Friday, December 23, 2005

The "I Believe Stick"

A football game. A man on the sidelines. A stick held in the air every single play.

I saw this pecular practice in person when Southern Miss played UAB, and this one man on the sidelines holding up some sort of pole as each snap was about to take place was befuddling. Was this a microphone? Was it a signal to the players? A lightning rod? Moses parting the waters?

No, it was about faith. You know, the easy-flowing, feel-good, this-works-f0r-me, success-on-the-football-field kind of faith (a.k.a. mystical, positive self-esteem.)

Father Tommy Conway is the "team chaplian" for Southern Miss, and he actually has a Bible reference to support his habit which began (and worked!!) against an undefeated TCU (Horned Frogs) team:

"Seizing upon an amphibian motif, Conway read the team the scripture in Exodus that described the plague of frogs God sent down upon Egypt to convince the Pharaoh to let Moses and the Jews go free.
"In the end the frogs all died, and they put them in a big pile and they began to stink," Conway said. "I told the team, 'We're not going to let these stinking frogs come in here and beat us. Now, I'm not Moses and I'm not Jesus, but I do have my own staff. Every time you take the field, I want you to look at the staff and believe in yourselves.'"
Sure enough, Southern Miss shocked the stinkin' Horned Frogs, 40-28. And a tradition (superstition?) was born. Ever since then, Father Football and his stick have been a sideline presence. "

You serious, Clark?

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Sunday of Christmas Past

Where were you on Christmas in 1994? What were you doing?

With all the press about Christmas falling on a Sunday this year and the response of many churches, one of the intriguing aspects that occured to me is that the last time that Christmas Day fell on a Sunday was in 1994. (The next will be 2011, Lord willing.)

Did you attend a worship service on Christmas in 1994?

Were the things most important to you then still the most important to you now?

Without finding pictures or something else, can you remember anything specific about that Christmas 11 years ago? With whom did you gather? What did you give? What did you receive?

Monday, December 12, 2005

Christmas Movie Quotes Quiz

Here is the Christmas movie quotes quiz I compiled for a party. See how many you can guess without googling them. I'll post the answers soon.

1. This is extremely important. Will you please tell Santa that instead of presents this year, I just want my family back. No toys, nothing but Peter, Kate, Buzz, Megan, Linnie and Jeff. And my aunt and my cousins. And if he has time, my Uncle Frank. Okay?

2. No, no. I mean "Jingle Bells". You know, deck them halls and all that stuff. No, no, no. You don't get it at all. I mean "Jingle Bells". You know, Santa Claus, and ho-ho-ho, and mistletoe... and presents for pretty girls...

3. We're kicking off our fun old fashion family Christmas by heading out into the country in the old front-wheel drive sleigh to embrace the frosty majesty of the winter landscape and select that most important of Christmas symbols.

4. Look, Daddy. Teacher says every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings.

5. It's just like Santa's workshop! Except it smells like mushrooms... and everyone looks like they wanna hurt me...

6. Football? Football? What's a football? With unconscious will my voice squeaked out 'football'.

7. It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes, or bags.

8. Happy birthday! Hey, I said my first words. But... But snowmen can't talk. Ha ha ha, come on now, what's the joke? Could I really be alive?

9. If I live to be 100, I'll never forget that big snow storm a couple of years ago. The weather closed in and, well you might not believe it, but the world almost missed Christmas. Oh, excuse me, call me Sam. What's the matter? Haven't you ever seen a talking snowman before?

10. Charlie, stay away from those things. They're reindeer, you don't know where they've been. They all look like they've got key lime disease.

11. It's Christmas Eve. It's-it's the one night of the year when we all act a little nicer, we-we-we smile a little easier, we-w-w-we-we-we cheer a little more. For a couple of hours out of the whole year we are the people that we always hoped we would be.

12. Faith is believing when common sense tells you not to. Don't you see? It's not just Kris that's on trial, it's everything he stands for. It's kindness and joy and love and all the other intangibles.

The Answers...

1. Home Alone; 2. A Charlie Brown Christmas; 3. Christmas Vacation; 4. It's A Wonderful Life; 5. Elf; 6. A Christmas Story; 7. How the Grinch Stole Christmas; 8. Frosty the Snowman; 9. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer; 10. The Santa Clause; 11. Scrooged; 12. Miracle on 34th Street.

Update: Take Quiz 2: Christmas Movie Quotes Quiz 2

New for 2009: Take the Christmas Carol Quiz

Friday, December 09, 2005

Why December 25?
The origin of Christmas had nothing to do with paganism - by Gene Edward Veith at World Magazine.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Numbers Must Lie

Birmingham recently ranked as 10th most dangerous city in the USA. Birmingham's Mayor Kincaid, evidently living somewhere between Alice and the Cat in the Hat, denied the numbers, claiming
"It sends the wrong message about our city...[t]hat kind of data going unchecked can have a chilling effect on what we are striving and working toward - creating jobs and working activities for our young people, making this a livable city."

How about working toward reducing the crime rate?

Kincaid claims that the 2004 stats show improvement. What the 2004 stats show is that Birmingham still ranked worse than the national average in every single category. Any complaints by Kincaid that the stats are being manipulated is simply denial. Then, a glance at the 2005 increase in murders immediately raises eyebrows.

Sorry Folks, Park's Closed

Some Megachurches closing on Christmas.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Thousands of Gold and Silver Coins

Psalm 119:72 says, "The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces."

First of all, imagining thousands of gold and silver pieces is staggering. I feel good if there are a few paper bills in my wallet, and I tend to find confidence in such minor things to boast about.

Next, "better" is not just a ranking on paper, but must play itself out in how we order our lives -- or it is not actually "better." If I claim that Coke is better than Pepsi, then given the choice, I must choose Coke to support my statement.

The point is that actually choosing God's law over the riches of this world is the test of truth. I can claim to love God's word, but if I cannot find time in a 24 hour day to open a Bible, my claims are empty. If my career (which is where our modern-day gold and silver come from) is the overriding effort of my entire life, is God's law truly "better"?

Friday, December 02, 2005

Homicide Headquarters

What is wrong with Birmingham, Alabama, "The Magic City"? Something. The number of homicides for 2005 has hit #98 with still four weeks remaining in the year, nearly a 100% increase over last year's 59 and up considerably from 2003's mark of 85. The national average is about 5.5 per 100,000 people. That would translate to around 13 homicides for a city of Birmingham's size.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Wed Newly

In case you weren't keeping score at home, little sister Jen was married over the weekend. I include a picture of the cake for several reasons:

1. It was good cake

2. It was one of my only clear inside pictures

3. I didn't want to run the risk of outting my sister and having to deal with the Democrats and their press.

The blog world has been slow without my presence, I realize, but hopefully now that the harsh grip of winter has settled in on Birmingham, maybe life will slow down a little.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Rosa Parks and Birmingham in 2005

From December 1, 1955, to the passing of Mrs. Rosa Parks this week, the struggle to eradicate racial divides in Alabama has remained at the forefront of the minds of many in the United States. When one thinks of the Civil Rights Movement, Alabama is naturally one of the places that comes to mind with the obvious contributions of Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr., only to mention two of many who have worked hard and sacrificed for what is right.

