Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Partisan gut check

BREITBART.COM - Calif. Congressman Admits Taking Bribes: "Rep. Randy 'Duke' Cunningham pleaded guilty Monday to conspiracy and tax charges and tearfully resigned from office, admitting he took $2.4 million in bribes to steer defense contracts to conspirators."

Some might think I idolize Republicans. I don't. All politicians tend toward greed and corruption because of the power that they weild. The key issue for me regarding corruption is accountability. This Republican Congressman is being prosecuted to the full extent of the law, just like those Enron lowlifes. Kofi Annan and the rest of his UN gangsters are still enjoying the opulent fruit of their corrupt labors, free from prosecution. Profiting from the torture of a dictators evil regime? Nice work if you can get it at the UN, and even nicer if you can get away with it. Who holds the UN accountable?

I ask you, which party wants to give more power to the UN? That's just one reason why I'm a Republican.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Mother Sheehan’s Book Signing

Sweetness & Light: "Anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan waits for people to show up at her book signing near President Bush’s ranch on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2005 in Crawford, Texas."

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Dr. Helen: Teen Went Willingly

Dr. Helen: "It does not help that we have infused kids with a lack of guilt--trying our best to raise their self-esteem to the point where the normal social sanctions against murder no longer apply to some kids. According to a study by a George Mason University professor, guilt has been found to possibly predict later behavior. Kids who were more prone to feeling guilt were less likely to try drugs and alcohol, less likely to become criminals, less likely to commit suicide and more likely to practice safe sex."

I thought "learning to love yourself, is the greatest love of all".

Monday, November 21, 2005

Digital Religion

FT December 2005: Articles: "The next stop may be the digitizing of religious practice. Online confessions have been around at least since 1997, and although the Catholic Church has rejected the practice, that hasn’t closed down all the virtual confessionals. At, for instance, you can enter the virtual booth, select your sins from five general classes of misdoing, and then proceed to the automated confessor, which doles out punishments normally consisting of some combination of fasting, Our Fathers, and Hail Marys. Although there is a disclaimer saying that the e-confessional isn’t sanctioned by the Catholic Church, most of its language is taken from the sacramental texts. is also one of several sites that offers a virtual rosary. The website Universalis does an online version of the Liturgy of the Hours. Elsewhere there are cyber Seders and even Internet muftis.

Beliefnet’s Waldman thinks that this distancing of the self from the religious act can be helpful. “The anonymity of the Internet is what makes it work so well for religion,” he says. “It’s the flip side of why porn spreads. The same phenomenon that has led to pornography spreading, a variant of that has made religion one of the most popular topics online. It’s that you can explore religious matters in the privacy of your own home; ask questions you might be embarrassed to ask; have conversations with people with some anonymity; and do it anytime day or night.” This “anonymity combined with intimacy,” Waldman says, makes people “more inclined to open up,” since they aren’t revealing themselves totally.

To which one wants to say: Doesn’t that metaphor give you pause? Is a technique that has made pornography into the Internet’s number-one business really a good idea for religion, the Internet’s number-two business?

The failure of anonymous online pornography to be real sex is also the failure of anonymous online churching to be real religion: In both sex and religion, incarnation—the physical body—turns out to matter a great deal."

Interesting article. Read the part about the Jesus Poker Chips ("He went all in for you").

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Please come to Boston...

Of to Boston tomorrow to look at houses and meet my new region for the weekend.

Blogging will be even lighter than the paltry bit I usually manage. Oh well.

I've been dying to put down some thoughts about more movies and about a "king".

That will have to wait though. I'm not feeling very well and we have to be on the bus at 6:50am tomorrow.

It's going to be cold up there!

Monday, November 14, 2005

The Church is Flat

As I often do, I've been at a conference this week and haven't had time to blog about it until now. I was observing a Leadership Network community for Multi-Site Churches.

The time is coming and now is when churches will no longer be defined by a physical space, or even a city. The technology is available to immerse churchgoers in a replica of the sights and sounds of a worship experience, whether or not that experience is actually originating in the same room. I saw it with my own eyes last week. A video reproduction of a Sunday sermon was shown on 3 massive screens at a satellite campus of Fellowship Church in Grapevine, TX. It was so vivid and lifelike that I could pick out blemishes and veins in the pastors face from 200 feet away.

