Author Archive

Iraq: Additional Reading

If you’re interesting in additional information about Iraq’s history after reading the Smithsonian article (Iraq’s Unruly Century) passed around after worship Sunday in preparation for our Iraqi guest speaker at House Church Wednesday, here are a few links:


Resolution To Urge PCA Members to Pull Their Children Out of Public Schools

Reading the General Assembly blog, I saw the news of the Resolution To Urge PCA Members to Pull Their Children Out of Public Schools. It’s also covered on WorldNetDaily.

As both places mention, the resolution is “similar to one that was presented, and later defeated, at the Southern Baptist Convention last year.” The difference in this case is that “the resolution has some prominent backers in the PCA – Dr. D. James Kennedy of Coral Ridge Presbyterian in Ft. Lauderdale, and Joel Belz, founder of World Magazine and former moderator of the General Assembly.”

Anyone know what the word on the GA street is?

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“How is it possible for you to effectively teach gay students?”’s Best of the Web Today last week covered a story from The American Enterprise magazine about how the pursuit of “diversity” on campus leads to racial and religious discrimination (quoting David French):

When I applied to teach at Cornell Law School, an interviewer noticed my evangelical background and asked, “How is it possible for you to effectively teach gay students?” If I had not given what I consider to be, in all modesty, an absolutely brilliant answer to the question, I don’t think I would have gotten the job. I sat in admissions committee meetings at Cornell in which African-American students who expressed conservative points of view were disfavored because “they had not taken ownership of their racial identity.” An evangelical student was almost rejected before I pointed out that the reviewer’s statement that “they did not want Bible-thumping or God-squading on campus” was illegal and immoral.

After the BOTW wondered aloud (er, in print, er electronicly) what his answer was, French emailed to tell them:

I was surprised and pleased to see that you quoted from my talk to the American Enterprise Institute regarding intellectual diversity (or the lack thereof) and censorship on campus. I noted that you want to know my “absolutely brilliant answer” to the improper interview question. Before I tell you, I just want to make clear that the “absolutely brilliant” comment was made tongue-in-cheek in the speech and was played for laughs. I’m not really quite so full of myself. The truth is that I was fortunate to get the job perhaps in spite of my answer. I responded to the interviewer with the following statement:

“I believe that all human beings are created in the image of God and should be treated with dignity and respect, regardless of whether I agree with their personal conduct or beliefs. I will treat all my students well, but I can’t guarantee that they will treat me well when they learn that I’m a dreaded ‘Christian conservative.’ ”

She responded with a long silence and then said, “I never thought of things from that perspective.”

Great response, no? I’d like to think that I would compose myself and my answer in such a way as to be truthful and graceful, and honor God in the process.

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Indelible Grace and friends

Since we at the Orchard have been slowing increasing our repertoire of Indelible Grace hymns during worship, I figured the following links to new music from friends of IG (from the latest IG mailing) might interest you:

  • Jars of Clay – REDEMPTION SONGS
  • St. Pat’s – THINE ALL THE MERITS: Celtic/classically-tinged worship produced by IG alum Blayne Chastain.
  • Red Mountain Music – THE GADSBY PROJECT: Birmingham folks release third project with no signs of slowing down.

The Jars of Clay (popularly known for “Flood”) site is nice because it has streaming audio of their album (which is mostly well-done covers of IG tunes) and allows you to select tracks yourself. OOCers will recognize track 11. Also, listen to the funkified version of “It Is Well” and the unique take on “Nothing But the Blood.”

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The “Hunger for Some Unvarnished Truths”

Insightful article on why “American Idol” is refreshingly judgmental in today’s WSJ Taste page:

Ostensibly the whole point of “American Idol” is to watch a field of amateur singers get whittled down from the initial thousands of contestants to the current cast of 10, and then to see them voted off one by one until at last we come to the real-life American Idol. … But none of this accounts for the massive appeal of the show, which is just a high-stakes karaoke contest. The real draw, I suspect, is the judges, each of whom acts as a kind of stand-in for a moral idea–a theory of justice, if you will–at work in America today.

Even if you don’t watch it, you’ll appreciate the article, I think.

