Tuesday, December 12, 2006

NYT and their Anti-Christian Bias...

Some of you are probably old enough to remember that old BeeGees hit, "Stayin' Alive" and line talking about "The New York Times' effect on man..."

Well this past week I read a really biased article about a faith-based prison program in Iowa and the verdict by a judge in that state who is trying to shut it down. I have a good friend who works with Prison Fellowship who runs that program and I know from his accounts all the good these types of programs are doing for those who have run afoul of the law. Yet when I read the report, it was obvious to me that this article by the NYT was skewed in a terrible way.

Well Mark Early, the president of Prison Fellowship has put the record straight. Here is his side of the story...

All the News That's Fit to Print?

By Mark Earley

Regular “BreakPoint” listeners and readers know that a federal judge has ordered a highly successful program for prisoners called the InnerChange Freedom Initiative®, or IFI, to shut down because the judge felt it violated the separation of church and state.

Prison Fellowship strongly disagrees. So do the Justice Department, nine state attorneys general, and numerous faith-based organizations. That’s why Prison Fellowship is appealing the case and why the others I just mentioned have filed friend-of-the-court briefs with the appeals court on IFI’s behalf.

Not surprisingly, however, the New York Times agrees with the judge. On its front page last Sunday, the Times ran the following headline above the fold: “Religion for a Captive Audience, Paid for by Taxes.” The headline alone tells you the kind of picture the Times intended to—and, in fact, did—paint: inmates coerced into participating in a government-funded religious program.

But what did the Times not tell us in that article?

here to

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


Visualizing a Magnetic Field
"The Christian life, lived in the magnetic field between the two poles of the amazing grace of God and the appalling sin in which I share, has a corresponding synthesis of a godly confidence and a godly fear. The fear is lest I should put my trust in anything other than God's grace in Jesus Christ; the confidence is in the infinite abundance of his grace to me and to every one of his creatures." (p.178)

Lesslie Newbigin, The Gospel in a Pluralist Society.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The Blind Men and the Elephant

We've probably all heard the story of "The Blind Men and the Elephant." It has been used to appeal for greater toleration amongst religions and as a parable in the cause of pluralism. But what is the real point of the story?
In the famous story of the blind men and elephant, so often quoted in the interests of religious agnosticism, the real point of the story is constantly overlooked. The story is told from the point of view of the king and his courtiers, who are not blind but can see that the blind men are unable to grasp the full reality of the elephant and are only able to get hold of part of the truth. The story is constantly told in order to neutralize the affirmation of the great religions, to suggest that they learn humility and recognize that none of them can have more than one aspect of the truth. But of course, the real point of the story is exactly the opposite. If the king were also blind there would be no story. [emphasis mine] The story is told by the king, and it is the immensely arrogant claim of one who sees the full truth which all the world's religions are only groping after. It embodies the claim to know the full reality which relativizes all the claims of the religions and philosophies.

Lesslie Newbigin in The Gospel in a Pluralist Society (pp. 9-10)

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Singapore Takes on Crows; One Down, 34,999 to Go - New York Times

I'm always fascinated when Singapore makes news in papers around the world. However, this article from the New York Times on the culling of crows in our ultra-urban city state really tops them all for me!

"“Garbage bin! Garbage bin!”

The men with shotguns tumbled from the Land Rover in a crouch and trotted along beside it like marines taking cover behind a Humvee.

“Don’t let them see your gun, they know about guns!” whispered the leader, Dennis Lim, a 20-year veteran of this kind of thing.

He jumped from behind the van, whirled and fired, “pop!” But his prey — seven or eight crows sitting on a trash bin — were gone.

“They’re smart birds,” Mr. Lim said. “One of them saw us and alerted the others. He started flying and the others started flying.”

Mr. Lim, 54, is on the front lines of a battle for his country’s territorial integrity, a member of the Singapore Gun Club who has been enlisted to help reduce an infestation that at one point climbed to 150,000.

The club is one of the few places here that permits private weapons, though owners must lock them up before they leave. In 1982 the government asked the club to take on the crows, and Mr. Lim has been hunting them down almost from the start.

Now he is standing by for a new challenge, the possibility of bird flu and the need to secure Singapore against migrating birds, perhaps by shooting them out of the sky."

Read the rest here...

Friday, October 13, 2006

The Way I See It

On the way back from a meeting at a church in Monroeville (which is about an hour away from Ambridge), my professor and I stopped at a nearby Starbucks for a quick coffee. I picked up a mocha latte and was quite surprised to read a little theology on the side of the cup. It was part of a series that the coffee giants call "The Way I See It" and is intended to spark conversations. The quote was from a musician named Mike Doughty, who as far as I can tell isn't a Christian. This is what he said:
It’s tragic that extremists co-opt the notion of God, and that hipsters and artists reject spirituality out of hand. I don’t have a fixed idea of God. But I feel that it’s us – the messed-up, the half-crazy, the burning, the questing – that need God, a lot more than the goody-two-shoes do.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

A Tragedy of News

The horrific carnage that fell upon the Amish schoolhouse in Pennsylvania, has made the news all around the world. The gruesome details have been repeated ad nauseum in news reports in print, over the air and on the internet. But one place that won't happen is in the main newspaper that serves that strict religious community.

The Los Angeles Times reports: "Although the Oct. 16 paper will reflect the loss of life in Nickel Mines, where a man burst into a one-room schoolhouse on Monday and shot 10 Amish girls, killing five, Lapp (the editor of the Amish paper) hopes not to devote too many column inches to the incident. Long-standing policy at Die Botschaft prohibits the publication of stories about murder, as well as stories about war, love or religion."

When I was trained as a journalist, on of the ways in which I was taught to evaluate the newsworthiness of an event was by the level of conflict or controversy it manifest. What happened in Lancaster county certainly qualifies. And what is interesting is that this same element was also an essential ingredient in my scriptwriting class. I was told that conflict was an important tool that help a story's entertainment value. There in lies the rub. Is news meant to be for our entertainment or information?

Can we really make this distinction? In many ways, since the newsmedia is a business, it will always seek to give the public what it wants. It has to if it hopes to attract the eyeballs which sponsors demand and pay for. It has to cater to the same instinct which manifests itself in our tendency to slow down as we pass a car wreck to see if we can catch a glance of a mangled body, or a pool of blood. It horrifies us, but we can't look away.

