Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Action Movie of the Year

The Documentary/Move - "Collision" came out this week
I have it on order
This trailer cracks me up
What type of movie is this?
looks like Quintin Tarrantino filmed it with the slow motion walking to the helicopter
Can't wait to see it

The difference between men & women

Book Reviews

"Evening in the Palace of Reason" by James Gaines was an excellent read. The only draw back for me was that I did not know all the music lingo like: cannon, or counter-point, or catabasis, or fugue.. you get the point - I am musically illiterate! But the really great thing about this book was the contrast between Fredrick the Great & Bach (the chapters alternate between the two) and how they both represent the clash of two very different worldviews. Bach was a product of the reformation, a deeply religious man that was hard as nails (he had terrible relationships with everyone especially his sons) and Fredrick who was a product of the enlightenment & the age of reason - severely abused as a child he turns into an exact image of his father. The book is centered on the one event in which Bach (a few years form death) is called on to play for Fredrick and unbeknownst to him Fredrick has written an impossibly complicated musical piece with three (count em three) fugues. Bach plays the piece perfectly on the spot basically blowing everyone away. Gaines writes very well and really brings history alive - if you can read it and not download a bunch of Bach's music (which I am listening to as I write this) you are a better person than me.

"The Reason for Sports" by Ted Kluck was a big disappointment. I thought it would be a Biblical argument for way sports is important - how God can use it to draw us to Him - and how we as Chriatians can participate to the glory of God and use it in a redemptive way. What it turned out to be was a complication of the author's articles in the Christian sport's magazine "Sports Spectrum." Plus Kluck comes across as very snug and not even a fan of the sports he is covering. He sounds judgmental & his cynical point of view wears on the reader. I was disappointed

"Angel Time" by Anne Rice was a quick read. I read it basically in one night (no World series Friday night) and it was pretty good. It was the story of a hit man turned assistant to an angel (I know sounds wacky). Rice writes about redemption & forgiveness even for Lucky the Fox who kills without remorse. It involves time travel & monks (but I don’t want to give it all away). It a good book to pick up when you want something fun & engaging but there is a lot of violence depicted in it. I am interested how it will be received because of its very strong message of redemption & its obvious Christian bent.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

From Vampires to Jesus

Anne Rice is best know for her vampire novels which introduced the vampire Lastat. Think of the Tom Cruise & Brad Pitt movie "Interview with a Vampire." She wrote around 20 or so vampire & witch books. But recently she has been writing about Jesus. Two excellent books on Jesus "Out of Egypt" and "Road to Cana" trace Jesus' childhood to adulthood. Her third book on the life opf Christ "The Kingdom of Heaven" is due out shortly. She has also written "Called Out of Darkness" about her own spiritual journey.

From the Publisher's Weekly:
When Anne Rice stopped crafting stories about vampires and began writing about Jesus, many of her fans were shocked. This autobiographical spiritual memoir provides an account of how the author rediscovered and fully embraced her Catholic faith after decades as a self-proclaimed atheist. Rice begins with her childhood in New Orleans, when she seriously considered entering a convent. As she grows into a young adult she delves into concerns about faith, God and the Catholic Church that lead her away from religion. The author finally reclaims her Catholic faith in the late 1990s, describing it as a movement toward total surrender to God. She writes beautifully about how through clouds of doubt and pain she finds clarity, realizing how much she loved God and desired to surrender her being, including her writing talent, to God. Covering such a large sequence of time and life events is not easy, and some of the author's transitions are a bit jarring. Fans of Rice's earlier works will enjoy discovering more about her life and fascinating journey of faith. (Oct. 7)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

In the appendix to "Out of Egypt" she list her Biblical influences which include: N.T. Wright, D.A. Carson, Craig Bloomberg, & St. Augustine

She is quoted in the Wall Street Journal Nov 12, 2005. Talking about the extensive research she did on the historical Christ by reading the works of the most respected scholars. She was amazed at how weak their arguments were:
(referenced in Keller "Reason for God" p.99)
Some books were no more that assumptions piled on assumptions…. Conclusions were reached on the basis of little or no data at all… The whole case for the non-divine Jesus who stumbled into Jerusalem and somehow got crucified … that whole picture which had floated around the liberal circles I frequented as an atheist for thirty years - that case was not made. Not only was it not made, I discovered in this field some of the worst and most biased scholarship I'd ever read.

