ornament 29 September 2003 ornament

Death As Entertainment

The heretofore unknown band Hell on Earth (the band with a “heck” of a name) plans to include a suicide of a terminally ill patient at their next concert in St. Petersburg, FL. This report [linked via Joshua Hoover]said that although the St. Petersburg city council created a new law to stop such an event, the band’s leader says the show, also to be broadcast on the internet, will go on.

The band’s leader “said the point is to raise awareness that physician-assisted suicide should be legalized in Florida.” Yeah right. I’m sure everyone will be really sympathetic when they see someone do themselves in. Undoubtedly publicity for the band is the chief motivation behind such a stunt, and I doubt whether this will even happen. But it is rather eerie to think that someone would even contemplate such a thing. However in a culture that values personal comfort over life, it’s not all that surprising.

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Cry Me A River

It seems Lou Holtz is upset that the Gamecocks lost to the Vols Saturday night. So upset, in fact, that he thinks that the Vols must have cheated. Holtz has petitioned the SEC claiming that the Vols were illegally causing South Carolina’s offensive linemen to move. Gary Lundy of the Knoxville News-Sentinel reports:

“The command where you move the defense has to be something like ‘move’ or ‘shift,’ ” Holtz said during his Sunday teleconference.

“It can’t be ‘yep,’ which is our cadence. Our players claimed that’s what was happening. I know coach (Phillip) Fulmer and I can’t believe he would teach that. So I don’t question that.

“When I went to the official . . . he said the crowd was too loud and he couldn’t hear it from where he was.”

Holtz also said the verbal calls by UT’s defensive players continued throughout the game and caused his right guard and right tackle to “jump in unison,” which resulted in illegal-procedure penalties.

“They (UT) did it much of the game and they did it after we were ready to snap the ball,” said Holtz, who added it’s a judgmental call whether to penalize a team for such actions.

I’m sure Lou Holtz’s hearing is so perceptive in the midst of a 100,000+ crowd that he heard the “offending” defenders clearly. I think what Holtz probably heard were the sound of sour grapes being squashed. Yep.

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ornament 28 September 2003 ornament

No Holtz Barred

Vols 23, Gamecocks 20

The Vols escaped Lou Holtz’s South Carolina team in overtime by the hair of their collective chinny-chin-chin last night. Save for punter Dustin Colquitt’s stellar performace, the Vols looked pretty sloppy. We play Auburn next week, and if things don’t shape up offensively we could be in real trouble.

Then again, we are 4-0, and a win is a win. If only it were a more comfortable win…

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ornament 26 September 2003 ornament

Courting Disaster

I finished reading last night an first-rate article by Leon Kass, a professor at the University of Chicago and the chairman of President Bush’s Council on Bioethics. The article is featured in The Public Interest and is available here.

The article is entitled “The End of Courtship,” and is a very in-depth look at what has gone wrong in our culture’s conception of marriage. He explores the damage done to marriage by feminism and contraceptive technologies, and explores other sources that stand against traditional courtship. Kass writes:

It is surely the fear of making a mistake in marriage, and the desire to avoid a later divorce, that leads some people to undertake cohabitation, sometimes understood by the couple to be a “trial marriage”—although they are often one or both of them self-deceived (or other-deceiving). It is far easier, so the argument goes, to get to know one another by cohabiting than by the artificial systems of courting or dating of yesteryear. But such arrangements, even when they eventuate in matrimony, are, precisely because they are a trial, not a trial of marriage. Marriage is not something one tries on for size, and then decides whether to keep; it is rather something one decides with a promise, and then bends every effort to keep.

I believe Kass is right on target, especially with the last sentence. He goes on to point out “the deepest and most intractable obstacle to courtship and marriage: a set of cultural attitudes and sensibilities that obscure and even deny the fundamental difference between youth and adulthood.” This lack of difference, argues Kass, causes men to shirk responsibility, while a newfound “equality” has made women to do the same. It’s pretty long, but the article is well worth the time it takes to read and very helpful in the understanding of out culture.

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ornament 24 September 2003 ornament

Crying Wolf

As I write this, an alarm is going off in the background. I’m not sure whether or not it’s a car alarm, house alarm, or business alarm, but I’m ninety percent sure that it is a false alarm. In fact, I think that the way we use alarms needs a serious evaluation.

When was the last time you took notice (other than annoyance) of a car alarm going off? I have a hard enough time with the alarm clock by my bed, so I use the “music” setting, which I still have a hard time with. My wife uses the “tone” setting on hers and it seems to have no effect whatsoever…

Try this: the next time you hear a car alarm going off, run out into the parking lot and scream, “There’s a car being stolen! There’s a car being stolen!” You’ll probably be arrested for disturbing the peace, while the offending “alarmist” will go free. People pay no attention to alarms anymore because there are so many of them going off all the time. There is a car in my apartment complex (er, I mean near my estate…) that will sound its alarm whenever it rains hard, which, incidentally, is usually in the middle of the night.

When I was in college there were so many fire drills that absolutely no one would be alarmed if there were a real fire. You may be thinking that the purpose of a fire drill is that no one will be too alarmed, that there might not be a panic. In our case, no one cared when the fire alarm went off. My roomates and I would simply lock the door and stay inside rather than hike down seven flights of stairs, wait for thirty minutes, and then hike back up. Reckless, you might say, but I say that it is reckless to “alarm” us to death. Remember the boy who cried wolf.

