Saturday, July 29, 2006

Book: Searching for God Knows What

Searching for God Knows What rose to the top of my reading list after I finished reading Donald Miller's popular book Blue Like Jazz. Searching is not as catchy or entertaining as Blue, but the book is a continuation of Miller's ability to think outside the box and make excellent points about Christianity in terms that stretch many in the mainstream of evangelical Christianity. To some extent, I would call Searching a book-length presentation of the message of salvation in Christ that challenges a believer in Christ to think about things they may have taken for granted or taken to be normal (or even biblical.) However, the book is not limited to a Christian audience. In the same vein as I would recommend Mere Christianity to a person who was not a believer, I would also think that a non-Christian could read and identify with much of Searching for God Knows What.

One of the more interesting themes that Miller develops throughout the book is his "lifeboat theory" concerning how we all live our lives as if we are in a lifeboat and fighting to keep other people out of it - people we deem as inferior to ourselves. We judge ourselves superior based on a number of things. For a Christian, such a view of themselves is utlimately one of pride that is contradictory to the grace of God.

Friday, July 28, 2006, as in "Alabama"

Birmingham, AL, New Orleans, LA, Cleveland, OH, and many other places -
I recently filled out an online survey for the local newspaper and the online company that publishes news for Birmingham, Huntsville, and Mobile, Alabama. The survey was basically asking for my input as a reader of, the online edition of the newspapers for three of Alabama's biggest cities. While a bit too lenghty, the questions in the survey were actually good. By contrast, the online news is presented very poorly.

The Advance Internet News
There are several news outlets that I had noticed online that use pretty much the same template so I looked into the matter a little more, discovering that Advance Internet is the company that produces all of these very sub-par publications. Cities included in this list are New Orleans, Cleveland, apparently the whole state of New Jersey, some of Michigan, some of Pennsylvania, some of Oregon, and others including the three cities in Alabama mentioned above. A quick look at these web sites (all listed at shows that they are the same layout, different words and pictures.

(Okay, I obviously do blog with a free-blogging host and a commonly used template. But for my level of involvement, I don't see any comparison.)

Good News Websites
If all newspapers online were like these, there would be no problem with the paper subscriptions seeing any drop in subscribers for the paper delivery. A comparison of these generic websites with other newspaper websites with which you are familiar demonstrates the obvious difference in quality, presentation, and in most cases, the ease of use. The expectation does not have to be a website as polished as The New York Times or The Washington Post, but something of quality should be the goal with a unique design. Is that asking too much?

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Higher Education and Christianity

Can religion and education go together?

Can genuine confessional Christianity thrive within a context that values serious scholarship and authentic intellectual inquiry?

David Dockery works toward an answer in this article complete with Latin phrases.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Birmingham Making Noise

An interesting article on Birmingham's music in the Washington Post...

Friday, July 07, 2006

How To Conduct a Counter-Terrorism Press Conference

In light of the news today concerning this terrorist plot headline and the subsequent press conference on TV, I have concluded that there exists an un-publicized memo in the hands of all authorities that outlines the proper way to conduct these press briefings. Though my reconstruction may be in slightly different words, I think I have formulated the majority of the original document birthed with 9/11.

1. As many levels of governing authority and law enforcement as possible should be present and included in a speaking role in the announcement.

2. All of the speakers who step to the podium (more is better) should repeat the news of what has just taken place.

3. Language should be stern. Faces must be grim.

4. The American flag must be visible (otherwise you may be accused of lacking patriotism.) You cannot have too many American flags (see also the aftermath of the 2000 Presidential Election.)
5. Terrorists are not "alleged." They are guilty until proven innocent.

6. All cities should conduct press conferences with strong rhetoric on terrorism. Even if terrorists could not find your town using Google, this rhetoric will help your re-election.

7. No matter how delighted you are to be on national TV, you must act perturbed to be taking questions from the press.

8. If there are not many details you can reveal, just be repetitive. Remember that the longer you speak the more times the television network can replay the loop of footage they have of likely unrelated "terrorist" events or the ever-important terrorist training camp.

9. "I don't know" is not an acceptable answer. "I can't comment on that," however, makes you look supremely in control.

10. No news is too small. Any plans classified as terrorism are newsworthy.