Check out her own website here:

I just picked up her newest book "Angel Time" and am excited to read it.
Kirkus review writes:
"Time travel, ultraviolence and medieval madness—divine intervention rendered fantastically by Rice... With two marvelous reimaginings of the Gospels and a spiritual autobiography recently extending her range, Rice revisits the shadows of her vampire classics; now, however, with her return to Catholicism, her sinners vie for redemption... Angelically inspiring. Devilishly clever."

How to Guard against False Teachers

Spotted this on the web this week
& thought it went well with last Week's Sermon:

Last Week's Sermon Text:

2 Timothy 3:12-16
In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

How do we guard against False Teachers? The Scriptures!

More on Benny Hinn here:

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Wall of Separation between Religion & Sports?

Two weeks ago USA TODAY ran this article on religion & its influence in sports. The writer is afraid of Christians who believe the 'far right theology' of eternal punishment for those who die apart from faith in Jesus Christ.
Again we are seeing the systematic & deliberate push to get all things 'Christian' out of the public sphere. Religion belongs in private & what right do we have to be public with what we believe! Christians are intolerant if we do not believe like the writer & what he says is 65% of Americans. Or perhaps he is being intolerant pushing his view on Christians!?
I am reminded what a former professional football player told me once. When he was in High School he was the only Christian on his team, in college many of his team mates were believers and by the time he was a pro player almost the whole team claimed to be Christians.

How can the influence of Christianity be anything but good in the sports world?


"And I'd like to thank God Almighty"
(Article from USA TODAY - Monday Oct 12, 2009)
By Tom Krattenmaker

October is the sports fan's Promised Land.
America's pastime (baseball) enters its sprint toward the World Series, and the sport that is America's pastime in more than just name (football) has fans transfixed from coast to coast.

Anyone who watches pro and college football or follows the drama of the baseball playoffs can't help but notice something else that often competes for our attention amid the passes, pitches and home runs: religion..

Players point skyward to the Almighty after reaching the end zone or home plate, star athletes voice thanks and praise to their savior after a big win, and sports heroes use their media spotlight to promote the Christian message. (See University of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow and his eye-black, touting Scripture.)These are the outward signs of a faith surge that has made big-time sports one of the most outwardly religious sectors of American culture.

Far less visible, but worth knowing about, are the infrastructure and strategy of the sports-world evangelicalism that powers these pious displays. Athletes' expressions of Christian faith reflect decades of hard work by evangelical ministries to convert players and "coach" them to use their stature to promote a particular version of conservative Christianity.

Christian chaplains are embedded with all the teams in professional baseball, basketball and football — and many college teams as well — to provide religious counseling, Bible studies and chapel services. Given the misbehavior and self-seeking that plague sports, who could doubt the benefit of bringing moral guidance and a broader perspective to locker rooms and clubhouses?

The good with the bad

But Jesus' representatives in sports aren't just practicing faith. They are also leveraging sports' popularity to promote a message and doctrine that are out of sync with the diverse communities that support franchises, and with the unifying civic role that we expect of our teams. Typifying the exclusive creed taught by many sports-world Christians is the belief statement published by Baseball Chapel, which provides chaplains for all major- and minor-league baseball teams. Non-believers in Jesus, the ministry declares, can look forward to "everlasting punishment separated from God."

Urban Meyer, Tebow's coach at Florida, has praised his quarterback's faith-promoting ways as "good for college football ... good for young people ... good for everything." Such is the rhetoric usually heard from those who defend sports-world Christianity as wholesome and harmless.

But should we be pleased that the civic resource known as "our team" — a resource supported by the diverse whole through our ticket-buying, game-watching and tax-paying — is being leveraged by a one-truth evangelical campaign that has little appreciation for the beliefs of the rest of us?

