ornament 29 November 2004 ornament

Enjoying…

…U2’s new album, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb. It’s better than All That You Can’t Leave Behind, but is it really better than Joshua Tree?

Probably not, but it is the type of album that grows on you the more you hear it. In what has been touted as “the most conspicuously Christian record U2 has released since October,” much is to be expected—and much is delivered. If not a Christian album per se, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb is surely a theistic journey. The closing “Yahweh” is most obvious, but there are more veiled Judeo-Christian references as well. I finally realized after about the fifth listen that the song “All Because of You” was a song directed toward the Creator–“I AM.”

From a band that’s been all over the map spiritually, this is a move in the right direction. No, it doesn’t present a plan of salvation—but it is refreshing to hear a band acknowledge something other than themselves for once. For a thorough review, see Jeffrey Overstreet’s take.

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ornament 28 November 2004 ornament

With Friends Like These…

After a “victory,” there’s nothing like the feeling of having all your buddies singing your praises and standing with you—be it in sports or presidential elections. Nobody likes to stand with a loser, right? According to this BBC report, 9 out of 10 Soviet nations agree that the ever-so-suspect Viktor Yanukovych is the rightful president-elect of Ukraine:

Following the congratulatory message sent by Russian President Vladimir Putin to the pro-Moscow candidate Viktor Yanukovych, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko telephoned the latter to offer his own congratulations before the results had been declared.

Mr Lukashenko’s press office said that during the conversation, “the president said he was completely confident that relations between Ukraine and Belarus will continue to develop as dynamically as they have done in the past”.

The presidents of three Central Asian countries also added their voices.

“Your victory shows that the Ukrainian people have made a choice in favour of the unity of the nation, of democratic development and economic progress,” Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev wrote in a letter to Mr Yanukovych.

Some notable exceptions to the “party line” are Georgia, which had its own revolution just a year ago, and Moldova. Personally, I like this presidential response.

Perhaps it’s just me, but isn’t it funny how it takes Jaques Chirac a week to congratulate Bush on his victory, yet Putin and others have the prescience to congratulate early?

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Blogging the Revolution

Democracy for Ukraine

I know I’ve already mentioned this before, but if you’re not reading Discoshaman and his wife Tulip Girl right now, you’re missing out on some first-hand accounts of history. They’re both Americans living in Kiyiv, Ukraine and Discoshaman is reporting from the front lines of the Ukrainian protestors.

Keep praying for Ukraine—that justice will be served, and a peaceful and just solution will be met. If you’re a blogger, keep what’s going on over there at the top of the news. We did it with Rathergate, and we can help Ukraine too.

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ornament 27 November 2004 ornament

Averting Embarrassment

Vols 37, Wildcats 31

About the only thing worse than Jefferson Pilot’s game coverage today was the play of Tennessee’s defense. Allowing Kentucky QB Shane Boyd to do whatever he pleased, the Vol defense seemed to be testing the ability of our offense to continue to put up points. The Vol offense didn’t necessarily shine, but Cedric Houston and Gerald Riggs seemed to be playing Kentucky. Kentucky bags another of what it is best for achieving—a moral victory. To the Vols credit, however, they didn’t panic and came back to seal the actual victory.

Two heart attacks into this game, the only relief I found in the prospect of next week’s SEC Championship game is that Brent Schaeffer is projected to return in some capacity. I think he’s poses more of a threat to a cagey Auburn defense than Clausen. I’ll leave the ball in Johnny Chavis’ court to decide whether the Vol defense is ready to again face the now rested and fattened Auburn offensive line (the Tigers were off this weekend). The Vols have the talent to beat Auburn when implemented effectively.

On a side note, the Jefferson Pilot coverage of today’s game really was the poorest coverage of a football game I’ve ever seen. The announcers didn’t know what half they were in, the scoreboard operator gave Kentucky points when Tennessee scored, the cameramen remained focused on the kicker while the rest of us wondered what happened on the play, they would return from commercial breaks mid-play, and the clincher was the 6-minute interview with South Carolina’s athletic director during a key Tennessee drive.

I’m happy that JP Sports broadcasts these games, so I can see them way up here in Kentucky land—but it was so irritating that at times I contemplated forking over the $4.95 for Yahoo and listening to the game on the internet. Oh how I miss John Ward…

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ornament 24 November 2004 ornament

Thankful

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends! We’ll be spending the holiday here in Louisville this year due to some “limited mobility” issues (more news on that later, to be sure…). I’m thankful this year more than ever that Christ is my king and that he guards my steps. I’m thankful for all my family, whichever stage of life they may be in.

I’m thankful as well for all those of you who take time to read this blog. Time is expensive these days, and I’m increasingly flattered by the growing readership. God bless you all, travel safely, and happy Thanksgiving!

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Was Darwin Wrong?

A while back a perceptive reader, Patrick Bowerman, alerted me to the most recent National Geographic, which had “Was Darwin Wrong?” as its cover story. Geographic’s website only offers an excerpt, but I finally did get to read the article in the library recently. It was much what I had expected—a plea for the poor, ignorant creationists to look at the oodles and oodles of evidence for evolution. Nevermind the fact that author David Quammen’s proofs center on the observable nature of microevolution, a phenomenon even creationists will agree occurs. Quammen fails to deal with proofs of the overarching macroevolution, which is what most creationists dispute.

Thomas Woodward has written an excellent response to the article, citing the fact that Quammen doesn’t even bother to mention any of the Intelligent Design movement’s arguments against macroevolution. His response is worth the read, and he points to other responses to the Geographic article as well.

UPDATE: See Rusty Lopez’s excellent post as well.

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ornament 23 November 2004 ornament

Ukrainian Revolution?

