ornament 31 October 2004 ornament

Alert: Christians in the Workplace!

Just on the heels of discovering that there are Christians in the White House, The New York Times Magazine has now discovered that there are Christians in America’s workforce as well—and some of them actually own businesses. Apparently this bizzare religion is cropping up everywhere—Russell Shorto writes of the Christians-in-the-workplace phenomenon:

One of the movement’s objectives is to give Christians an opportunity to ”out” themselves on the job, to let them express who they are, freely and without feeling persecuted. Few would argue with such a goal: it suits an open society. And if it increases productivity and keeps C.E.O.’s from turning into reptiles, all the better.

Then again, the idea of corporations dominated by a particular religious faith has a hint of oppressiveness, a ”Taliban Inc.” aspect.

Language like this has no place in responsible journalism. Shorto’s principal “subject” in the article is a charismatic Christian, hardly a Taliban-esque figure. The Times Magazine acts as if 2000 years of history never happened, and Christianity is just now appearing as a movement. Perhaps they think such inflammatory language will keep the “movement” down?

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ornament 30 October 2004 ornament

Onward November

Vols 43, Gamecocks 29

A rocky start that seems to be becoming a Tennessee tradition set the stage for a second-half Volunteer victory. While all the stats may show Erik Ainge as the hero, it was in fact the now-second string quarterback Brent Schaeffer, along with heroics by Cedric Houston that ignited the Tennessee offense from their early stupor. Schaeffer’s efforts all but set up two of Tennessee’s touchdowns, only to be replaced mid-series by Ainge in a bizarre UT coaching stratagem. Whatever Fulmer and, ahem, Sanders were thinking, it worked. The Vols woke up and put away the best remaining chance of taking them out of the SEC championship game.

Next week sees the Irish of Notre Dame at Neyland. Next week is also November, a month where the Vols shine (their last Nov. loss in recent history coming against Miami in 2002). Ahh, November…

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ornament 28 October 2004 ornament

The Ick Factor

The new Nicole Kidman film, Birth, has audiences astir with ickiness. The film’s plot revolves around a 10 year-old boy who claims to be Kidman’s reincarnated dead husband. Naturally, Kidman’s character falls in love with the TEN YEAR-OLD BOY, and kisses him, has a bath with him, etc. Somehow this is supposed to be “high art,” yet as critic Robert Wilonsky writes:

But there’s no getting around it: Birth offers the nuttiest apologia ever for pedophilia. If the sexes were reversed, it’s doubtful the movie would even get a wide US release. Imagine the outcry if a filmmaker were to show a ten-year-old girl stripping off her clothes and climbing into a bath with a nude man in his late thirties.

Granted, I haven’t seen the film—but the mere premise of it seems so far out of even the secular mainstream that most people will have a hard time not viewing Kidman’s character as a sicko. The problem is that movies like this tend to help twisted concepts like ADULTS FALLING IN LOVE WITH CHILDREN become more mainstream.

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ornament 26 October 2004 ornament

Rocking the Vote

The always witty and eloquent Matt Labash on celebrity GOTV journalism:

Celebrities have no idea that they make awful journalists. For the purpose of becoming a journalist is to explore the wider world. The purpose of becoming a celebrity is to explore yourself.

Go read the entire article, “The New Know-Nothings” now.

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Appearance as Reality: Poseurs Loose in America

In 2 Timothy 3, the Apostle Paul warns young Timothy of certain type of person who has the “appearance of godliness,” but denies its power. The appearance of these swindlers did not correspond to reality. Paul’s advice on how to deal with them? “Avoid such people,” he wrote.

Much to the chagrin of evolutionary progressivists, mankind does not seem to have advanced much in the 2,000 years since Paul wrote to Timothy. As we learned from the Rathergate scandal, where the documents were “fake but accurate,” the mere appearance of something is supposed to be good enough to believe.

Take teen pop star Ashlee Simpson’s recent embarrasment when her vocal track misplayed on Saturday Night Live, exposing the fact that she had lip-synced the previous song. Her father, who doubles as her manager, tried to brush it off:

He said Ashlee’s voice was hoarse and “Just like any artist in America, she has a backing track that she pushes so you don’t have to hear her croak through a song on national television.”

