or
      feigned cannot, of course, be reliably determined.

  6. Karla Homolka began a lesbian relationship in prison with a woman who had likewise been convicted of helping to rape
    and torture young girls.

    • On September 22, 2000, the
      Montreal Gazette published an article on Homolka's prison
      life which gave the impression that Homolka was in a lesbian relationship with convicted child-rapist Christina Sherry (in fact, the
      article was accompanied by a photo of Homolka and Sherry together, which no doubt reinforced this particular misconception). In
      fact, Homolka's lesbian relationship was with Lynda Verroneau, who had been convicted of participating in a bank robbery. The independently wealthy Lynda Verroneau would later sell pictures and stories to the media
      claiming that Karla had pretended to be her lover in order to get lingerie and a computer.

  7. Karla Homolka enjoyed (or, alternately, was horrified by) the events that took place.

    • Homolka's "level of enjoyment" of course, cannot be judged. Neither argument; that she enjoyed the crimes, or that she was
      horrified by them, is entirely supported by the evidence. Both sides claim conclusive evidence for their argument, but only
      Homolka herself knows for sure.

  8. When Karla Homolka gets out of jail, she is going to ...

    • Many people - including the authorities of many Canadian provinces - would like to know what Homolka's plans are for life
      after prison. However, she has not told anyone anything; therefore, any rumors are just that - rumors. On Tuesday, April 27th, 2005 the Niagara Regional Police sent two officers to meet face-to-face with Karla to
      discuss her plans upon release. Other than saying that she was "Co-operative," no other details have been released.

  9. The Internet has a great many Karla Homolka fan sites.

    • On April 09, 2005 the Toronto Star published a story about a supposed "Internet Frenzy" regarding Karla
      Homolka. Although some new sites had popped up in the beginning of 2005 some had also gone
      away. The article intimated that there were several Homolka "fan sites"; however, after investigation by at least one internet
       (, only one
       ( was found which could be
      classified as a fan-site.

  10. The home videos were discovered after the plea-bargain had been fixed. Had they come to light earlier, she would have
    been sentenced to life in prison.

    • This is vastly oversimplified. Prosecutors had an opportunity to both "break the deal" and charge Homolka with additional
      crimes for a period of 8 months between when the tapes were found and authorities agreed not to charge her with additional
      crimes. The police were in possession of the tapes in September of 1994, although the "deal" had been signed in 1993 (and they
      had been working under the deal under a verbal agreement long before that) they were still able to prosecute her for "Jane Doe", and for lies that they uncovered in her earlier testimony (an absolute
      deal-breaker was lying during her interviews with prosecutors) since they knew she had lied; Stephen Williams published memos where the Crown discussed these lies amongst themselves. Officials
      agreed not to prosecute her for the "Jane Doe" incidents, and they chose not to break the deal with Homolka on May 18, 1995. That
      decision was final.

  11. Karla Homolka will be released on Leslie Mahaffy's birthday.

    • It is entirely likely that Homolka will be released before July 5th (which is, indeed, the birthday of Leslie Mahaffy). It appears that the Canadian prison system has the authority to release her as early as June 24th, 2005 but she may be released no later than July 5th, 2005.

from the article "A moral vacuity in her which is difficult if not impossible to explain": law, psychiatry and the remaking of Karla Homolka by Anne McGillivray, Associate Professor of Law, University of Manitoba, Canada:

Carla Homolka and her husband Paul Bernardo were convicted in 1993 and 1995 respectively of the abduction, torture, rape and murder of two teenage girls in the small lakeside town of St Catharine's, Ontario. Police, lawyers and judges—indeed, the legal system itself—were profoundly challenged by the disjunction between available scripts for crimes of sexual violence and for women who 'go wrong'. The fragmenting of notions of justice and agency is seen in investigation and evidence-gathering, in the plea bargain made with Homolka and in Bernardo's trial, which starred Homolka as witness for the prosecution and publicly revealed for the first time the extent of her participation in the crimes. Her sentence of 12 years concurrent was a compromise between contested notions of women's agency, a play-off between competing ideas about womanhood and subjectivity against male sadism and dominance. The public uproar following Canada's 'trial of the century' precipitated an investigation by the Ontario Attorney-General of the Homolka plea bargain....

Homolka, in the popular view, should have taken her seat beside him in the prisoner's box and seat of ultimate evil.

Underlying the disquiet was a fear that gender somehow won, that Homolka, being female, was held less culpable on that basis alone. This denied women's equality and moral autonomy. Conversely, it was a sort of witchery through pretended weakness, lies and manipulation, the successful use by an evil woman of obnoxious female traits.2 Feminists and anti-feminists could unite in their disapprobation of Homolka and her self-created images, first of normality—pretty teen, party girl, beautiful bride, dutiful daughter, supportive wife—and then of the controlled and battered woman with symptoms culled from the Lenore Walker classic on her gaol cell bookshelf.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

[via Open Rage]

I prefer the playful ocean to the majesty of the mountains.

Even the oceans need the mountains. They are codependant. Two units of a divine equation, relying on each other and despising each other in the same breath.

A wave.

A rock.

And they have lapsed into one another, bound together in cohesive beauty.

I am the ocean. Rioting and trashing the rocks, aching to change their tiresome stance, and craving their stalwart presence.

[via Midnight Musings]

The Garden

May weather, fairest weather -
Making way for humid June
Ever closer, still together
Planting love beneath the moon.

Sunshine ripens the juicy blooms
Of a newfound seedling, but once done
From its natural run, her rays
Glare down meanly.

Time and time they say, they say
Allows the heart to wander -
Or perhaps it's wonder away
To another day where I grow not fonder?

Summer days fall out of place
When his face she cannot see
Thorns and weeds and ivy leaves bloom
Where roses used to be.

