Daily Archives: 7 Feb 2011

Fun Facts From Church History: What You Call Things Says a Lot About Your Theology

In Geneva while Calvin lived they called the time during the service when money was taken up the ‘gathering of gifts’.  Calvin called it this because ‘taking up a collection’ implied worship participants being forced to do something they’d rather not (think ‘collection agency’).  But a ‘gathering of gifts’ suggested a willingness on the part of worshipers to help others.

This tradition is still alive today, by the way, in Baptist churches (and probably others) where the ‘offering’ is the name most commonly used for the time during the service when money is given.

What’s so interesting about this little snippet of Church history is that what we call things says what we believe, theologically, about them.  So, go ahead if you like at your Church, and take up ‘the collection’.  We reformed types prefer to ‘receive an offering’.

Quote of the Day: On Reading Too Many Books at the Same Time

When it comes to reading, you should read one or two things at the most at a time. Here’s Luther’s wording on the subject-

Luther advised all who proposed to study, in what art soever, to read some sure and certain books over and over again; for to read many sorts of books produces rather confusion than any distinct result; just as those who dwell everywhere, and remain in no place, dwell nowhere, and have no home. As we use not daily the community of all our friends, but of a select few, even so we ought to accustom ourselves to the best books, and to make them familiar unto us, so as to have them, as we say, at our fingers end.

His point, if I may, is that if we read too many books at once and too much rubbish it is simply counterproductive.

Bristol Palin: Author (?)

Seriously, what in the world goes on in the minds of people in their teens (yes Bieber, I’m glaring at you) and Palin (!!!) that makes them think their lives are worth memorializing in a memoir or that they’ve experienced sufficient life to have anything worthwhile to say?  Why do they do it? Oh it’s HUBRIS.  That’s why.  Damnable hubris.

Bristol Palin, daughter of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, will soon be able to add “author” to her resume with the release of an as-yet-untitled memoir set to hit bookshelves this summer.  As noted by Political Wire, an Amazon listing for an “Untitled Bristol Palin Memoir” — in hardcover no less — has been created, announcing that the 304-page book will be available for a little over $17.

Might I save you $17 and summarize her life (in my own ‘pre-construction’ of her tome)?

I was a complete unknown in the lower 48 till my mom was chosen by John McCain because he thought she’d be of use on the ticket to be his running mate in ’08.   They lost.  Poor things.  Of course I wasn’t too sad because my dimwit boyfriend Levi and I were doing the nasty at every opportunity.  I got knocked up while my mommy was spouting her family values talk.  I guess I wasn’t listening.  Now I’m raising my baby alone because my baby daddy is busy with his acting career.

After mommy lost her bid to be VP she proved herself a quitter and quit her job as Governor of Alaska.  Ever since then she’s been running for president.  I hope she wins.  I want to raise my baby in the White House.

Oh, and I was on dancing with the stars.  But I only got voted for because the far right tea baggers (that’s what they’re called, right?) called and called and called in for me.

Since I left the show I’ve been working (through a ghost writer) on my book.  I sure hope Oprah reads it.

There.  Send me $10 and you’ll be glad you didn’t spend $7 more.

Aww, the ‘Black Eyed Peas’ Were Wiki-ized during their Horrid SB Performance…


click for the full effect.

I’ve finally come to see wikipedia’s purpose!  Comic relief!!!!!

Big Funding Cuts for Many State Colleges and Universities in 2011

Bad news for the higher ed industry

According to newly released data, many states are facing a massive decline in state and federal support this year.  Grapevine‘s annual survey, published by Illinois State University’s Center for the Study of Education Policy and the State Higher Education Executive Officers, details the amount of funding each states receives toward higher education.  This year, Grapevine predicts that even considering federal stimulus funds, only 16 states will see their higher ed budget grow, with Wyoming seeing the largest increase of 24.7 percent. Only North Dakota and Montana are expected to maintain a stable budget.  The remaining states will experience losses.  Below, check out which 13 states will face the biggest total (federal and state level) cuts in the 2011 fiscal year, and how much each state stands to lose.*Grapevine (PDF) has information on all fifty states.

Bad news indeed.  For State schools.