The only problem though is how much do the details of such incidents actually inspire others to imitate the example. Malcom Gladwell in his hugely popular tome, The Tipping Point, highlighted the influence the few can have. He cited the example of how reports of a suicide had often resulted in a sudden uptick of imitators. The "permission" was given and others who harbored similar inclinations somehow felt that the door had been opened for them to do likewise.

The Amish schoolhouse incident is the 3rd school shooting that has occurred in the space of a week here in the US. Everyone of them highly publicized events. Is there a connection? Schools around the country worry about it. Some may consider the Amish paper's decision to not report the tragedy quaint and out-moded. But do they have a point?

The sad truth of the matter is that people don't need "permission" to act in atrocious and despicable ways. As saddened and appalled as I was by the incident, I only saw it as another example of how the whole issue of original sin continues to plague the human condition. We are not "evolving." Civilization is not progressing. The more we know, the more we discover that the sin in our hearts continues to rule and reign. No amount of "civilization" can eradicate it!

I don't condone the way in which the news outlets have continued to feed the public hunger for all the gory details. Yet I know that even if they didn't, the innate depravity that every human being carries withinin will come out, and will provide yet another story to be covered.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Our Part

"The only thing of my very own which I contribute to redemption
is the sin from which I need to be redeemed"
Archbishop William Temple

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Lost in the Noise

The recent furore over the Pope's speech in the Muslim world has caused many (if not most) to lose sight of what he was really trying to say. As is typically the case, the noise often drowns out the real message. In essence, what the pope was trying to tell his audience, who were mainly a group of secular university elite, was that if there was going to be a "genuine dialogue of cultures and religions," the relationship between reason and faith had to be re-examined. He concluded his address by saying:
In the Western world it is widely held that only positivistic reason and the forms of philosophy based on it are universally valid. Yet the world's profoundly religious cultures see this exclusion of the divine from the universality of reason as an attack on their most profound convictions. A reason which is deaf to the divine and which relegates religion into the realm of subcultures is incapable of entering into the dialogue of cultures.

You can find a pdf of the pope's full speech on the BBC website here)
Ironically, his very call for dialogue brought the heart of the problem he was trying to address to the fore. The Western media guided by their positivistic reason demonstrated its problems by the way they reported the speech. They lifted a quote from the address that was sure to generate maximum conflict, regardless of the fact that it was used totally out of context and totally contrary to the gist of what Pope Benedict was trying to say. Conversely, the response from the Muslim world similarly showed once again how faith divorced from reason can lead to unruly behaviours.

One of my professors, the Revd Dr. Leander Harding, has written a brilliant analysis of the Pope's address. He compares what the pope said with Michael Polyani's concept of "moral inversion" and points out that reason without faith or faith without reason both lead to perversions of morality. And when carried to its logical (or illogical) extreme, results in violence.
If we read Polanyi and the Pope together we can see that the apocalyptic violence of the totalitarian movements of the secular West in the 20th century and the violence of Islamic Jihadism have a strong family resemblance. The both reject in the name of utopian visions the concept of universal moral principles to which as St. Thomas says, “even the Jew and Muslim must agree.” Both European totalitarianism and Jihadism reject any reasoned critique of their utopian project. Both Polanyi and the Pope argue that there is no way out of this impasse without a rehabilitation of the role of reason and a redefinition of the relationship between faith and reason. If the choice is between an unreasoning faith and an unreasonably skeptical secular reason which brings in its train nihilism, the world is presented with a choice between moral despair and utopian fanaticism in both secular and religious forms, with no possibility of a mediating dialogue. This is not the way forward for reason or faith or the human race.

(Click here to read the rest of his blog...)

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Sad but True

The notorious Jerry Fallwell made a quip that conservative voters (who are of his ilk) fear Hilary Clinton more than they do the devil himself. He meant it to be a humorous quote in a closed door meeting, but unfortunately I fear that he is more right than he probably cares to admit.
"'I certainly hope that Hillary is the (2008 Presidential) candidate, she has $300 million so far. But I hope she's the candidate. Because nothing will energize my [constituency] like Hillary Clinton.'

Cheers and laughter filled the room as Falwell continued: 'If Lucifer ran, he wouldn't.'"
What does this say about the state of Christianity (esp. amongst Evangelicals here in America)? I am more saddened by the fact that most people here in America don't take Satan seriously enough and that any person (even those you disagree with) should be so "demonized".

"For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places." Ephesians 6:12

Read the whole article here...:

A Crisis of Trust Takes a Toll on Chinese Society

This article from the Los Angeles Times puts a spotlight on the reality of living in a fallen world. This is yet another example of the depravity of man and the effects of original sin...

Crisis of Trust Takes a Toll on Chinese Society:

"Talk about swimming with sharks.

Zhang Xingshui, an attorney with the Beijing Kingdom law firm, knows that like people everywhere else in the world, the Chinese don't always trust lawyers, who often promise things they can't deliver. But in China, he says, lawyers don't trust their clients, who like to skip out without paying. And neither trusts judges, who routinely disregard the law in favor of politics when rendering decisions.

'Living in such a society is tiring for everyone,' Zhang said. 'You're forced to be vigilant so you don't fall into pits, which are everywhere. Everybody is a victim and at the same time an offender.'"

Click here to read the rest of the article...

Friday, September 08, 2006

Hinduism no barrier to job as priest in Church of England -- Times Online

If you had any doubt that the Anglican church is facing a major crisis, read this...
Hinduism no barrier to job as priest in Church of England

"A PRIEST with the Church of England who converted to Hinduism has been allowed to continue to officiate as a cleric.

The Rev David Hart’s diocese renewed his licence this summer even though he had moved to India, changed his name to Ananda and daily blesses a congregation of Hindus with fire previously offered up to Nagar, the snake god. He also “recites Gayatri Mantram with the same devotion with which he celebrates the Eucharist”, according to The Hindu, India’s national newspaper.

The Hindu this week pictures him offering prayers to an idol of the elephant god Ganesh in front of his house. However, he still believes he is fit to celebrate as an Anglican priest and plans to do so when he returns to Britain..."

To read the rest, click here.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The God of China

I came across this article about how the late Mao Zedong has been turned into a deity in communist (and previously aetheist) China. Some villagers in a rural province even claim that 3 miracles happened in their village on the 100th anniversary of his birth in 1993.

Imagine that... he could even become a candidate for beatification and eventual canonization if only China would recognize the Vatican!

It's as the great reformer, John Calvin said, "The human heart is a factory of idols...Everyone of us is, from his mother’s womb, expert in inventing idols."

