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Movie@Milligan House: Spellbound

No, not the 1945 Alfred Hitchcock thriller. Friday, we’ll be watching and discussing the titillating 2002 documentary about the National Spelling Bee. We haven’t seen a documentary for Movie Night, so I thought this would be a good pick.

From the movie’s web site:

Who would have thought the most suspenseful competition on television could revolve around a bunch of 14 year-olds hooked on spelling? SPELLBOUND, the award-winning film, proves why the National Spelling Bee is one of the highest rated specials on ESPN — a nail-biting face-off among hundreds of teens who train as rigorously as any Olympic athlete on their heroic quest for glory.

Here’s a list of reviews from Hope to see you Friday — pizza’s served at 6:30pm, movie to follow after you’ve finished your first piece.


Pastor Ron for your iPod

We’re doing well to get the sermons onto the web site. But this isn’t far away for us at OOC. How many people have iPods at the Orchard, anyway?

From NPR:

All Things Considered, August 1, 2005 · A few pioneering houses of worship are spreading the word from the pulpit to the iPod. Members of the congregation can download Sunday’s service and listen to it anytime during the week.

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Rwanda Followup: Rick Warren’s Purpose-Driven Mission

I thought those of us who attended last month’s Movie@Milligan House, Hotel Rwanda,would be interested in this article on Rick Warren‘s (he of The Purpose-Driven Life/Church fame) visit to Rwanda, at the request of President Paul Kagame. The writer, Alan Wolfe, raises some concerns about the trip:

Mr. Warren’s message to the Aspen audience was similar to the one he offered Rwandans at Kigali’s Amahoro Stadium in July: Spiritual emptiness allows evil acts to occur. If only evil were so simple.

Well, is evil that simple or isn’t it? I don’t doubt that the situation is indeed complex. However, I am leery of people who try to complicate simple matters, because if a matter is indeed simple, it’s only harmful to obscure the simple facts. So I read on:

Tackling Africa’s problems inevitably means addressing questions of economics and politics. Is there a Christian position on export diversification, energy subsidies, currency convertibility ratios, agricultural overcultivation or civil-service reform? That Rick Warren is serious about overcoming Rwanda’s poverty is unquestioned. That he and his volunteers have any expertise or interest in economics and politics is unlikely.

Now, I don’t know whether Mr Wolfe is a believer, but it seems his comments betray a certain lack of faith in the power of the gospel. It presents a chicken-egg dilemma: Which comes first, economic and political stability that leads to an openness to faith in Jesus, or is it a Christian understanding of man and the world that leads to a new way of approaching social systems? In the United States and some other Western nations, the evidence points toward the latter. Moreoever, we as believers — even those of us who take a wholly practical and pragmatic view of the world’s problems — should, it seems to me, have hope in the power of the Holy Spirit to change people’s lives. Isn’t that what it’s supposed to do?

2 Corinthians 5:16-18 (NIV)
So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation…


Hurricane-Relief Outrage

In worship Sunday, Ron alluded to the outrage and anger that people have about the hurricane-relief response, and I’ve since talked with a few other Christians who’ve had a similar reaction. But it begs the question: Outrage and anger at whom? Ron didn’t specify, but presumably he was referring to the failure of leadership of New Orleans and Lousiana elected officials, and not to the misplaced blame being heaped on President Bush, like some cheap political opportunists (read: NY Times, CBS, CNN, and the other alphabet networks) have.

Since the confusion over whom is to blame can lead people to drastically different conclusions, and Ron didn’t clarify something to the effect that “Christians in good conscience can honestly disagree with each other on this issue,” one presumes that there is a singular right response on whom to blame. Thus, I would’ve appreciated it if this would’ve been made clear.

For some good insight into what led to the rescue problems, here are some good articles:

And the outrage icing on the cake: Mayor Nagin is now offering five-day vacations to Las Vegas for New Orleans’s overworked police officers.

As Christians we are to stand up and speak out for justice. In this case, it means speaking out against intrenched corruption and deceit in government, as evidenced by the manifold failures and chicanery of New Orleans and Lousiana government. It also means defending those who are wrongfully accused, like President Bush. It starts with knowing the facts of the matter instead of merely rolling along with the cultural tidal wave of indictment.

Oh, and in slightly related news: Michael Hyatt, CEO of Thomas Nelson publishing house, gets reamed for donating 100,000 Bibles to the relief effort.

