When you have become God's in the measure he desires, then he himself will bestow you upon others, unless, to your greater glory, he choose to keep you all to himself.
Saint Basil the Great

«— Duped.
—» Danforth: Marriage Amendment a Silly Idea

Boston.com Explores Brown’s Historical Claims

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Some rejected writings are called gospels, though they lack the narrative histories that characterize the New Testament’s four. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were earlier and won wide consensus as memories and beliefs from Jesus’ apostles and their successors.

The rejected books often portrayed an ethereal Jesus lacking the human qualities depicted in the New Testament Gospels — the exact opposite of Brown’s scenario. Gnostic gospels purported to contain secret spiritual knowledge from Jesus as the means by which an elite could escape the material world, which they saw as corrupt. They often spurned Judaism’s creator God and the Old Testament.

Read more: How true is Christian history in “Da Vinci Code”? With May movie due, debate persists – Boston.com

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Filed under: — Basil @ 11:43 pm

«— Professor’s Email Outrages Muslims
—» Boston.com Explores Brown’s Historical Claims

Duped.

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What a HUGE waste of my money. I just purchased what I thought was a various artists compilation of ’80s hits, including “One Night in Bangkok” and “Puttin’ on the Ritz.” I should have realized that $8 for a 2 CD set seemed a bit low.

I fell for the oldest trick in the book. I bought a tribute CD. Except it doesn’t even say “tribute” anywhere. Best Buy is selling CDs that look like compilations of hits from various periods, but beware. They don’t list the artist after each song, and in small print at the bottom of the back cover it says, “Performed by Countdown Singers.”

AAAAAAAGH!

It would be OK if these were decent covers, but I swear I could have done better with GarageBand. These people have never heard of syncing their synth tracks.

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Filed under: — Basil @ 11:22 pm

«— Muslims Threaten Violence, Christians Just Shrug
—» Duped.

Professor’s Email Outrages Muslims

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At Michigan State University, a professor’s email in response to the Muslim student association’s protest of Danish cartoons has drawn criticism and requests for formal discipline and education.

The professor says,

I am offended not by cartoons, but by more mundane things like beheadings of civilians, cowardly attacks on public buildings, suicide murders, murders of Catholic priests (the latest in Turkey!), burnings of Christian chirches [sic], the continued persecution of Coptic Christians in Egypt, the imposition of Sharia law on non-Muslims, the rapes of Scandinavain [sic] girls and women (called “whores” in your culture), the murder of film directors in Holland, and the rioting and looting in Paris France.

One student responded, curiously, by wondering “what the definition of a civilized nation is in his dictionary or in which Muslim countries they trade slaves.” (Apparently, the Muslim activities quoted above needed no response.) He also asked, “If Nazis stage a congregation at the Capitol and 800 anti-Nazi demonstrators can gather, why can’t several Muslims express their feelings about something they think is blasphemous by gathering at the rock and painting it?” Again, one wonders, if counter-demonstrations to Nazi events are appropriate, why strongly-worded counter-emails are not.

Read more: Dhimmi Watch: MSU prof’s e-mail outrages Muslims

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Filed under: — Basil @ 6:13 pm

«— Kentucky writers speak out against mountaintop removal
—» Professor’s Email Outrages Muslims

Muslims Threaten Violence, Christians Just Shrug

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Saw this on Dhimmi Watch: Muslims demanded that a Cologne brothel change its World Cup-themed ad because it displayed a nude woman with flags of Islamic nations. I was going to look at the original article and laugh, or shake my head, or perhaps cluck my tongue.

Then, I saw that the brothel was named Pascha. That’s right; a Cologne brothel is named after the holiest day of the Christian year. Muslims threaten violence over national flags, but Orthodox Christians in Germany, I suppose, are not as threatening to the brothel owners.

Read more: BBC News, Europe: German brothel ad angers Muslims (warning: the article’s photo may not be age or work appropriate, depending on your level of tolerance).

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Filed under: — Basil @ 4:52 pm

«— Da Vinci Poster Removed
—» Muslims Threaten Violence, Christians Just Shrug

Kentucky writers speak out against mountaintop removal

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I wrote before about mountaintop mining in Kentucky. A recent article in the Kentucky Herald-Leader is interesting because it mentions at least one author actually affected by the practice, Letcher County native Artie Ann Bates.

One of the most impassioned speakers was Artie Ann Bates, a writer and native of Letcher County, whose family’s homeplace has been ravaged by strip mining.

“I could go stark raving mad if I think about all the things that have gone wrong in this place,” Bates said. All the mountains in the area have been lowered by at least 150 feet by mining, she said.

I suppose extremely passionate people who think this is a pretty cool way to treat the earth could argue that Letcher County is not really in Eastern Kentucky. That’d be tough, but have at it. Or perhaps there’s some ad hominem reason why Ms. Bates is not credible. Please, let us hear it.