If you’re not up on what’s happening in the Ukraine right now, get up to speed fast. History is being made, and blogger Discoshaman is on the front lines in Kiev. He even has photos.

We should all pray that justice succeeds and the true winner of the election is vindicated. The reaction of the people is one which I hope would spread to all of the former Soviet republics who face unfair elections.

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ornament 22 November 2004 ornament

Bonhoeffer

Bonhoeffer

My wife and I watched Martin Doblmeier’s documentary Bonhoeffer over the weekend, and we were both duly impressed. The film chronicles the life of the German theologian alongside the German church’s downward spiral and eventual capitulation to the Nazis in the pre-WWII era.

Once a committed pacifist, Dietrich Bonhoeffer ultimately rejected his pacifism and joined a conspiracy to assassinate Adolf Hitler. He was caught by the SS, imprisoned, and executed by personal order of Hitler. As a young pastor, he stood against the tide of the bulk of German clergy who had sold their souls to the Third Reich. A member of the breakaway “Confessing Church,” Bonhoeffer headed an illegal seminary that trained pastors who were loyal to Christ, rather than the Nazis.

I’ve studied Bonhoeffer’s history quite a bit over the years (my wife just bought me Eberhard Bethge’s massive biography for my birthday!), and Doblmeier’s documentary is very comprehensive—especially in painting a detailed picture of the religious setting that was Bonhoeffer’s Germany. I highly recommend the DVD.

I also recommend Bonhoeffer’s writings as well. His Cost of Discipleship was one of the first theological books I read, and challenged me to really look closely at the Sermon on the Mount. Ethics and Life Together are superb as well. I will caution against Bonhoeffer’s tendency toward neoorthodoxy, and also be wary of his prison writings, which must be interpreted in context of the immense strain Bonhoeffer was under (the later “death of God” movement grossly took his writings out of context). Overall, however, Bonhoeffer’s work can be very helpful to evangelicals, and a studious evangelical would be remiss not to read him.

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ornament 21 November 2004 ornament

Fundamentalism & Rhetoric

As I’ve written here before, the term “fundamentalist” is as tricky a moniker as they come. Paul Marshall, a senior fellow at the Center for Religious Freedom, has written an excellent piece (subs. req.) in last week’s Weekly Standard that should help all of us forge new ground regarding the use/abuse of the term.

Citing the widespread use of the term in a pejorative manner by such culprits as the New York Times editorial page, Joe Biden, and Al Gore, Marshall examines whether or not “fundamentalists” really are the scourge of the world that they are made out to be. Marshall aptly defines the term:

Take the vacuous term “fundamentalist.” Despite academic efforts to give it content, in practice the word signifies only “someone firmly committed to religious views I do not like.” It’s an epithet depicting people as abject objects to be labeled rather than listened to, dismissed rather than engaged in discussion.

Marshall gives a long list of those who could be labeled fundamentalists or extremists:

But there are also “religious extremists” I remember fondly. One I had the privilege of meeting believes he is the reincarnation of generations of religious leaders and was destined to lead his people. I don’t share his views, but I find him wise, with a delightful sense of humor. He is the Dalai Lama.

Jehovah’s Witnesses annoy many people by ringing our doorbells while we’re having dinner. But the growth of religious freedom in almost every Western country owes much to the Witnesses’ peaceful quest to be allowed to be conscientious objectors to military service.

The current lashing out by the left (who are ironically themselves, by and large, fundamentalist secularists) towards people of committed belief has led to a gross misrepresentation of who the really dangerous people really are. When Bob Jones University grads are lumped together with the Taliban, confusion occurs. The atrocities of the Taliban are minimized, and the misapplication of biblical principles is equated with fascism. Sure, BJU students have to have a chaperon to go to the bathroom, but at least they’re paying good money to have the chaperon. Those under the Taliban didn’t have a choice. Marshall observes:

In the face of this range of beliefs, it is well nigh meaningless to define bin Laden and his ilk as “fundamentalists” or “religious extremists.” He may be both, but so are billions of peaceful and gentle people.

The difference is obvious: The key is not bin Laden’s conviction or certitude, but the content of his creed. We are opposed not to “religious extremists” per se, but only to the type of religious extremists who believe in flying planes into buildings and beheading “infidels.”

In doing so we are allied with, and in large part defended by, people secularists label “religious extremists.” This includes a significant proportion of the American military, especially the Marine Corps, who are, by most accounts, more evangelical than the population at large. Are the New York Times et al. seriously suggesting that the war on Islamofascism is at root a war on people like those in the U.S. armed forces?

Marshall is right, of course—however, I suspect that certain parties on the left are not just opposed to “the type of religious extremists who believe in flying planes into buildings and beheading ‘infidels.'” In reality, they are opposed to any ideology that poses a threat to their own secular fundamentalism.

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ornament 20 November 2004 ornament

Ughh-ly

Vols 38, Commodores 33

Just when you thought the Vols couldn’t get any uglier, they nearly botched their 22nd consecutive win over the intramural-based Vanderbilt squad. The defense that held Notre Dame to 10 last week was on vacation today. If the Vol defense plays against Auburn the way they did today, we’ll lose worse than we did the first time around. Somebody send a memo to Johnny Chavis: Vandy scored THIRTY-THREE points on us!

On a positive note, I think Rick Clausen did a good job, despite the interception. He threw for 189 yards, which is huge if you consider the standard 3rd-string quartback passing stats. Clausen proved he was more than just a handoff man. I just hope he and hone his skills in time.

Next week, it’s Kentucky, and if I know Kentucky, they’ll be feeling right about now that they’re due a win. They won’t know exactly why or how they’ll beat the Vols, but they’ll be pretty sure that this year is “the year.” Well, there’s always the blood drive.

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