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

A Taste of Home

Came across a blog that had quite a number of recipes from home. The author is a free lance journalist and photographer from Malaysia. What really got my stomach juices going were the pictures that accompanied her recipes!

She has taken such good pictures of some of the dishes that I can almost smell the food! Of course for those of you who have never been to South East Asia, some of the stuff will be a little too exotic for your palates!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

I can't wait for the season to start

I was just reading the American columnist for Fox Soccer Channel, Nick Webster and he predicted that Liverpool will win the premiership this season. He was right in predicting that Chelsea would win last season... but of course that wasn't rocket science considering how much they spent on building their team!

However I think that Liverpool's win over Chelsea in the Community Shield this last Sunday has really got the fans hopes up! We will see how things turn out, but what is important is that they start the season well. Last season, after the Oct 2nd game in which LFC lost to Chelsea 4-1, Liverpool amassed 75 points to Chelsea's 67 for the rest of the season. The title was essentially lost in the first month when Liverpool only earned 7 points to Chelsea's 21. So with Mourinho (some call him Moanin-ho) claiming that his team are only 50% ready, the tables may well be turned!

Like I said, I just can't wait for the season to begin!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Against the Flow

Being here in America, I have often felt discomfort at the level of politicization of the church. The following is an excerpt of a New York Times article about a pastor who felt the same way. Unfortunately the very fact that he made the news shows how prevalent this is in Evangelical circles here...

"Like most pastors who lead thriving evangelical megachurches, the Rev. Gregory A. Boyd was asked frequently to give his blessing — and the church’s — to conservative political candidates and causes.

The requests came from church members and visitors alike: Would he please announce a rally against gay marriage during services? Would he introduce a politician from the pulpit? Could members set up a table in the lobby promoting their anti-abortion work? Would the church distribute “voters’ guides” that all but endorsed Republican candidates? And with the country at war, please couldn’t the church hang an American flag in the sanctuary?

After refusing each time, Mr. Boyd finally became fed up, he said. Before the last presidential election, he preached six sermons called “The Cross and the Sword” in which he said the church should steer clear of politics, give up moralizing on sexual issues, stop claiming the United States as a “Christian nation” and stop glorifying American military campaigns.

“When the church wins the culture wars, it inevitably loses,” Mr. Boyd preached. “When it conquers the world, it becomes the world. When you put your trust in the sword, you lose the cross.”

Mr. Boyd says he is no liberal. He is opposed to abortion and thinks homosexuality is not God’s ideal. The response from his congregation at Woodland Hills Church here in suburban St. Paul — packed mostly with politically and theologically conservative, middle-class evangelicals — was passionate. Some members walked out of a sermon and never returned. By the time the dust had settled, Woodland Hills, which Mr. Boyd founded in 1992, had lost about 1,000 of its 5,000 members..."

To read more, click here.

Friday, July 28, 2006

The sound of silence

I was asked today why I haven't updated my blog in such a long time. There are several reasons for this.

  1. The World Cup is over and the new season of the English Premier League hasn't started yet
  2. I have been busy studying Biblical Hebrew in an intensive eight week course through the summer. As such I have had very little going on in my life worth blogging about.
  3. There has very little time to do much reading this summer since most of my time has been taken up with trying to memorise vocabulary, verbal stems, and other grammatical idiosyncrasies of a strange and wonderful language. (the upside of this is that I can actually read portions of Judges 3 and actually understand some of what it says in my Hebrew Bible!)
  4. ...and ultimately, the truth is... I'm just too lazy to keep up with it!
Don't worry folks... I have only 4 more classes to go and a final. So I should be back in a couple of weeks. (Is this ok with you, Janelle?)

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The World Cup, General Convention 2006 and Learning Biblical Hebrew

Ruth Gledhill in her Times piece "Anglicans look south for unity in diversity" drew a parallel between World Cup Football (aka soccer) and what is going on in the Anglican Communion. (I was drawn to her piece especially because the centerpiece of the article was an interview with my Archbishop, John Chew)

I have been reflecting on that metaphor as I follow both the World Cup and the proceedings of the Episcopal Church's General Convention (GC06) in Columbus, Ohio at the same time. It has been interesting to see how frenzied the proceedings became on the penultimate day of the convention and it reminds me of one of the traditional "powerhouses" of football frantically trying to get another goal (or two) so that they can ensure survival on the world stage.

As we have seen in this World Cup, too often the favorite underestimates the resolve, passion and preparation of the underdog, and they end up paying the price for that oversight. This is where the parallels between WC06 and GC06 seem very apparent to me...

The Windsor Report was released in 2004, almost 2 years before the Convention that is going on right now. And yet there are so many in the leadership of the Episcopal Church that seem to be surprised by how clearly the report called for certain actions on the part of ECUSA. The quibbling over words and the attempts to fudge a response show how very unprepared most of the leadership was. It appears that they have finally realized that their decisions at this convention will determine whether they remain on the World stage or get booted out of the tournament prematurely.

Many of those who backed the decisions of GC03 were painfully out of touch with how their actions had seriously impaired their relationship with the rest of the Communion, in particular the "poorer" and "less developed" brethren in the Global South. I can remember a number of Episcopal leaders remarking that the reaction of the orthodox conservative Anglicans would eventually blow over, and that they will eventually come to see the "wisdom" of what ECUSA has done.

A fine example of this misunderstanding of what is at stake come from the mouth of the Presiding Bishop-elect Katharine Jefferts Schori (which rhymes with "sorry"). On being asked what she could do to heal the rift between ECUSA and the rest of the communion, she related an anecdote from her days as a marine biologist. She tells of a ship captain who initially snubbed her, but was won over in 15 minutes. "He got over it," she said.

Unfortunately she would be incredibly naive to think that the rest of the primates will "get over it" after GC06 has essentially "thumbed their collective nose" (some others have been less polite in describing their actions) at the requests of the Windsor Report and the Primates of the Communion.

The whole exercise of what I have been observing has been interestingly juxtaposed with my intensive Summer Hebrew course. In class last week we were taught about a Masoretic device in Hebrew Bibles known as Kethibh-Qere. This feature arose because of the Masoretes' high regard for the text of Scripture. Whenever they were copying the Hebrew Bible and came across a recognized error in the text, they chose to make corrections in the margin. This was so that they could leave the original text that was handed down intact, both as an act of extreme reverence and also as a safeguard against tampering with Scripture. If only the leadership of the Episcopal Church were as scrupulous over God's word as they were in manipulating the text of their endless (and ultimately meaningless) resolutions in Columbus.

