Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Twins Sign Ruben Sierra

ESPN reports that the Minnesota Twins signed Ruben Sierra to a minor league contract today. It is obvious that his best days are behind him. He will likely not be a big factor for the Twins. He is too often injured and ineffective when healthy.

The Aesthetics of Sport

Douglas Groothuis has an interesting post on the art and philosophy of sports--specifically baseball and football. He argues that "Baseball is both aesthetically and morally superior to football as a cultural form." It is an interesting thesis.

I don't believe it is as clear as he argues that, "Baseball is intellectually superior to football, because of the degree of strategy, finesse, and intelligence required to play it well." Football requires a great deal of intelligence and strategy--baseball does not have the monopoly in smarts. Nor can football be reduced to "speed, strength, and coordination--as opposed to intelligence."

I do believe that he is correct in arguing that baseball is better aesthetically. Too much happens on a football field at once for it to compare to the singular beauty of what happens on a baseball diamond. There are few things in sports as beautiful as trajectory of a baseball soaring over the outfield fences.

Monday, January 30, 2006

The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World

Justin Taylor has a breakdown of this year's Desiring God National Conference. The speaker lineup will make this a must attend--particularly for those in the Twin Cities area.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Pharmacist Fired For Not Filling "Morning-After Pill" Prescription

The Star Tribune reports that a Target Pharmacist has been fired for refusing to fill a prescription for the "morning-after pill." The article notes that, "Her attorney says that until recently, the company accommodated her objection to dispensing the morning-after pill." It would be interesting to hear if there was any warning from Target to notify the pharmacist, Heather Williams, of a change in policy.

I admire Ms. Williams for courageously taking this stand and refusing to fill the prescription for an abortive drug. It is sad and unfortunate that the Target Corporation is unwilling to honor her convictions.

Hey, Whitey!

You should feel guilty for being white! Here's how to rid yourself of this guilt.

I did comment on the first post--the list of why whites should feel guilty by virtue of being white. Naturally I am deeply offended by the insistence that I bear the great guilt of my race. It is people like this that continue to heap coals onto the flames of racial tension. Yet it is we that are the problem.

Free Books

Scott Lamb is giving away books for free (though you must pay for shipping) at his blog. There are some good titles there. Check it out.

HT: JT

Galatians and The Truth of the Gospel

My wife and I are part of a Bible study group that meets weekly. We are studying Paul's Epistle to the Galatians. Our discussion last evening focused on Galatians 2:11-14: Peter's hypocrisy and how it was "not in step with the truth of the gospel."

We had a very engaging conversation about how Peter was not living out the gospel, by breaking fellowship with Gentile believers and thus "force the Gentiles to live like Jews."

We came to the conclusion that Peter was not living out the gospel by hypocritically compelling the Gentiles to live under Jewish laws. This threatened the gospel because we know that we are not justified by following the laws of the old covenant, but by believing that Jesus Christ has fulfilled the laws demands--and that to continue to require believers to follow these laws is to declare that Christ's life, death, and resurrection did not accomplish the fulfillment of the old covenant.

I have found Tim Gallant's article on Galatians enormously helpful.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

George Galloway the Cat

I've written about George Galloway before, but have ignored his recent escapades on Celebrity Big Brother in Britain. This article from the London Evening Standard is too funny to pass up. Galloway is a member of the British House of Commons, and has been a loud critic against the U.S. and British invasion and "occupation" of Iraq.

Here are two of Galloway's most embarrassing moments on British television:

Mr. Roboto in tights

George the Cat

Georgacula

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

An Emergent Church Service

If you've ever wondered what an Emergent Church experience might be like, Travis Prinzi has written a summary of his first visit to an Emergent church. It makes interesting reading. I've never been to an Emergent service, but this sounds like I would imagine it.

As Travis says, this church shouldn't be mistaken as what all Emergent churches represent. But it certainly is a different way to "do church" than I am accustomed to.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Main Street

I finished reading Sinclair Lewis' Main Street yesterday afternoon. It is a very interesting story of a cultured, ambitious, city-girl, Carol Kennicott who marries a small-town doctor, and is transplanted to fictional Gopher Prairie, Minnesota.

