Saturday, August 01, 2009

Muppets Stop Making Sense

If you're reading on facebook, this is an embedded video. Go to the original post to view.

It was too good not to share.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Honor Christenings on the Rise in Some Churches

I'm sure this has been all over the media.

KINGSTON, Ontario: Police say they are investigating whether the soakings of three teenage sisters and a 50-year-old woman found in a car in a church parking lot last month were an "honor christening" by relatives.

Kingston Police Chief Stephen Tanner said Thursday a father, his wife and their son are charged with four counts of first-degree watering.

The three sisters and the man's first wife were found in the car in the Rideau Canal near Kingston, Ontario on June 30.

Tanner said one overseas family member believes it could be an "honor christening." Experts say such baptisms are still accepted among some Christians.

The family, originally from Shrewesbury, England spent 15 years in London before moving to Montreal two years ago.

The accused are Jeremy Upton, his wife Valerie and his 18-year-old son Ashley.

Mr. Upton had told police the baptisms occurred as the family was headed home after vacationing in Niagara Falls and had stopped for the night at a Kingston hotel.

He said the family was traveling in two cars and that he awoke to find one car missing. He reported the car missing to police and said his eldest daughter was known to take the family car without permission or a licence.

Police said their investigation proved that allegation to be false, and that in fact all three accused had operated the vehicle that wound up parked near a church.

"All shared the rights within our great country to live without fear, to enjoy safety and freedom ... and yet had their coifs ruined by members of their own family," Tanner said.

The victims are Meredith, 19, Lilly, 17, and Gwynneth, 13, along with Susan Epston.

Both parents described the eldest, Meredith, as a rebellious and secular young woman.

(source and another) I just "christofascianized" the regular practice for our children and placed it on the story of Islamic "Honor Killings" happening in increasingly secularized western democracies. Some people want to pretend that all religious extremism is the same, and that Christianity has no claim of better behavior in the modern world than any other religion. They assure us that this has nothing to do with the Muslim religion.

Amin Muhammad, a Memorial University expert who is preparing a paper on the topic for the federal Justice Department, says honour killing is not religiously motivated.

"Nothing in the Muslim religion would justify this. Nothing in any religion would justify this," he said. "It's based on personal agendas, personal egos, personal mindsets." see it all the time in Christian households.

The practice dates back hundreds of years to rural and tribal areas of Pakistan and is generally committed by family members against women who have engaged in illicit pre-marital or extramarital relations. In some cases, it can even target victims of sexual assault.

Right. You know...some religions that emphasize spreading the Love of God stamped that out of their rural tribal life a long time ago.

A man who feels such an act has dishonoured the family will kill the woman in question as a means of restoring that honour. Motives for honour killing, however, have started to expand beyond female adultery, targeting women for enjoying basic freedoms, Mr. Muhammad said.

Funny...most Christian parents in similar settings decide to help their daughters enter the bonds of holy matrimony instead. I guess these are equivalent...who am I to judge, right?

"In some cases, they just don't want the woman to have the liberty to choose her own lifestyle," he said.

The practice exemplifies a deeply entrenched gender bias against women, said Angela Henderson, an expert on domestic violence at the University of British Columbia. In most cases, men who similarly breach cultural norms tend to be subjected to less severe punishments.'s all about gender bias, which is why all those mouth-breathing, anti-feminist conservatoid Christian haters in the Southern Baptist Convention are doing it.

You just might have to do with the fact that the religions of the world demand sacrifice and blood atonement for sin, and Christianity has already finished that in the work of Christ. You think?

But the intense public spotlight that follows killings -- which often focuses on the perceived clash between Western and Middle Eastern values -- deflects attention from a much larger issue, she said. "I don't think you can [simply] put it down to culture," Ms. Henderson said. "Eleven per cent of women can expect to experience some form of violence from somebody they know in their lifetime ... it's about power and control, a way of enforcing what a man thinks a woman should be doing."