Having researched and thought about Christianity in sports for the better part of a decade, I am impressed by the good that's done by sports-world Christians. Jesus-professing athletes are among the best citizens in their sector, and they commit good deeds daily in communities across this country.

These sports stars, like all Americans, have a right to express their faith.

Evangelical players and ministry representatives in sports aren't out to harm anyone, of course. On the contrary, they see themselves as fulfilling the Bible's Great Commission ("Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit," Matthew 28:19). In this sense, their mission is pure altruism: They seek to share the gift of eternal life.

But there's a shadow side to this. If their take on God and truth and life is the only right one — which their creed boldly states — everyone else is wrong.

Not a mere abstraction, this exclusiveness sometimes morphs into a form of chauvinism and mistreatment of non-Christians. Witness the incident with the Washington Nationals baseball team in 2005, when the Christian chaplain was exposed as teaching that Jews go to hell. Then there was the New Mexico state football team, which was the target of a religious discrimination lawsuit in 2006 after two Muslim players reported being labeled "troublemakers" and were kicked off the team by their devoutly Christian coach. The case was settled out of court and the students transferred.

It's not just non-Christians who might have a thing or two to say about this exclusive theology. According to a December 2008 survey by the Pew Forum on Religion in Public Life, 65% of American Christians believe that many religions can lead to eternal life. Our pluralism is a defining and positive reality of American life — but not one that is much valued by those who define the faith coursing through the veins of sports culture.

One size doesn't fit all

As anyone who has seen Tebow on television would know, broadcasters cannot find enough superlatives to describe him. What's not to admire? He plays with a rugged, infectious enthusiasm. He's a born leader. He's a Heisman Trophy winner and a two-time national champion. He spends his off time speaking at prisons and doing missionary work in Asia. It's good to see he has mended from his concussion and returned to action.

But there's more to his story. Tebow does his missionary trips to the Philippines under the auspices of his father's Bob Tebow Evangelistic Association. The Tebow organization espouses a far-right theology. Its bottom line: Only those who assent to its version of Christianity will avoid eternal punishment. The ministry boldly declares, "We reject the modern ecumenical movement."

The Tebow organization's literature estimates that 75% of the Philippines' inhabitants "have never once heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ." This in a country where more than 80% of the citizens identify themselves as Roman Catholic.

In making and acting on rigid claims about who is or isn't in good standing with God, the Bob Tebow organization is working at cross purposes with the majority of Americans — indeed, the majority of American Christians — and their more generous conception of salvation.

Certainly, Tim Tebow must be applauded for the good he does working on his father's missions, but he should be seen, too, as one who promotes a form of belief that makes unwelcome judgments about everyone else's religion. Let's not forget the twinge that is felt by sports-loving Jewish kids and parents, for example, or by champions for interfaith cooperation, when adored sports figures like Tebow use their fame to push a Jesus-or-else message.

Is sports-world evangelicalism really "good for everything"? Certainly a lot, but not everything. Not if you're Jewish, Muslim, Catholic, non-evangelical Protestant, agnostic or anything else outside the conservative evangelical camp.

Tom Krattenmaker, a writer based in Portland, Ore., specializing in religion in public life, is a member of the USA TODAY board of contributors. He is the author of the new book Onward Christian Athletes.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Calvin on Big Business (no not that Calvin)

The Man from George Street

This video blew me away! Example of the power of commitment & persistence in evangelism, even when you do not see the 'fruit.' (sometimes it takes 40 years) This video will bring you to tears to hear of this man's faithful witness. Oh that we would live to be famous in heaven!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Bach Meets Frederick the Great

I came across this book recommendation from the blog "Cranach" by Gene Veith (He is the Provost and Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, & the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary) so i ordered the book & just got it yesterday - I can't wait to read it & will let you know how i liked it. Check out his blog:
Here is his review:


I have just finished a book that I am going to count among my favorites of all time. It is that good. You have GOT to read it. It’s entitled Evening in the Palace of Reason: Bach Meets Frederick the Great in the Age of Enlightenment by James A. Gaines.