Bibi’s Worried…

Benjamin Netanyahu

Israel's own tyrant and would be world dictator

That Egypt might fall into radical Islamic hands.  What Bibi, you mean you’re afraid that Egypt’s course might be charted by religious fundamentalists and radicals, like Israel?

Egypt could fall into the hands of radical Islamists as a result of the country’s uprising, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday. Netanyahu warned about the result of the riots in Egypt over the past two weeks while speaking at an event for European diplomats held at the Knesset on Monday.

Right. Heaven forbid that Egypt be allowed to chart its own course without consulting you.

“Egyptians can choose a state with secular reforms. However, there is also another possibility that the Islamists will exploit the situation in order to gain governance over the country and lead it backward,” the Prime Minister said.

Backwards? You mean in the direction where people can be displaced and treated like second class non citizens because they aren’t ‘pure’ enough? No, that wouldn’t be good would it Bib-meister.

“The third possibility is that [Egypt] will go in the direction of Iran,” Netanyahu said, adding that they would “oppress the country and threaten all those surrounding it.”

Right, because nothing could be worse than threatening neighbors (like in the West Bank and Gaza and Lebanon and Syria).

Bibi’s worried that his own style of politics might become his neighbors type. I suppose that would be cause to worry. But what’s good for Israel is good for anyone.

An Update on the Christian in Afghanistan Sentenced to Death, Musa Sayed

Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Prime Minister of Denma...


The Telegraph has reported

Nato chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen urged Afghanistan on Monday to respect human rights as a Red Cross worker faced a possible death sentence for converting to Christianity. “Let me stress that a sentence to death or any punishment for converting from one religion to the another is in strong contradiction with everything Nato stands for,” Mr Rasmussen said. “Nato is based on the principles of human rights, rule of law, freedom, democracy,” he said at his monthly news conference. Musa Sayed, an Afghan who works for the International Committee of the Red Cross, was among two men arrested in May on apostasy charges and has languished in a Kabul jail as his case drags on. A prosecutor said in November that the two men could face the death penalty.

Mr Sayed needs to be released immediately and the world needs to demand it.

I’m Never Going to Click on a Link to That Site Again, Ever…

Because it’s just too disturbing.  So why am I linking?  Oh because I figure if I have to be utterly traumatized and filled with despair, so, my friends, do you.

And where did that link appear?  Google News!!!!!!!!!!!  I’m now filled with such regret (for following the strange sounding story about which I knew nothing and still wish I did not) that I need some tea.

A Truly Heartwarming Story

Which aired on our local ABC station.  And it’s heartwarming not because of any mention of Oprah, it’s heartwarming because of the Love sisters.  You’ve probably never heard of them, but they are doing God’s work here in Knoxville.

The founders of the Love Kitchen, sisters Helen Ashe and Ellen Turner, have been running the charity that feeds the homeless, elderly, disabled, and homebound in East Knoxville for more than 20 years.  While they are well known and loved in Knoxville, they traveled on February 3 to meet Oprah Winfrey and bring their message of helping the community to the nation.  For their appearance, the women were asked to wear what they would at The Love Kitchen. They donned their logo shirts that read “Everybody is God’s Somebody” as well as their aprons.  It’s a perfect fit for the women who are also community service partners and best friends.

Watch the video.  It’s truly a wonderful tale about wonderful women.

In Tennessee, Obama Stomps Palin

Sarah Palin at the Time 100 Gala, in Manhattan...

The 2012 Republican nominee!!!! (let's hope).

In polling done recently it seems that even here in Tennessee where nearly everyone is a Republican (at least in the east), if Repubs are silly enough to nominate Palin in 2012, she will be utterly thrashed.

A poll released Monday provides more evidence that Republicans would hamper their chances in the 2012 presidential election were they to choose Sarah Palin as their nominee.  The survey, conducted by Vanderbilt University’s Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions, concluded that President Barack Obama would beat Palin in Tennessee in a hypothetical campaign matchup, despite the president’s approval rating of just 44 percent in the state.  Forty-two percent of respondents said they’d vote for Obama, while 37 percent said they’d pick the former Alaska governor, the Tennessean reported on Monday. This, in a state that hasn’t gone for a Democratic presidential candidate since Bill Clinton in 1996 — even though the party’s nominee in 2000, former Vice President Al Gore, called Tennessee his home.