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Ignoring God on campus

I read the following tidbit on Best of the Web Today:

Be Diverse, Ignore God
The Princeton Review publishes a college guide, and its Web site lists the various criteria on which it ranks the 357 campuses included. One of them is “demographics,” which is based on comparisons in four criteria:

Diversity University Monochromatic Institute
Lots of Race/Class Interaction Little Race/Class Interaction
Diverse Student Population Homogeneous Student Population
Students Ignore God on a Regular Basis Students Pray on a Regular Basis
Gay Community Accepted Alternative Lifestyles Not An Alternative

We have no quarrel with the first, second and fourth of these criteria, but the third one is quite astonishing. If you “ignore God on a regular basis,” you’re “diverse,” whereas if you “pray on a regular basis,” you’re “monochromatic”? What if you pray in a black church, or pray for a more diverse campus?

I checked out the Princeton Review’s site, just to see what schools qualified as “diversity university” and “monochromatic institute” (I suppose if you’re monochomatic, you can’t be considered a “university”) in the God category.

The top five “closed-minded” campuses:

  1. Brigham Young University
  2. Wheaton College (sorry Seth and Jon E.)
  3. Grove City College
  4. University of Dallas
  5. Samford University (sorry, Jen S.)

And the “broad-minded” schools:

  1. Reed College
  2. Lewis & Clark College
  3. Marlboro College
  4. Eugene Lang College
  5. Hampshire College

Incidentally, Grove City College and Wheaton also show up in the “Alternative Lifestyles Not An Alternative” top five, while Eugene Lang is tops in the “Gay Community Accepted.” Perhaps not so incidentally, Lewis & Clark and Hampshire appear on the fun-sounding “Reefer Madness” chart in the “Party School” section of the Review. Then again, doesn’t everyone know that open-minded, “diverse” people smoke pot? Or does pot help you “ignore God on a regular basis”?

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Glory of the Gates

Erin Layton is an OOC-expatriate living in New York. She recently sent an email with her observations on The Gates Project there. She writes (posted with permission):

I saw the Gates on Sunday afternoon, the last day of the exhibition. Makoto Fujimara, a painter and writer at Village Church, spoke briefly about the impact of such an exhibit for Christians, especially Christians in the arts. He encouraged us to experience the Gates on our own because he likened the exhibit to kingdom glory. He showed slides of the orange fabric that spread like a sleeping serpent through Central Park. The infinite nature of the Gates, he said, should encourage us involved in the arts to bring glory to God through our gifts. Look at how much glory this has brought to the city, he said, why shouldn’t we strive for the same purpose in our individual pursuits?

This word glory meant little to me, in terms of art, until I witnessed the Gates on my own. I think I have lost some understanding of what it means to truly glorify God through art. I don’t know the spiritual beliefs of the artists who put this piece together and I honestly had not read much on their vision/purpose of such work. When I walked up the stairs from 59th Street and Colombus Circle Subway station I gazed upward to a sea of orange enveloping New York City. Since this was the last day for the exhibit it had attracted the largest crowd I had seen in New York. The strange thing was the entire park fell silent under the spell of the color. People touched the fabric as they walked by with a certain respect as if they were touching the cloak of a great king or prophet. Even though it as a bitter cold afternoon the Gates lent a warmth that comforted our souls. We weren’t trying to get somewhere fast. We all walked with the same slow pace. I noticed people standing in the middle of the park with tears streaming down their faces as they gazed upon the expanse of orange. I can’t tell you why the gates were so moving. I felt as though the people who attended were embracing their dead, each gate representing the souls of those who perished. Maybe it was a memorial for the Tsunami disaster, again each of the gates a tribute to the orphaned children, the families who perished together, the mothers, the fathers. Or maybe it was the safety that we felt as a brotherhood, sisterhood walking into a sublime protection from the outside world. For whatever reason we felt moved by these pillars of hanging orange fabric whether it be personal or universal, it united the city. This city so full of glory and sadness was represented by a single motif repeated over and over all across metropolitan New York. Truly glorious.