In 1747, Frederick the Great–the king of Prussia, patron of Enlightenment rationalism, and military strongman–invited Johann Sebastian Bach, now an old man three years from his death, for an audience. Frederick fancied himself a musician and scorned the old-fashioned polyphony that Bach was known for in favor of music with a single pleasant melody. Frederick, who enjoyed humiliatating his guests, had composed a long melody line full of chromatic scales that was impossible to turn into a multi-voiced canon (that is, a “round”: think “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” with different groups starting at different times) and told Bach to turn it into a fugue (an even more complicated “round”). Whereupon Bach, on the spot, sat down at one of the new piano fortes and turned it into a three-part fugue. The flummoxed King said, in effect, OK, turn it into a 6-part fugue. A few days later, Bach sent him a 6-part fugue and more than a fugue, “A Musical Offering” that rebuked Frederick and all of his Enlightenment notions with the Christian faith.
This book tells about that confrontation and the events in each man’s life that led up to it. Gaines, in effect, gives us a dual biography, with alternating chapters on each subject. We learn about Frederick’s miserable childhood with an abusive father, the previous king (who, at one point, had his son’s best friend beheaded and made him watch, thinking that he would be next). Then we learn about Bach’s happy childhood in a Christian home. We learn about Frederick’s unhappy and childless marriage. Then we learn about Bach’s family, in which he was a loving husband and father of 20 children. We learn about Frederick’s decadent love of the arts and his infatuation with the Enlightenment, and his mutual admiration society with Voltaire. Then we learn about Bach’s deep Christian faith and his orthodox Lutheran theology. We learn about Frederick’s ascension to the throne, his turning Prussia into a military powerhouse, and his unprovoked wars against his neighbors for nothing more than his ego. We learn about Bach’s career at courts and churches, his stubborn integrity that caused him to battle with virtually all of his employers, and, despite occasional musical respect, how he died in obscurity with his music all but forgotten. We also learn about the aftermath, how Frederick’s legacy would blossom but burn out under Hitler. And how Bach was rediscovered by Mendelssohn in the 19th century, whereupon he has become recognized as arguably the greatest musical composer and one of the greatest artists in any form ever.
The author, James Gaines, is a journalist–a former editor of TIME–and so, though he knows his music as an amateur classical musician, he writes not with scholarly heaviness but with a lively and enjoyable narrative flair. And his secular background makes the book all the more remarkable for what it says about the relationship between Christianity–indeed, Lutheranism–and art. Gaines suggests that Bach was a greater man and a greater creator than Frederick precisely because of his faith. Bach was transcendent because he built his life on something transcendent.
Gaines shows how Bach’s view of music goes right back to Luther. For them and other Christians of their time, music was quite literally a sign and measure of God’s created order in the universe. Bach and Luther favored polyphony–many voices going on at the same time, whether in the multiple but unified melodies of canons and fugues, or in the phenomenon of harmony–because it imaged forth the unity-in-diversity that is everywhere in creation; indeed, in existence itself; not only that, but in the Godhead Himself.
Gaines also draws on the Bach scholarship that demonstrates how music in this tradition encoded specific meanings. In Bach’s final “Musical Offering” to Frederick, he includes 10 canons, which are emblematic of the Ten Commandments (”canons,” laws, get it?). He includes a caption in one section that refers to how the notes ascend like the King’s glory, except that the notes go nowhere and turn into the most melancholy of melodies. He thus says through his music that Frederick may think himself “Great,” but his glory goes nowhere, that he will end only in death, that he doesn’t stand up very well to those Ten Commandments. Bach works in chorale motifs and church music–which Frederick hated–but which give this king his only hope. Yes, Bach was using his music to witness to this august secularist King in his palace of reason.
You will learn a lot about music and a lot about history in this book. It is also one of the best books about the relationship between Christianity and the arts that I have ever come across. It also illuminates the relationship between Lutheranism and the arts. Gaines keeps bringing Luther into his story, to the point of saying that Bach and Luther had the same personality (intemperate, stubborn, no-comprising, but also warm and sensitive and devout). We learn surprising things, such as the way Enlightenment skepticism had a rather harder time in Lutheran countries than in those of other theologies, since Lutheranism had already developed a vigorous intellectual tradition that had thoroughly worked out the relationship between faith and reason. We also learn about the magnificent use of music in Lutheran worship that was unique to any other religious tradition.
And we confessional Lutherans can also appreciate what Gaines does not go into, that Frederick the Great, with his religious “toleration” was literally the grandfather of the Prussian Union, that ecumenical amalgamation and theological watering down of the state church in the name of enlightenment principles, that two kings later would send orthodox Lutherans fleeing to America and other New Worlds. Gaines also makes outstanding use of Bach’s notations in his Calov Study Bible, which happens to be owned by Concordia Seminary in St. Louis and which I have held in my hot little hands.
So drop whatever you are doing and buy this book. You will be glad you did

