Thursday, March 30, 2006

Relativism in Iraq

The STR blog has a post on Hugh Hewitt's interview with a Time reporter with some interesting insights into the amoral approach that they attempt to take.

"Ware argues for a journalistic objectivity that requires moral neutrality, thus he can't
discern or won't admit to a moral difference between the Iraqi and Coalition troops and the
terrorists blowing up innocent Iraqis. They are just two sides of a war he must report on."

It seems that "objectivity" has become such a key word in the media's approach to such things that the whole debate about right and wrong is a side note for someone else to argue. If you consider the approach of Fox News' "Fair and Balanced" to be an objective look at news (I'm not necessarily arguing that it is), then what do you call such an approach that essentially draws no lines whatsoever? Warm Jello maybe. Relativism, certainly.

If Words Mean Things
One of the Webster's (1960)definitions of "objective" reads: determined by and emphasizing the features and characteristics of the object, or thing dealt with, rather than the thoughts, feelings, etc. of the artist, writer, or speaker.

Misplaced Objectivity
Misplaced objectivity seems to be the culprit. Even such a concept as objectivity can be applied illogically and ridiculously. The act of reporting events has risen to its own enterprise, one that exceeds the very subject that it is supposed to convey to the people watching. The backlash against subjective and ethnocentric reporting seems to have birthed a style that has no framework whatsoever for morality, motivations, or the ability to judge right from wrong.

Logical Conclusions
If we applied similar reporting to our local nightly news, we might discover that no one was to blame for the recent rash of burglaries in our neighborhood, or that the high murder rate of our town is simply a fact, neither good nor bad. With such a lack of any framework for reporting in Iraq, what makes a roadside bombing any more important as news than 3 year-old Johnny's birthday party where he put his whole hand in the cake?

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Thanks, Basketball Advertisers

Thank you, dearest basketball advertisers. Yes, it is March, and yes, you are on the ball. We the viewers need basketball in every commercial.
Yes, we can only be interested in your car (or investements/cell phone/jeans/beer/TV show/kitchen appliance/lawn mower/airfare/website/board game) if you creatively market it with a 'March Madness' theme. And the creativity...outstanding. Mrs. Harmon's 3rd grade class could do no better.

Extra-special thanks award goes to: all you local car dealerships. Please yell a little louder...and could you put some more of your children in the commercials? We're flocking down to your car lot right at this moment. Nice job!

Belarus Reality

LA Times Opinion: Spinning Belarus: Can hyping a peoples' 'revolution' in Minsk make it so?

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Belarus Peaceful

With varying reports of incumbent President Lukashenko taking in 82-92% of the votes according to exit polls for today's election, the only questions that remain for Belarus will relate to the way the country now responds. So far, the protests and the government's response to the protests have been peaceful, thankfully.

Here's a good summary of the events.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Smokey Dies


I received my diploma from this Smokey.

Friday, March 17, 2006

More on Belarus

Reading the news and the blogs on the Belarus election being held Sunday there are so many angles and stories that deciphering what is true from what is false is not easy. Many seem to be concerned that post-election demonstrations could get out of hand if Lukashenko wins the election. (Lukashenko has been the president since the mid 90's and has been accused of election tampering among other things.)

Why is Belarus different?
Belarus acts the most like the former Soviet Union of any of the former states. Little change has taken place, and many Belarussians (whether a majority, who knows?) would prefer to keep it that way. Belarus has always kept a firm guard against public protests and gatherings. Even with much less at stake in the past, gatherings draw quick and thorough attention from law enforcement. Since the Orange Revolution occurred in Ukraine, both sides in Belarus see things differently. The opposition has a greater feeling of the possibility of victory through similar methods. Lukashenko, likewise, has seen the possibilities of what took place in Ukraine, and it appears that he is more determined than ever to clamp down on groups that act in opposition.

Bad Possibilities
This mixture appears dangerous. It appears that protests are likely, and hopefully they will all be peaceful. It also appears likely that the authorities will be out in force to curb such protests. If any news takes place in Belarus, don't look for a repeat of the Orange Revolution of Ukraine.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Belarus: Just the Facts, Please

Mediafax: The Belarus government has ordered eight members of a Scandinavian team of unofficial election observers to leave, BBC News Online informed. The two Swedes and six Danes were part of a monitoring team sent by the unaccredited Danish group Silba.

Belarus blocks EU monitors' entry

Belarus bars U.S. camping gear ahead of polls

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Purge Barry?

Gene Edward Veith answers the question:
Put Barry Bonds Down the Memory Hole? Answer carefully.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Stand to Reason

Greg Koukl and Stand to Reason provide a wealth of information for the Christian in today's world (specifically, the world of southern California, with applications to the rest of us.) The website is worth a look and a listen to Koukl's weekly radio broadcast-which is now being podcast.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

The Passing of Ronald Nash

Ronald Nash died yesterday, March 10,2006.

Read Jared Bridges' post here.

I, too, took Dr. Nash's philosophy course at Southern Seminary. His passion for philosophy, for truth, and for teaching will not be forgotten.

Friday, March 10, 2006


While the threat of bird flu remains a hot topic, the presence of these Storm Trooper scouts should be causing quite a stir.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

What you say online could haunt you

This article caught my attention on the newstands today at a couple of different places (ironically, in print, not online.) The ever-growing online arena is so different than anything society has ever known before that the methods for instructing people and handling situations are being developed right before our eyes.