The alarm has stopped now–perhaps I should go see if everything is OK…

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ornament 21 September 2003 ornament

Pop Goes Religion

A New York Times article on the upcoming new television season highlights the increased spirituality that is evident in this fall’s lineup:

Today’s spurt of spirituality, at least the kind expressed by DMX, the rapper who ends his concerts with a prayer to Jesus, seeks a cozier, more direct connection to God: open, low-maintenance and not bound by strict orthodoxy, be it Roman Catholic or Buddhist.

“Joan of Arcadia” takes that homily to heart. Joan is a typical teenager (smart-mouthed, moody, underachieving), and God appears to her in human forms she — and TV audiences — can readily accept: a cute teenage boy, the school cafeteria lady and the local TV news anchor.

It seems that pop spirituality always likes to package God in a form they can accept–a form quite contrary to the God who is presented in the Bible. The God presented in the Bible is anything but cozy and manageable, so he need not apply for the latest pop culture deity openings.

There’s something that really bothers me about depictions of God by any actor. It’s one thing for someone to play Jesus in a Passion film, but for someone to play God the Father seems wrong. This bothered me when I saw clips as a child of the George Burns “God” movies and has continued to the present-day Bruce Almighty, a film which I have not seen.

Regarding Bruce Almighty, I’ve had many Christians tell me that it is a really good film and that it doesn’t depict God in a bad light. Granted that I have not seen the film and am speaking only from a perception of the film based on reviews and previews, my question is how can any person, much less Morgan Freeman, reflect the glory due the creator of the universe in way that is not dimished? After all, are we not to make for ourselves an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth (Exodus 19:4)?

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ornament 20 September 2003 ornament

Vols 24, Florida 10

A fitting end to Gator Hater Week! The Vols looked really good beating the Gators on their home turf–especially the defense. We’ve got a tough schedule ahead, but I feel much better about our team’s capability now.

Gator Hater Week is now over, but you can still hate the Gators year round.

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ornament 19 September 2003 ornament

Krakauer on the Nature of Faith

Jon Krakauer’s new book, Under the Banner of Heaven, is slightly different fare for the author of Into Thin Air and Into the Wild, but that doesn’t stop his superb storytelling ability and thorough investigative skills from making this book a very interesting story. My wife and I listened to the audio version of the book recently over a couple of road trips (can you say that you’ve “read” a book if you’ve listened to the audio version? I would argue that you could, but that’s a debate for another day).

The story that Krakauer investigates is the murder of a woman and her baby by her brothers-in-law. The brothers-in-law, both Mormon Fundamentalists, claimed (and still claim) that they received direct revelation from God that they should kill their sister-in-law and niece. In telling the story, Krakauer delves into the sordid world of Mormon Fundamentalism, with its practices of polygamy and belief in individual direct revelation.

The books reads (or listens) very well and it is evident that Krakauer has done his homework. The interviews he had with the murderes are chilling, as well as the antics of the religion he describes. Krakauer’s editorial comments, however, are another story.

At the end of the book, Krakauer comments on the nature of faith, and how all faith that had strong beliefs were dangerous. I’m paraphrasing here (a downside of only listening to the book), but Krakauer says something like this, “If someone can receive direct revelation from God, that trumps all other authorities. The Lafferty brothers believe that they have done nothing wrong because God told them to do this.”

Krakauer, an admitted agnostic who calls faith “irrational,” concludes from this that faith (he hints at evangelical Christianity) have the potential for such dangerous outcomes as these murders. While I agree on some of these points (if people believe that God is telling them to kill someone, and that is their ultimate authority, this is dangerous!), Krakauer leaves out much when reaching his conclusions.

Take evangelical Christianity, for example. We do believe that we can talk to God and that he providentially directs our everyday lives. A Christian, however, should have a problem if they sense that God is telling them to kill someone. Why? Because Scripture forbids it. God trumps man, and God’s written word trumps man’s senses.

If God had not provided us with an infallible, inerrant written word, Christianity like Mormonism (I do consider them two different religions) would be open to continuing revelation that could supercede anything that was revealed before.

Krakauer calls “faith” what he should be calling “some faiths.” If only Krakauer would have put as much thought into his editorial comments as he did his research for the book…

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Ignore Our Mess

If you’re using Internet Explorer, which I imagine most of you are, you’ll notice some stylesheet problems on the site (the site looks perfect in Mozilla Firebird). I accidentally deleted the stylesheet last night and I’ve been trying to reconstruct it. I notice that the comments section is a little out of whack too. Please bear with me and ignore the mess. I’ve got some things I’d like to redesign anyway, so now is as good a time as any.

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The Drive to Court

For those of you who have ever bought a computer with a 40 GB hard drive and wonder why in the world your computer says you have only 37 GB of space, you might find this interesting. It seems a group of computer owners are suing several manufacturers for deceptive advertising.

According to the lawsuit, computer hard drive capacities are described in promotional material in decimal notation, but the computer reads and writes data to the drives in a binary system.

The result is that a hard drive described as being 20 gigabytes would actually have only 18.6 gigabytes of readable capacity, the lawsuit said.

This has always bugged me. With drives getting bigger and bigger, the discrepancy keeps growing. My drive is “80 GB” but in reality is around 72 GB–a discrepancy that is twice the size of my old computer’s drive!

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