Even Atheists live by a Theistic Worldview

I came across this commentary in the excellent Christian news magazine 'World' (If you do not have a subscription I would highly recommend it)

Notice that just like Peter Singer, Bertrand Russell, although a committed atheist who wrote, "Why I am not a Christian," lives by a very theistic worldview. Stealing 'God's Words' if you will, to make his point. What can the words "loves," "beliefs," "devotion," "inspiration," "genius," "despair," and strangest of all, "soul." mean to a committed Darwinian atheist? Aren’t we all just "the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms?"

Remember one test of the validity of truth is that it conforms to reality; it explains reality. Just by how Russell & Singer live their lives points to a theistic worldview. Follow their actions not their words

Early in college I read Bertrand Russell's Why I Am Not a Christian. Russell, 93 years old when I read that book, died five years later in 1970. He was a British philosopher and one of the founders, with A.N. Whitehead, of analytic philosophy.
One great benefit of going to a good Christian college is that you read important bad books with the help of wise Christian scholars. Most 19-year-olds are not ready to navigate the sophisticated arguments of seasoned skeptics. But with the guidance of a seasoned Christian thinker, the navigation can be profitable. It was for me.
Russell stressed the absoluteness of physical matter. In other words, if you trace the origin of everything all the way back, you arrive at impersonal matter, not personal spirit: Matter, not God, is absolute. This meant, for Russell, that there is only material existence.
This produced one of the bleakest views of human life imaginable. Here, he says, is "the world which science built for our belief."
That man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labors of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of man's achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of the universe in ruins. . . . Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul's habitation henceforth be safely built (Why I Am Not a Christian, editor Paul Edwards [New York: Simon and Schuster, 1957], p. 107).
It doesn't take too much assistance from a wise teacher to help a 19-year-old see something odd in this. Tragically odd. Triply odd.

First the language he uses seems borrowed from another worldview: "loves," "beliefs," "devotion," "inspiration," "genius," "despair," and strangest of all, "soul." To be sure, he insists that these are all "but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms." Really? Why would material atoms collide to create a language affirming realities beyond matter? It is an odd creation of Russell's world.

Second, did Russell really say to his crying children (he had three) that their sorrows were the unfortunate collocation of atoms? Did he say to any of his three wives, in the best of their affections, "This is only the collocation of atoms?" In other words, did he live his philosophy? Or was he playing 20th-century academic games?

Third, when he says, "Only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair can the soul's habitation henceforth be safely built," it seems to be laboring to sound poetic and meaningful. Even at his lowest moment of self-annihilating philosophy, he cannot repress his God-like self.

The vision of life revealed in the Bible explains more of what we experience than the materialism of Bertrand Russell. It makes more sense out of the material and immaterial, the impersonal and the personal, and puts a solid foundation under the soaring eloquence of Russell's contradictory despair.
Yes, we die. And there is darkness and sorrow. For those who see only that, there will be something much worse than Russell's "extinction in the vast death of the solar system." That is not what hell is.
But for believers, the despair and futility are swept away in the dawn of Easter Sunday.
If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. . . . But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:17-20).
I thank God for the unshakeable, hope-filled truths of the Bible. And I thank God for wise Christian scholar-teachers who led me through the swamps of academic unbelief so that I could see how inauthentic its play-actors were.
Some people reject Christ because there are hypocrites in the church. I keep coming back to Him because there is so much academic gamesmanship in the university.