Good enough to be flushed?

When I was in grad school, I used to receive notices about upcoming academic conferences and publications, ones that grad students could participate in and contribute to. Most of the notices covered topics in a serious manner, but one or two of them bordered on the downright asinine. Need an example? Consider the call for papers that Roger Kimball at the New Criterion just got wind of:

Toilet Papers: The Gendered Construction of Public Toilets

[via Orbiter Dicta]

Apparently this guy hasn't seen Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter...

from Was Jesus a Sith Lord? by Steve Kellmeyer:

Did Lucas mean to show fatherless boys make bad husbands? Or did he mean to show how a skewed understanding of celibacy destroys lives? By the end of Revenge, it’s hard to tell. The whole story has become rather muddled.

We learn that the Sith are evil because they are selfish, while the Jedi are good because they are selfless - they always serve others. This selflessness is apparently meant to explain Jedi celibacy. Jedi are not supposed to be attached to anything, “Train yourself to let go of everything you are afraid to lose,” Yoda counsels a despondent Anakin.

If this is Jedi philosophy, the Sith are right to destroy them.
[Thanks to HolyWeblog for the link!]

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

On Tuesday’s edition of NewsNight with Aaron Brown, Colson used the momentous news of Deep Throat’s newly revealed identity to make the case against ends-justify-the-means ethics, and the results were — how to put this? — cringe-inducing. This was not Colson as Richard Nixon’s hatchet man, but it was Colson with a blind spot for the important role that journalists play, sometimes through relying on anonymous sources, in holding government accountable. Brown tried to make the case that there was a heroic element to Mark Felt’s actions as Deep Throat, but Colson was hearing none of it.
[via GetReligion]

There is an old saying in Saskatchewan "The farmers aren't happy unless they have something to complain about." This is our problem in the west. We will never be on the winning side for long because as soon as we elect someone we will start complaining about them. Conservative or Liberal it doesn't matter.
[via Vote Saskatoon]

Considered for an answering machine message:

If you're reading this, [insert name here] may already be raptured.

If not, or the Left Behind series is bunk, [insert name here] will come back soon...but s/he might tarry...

Real Worship...with songs such as:

Close Your Eyes and Sway by Manic Phase

Gathered Here Together to Break Wind by tee hee

How Long Must We Sing This Song by Voice of Reason


Stand Sit Stand Shake Stand by God's Favorite doG
[a Wittenburg Door Online extra]

It was kinda weird, as I haven’t really seen much to do with the “Miss Universe” pageant in years, maybe even within the last decade. But there it was....It now grates against so much of what I believe in and value. Apparently it was shown “before an estimated worldwide viewing audience of more than 600 hundred million in over 180 countries”. So more than 600 hundred million people in over 180 countries were subjected to a very distorted view of what a beautiful woman is. I took a look at a few of the different contestants, and you know what, not one of them was wearing glasses, or had stretch marks from bearing a child (thank-you swimsuit category), or could have been bigger than a size 6 (and that was the ‘larger’ women on the show!), or were over the age of 28. And I can only guess at how many of the people watching were young girls or teenagers, who have been given the message that only this is beauty. And it’s a crying shame! We live in a harsh enough culture that we don’t need to narrow down the description of beauty to such a minuscule description (no pun intended!). And I won’t even go into the topic of the young, teenage boys who may have watched the show, and the distorted view they’ll probably get of what a beautiful woman looks like.
[via Estelle]

We all know someone that’s intelligent, but who occasionally defends obviously bad ideas. Why does this happen? How can smart people take up positions that defy any reasonable logic?

...If you learn a few tricks of logic and debate, you can refute the obvious, and defend the ridiculous. If the people you’re arguing with aren’t as comfortable in the tactics of argument, or aren’t as arrogant as you are, they may even give in and agree with you.

The problem with smart people is that they like to be right and sometimes will defend ideas to the death rather than admit they’re wrong. This is bad.
---from Why smart people defend bad ideas By Scott Berkun, April 2005

Thanks The Wittenburg Door Insider!:

WHEN Charismatic Warri-based preacher, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, took over the leadership of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, PFN, as national president in February after its eighth biennial conference, he made a pledge to sanitize the fellowship and rid it of evil-minded charlatans. He convened the first executive council meeting of the body in April. After the meeting, he addressed newsmen during which he reiterated his desire to flush out all elements capable of bringing the reputation of pentecostalism in Nigeria to disrepute.

That was before the so much talked about Benny Hinn Healing Crusade that took place at the Redemption Camp on Lagos-Ibadan Expressway from April 29 to May 1.

The aftermath of that spiritual exercise has now presented the acid test of Oritsejafor's exccutive council as the leadership of the PFN, comprising eminent men of God, including Dr. Wilson Badejo of the Foursquare Gospel Church as vice president and Bishop Joseph Ojo of Calvary Kingdom Church as the national general secretary, has on its hands a case that might attract the attention of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

Claims and counter-claims of financial impropriety concerning the crusade were flagged off by the American evangelist, Benny Hinn, who voiced his anger by alleging that his ministry spent $4 million on a crusade that could have been conducted with less than $2 million.

...conservation does not necessarily exclude progression. We cannot ignore the movement of history when we analyze society and the political realm. Any conservatism which attempts to return to an earlier period of history is naive and irresponsible. Nor can one halt the flow of history at a certain moment of time. In other words, a Christian political option must be at once conservative and progressive.

Secondly, as Christians we urgently need to examine in a radical way the spiritual direction and foundation of our government and its activities. In other words, we need a new criterion by which to judge that which should be conserved and that to which we must progress. We cannot allow ourselves to fall into the trap of absolutizing conservation or progression.
[via Notes from a Byzantine-Rite Calvinist]