Friday, May 31, 2002

Dehydrated beer as a seasoning for popcorn and other foods? Go Boilermakers!!

Wednesday, May 29, 2002

Shakespeare for inner city seventh graders...what a great idea. Teachers like Rashia Morris, one of the teachers mentioned in this article, refused to believe that minority students from the city couldn't tackle the Bard. I believe that teaching Shakespeare was one of the things that Marva Collins did in her innovative and successful schools in some of Chicago's worst neighborhoods. It's a relief to know that programs like these teachers used didn't fall victim to accusations of cultural imperialism.

Secretary of Health & Human Services, Tommy Thompson writes in the Washington Post that we need to capitalize on the successes of welfare reform, not by playing it safe and resting on the good results of the 1996 welfare reform legislation, but by boldly funding more far reaching measures that will solidify the position of those who've been moved into the workforce from welfare dependency. In reporting on the impact of welfare reform, he cites some amazing statistics on the reduction of child poverty:

Welfare mothers have found their long-lost self-esteem. And child poverty rates are at their lowest level since 1978, with child poverty rates for African Americans and female-headed households at their lowest levels ever. All this is proof of welfare reform's positive effect on children.

Tuesday, May 28, 2002

Another good write-up of Spider-Man, this one from flaming liberal, Jonah Goldberg.

Another good Roberto Rivera article -- this one about Spider-Man vs. Attack of the Clones. I saw both, and agree wholeheartedly, Spider-Man is much more satisfying, because of the sacrificial main character, Peter Parker. Anakin's "romance" with Padme left me completely unmoved -- which may have had something to do with the Hayden Christensen's acting. His "conflicts" with Obi-Wan are bland and juvenile, like a teenager complaining about having to fold laundry.

Friday, May 24, 2002

I love Roberto Rivera's articles. He consistently churns out good material that displays the fruit of mature Christian reflection. His writing is very accessible, even when tackling somewhat complex subjects, and his witty sense of humor always finds a way into his articles. Below is a quote from his article Gods & Peanuts that he wrote for Breakpoint urging Christians to remember that science, too, can be an idol:

In other words, if Steinhardt and Turok's theory gains acceptance, you can expect a representative named Apu from the Nahasapeemapetilon Institute for the Defence of Hindu Worldview & Cricket Proliferation (Motto: Visualize Wicket Maidens) to cite their theories as a quasi-vindication of Hindu worldview, especially in fundraising letters.

Later in pointing out how quickly the "scientific consensus" can be abandoned and/or refashioned in light of new "evidence" he says (in regard to hypotheses attempting to explain homonid bi-pedalism):

What's even more interesting is the physical evidence upon which this, if you'll forgive my language, paradigm shift has occurred: a collection of bones that could comfortably fit inside your cupped hands, or at least Shaq's. The best evidence for bi-pedalism is the hip bone, but no such bone has ever been found for Orrorin. It's been inferred from CAT scans of the femur. In other words, it doesn't take much to rewrite conventional scientific wisdom.

He concludes with words that we would do well to pay heed to:

But as Thomas [Aquinas] would tell us, reason can only tell us that there is an intelligent designer. It's grace and revelation that prompt us to worship Him in the manner that Christians do. And we do well to remember that reason isn't synonymous with the state of scientific knowledge at any given moment. On the contrary, much of what of what is called "scientific fact" resembles what Thomas would've called "probable" or "sophistic" arguments (rationes probabiles vel sophisticae).

Thursday, May 23, 2002

A great quote from the late Rich Mullins:

God spoke to Balaam through his ass. ... I believe God still speaks through asses today. ... So if God should choose to speak through you, you needn't think too highly of yourself.

Via Razormouth

While we're on the topic of peanut butter...

Here's a site with all kinds of peanut butter recipes. And here's a peanut butter diet!! I may have to give that a shot. The only thing better than that would be the Beer, Pizza, & Hot Fudge Sundae Diet.

I love peanuts and especially peanut butter. About a year ago I read a short little biography of George Washington Carver, who used peanuts to make over 300 products, from peanut butter to make-up made from peanuts to milk made from peanuts.

It's likely that the Incas were the original inventers of the first peanut butter, though I'm guessing it wasn't exactly Jiff. Carver then invented peanut butter around 1880, but did not patent it because he believed that all food products were a gift from God. Here's more about the development of peanut butter, if you're interested.

One of my favorite uses for peanut butter is on hamburgers -- I acquired this taste at Purdue University, where a little greasy spoon called Triple XXX (no, not that kind of XXX) served the Duane Purvis burger...lettuce, tomato, onion ketchup mustard & peanut butter. Most everyone makes a face when they hear this combo, but I've honestly never had anyone who tried it who didn't admit that it wasn't too bad. My kids are starting to eat peanut butter on their hamburgers...the tradition lives on.

Tuesday, May 21, 2002

Seems as though everyone has linked to this article already, but in case you haven't seen this go read this NY Times story, Megachurches as Minitowns. Some of the stuff in this article (the Greenlee Communion Dispensing Machine, the Jonah and the Whale laser show which will be shown at the Community Church of Joy's Olympic-size aquatic center) was enough to make me check my URL to make sure I wasn't reading something from The Onion. Sane evaluations of these megachurches are offered by Drs. Scott Thumma (author of the towering Thumma Seologica -- I couldn't resist) & Wade Clark Roof:

But some scholars and municipalities are troubled by the civic expansion of 24/7 churches. They are becoming "a parallel universe that's Christianized," in the words of Dr. Scott Thumma, a sociologist of religion at the Hartford Institute.