This is largely the thesis of The World is Flat which I have begun reading but have not finished. I began to imagine the possibility of students in closed countries, enjoying fellowship with other Christian students around the world, as well as gaining access to theological resources and even the experience of a church family, only without the physical reality present. Interesting stuff.

Many of my seminary mates and professors would warn of the inherent dangers in melding technology and worship and removing direct human contact from the meaning of the term "Body of Christ". Their warnings would be valid and important. Technology is always a mixed blessing. What helps a student who is cut off from the physical body of Christ because of oppression might actually harm someone who can and should have access to a physical and immediate manifestation of the people of God. Such questions need wisdom applied in each setting. Technology is neither all good, nor all bad. It changes things.

Whether we like it or not, the time is coming and now is.

Cathy's World: Jesus is just a liberal, alright with me?

Cathy's World:
" Although Regas called his sermon "If Jesus Debated Senator Kerry and President Bush," he didn't imagine Jesus sitting there awkwardly on a third stool, like Ross Perot, but as a presence directly criticizing only Bush, never Kerry. (Although you'd think, just out of curiosity, Jesus might have asked what really happened on those Swift boats.)

Instead, Regas' Jesus scolds the president: "President Bush, you have not made dramatically clear what have been the human consequences of the war in Iraq," adding, "now the latest figures say 100,000 Iraqi fighters, women and children are dead." And: "Jesus turns to President Bush again with deep sadness. 'Is what I hear really true? Do you really mean that you want to end a decade-old ban on developing nuclear battlefield weapons?' "

Leaving aside the odd notion of Jesus getting information by checking "the latest figures" (wouldn't he just know?) or hanging around the water cooler ("Is what I hear really true?"), Regas' Jesus is quite a policy wonk. According to the sermon, Jesus is pro-choice, against the Iraq war and vehemently disapproves of the Bush tax cuts (that "50% of the tax savings goes to the top 1% of the wealthiest Americans" would "break Jesus' heart," according to Regas). He's in favor of good prenatal care, "dignified jobs" (does carpentry count?) and affordable housing. I'm curious what he thinks of gerrymandered voting districts, electricity regulation and making it easier to fire bad teachers, but maybe Jesus isn't really into California politics.

"How Jesus mourns the death of those 3,000 people killed on 9/11," Regas continues. "But Jesus also mourns the death, devastation and loss in Afghanistan and Iraq and Sudan and Israel-Palestine…." Then he conjures up Jesus again: "At the time of the trauma of 9/11," Jesus says, "you did not have to declare war. You could have said to the American people and the world, 'We will respond, but not in kind.' "

Just how Bush should have responded, Jesus doesn't say. But I'd like to know how Regas would have channeled Jesus' foreign policy ideas about Pearl Harbor, for instance, or the Holocaust. Presumably Jesus would have thought the latter, at least, merited some kind of action — if only to keep it from leading to what Regas calls "Israel-Palestine" instead of just Palestine.

"Mr. President," Regas' Jesus continues, "the consequences of arrogance, accompanied by certitude that the world's most powerful military can cure all ills…." And blah-blah-blah-blabbity-blah. This Jesus is awfully wordy, not at all like the terse prophet you may remember from the Bible. Regas apparently thinks Jesus would sound rather like Cindy Sheehan blathering on to the Huffington Post, or maybe like one of John Kerry's speechwriters.

And if Regas had been around when the Gospels were written, they'd probably include lines like, "Father, forgive their consequences, for their ignorance is accompanied by certitude. "
Blessed are the moderates, for they shall see both sides.

The End of Newspapers?

BREITBART.COM - Just The News: "Dark days are ahead for American newspapers, as sales tumble, a warp-speed news culture leaves lumbering dailies behind and scandals over flawed reporting taint heavyweight titles."

Thursday, November 10, 2005

As Good as It Gets (1997)

This movie is a magnet.

I'm watching right now for about the 1000th time on TBS.

I can't pass it up.

This is easily one of the best movies ever made and perhaps the best screenplay of all time.

The humanity!

If you haven't seen it, I pity you. I pity the fool who hasn't seen this movie.

My rating: Own it

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The Early Church

In case you missed this over the weekend.

