...thoughts expressed here are not necessarily final.

July 1, 2004 Happy New (Fiscal) Year!

Maybe we should start having a New Fiscal Year's Eve party! Sounds like a great idea to me.

June 30, 2004 Reality is weirder than it used to be.

June 30, 2004 Thou-Shalt-See-TV

A bit of righteous humor from the op ed pages of the New York Times.

This Just In

Art Professor and Genetics prof indicted over his use of Bacteria as an art medium. Is there a spiritual lesson here?

June 30, 2004 The Ups and Downs of Worship

From Dave Rogers blog:

"In his commentary on I Peter, Wayne Grudem writes of 4.18, "The fire of God's holiness is so intense that even the righteous feel pain in its discipline."

"Even we who have been given the righteous standing of Christ are scorched by God's grace to greater purity. The claws of Aslan--blessedly velveted for much of the time--also meted out discipline, scratch for scratch, to young Aravis."

"In short, worship must be a balance between the reality of what is (sin in the world, sin in ourselves, God's extreme holiness) and the reality of what God is doing (in the world, in Jesus Christ, in our lives by the Holy Spirit)."

AF:That's what worship is for me- a reality check. I don't worship until I have looked at the contrast lessons God provides to us- our sin, His Holiness, and Christ's work at the cross to reconcile the irreconcilable... God's otherness was incarnated to provide access to Him SELF. The cry of Abba, Father arises from a deep place of recognition in regard to our utterly bankrupt condition and the greatness of the grace offered. Appropriation and acknowledgement are the flip sides of homologeo- in agreeing with God we are filled by the Spirit with the assurance of Who He is and Who we are becoming In Christ- His Righteousness.

June 30, 2004 Lest We Forget- The situation in Sudan.

With all the focus on our role in Iraq, I haven't seen much if anything in the news about Sudan, which makes the Baghdads of the world look like a Sunday School picnic. Here's the summary on Human Rights watch site.


June 30, 2004 -Other newsy news.

Saddam will be executed says ThisIsLondon

Which 1990's Subculture Do You Belong To?

[Another Quiz by Kris @ couplandesque.net]

June 30, 2004 Movie reviews

OK guys, this is your opportunity to score some sweeetie points with your lady- take her to see this summer's ultimate chick flick - The Notebook. Be sure to take along a couple of boxes of Kleenex. This one is about a sufferer of dementia (Gena Rowlands) and her husband (James Garner) that reads a love story to her daily from a notebook. No surprises here, but the music is evocative and the photography is beautiful (if inconsistent) in places. Directed by Rowlands' son Nick Cassavetes. See here for HollywoodJesus review.

And how could i have forgotten to review X2? Well, after reading this one, i was too entertained to care.

Forgot to review a fun flick after i saw it- and time and distance and several sub par movies have made me appreciate it all the more. I recommend the fantasy/graphic novel adaptation Hellboy starring Ron Perlman. Perfect casting, a bevy of nefarious villains, and big slimy monsters combine to maker this tounge-in-cheek flick about the Dark Horse Comics quasi-hero shine. Here's the Flash enabled site and the official movie site.It's still in theaters locally but you can get the DVD here now.

The dialogue is snappy and wry, and the angst ridden, lovesick antihero is played to perfection by Perlman. Strangely, this is a story about redemption and choosing righteousness (the comic book variety) over evil. May be more of a morality play than anything I have seen recently.

There's plenty of nature versus nurture philosophizing here too. If you don't look too deeply, you'll definitely get the impression that Hellboy enbraces the cross at the end.

Here is a no brainer... from the "dated but still interesting news I hadn't seen department."

'HELLBOY'-'PASSION' CROSS-PROMOTION FLOPS Few viewers enticed by offer to see 'Hellboy' for free after paying for Passion of the Christ.

"They both deal with the supernatural, so it seemed like a perfect match," said Ira Gilligan, CEO of Loewe's Theaters. "We were hoping some of those church groups would pay to see 'The Passion' again if they got to see 'Hellboy' along with it, but they just didn't come."