Here as some links to first hand observations of GC06:

Rev John Burwell,
Deputy from Diocese of South Carolina

Ruth Gledhill,
London Times Religion Correspondent

Bishop James Stanton,
Diocesan of Dallas

Kendall Harmon
of the titusonenine fame

And of course from the
Archbishop of Canterbury
who technically wasn't there but must have been
following the events closely from across the pond

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

What if the Medium really is the Message?

An article by Shane Hipps on Out of Ur:

"Whenever we in the church debate new methods of communicating the gospel, or alternative ways of doing church it ends in a predictable turn. There is a point in these conversations when a person, hoping to end the debate once and for all, says “The methods must change as long as the message stays the same.” So it would seem as long as we preserve the unchanging message, any method is fair game. This serves as a kind of evangelical rally cry for methodological innovation.

If they are feeling particularly sophisticated, they may go on to explain that, “Our methods, in and of themselves, are neither good nor evil, it is how we use them that determines their value.”

Meaning, if we pipe pornography through the Internet it’s bad, but if we post the Four Spiritual Laws there the Internet is good. We assume that any medium is simply a neutral conduit for information, like the plumbing in our house. The tubes are of little consequence unless they spring a leak. So as long as we are communicating the unchanging message of the gospel, every technology or method can be good. This tends to be our most nuanced conclusion.

Unfortunately, it fails to account for what our media and methods truly have the capacity to do and undo. And so we encounter them with the proverbial slip on the banana peel. We remain quite oblivious to the ways our message and our minds are being shaped by our methods and media.

The reality is, our methods are in no way “neutral,” they have a staggering, yet hidden power to shape us regardless of their content. This is what Marshall McLuhan meant when he observed “The medium is the message.” And it stands in direct contradiction to our evangelical rally cry. In other words, our media and methods have an inherent bias and a message of their own that has little or nothing to do with their content..."

Click here to read the rest of the article.

What did Luther say?

An excerpt from The Christian Century":

"A recent New Yorker article on Mary Magdalene, obviously written with an eye on her role as Jesus' paramour in Dan Brown's best-selling The Da Vinci Code, began by noting that 'Brown is by no means the first to have suggested that Christ had a sex life—Martin Luther said it' (February 13-20). Bruce Chilton, an Episcopal scholar from Bard College, also makes this claim about Luther in Mary Magdalene: A Biography (2005). And a 2003 story in Time magazine declared that 'Martin Luther believed that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married.' Did Luther really make these assertions?

... Seemingly problematic is a small notation from John Schlagenhaufen, one of Luther's close friends, which contains a recollection of something Luther supposedly said informally at his Wittenberg dinner table in 1532:
Christ [as] adulterer. In the first instance Jesus became an adulterer with the woman at the well in John 4, because they say (no one understands), 'What is he doing with her?' In the same way with Magdalena; in the same way with the adulteress of John 8, whom he let off so easily. In that way the godly Christ first of all must also become an adulterer before he died. (WA TR 6, 107, sec. 1472; cf. LW 54:154)
No one knows if Luther actually said this. The critical apparatus in the Weimar Ausgabe reveals the textual and grammatical problems in this supposed quotation. Schlagenhaufen recorded only a portion of what he remembered Luther to have said that day (and after how many beers?). No context is given.

Scholars know how difficult, if not impossible, it is to link the lapidary 'table notations' of Luther's friends to Luther's own views. The editors of the American Edition speculate in a footnote that the 'probable context is suggested in a sermon of 1536 (WA 41, 647) in which Luther asserted that Christ was reproached by the world as a glutton, a winebibber, and even an adulterer' (LW 54:154).

A more probable context is Luther's account of the atonement. One of his basic assertions is that our sins become Christ's and Christ's perfect righteousness becomes ours by faith. This idea of 'the happy exchange' is found in many Luther texts. Given his central soteriological and christological concern, the theological irony in Schlagenhaufen's remembered notation becomes clearer: The 'godly' Christ becomes or is made a sinner through his solidarity with sinners, even to the point of dying as a God-forsaken criminal on the cross. This is how Luther understood Paul's statement, 'God made him who knew no sin to be sin for us so that in him we might become the righteousness of God' (2 Cor. 5:21).

So Christ 'becomes' an adulterer, though he does not actually commit adultery with Mary or anyone else. He puts mercy front and center, and rejects the legalism which demanded that the woman caught in adultery be killed and the woman at the well and Mary Magdalene be shunned. The holy one becomes the sinner by putting himself into the situation of sinners, by loving and forgiving them, and ultimately by taking their sins on himself. For this gospel reason, Luther could also remark that God made Jesus 'the worst sinner of the whole world,' even though he also acknowledged that the sinless, righteous Christ actually committed no sin himself.

Trapped in a literalistic approach to Schlagenhaufen's contextless note, some readers have missed the metaphorical character of the remark, which Luther may have made, if he made it at all, with a twinkle in his eye. I'm confident that Luther would not be a fan of The Da Vinci Code—except perhaps with a beer in hand and that twinkle in his eye."

Thursday, May 18, 2006

What a victory...

Saints win!

Photo was taken by Tan Teck Meng, Singapore.

The rugby team from my alma mater, St Andrew's Junior College beat our longtime rivals, Raffles JC 15-10 in the national competition in Singapore. This was especially sweet since it was a massive come from behind victory as heavy underdogs. The picture is of the winning touchdown having fought back from a 3-10 deficit in the 2nd half of the game. It has been 18 years since we last won the title.

Saturday, April 22, 2006


Liverpool beat Chelsea 2-1 in the FA Cup semifinals. It was kind of nail biting at the end, but the redmen managed to hold out for the crucial win.

Out of 10 meetings in the last two seasons, Liverpool have only beaten blues twice. Last year we knocked them out of the Champions League at the semifinal stage as well. They must really see us as a jinx team in their cup runs! As usual, their manager Mourihno was moaning and couldn't even congratulate Liverpool on being the better team! He is such a poor loser...

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Blogging means sometimes having to say "I'm sorry"

A couple of months back I posted some stuff related to an online feud taking place between a couple of prominent pastors in the emrgent church movement. It ignited quite a furore and even led to a seminary professor questioning the benefit of blogging. Well here's the latest installment in the saga. Mark Driscoll the "offender" has offered his heartfelt "I'm sorry", but it has been painful reading some of the comments to his apology. While some have been genuinely supportive, there is still a large measure of unforgiveness that comes through which is such a poor testimony to the gospel!