Copyright © 2009 WORLD Magazine October 24, 2009, Vol. 24, No. 21
Read the whole article here:

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Pet Party Planner

Do we have a theology of Work?
Are their jobs that are off limits to Christians?
Should a Christian be part of a company or business that promotes sin or dishonest gain?
And who gets to decide what jobs are 'Christian' or 'godly?'
Can a Christian work with a clean conscience for wallstreet? or an oil company? or a beer distributer?
Can a Christian work at a job that caters to our self-indulgent society?
(example i used was a Pet Party Planner) (don't know if it even exists but could a Christian be satisfied and hold that job & work for the glory of God at it?)

CS Lewis wrote:
"All the same, the New Testament, without going into details, gives us a pretty clear hint of what a fully Christian Society would be like. Perhaps it gives us more than we can take. It tells us that we are to be no passengers or parasites: If man does not work, he ought not eat. Everyone is to work with his own hands, and what is more, every one's work is to produce something good: there will be no manufacture of silly luxuries and then of sillier advertisements to persuade us to buy them. And there is to be no 'swank' or 'side', no putting on airs. To that extent a Christian society would be what we now call Leftist." (HT: Fred)

I think we seldom think about our work in a Biblical Framework
These are hard questions
The 'lines' are not clear
I wonder if we have even thought about them

It would be interesting to hear where you might have drawn the line for yourself and your work


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Is the church known for truth or good values?

I came across this quote reading Lesslie Newbigin "To tell the truth"

 "It is widely thought in modern societies that the Christian Church is not so much a source of true knowledge as it is an agency which stands for good values and which is supported because it does so. …. I am troubled by the fact that evangelism is - in effect - equated with revival, with a return to values which have been forgotten and need to be reaffirmed. It is not so often acknowledged that evangelism means calling people to believe something which is radically different from what is normally accepted as public truth, and that it calls for a conversion not only of the heart and the will but of the mind. A serious commitment to evangelism, to the telling of the story which the church is sent to tell, means a radical questioning of the reigning assumptions of public life. It is to affirm the gospel not only as an invitation to a private and personal decision but as public truth which ought to be acknowledged as true for the whole of the life of society."

Are we all about the second commandment "love thy neighbor"

at the expense of the First "Love the Lord your God?"

Are we calling people to be nice to each other or are we calling them to the truth?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Amusing Ourselves to Death

A Great book that I recommend highly (although a bit dated) is Neil Postman's "Amusiong ourselves to Death" I was rereading this week in preperatiuon for the sermon and was struck again by this quote inthe introduction.  (Postman is comparing to opposite views of the futrue - Orwell's "1984" & Huxley's "Brave New World)
You tell me which one is more accurate

"What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared that truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumble-puppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny "failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions." In 1984, Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us."

Also check out the illustrated version of this quote here:

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

This week in the Wall Street Journal

Check out this article in today's WSJ
This is exactly what we were talking about last sunday
**Notice Peter's Singer's inconsistencies**

"When the poet Matthew Arnold wrote of faith's "melancholy, long, withdrawing roar," the thought was that scientific inquiry had forever undermined claims to certitude. In hindsight we see Arnold was only half right. In place of Genesis we now have scientism—the idea that science alone can speak truth about man and his world.