She leaves her librarian post in Saint Paul to reform and beautify Gopher Prairie after courted by Will Kennicott on the presumption that Gopher Prairie can and should be reformed. But upon arrival, she finds the town bleak, oppressive, hypocritical, and altogether different than the town Kennicott promised her.

She yearns for cultured conversation, sincerity, high-mindedness, and a transcendent life. All her efforts at reform are met with indifference, ridicule, and obstinance.

Lewis portrays the townspeople of Gopher Prairie largely as gossipy, hypocritical fundamentalist, narrow-minded, reactionary, defensive, conservative, low-brow, insulated, and uncultured. Yet there are some that are intellectual, some heroic, and some cultured. But by in large Lewis has a mostly negative view of the population of Gopher Prairie.

Carol is seen through a strange lens. The townspeople see her as proud, scornful of their traditions, radical, independent, and sympathetic to socialists. He leaves it to the reader to make judgments about Carol. It seems to me that Carol values culture and the aesthetic too highly. She prefers these values to people and relationships. This seems to me her primary flaw.

Yet what she faces in the townspeople--whether fairly or not, is a fairly despicable characterization of all that is bad about people. The town is religious enough to moralize--but hypocritically. It is conservative enough to value much good--but values tradition over justice. It is liberal enough to permit infidelity--but scorns open adultery.

I was surprised by the strain of anti-Christian, pro-socialist, ant-tradition narrative by Lewis. He clearly has contempt for what we now call the "Christian Right" and even conservatism in general.

I am mostly ignorant of life in small town America. So I am not the right person to tell if the novel accurately portrays Gopher Prairie. But it did seem hyperbolized to me. Characters were cast in the worst light more often than not. And this is one of the weaknesses of the novel. If I could accept his vision of the town more, I would be more willing to accept the story.

In summary, I would recommend the novel in the very least to gain insight into how not to live, and what not to become. There is much in the novel worthy of our scorn and many lessons to learn. Do we value art over relationships? Do we live as we teach? Are our values in line with our life? Do we stand for justice when it is unpopular? Are we faithful to our marital vows?

I also began reading The Inimitable Jeeves yesterday. Author P.G. Wodehouse is a wonderful comic writer. I highly recommend his Jeeves novels.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Affluence, Abundance, and Happiness

Tim Stafford has an important article in Christianity Today about the effects of abundance and wealth on our youth. He quotes psychotherapist Jesse O'Neill, who believes the symptoms exhibited by youth include:
  • Loss of personal productivity
  • Loss of future motivation
  • An inability to delay gratification or tolerate frustration
  • A false sense of entitlement
  • Loss of self-confidence
  • Preoccupation with externals
  • Depression
  • Self-absorption
  • Addictions
  • Other compulsive-addictive behaviors
It is clear that the "affluenza," as O'Neill calls it, leaves people lost and directionless. This leads to the question, are we truly better off with the wealth and prosperity experienced in the last twenty years?

I am not questioning capitalism or demanding redistribution of wealth. I believe the spiritual condition of our age is essentially the same as it has always been. Wealth and prosperity has given us more free time, more choices, better technology, and a "smaller globe." But it has not yet delivered lasting happiness or contentment.

I am more convinced than ever that everlasting joy can only be found when we do what we were made for.

HT: Michael Spencer

Thursday, January 19, 2006

The World Baseball Classic is Stupid

From the very beginning, I have wondered why Major League Baseball wanted to have a baseball tournament made up of teams from around the world. I have also wondered who would really care about it.

Afterall, the baseball season is already seven months long--and it takes players months to recoup from the wear and tear on their bodies. Team management is already concerned with pitch counts for all their pitchers, and any injury in the WBC would affect that player's effectiveness in the regular season.

What could possibly be gained by it? Money--pure and simple. Major League Baseball clearly believes they have more to gain in having a world baseball tournament than without. Why else would they bother?