As a transplant to Birmingham only 1 1/2 years ago, I see two Birminghams. The downtown city of Birmingham is a run-down, exhausted city that shows glimpses of a time when the steel industry was booming and the city was thriving. There are efforts underway to revitalize the downtown area, and I hope they succeed, but one has only to drive through on I-65 to make a judgment that is basically true. While the UAB area of downtown is growing exponentially, the future of the center and northern parts of downtown are still up in the air. Downtown areas west of I-65 become increasingly dangerous. When murders are reported on the news, the Ensley area is usually assumed unless otherwise noted.

The other Birmingham is what is commonly called "Over the Mountain." Red Mountain serves as a geographical border between the city that thrived in the early and mid-20th Century and the areas to the south that are now thriving. Red Mountain also serves as the socio-economic divider for the area. Property investments have obviously moved away from the old into new for the metro area over the past 50 years.

Is there a racial divide present in Birmingham? Apparently, yes. Is there an economic divide? Obviously, yes.

While my personal observations are limited (and fallible), it appears that both divides are problematic and tend to fuel each other. Obviously the history of racial segregation has impacted the way that the area is settled. Regardless of skin color, the majority of those who live in middle and upper class income brackets live "Over the mountain," and the majority of those living in poverty live in Birmingham proper.

Life "Over the Mountain" seems to be fairly well adjusted racially. (I'm not saying things are perfect or that there is not progress to continue to seek.) People live and work in harmony, and there are many races represented in the work force. While life may fall short of the average beer commercial ratio of racial perfection, interaction and life seems to be close to arriving at the right place.

Not so in old Birmingham. There are plenty of reasons that could be discussed, but traveling around downtown and areas west of I-65 would lead one to ask whether anything has changed since 1955. I can only imagine what Booker T. Washington would write today, 104 years after his visionary book Up From Slavery if he were to take a walk through the streets of West Birmingham. The poverty is blatant. The crime is daunting. There is a feeling of hopelessness on these streets that calls for fresh thinking and something to be done in 2005.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Something Fishy

Exxon Mobil Profit, Sales Soar to Records
There are lots of questions to ask our beloved oil companies now...

Friday, October 21, 2005

Big Business

Coming Soon to a Church Near You demonstrates how marketing is 'catching on' to the church audience behind the doors of the church.

"Twenty-five years ago, there were fewer than 50 churches in the United States that attracted more than 2,000 people each week. Today, there are more than 1,200. Many boast professional-quality sound systems, large-screen projection systems and comfortable seats that rival those of any commercial theater. Most also have bookstores or gift shops."
I might add that the changing of money and the availability of doves for purchase are also a growing industry within the church.
The rest of the article further turns my stomach.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Heaven, Hell, and the Gospel

Along I-65 between Birmingham and Louisville there are plenty of 'evangelistic' billboards at which to laugh, but a sad reality lies behind the message - a message that choosing heaven or choosing hell is the essence of religion in this world. Jesus does teach quite a bit on the topic of hell, but today the topic has become so distorted that either escaping hell or assuring oneself of heaven seem to have been completely separated from the person of God.

I am reminded of an evangelist (with perfect evangelist hair, of course) who preached a thrilling message on heaven and the wonders of heaven. He preached with passion and great zeal in this first message to our church, and then, having adequately painted a picture of the gloriousness of heaven, he gave an invitation: "Come, now, and you can have heaven." (My paraphrase.)

Removing the message of the Cross, the death and resurrection of the Son of God, the absolute need of mankind for redemption, or the fact that our salvation is supremely for God's glory (not to satisfy our own desires for a better place) is to take the gospel out of the gospel. Just as Scott Slayton has pointed out the lack of an explanation for the invitation given by Joel Osteen, there is an absence of the gospel out there in places where some unspecified religion is being proclaimed.

I certainly believe that the Bible teaches a literal heaven and a literal hell, but making the choice out to be a simple Eternal Choose Your Own Adventure is to present a lie to people. Holding heaven over a person's head like a carrot and then leading them to pray a prayer that equates to the ticket is from the father of lies.

Speaking of the fire kindled in us by God, Richard Sibbes writes:
"Heavenly truths must have a heavenly light to discern them. Natural men see heavenly things, not in their own proper light, but by an inferior light. In every converted man, God puts a light into the eye of his soul proportionable to the light of truths revealed to him. A carnal eye will never see spiritual things." (from A Bruised Reed)

Friday, October 07, 2005

The Apprentice - As Good as it Gets?

I'm not initially impressed with this 'season' of The Apprentice, the only reality show I watch (and pretty much the only TV aside from sports.) My early favorite is Randal – he's smart and sensible, not so self-absorbed, and educated to the hilt. I think he fits the pattern of the other three winners so far. Trump doesn't seem to hire other 'Trumps.' The reason I'm not impressed overall is that there just seem to be a lot of ridiculous people on the show. Pretty people and abrasive personalities make the ratings better, I'm sure, but there just don't seem to be many that would truly be capable of running a business in Trump world. (My second favorite would be Alla, maybe the truest entrepreneur of the group.)

While George and Carolyn (Trump's 'eyes') are so easily likable, Trump himself is another matter. In some ways I think he is a true representative of the American persona (both good and bad...maybe a topic to flesh out later.)

Thursday, October 06, 2005


Accommodate. v. to make fit; adjust; adapt; to reconcile.

Accommodation has long been a dangerous element in people's theology. The church today is no different. One of the antonyms listed by Roget's for 'accommodate' is 'inconvenience.' Churches that ask too much are considered an 'inconvenience,' an inconvenience that people are easily able to overcome:
1. Go to another church that has fewer inconveniences
2. Stay at the inconvenient church, but smooth over (and ignore) what is troubling.

Rather than taking an approach to the Bible and one's subsequent understanding of God that asks: What needs to change about me?, people would rather just accommodate their theology for the areas that they might 'disagree with.' Most churches have lost any notion of authority that has historically (and correctly) come from an authoritative view of Scripture. Christians (I use the term loosely) join churches but hold on to their own understanding of the ways things should be. Concerning the Bible, people read and even study it without being truly open to change within themselves. Maybe that's why there are 1,527,983.75 different theological positions within a church of 500 people.

Rather than working through conviction, our very nature is to figure out another way. We accommodate our beliefs rather than admit that our thinking on a topic is wrong. Very quietly the church is full of Jeffersonian Bibles with pages cut out and verses marked out. Sure, other verses are highlighted and underlined – these are agreeable – "I will live by these," we declare.

Not only on the level of how we live, but our very understanding of God is shaped more by how we think God should be than by what the Bible actually says: "I don't think God is like that" or "I can't believe in a God like that." A person who accommodates the God of the Bible to be the god of their wishes cannot be called "Christian."

Likewise, entire churches and denominations are built on a spirit of accommodation. "Loving" or "compassionate" are usually key terms emphasized as the reason for their convenient interpretation of Scripture. "Acceptance" is more important than any biblical standard of how believers should live. The latest CNN poll on public opinion is their Bible. Their own feelings serve as their 'god.'