In contrast to the majority of scientists whose wondrous discoveries seem to inspire humility, today's advocates of scientism can be every bit as dogmatic as the William Jennings Bryans of yesteryear. We saw an example a week ago, when the New York Times reported that many scientists view "outspoken religious commitment as a sign of mild dementia."
The reporter was Gardiner Harris, and the object of his snark was Francis Collins—the new director of the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Collins is perhaps best noted for his leadership on the Human Genome Project, an effort to map the genetic makeup of man. But he is also well known for his unapologetic talk about his Christian faith and how he came to it.
Mr. Harris's aside about dementia, of course, is less a proposition open to debate than the kind of putdown you tell at a private cocktail party where you know everyone in the room shares your orthodoxies. In this room, there are those who hold that God cannot be reconciled with what science has discovered about the human body, the origin of the species, and the beginnings of the universe. The more honest ones do not flinch before the implications of their materialist principles on our understanding of human dignity and human rights and human freedom—as well as on religion.
In 1997, for example, an International Academy of Humanism statement in defense of human cloning—whose signatories included scientists such as E.O. Wilson, Francis Crick and Richard Dawkins—went out of its way to attack the special dignity of human beings. "Humanity's rich repertoire of thoughts, feelings, aspirations, and hopes seems to arise from electrochemical brain processes, not from an immaterial soul that operates in ways no instrument can discover." They concluded "it would be a tragedy if ancient theological scruples should lead to a Luddite rejection of cloning."
Here's the problem: Almost no one really believes this. Not, at least, when it comes to how we behave. And the dichotomy between scientific theory and human action may itself have something to tell us about truth.
That's not to deny electrochemical brain processes and the like. It is to say that much as we may assent to the idea that we are but matter in motion, seldom do we act that way. We love. We fight. We distinguish between the good and noble and the bad and base. More than just religion, our literature and our politics and our music resonate precisely because they speak to these things.
Remember Peter Singer? Mr. Singer is the Princeton utilitarian who accepts scientism's view that human beings are not fundamentally different from animals, just more complex. In his thinking, those who cannot reason for themselves or have lost their self-awareness have no real claim to life. Yet when Alzheimer's struck his mother, he paid for care to prolong and sustain her life. The irony is that an act that does him credit as a son must discredit him among those whose principles about life he claims to share.
To put it another way, while we talk about the clash between God and science, in practice it often comes down to disagreements about man and morals. The boundaries are not always neat. Many Americans who are indifferent to faith will confess they find themselves challenged as they try to raise good and decent children without the religious confidence their parents had. The result may not be a return to religion but a healthy agnosticism about agnosticism itself.
I once had the opportunity to interview one of my heroes, Sidney Hook. This was a man whose commitment to his atheism and secular humanism was beyond question. One example: A doctor saved Mr. Hook's life by going ahead with an operation against Mr. Hook's wishes. Mr. Hook recovered—and promptly published an op-ed taking his doc to task.
It is possible, of course, to imagine a good society in the absence of a belief that man's dignity comes from his being fashioned in God's image. Something of the sort would have been Mr. Hook's ideal. Yet in his writings, the Almighty in whom Mr. Hook did not believe makes an extraordinary, one might say miraculous, number of appearances. When I asked him why he was not more dismissive, Mr. Hook replied that he was never comfortable with the dogmatism of the village atheist.

Perhaps he thought it "a mild form of dementia."

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Printed in The Wall Street Journal, page A17

Monday, October 12, 2009

Suffering and the Child of God

While i was reading some sermons today on Luke 4:1-13 (The Temptations of Jesus) in preparation for Bible Study on Wednesday night i came across this in a John Piper Sermon

Satan Would Have Done Anything to Prevent Jesus from Suffering

Luke gives us three examples of the temptations Satan threw at Jesus. First, in verse 3 he says, "If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread." Then, in verses 5–7 Satan shows him all the kingdoms of the world and says, "To you I will give all this authority and their glory; for it has been delivered to me and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it shall all be yours." Finally, in verses 9–11 Satan took Jesus to the pinnacle of the temple and said, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here; for it is written, 'He will give his angels charge of you,' and 'On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'"

These temptations are amazingly relevant for American Christianity. Satan skips over adultery, fornication, stealing, lying, murder—those temptations are too obvious. Those are the games that sub-devils play with weak saints. Jesus is no fall guy. When Satan means business with a strong saint, he sticks with religion and he makes the Bible his textbook. See if this doesn't sound contemporary. "If you are a child of God, why are you living like a pauper? If you are a child of the king, why don't you live like a prince? The children of the king don't eat casseroles, they eat steak. The children of the king don't drive second-hand clunkers, they drive new cars. The children of the king don't shop at Rag Stock, they shop on the Mall. The children of the king don't throw their lives away in Liberia or Cameroon or Ecuador or Japan, living on a shoestring, building no reserves. If you are a child of the king, claim your blessings. God has promised to send his angels to make you healthy, wealthy, and prosperous. Throw yourself into these blessings. The best testimony you can be to your status as an heir of God is to be wealthy and have the best of everything."