What a maroon. And I'm not referring to Hellboy's patina. So that's what happened to Gilligan.

June 28, 2004- May your steps be bathed in butter. (Job 29:6)

Speaking of butter, the King of pancakes is dead.

My Mom used to make animals out of our pancake batter and design elaborate faces with the misture dripping it into hot lard. I wonder if this had any influence on my becoming an artist? Better than becoming a cannibal , though some would debate that I suppose.

Speaking of lard, Salo bar anyone? The real reason the USSR fell.

Finally! German science has produced a boon to mankind in the new millenium- an antidote for sheep burps.

Continuing our theme of dairy products and body parts...strange things I ran across last night.


Makes 4

1 oz (30g) butter
4 oz (110g) puff pastry sheets (frozen, uncooked pastry, defrosted)
1 egg
4 oz (110g) grated cheese
tomato purée or tomato ketchup
1. Grease a large baking tray with the butter and set the oven to 200C/400F or Gas 6.
2. Sprinkle a clean work surface with a little flour and roll out the pastry with a rolling pin. Prick it all over with a fork to stop it rising during cooking.
3. Place the foot and hand templates on the pastry and cut around them. Beat the egg with a fork and brush over the pastry. Sprinkle with the cheese.
4. Lift the pastry feet and hands very carefully on to a greased baking tray. If you like, you can decorate the toe and fingernails with a little tomato purée or ketchup. Bake for 10 - 15 minutes then cool on a wire rack.

ABRACADABRA -Watch me pull a gnostic rabbit out of this hat.

According to Schott's Original Miscellany Abracadabra, the word employed by conjurers was first written in a poem Praecepta de Medicina by Q. Severus Sammonicus in the second century. Another site says it was one of the most famous of all talismans, and used as a magical formula by the Gnostics in Rome for invoking the aid of beneficent spirits against disease, misfortune and death.

Sammonicus, the celebrated Gnostic physician, instructed that the letters of this magical triangle which he used for curing agues and fevers, were to be written on paper, folded into the shape of a cross, worn for nine days suspended from the neck, and, before sunrise, cast behind the patient into a stream running eastward. Schott's postulates that it repeats the letters ABRA- a possible reference to the Hebrew letters signifying Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Ab, Ben & Ruach Acadosh.

Thought you'd want to know.

Barna sez in a recent poll that faith is the big player in this election.

Pastor Joel at Watersedge came up with this set of Kingdom ideas:

Kingdom Metaphor / Action / Quality / Other Description

1. Kingdom Colony / Represent / Faithfulness / life shown
2. Kingdom Agents / Cooperate / Blessing / life shared/given
3. Kingdom Heralds / Invite / Welcome / life extended/offered

Kingdom Colony: A body of people who demonstrate what life together with God as king looks like. Colonization is not isolation, but dynamic engagement with surrounding culture in order to subvert the present order. It is what Rome did with Philippi (among others), and what Paul used to describe the task of the believing communities there.

Kingdom Agents: A body of people who see their activity as subversive action. Our good deeds have a larger agenda than benign social action. We want to see God's rule and reign become a reality where we are. This includes everywhere from home to work to nation to planet. It is social justice grounded in and springing from kingdom theology.

Kingdom Heralds: (There must be a better word than 'herald') Here, I think of the servant/messenger in Jesus' parable of the king who threw a great banquet. We invite people to the party--into the life that is truly life. This is not conversionism, but evangelism in its original sense of 'heralding' good news about a new King. Today, in the ruins of Christendom, this invitation only has weight insofar as it is demonstrated by the Colony and its Agents.

Quotes to ponder:

"The restoration of the church will surely come from a new kind of monasticism, which will have nothing in common with the old but a life of uncompromising adherence to the Sermon on the Mount in imitation of Christ. I believe the time has come to rally people together for this." -Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Rant for the day:

Heard an ad this morning on the way in to work for a Christian plastic surgeon who is sponsoring local Christian radio - he was hawking botox therapy for achieving a more youthful appearance. This is another reason why I don't listen to Christian Radio on a regular basis.