Ashlee said to blame her dad. She said that when her acid reflux started acting up he insisted she take it easy by using a backing track. She said she wasn’t happy with the decision and emphasized that it’s not something she normally relies upon. She said she was so upset because she’s never used one before. But she felt she had little choice, saying her voice was so weak, she “couldn’t even speak.”

And here I thought that to be a professional singer, one had to be able to sing. These days only the appearance of competence will pass for expertise. Nevermind the fact that SNL could have simply played her CD and saved her the trouble of an appearance.

At this rate, we’ll probably soon discover that professional wrestling is fake and Milli Vanilli were poseurs as well. In fact, I’m not even really writing this blog—I copied it from this site.

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To Each His Own — Theology?

It’s more than understandable why African bishops in the Anglican Church would want to distance themselves from those in America and the rest of the world—where homosexual unions have been celebrated. The African bishops are uncomfortable with such practice in the church, and some are now seeking to develop a separate theology:

The global Anglican church is deeply divided over same-sex marriage and the ordination of gay priests, with Akinola leading a conservative African church that is highly critical of dioceses condoning them.

“The Western world is embroiled in a new religion which we cannot associate ourselves with,” said Akinola, who is also the continental chair of the Anglican bishops. “We have to find ways of developing our own theology.”

While the African churches should be applauded for realizing that a “new religion” is afoot in the rest of the world, they should be cautious as to which footing they take their stand on.

Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola cites a disturbing rationale for breaking with the mainstream Anglican theology—it doesn’t jive with African culture:

“Men and men are cohabiting, which is taboo in African culture,” he said.

Isn’t this the same reasoning (overtly or not) that the American Episcopal church is using to justify its acceptance of homosexuality? The culture approves, therefore so must the church. The bishops of Africa need to reevaluate statements such as this:

“Our effort is to recapture our own needs as Africans, so that the church reflects the presence of the Lord as we understand Him,” Bishop Joe Seoka of Pretoria, South Africa, said.

Basing theology on ever-changing cultural standards is a recipe for disaster. Christ transcends cultural bounds, and his word lasts longer than any cultural norm. While a move away from the perverted Christianity of the larger Anglican church is a good one, African bishops should seek to anchor their theology on the Bible, not on what Africans think they need. If they’re not careful, they’ll end up at the same place they’re trying to get away from.

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ornament 24 October 2004 ornament

Elephants in Orange Country

Vols 17, Crimson Tide 13

Rivalries die hard in the South, and if in recent years the Tennessee–Alabama rivalry has dwindled, the past two years (and the ensuing controversies) have ratcheted it up to a new level. The third (or occasionaly fourth) Saturday in October is a time to throw season stats and win-loss records out the door. anything can happen, and yesterday a defensive struggle for both teams paved the way to a Volunteer victory. As usual, see Colby Willen (whose UT blog is quickly becoming the GoVols.com of the free world) for the detailed analysis.

A bonus to the day was to see lowly Mississippi State beat Florida. It was the Bulldog’s first SEC win in their last 10 conference games. Ron Zook is on thin ice. Could this mean that the Florida faithful will put out call for the archenemy to come save the day?

UPDATE:
(10/25) Ding, Dong, the witch is dead, the wicked witch is dead. Zook is gone, and rumors already abound. Will the full measure of Gator hatred soon be revived?

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ornament 21 October 2004 ornament

Short Relief: How Specialization is Weakening Baseball

One thing that has always perplexed me about baseball is the “short reliever,” or “closer.” These are amazing pitchers who can step in during the final inning of the game and mow down the remaining offense. If his team is ahead by 3 runs or less, he can earn a “save.”

Now I realize that a short reliever is to a starting pitcher as a sprinter is to a marathoner. I also realize that I am not a major-league baseball pitcher. What I have a hard time understanding is that there is a “magic number” at which these pitchers’ arms turn to jelly. Take last night’s NLCS game between the Astros and Cardinals. In the 9th inning, Astros Manager Phil Garner put in closer Brad Lidge, who pitched flawlessly for three innings—nobody reached a base. Lidge was so hot that in the 11th, he struck out two, leaving Larry Walker swinging at the air.