Friday, September 23, 2005

How to Cover a Hurricane

Obviously many people are glued to their TV's when a major hurricane threatens. I am usually one of them as a practicing amateur meteorologist. The funniest part, though, in addition to every major news channel, local channel, and the Weather Channel covering every drop of rain and every gust of wind, is the method of Wind-leaning. Even before Hurricane Katrina was finished one of the news crews had compiled a "One Shining Moment" type video of clips of reporters leaning at 10, 25, or even 45 degree angles into the wind. Somehow this method of reporting is one of the most important for conveying to the viewers the strength of the storm. I guess when all of their guesswork as to where and how strongly a storm will make landfall comes together to actually permit a reporter or a full-fledged meteorologist on the beach or in the hotel parking lot where the hurricane is making a severe impact there is a right to do this LEAN of celebration as if to say: "Hey, look at me. I found the storm and it's this bad."

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

"Another hour deeper in the night
Another mile farther down the road
A man can drive as hard as he can drive
And never get as far as his heart was meant to go."

-Rich Mullins 10/21/55 to 9/19/97

Sunday, September 18, 2005

New Wave?

New wave: strategy-coordinator churches.

This article in The Commission describes how churches are being identified as "strategy-coordinator" churches that seek to be directly involved in missions:
"It’s a church that is owning the task of taking the gospel to an unengaged people group,” says Ken Winter of the International Mission Board’s Church Services Team.

Sounds a little biblical to me. Isn't that old fashioned?

It may be old fashioned in a good sense. Churches should be as directly involved in missions as they possibly can. Of course, the churches in the article are Southern Baptist churches, and the International Mission Board is the 'missions' wing of the Southern Baptist Convention. There is some irony to the whole idea, as the very founding of the Southern Baptist Convention has roots in the 1840's when Baptist churches agreed to work together in the effort of mission work forming a cooperative system where many churches would pool resources to support missionaries that a single church probably could not have afforded to support.

Without arguing the good and/or bad of the cooperative program, there seems to be something very healthy about churches sending their own missionaries to specific places to reach the specific people there. The authority that governs such an endeavor is directly located with the sending church. The people praying for the missionaries are those that have helped send them. The church itself gets the opportunity to directly be involved in the work of reaching the nations by sending its own people, whether long term or short term, to help.

According to the article, even smaller churches are involved in this 'new' approach. Money was the issue in forming a cooperative over 150 years ago. Now there are so many churches and missionaries that many churches could afford to send their own. When we consider how our funds are allocated, shouldn't our churches at least be considering this type of work? If we could send a church-planting team to a region instead of remodeling our own multi-million dollar facility, shouldn't we at least consider it? While the IMB currently has over 5,000 career missionaries, I find much more reason to rejoice with the people to which our local church has ties, whether they serve with the IMB or not.

I wrote down a quote from David Penman a few years ago, though I do not recall precisely the source:
"No local church can afford to go without the encouragement and nourishment that will come to it by sending away its best people."

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

High Country

The view from 'Round Bald' on the Appalachian Trail, Cherokee National Forest near Roan Mountain. The view is of North Carolina. The other direction is a similar view of Tennessee. Photo taken Labor Day Weekend.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

The Bible versus Higher Education

To destroy the validity of Scripture is to destroy Christianity. That is precisely why so many in academic circles seek to undermine the authority and the testimony to the complete verbal inspiration of the word of God. While it is one thing to see such an approach in the Religion Department of a secular university, such an attack is even greater and much more detrimental from the inside of supposedly Christian institutions. "Christian" in the description of a college or university breeds a trust among Christian students that they are learning in a Christian environment. However, a line must be drawn when the validity of Scripture is at stake. To this end, I've tried to compile a list of books that help explain the problem and/or give an adequate defense of Scripture:

The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel

The Great Evangelical Disaster by Francis Schaeffer

A Basic Guide to Interpreting the Bible by Robert Stein

A General Introduction to the Bible by Norman Geisler and William Nix

The Hermeneutical Spiral by Grant Osborne

Scripture and Truth by D. A. Carson and John Woodbridge

Hermeneutics, Authority, and Canon by D. A. Carson and John Woodbridge

The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible by B. B. Warfield

Christianity and Liberalism by J. Gresham Machen

Strobel's book gives a great summary of the documentary evidence for the historical validity of Scripture. Schaeffer's book adequately describes what it is stake for Christianity. Stein's book is subtitled "Playing by the Rules" appropriately because it demonstrates how interpretation must be done according to a standard. Geisler and Nix provide a great general overview of the issues. Osborne writes a detailed manual of interpretation. Carson and Woodbridge also provide trustworthy explanations of precisely how interpretation is to be approached. Warfield simply writes a classic (using no less than 4 languages) that serves to defend the Scriptures of the Christian faith. Machen, like Schaeffer, describes much of what is at stake, going so far as to describe those who adhere to anything other than Bible-believing Christianity as some other religion and "not Christianity."

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Lord of the Flies

Given a reason, men will be their absolute worst. Or, without a reason to refrain, the utter depravity of humanity rears its ugly head.

As the situation continues being reported from New Orleans, both 'life' inside the Superdome and 'life' on the flooded inner city streets have displayed the capability of mankind to perform evil. While some are risking their lives 24/7 to rescue people from danger, some are taking liberties at the absence of enforceable law. Just as in Golding's Lord of the Flies, when the structures of society are removed an inherent evil comes out of some people. The age-old question, 'Who are you when no one is looking?' is being answered by men with guns on the streets and people shamelessly stealing anything they can.

Part of this scenario we've all seen before. Every time a riot breaks out in a city, some people flock to the scene to start fires, flip vehicles, and break windows. Looting is a given. Sometimes the occasion is a feeling of injustice. Sometimes the riot starts as a celebration for a sports championship. Either way the event serves as an excuse for some men to go to the extremes that only the laws and structure of society hold back on a regular daily basis.

The heart is more deceitful than all else
And is desperately sick;
Who can understand it?
-Jeremiah 17:9

Monday, August 29, 2005

A Telling Image

Hurricane Katrina by satellite @ 5:44 pm on 8/29/05

Friday, August 26, 2005

Paid Admission to Worship

[Joel] Osteen and his wife, Victoria, will be leading a worship service at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex Arena in Birmingham on Tuesday, Aug. 30, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 each through Ticketmaster, with information available on his Web site,

1. All other problems with Joel Osteen's self-help theology aside, how can he be on tour and charge admission for 'worship.'

2. This is not worship. If you want to feel good, watch The Natural, don't go listen to Osteen's smile.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

the deth of 'death' in the english langwege

"i kno u r gona b there..."

I joke about it when I see it, but the reality of the impact of the language of instant messaging (IMing) is becoming increasingly evident. I see it at work. I see it in blogs. Not only the extremely abbreviated spelling of words (never, ever use a double consonant like 'bb' or 'nn' in the middle of a word) but also the increased use of a developing shorthand full of acronyms. There is no punctuation unless, of course, to illustrate some point or draw a picture. Words are kept to a minimum (you try typing on your phone!) and short words are preferable to longer ones.

Before you cry "foul" thinking about the possible direction the English language is heading, remember from where we've come. Most words that we use today that have been around from early English have been transformed to some degree...a letter here...drop an ending there. Ever read Beowulf? How about 'King James' English? The language evolves to be more practical and usable, right?

While I find myself fighting the trend toward watered-down English, I can also admit that some change is good. Maybe we can quit using all those silent letters like 'gnat' and why do we need both a 'c' and a 'k' in 'kicking'? For pronunciation, you say? English hardly follows the rules. Why do 2 z's make 'pizza'? Why not write it like it sounds, 'peetza' or something?

