Thursday, May 05, 2005

My new blog home, with a few termites

For a number of reasons I have moved Short Attention Span to my own domain:


It still has a few bugs but it is now operative and my new posts are going there. One major bug is that I'm having trouble importing my posts from here at Blogger, although in theory it's doable. I do think that in time the blog will be better as a result. The theme is way cool.

So if you are one of those kind enough to have me on your blogroll, please change the URL and bookmark me. And thanks!

BTW, I have also resurrected my defunct Web site, which you can see here. It too has a few bugs of a minor nature. I'm toying with the idea of a forum but I'm not sure about the time commitment.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

More bias from Google?

WorldNetDaily: Google censoring conservative ads?

Google's AdWords program places text ads in the right-hand margin of search result pages that relate to the words a user types in. So, a search for "Tom DeLay" elicits ads for mostly anti-DeLay sites.

Upon seeing one of those ads, decided to place an ad using the same words but just swapping Pelosi's name for DeLay. The ad read: "Truth about Nancy Pelosi: Learn about Pelosi's many scandals and help us clean up the House!"

Said "That's all we did – we took the liberal ad and changed the words to make it a conservative ad."

...Mike Mayzel, a spokesman for Google, says both the anti-Pelosi ad and the anti-DeLay ad are gone.

"Both ads were taken down," he told WND.

Is Google going to be the next media outlet to alienate half the country by promoting ideology while protesting its neutrality? I hope not.

Blogger is getting slow again...

Aw, shucks!

It seems that yours truly has been awarded the top prize at the Evangelical Outpost's recent Blog Symposium. This is a great honor, given the quality of many of the entries. Even more exiting than my award is seeing the number of intelligent, thinking evangelical bloggers out there, challenging people to love God with all their heart, soul, mind and strenth.

My thanks to Joe Carter and the other judges, and to those of you who motivate me by dropping by.

For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. Proverbs 2:6

What do you have that you did not receive? 1 Corinthians 4:7

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Happy to be a day late & a dollar short

I had been writing a book on the origins issue. The thesis was that discussion of origins had been hijacked by extremists on both sides who distort both science and Christianity in promoting their ideologies, and that Christians could help repair the damage by disregarding the dogmatic pronouncements of theologically unbalanced, demagogic, sectarian creationist leaders and instead return to a serious examination of what the Bible actually says. Much harm is being done to the cause of Christ by those who now now assert that a novel doctrine with roots in Seventh-Day Adventism --young earth creationism and a global flood-- are the clear teaching of the Bible and campaign for them as a test of orthodoxy and fellowship.

Today I began reading Hugh Ross's new book, A Matter of Days: Resolving a Creation Controversy. In the first few chapters, Ross makes the same point I wanted to make, and probably more effectively too. So now I have half a book that is suddenly redundant. Maybe I'll put it online, on the site I plan to set up and relocate the blog to.

So much for my second career as an author. Still, I'm very glad that someone of Ross's stature is saying what I think needs to be said. May his book be widely read and his warnings taken seriously.

Requiem for a servant

Bill was born in West Texas during the Depression, third of eight kids in a poor family. After the tenth grade he was forced to leave school in order to provide for the family. By his early twenties, married with two children, he was also supporting his paraplegic mother and had his two youngest brothers living with him.

Bill was raised in the cultural religion of the Bible Belt, but in his early thirties he experienced the reality of the risen Christ, which changed the course of his life. By the time he and Lorain had their sixth and last child, they were serving as missionaries on a Native American reservation. Today the mission is led my a man whom they discipled as a young boy. A year after leaving the mission to accept a pastoral position, Bill was forced to make a choice between his pastoral duties and providing for his family. Scriptural mandate and personal habit on the same side, he chose family and resigned his position. He and Lorain then worked for many years in a food processing plant, providing their children with the start in life that had been denied to them. Retirement brought them a time of family gatherings, road trips, puttering in the garden and garage, and declining health.

Bill was an avid student of the Bible and, in his own way, a systematic theologian. He remained a preacher-at-large, evangelizing those he came in contact with and discussing the Bible with those who were interested. He defied stereotypes: in some ways arch-conservative yet embracing the ethos of the Jesus People. He lived modestly, as though the world to come is more of a reality than this one, even while placing great importance on the practical needs of others. He, like the rest of us, had his faults, but he continued to look with confidence to the cross of Christ. He had a twinkle in his eye that suggested there was always a punch line, and his roaring laughter was infectious.

As he lay dying, he wanted his family to be happy for him, confident that it was not "Goodbye" but "See you later."

See you later, Bill.

The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. Matthew 23:11-12

Monday, May 02, 2005

Kingdom of Heaven Bowdlerized?

Someone is claiming insider information that the new Ridley Scott movie Kingdom of Heaven has been heavily edited to make Christian Crusaders the bad guys and Muslims the good guys, under pressure from Muslim groups including death threats.