ESPN writers Buster Olney and Jim Caple debate the merits of the World Baseball Classic on ESPN.com.

I predict that the World Baseball Classic will be little more than an overblown All-Star game. Players will be out of shape, raw, and on pitch counts that will limit their effectivity. The only thing I'll be watching for is injuries.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

One Reason the Academy Awards Are Worthless

Matt Drudge reports on Universal Studio's decision to support Brokeback Mountain for the Academy Awards over Munich and the fallout with Steven Spielberg.

It demonstrates Hollywood's complicity in pushing the homosexual agenda--but as one of Drudge's sources states, "Gay romance is easier to sell to the academy than a complex study of an Israeli assassin."

This is an incredible admission! Hollywood truly is made up of a completely different type of people than main stream America. How can we expect them to make films that we find palatable?

Not only that--shouldn't the Academy be more concerned about the quality of a film rather than a political agenda?

Oh, how I loathe the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences...

Christianity in Europe

Albert Mohler writes about the future of Christianity in Europe today on his blog. He references an article in USA Today that in turn refers to an article written by Nate and Leah Seppanen Anderson about Christianity in the Czech Republic. As soon as I saw those names, I knew it was written by my friend Mike's brother and his wife. They spent last summer in the Czech Republic and blogged about the experience. Christianity Today also published another article by Nate and Leah that has a more extensive history of Christianity in the Czech Republic.

All three articles are worth reading. I have long wondered if Christianity might become extinct in America as it has in Europe. Yet, as Nate and Leah argue, there is hope. For our God is mighty--and his Holy Spirit is among us.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Music Fans

I encourage music fans to check out NME's streaming audio. I am listening to Clap Your Hands Say Yeah right now. They are currently featured on the site and I thought I'd give them a listen. (I am, in fact, enjoying it.) I listened to Richard Ashcroft's Keys to the World earlier today. (Which doesn't seem as impressive as his earlier two efforts.)

Update - 01/19/06 - While you're there, be sure to listen to The Paddingtons and the new album by The Strokes.

This was not an accident

The Jerusalem Post reports that a map displayed at the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People Convention did not have Israel on it. This is yet another outrageous example of the UN's contempt for Israel. When will we all wake up to the corruption and great evil of the United Nations?

HT: The Corner

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Marsh Arabs and Human Evil

Jay Nordlinger of National Review is one of my favorite writers. He penned a column today about the Marsh Arabs of southern Iraq. This piece is typical of Nordlinger--he bears the evil of this world with an ironic detachment from the great evil demonstrated by so many.

He writes "many people would rather that Marsh Arabs choke on sand..." than "that they suffer the indignity of being freed by George Bush and the U.S. military."

Why can't we all be honest about the Iraq War? Why can't we at least agree that what we are doing in Iraq is a great, great thing--even if one disagrees that it was a good decision to go into Iraq? Is it really more important to express hatred for George Bush than to rejoice at the freedom of the Iraqi people?

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Wheaton College: No Catholics

Wheaton College recently fired an assistant professor of philosophy after he converted to Roman Catholicism. Joshua Hochschild graduated from Notre Dame and accepted a job at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. But when he was ready to convert from Protestant Christianity to Catholicism, the college decided they must terminate his employment because they didn't believe Hochschild could agree that the Bible is the "supreme and final authority." Wheaton President Duane Litfin wrote in a letter to Hochschild in 2003, a Catholic "cannot faithfully affirm" Wheaton's statement of faith. Hochschild disagreed, and was still willing to sign the affirmation of faith.

This is interesting in light of my previous post on St. Thomas' policies that I have discussed earlier. I do believe that Wheaton has a responsibility to ensure that its professors fully affirm its affirmation of faith, but I also believe that if Hochschild could sign the affirmation in good conscience, that should be respected by Wheaton. I am curious what others think of this.

Hall of Fame Election Results

Relief pitcher Bruce Sutter was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame today. He was the only player voted in this year. Jim Rice and Goose Gossage were the two closest to gaining entrance into the Cooperstown.