Though lacking the vision to see what is next in the technology of communication, I suspect there are going to be other radical innovations in the next few years that will further alter how we communicate. I'm not ready to throw my Harbrace Handbook away nor to write off the Chicago Manual of Style just yet, but we do have to realize that language is never static.

Friday, August 19, 2005

What makes something "Christian"? ---> Some interesting thoughts over at TruePravda.
As for a vehicle, it is obviously that little fish thing, right?

The Da Vinci Code: Using Fact in Fiction

How should fiction deal with history and fact?

There are plenty of places to find out about the discrepancies in Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code, but one of the questions that should be posed concerns the genre of writing and the subsequent standards for the handling of history and fact.

Novels are fiction. No matter how true to life and to history a book may appear the fact that it is fiction makes it a work of literary art. When Tom Clancy writes a book on the topic of submarines he is held to a different standard than when he writes a fictional novel about a submarine. Clancy does not write Alice-in-Wonderland-type books. While fantastic, the characters in his books are supposed to be real people and the events are supposed to be feasible.

The problem that is encountered concerns the right of the author to use both historical fact and to create history that accords with the story. In Dan Brown's case, he masterfully intertwines the two. His characters Langdon and Teabing are supposedly scholars, and so their views and teachings in the book are treated as academic fact.

Personally, it seems ethically acceptable in making up a fictional story to altar the facts so long as one is not slandering a real person – but there would be many obvious gray areas in between when it comes to the possibility of offending persons or groups. The danger is only truly present when a novel is written in a genre and style that conveys that the events taking place are true to life, realistic fiction.

For Dan Brown, the popularity of The Da Vinci Code brought the issues to the forefront as Americans have made the book a bestseller for a record-setting length of time. Many Christians have read the book and find it interesting. Many Christians have also read the book and failed to distinguish fact from fiction, and therein lies the problem. Much hype has surrounded Brown's use of theories and fictional historical ideas to embellish the novel. He is certainly not the first fiction (nor non-fiction) writer to take factual events and distort them to fit his story. He will not be the last.

Making up facts for the NY Times is wrong. However, making up facts for a work of fiction seems to fit well with the definition of fiction. As much as I (and history) strongly disagree with the presentations made by Langdon and Teabing in the novel and with Brown to the extent that his characters represent his own views, I do not fault him for writing in this style. In fact, for a man whose worldview appears to be significantly different from a biblical worldview, this novel is precisely what I would expect.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The Pool of Siloam and the Usual Suspects

The L A Times is conveying a report that a pool has been discovered in Jerusalem that is thought to be that of the gospel of John where Jesus instructed the blind man to go and wash (John 9:7). After he washed he came back seeing.

Whether this is actually the biblical pool of Siloam is yet to be determined and may never be actually "proven." My point is not about Archeology nor about the pool itself. Rather, it is concerning the immediate response found in the article by a liberal theologian:

"Scholars have said that there wasn't a Pool of Siloam and that John was using a religious conceit" to illustrate a point, said New Testament scholar James H. Charlesworth of the Princeton Theological Seminary. "Now we have found the Pool of Siloam … exactly where John said it was."

First of all, it is common knowledge that liberal theology doubts many if not all of the miracles of the Bible. Just as Charlesworth of Princeton confirms, so-called "scholars" believe only what they wish of the biblical account.

Secondly, in terms of archeology, liberal theology takes the approach that anything that has not been found, dated, and 100% confirmed as having existed must not have really existed. Whether a town, a building, a pool, or a person in the Bible, liberal theology has no place except as metaphorical usage for any reference on which they cannot put their hands. Case in point, if the 'pool of Siloam' hasn't been uncovered, it must not have really existed - when John wrote this account, he was simply making an illustration about the washing.

Finally, and quite revealing, is that response of Charlesworth to the report. "It is the pool!" Now, the article may be taking Charlesworth out of context, but it would appear that he is now perfectly willing to accept that this new find is the pool of John 9:7. Where is his skepticism now? I, a conservative, am highly skeptical every time a discovery like this is made. I would love to eventually accept that this is the same pool mentioned in John, but I need a little more evidence. The irony is obvious, is it not?

Monday, July 25, 2005

Voting for Facts

Notice that at there is a daily trivia question. A few days ago, for instance, the question asked something along the lines of which of these East Coast cities had the least rainfall average for the month of July. Then, as the reader, you are asked to "vote" for Boston, New York, Philadelphia, or D.C.

Voting, however, is by definition an expression of a choice or an opinion. After one 'votes' at Accuweather, the "results" are shown as a graph presenting how many 'votes' each answer has received. The problem is that no matter how many 'votes' any city receives, the answer is a concrete fact. Even if every person votes for Philadelphia, if Boston receives more rain in the historical records, then the answer is "Boston" (or whatever the correct answer was.)

Certainly this is just a matter of terminology at Accuweather, as weather history at least is a matter of scientific record. (Now, weather prediction is a whole other thing...)

If you take a look at the larger framework of factual reporting, such polling has become central to the presentation of the news. News organization are constantly barraging their viewers and readers with poll results than sometimes border on the absurd. You can poll people about whether or not they like to eat cheeseburgers. Polls, however, have no place when dealing with facts. It does not matter how many people 'vote' that Iraq is or is not a threat to the United States any more than we can vote on whether or not men landed on the moon.

Similarly, public opinion has become the supreme foundation for morality. If a CNN poll shows that 90% of Americans approve of stealing, then the viewer is supposed to understand that this is the majority and thus the right way.

Democracy is a great system in which to live, but the modern understanding of opinions has taken over our understanding of truth and facts. We are rewriting reality faster than the Soviet Union rewrote their own history.

When it comes to facts, or when it comes to morality, there is such a thing as absolute truth, and absolute truth is not subject to any vote. If the temperature today is 94, a 99% vote does not change the facts or make it any cooler.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Like Books?

Read this article about Michael Gaydosh (3rd article on page) and visit his company's website: Solid Ground Christian Books where he is bringing back some of history's great books.


Flummox v. To confuse. Perplex.

She's always the window in this Birmingham area home between my house and the grocery.

Recently she has been dressed for graduation, she was pregnant for a month or so, and she briefly wore a wedding dress...but she never moves.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Y2K Update

I've just been wondering how the recovery effort is going. It is now 5 1/2 years after the great panic over the failure of every computer on the planet, and I've not seen much in the media about the recovery efforts. This must say something about the resilience of the human race.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Spring Chickens

Scott in Alabama is making the internet a better place over at Scattered and Covered dealing with theology, politics, culture, and sports.

Likewise, I just came across another acquaintance who is now blogging: Tim Ellsworth who is doing sports, culture, religion, politics — all from a Christian worldview.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

In the Mist

Backpacking deep into the Sipsey Wilderness, Celia found her true calling, an untamed calling, a challenge unlike she had ever known. She stood majestically, forthrightly, triumphantly, a dog in the mist. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Bible Updated

"We believe that God has been opening our eyes to acts of God that we had not known how to see before."

This quote is taken from a statement distributed yesterday by the U.S. Anglican Church. The statement comes in view of the church's endorsement of those in same-sex relationships for clergy positions. The move seemed inevitable for the U.S. branch of Anglicans and will likely prompt a split among American Anglicans that will produce a conservative branch.

Is homosexuality the issue? Not really. Rather, the underlying issue is how the Bible is understood and interpreted. Certainly the U.S. Anglican Church would not be able to affirm without reservation Isaiah 40:8, "The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever." In light of their 'new' revelation, they have come to reinterpret the Bible to suit their own feelings.

