Saturday, September 30, 2006

Career Approach to Ministry

Seminarians Face Pulpit Shortage -

There are just so many things backwards and wrong about this article, I don't know where to start. It does, however provide some interesting insight into the perspective that many likely share about "religious work." Here's one excerpt:
Only about 50 to 65 percent of the approximately 8,000 new theology school
graduates with masters of divinity degrees "are finding positions in
congregational ministry," said Daniel Aleshire, executive director of the
Association of Theological Schools [ATS] in the United States and Canada.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Misquoting Ehrman

Charles Halton: Misquoting Ehrman (the author of Misquoting Jesus)

The Pope and Jihad

I'm quoting straight from the Qur'an: "Therefore let those fight in the way of Allah, who sell this world's life for the hereafter; and whoever fights in the way of Allah, then be he slain or be he victorious, We shall grant him a mighty reward." (Surah IV. 74)

I certainly do not claim to have a well-developed knowledge of the Qur'an and if a scholar were to demonstrate the context of these words as meaning something besides what they would appear to be out of their context, I would be open to listening. However, a simple concordance search of the Qur'an for a few key terms such as "fighting" or "war" or "jihad" produces several verses that address the topics such as this one, and such research is pretty easy for anyone to do.

The Pope Speaking Truth
In reference to the Pope's remarks which occurred nearly a week ago now, an article today in the NY Times seems to reflect a popular position on the Pope's remarks. Ian Fisher writes an article titled Many Muslims Say Pope's Apology Is Inadequate. Curiously, the premise of the article seems to be that the Pope should not have stated the things he said last Tuesday since the Pope offended people by his statement. Did the Pope speak accurately or did he make false accusations?

The main statement that the Pope made was a quotation of Manuel II Paleologus from the 14th Century which apparently reads, "Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."

The reaction in the Muslim world has been an uproar of protests and violent acts, interestingly, that are supposed to disagree with (and discredit?) the Pope's reference. Furthermore, as the article goes on to explain, the Pope has issued some sort of apology for the remark as others associated with the Vatican have been working to control the damage. From the vantage point of Fisher's article, the Pope needs to make sure that he has not offended the world of Islam - if "many Muslims" still feel offended by what the Pope said, then he needs to further apologize.

Mad, Mad World
Has the entire world gone mad? What Qur'an believing Muslim even believes the Pope has a right to live? Isn't the Pope an infidel like the rest of the non-Muslim world? Furthermore, if he had quoted from the Qur'an a passage similar to the one quoted above rather than a historical figure, would the rage about his statements be greater or lesser?

Upside Down
Recently Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda's deputy leader, issued a new warning to the West essentially calling for conversion to Islam. Reaction of the West? Yawwwwnnnnn.

It's not that the West, or the U.S. specifically, does not take seriously the threat posed by al-Qaeda - in fact, the threat is very real and most people realize that there will be future attacks - it's the rhetoric of war that the world has been hearing from Islam ever since the Qur'an came into being.

Now, the view of al-Qaeda is not the view of every Muslim in the world, although I would argue that it seems to be that al-Qaeda's view is the most consistent in keeping with the actual words of the Qur'an. But the view today among Muslims that embraces jihad certainly has a very large following worldwide. Isn't part of the reaction to the Pope's words an ironic confirmation of the truth? If I tell another man that he is violent and he proceeds to beat me up for saying it (whether he denies it or not,) which of us is proven correct?

Friday, September 15, 2006

New Islands

Apparently, global warming is causing new islands to appear. What about the rising oceans?

ESPN: "No Tennessee-Florida Game"

ESPN's $$ people have now officially taken over. With the Tennessee-Florida game being played Saturday night on CBS (not to mention the highest ranking game of the week being Auburn-LSU on CBS earlier on Saturday) all that ESPN can talk about and promote is their own games on their main channels and their bedfellow ABC. With shameless self-promotion, the "all-sports" network cannot even promote all of football. These two highly ranked match-ups have been an asterisk at the bottom of ESPN's promotions all week as if they were Akron playing Wichita State.

For anyone who loves football, Justin Harrell's decision to play for Tennessee against the Gators on Saturday (unbeknownst to ESPN, of course) is an adrenaline rush. Harrell had a "season ending" injury in his last game and must have surgery. However, he asked if he could suit up one last time for his college career against Florida, even though he will basically be playing with one arm. May the one-armed man have a career final game!

UPDATE: Everyday Should Be Saturday, an excellent Gators blog, has this post about Chris Fowler and the Gameday decisions of ESPN.

`It shows you how God can do things'

`It shows you how God can do things'

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

CNN Poll Lacking

Headline: "Poll: More Americans blame Bush for 9/11"

According to CNN, 45 % of Americans now blame the Bush administration for 9/11. These results come as part of a poll that is really asking the wrong question. Unless one buys into the bologna conspiracy theories of 9/11, the question itself is completely leading in nature. The actual question reads:

"Overall, how much do you blame each of the following for the September 11th terrorist
attacks -- a great deal, a moderate amount, only a little, or not at all?"

Okay, that's a fair question. Then one would expect "the following" list of possibilities to include maybe Al Qaeda, Bin Laden, the Taliban, Saddam Hussein, Saudi Arabia, or Florida.

But no.

The two possible answers: the Bush administration or the Clinton administration.

Clearly one of the two must be at fault!? What about the Bush 41 administration? What about Kennedy? Eisenhower? FDR?

Out of the possible answers, the most popular answer with reference to both the Bush administration and the Clinton administration was actually "Not at all" (the correct answer.) "Not at all" scored a respectable 35% for Bush and 36% for Clinton.

Also worth noting is that in the "complete results" that are posted here, the only two questions we are allowed to see are questions #21 and #27. A person's response to poll questions is often affected by the other questions that are being asked. If question #20 reads: "If President Bush had made a phone call to Mohammed Atta the day before the attacks, do you think that would constitute a government conspiracy?" then the next question is going to be a little harder to answer with any objectivity.

Come on, CNN, do you really think that nearly half of Americans blame our government?