Dr. Wade Clark Roof, a professor of religion and society at the University of California at Santa Barbara, said he worried that full-service churches are "the religious version of the gated community."

"It's an attempt to create a world where you're dealing with like-minded people," he said. "You lose the dialogue with the larger culture."

Suffice it to say that these Megachurches are going in the Megawrong direction...and unfortunately are leading thousands of other churches and church leaders down the same path.

Thought I'd share with you some of my current reading -- Edmund Morris' Theodore Rex...a very interesting read so far (200 pages down...355 to go).

On October 16, 1901, Theodore Roosevelt--having been sworn in on the heels of William McKinley's assassination little more than a month before--did something that evoked a peculiarly ugly and sinful reaction across the South. What did he do? He dined with Booker T. Washington in the White House. Pretty shocking, eh? Well, it doesn't seem like much of a big deal today, but here's a sampling of headlines from across the South in response to the news of the Roosevelt--Washington dinner at the White House:

Roosevelt Dines a Darkey
A Rank Negrophilist
Our Coon-Flavored President
Roosevelt Proposes to Coddle the Sons of Ham

Here's a couple lines from the Memphis Scimitar the morning after the news broke:

The most damnable outrage which has ever been perpetrated by any citizen of the United States was committed yesterday by the President, when he invited a nigger to dine with him at the White House.

South Carolina Senator Benjamin R. Tillman said:

The action of President Roosevelt in entertaining that nigger will necessitate our killing a thousand niggers in the South before they will learn their place again. (above references pp. 54-55)

Tillman's words might seem like overinflated rhetoric except that Morris claims that the lynch rate at this time in the south was about 100 hangings per year. He also mentions a grisly story of a black man in Winchester, Tennessee, who was burned at the stake with slices of his roasted liver sold to the crowd that watched him burn (47-48).

Roosevelt wasn't free from racial prejudice which diminished the image of God in men, as he believed that blacks had certain limitations, though he firmly believed--because of Darwinism--that this could be alleviated over a century or so as blacks evolved in a more civilized direction.

That any of this type of talk could be quoted in a newspaper by a politician, let alone run as headlines, boggles the mind. Obviously this was a severe blind spot--that there could be the kind of consensus approval that would condone such atrocities. Yet it was just 100 years ago that this didn't cause so much as the blink of an eye.

I wonder how they could be so blind to their sin, to their cruelty. More disturbing however, is the recognition that the chances are quite good that I, too, may be blind to something that will seem equally as unthinkable a century or even a few decades from now. What will it be? I plead to God for mercy, that He might be so gracious as to keep me from such blindness and sin. Let the sword of the Spirit penetrate deep into my heart and judge the sinful thoughts and attitudes that reside in me.

Thursday, May 16, 2002

Ten years ago today I married my beautiful bride. We both give thanks to God for ten wonderful years of marriage.

Is your Palm or Visor too bulky? Try the new Wrist PDA from Fossil.

Thursday, May 09, 2002

Cervantes' Don Quixote was chosen as the best work of fiction ever written in a poll conducted by the Norwegian Book Club which surveyed top 100 authors (including John Irving, Milan Kundera, Salman Rushdie, along with many more) and asked them to list the 10 best and most central works of fiction.

Tuesday, May 07, 2002

Here's a fascinating article from the Washington Post about the effect of sugar pill placebos in treating depression in head to head trials with antidepressants such as Prozac & Paxil. From the article:

The new research may shed light on findings such as those from a trial last month that compared the herbal remedy St. John's wort against Zoloft. St. John's wort fully cured 24 percent of the depressed people who received it, and Zoloft cured 25 percent -- but the placebo fully cured 32 percent.

Here, also, is a graphic that displays the findings of brain scans on both those who took the anti-depressants and those who took the sugar pills.

Monday, May 06, 2002

One of the elders in our church, John McGowan, appeared in this Wall Street Journal article last month.

Friday, May 03, 2002

Those of you who've read my blog know that I have an interest in cities...all aspects of cities. I minister in the city at a homeless shelter/neighborhood ministry, and I often drive through surrounding neighborhoods dreaming of what might be. I envision the subduing of blighted urban wilderness via bulldozer & weed whacker. I envision the reneighboring of urban neighborhoods that have been evacuated of all of their ambitious, decent, and Chrisitan residents. I envision the reglorification of urban areas by the regreening of vacant lots and the planting of trees, shrubs, and grass. I envision an architecture and urban design that again gives hope and inspires and beautifies. I envision more than this, much, much more...but not less. I've been interested in the New Urbanists and some of the promise which I think their views may just hold for the redemption and glorification of our cities--and particularly my interest in the redemption and glorification of our very worst neighborhoods.

In light of all that this piece about the Mayor's Institute on City Design on All Things Considered caught my ear yesterday on the way home from work. I didn't get to hear all of it, but I plan on listening to the rest of it when I get a chance. The part I did hear featured, to a large extent, St. Louis mayor, Francis Slay, and the particular difficult challenges that face St. Louis.

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