But they are in the majority.

Nearly every denomination today has at least a group if not a majority who seek to move away from the view of Scripture that Scripture teaches. When B.B. Warfield wrote The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible, one of the arguments that Warfield makes is one that the 'left and right' must agree upon: "the exegetical fact that our Lord and His apostles held this doctrine of Scripture [the one that Warfield argues for, a plenary verbal inspiration of the Bible], and everywhere deal with the Scriptures of the Old Testament in accordance with it, as the very Word of God." [p. 180] Subsequently, to argue otherwise is to argue against the very writings of the apostles and the teaching of Jesus. The fact that exegetical scholars on both sides "agree" on the presentation leaves only two options:
1. The New Testament writers were right.
2. The New Testament writers were wrong.
3. If you profess to be highly postmodern, you may say both #1 and #2, but you may not argue for anything.

If the writers of the New Testament were wrong, throw the book away. It is worthless. There is no need to continue to treat it like an important book while conforming it to fit your own agenda. Why waste your time? There are less imposing religions out there. Why fit anti-biblical ideas into the revelation of God in the Bible and try to call it "Christianity"?

Monday, June 20, 2005


The case of a lost teenager from the Birmingham area has been one of the top stories in the news for the past three weeks or so. And it should be. But one of the questions that has been raised is the lack of concern for many of the other people who are reported missing. Only a small percentage of cases make the national news. It is not a matter of making light of the current situation in Aruba, but it is a matter of how we view and value human life. Any person who turns up missing should be a highly-reported situation regardless of their age, race, or social status.

But this is only this lifetime. We lament that a person might be killed before they've lived a "full" life, and yet eternity seems to be so little concern to anyone. We seek to extend this life in any way possible; we will stop at nothing to find a missing person, especially a relative, friend, or acquaintance. But when it comes to eternity, we would rather not trouble anyone.

"A foolish physician he is, and a most unfaithful friend, that will let a sick man die for fear of troubling him; and cruel watches are we to our friends, that will rather suffer them to go quietly to hell than we will anger them or hazard our reputation with them." - Richard Baxter

"I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." Jesus speaking, John 14.6.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Is a Trade Deficit Necessarily Bad?

The increase in the trade deficit in the past year in the U.S. seems to be a constant topic now as the media seems convinced that this sour news must be broadcast so that every citizen will know precisely how poor our nation is 'performing.' But, as Walter Williams argues, the trade deficit is not necessarily a bad thing. He points out that in some ways, the trade deficit is just a larger scale of the way that we all buy consumer goods. There is a trade deficit in my own household because we spend to bring in goods more than we sell. Williams argues that in some respects, the trade deficit is just a sign that our nation is growing in wealth since our citizens are buying goods.

On another level, we are getting something in return. If our currency is being spent, we are bringing goods into our country and into our homes. Of course, some of our goods are being consumed, but others are added to our possessions, which builds our net worth.

The presentation by the media is one of gloom and doom, as if the United States will cease to exist as a sovereign nation if our trade deficit gets too large. There has been an automatic assumption in many circles that the trade deficit is an evil that must be handled. Like many things that are spun through the presentation, we need to take a step back and evaluate what is actually going on.

Friday, June 10, 2005

A Java Thing


Welcome to a brand new world. Now you're one of us.
Here's one of your first assignments.


Posted by Hello

T.S. Arlene

Does this prediction concerning Tropical Storm Arlene mean that we'll be digging out of another fine and pleasant mess like the one pictured from Hurricane Ivan? Posted by Hello
Chances are that Arlene will only be a rain event for Birmingham, but the fact that it is predicted to swing to our west could mean more rain. This tree that fell during Ivan was likely caused more by saturated soil (with the 10+ inches of rain) than the wind.

"Has the rain a father?"
"Can you lift up your voice to the clouds,
So that an abundance of water will cover you?"
"Who can count the clouds by wisdom?
Or tip the water jars of the heavens?"
[Job 38.28, 32, 38]

What does this say concerning church picnics?

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Friday, June 03, 2005

"National Treasure"

"National Treasure" is mildly entertaining at best. The positives of the film are that it is very clean (you can show it to your kids, I promise) and fast-moving, with some great shots of famous places in Washington and Philadelphia that give you a sense of American heritage. However, the plot was nowhere near as stimulating as any of the Indiana Jones movies and the characters all seemed flat. As much as I like Nicolas Cage I found little to appreciate about his character in this movie. This film could have used some help from the school of Frank Capra when it comes to creating real characters that hook the audience.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Paige Patterson and the Southern Baptists

My guess is that 99% of the people out there who call themselves "Southern Baptist" do not really know what has taken place in the denomination over the past 27 years. An even greater concern is that many are completely unaware of what was taking place prior to the changes that began to really take shape in the late 70's. Paige Patterson, probably the most visible figure involved in the changes, has written a new booklet called Anatomy of a Reformation that describes some of the details from his own perspective. Dr. Al Mohler writes about Patterson's work today in his column.

I would also guess that a very high percentage of Baptists who have ill feelings toward the Southern Baptist Convention or who have actually left the convention over various issues do not know the real details behind the scene. On the surface what is often talked about is not really the issue that was boiling beneath the surface. Two other books I would highly recommend concerning the larger picture:

1. Baptist Reformation by Jerry Sutton. This book is a look at various aspects of the changes that have taken place written by Sutton, a Nashville-area pastor.

2. Baptists and the Bible by Bush and Nettles. This book dives into the deeper issues at stake as they concern the Bible and the viewpoints that were being taken by many professors in the Baptist seminaries.

There are others as well, including Paul Pressler's book, A Hill on Which to Die, but the essence of what has happened among Baptists seems lost as the issues which repeatedly surface are merely fronts for the real issue at hand: what is the Bible?

The future of Southern Baptists will rely heavily on the greater majority truly understanding what is at stake and adhering to a truly biblical doctrine concerning the Bible itself. Otherwise, we will all do what is right in our own eyes.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005


Check out this new blog, "Aslan", for some challenging words on the audacity of a Christian and some poetry that will make you think.

View from the Odum Scout Trail in the Talledega National Forest, Alabama.  Posted by Hello

Monday, May 16, 2005

The 99-Cent Church Value Menu

It has been 13 years since Charles Colson wrote "The Body" and spoke of the McChurch mentality among Christians. For Colson, the problem was the sporadic attendance at various churches by people in the same manner that we choose to eat at McDonald's or Wendy's or Burger King in order to 'vary' our routine.

There is another likeness out there, though, that invites the picture of the 99-cent value menu. People are devoted to their church and to their denomination to whatever degree they can choke down the particular theological position. Being Presbyterian or Baptist or Methodist or Catholic has little to do with the doctrinal statement of the specific church that people attend – they could not care less. The amount of news recently about the office of the Pope just brings such thinking to the forefront. Many Catholics feel perfectly free to pick and choose menu items from the Catholic beliefs the way we choose chili and a junior cheeseburger deluxe. Same goes for the Baptists (which I am) and the Presbyterians and the Methodists and the [insert denomination.]

We are now living in a society in which there is no prevailing understanding of the church's authority in any way. If the church is against a couple living together out of wedlock, people just ignore this facet of biblical teaching. The even stranger aspect of such predicaments is how many people keep attending and participating in church even though they disagree with what is being taught there.