If only we today could see this new "gospel" as a species of Satan's temptation to Jesus. Satan had one aim in the wilderness: to do whatever he could to keep Jesus from suffering. He was willing to let Jesus have all the glory and authority of a world ruler if he just wouldn't gain it through suffering. He was eager to let Jesus use his divine power if he would just use it to relieve his suffering. He was willing to let all the worshipers in Jerusalem see and acknowledge his divine sonship if only the angels of God would keep Jesus from suffering.

Satan Might Do Anything to Prevent You from Suffering
Do you remember when Jesus said to the disciples that he had to go up to Jerusalem and suffer and be killed, and Peter said, "God forbid, Lord"? Jesus responded to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me" (Matthew 16:23). Satan's aim in the wilderness was to hinder Jesus from suffering. Because the suffering and death of Jesus meant the final destruction of Satan and the salvation of you and me. And Satan's aim in this church today is to hinder you from following Jesus when he says, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me (in the path of suffering)" (Luke 9:23).

People sometimes ask why, if Satan is real, we don't see more demon possession and exorcisms in America. I have an idea. Satan holds American Christianity so tightly in the vice-grip of comfort and wealth that he's not about to tip his hand with too much demonic tomfoolery. What Satan fears most in this church is an outpouring of the Holy Spirit that causes us to say with Paul, "I count everything as refuse that I might gain Christ . . . that I might know the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings, becoming like him in his death."

Lest there be some misunderstanding, let's go back to the hospital bed. The shocking news of your imminent death has caused the haze of the computer craze to clear. The mountains of eternity lie before you. The dove hovers over the grass and trees and streams on the right, and the lion of destruction crouches in the wasteland on the left. Do not think that if you are filled with the Spirit, your call is to sit under the fruit trees with your feet in the water. Nothing would please the lion more. No. Those who are touched by the dove and filled with the Spirit, take heart from the taste of paradise, but then they turn to the wasteland of the world and follow Christ.

Read the whole Sermon by Piper here:

Reminded me of one of his other sermons posted on yotube

Does God Create Evil? (part 2)

Genesis 1:31

And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
James 1:13
Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one
I John 1:5
This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that mGod is light, and in him is no darkness at all

The Bible is clear that God is not the creator of evil

Evil does not come from God but from man

We sinned & chose sin & death over God

Therefore man is responsible for sin in the world, not God


But did He create an environment where evil & sin could happen?

And was it His plan for Adam & Eve to sin in the garden?

If is was, is He then responsible for sin!?!?

If I knew something terrible was going to happen & I had the power to stop it but chose not to would I bear some responsibility?

Certainly creating evil is not the same as being responsible for evil

And allowing evil is not the same as causing evil

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Intelligent design

"The odds against a universe like ours emerging out of something like the big bang are enormous... I think clearly there are religious implications whenever you start to discuss the origins of the universe."

- Stephen W. Hawking

Hope.... Fear.... Adventure....

Watch the Movie trailer here:

I have seen this trailer for the new movie "Where the Wild things are" at least a dozen times. And every time it moves me profoundly. There is something deep & wonderful & spiritual about it. It says something to me about God.

God is calling us to child like faith, to a great adventure, to a deep & meaningful relationship based on His love.
The local Christian radio station has a tag line: "designed to be safe for your family" and i know what they are getting at, and that is good, but i always cringe a little. Is our faith maybe a little too 'safe?' too comfortable and secure? Don't our hearts long for a wild faith? A Faith that recklessly abandons the false constraints of this world & joins in with the "wild rumpus" of what God is doing?