Haarets: "A mosaic and the remains of a building uncovered recently in excavations on the Megiddo prison grounds may belong to the earliest church in the world, according to a preliminary examination by the Israel Antiquities Authority.

One of the most dramatic finds suggests that, instead of an altar, a simple table stood in the center of the church, at which a sacred meal was held to commemorate the Last Supper."

Monday, November 07, 2005

The New York Times and willful ignorance

First Death Is Reported in Paris Riots as Arson Increases - New York Times: "Though a majority of the youths committing the acts are Muslim, and of African or North African origin, the mayhem has yet to take on any ideological or religious overtones. "


So why is the violence spreading to other countries?

NYT: I don't know. But I'm sure it doesn't have any ideological or religious overtones. It's just "unrest" by "youths".

OK I made that last statement up. But give me a break, you call this reporting.

Here's some reporting:
Social divisions in today's French society run along ethnic and religious lines, and they also signify deep cultural rifts. The ideal of the French republic -- the nation as a community of the willing, of citizens who enjoy equal rights, regardless of their ethnic origins or religious beliefs -- is giving way to a volatile co-existence among communities that want to retain their identities and live according to their own rules. The official French position has always been to condemn multiculturalism -- and yet the state must now deal with the consequences.

The strict separation of church and state, a sacrosanct pillar of French government, has become an illusion. Jihad may not be what's inspiring the rioters, but Islam is undeniably an inseparable component of their self-identity. Islam strengthens their sense of solidarity, gives them the appearance of legitimacy and draws an unmistakable line between them and the others, the "French."

Suddenly "big brothers" -- devout bearded men from the mosques who wear long traditional robes -- are positioning themselves between the authorities and the rioters in Clichy-sous-Bois, calling for order in the name of Allah. As thousands of voices shout "Allahu Akbar" from the windows of high-rise apartment buildings, shivers run down the spines of television viewers in their seemingly safe living rooms.
But wait a minute. I was taught in college that all cultures are equally moral and legitimate. Why doesn't that seem to work in France, or the rest of Europe? (or at college for that matter)

Let's hope that if John Kerry wins the White House in 2008, France will still be around to help administer the "Global Test" that U.S. foreign policy is supposed to undergo before it is acted upon.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Hugh interviews the Porn Student

Radio Blogger: "There is a scandal on this campus, because one of the students there produced and starred in a hard-core pornography film and has aired it on their student-run television station. Essentially, the good taxpayers of the State of California are footing the bill for over the air porn. Here's Hugh's interview with the student at the center of the controversy, Steve York. Note all the times Hugh asks if the school ever got involved.

...HH: But I mean, I'm talking about on campus.

SY: Nobody on campus.

HH: I'm just stunned. I mean, have you had any regret at all?

SY: You know, well after February, I've never expected just something that I did a ten minute ridiculous segment that played once to really change my life. And unfortunately, or fortunately, there's no going back.

HH: Well actually, there is. There is going back. There's don't have to do this, right?

SY: Well...wait, say that again. Sorry, my phone rang.

HH: I mean, yeah you've made the movie, and you've shown it, but you don't have to kind of stand there and say, unquestionably, it was a good idea. I mean, you could admit that it was a mistake at some point, right?

SY: You know, I'm not going to be ashamed about sex, or...

HH: I'm not talking about shame. I'm talking about this particular...I'm not talking about sex at all. I'm talking about making a porn movie in which you star. At some point, are you open to the idea that you made a mistake?

SY: Not at all. I'm fighting for what I believe in. I think it's a very, very critical 1st Amendment and sexual expression issue, as well as student control issues.

HH: Did you ever read the book by the woman who starred in Deep Throat? What happened to her?

SY: Uh, Linda Lovelace?

HH: Yeah.

SY: You know, I realize the porn industry has this really negative past, but if we about sexuality and pornography into the open...

HH: Now, that's not what I'm asking. I'm asking did you read her book?

SY: No, I did not.

HH: Okay, because this industry destroys a lot of people. And I actually don't want to argue with you so much as just to let you know it's okay to later on say you know what? I really screwed up, because I think you really screwed up here

SY: Well, I think times are changing. Thirty years ago, when the porn industry were just starting, an adult film could bring an obscenity prosecution against you. With the advent of the internet, and you, just walking down the street every day, are probably running into people who have organized crime...