Now after all the disinformation that preceded the release of Passion of the Christ I'm hesitant to believe this before seeing the movie. In fact, as great as Gladiator was I hope that the claims are false. (Hat tip: Little Green Footballs.)

Why I no longer use Google News


The dominant search engine on the Internet is getting ready to begin ranking news searches by "quality rather than simply by their date and relevance to search times," giving preference to big news agencies such as CNN, BBC and AP.

For a while now, "quality" journalism has been a leftist code word for "discredited, unpopular, left-leaning news sources that we like", in contradistinction to the much more popular Fox News or WorldNetDaily which hardly ever turn up on Google News despite their much greater popularity.

Given that Blogger is owned by Google also, I wonder whether it's time to move my blog to my own domain. I wouldn't want Blogger to get any slower for me by allocating greater bandwidth to quality blogs.

"Freedom of the press belongs to him who owns one."

Blast from the past, still relevant

In the 80s I used to enjoy the music of Resurrection Band, or Rez. Hard rock and thought-provoking lyrics about being a follower of Christ in the real world. It was a nice surprise to see that Rez front man Glenn Kaiser is now blogging.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Telegraph: biased journals

For a while now I have suspected that the journals Science and Nature were biased when it came to origins. Now the Telegraph accuses them of blatant ideological bias when it comes to global warming. Read the whole thing.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Taking a break

I will be taking a brief break from blogging. My wife's Dad is in the end stage of cancer and hospice said that this is the time for family to gather. A servant of Christ is going home.

Update: We hadn't even gotten packed before we got another call. Bill is now with the Lord. Thanks for the thoughts and prayers.

A politically incorrect rant

Catez at Allthings2all has some thoughts on evangelical Christianity's own version of political correctness:

I have been thinking about the cognitive dissonance that occurs when matters of faith are manipulated to suit political ideology. It's a type of Christian political correctness that compromises faith because we do not want to critique the political ideology we subscribe to... I'm looking to hold my conscience right with the Image Maker. That's what matters most to me.

This is a valid point, and one that needs to be made a lot because we don't all understand it. But what struck me more about Catez's post was what led up to it: a months-long struggle with pressure to not say certain things so as not to be on the "wrong" side of a political issue.

I understand what she is saying because I see it too. Western, evangelical Christianity has become too closely connected to specific policies, positions and political parties. This is not to say that Christians shouldn't use their moral voice in the voting booth, but to an extent we've allowed the life-changing good news of Jesus to be traded for a mess of voter guides, sound bites and political positions. I also think that particular issues are placed on the front burner for us by political operatives who would be just as happy to use anti-Christian groups if it suited their purpose. Here in America, evangelicals have for the most part placed their hopes in the Republican Party. Well, now the Republicans hold the White House and Congress, and aside from a more aggressive foreign policy it's status quo all the way. Yet they still have the evangelical church chasing its tail over same-sex marriage or judicial appointments (even while announcing they will not investigate law-flouting activist judges). I don't know what is the worse insult to our collective intelligence: that they blame the Democrats for all of this or that we might actually buy it. Or perhaps we don't buy it but don't really care either, since the only option (since only two parties are allowed to be heard on the airwaves) is for the Democrats to win, which would mean a rapid spiral into full-blown socialism and summary scrapping of the Constitution, or what's left of it. We keep supporting the Republicans and fighting for what we're told are the imprtant issues of the day, somehow hoping that things will turn out differently this time. Didn't someone define insanity that way?

It's not just Karl Rove pulling the strings. Evangelicals have, to an extent, disregarded the biblical model of church leadership. The folks in the pews --and not a few pastors-- are marching to the drum beat of parachurch ministries and talking heads on Christian radio and TV. Where do these people get such authority? Who are they accountable to? Yet they carry a lot of weight and set the agenda. We oppose gay marriage because we hear about it every day and hear how the sky will fall if it happens. We don't give much thought to opposing divorce because the talking heads don't talk about it. Or maybe it's because the people who do that are within our ranks.

It's been said that rat poison is 95% good grain; it's the other 5% that is deadly. I don't want to call Christian radio rat poison; I don't regard it as a deliberate attempt to mislead us. I was a DJ on Christian radio for a few years, so I know that's not the case. But I do believe that along with the good music and beneficial teaching that there is some poison that accompanies it. A lot of that poison is demagoguery and invitations to put our trust in political leaders, in mortal men who cannot save (cf. Psalm 146:3). We hear unbiblical, demagogic teaching whenever we are told that a particular group of people are a dangerous enemy that we need to defeat (see Ephesians 6:12), whether they are the ACLU, gay activists, activist judges or anyone else. Sure, these folks are wrong. That's why they need God. But how will they come to know Him if His people are too busy arguing politics to talk about anything else? How are we going to show God's love to those whom we are told are the new barbarians kicking down the gates of Western Civilization?