Finally, some PCA-related links:

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You are here

I received an email from erstwhile OOCer Erin Layton pointing out a mention of PCA church planter Mike Kytka in the latest entry of the Riverfront Times series “You are here.”

The series appears to be brief conversations with random people at area bars and clubs on moral questions, and runs the gamut of worldviews. But, since it grants a “place at the table” for seemingly any worldview, it duly includes a Christian perspective, provided twice now by Kytka. Here’s a snippet:

“This may come as a shock to you,” he began in response to my question, “but I don’t believe there is any reason to be moral or good if God doesn’t exist. If there is no lawgiver, we should party, live for pleasure and work for goals without any reference to moral or spiritual guidance.”

It’s worth checking out — as much to read Kytka’s POV as to learn about the broken reality of the world we live in.

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Hotel Rwanda: Links

For those of you coming to tonight’s Movie@Milligan House (and for those of you who aren’t), here are a few resources for additional reading:


Book Review: “The Doors of the Sea”

The Opinion Journal’s bookshelf column today spotlights theologian David Bentley Hart’s “The Doors of the Sea,” a book that is, as the review says, “a rhetorically powerful and conceptually dense restatement of what Christianity has to say, over the centuries, about the suffering and death produced by nature itself–that is, by events outside human agency.” According to the review:

From a Christian point of view, Mr. Hart notes, such events are quite easy to explain, if difficult to accept. They are dramatic instances of the fact that the world is profoundly out of joint, damaged in deep ways by the fall of Adam and Eve and the rebellion of man. This fall, brought about by the exercise of human freedom, has altered the very physical order of the cosmos so that what God had intended to be a world of harmony and peace, free from suffering and death, is now a world running red with blood.

Anyone have it or read it?


In Print: Dr. Barker’s latest

Saw this in the latest ByFaith Update:

“In All Things…”: The Preeminence of Christ in the History of Covenant College, 1955-2005, authored by Dr. William S. Barker, is now available for purchase. Commissioned to commemorate Covenant’s 50th anniversary, this limited edition book features a foreword by President Niel B. Nielson, photographs spanning the half-century history of the College, and observations on all aspects of Covenant’s history. The first five hundred books will be signed and numbered. To order “In All Things…”, send a check for $55 to cover the book and mailing, make payable to and mail to:

The Covenant College Foundation
534 Chestnut Street
Suite 100
Chattanooga, TN 37402

Or, I’m guessing you can talk to that humble, unassuming fellow who sits over on the left-hand side of the congregation with his wife during worship… Congrats, Dr. Barker.


Name it and claim it: The secret of the Mets’ success?

Granted, with a record of 51-47, “success” may be overstating it a bit, but the story‘s interesting all the same:

NEW YORK — As Mike Piazza stood by his locker Thursday, discussing the state of his career — “I look at it and surrender to it. It is what it is,” he said — a book titled, “Your Best Life Now,” courtesy of Carlos Beltran, rested in the adjacent locker, awaiting his eyes.

The book had been recommended to Beltran by his pastor in Puerto Rico. He bought one, and he and his wife, Jessica, began reading it together.

“It’s a good book. It’s about life and how to walk straight,” Beltran said. “I wanted to share it with all my teammates.”

So he bought books for everyone.

“Not just for Mike,” Beltran said.

In case you’re not a teammate of Carlos Beltran’s, Your Best Life Now is a bestselling book by “Houston megachurch pastor and inspirational TV host” Joel Osteen, in the words of Amazon’s review. I had heard that Beltran was a believer, but frankly I’m disturbed that an ultra-wealthy major-league ballplayer is sharing the prosperity Gospel with fellow millionaires. If you’re not entirely familiar with what Osteen, et al, teach, Ken Silva has a good backgrounder.

Let’s go, Mets — to the real Gospel, that is.


Spurgeon Online

This from today’s ByFaith Update:

The Spurgeon Archive
The Spurgeon Archive includes many free, online writings of Charles Hadden Spurgeon (1834-92). Sermons, books and tracts online include: “The Treasury of David” (on the Psalms), “Morning and Evening” and Faith’s Checkbook, the “Sword and the Trowel” tract evangelism, “All of Grace,” “Sermons in Candles,” much more. Tour the Spurgeon Library at William Jewell College; see Spurgeon’s handwritten sermon notes. Go to


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