Of those on the ballot this year, I believe only Bert Blyleven should definitely be in the Hall of Fame. Jim Rice and Jack Morris are close, and should garner more attention. Andre Dawson had some good seasons, but really only had one outstanding season. Lee Smith was very good, but doesn't rise to the level of Dennis Eckersley or Mariano Rivera to be a shoe-in. Tommy John relied on 26 seasons in the big leagues to amass the kind of statistics that get others in.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Democrat Election Obstruction on Trial

Few ever heard of this incident on election day 2004, but the five men charged with slashing the tires of GOP rented vehicles are now on trial.

Republicans are often charged with this kind of tactic, yet I've never heard of any such case going to trial--but here's one where the Democrats are the alleged perpetrators. It will be interesting to see the outcome of the trial.

Will Blyleven Get His Due?

Jayson Stark is finally convinced that Bert Blyleven is a Hall of Fame caliber pitcher. He has finally seen the light. His thesis is correct--Blyleven was a victim of poor run support during his twenty-two major league seasons. He was a much better pitcher than his win total would indicate--though 287 wins is impressive.

Update: Stark discusses other candidates as well. The vote will be announced tomorrow at 1pm CST.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Christmas Tree Kindling


One of my favorite Christmas gifts this year was a 16" McCulloch chain saw--a must for the urban lumberjack.

Yes, this is a fairly ridiculous picture--me cutting up a Christmas tree for ten minutes worth of firewood. But it was a good opportunity to give my new McCulloch a test drive.

My brother also received a chainsaw from my parents. We hope to get a winter's worth of firewood this summer.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Munich

If you have any interest in seeing the Steven Spielberg film Munich, I recommend these two articles for you.

Bret Stephens
in Opinion Journal and Jonah Goldberg from National Review.

Update: Here's another good one from Mona Charen on National Review.

Tolerance, Legalism, and Hypocrisy

Two University of St. Thomas professors have chosen to skip a school trip they planned for two years. Ellen Kennedy and Leigh Lawton Kennedy and Lawton are both are divorced, and have lived together for twelve years. They were planning to chaperone the trip together. They decided that renting separate rooms, as required by the University, would be "hypocritical and duplicitous" if they were not going to use them. The University policy evidently requires they rent separate rooms, though they do not have to use them.

The article also details how a lesbian choir director went on a school trip and wanted to take her partner along. This controversy has led St. Thomas to formulate a travel policy for its faculty. University president Rev. Dennis Dease said he desires a policy that is "consistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church." Doug Hennes, University Vice-President says, "We are trying to stay true to our values and what's appropriate in personal behavior in university-sponsored trips where students are involved. It's forcing us to take a real clear look at what's appropriate and inappropriate. There's a lot of gray here."

Perhaps St. Thomas has a bigger problem than a mere policy on travel. It seems to me that what is unacceptable for the faculty on university trips, should be unacceptable at home. How can the university expect appropriate personal behavior on a school trip, but not at home? Why is it unacceptable for a lesbian choir director to live with a partner at home, but not in a hotel?

If they are honestly concerned about policies that are "consistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church" shouldn't they hire faculty that honor those teachings and not flagrantly defy them? St. Thomas seems to desire tolerance for their faculty, yet it has led to legalism by defining artificial boundaries and demands hypocrisy of its faculty. How is this consistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church?

My advice to the University of St. Thomas is to have courage of conviction--demand integrity from your faculty and you will get it.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Pete Townshend Urges Caution on Headphone Use

The Who guitarist, Pete Townshend cautions users of headphones may damage your ear drums. He blames his hearing trouble on years of headphone use recording in the studio. It may be common sense to some, but teenagers may be unaware and apathetic to the potential damage they may do to their ears.

I do find it ironic to ponder howTownshend might have responded if he were given such a warning as a youth.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Maurice Clarett Falls Further

Former Buckeye's running back Maurice Clarett surrendered to police for armed robbery. It is profoundly sad to see someone with so much talent fall so far.