It's like our Dean/President Paul Zahl said:
"I observe that Christians don't even tolerate sinners, another 'other' for all their talk of forgiveness. It is a wondrous fact – an arresting fact – that when Christians fall into sin, the talk one hears literally every Sunday, in principle, of God's forgiveness and welcome to the sinner becomes a dead letter. It is as if we declare "God shows His love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" only to NOT mirror that, any time sin actually strikes close to us in a real live human being. It is an amazing reality that a sinner has about as much chance from Christians as Zontar did from the soldiers in It Conquered the World. (Zontar was burned to death, by the actor Lee Van Cleef.)" (from John Zahl's blog)

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Why it's Good.

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing,
but to us who are being saved it is the power of God
1 Corinthians 1:18
I just read the New Yorker article by Peter Boyer, "A Church Asunder" after reading John Zahl's blog on it. It set me thinking about what our response should be towards the current crisis in our Communion. I still debate whether the revisionists of ECUSA are better classified (there I go labelling others again) as "Infidels" or "Hereticks" in Cranmerian terms. But the Good Friday collect reminds me that it doesn't really matter. I need to pray for them just the same.

Merciful God, who hast made all men, and hatest nothing that thou has made, nor wouldest the death of a sinner, but rather that he should be converted and live; have mercy upon all Jews, Turks (i.e. Muslims), Infidels and Hereticks [sic], and take from them all ignorance, hardness of heart, and contempt of thy word: and so fetch them home, blessed Lord, to thy flock, that they may be saved amongst the remnant of the true Israelites, and be made one fold under one shepherd, Jesus Christ our Lord; who liveth and reigneth, with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.
The Third Collect for Good Friday
1662 Book of Common Prayer

At first hearing (or reading) this collect seems so un-PC. It raises our hackles and seems to run counter to all that we have been led to believe in relating to others in pluralism. But this is the crux of the gospel. This is the message of the cross. Paul Zahl unpacks the background of this prayer in his book on the Cramerian collects:

"The Jews believe in God, but reject Christ. The Mohammedans believe in God and honor Christ, but do not yield Him divine honor. Infidels are those who do not believe the basic doctrines of Christianity. Heretics are Christians who maintain religious opinions contrary to the teachings of the Church. This prayer is more a call to missionary work than a statement of judgment." (p.48 The Collects of Thomas Cranmer)

We're all sinners saved by grace, and in constant need of grace. And that is our motivation for mission. That is why we pray for those outside our congregations. This is why the day of Jesus' death is good. It is the "power of God unto salvation."

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

A Mad Dog Faith

As we move through holy week, I have had a series of really interesting readings for a few different classes here. I was also recently visiting Dave's blog, who is a friend here at seminary (and fellow soccer fan...not!). He talked about the "Nazareth principle" in his post on Kant and Luther and it brought me back to something I read from Philip Jenkin's book, the Next Christiandom...
"Christianity grew as a grassroots movement, appealing to a rich diversity of groups. In some cases this might mean those on the margins of traditional societies. In his nuanced account of the conversion of the Igbo people of eastern Nigeria, Chinua Achebe describes how the faith gained its initial successses among the marginalized: "None of the converts was a man whose word was heeded in the assembly of the people. None of them was a man of title. They were mostly the kind of people that were called efulefu, worthless, empty men...Chielo, the priestess of Agbala, called the converts the excrement of the clan, and the new faith was a mad dog that had come to eat it up." Gradually, though, an increasing number of converts were drawn in from major families. (Today, the Igbo are overwhelmingly Christian.)" (p.43)
This gist of this story was repeated in my readings of how Christianity spread in Korea and China in the 19th and 20th century. The churches that grew the fastest and have had the most lasting impact are those that initially reached the lowest in society. It shouldn't be any surprise since the apostle Paul pointed out the fact that this is the basis of God's election:
For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption. Therefore, as it is written, "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord." 1 Corinthians 1:26-31
Could it be that it is the "down and outs" who are most receptive to the gospel? I imagine that they are the ones who can most easily accept the word that comes tellling us that we can do nothing to save ourselves. That's probably why Jesus said that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for the self-satisfied, self-sufficient and self-absorbed (my version of a three-self movement) to enter His kingdom...

This is the message of the cross. God came and identified with the down and outs, by subjecting himself to the ugliness of the cross...
He had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised,
and we esteemed him not.
Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement
that brought us peace,
and with his stripes we are healed.
Isaiah 53:2-5

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Go to the Source!

Our Dean/President Herr Zahl, makes a strong case for the existence of Trinity. I firmly believe that the battle for the church will be won or lost in the seminaries. If we are to see the church turn around, we need to be more strategic in placing the right people in the right places, and I'm not talking about the episcopate (although that is important too).

But how do we break the politburo hold they have on our institutions? It is almost incestous the way in which they jealously guard their strongholds. Talk about a lack of inclusion...

Monday, March 27, 2006

Nobody Loves Me, Everybody Hates Me

It sure seems like a bad time to be a Christian. Especially one who is serious about what he believes...

If you don't believe me, just ask Abdul Rahman, the Afghan Christian convert on trial for switching religions. He's damned if they convict him, and damned if they don't because there's a lynch mob waiting for him if he's released.

I've also just done a book review on the persecution of Christians entitled "Their Blood Cries Out" which is a little dated (published in 1997) but is still moving in its accounts of the ferocious attrocities perpetrated against followers of Jesus.

If that's not enough, the Asian Church History class I'm taking over at PTS covered what is known as the great Sassanian persecution of Christians in Persia in 340AD. This was "the most massive persecution of Christians in history, unequalled for its duration, its ferocity and the number of martyrs" (Moffett's A History of Christianity in Asia Vol.1)

This opposition is just about every where. In an editorial entitled "Cutting at Christianity" by Nora Gallagher in the LA Times on March 24, 2006, the author said, "It's become fashionable to take shots at the Christian religion. In a lot of otherwise civilized circles, the faithful and the faith itself are an easy object of prejudice; and worse, it's a prejudice you can get away with."

She ends the op-ed by pining for the "good old days" of pre-Constantine Christianity. She thinks that there were kinder gentler times in Jesus' day. But listen to what he said...

"If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also." John 15:18-20 (NIV)

So it doesn't get any better folks, we'll just have to get used to it... Or eat some worms.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

How 'bout them Reds?