One explanation I can suggest for this is the false understanding that there is some spiritual merit in attending church that achieves better standing with God. Many people, especially in the Bible Belt of America, view church as 'good' and believe that there is a need to attend church in order to achieve a better status in the eyes of God. Church 'membership' becomes the 'get-out-of-jail-free' card that brings security to individuals. Lost is any sense of gathering to worship the God of creation, the Author of salvation, the very God who has revealed himself in Scripture.

The church is also to blame. Churches have moved to such a place as to value numbers and size so much that they are willing to compromise everything else. Not only is such thinking an injustice to the people who can attend and not hear the gospel of Jesus Christ, but it is akin to the false prophets of Jerusalem who would continually prophesy peace and good while men like Jeremiah were declaring the true message of God. Not only do so many churches water down the content of their teaching, but they seemingly promote the membership role as a God-ordained list. Do churches not teach such easy and faithless church membership when they seemingly require nothing of anyone besides a desire to join? With so little emphasis on truth and so little accountability to any particular church, it is no wonder that people feel fine having their names on a list even though they rarely attend and certainly don't consent to the church's statement of faith.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Politically Correct Exceptions

There seems to be an understood list of groups, nationalities, offices, and even people of whom it is politically incorrect to say anything bad. On the flip side, there seems to be an established list of groups, nationalities, and people that are fair game for the media. Just a few include...

The Bush Family
Republicans in general
Conservative Christians
People who drive SUV's

As for Senator Harry Reid's comments about President Bush, calling him "a loser," the statement falls into a whole new category, not only of demeaning the elected president of the United States of America and the office in general, but also of demonstrating such an immature and impolite character as to embarrass the entire country. Kids call each other such names. Has our society fallen this far, or is Reid an exception?

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Is there an 'Apprentice'?

The only show I watch on TV has come to be "The Apprentice" with all of its pomp and circumstances. The Donald truly carries the show with his personality alone. Loved or hated, he cannot be ignored.

This series' potential apprentices, though, seem rather incompetent. Are these the best and brightest we have to offer? By about midway through this 'interview', my wife and I had decided that none of this class were worthy of being hired by Trump in contrast to the previous edition which seemed to have at least 3 if not more worthy candidates. Trump should have just fired all of these candidates and started with a clean slate. MARKETING is the key just about every week, and none of these candidates seem extremely blessed in the skills of marketing. What do lawyers know about marketing unless they are accustomed to ambulance chasing and posting pictures of themselves on billboards?

So will Trump take a lawyer, a Mary Kay sales pro, a shoe shine entrepreneur, or a real estate entrepeneur? I'm going to stick with Kendra, the real estate entrepreneur.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Goodbye MapQuest

Hello, Google Maps. Check it out, especially the satellite image feature. I can see myself through the window as I type this. Honest.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Church Marketing

"Big Enough to Serve You, Small Enough to Care"

A local church's radio ad invites people to attend their worship service because their church is "big enough to serve you, small enough to care." Whether or not a church should "advertise" in the first place is a matter of a more thorough discussion, but the above slogan caught my attention because of the way that it sounds like some sort of service is being offered or sold. A quick Google on the matter, and you'll find several businesses with the same slogan:

Acres Power Equipment Company
Manry Rawls HR
Marquise Equipment Leasing
D. B. Withrow Painting Co.

Okay, even if you haven't thought through what the church is supposed to be, surely some alarms go off in your head when a church is advertising with the same slogan as equipment, painting, and HR companies. Truth be told, too many churches see themselves precisely in this light - as some sort of community service organization that needs to promote its 'services' to be successful.

Being salt and light in this world is one thing, but when the church loses the biblical understanding that it is the body of Christ, made up of believers who gather to worship and minister together, the church has ceased to exist. Just because a group of people gather weekly and call themselves a church does not mean that they really are. While the church in question may in reality be the most biblically-grounded body of believers that have just succumbed to a questionable marketing tactic, there are a 103 more out there in this city trying everything they can to promote themselves as an attractive group to join.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Evangelicals and the Pope

"We should be unembarrassed and unhesitant to declare our admiration for John Paul II's courageous stand against Communism, his bold defense of human dignity and human life, and his robust and substantial defense of truth in the face of postmodernism. In many of the great battles of our day, evangelicals found John Paul II to be a key ally."

Thus writes Dr. Albert Mohler today concerning how evangelicals should understand the papacy. The death of Pope John Paul II is certainly not a time for evangelicals to voice our differences with the man, but it is a perfect time to revisit just what the differences are between Catholics and Evangelicals, and Dr. Mohler demonstrates several of these as they concern the office of the papacy. And so Mohler also writes:

"Even in his most recent book, released in the United States just days before his death, John Paul II continued to define the work of Christ as that which is added to human effort. Like the church he served, John Paul II rejected justification by faith."

Christians, if we are not justified by faith alone, then what in the world does Ephesians 2:8-10 mean? What about the entirety of the book of Romans? and Galatians? Even as we admire John Paul II, now is the time, as much as ever, to ask the tough questions of the Christian faith and pray that biblical truth would be the source by which all who call themselves Christians would find their anchor.

Read Dr. Mohler's entire article.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

The Forgotten

This movie is the epitome of postmodernism meets new age meaninglessness. The Forgotten sets up an interesting plot only to proceed absolutely nowhere with it, providing no answers and hardly any resolution. I've heard people say that The Village doesn't work. Well, The Forgotten absolutely can't work. (Btw, I still think The Village is a smart movie despite its detractors.)Director Joseph Ruben's filmography reveals one good movie: Sleeping with the Enemy way back in 1991, maybe two if you include The Good Son.

The funny thing about renting this movie was that we had a few choices selected at the video store and a young couple saw us looking at The Forgotten and they heaped lavish praise on the movie. What kind of a sick joke were they playing on us?!?!

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Can Congress Save Baseball?

Baseball better make sure that all its prescriptions are in order before the questioning begins. Oh, wait, steroids are illegal. And yet Major League Baseball keeps carrying on as if offended that anyone would bring up the issue:

"Steroids in baseball? Whose business is that?"

Well, its everyone's business...every fan...every player...every owner...the commissioner...and our legal system. The tendency to look the other way has created a monster in sports. We love to see bigger, stronger, faster athletes. They're more entertaining, like watching Gladiator. We aren't interesting in guys the size of jockeys playing football, baseball, basketball, or hockey, so we encourage them to get bigger, stronger, faster. Fans demand it. Sure, there's a place in baseball for the small, agile shortstop and second baseman, but as a whole, we all want to see guys that hit the living daylights out of the ball.

So, as sports fans, we have created the demand for performance enhancing drugs, but now it is going to take an act of Congress, literally, to control these abuses. Things are about to get very ugly for baseball if Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Barry Bonds are truly discovered to be in league with Jose Conseco. The scarlet letter on baseball's chest is going to be tough to deal with. With steroid abuse so apparently rampant, can the game bounce back from such a major crackdown? If Jason Giambi were to serve as an example, the answer is sadly "no." Giambi's game and physical stature would appear to have suffered drastically from his attempt to deal with his own abuse of steroids.