Disney’s Take on Narnia

You’ve probably heard the buzz about Disney’s attempt at producing the big-screen interpretation of The Chronicles of Narnia. An article in the New York Times raises the issue of the work’s Christian worldview, vis-a-vis the “marketability” of the film. The whole commercial element of Disney’s motivation rubs me the wrong way, though of course they’re entitled to it:

Having been criticized for failing to cash in on the merchandising opportunities offered by 2003’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl,” Disney is preparing for the kind of all-encompassing drive it hasn’t mounted since 1994, when it turned “The Lion King” into a pop cultural event that still reverberates in its retail stores and on Broadway.

But the real issue — to the players in the story, including the author — is how “touchy” the matter of the Christian aspect is:

But this time, the pros at Disney are wrestling with a special challenge: how to sell a screen hero who was conceived as a forthright symbol of Jesus Christ, a redeemer who is tortured and killed in place of a young human sinner and who returns in a glorious resurrection that transforms the snowy landscape of Narnia into a verdant paradise.

I was amazed at how ignorant the author and Disney execs seem to be about the nature of movies and worldviews: namely, that every film has one. The idea that Disney “stays out of the culture wars” or is apolitical is preposterous. Just because a movie isn’t Christian doesn’t mean it doesn’t present a religion or particular worldview. Plenty of Disney movies have very clearly defined worldviews.

It’s just sad that people’s overfunctioning political correctness prevents them from enjoying/producing a perfectly great, redemptive work of literature, just because someone told them it was “Christian.” I’m hopeful that it will be faithful (no pun intended), but I’m not holding my breath – Disney’s track record doesn’t bode well (I challenge readers to give me some examples otherwise).

Now if Mel G. decides to make a version of Narnia…

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Terrell Owens (NFL star): “God is using me”

NFL wide receiver Terrell Owens, whose football-catching talents are only exceeded by his propensity to ensure that everyone knows about them, once again put himself in the headlines this weekend, not by appearing in a contraversial Monday Night Football ad or self-aggrandizing end-zone shenanigans, but but remarking on God’s will for his life:

“I think God put me on this stage for a certain reason,” Owens said. “I got hurt for a reason. I understand that. A lot of people don’t. A lot of people are questioning my ability and probably the risk that I take playing this game 6½ weeks after surgery. But it doesn’t really matter what people say about me, I know what I can do. I know how my ankle feels and that’s all that matters.”

When asked the reasoning behind his injury, Owens went on to say: “I think God is using me [and] put me on a platform to really show the world how great he is. God has put me in the position, and I’m welcoming that challenge. Just by the timing of me getting hurt, he had to sit me down and put things into perspective for me. And that’s what he’s done. He put me on the biggest stage of my life to show people how great he is.”

As intriguing as Owens’ comments are, I was struck more by how the media have jumped on — piled on — them in their own self-righteous and sanctimonious columns, none of which I’ve read demonstrate more than a superficial or conventional understanding of Christianity:

Surely, Owens is off-base when he makes claims like “God made me controversial,” as are these columnists when they sarcastically say, “God stepped in and made everything better … Do I hear, ‘Amen?'” Perhaps God is using Owens, all right: to push into the public sphere the discussion of God’s purpose and inscrutable ways and decisions, including healing of everyone from Tsunami victims to obnoxious professional athletes.

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Today’s Negligently Interpreted Version?

Well, I don’t suppose this will bother “Mr. ASV” Ron Lutjens, but it always seems newsworthy to the Christian when a new Bible translation is released. To wit, the TNIV (Today’s New International Version) from Zondervan (yes, this is the same one in the Rolling Stone kerfuffle). Zondervan is a reputable publishing house (as far as I know), and the company’s spokesman makes some reasonable arguments for some of the changes:

“In situations in the Bible where it is very clear from the original language, and also from the context, that the writer or the speaker was talking to men and women, that is simply provided accurately and specifically in the TNIV,” explains Paul Caminiti…

And, as the article points out, “God remains a ‘he’ in the TNIV,” which is too often a casualty in new translations. As it turns out, though, I also trust the comments of the “critic” quoted, Wayne Grudem, research professor of Bible and theology at Phoenix Seminary in Arizona (his son, Eliot, and I helped start an alternative newspaper in college). Anyone have more information on this?

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