In three innings, no one had reached first base against the Astros with Lidge on the mound. So, in the 12th, the Astros put in a new pitcher, Dan Miceli, who ends up losing by giving up a 2-run homer to Jim Edmonds.

Is there something in the players’ union contract of short-relievers that only allows them to throw a certain number of pitches? Sure, there is the chance that he will have to play the next night—but wasn’t the goal for the Astros not to make it to the next night? Would 15-20 more pitches really be all that much more taxing for a short reliever? Athletes like Lance Armstrong can race 100+ miles each day for three weeks in the Tour de France. Even the 100–meter sprinters in the Olympics must run qualifying heats only hours before their final.

Are closers really so delicate? Brad Lidge’s performance last night proves otherwise. I believe that he could have gone one, perhaps two more innings. There were no signs of slowing down, yet he was removed because he is a short-relief “specialist.”

The drift toward specialization has affected all areas of our society. Just try to ask an ear, nose, & throat doctor something about your hand and you’ll see what I mean—you’ll quickly be ushered to the digitologist, or whatever it is they call a hand specialist. Even churches now can’t do with the general designation of “pastor.” There has to be a senior pastor, a youth pastor and, if possible, a music minister, and heaven forbid a church that didn’t have a singles’ pastor—because a regular pastor just can’t relate. Football teams, where long ago players would move interchangeably from offense to defense, are now one team of many “special teams.” Generalists are passé in our society.

Baseball has followed suit. Gone are the days when Babe Ruth would both pitch and hit. Heck, in the AL, thanks to the designated hitter (a position that the NL thankfully hasn’t appropriated), pitchers never have to hit. Added to the specialization rule, apparently, is the notion that closers can’t pitch longer than three innings.

While specialization may be effective in honing skills, it shouldn’t keep a specialized person from performing a general task.

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ornament 19 October 2004 ornament

How Much Do You Trust the Polls?

Jackson Lears on polling:

By the 1930’s, opinion pollsters believed they had discovered a cohesive mass audience—“the American public”—and a modal personality type—“the average American.” Since many Americans shared the pollsters’ naive faith in numbers, they accepted social scientists’ statistical constructions as accurte descriptions of themselves. The desire to fit in reinforced the normative power of statistical aggregates. As one of George Gallup’s interviewers observed at the end of the decade, “eight out of ten [respondents], after answering a question, will either ask directly what most people said about it or will remark indirectly, ‘I suppose nobody else said that.’ They are delighted if told that everybody said it. It makes them feel that they are right.”

Something For Nothing, 234-235.

I’m not sure what to think of the current polls, but I do wonder just how much polling influences elections. If Bush is ahead going into the election, does this mobilize more Kerry voters? Would a slightly trailing Bush bring a higher Republican turnout? It’s hard to say, but my hunch is that voter attendance is affected.

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ornament 18 October 2004 ornament

The Abortion Economy

Jason Steffens points out an op/ed from the Louisville Courier-Journal from last week pondering whether or not President Bush was indeed pro-life (I suppose I should read my city’s newspaper more often…). Glen Stassen, ethicist at Fuller Seminary, seems to think that President Bush has been bad for the pro-life movement because abrotions have increased under his watch.

Stassen argues that Bush’s economic policies have directly contributed to an increase in abortion versus the Clinton era:

What does this tell us? Economic policy and abortion are not separate issues; they form one moral imperative. Rhetoric is hollow, mere tinkling brass, without health care, health insurance, jobs, childcare, and a living wage. Pro-life in deed, not merely in word, means we need a president who will do something about jobs and insurance and support for prospective mothers.

By this bizzare reasoning, Stassen makes abortion into strictly an economic issue, forgoing any moral element. His premise implies that the socialist utopia he suggests would be abortion-free. It also suggests that Stassen thinks that a pro-abortion John Kerry would be better suited to reduce abortions. Like I said, it’s bizzare.

Go read Jason Seffens’ post for a more detailed analysis.

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