HH: Steve, you're not hearing me. I know this. I teach this stuff.

SY: Where do you teach?

HH: I teach at Chapman Law School. I know all the obscenity laws. I know all the decisions. That's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about the personal toll on you, and that no one at the University, not one person took you aside and said Steve, you really might want to think about this. This is not a choice that you see a lot of people making for a reason.

SY: Well, I'm making it for a reason. It's not just me going into make money on this. It's really to bring up an issue that I feel strongly about, and that I've felt strongly about for years now.

HH: Did any of your friends come up to you and say you don't want to do this? Because you know, I've seen, actually, people who had their pictures taken in Girls Gone Wild, later suing the production people there out of regret and grief, and they just decide what they did. And they can't get out of it.

SY: Yeah, but this is the difference here. Rather than a pornographic production company like Shane's World or any of the other companies that come to college campuses to recruit people, this is something we're doing on our own.

HH: Okay, Steve. I'm out of time. Maybe I'll have you back. But hear me say this. You don't have to stand where you are right now. You can go back. You can say I made a mistake. And I'll pray that you come up to that decision. Thanks for joining me."

Read the whole thing.

Student 'girlcott' protests Abercrombie t-shirts "With a few words on their T-shirts, Abercrombie & Fitch lets young women send a message: 'Who needs a brain when you have these?'

A group of female high school students have a message for A&F: Stop degrading us.

The Allegheny County (Pa.) Girls have started a boycott--or girlcott, as they're calling it--of the retailer."

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Crash (2004)

Crash (2004): I actually saw this movie last week.

I was disappointed. Crash has gotten rave reviews and it talked about as early Oscar favorite for Best Picture.

I disagree.

It is a good movie but definitely not great.

It fails on two levels. First, it is not true to LA. I grew up in LA. I had friends who were black, white, brown and every other color. My dad (who is white) drove a bus (which in the movie is a symbol of racial injustice) and worked for the Bus company in LA for 30 years. Growing up, he had friends from Egypt, Mexico, Ecuador and many other countries. Not these, my dad had friends of every racial stripe. My Dad worked the LA riots for crying out loud. I just finished two summers bringing students to Venice Beach which is probably the most ethnically diverse beach in the whole wide world.

What's my point. Crash makes LA out to be a hot bed of racism. In reality it isn't. LA is too laid back to a hotbed of racism. I'm not saying it doesn't exist in LA but think about it from the another perspective. Given that LA is among the most racially diverse cities in the world, the question should be "Why isn't there more racial unrest in LA?" I'm sure the French would like to know.

The second major flaw in the film is its unrealistic portrayal of racists. My experience with racists teaches me that racists are mean, hateful people who use racism as a brand of hatefulness reserved for people of other races. Crash portrays people who are kind and decent in most of their lives but racist when it comes to those outside of their families. I think the last 50 years of racial integration and awareness has made this very rare. I would argue that today, overt racism is largely perpetrated by people who are cruel and rude across the board, and racism is just the insult du jour when confronted with someone of another race.

What makes a film like Magnolia (be advised regarding the 2-3000 F-words) so much more powerful than Crash is that Magnolia portrays families in a way that corresponds to how most families actually are (going back to the Biblical times for that matter). Crash is full of racists who, for me, were not true to life.

I suspect some of the positive reviews of this film stem from fear of panning a movie that makes racism it's target. That's too bad. Truth loses in a world of political correctness. For a much more realistic picture of racism see Monsters Ball (be advised regarding the nearly x-rated sex scene).

My Rating: Rentable

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

When is racism ok?

'Party trumps race' for Steele foes - Metropolitan - The Washington Times, America's Newspaper: "Black Democratic leaders in Maryland say that racially tinged attacks against Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele in his bid for the U.S. Senate are fair because he is a conservative Republican."

I guess when you are racist against Black Republicans.

So much for Rosa Parks. Sigh.

University of Porn

Hugh Hewitt: "The Chancellor of a great university is unable to summon the moral vocabularly much less courage to forbid the showing of a hard core porn --this is the state of American higher education."

Interesting Stuff