Read more: Kentucky writers speak out against mountaintop removal

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Filed under: — Basil @ 11:35 pm

«— New Movie Theater in Jessamine County
—» Kentucky writers speak out against mountaintop removal

Da Vinci Poster Removed

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The Italian Interior Ministry is removing an advertisement for The Da Vinci Code that was hanging on renovation scaffolding for a church.

Read more: Removing Da Vinci Code, Remember the Ad?

Hat tip: Binary Bonsai

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Filed under: — Basil @ 6:28 am

«— Paschal Reflections
—» Da Vinci Poster Removed

New Movie Theater in Jessamine County

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Tuesday morning, a construction worker at AmStar 14 Stadium Cinemas was sporting a Git-R-Done T-shirt.

Whether he’s a Larry the Cable Guy fan or not, the phrase seemed appropriate for the job.

The theater was a mere four days from Saturday’s planned grand opening, bringing movies back to Jessamine County for the first time since the late 1980s.

Read more: NEW MOVIE THEATER OPENS

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Filed under: — Basil @ 5:51 am

«— Purge Me With WHAT?
—» New Movie Theater in Jessamine County

Paschal Reflections

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Christ is risen! Indeed he is risen! Christos anesti! Alithos anesti! Christos voskrese! Voistinu voskrese!

So, here I sit in Louisville International Airport. I thought my flight left ten minutes ago. In fact, it leaves in another hour and twenty.

I had a lot more here, but the proxy server in the airport mangled it and lost it. Short form: This has been the best Pascha in recent memory for several reasons, not the least of which being that it is my first in my home parish in three years.

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Filed under: — Basil @ 5:29 am

«— Creatively Conservative
—» Paschal Reflections

Purge Me With WHAT?

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CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Hyssop

It’s fascinating that I haven’t ever wondered what in blazes hyssop is before now. I guess I’ve always thought it was something rough and rigid used for cleaning pots and pans. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia article linked above, it is the plant used to sprinkle the blood of sacrifice over those who needed cleansing, as well as sprinkling the water of purification over those who needed ritual purification.

Wait. The Jews had a rite of purification with water being sprinkled over them? Holy water goes back to the Old Testament?

Even a know-it-all learns something now and again.

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Filed under: — Basil @ 10:54 pm

«— The God Who Wasn’t There
—» Purge Me With WHAT?

Creatively Conservative

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The Light Fraction: Creative Thinking Victoria provides us a question (from other members of her household):

This question has come up in my house a couple of times recently, so let me throw it to the blogosphere:

Does religion, specifically Christianity, encourage creativity and thinking-outside-the-box? Or does religion, specifically Christianity, stifle critical consideration of new evidence? Does religion [Christianity] permit or disallow change?

Christianity believes itself to be revealed by God. This places Christians in the position of preserving the revelation until the master returns. This manner of describing it reminds me of the parable of the talents, but let me return to that later.

Heresies have always been recognized by their novelty. In the fights over various doctrines and heresies, the question that the fathers always demanded an answer to was and is, “Is this the faith of the apostles? Is this the faith of Peter? Is this the faith of Paul?” If the answer is, “No, this is new, provocative, creative, inventive,” then the Church responds by manifesting this reality. “This is not the apostolic faith; it is a false opinion.”

This is, essentially, a faith that encourages and nearly requires conservatism as a doctrinal position. Yet, the revelation of God is that he became human and took on our flesh. His energies continually interpenetrate the world we live in. And if there is anything true about this world, it is certainly that is always changing. The heretics often realized this and were afraid, resorting to some kind of dualism where the world of change (the material) is evil and the world of stability (the spiritual) is good.

I think it is safe to say that the triumph of incarnational theology in the councils and in the writings of such fathers as St. Maximus the Confessor give us a foundation for celebrating the material world of change. The Church exists in this material world, and so she is always responding creatively while responding from the position of the faith she conserves.

In the parable of the talents, the servants who make a profit on the money their master entrusts to them are praised and rewarded, while the servant who hides the money in the earth with cowardice is banished. Certainly, profiteering is a risky move, but being banished for keeping the money without any increase seems the riskier move here. Perhaps I am extending this parable beyond its intended interpretation, but I think the extension is valid.

Look at the world of art: Religion (Christianity specifically) has inspired some of the best music, paintings, sculpture, poetry and novels. O’Connor, Dostoevsky, Verdi, Palestrina, Rublev, Michelangelo, Rouault, Donne, to name but a few. In the world of social work, no one has worked harder or brought about a more complete change in the world than the Church: Look at the world today and compare it to the world of the first century. Most of the permanent changes wrought were worked by Christians.

It has in fact been argued (I cannot now remember the author) that the Christian worldview was the necessary seedbed for empirical science to be born and flourish. A simple look at history will show that Christians have been some of the most creative people.

It will also reveal that people fear change, and when people who fear change wield power, the results can be tragic. Most people think of the Inquisition as an example. However, the most atheistic regimes ever unleashed upon the planet ruled during the last century, and their fear of true creativity was beyond compare. You may add Solzhenitsyn to the list above.