Face it, folks...secularism isn't going to be able to stand up to the mind virus of Islamic extremism. Look at how we've bought into the narcissistic apocalypticism of anthropogenic global warming. From a purely secular point of view, Christianity serves as a mild inoculation against such radicalism - and has a proven history of transforming societies towards democracy and improving the lot of women.

Economics Fail

If you're reading on facebook, this is a youtube of the video I posted earlier from Maxine Waters.

I'd forgotten about this. Thanks to a facebook reminder.

Congress is making insane policy decisions because people are in charge who have no idea of the basics of supply and demand.

Starbucks, anyone?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

In Defense of Liberty

"Statesmen, my dear Sir, may plan and speculate for liberty, but it is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securely stand. The only foundation of a free constitution is pure virtue."

John Adams

"It is in the manners and spirit of a people which preserve a republic in vigour. . . . degeneracy in these is a canker which soon eats into the heart of its laws and constitution."

Thomas Jefferson

"[In a republic, according to Montesquieu in Spirit of the Laws, IV,ch.5,] 'virtue may be defined as the love of the laws and of our country. As such love requires a constant preference of public to private interest, it is the source of all private virtue; for they are nothing more than this very preference itself... Now a government is like everything else: to preserve it we must love it . . . Everything, therefore, depends on establishing this love in a republic; and to inspire it ought to be the principal business of education; but the surest way of instilling it into children is for parents to set them an example.'"

Thomas Jefferson copied into his Commonplace Book.

"If the public safety be provided, liberty and propriety secured, justice administered, virtue encouraged, vice suppressed, and the true interest of the nation advanced, the ends of government are accomplished . . ."

Algernon Sidney


Finally, something old and something new.

"Today it would be progress if everyone would stop talking about values. Instead, let us talk, as the Founders did, about virtues."
George Will

"Righteousness exalteth a nation."
Proverbs 14:34

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Martha Faith in a Mary Church

Today is the Feast of St. Martha. Some people snub her as a busy body...too busy to sit at Jesus' feet and listen to him. I think that's an unfair take on her dedicated service.

Something that's missing from so many "MARY vs. MARTHA" sermons is a respect for how Martha's dedicated service led to faith. The focus on the Lucan account would have us believe that Martha is unwilling to learn from Jesus - as Mary sits at his feet. The homiletic curve normally goes something along these lines:
a) Martha was so busy she forgot to spend time with the Lord.
b) Mary chose the better part by sitting down and spending time with Jesus in private devotion.
c) You should be less like Mary and more like Martha.

As far as it goes, it's not bad. We live in a world that pushes busyness on us as a virtue. (Multi-tasking, anyone?) But there's something uncomfortably privatized for me in that piety. And we see it played out in the next canonical encounter with Mary and Martha. Look at John 11:
11:1 Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. 3 So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” 4 But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”

5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.
Notice that v. 5 explicitly puts Martha front in center in Jesus' affection. Is that just because she always fed him and his companions well? (The stomach being the surest route to a man's heart?)

No! It's because - like our Lord who put flesh on the Word - she was incarnating her belief. The next verses illustrate my point:
17 Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, 19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. 20 So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.
Notice how firm Martha's belief is in her Lord! If she hadn't spent all that time sitting and listening, but had instead been busy working and cooking, etc. then how had she reached such doctrinal heights? After all, Peter's confession of the same was met by Jesus with an acclamation of divine revelation! So how is it that Martha knew?

Because of this great truth: We know Jesus to the extent that we follow him, and not one whit more!