Yes, you read that correctly- Gore wasn’t even supported by his home state- but if Obama faces Palin she would lose.  And as 2012 draws nearer, and she opens her mouth more, there’s more stupidity sure to spew from it and so her chances are likely to decline even more.

Speak on Sarah, speak on!

Dear AOL, If You Buy Joel’s You Should Definitely Buy Mine…

Since, as you obviously know, I’m #1.  Joel’s #2.  Which, to be sure, is better than being #10 or #60 or #540.  But, let’s face it, it’s still #2.

And if his is worth $300,000,000 mine’s worth at least 400 mil.

If you pay me that much I will either close down completely (and cut down on the competition for you) or post even more (since I won’t have to do such a thing as ‘work’).  Your choice.

Call me.

If Ehrman Really Thinks that, He’s the Deceiver

Bible writers intended to deceive, Ehrman says screams the review headline in the News and Observer.

Scholars have long resisted using the term “forgery” to characterize Biblical writings made under false authorship, on the grounds that such concepts as forgery, plagiarism and intellectual property are modern legal constructs and don’t apply to the ancients. But UNC-Chapel Hill religion professor Bart Ehrman – a nemesis of conservative Evangelical Christianity who repudiated his faith in his 20s – makes the forgery accusation without reservation in a new book of that name.

Here’s the problem, and here’s where Ehrman turns from academic researcher to publicity seeking deceiver: he cannot POSSIBLY know what intention was operative in the minds of the writers of those texts which eventually became the New Testament. To pretend that he does only demonstrates that he is more interested in saying absurd headline grabbing things than that he interested in and engaged in actual academic pursuits.

In his quest for notoriety I fear Bart really has lost his grip on reality. Either he’s deceiving intentionally simply in order to make money; or he’s insane and actually believes that he knows what ancient writers thought about why they wrote what they wrote.

By the by, he’s not a nemesis to evangelical Christianity, he’s just a bore who repeats the same tired nonsense over and over again.  If you’ve read anything he’s written in the last ten years you’ve read everything he’s written in the last ten years.  His hatred of his own fundamentalist background reeks of self loathing.  It’s oozing out his very pores.

(HT Tom Verenna on FB)

‘Give God a Chance’ – Vile Blasphemy

From time to time you hear people, even well meaning people, say ‘give God a chance’.  But this is theologically inappropriate talk at the very least and complete blasphemy at most.  Why?

Because God isn’t some sort of fad diet pill or weight loss program or tv show or some such thing that people try out for a little while and then dump when they grow disinterested.

Furthermore, it suggests that God is subject to OUR judgment.  ‘Try God out and if you don’t like him, you don’t need to trouble yourself with him.  If he doesn’t measure up to your lofty standards, pitch him like a used diaper’.

But I would submit that God is not under your microscope, you are under his.  If you want God in your life, you’re all in.  Not half in, not partially in.  And if you don’t want God in your life, off to hell with you.  Literally.

The choice is yours of course, but to demean the sacred name of God by suggesting that he’s just some trinket a dog can wring around in its mouth for a while till it gets bored is vile blasphemy.

Egypt’s Clever Move to Buy Loyalty to the Government

President George W. Bush and Egyptian Presiden...

It's hard to get rid of a Pharoah

Give government employees a 15% raise.  Nice.   And smart.  By doing so you engender good will and raise the important question, ‘if Mubarak is forced out before the next elections, what will happen to my job and my livelihood?’

Egypt’s embattled regime announced Monday a 15 per cent increase in salaries and pensions in the latest attempt to defuse popular anger amid protests demanding President Hosni Mubarak’s ouster. The cabinet decision follows earlier promises to investigate election fraud and official corruption, which have done little to persuade the tens of thousands occupying downtown’s Tahrir Square to end their two-week long protest. State TV also announced that the family of a detained Google Inc. marketing manager who helped organize the anti-Mubarak demonstrations, “has been notified that he will be released this evening.”