So, is Christianity capable of creativity? The answer is complicated, but in reply I favor a guarded, “Yes, with reservations.”

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Filed under: — Basil @ 7:11 pm

«— Earthen Vessels
—» Creatively Conservative

The God Who Wasn’t There

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Claiming to be a documentary on the level of Super Size Me and Bowling for Columbine, The God Who Wasn’t There aims to prove that Jesus of Nazareth never existed, that the pre-existing myths and legends that prefigure his coming prove that his story is fabricated.

Those of you revolted by such a claim may calmly and kindly go on to the next blog, please. Those of you without enough wits to calmly entertain the film should do the same. The rest of you (hopefully the majority of my educated, enlightened readers) need to get your hands on this DVD. Don’t buy it if you insist. (That would be “supporting the marketing machine.” Whatever.) My gut tells me this will be more popular than you may want to admit. It will certainly spawn questions that you will want to be able to answer.

Some things that jump out at me from the trailer:

  • They’ve interviewed or enlisted the help of a member of the Jesus Seminar. You may want to be familiar with the composition of the Seminar and be able to discuss the academic credentials of various members. Calmly and intelligently, without ad hominems.
  • Richard Dawkins was mentioned. A scientist who believes science can disprove the existence of God. Perhaps we have some reliability issues here. Don’t focus on his faulty philosophy of science or his lack of a philosophy of religion; focus on whether he is speaking to something within his realm of authority. I smell Argument from False Authority.
  • C. S. Lewis said that prefiguring myths and legends that speak of gods becoming men and the rest are exactly what we would expect if Christianity were true. He says it much better than me (or you, I suspect), so you may want to be familiar with his essay on the matter.

Use the comments section to discuss what you find.

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Filed under: — Basil @ 2:00 pm

«— Assault, blasphemy charge for defending cross
—» The God Who Wasn’t There

Earthen Vessels

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In discussions on this blog, readers have averred that Orthodox Christians are arrogant because of the Church’s emphasis on the fullness of Christ’s revelation in holy Tradition and our ability to know it. Archpriest Leonid Kishkovsky writes that the recent crisis facing the Church in America reminds us that the glory of God is contained in earthen vessels.

Many people in the Church have been severely wounded during the months of crisis — bishops, priests, officials and staff of the church administration, laity in the parishes. These wounds are wounds to the Church, because they affect our cohesion and our credibility. In the midst of the pain, it is difficult — sometimes impossible — to find the way forward in pursuing the mission of the Church.

We are confronted by a truth which is actually an eternal, permanent truth about the Church, and not a truth limited to times of crisis, public scandal, and internal conflict. The treasure of our faith is held “in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us” (2 Corinthians: 4:7).

Nothing like some messiness to remind us that the truth, the goodnes, the beauty — the glory — of God’s revelation are his and not ours.

Read more: OCA News Releases: “Treasure in Earthen Vessels,” by Fr. Leonid Kishkovsky, Editor of The Orthodox Church

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Filed under: — Basil @ 9:06 pm

«— No Coincidences?
—» Earthen Vessels

Assault, blasphemy charge for defending cross

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A Christian woman in Pakistan has been jailed after being assaulted and stripped for defending the holy cross:

Everything started on 3 March when many Muslims were protesting the blasphemous cartoons of Muhammad near Naseem’s house in Kasur. “They were raising slogans against the US president George W. Bush, abusing him and Christianity too,” said Gulzar. “Naseem saw the protesters draw a cross on top of a rubbish [heap] and so she went out to protest the desecrating gesture.” The woman told the demonstrators they were violating a sacred symbol of Christianity while protesting about exactly the same offence against their own faith.

According to her husband’s account, Naseem was beaten and stripped. The group of Muslims then left only to return after a few hours with an image of the Kabah soiled with excrement. The men accused Naseem of blasphemy and the police, who came to the spot, took her away to the local police station. Gulzar admitted that he did not intervene to help his wife because he was afraid.

Read more: Dhimmi Watch: Pakistan: Christian woman nailed with Muslim blasphemy charge for defending cross

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Filed under: — Basil @ 7:28 pm

«— No Brokeback Prisons, Thank You
—» Assault, blasphemy charge for defending cross

Protected: No Coincidences?

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Filed under: — Basil @ 9:25 pm

«— Insurgents Feign Funeral Processions to Attack Coalition Forces
—» No Coincidences?

No Brokeback Prisons, Thank You

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I haven’t seen the film. This isn’t a criticism of its content. It’s just funny on the face of it:

A Massachusetts correctional officer is being disciplined for showing the gay cowboy movie “Brokeback Mountain” to inmates at the state’s largest prison because his boss determined that the film includes content inappropriate for a prison setting.

Read more: Prison official punished over “Brokeback” screening – Boston.com

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Filed under: — Basil @ 6:18 am