Amazing stuff. They beat Everton their cross-town rivals with only 10 men! 3-1 was the final score and it was sweet!

Friday, March 24, 2006

Schism looms...

This is probably the clearest signal from Canterbury about the impending fate of the Communion. The Bishop of Exeter, representing the Archbishop of Canterbury, was speaking at the ECUSA House of Bishops retreat at Kanuga. He said:

"'I suppose one of the major challenges for the Episcopal Church now has to do with whether there are enought of you to stand broadly on the same ground, holding a range of opinions on Lambeth 1.10 but firm in carrying forward the Windsor vision of a strengthened and enabing communion life. This, I believe, is the key question rather than questions about whether the Episcopal Church will either be pushed out of the Communion or consciously walk away. Let's be clear. On the one hand, noone can force another province or diocese either to go or remain. We are not that kind of church. Yet equally, no diocese or province can enforce its own continued membership simply or largely on its own terms. There has to be engagement There is no communion without a shared vision of life in communion. So it does seem to me, as I listen to those other parts of the communion that I know best, that any further consecration of those in a same sex relationship, any authorisation of any person to undertake same sex blessings, any stated intention not to seriously engage with the Windsor Report, will be read very widely as a declaration not to stay with the communion.'"
A report of what sort of went on there can be found on Ruth Gledhill's Blog - Times Online: Schism looms, Exeter warns US bishops:

I know that many of my Episcopal colleagues here at Trinity look towards the General Convention in June with some anxiety. To be honest, I see very little signs of ECUSA repenting as was called for in the Windsor report.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

FA Cup | Birmingham 0-7 Liverpool

Birmingham 0-7 Liverpool. That makes it 15 goals in the last 3 games... enuff said!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

What a game!

I know some of you hate this... but I can't help it (sorry Dave!).

Liverpool routed Fulham yesterday, 5-1. I watched the delayed telecast and it was truly entertaining. You might have noticed that I haven't been posting much on football (the real kind played with feet) lately, because honestly, my team hasn't been doing too well. But now they seem to have picked up where they left off. Great to see almost all the forwards getting a goal each. Especially delighted with Fowler's goal!

To Fulham's credit, they really put in a good game, but once the Liverpool strikers got off the mark, there was no stopping them. I was particularly impressed with the young signing, centre-half Daniel Agger who deputised for the injured Hyppia. (A Dane for a Fin)

*whew* had to get this out, or I would have burst!

Monday, March 13, 2006

Making a Difference

This is one man who has made a difference in the world!

PZ circulated a NYT article on John Stott, the elder statesman of the evangelical church, at one of our Dean's hours. I have always been impressed with his writings, and I admit that I often gravitate to his commentaries, when I come across them. He's been a tremendous influence on many others as well. I know that he had quite a bit of input in my father's life, and the life of my bishop, as well as many other church leaders in the global South.

I remember meeting him in Amsterdam 2000 and he was so very accessible. When I told him who I was, he greeted me warmly (and gave me a big hug, something which I still have a tough time getting used to as an Asian). He's one of the giants of the Church with an incredibly humble disposition. Truly a man of God. And I don't use that term lightly!

Monday, March 06, 2006

An Ounce of Prevention

This past week, I was really alerted to the "great" journalistic value of Parade by Bp. Fitz Allison. As I opened the publication on Sunday (which comes with our Sunday paper), an article jumped off the pages at me. I really believe in what he's doing. It goes to the heart of the problem in terrorism, and though results are slow, I think the solution will be long term! (In fact Mortenson's book, Three Cups of Tea is all about taking the time to see lasting results)

The actual article will only be available online on Wed March 8, but this is an earlier one about what he's doing:

PARADE Magazine | He Fights Terror With Books (Greg Mortenson of Central Asia Institute): "Tucked amid a grove of poplar trees at the edge of emerald barley fields in Korphe, an isolated village in northern Pakistan, stands a tiny four-room school. This afternoon, a 17-year-old girl is about to confront Greg Mortenson, the American who built it. Her name is Jahan, and her intention is to remind Mortenson of a pledge he made to her when the building opened in September 1996.

“Do you remember the promise you made that day?” Jahan asks in Balti, the local language. “I told you that I want to be a doctor, and you said you would help. You fulfilled your pledge to us when our school was built. But today you must keep your promise to me. I’m ready for medical training, and I need 20,000 rupees [$400] to attend a maternal health-care program.”

Her request marks an extraordinary milestone in the 600-year history of the Braldu Valley. The narrow Braldu stretches high in the Karakorams, a spectacular range of granite mountains that straddles the border between India, Pakistan and China, where snow leopards roam across blue-ice glaciers. The Braldu is a place of equally spectacular isolation and poverty: The majority of its 3000 people are illiterate; one of every three babies dies before its first birthday; and local power rests in the hands of Shiite mullahs who take religious orders from the ayatollahs of Iran.

Korphe, though, is different. For, in this part of northern Pakistan (see map on page 6), a region that now sits on the front lines of the war against terrorism, Jahan is the first girl ever granted the privilege of learning to read and write.

The man to whom Jahan makes her petition is sitting cross-legged in the middle of a council of village elders. As the U.S. confronts Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq, Greg Mortenson, 45, is quietly waging his own campaign against Islamic fundamentalists, who often recruit members through religious schools called madrasas. Mortenson’s approach hinges on a simple idea: that by building secular schools and helping to promote education—particularly for girls—in the world’s most volatile war zone, support for the Taliban and other extremist sects eventually will dry up..."

Click here to read more.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Fundamentalist Liberals (pardon the oxymoron)

Here we go again...

"Two openly gay priests are candidates to become bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of California and the election of either would worsen the rift over homosexuality in the bitterly divided church.

The Rev. Bonnie Perry of Chicago and the Very Rev. Robert Taylor of Seattle -- both of whom have longtime same-sex partners -- are among the five candidates. In 2004, an emergency panel of the global Anglican Communion, which includes the U.S. Episcopal Church, asked for a moratorium on installing bishops in same-sex relationships. The request came after the Rev. Gene Robinson, who has a longtime male partner, was consecrated bishop of New Hampshire in 2003.

''There's nothing really the Anglican Communion can do to us. But they can say they're no longer in communion with us,'' said Sean McConnell, spokesman for the Diocese of California....

The Rev. Paul Zahl, the dean of Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry in Ambridge, Pa., said if Perry or Taylor is chosen as the new bishop, it's a ''definitive thumbing of the nose at the worldwide church.''