Mary knew Jesus from learning at his feet. But had she walked the way of self-giving service that Martha had? Or had she thought that following Jesus was just about listening to the right lectures, contemplating his words, and discussing his teaching? Maybe...maybe not. But one thing is clear. When the rubber of one's faith hits the road of life's suffering, Martha's spirituality held up considerably better than Mary's.
28 When [Martha] had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in private, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” 29 And when [Mary] heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32 Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
Martha's servant faith - an active walking after the pattern of her Lord's self-giving - was able to hold her up during the storm of suffering and grief. Her enacted faith was able to break forth in doxological, propositional truth when the push came to shove! There is something that we learn on a level deeper than logic - a reason which Reason cannot know - that is put into our heart of hearts when we walk the Christian road, instead of simply witness it.

When will the church realize that creedal assent without Christlike action is just as dead as Christlike action without creedal assent?

I invite you to throw all docetic, gnostic, intellectualized religion aside and to get into the trenches where Jesus walks today. Serve your neighbor as you would serve to honor Christ. Pray morning and evening, offering your day up to God and thanking him for the opportunity to glorify his Son in your daily service. Embody hospitality to others in the name of him who went to make a home for us with the Father. (Some practical suggestions are here, here, and here.)

And when the storms of life come, you'll find that Jesus - in the fullness of his resurrection power - has been walking beside you, teaching your heart in the stillness, and is closer to you than you could have possibly imagined.

Collect: Father, your Son honored St. Martha by coming to her home as a guest. Grant that we also may serve Christ in our brothers and sisters and be welcomed by you into heaven, our true home. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

On the new ACNA's Party Divisions

CS Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters features a senior devil called Screwtape writing to his nephew, a junior devil named Wormwood, giving him advice on how to entrap a human called “the Patient.” In my reading I noticed again this passage (from letter XVI) as relevant today as 67 years ago when first published:
I warned you before that if your patient can’t be kept out of the Church, he ought at least to be violently attached to some party within it. I don’t mean on really doctrinal issues; about those, the more lukewarm he is the better. And it isn’t the doctrines on which we chiefly depend for producing malice. The real fun is working up hatred between those who say “mass” and those who say “holy communion” when neither party could possibly state the difference between, say, Hooker’s doctrine and Thomas Aquinas’, in any form which would hold water for five minutes.

And all the purely indifferent things-candles and clothes and what not-are an admirable ground for our activities. We have quite removed from men’s minds what that pestilent fellow Paul used to teach about food and other unessentials-namely, that the human without scruples should always give in to the human with scruples.

You would think they could not fail to see the application. You would expect to find the “low” churchman genuflecting and crossing himself lest the weak conscience of his “high” brother should be moved to irreverence, and the “high” one refraining from these exercises lest he should betray his “low” brother into idolatry. And so it would have been but for our ceaseless labour. Without that the variety of usage within the Church of England might have become a positive hotbed of charity and humility,

Your affectionate uncle

If you've never read The Screwtape Letters, I highly advise it. There are reading guides aplenty, and a Sunday School discussion group would be excellent. This book will give you excellent insight into the ways the EVIL ONE uses our religious impulses against us, even in the true religion of Christianity.

The mainline denominations flagged and failed under the weight of making party distinctions the sine qua non of ordination - while ignoring whether the candidate for ordination was actually a Christian. Dogmas like the physical resurrection of the Christ, the Triune Godhead, and original sin could be thrown under the bus so long as you held to something sounding like a distinctive of your denomination.

So the Anglicans let in all sorts of poppycock in the name of the Oxford Movement (which also re-introduced plenty of fine practices). Just harp on the tactile succession of bishops and the place of the church as steering society, and you're in! You don't have to actually believe the faith of the apostles...just get in line and touch somebody who touched somebody who touched somebody that might have believed the witness of the Apostles and carried on that deposit. You'll be qualified to teach with apostolic authority (even if you teach contrary to their doctrine) and you may get to touch some special people yourself (when you aren't lapsing into alcohol abuse). Do enough of this, and you get to be the presiding bishop-ess and teach people about a new divinity known as mother jesus!

