ornament 19 May 2004 ornament

Should Southern Baptists Retreat?

Matt Hall has a good post on the proposed resolution to urge all Southern Baptists to take their children out of public schools. Hall observes:

My gut reaction is to simply condemn this with all the other fundamentalist retreat from culture – abandon the present system, create a separate “Christian” system, and be done with it. The problem is that strict separatism never works and is unbiblical. Better to issue a resolution encouraging Southern Baptists parents to be more involved with their public schools, to encourage students to equip themselves with the truth, to reform the system.

I agree. Besides, it is somewhat misleading to speak of “the public schools” as if they all were run by the same people and all had the same agendas. Public schools can be as different as night and day depending on location. And just because a school has a “Christian” moniker in front of it does not mean that the education will be doctrinally sound.

I can see the concern that the proponents of the resolution have, I just think that such a resolution would be ultimately powerless (remember the Disney boycott from a few years ago?) and risks hampering the education of many children. What’s next—should Southern Baptists only do business in Christian workplaces?

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ornament 18 May 2004 ornament

A Mighty Fortress

I finished (finally) Roland Bainton’s Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther. The book was written in 1955, yet remains one of the most noteworthy English biographies of Luther. It is very readable, and is accessible even to someone without prior experience or knowledge of the 16th century reformer. I highly recommend the book.

Though I have a few theological differences with Martin Luther (baptism, church-state relationship, etc.), I find in him someone I can relate to on many levels. His courage is something we all can aspire to, letting our conscience be held captive only to the word of God.

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New Revelations?

Add Ahmad Sadri and Mahmoud Sadri to the list of those who believe the absurd notion that American involvement in the Middle East is due to Christian pre-millenialism. By the way, Mister(s) Sadri, its Revelation (singular), not Revelations.

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ABC’s Switcheroo

Drudge is reporting that the ABC network, the bastion of family values, has scheduled for the fall a new reality show called “The Swap.” The show is based on the British unscripted show called “Wife Swap.” Yes, this is for real:

The title, which conjures up visions of a 1970s swingers party, is racier than the concept: Two married women switch places with one another for 10 days, living with the other’s family and taking on the other woman’s household duties. At the end of the 10 days, the families get together to discuss what they experienced.

Hmmm… I wonder what they will experience. Are “household duties” only things like laundry, washing dishes, etc.? Ostensibly, yes:

The women are expected to follow the house rules for the first week–sticking to the cleaning, cooking and child-rearing schedule set by the original woman of the house. The new wife can then lay down her own set of rules the following week.

While they swap spouses the women don’t actually sleep with each other’s partners.

“It’s a good title,” said Michael Davies, one of the show’s executive producers, “but it’s got nothing to do with swinging ’70s wife-swapping parties.”

Ah…the old bait and switch. Or should I say bait and swap? Whatever ABC has in store, it can’t be good for the families involved—anything good would be too boring.

I foresee at least one family liking the switch so much that they don’t switch back. Call me cynical…

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ornament 17 May 2004 ornament

Advice From a Master

Martin Luther offered this advice to a discouraged preacher:

If Peter and Paul were here, they would scold you because you wish right off to be as accomplished as they. Crawling is something, even if one is unable to walk. Do your best. If you cannot preach an hour, then preach a half an hour or a quarter of an hour. Do not try to imitate other people. Center on the shortest and simplest points, which are the heart of the matter, and leave the rest to God. Look soley to his honor and not to applause.
[from Roland Bainton’s Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther]

This is good advice—something I’ll take into account when I preach in a couple of weeks. Sadly, I’ve seen many preachers who will belabor a sermon just to make it last the alotted 30 minutes. I’ve also seen many preachers who imitate others. One pet peeve of mine is when preachers have a different “preaching voice” that sounds nothing like the voice they use in conversation.

Thankfully, God can use the most inept of preachers to send forth his word. As the old saying goes (forgive the crudity, but since we’re talking about Luther…), “God spoke to Balaam through an ass, and he’s been speaking through asses ever since…”

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Movable Type 3.0

This post will only be of interest to other bloggers or potential bloggers, but I thought I’d give a tech update on blogging software. I’ve installed Movable Type 3.0 (the free version). This is the first post I’ve made with the new version. The upgrade installation from 2.64 was pretty seamless and easy—no problems, and everything worked (pending the successful publication of this post).

Aside from a minor freshening-up of the interface, there is not a lot different from 2.64. There are minor changes, like the ability to make an Atom feed, and of course, the changes in comment management, which I haven’t used that much.

I’ve been eyeing WordPress for quite a while, and I was waiting to see if MT 3.0 would have enough features to make me stay. The (simple) features I wanted were better text-formatting and an integrated sideblogging feature. These things can be improved in MT via plugins, but WordPress includes them with the app. As of now, there’s nothing really compelling to keep me using MT except the time it will take to learn WordPress. This doesn’t mean I’m switching for sure, but it does mean that MT 3.0 didn’t save the day for this blogger.

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ornament 14 May 2004 ornament

Even Better Than an Instalaunch…

Yesterday morning, I noticed some strange things going on with TruePravda’s Sitemeter statistics. I was getting around the same number of visitors per hour yesterday as I did in a full day. All told 770 dropped by yesterday, which is a quite a jump from the average 45-50 visitors per day that TruePravda gets.

What was going on? Increases in website traffic like this only occur when someone gets “Instalaunched,” a term describing the phenomenon that occurs when uber blogger Glenn Reynolds links to a website. I checked Instapundit. Nope, no link there, but I did notice one post that intrigued me, dealing with the most popular search term on the internet right now.