He said hundreds of the 2.3 million Episcopalians already left the church after Robinson was consecrated and ''for those who are still hanging in there, this election would be the final straw. That's no judgment on the individuals, but on the principle.'"

Read the rest here...

Free Speech?

Stanley Fish in his op-ed piece ("Our Faith in Letting It All Hang Out") for the NYT correctly identifies the root of the reason why the Danes went ahead and did what they did. He says, "The first tenet of the liberal religion is that everything (at least in the realm of expression and ideas) is to be permitted, but nothing is to be taken seriously." This is why the freedom of speech of today's liberal West has become such a sacred cow. All ties to any absolute have been cut. And the only absolute is that everything is relative.

I have been reading John Stott's book, Christian Mission in the Modern World (for a class of course) and one of the words he deals with is "dialogue." A definition which he puts forward is one that I really like: "Dialogue is a conversation in which each party is serious in his approach both to the subject and to the other person, and desires to listen and learn as well as speak and instruct." In what way were the Danish newspaper's cartoons a "serious approach" to dialogue? They certainly haven't been very good at listening. Did they even attempt to?

What is worse is that now others are paying the price for their insensitivity! The Anglican Church in Nigeria has been under attack especially in the Northern Provinces. One of the board members of our seminary, Bishop Kwashi's family was subjected to a vicious attack and were robbed. And I just came across a BBC interview with Bishop Cyril Okorocha of Nigeria who speaks about the tension that has boiled over down there. Apparently over 100 people (both Christians and Muslims) have already been killed as a result of this violence so far.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

FA Cup|: Liverpool 1-0 Man Utd

What a result! It is the first time in 85 years since Liverpool have beaten their greatest rivals in the FA cup competition. Even more important, one of their strikers got themself on the scoresheet, while keeping out the goals at the other end.

I couldn't watch the game live (pay per view's too expensive!), but had to listen to the broadcast on the net. From what I heard, Liverpool could have easily won it by 2 0r 3 goals! I'll be watching the delayed telecast when and if it finally comes on!

For a full report of the match, check out BBC SPORT.

Sunday, February 12, 2006


Some of you who are regular readers of my blog might be wondering why I've not said anything about Liverpool in ages... Well just to show that I'm not a fair weathered fan, here goes my latest rant...

Well after a spectacular year end, Liverpool have become a testimony to the old addage, "what goes up, must come down!" They've not had a good start to the year, with three loses and one draw in the last five games in the league. Oh how the mighty have fallen! But speaking of big falls, there is one bright spot from this last weekend! Chelsea lost big! If you look at the photo of that game from the BBC on the right, you can see how shell-shocked their captain John Terry (no relation to our beloved Justyn) looks after a goal is scored. I can't help but rejoice in their misery. I know, this isn't a very Christian attitude, but, oh well...

Monday, February 06, 2006

Bono Speaks

Some of you may know this, but Bono, was one of the speakers for this year's Presidential Prayer Breakfast. My friend who was actually there told me that he was quite powerful and made quite an impression. Here's what he said:

"If you’re wondering what I’m doing here, at a prayer breakfast, well, so am I. I’m certainly not here as a man of the cloth, unless that cloth is leather. It’s certainly not because I’m a rock star. Which leaves one possible explanation: I’m here because I’ve got a messianic complex.

Yes, it’s true. And for anyone who knows me, it’s hardly a revelation.

Well, I’m the first to admit that there’s something unnatural… something unseemly… about rock stars mounting the pulpit and preaching at presidents, and then disappearing to their villas in the South of France. Talk about a fish out of water. It was weird enough when Jesse Helms showed up at a U2 concert… but this is really weird, isn’t it?

You know, one of the things I love about this country is its separation of church and state. Although I have to say: in inviting me here, both church and state have been separated from something else completely: their mind. .

Mr. President, are you sure about this?

It’s very humbling and I will try to keep my homily brief. But be warned—I’m Irish..."

Click here for more...

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Message of the Blog

Seminary Professor, Dr Craig Blomberg asks if Blogs are good for the body (of Christ that is)...

Leadership Blog: Out of Ur: The Blessing of Blogs: Is the New Media Good for the Church?: "I’m hardly an expert on blogging. My own ministry has been critiqued once or twice by bloggers, and my experiences with their postings have largely led me to ignore them. When Out of Ur ran a controversial story about a good friend of mine this fall, I read and contributed to the responses with interest for several weeks. That is the sum total of my experience with blogs. But it’s enough for me to raise some questions. If Marshall McLuhan was even partly right that “the medium is the message,” then what message does the medium of blogging send?"

To read more, click here...

Monday, January 30, 2006

Intelligent Design vs. Naturalism

Here's a commentary from the Church Times entitled "How to probe the science of creation" which I feel is helpful in teasing out the nuance of the Intelligent Design-Naturalism (which unfortunately has been wrongly labeled "Evolution") debate. I think that he has done a good job of clarifying the positions and philosophical presuppositions, and this deserves careful consideration!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Brian McLaren on the Homosexual Question 2: A Blogger's Response

This is a response that really speaks directly to what I was uncomfortable with in McLaren's commentary...

"Since posting Brian McLaren’s commentary about homosexuality we’ve had difficulty keeping pace with the responses being written. Reading through the comments reveals why homosexuality is known as a “wedge issue” in our culture. Our readers appear divided between heralding McLaren as a prophet, and condemning him as a heretic. Below is one response we received by a blogger named Jeff who disagrees with McLaren’s suggested five year moratorium on making pronouncements about homosexuality. But unlike many other critics, Jeff also writes about his very personal engagement with this issue."

Read more here...

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

A Pastoral Response to a Thorny Question

Came across this in Leadershipjournal.net and I must admit that it has me thinking hard about how I would respond to the same question. I greatly respect McLaren even though I don't always agree with all his views on Faith and life. What do you think?

Out of Ur: Brian McLaren on the Homosexual Question: Finding a Pastoral Response:

"The couple approached me immediately after the service. This was their first time visiting, and they really enjoyed the service, they said, but they had one question. You can guess what the question was about: not transubstantiation, not speaking in tongues, not inerrancy or eschatology, but where our church stood on homosexuality.

That 'still, small voice' told me not to answer. Instead I asked, 'Can you tell me why that question is important to you?' 'It's a long story,' he said with a laugh."

Click here for more...

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Believing in Ben

Here's a great SI article on the Steeler Quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger...