The Reformed allowed universalism to creep into their midst through an appropriation of God's sovereignty in the salvation of humanity. As long as you held that it was God who made the decision, you could attribute to him whatever decision you wished - ignoring Jesus' warning that not many will enter into eternal felicity or trod that narrow road. And of course the desire for a highly-educated clergy meant that often times the pastor could outwit the congregation into thinking that Church has been wrong about all sorts of long as s/he footnoted enough and threw enough jargon at them. You may even get to start changing language about God, once you've skewed the whole concept of language in your favor.

Lutherans turned their confessionally robust Christ into a zeitgeist infused prophet by virtue of the kenotic theory. Once Christ is no longer Lord, you needn't reverence or obey him...that's "law" and not grace. And so you end up knowing God through a defanged Jesus, and suddenly God is no longer the Most Holy, Undivided, and Consubstantial Trinity, but a being of your own making...maybe even a Goddess! The resultant antinomianism speaks for itself.

Are we noticing a pattern that all of these wrong turns, mis-steps (which is another translation of the Greek word the New Testament uses for TRESPASSES and TRANSGRESSIONS) lead to the same place? Abandoning God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ for some strange goddess! Has the church - the new Israel - still not learned the lessons about dancing around the asherah (Ashtaroth / Astarte) poles?

All this is to say that if we are to serve Christ faithfully, and not simply seek to be bound to a party-line, then we must recover the fullness of the Catholic Orthodox Faith that has been shared by all Christians - especially as seen in the Apostles, Niceno-Constanipolitan, and Athanasian Creeds.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Colonel

WARNING: Double entendre ahead. the canary fighting took me back to my roots in the foot-hills of Appalachia. We weren't fancy enough to have pet birds...unless of course your bird was for eatin' of fightin'! That's right...cock fighting was part of my growing up. I never did it, don't condone it, but I knew some ole boys that did their gamblin' that way. It meant they got to get together with a bunch of other guys and talk about whose was the best - was it size that mattered? Or did skill win the day? And at the end of the night (cock fighting is never done during daylight hours), you get to go home and tell your wife that she's married to the best in town.

A little racy? Yep...and you thought living in the South was all about gentility and manners.

What a lot of so-called civilized folk don't understand is that southern animosity for chickens is well-founded in our survival instincts. It goes back to the War of Northern Aggression. See this mini-documentary.
(NOTE: If you're reading on facebook or another viewer, click through to the original link.)

Having them kill off each other was a defense mechanism. That...and making them delicious.

Of course, you can have too much of a good thing.

Canary Fighting Ring BUSTED

I should probably TWEETy this over at Twitter, but I couldn't post pics and links...

Folks, you just can't make this up. In Shelton, Connecticut nineteen (19) people have been arrested for their participation in a CANARY FIGHTING RING. Granted, when I first heard the news, the kind of fighting canary that came to mind was different. But imagine my surprise when this turned out to be real!
Police said canaries and saffron finches were seized and 19 people were arrested at a Ripton Road address.

“There was 100 canaries fighting, and they were betting on them 'til they were dead. It’s absolutely shocking,” said neighbor Marion Sega.

Police said they served a search warrant at the home after receiving a tip that an illegal bird fight involving 150 canaries and finches was scheduled to take place on Sunday.

Police said 150 canaries and finches, their cages and $8,000 in cash was seized from the Ripton Road home.
Yes, it was a cage match.
“When canaries are bred, they’ll fight to the death and they don’t make the noise that typical roosters make and they don’t smell,” said Sgt. Robert Kozlowski. “They fall under the radar because we wouldn’t think it suspicious if people have a lot of canaries.”
So you mean the stereotypical "cat lady" is just a cover for an underground crime, queenpin?
Shelton police said the birds were discovered while executing a search warrant with the help of state police, state animal control, the Department of Agriculture and Fairfield police.
So far, 8 names have been released to public. At this time, their still unsure as to whether more will be released. They are checking to see if the defendants are [ahem] miners.

And in case you didn't get the joke, here's another gratuitous picture.