For some reason after every trip back home, upon my return, I run across another Merton note. Wonder if it is subliminal since I grew up within a few miles of Gethsemani?

The Merton prayer

MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone. - Thomas Merton, "Thoughts in Solitude"

I think Merton might be selling the Holy Spirit short in the name of being spiritual. Wisdom is elusive, to be sure, but we can have real power to know what we know. Prerequisite to this is keeping life simple.

Psalm 111:10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

Romans 2:4 Or do you think lightly of (KJV= despiseth) the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?

Rambling thoughts

God is good. Unfortunately man is not. God's kindness has not been respected and coveted. America seeks God's blessing without any notion of blessing the Lord. That is the definition of an abusive relationship. But God is not codependent nor an enabler of evil.

The history of man indicates that it takes trouble to bring us running to God. Rather than entering into trouble voluntarily by intercession on behalf of the least of these, Americans have too often retained an atitude of most favored nation status.

From a response to Larry's Motley Fool postings

Things do not look good for America-

AF:I think that this has ever been so. When we look at the history of America, a case can be made that at every critical juncture, it has been the common man in pursuit of God that has made the difference in the course of American events. Government by the people is a good thing only so long as that people have a sense of humility and service and a fear of the Lord. Maybe I am wrong, but the corruption of success and affluence took America around the corner some time ago. I would place that point at the time when GI's came back from World War 2 and raised a generation that sought to make a name for itself while singing God bless America- a country claimed divine approval and the word "derserve" entered the mass voacabulary. After all, it was obvious that the successes of World War 2 had been in the pursuit of righteousness and justice. Bootstrap theology ascended to the throne. Oversimplification, to be sure, but there's some merit to the notion.

Trust God but keep your powder dry was the old adage that came out of the Revolution. It still attains today. I think the greatest help in time of our need would be a rediscovery of the fear of the Lord. I just watched an expose on American businessmen buying children for sex in third world countries the other night. Maybe we should round THEM up and send them to Iraq if we are not going to stone them ourselves. If we are becoming a nation of baby killers and sex maniacs who look to homosexuals for our entertainment, we have seen the enemy and it is us.

That being said, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. An all pervasive trust in and pursuit of Him frees us from fear.

Here's a blog entry that you might find interesting:


What are economists learning about religion?

1. Religious participation is negatively correlated with economic growth.
2. For the most part religious belief (as opposed to participation) is not correlated with economic growth. Belief in hell is positively correlated with growth, however.
3. Religious pluralism makes people more religious. In other words, the more options available, the more likely that religion will be found appealing.
4. As a country becomes wealthier, its people tend to become less religious (the U.S. is an outlier here; we are remarkably religious for our level of wealth).

And finally, I really despise Christopher Hitchens' politics, but gloriosky, I found something worth reading by him on Fahrenheit 9/11.


Bib Arch review now online

Ben Witherington III of Asbury College is becoming a regularly features expert on a variety of religious news programs. I just read his reveiw of the DaVinci code in Biblical Archaeology review. He concisely refutes the claimed histroicity of Dan Brown's runaway best seller by pointing out seven major historical errors in the book.

I found that the review is offered online at http://www.bib-arch.org/bswbOOdavincicode.html

He exposes the seven errors in the book pretty decisively. His final verdict is:

"It's all quite entertaining, if it's accepted for what it really is: not historical fiction, but pure fiction. And as thrilling as the book is, it can't hold a candle to the thrill of discovering the historical truth about the events that have shaped the very contours of modern civilization."

Witherington's book The Gospel Code: Novel Claims About Jesus, Mary Magdalene and Da Vinci is now out- get it at Amazon.com


From the personal weblog of Anthony Foster @http://anthonyfoster.com/blog/