Set free the captives, give workers more money… that’s the very way to ensure that Mubarak stays in office as long as he wants. The protesters may have lots of worldwide support, but Mubarak isn’t going anywhere and no one should be surprised. One doesn’t hold on to power in Egypt for 3 decades without being smarter than those who would dethrone him.

Neither We Nor our Allies Should Remain in Afghanistan Another Day

Coat of Arms for the Afghan National Police

Corrupt Murderers

It simply is not worth it.

Afghans working with UK troops ‘regularly smoke opium’. A culture of drug-taking and ”indiscipline” exists among Afghan nationals working with British troops in Afghanistan, a preliminary inquest hearing into the deaths of five British soldiers was told today. The British troops were murdered by an Afghan policeman on November 3, 2009. The soldiers were gunned down without warning by an officer they had been living alongside at an Afghan National Police (ANP) checkpoint in Nad-e-Ali in Helmand Province.

It simply isn’t worth protecting a culture of drug abuse, inhumanity, and corruption. Let the Afghans take care (or not) of their own problems. Their corrupt ‘society’ isn’t worth a single outsider’s life.

Mike Huckabee has Lost all Respectability

And just think, I had actually considered (fleetingly) the possibility of voting for him.  In light of this, however, there’s no way I ever will.  Ever.

Once and possibly future GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee visited Israel last week. A hallmark of many politicians running for president is expressing support for symbolic measures that hold deep meaning for various ethnic or religious groups. One typical example is promising to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Israel’s capital. The State Department maintains the embassy in Tel Aviv because the status of Jerusalem is still in dispute, but Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama all pledged to move it–only to abandon the promise once they took office. Huckabee also supported moving the embassy during his visit. But he also went further and said the Palestinians should not get any land on the West Bank–what Israelis call Judea and Samaria–for a Palestinian state. Instead, he suggested, Arabs should carve out a Palestinian state out of Arab lands, somewhere in the Middle East.

No Palestinian state where Palestinians live?  That’s absurd, and quite frankly, evil.  His ‘relocation’ plan sounds frighteningly like Hitler’s plan to relocate the Jews to ghettos where they would certainly be happier…

“There are vast amounts of territory that are in the hands of Muslims, in the hands of Arabs. Maybe the international community can come together and accommodate” the Palestinians –Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, Feb. 2, 2011.

Appalling.  No, I could never support such a person.  I can now no longer even respect him, as he has become nothing but a servant of the Christian Zionists and their Israeli cohorts.

‘Skins’, MTV, and Parents with their Children

There’s a grandly readable essay over here on the much discussed MTV ‘Skins’.  It’s not very long, but it is very insightful.

Where in the World is Chris Tilling Now?

Police say a Connecticut British man called 911 to ask a dispatcher how much trouble he could get into by growing one marijuana plant, then was arrested. Farmington police say a dispatcher told 21– 66 year-old Robert Michelson Chris Tilling on Thursday night that he could get arrested for growing pot, and Michelson Tilling said thank you and hung up. Officers went to Michelson’s house Tilling’s hotel and seized a small amount of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. Michelson Tilling has admitted he bought seeds and equipment for growing.

Oh Chris…

Arianna Sells Out

Arianna Huffington talks to the media during h...


There has been mixed reaction across the web to the news that AOL is acquiring The Huffington Post, an internet newspaper, for £315 million. On the whole the first wave of reactions have been positive. AOL, as an internet company trying to make a comeback, is to buy one of the most popular news sites in the US, is, on the face of it, a good news story for both the technology and media worlds. And the fact that, for the moment, Arianna Huffington, the colourful co-founder and editor in chief of The Huffington Post, is staying with her creation and taking over the rest of AOL’s content site, bodes well for the ailing AOL.

Ugh. The last time AOL hooked up with someone it ended in disaster. Why would it be different this time? AOL is to service providers what Beliefnet is to websites: nothing more than a dribble of useful stuff hidden amongst a plethora of adverts and money grubbing.

If You Didn’t Get Enough of the Lame Adverts…

During the Super Bowl last night, you can torture yourself again.  They’re all right here. The best was the Pepsi Max ‘dieter and his wife’ commercial.