At the base level are these truths: Words mean things, and actions have consequences.

Deceptive Anonymity
Students are getting in trouble for posting things that they would normally hesitate to openly proclaim by mouth or pen and paper. People are getting fired or not hired because of the information about them on the web. The dangers of the supposed anonymity of a personal computer screen is deceptive to say the least. The glass house provides no privacy. Employees may be safer bad-mouthing their boss at the water cooler than on the web.

There is something fascinating about "publishing" one's own words and pictures for absolutely the whole world to see. Yet, it is a fire of a responsibility that a 7th grader as well as a 55 year old CEO must learn to contain.

Drawing the line
In most of the cases in this article, I think the person who got 'caught' rightly deserved it. If a student writes bad things in a personal journal that no one reads, there is reasonably no punishment. If a student writes bad things on the board, that's a different case.

New Codes of Conduct
We are seeing and will continue to see new rules written into the conduct codes at schools and with employers. Taking it all into consideration, I think the lessons that are being learned are valuable ones for the land where "Freedom of Speech" reigns. Yes, freedom of speech is a good thing, but that freedom is a jewel that must be handled with care.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

More Pre-election Unrest in Belarus


The "election" is to be March 19th.

God's Coffee

God's Coffee. Seriously. Is there a blend called 'manna'?

There's No Time

#39 If everyone on "24" followed Jack Bauer's instructions, it would be called "12".

Even if you haven't laughed at one of the Chuck Norris lists or watched '24', I think you'll like the Jack Bauer list - just google it, since it is Jack is everywhere.

Fill It to the Rim...

The Seattle Times: Health: Coffee drinkers get a jolt in study

How do we know which half we're in?

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

A Thought on Church Planting

"Church planting should not be like building a building-one big traumatic hiccup and we are glad that's over with."

Rather, Tim Keller argues that church planting after the biblical model of Paul's ministry should be a regular part of church existence and growth. Evangelism, discipleship, and church planting are the "Natural Church Planting" model according to Keller.

He has several insightful articles on the topic here.

(HT: Steve McCoy's list)

Saturday, March 04, 2006

...and, um, your lip balm

A friend used to love to compile the crime report from our college days. Here's a current one that is worth a look from Hoover, AL:

"Saul Luciano, 36, and Juan Becedra, 28, both of Hoover reported they were walking in a breezeway at Mountain View Apartments in Hoover about 9 p.m. Wednesday when two men with pistols forced them to the ground and told them to empty their pockets. The gunmen got $250, a key and lip balm from Luciano." (emphasis mine)

Times are hard in Birmingham, especially to find good lip balm.

Marilynne Robinson

Marilynne Robinson, the 2005 Pulitzer Award-winning author of Gilead, will be in Vestavia Hills, AL for a book signing, a discussion of the book, and a lecture at Samford University.

Book Signing: Milestone Books, April 25: 4 to 6.
Discussion: Shades Mountain Baptist Church, April 25, 7 pm.
Lecture: Samford University, Reid Chapel, April 26, 9:30 am.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Affections (viz. "Religious Affections")

affection. n. A tender feeling?

One of the problems that arises when reading someone who used the English language 250 years ago is the difference in the meaning of the words he/she communicated. Jonathan Edwards is a prime example in his use of the term "affection" to refer to something other than what our 2006 American minds tend to think, and as defines:

A tender feeling toward another; fondness.
Feeling or emotion. Often used in the plural: an unbalanced state of affections.
A disposition to feel, do, or say; a propensity.
Obsolete. Prejudice; partiality.
Even pulling a definition from Edwards' book The Religious Affections can be somewhat elusive. Here is a helpful insight into the meaning from this site:
[1] Affection is not the same as emotion.
Affection is a felt response to an object called forth by an understanding of the nature of the object. Plainly, where there's no understanding there can be no affection, regardless of how much emotion is present. (There was no shortage of emotion during the revivals.)

[2] Affections differ from passions.
Passions (a) are inclinations that overpower an individual, thus diminishing self-control
(b) captivate people. To be captive to a passion is to be passive. Such passivity is a denial of the active response-aspect of an affection. Whereas passion enslaves the will, affection is an exercise of the will. An affection is a response of the total self as the nature of something (someone) is apprehended.
And, yes, Jonathan Edwards did do a few other things in addition to preaching "Sinners in the hands of an angry God."

Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Church and Belarus

Minsk, Belarus. From an article: "On Sunday 5 February the Christ's Covenant congregation of approximately 30 was reading the Bible and praying at his home, [Pastor Vyazovsky] ... when a local district official entered and began to take photographs. When church members refused to let in a police officer who arrived shortly afterwards...the two state representatives drew up a protocol accusing the pastor...of violating the established legal procedure for holding religious events. Under the 2002 Religion Law, such events require state permission if held outside a designated house of worship and may not be conducted systematically or on a large-scale in a private home."

Like sands through the hourglass, Belarus continues to be the most USSR-ish of all the former Soviet republics. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

The 50 Most Influential Christians

Check the latest rankings: How is your favorite Christian leader doing? Will he or she make the playoffs?

(HT: Christ and Culture)