At this point, it is unclear as to how many players are really involved. Conseco seems like the Dennis Rodman of baseball right now, throwing out big names to increase his own attention (and book sales, of course.) Can the game survive the negative publicity of having mutliple stars tarnished? And what about the stats? A game that historically reveres stats more than any other cannot just turn its head to the fact that players today are destroying the historical records. If Bonds, Sosa, and McGwire cheated, then Roger Maris' homerun record should be reinstated as the mark. If this were the Olympics, that would be the case. Is baseball less ethical?

Monday, March 14, 2005

They Might Be Giants

While it is cold and snowing there, here it has been shorts and t-shirt weather. Aaaaa...Birmingham. Posted by Hello

Sunday, February 27, 2005

"The Broker" by John Grisham

The yearly winter dose of Grisham arrived early this year and caught me a bit off guard. Since I was busy finishing a little novel called Anna Karenina, Grisham's The Broker had to wait.

The book is fun and fast-paced, typically Grisham. As you'll discover from the inside cover, much of the plot is set in Italy, and Grisham does well describing the attractive culture and lifestyle of some Italian cities. He also delves into quite a bit of Italian in the book, adding to the setting and giving the reader a taste of the language, especially as it pertains to espresso drinks and restaurants. The book is a quick read and is best accompanied by a cup of strong Italian Roast or a Cappuccino if reading before 10:30 in the morning.

Grisham himself has openly admitted that he is not a classic author (I think I remember him saying this in an interview, though if I'm wrong, I take it back), and when one reads his books they are simply written, moving along at break-neck speeds.

Personally, my two favorite John Grisham books are The Testament and The Chamber. Ranking The Broker will take a couple of weeks for it to settle in and take its place with the others. (Interestingly, the book feels a lot like The Partner…enough said.)

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Torts Lose

The bill that has passed Congress and been signed by the President is hardly the end of class-action lawsuits but does seem to be a step in the right direction. Listening to a little 'left' commentary from places such as NPR one would think, though, that we have unleashed corporate America from all restraints and accountability. Even on the local level there have been attorneys interviewed who claim that the move is one intended to harm the average person.

When our legal system has become one where certain courts are deemed 'friendly' to certain types of lawsuits, and when attorneys can choose to file their "cases" in these courts rather than their local courthouse, then Houston, we have a problem. If a company like Ford knowingly equipped vehicles with bad tires then people should be reimbursed or awarded damages. But when problems are being manipulated and lawyers are getting rich while people are getting a couple of bucks or some discount coupons, only the legal guys are winning.

This is a step in the right direction. Another move that has to take place is one to curtail medical liability. When physicians can't afford to practice medicine (especially certains types in certain states) then adjustments have to come. Insurance agencies are winning, lawyers are winning, and doctors and patients are losing. The legal beast is making prey of the system. Insurance premiums are out the roof. The left wants socialized medicine. Bad answer. (Actually, not really an answer at all.) I think the tort reform that has just passed is one step that will eventually make other steps (like the one concerning the practice of medicine) more reasonable.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Winds of Change in the Mid East

Nathan Guttman at Haaretz points out the new policy of the U.S. concerning the diplomacy between Israel and Palestine. In a nutshell, the U.S. is moving from the mediator to the supporter, pledging support to both sides in the Rice era, which demonstrates a shift from the first 4 years of the Bush administration and an even stronger shift from the role that Clinton took.

Is it a good shift? Under the present circumstances, probably. With the passing of Arafat, one has only to check the headlines to notice that terror has declined in the region. You don't hear such a report from the mainstream in the U.S., but the Nobel Prize winning Arafat was one of the world's greatest hindrances to peace. I'm not saying that the road is going to be smooth now. In fact, the trouble will continue, but we all still have an obligation to attempt to work for peace.

Monday, January 31, 2005

Rank State

The Government of Alabama "the Beautiful": 50 out of 50. (Dead last for you non-math majors.)

I thought that might be a little high.

Where does your state rank?

Friday, January 28, 2005

Our New Animal

Celia Posted by Hello

Okay, Celia's a dog, a puppy, and appears to be a black lab...mostly/partially. She is 2 3/4 months old, weighs 11.5 lbs; her favorite color is black; her favorite food is Science Diet; her favorite activity is whining; her favorite toy is a close race between the chew rope and the tennis ball.

Red Mountain Park: A Step Up

Birmingham stands to gain a much needed park near its downtown if this deal with U.S. Steel Corp stands. One of my soap boxes about B'ham is the city's lack of user-friendly parks. With a metro population over one million, Greater Birmingham finds itself in 2005 with very few places to play and exercise. Another proposal that is in the works is to turn a stretch of old railroad tracks that run through downtown B'ham into a greenway that would run between the already split downtown banking and hospital districts.

Birmingham is lagging behind in a day when cities have come to recognize that quality of life depends on people being able to enjoy being outside. Another area in which B'ham lags behind is in the downtown area. Efforts are underway to bring new housing and business to the immediate downtown, but there are still many, many eyesores that need to be dealt with if people are going to want to spend time downtown. With development booming in the area and property values continuing to skyrocket, U.S. Steel should be applauded for its cooperation, agreeing to sell land to the city for a much less than its worth.

Few sidewalks are currently in place to serve the suburbs. Fewer street lights can be found outside of downtown. Being on the front edge of the Central Time Zone, darkness comes in the winter by 4:30. I've written before about the statistics calling Alabama the most obese state. Surely one can find a correlation between the lack of opportunity to enjoy outdoor activities in Birmingham and this problem of obesity.

As the article states the proposed park would contain both developed and undeveloped areas to serve the greater B'ham area. Within the metro population of over one million, the city of Birmingham is only a percentage as Hoover, Homewood, Mountain Brook, Vestavia Hills, and Irondale all contain significant population bases, but each city runs its own government. One has only to look around to see the lack of cooperation among the cities in the metro area. The proposed park would be near all six cities, but little effort can be found by the cities to bring such projects to pass.

Turning Legion Field into a domed stadium has been the talk of Birmigham for some time. The B'ham city council seems to believe that such a stadium would be a great step for the city. Comparing numbers, a large, centrally located park is going to be a much greater boost to the standard of living for the area. A domed stadium may attract some large sporting events, but for pure everyday use, what Birmingham is lacking and needing is this type of park, not an idle-sitting football field.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Tsunami First Hand

A Birmingham couple witnessed the tsunami from an elevated location and then attempted to help the victims. Their story is an interesting one that gives a first-hand account.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Boys to Men and Game Snake

An article in the Birmingham News is about a new way of getting together to play. The website is and it offers men the chance to gather "the guys" just like when they were younger. Simply choose your sports and your skill levels, and then you can either invite or be invited by others in your area to events that match your descriptions.

While the concept is pretty neat, it strikes at something that haunts men in our society. Once men move on from college their circles of friends seem to diminish. Not that we all have to be playing pick-up basketball with our 5 closest friends every afternoon, but there is a real need for men to sustain friendships with other men. It's just plain healthy and good for us. Certianly the role of a wife becomes first and foremost for the married man, but it is too easy to completely remove oneself from the world and from those vital friendships with other guys.

There are plenty of factors, of course, that could be considered. A man who is, let's say 32, does not likely live with 3 other guys his age. His place of work is made up of a wide-variety of people, among whom he might come across one tennis or racketball player and maybe a foursome for golf, but there is probably not going to be the makings of a 3-on-3 basketball game at the worksite.