"They're big and broad, with enough room for an entire football team to climb on them and get comfortable. No wonder the Pittsburgh Steelers put the AFC Championship Game on Ben Roethlisberger's shoulders and let it ride.

All the way to Detroit.

Historically speaking, home field is a great thing to have in the NFL playoffs. But I'll take a hot quarterback every time.

In truth, Roethlisberger isn't just hot these days. He's a river of molten lava (or steel, if you will), unstoppable and flowing in the direction of next month's Super Bowl, in the city they call Motown..."

Click here to read more.

Bitter Sweet Result

A weekend of contrasts for me in the sporting arena. Liverpool lost to Man U despite controlling the game for 90 minutes. A lapse of concentration in defending corner led to a goal in injury time and so ends the unbeaten run. (incidentally the guy (left) holding his head is Djibril Cisse, the Liverpool striker. When my 2 year old son, Dan saw him during the game started laughing and said, "He looks like a dinosaur." Click this link to see why...)

Closer to home, the Steelers won! I think that they have also just won another fan. I have read on some other blogs that it is quite common for some the seminarians at Trinity to pick up an affection for the hometown team and after watching them through this season, I must admit that I've fallen for them. I love the cohesiveness of the team and how they seem to be led by great, hardworking men. Also their loyalty to their head coach despite the fact that they had not done as well in the past tells me that it is a team that respects stability. Not the quick fix or immediate results. Kind of reminds me a little bit of the Liverpool way of doing things!

You can read all about the game here...

Saturday, January 21, 2006

A Bigger Big Weekend

I said last weekend was a big one for sport. Well... I was wrong. This weekend's is bigger.

Firstly, it is the Liverpool-Man U derby at Old Trafford. It is one of the largest rivalries in English football because Liverpool were the dominant team of the 80's and Man U of the 90's. It is a big game for bragging rights and should be a good fight. It is even more significant since they are currently 3rd and 2nd in the league table and the winner will gain a foothold on 2nd place and may continue to have a glimmer of hope of catching runaway leaders, Chelsea.

But in truth right now, context is king... Being in Pittsburgh it is hard not to catch the Black and Gold fever. We were in town yesterday and there were street vendors everywhere selling Steeler paraphernalia. Every other person were wearing Steeler colors. And today I saw many cars decorated with the now omnipresent cry "Here we go, Steelers."

Just a little background for my friends in non-American situations: this is playoff season for the American Football League. The Steelers meet the Denver Broncos tomorrow in Denver to decided the American Football Conference championship. It is the first time that a 6th seeded team (out of 6) has made it to the conference championships. The Steelers are the ones who are rated the underdogs for this game. The winner then proceeds to the Superbowl to meet the champions of the National Football Conference.

Anyways, being deep in Steeler country has made me discover how football (of the American variety) mad the people of this city and region are. There was a T-shirt that I saw on one of the vendor's tables that sums it up best. It said, "In Pittsburgh, Steeler football is a religion."

So I will be sacking out on the couch tomorrow, watching two massive games...

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

A Great Story!

I just came across the trailer of a movie that really excites me! It's entitled "End of the Spear" and is scheduled for release nationwide this Friday (Jan 20th). The story was first told in a book, "Through the Gates of Splendor" which I read as a kid. In truth I read the graphic novel version but it really impacted my life.

I dare say that it was probably one of the influences that has caused me to pursue the path that I now tread.

NOTE: Christianity Today online has a great article ("The Rest of the Story") which tells a little of the backstory and also some of the fruit of martyrs' seed sown in the jungles decades ago!

Reconciling Wrath and Love

I've been reviewing my notes in preparation for an exam I need to take for a class I did last week. One of the things that our professor, Rod Whitacre said has really caused me to sit up and take notice. He was talking about the works of the apostle John who really focused on the love of God in the incarnation of Jesus. Touching on the wrath of God and how it relates to God's love (which many people continue to have difficulty reconciling), he said that “God’s wrath is His love exercised towards that which corrupts and destroys those whom He loves.”

What this essentially means is that the wrath of God is not something like the manifestation of a two-faced caricature that flips his personality in an arbitrary manner. Or worse still, a progression of development from the Old Testament God to the New Testament one. It is really all linked to the fact that “God is love.” What changed was the coming of Christ. As John said, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (Jn 1:14)

So where does that leave us? What Rod said was this: “When we hold onto our sin (i.e. by not repenting), we are holding onto to something that experiences his wrath (and is targeted for destruction).” Generally not a good idea!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

300 years of Ben

Pennsylvania celebrated Ben Franklin's 300th birthday today. He was a true renaissance man who had a hand in the history of my host nation.

Only grouse I have about him is the now infamous quote which appeared in his Poor Richard's Almanac (1733-1758):
God helps those who help themselves
A more accurate way to look at it would have been: "God helps those who cannot help themselves," or better yet "God saves those who cannot save themselves!"

Update on the Big Weekend

For those in other lands not following the Sports news too closely, both of the teams I supported WON!

Liverpool beat Spurs 1-0 and that was expected.

What was not expected was the Steelers' victory over the No. 1 ranked team in the AFC (and probably the NFL), the Indianapolis Colts! It was a real roller-coaster ride, which had all the best drama you would expect of a playoff game! That coupled with truly appalling officiating made for a game that was incredibly satisfying to watch. On another note, it's interesting to see how the use of technology to aid referees never really eliminates human error. It is rare that a governing body of a sport overrules one of their own officials!

Anglican Satire?

I just came across this blog while surfing instead of studying. It's even won the prestigious (dubious)"Most Humourous Anglican Blog Award for 2006"


Saturday, January 14, 2006

Big Weekend

It's a big weekend for sports... The Steelers are in a playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. It is incredible to see the amount of passion that people here in Pittsburgh have for their (American) football team. Most of them were either wearing their team jerseys or at least black and gold in suppport of the Steelers.

It sort of reminds me of the passion of Liverpool fans. I was almost sure that I was going to root for the Steelers this weekend, but then came across this article about the Colts head coach Tony Dungee. He is such a class act. His wife and in-laws are from the church we have been attending here and I have heard from people who know him about his tremendous witness and character. I guess that I'll just have divided loyalties...

On the other hand, I have no such problems with the game later on between Liverpool and Spurs. There's no doubt in my mind who will win at Anfield (Sorry, Boon!)

They are still unbeaten, but are no longer on their winning streak having drawn their last game against Bolton. So they only managed to equal their record of 11 consecutive wins in top league in England!