It seems that the terms Nick + Berg + beheading + tape were among the most searched for on the web. I downloaded my server access logs and sure enough, many visitors were coming through Yahoo or MSN. Sure enough, a Yahoo search had my site as number 17 for the terms, since I had written on the media and Berg’s death here. I had also written about my failure to tape a TV show here.

Those terms, along with the frenzy to see the Nick Berg beheading tape, catapulted TruePravda’s traffic into high gear. While I’m pleased to have the traffic, I wish it were under better circumstances than those looking for a tape of Nick Berg’s beheading. I made the mistake of watching the Daniel Pearl video a couple of years ago and immediately wished I hadn’t. Viewing such horrific acts only brings attention to the terrorists and their false god, and humiliation to the victim. These murderous cowards don’t deserve the honor of anyone watching their “work.”

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ornament 13 May 2004 ornament

McDonalds: The New Tobacco

Everybody needs a villain these days (as if Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden don’t fit the bill), and the latest villain on the American scene is McDonald’s. While McDonald’s has had a longtime villain on staff, the Hamburglar, the entire company has been portrayed often as the bad guy on the block.

There’s the new movie, Supersize Me, which documents one fellow’s exploits as he ate McDonald’s food for every meal over the course of a month. The shocking results were that he got very sick and very fat.

The latest attack on McDonald’s comes in the form a study which suggests that eating incredibly large amounts of fast-food (read McDonald’s) for breakfast is bad for you:

The study included nine healthy, normal-weight adults who were fed a breakfast of one Egg McMuffin, a Sausage McMuffin and two servings of hash browns from McDonald’s. The meal weighed in at 910 calories, 81 grams of carbohydrates, 51 grams of fat and 32 grams of protein.

While the hearty breakfast may be on the supersize side, lead study author Dr. Ahmad Aljada of the State University of New York at Buffalo said it reflects what many Americans order up at fast-food restaurants.

“We wanted to look at a typical American meal,” he told Reuters Health. “We’re not targeting McDonald’s.”

“Typical American meal?” “Not targeting McDonald’s?” First of all, nobody who would eat that much food for McDonald’s breakfast is concerned about their health. I might could be persuaded to eat two breakfast sandwiches on a hungry day, but two orders of hash browns as well? Again, the moral of this “study” is that if you eat outrageously large amounts of McDonald’s, you will die a most gruesome death.

The frenzy with which such anti-McDonald’s reports are generated has been seen before in America’s vilification of the Tobacco industry. The industry, not the individual, is fully responsible for all sorts of evils caused by the plotting and conspiring of “big tobacco.” Never mind that people have known for decades that smoking is harmful to one’s health.

The tobacco industry can now take a breather (or smoke break, if they prefer). McDonald’s has replaced them as public enemy number one. It won’t be long until every Big Mac has its own surgeon general’s warning.

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ornament 12 May 2004 ornament

Terrorism and Media Responsibility

The beheading of Nick Berg will undoubtedly cause the usual suspects to claim we had it coming, due to the Abu Ghraib abuses. This is, of course, a ridiculous comparison. If the terrorists wanted actual revenge, they could have stripped Berg and led him around by a leash. Tit for tat. Instead, these cowards took things to an entirely new level. While their heads were covered, they removed Nick Berg’s.

The media are being played by the terrorists here. Will they react by repeatedly airing photos of the beheading? After all, the photos from one prison are have been aired so many times that it has been made into an international incident. I mean not to minimize the wrongful actions of the dim-witted, sick-minded American soldiers who committed the acts, nor to excuse the cowardly murderers of Nick Berg, but the media has had the wrong focus. The Abu Ghraib photos or Iraqi prisoners were shown by American media who in doing so help America break the Geneva Convention. The focus of the media investigation should not have been on the Iraqi prisoners but on the behavior of the soldiers. How many photos does one need to see to get the idea that the MP’s behaved badly? Jonah Goldberg makes a good point:

CNN’s Aaron Brown defended the release of the first wave of pictures, in response to my column, saying, “You don’t appreciate what happened in that prison until you see it.”

Maybe so. But that is a new standard for the media, one that is rarely applied evenly in all cases. If showing snapshots and images reveals the truth better than words, then why do networks refuse to show “so-called” partial-birth abortions? After all, that whole debate is over the nature of the procedure. Going to the videotape would surely settle it better than any news anchor.

The Abu Ghraib images are so shocking, so offensive, and so sensational they will in all likelihood make America’s job in Iraq and the Middle East immeasurably harder for a long time to come. That means more American deaths — such as Berg’s — more Iraqi deaths and a diminished future for that country and that region.

I don’t support censorship. The government has almost no role in this. But if CBS showed the same self-restraint it did for, say, the Danny Pearl video, it could still have reported the story shedding light instead of heat.

I originally wrote that CBS should be “ashamed” for airing the photos. I now concede that might be too harsh. But, in conceding that, I’m showing more reflection and self-examination than I’ve seen from the entire media establishment amid the Abu Ghraib hysteria.

In an attempt to be unbiased in reporting, CBS and the other media who have sensationalized the photos have played more than an impartial role.

As we saw from the cowardly acts of yesterday, there is more at stake than just a presidential election. Impartiality does not equal “against America.” The media is not responsible for Nick Berg’s death—that dishonor goes to his hooded murderers, but the media do need to realize that there is a difference between ability (to show photos, etc.) and obligation.

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Quick! Run to the pantry and get some aluminum foil to make yourself a hat (the aliens can’t read your thoughts that way…). That’s right, the Mexican Air Force has seen some UFOs, and they got it on video:

The film, recorded by a plane looking for drugs trafficking near the Gulf of Mexico, shows 11 objects as blobs of light that hover in formation or dart about, sometimes disappearing into cloud.

Yes indeed, Earth has been visited by blobs of light. Run for your lives.

I wonder if this means the 1958 Steve McQueen film The Blob was prophetic…

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