Here's applause to the idea behind

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Alabama is #1 in a Venti Society

Alabama is the fattest state in the union. 28.4% of Alabama's residents are overweight according to one study. Taking it in stride, the state that houses the headquarters for Southern Living claims that food must be better here. Um, okay. The Vodka is better in Russia and the marijuana is fresher (or greener, I wouldn't know) in Mexico, so when in Rome...

People take so little responsibility for the problem that we can't expect anything other than labeling obesity as a disease rather than a lack of self-control. Our "Biggie" society offers more and bigger of everything. Why get a 12-oz cola when you can buy a 32-oz for 20 cents more?? Why buy a tall (small) latte when you can get a venti (large) latte? Do people realize how much milk is in a latte?

Who is to blame? Everyone. I'm certainly against any notion that people should be able to bring lawsuits against fast food or anyone else. You buy it and eat it. They advertise it. We're all in this together.

On the flip side, we shouldn't make obesity a crime. Our society has already made smokers to be the most vile of people. What's next? Are we going to make overweight people sit in their own section in the restaurant? There's morally wrong with being overweight. (Note, I didn't say there's nothing wrong with indulging oneself.) The fact that Alabama is #1 in percentage of overweight citizens means that Alabama will have to deal with the health risks in the years to come. Alabama's healthcare system will have to meet these needs at a higher rate than others around the country. Alabama's insurers will foot the bill as well as anyone who is privileged to pay taxes.

Living in Birmingham, there is noticeably less opportunity to exercise outdoors than in other cities. Having moved from Louisville, the city parks of Louisville are tremendously better than those of Birmingham. Cities need to plan for such things, because the discipline of exercise is hard enough when the opportunity is near and easy. When it is hardly available, don't expect the population to go too far out of their way.

Sunday, January 16, 2005


Latin. v. to call back, recall, to call off, withdraw

I watched Luther the other night. Great movie. He is asked to utter this one word, revoco, "I recant," (in case you're not familiar with the story.)

Joseph Fiennes interview, on the other hand, on the extras is rather disconcerting. While I thought the movie seemed fairly accurate with what I know about Martin Luther's life, Fiennes, who played the character of Luther, seemed to have totally missed out on the 'purpose' of the very person that he did such a fine job of portraying. "Social reform" is the wrong answer when asked about the major purpose of Luther's actions.

See what TruePravda had to say back in October '03 about the movie.

Friday, January 14, 2005

A Novel Goes Public

Dolor for Misdeeds is a novel that I've written and decided to publish to the web. I've read worse novels and I've read better, but it is a very strange feeling to have one's own words in such a form and to read over them. Sometimes I'm impressed with it and sometimes I'm disgusted by it, but it's mine nonetheless. Check it out and beware that the website is slightly less than professional. (If I were a web-designer would I be blogging on Blogger?)

Monday, January 10, 2005


As the barricades around the Jefferson Memorial are becoming permanent, our nation is moving toward limiting access to everything. What's next, a wall around the Grand Canyon? A visit to Philadelphia reveals the same thing, our nation's greatest landmarks are surrounded by the most atrocious-looking blocks of concrete you can find. The reasons are well known, but the mindset that we can protect every interest by building walls around it just doesn't seem American. I want to be able to visit the Washington Monument without squeezing through a barricade and slipping past guards with high-powered rifles.

America does have to work hard in a post-9/11 world to make sure that we are not "open" but at some point the questions have to be raised about what is suitable for us to live with. How much of our access do we limit in order to protect? Wouldn't these barricades be better served on the border with Mexico? It's a bit like putting up a fence directly around your house rather than around your yard.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Belarus: A "Different Reality"

The world has been advised that there will be no revolution of any color in Belarus. This kind of confidence comes on the heels of an amazing vote of 80% in favor of changing the country's constitution to allow President Lukashenko to seek a third term, something he will be 100% assured of winning.

"Old School" is Belarus. The unrest in other former Soviet republics has not been the case in the population 10 million Belarus. With the kind of supreme authority that made the Soviet Union impervious to change, Lukashenko keeps Belarus steady as a rock. His government provides healthy information that keeps the people settled. This week the foreign minister is quoted as saying: "The economy is developing at a fast pace. People's incomes are growing quickly. Everything taken together is not giving any ground for events similar to the Ukrainian ones." He also dismisses any notions that similar unrest to that of Ukraine could be present in Belarus: we have a different country, different reality."

Yes, rest assured, the economy of Belarus is booming and the standard of living is a thing of envy. Sound familiar?

Archie Bunker's God

What good is going to church?

On an episode of "All in the Family" the other night on TV Land, the show ended with some pretty serious questions about God and life in general. Archie's wife (is it Edith?) laments over the death of someone she knew (no, I wasn't really paying attention.) In her remorse, she contemplates giving up church attendance because she doesn't see that it's doing any good. Archie chides that she needs to keep going to represent the family before God – someone's got to do it.

Not far below the surface of what is said in this episode is a very common understanding of church. This understanding takes church attendance to be a merit of grace before God: If I go to church I am achieving favor with God. As if some sort of good influence is achieved by being in church regularly, the expected result is that fewer bad things will happen in this life to people who go to church. Edith's faith (faith in church, not really in God) is shaken because this bad event occurs. She doesn't understand how God can do this to her even though she always goes to church. Subsequently, "why even go" is the question she raises.

The heart of the problem: people cannot earn favor with God. Being made right with God is a gift from God that comes by grace. [Romans 3:23] We can do nothing to earn it. It comes by grace through faith. [Ephesians 2:8-10] Good works get us nowhere. An atheist could be the kindest, most giving person you ever meet.

So what good is church? As believers, we are a part of the church because we are in Christ. Attending worship is a response of believers to knowing God. For the believer, attending church is absolutely crucial. The person who claims to know Christ but claims no need for church needs to evaluate his/her faith.

Is there any good in going to church for the non-Christian? Yes! But not in terms of earning a good standing with God. Rather, hearing God's word preached (hopefully with a true gospel presentation) and seeing believers worship are a couple of the means that God uses to bring people to faith in Christ. [Romans 10:14; 1 Corinthians 14:24-25]

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Tsunami Relief Contest

Every penny is a good thing. But the media of the world and the way that people and countries are being "measured" in the relief funds for the Sumatra Tsunami is getting a bit ridiculous. Earlier today one man being interviewed on Fox News assured the anchor that the U.S. would end up being the most generous and the most involved in the relief effort. So what if the U.S. were not? Maybe we shouldn't even participate if we can't be #1 !!!!!

Our world just cannot respond to anything without attaching numbers to it and overanalyzing it. Just as this brief write-up describes, the relief effort has become a "beauty contest" as if a ribbon boasting "Top Donor" will be awarded. It seems that every country is competing for this top prize not to mention the people who are giving hefty amounts and seeing their names in the news the next day. Would they still give if no one knew?

Another question that keeps coming up on television news is that of the "perception" of America in its involvement in this area of the world. Some evidently view this catastrophe as an opportunity for America to renew its image, evidently seeing the need for "war-hungry" America to be seen doing something worthwhile, especially in an area of the world where Islam is one of the predominant religions.

If the U.S., or any other country for that matter, is only getting involved for the sake of the appearance, then the world may be better off without their help. While I don't think any country or person is purely motivated by such shallow intentions, how difficult it is to do anything altruistic in a world where actions are so scrutinized!