I don't hardly listen to Christian radio these days, in part because I don't want to hear about homosexuality half a dozen times every day. (If this statement doesn't strike you as incredibly ironic, think about it for a minute.) I know what it's like to be the target of both subtle and outlandish attacks from ignorant Christians whose zeal for their pet cause far exceeds their biblical literacy, because I had the temerity to express disagreement with that cause. But it's a fair price to pay for keeping my eye on the prize rather than being led into the ditch by myopic, tunnel-visioned people who think that certitude is next to godliness. This life is too short to waste by letting ourselves be led around by those who have stopped thinking a long time ago, or who have become --to borrow Steve Taylor's phrase-- deaf from the din of their self-righteous battle.

Lay Christians and pastors, let's turn off the demagogues and return to the old paths of self-denial and humility. And let's not fear to speak the truth in love: all of it.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Apologetics that need an apology

Christianity Today:

[Christian Research Institute] said Alnor's repeated attacks have harmed the ministry and must be challenged. In a prepared statement, CRI told CT, "CRI is not opposed to fair and truthful comments or opinions with respect to matters of public debate and certainly honor[s] the constitutional right to express them. However, fabricating malicious falsehoods and then actively circulating them not only belies any profession of Christianity but is defamatory and libelous. Unchallenged, such unjustified accusations ruin reputations, damage ministries, and cast aspersions on the cause of Christ."

On why CRI is taking a fellow believer to court, Hanegraaff told CT that Christians should never do so in an arbitrary fashion, but, "At some point, you have to say, 'Enough is enough.' Truth and justice do matter."

Hanegraaff added, "If you don't respond, people think there may be something to it."

One guy's opinion: It does greater discredit to CRI that they would disregard what the Bible says when they think they have a good reason to do so than the false accusation of a blogger.

When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers? To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? But you yourselves wrong and defraud—even your own brothers! Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:1-11

The latter part of the passage is a well-known one on behaviors that are inconsistent with being a new creation in Christ. It is preceded by --and seemingly prompted by-- the practice of Christians suing other Christians.

One would be forgiven for wondering: If CRI isn't above explaining away a clear passage when they are affected financially, what is to keep them from doing so in their apologetic work? Alnor's accusation was bait, and CRI bit hard.

For the record, I gave up getting CRI's newsletter around a decade ago, as I thought that their monthly pleas for funds were over the top then. I'm surprised they don't seem to realize that our actions are an apologetic also.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Popular not just with the faithful


Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone said the Pope's image as a German "panzerkardinal" was unfair. "He is human and he will convince you," he said. "He is both a man of science and of faith. He possesses a great sense of humanity, he loves nature and music."

The same churchman said that Cardinal Ratzinger was a cat lover. "Every time he met a cat, he would talk to it, sometimes for a long time," said Cardinal Bertone. "The cat would follow him. Once about 10 cats followed him into the Vatican and one of the Swiss Guards intervened, saying 'Look, your eminence, the cats are invading the Holy See'."

Having cats around the Vatican would be cool, but I can see where one hopping up on the altar of St. Peter's during a televised Mass would be a little disconcerting. Even so, I'm sure Jesus is a cat lover too.

More censorship & disinformation on origins


[Eugenie] Scott – executive director of the Oakland, Calif.-based National Center for Science Education – wrote that Caldwell attempted to get the district to adopt materials advocating Biblical creationism, including a young-earth creationist book, "Refuting Evolution," by Jonathan Safarti; and the Jehovah's Witness book "Life: How Did It Get Here? By Evolution or Creation?"'

But Caldwell told WorldNetDaily he has never even heard of the books she cites.

He sent a letter to Scott and to the California Academy of Sciences, outlining the alleged errors and demanding a retraction and equal space in the magazine to present his side.

Caldwell asked for a response by 5 p.m. yesterday but has heard nothing from Scott or the academy.

I'm sure it has nothing to do with this.
Caldwell says matters are made worse when the mainstream media routinely publishes "what Scott and the NCSE tell them to print about the evolution debates around the country. She is the source of much of the misinformation about the evolution debate in American media. The misstements in this article prove that legacy media's primary source of 'facts' is a liar."

Double ouch. I don't know which will hurt worse: the "liar" bit or the "legacy media" bit.



ADF points out that in 2003, shortly after Prince v. Jacoby was decided, the ACLU sent an information letter to school officials in Washington state explaining the case "makes it clear that student clubs promoting tolerance for gay students are entitled to the same resources as other clubs."

But now, the ACLU has filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the Truth case that takes the opposite position.

The ACLU now wants to strike down the Prince case if it will be used to allow a Bible club on campus, the ADF's Tim Chandler told WorldNetDaily.

The Anti-Christian Litigation Union's commitment to the law is conditional? I'm shocked. Shocked. But the question is, will they still claim legal precedent for the gay groups?