Friday, September 24, 2004

At 60, he swam to Alcatraz handcuffed. While towing a half-ton boat.

Jack LaLane turns 90 this weekend -- his is a wonderful story. Growing up in the Oakland area, we used to hear about his exploits and swap Jack-jokes.

I'm looking forward to his 100th birthday.

BTW, my mother, who is considerably younger (although my baby sister just turned 39), plays 18 holes of golf twice a week, walking, not riding, and carries her clubs.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Upset? I like Winsome Sears (R) in an upset over incumbent Bobby Scott (D) in Virginia's third district. This is not likely to happen, I admit -- think USA v. Russia in Olympic Hockey, circa 1980. Yet, I believe in miracles. And Sears has done something similar before. Scott has been around forever -- I remember talking about him with a friend in college over 20 years ago.

Yet, she could do it...

Reports on the Scott-Sears debate here

On the other hand, I have no idea who will win the contest in Virginia's 2nd after Ed Shrock's surprise resignation.
L'église, c'est moi. The continuing adventures of former Bp. Spong: Roland Williams is an "empty man," with "no courage, no backbone and no ability to lead." In short, a "miserable failure."

Of course, Spong is the measure of all things and we all fall short.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Time for Prof. Volokh to put his money where his mouth is... (and this is an easy one). According to the AP, the Republicans are disseminating a mailing arguing that Liberals want to ban the Bible. (via CT Weblog)

Yesterday, Eugene wrote "when Republicans say outrageous things, it seems to me that we Republicans ought to condemn them, to try to redeem the movement's good name. "

I expect he will.
Sunset Beach

Here's a picture of Sunset Beach, O'ahu in the late afternoon, August 29, 2004. As you can see, it's flat, nearly glassy. No surf means no surfers, so it was not crowded; also, somewhat cloudy -- nevertheless, a glorious afternoon.
Swaggert's Six Commandments. UCLA Law Prof. Eugene Volokh rightly notes Jimmy Swaggert is beyond the bounds of humanity with his announcement that he would kill any gay man who looked at Swaggert with lust and then lie to God about it. Swaggert is best known for flouting the commandment against adultery and now looks to, in order, read out of existence the commandments against murder, lying, and honoring God. [Update: Volokh has more here.]

However, Volokh then argues that all Christians have a responsibility to declaim the words of Swaggert, which have given rise to a concern about "guilt by association." Prof. Volokh, being a true gentleman and scholar (and I do not use these words lightly, Eugene has always been scrupulously fair), posts a lengthy articulate e-mail and responds.

I believe the division between Volokh and his correspondents is really more over the nature of being a Christian.* For Volokh, anyone who proclaims themself to be a "Christian" should be taken at face value. Yet, there are many out there who call themselves "Christian," who believe and support the most abhorrent practices known to humanity. Currently, John Kerry is a self-professed Catholic, yet believes that there should be no prohibition on the murder of infants in the womb or those infants who have a part of their body still clinging to their mother. Recently, speaking of the Catholic Church, there has been a crisis with respect to ministers who have been engaged in horrendous acts of child molestation. Reading a book a couple of months ago, I learned that a "Christian" minister was an active participant in the acts of genocide in Rwanda ten years ago. [see related]

Within my own denomination, the Episcopal Church, we have had bishops and ministers who have denied the resurrection and/or Divinity of Jesus. We have a crisis because of the elevation to bishop status a man who is living in an active sexual relationship outside the bounds of matrimony. Further aggravating the crisis is the unilateral decision of a number of ministers to authorize the blessing of same-sex relationships, despite clear denominational teachings and prohibitions against this practice.

So my question, I guess, is what are Christians to do? Should we set up an index? An office to engage in, oh, inquisitorial practices?

Making things even more difficult for the establishment of an index is the fact that Christianity is not really a unitary system: it is a religion manifest in a multitude of denominations. I have little reluctance to critique those within my own denomination (and be critiqued by them). I will do the same to those with whom I have a relationship (even if a cyber-relationship). I will critique those within Christian churches which are related to mine and with which I feel a close kinship. For those farther removed, such as a Jerry Falwell, I am more reticent.

Personally, I have long regarded Swaggert as beyond the bounds of Christianity (although, not beyond the bounds of Christ -- Swaggert may still be reached by Jesus). I see him as being like that former Gore supporter and self-proclaimed minister who is involved with that "godhatesfags" movement.

While not set up as judges (Mt. 7:1), we were left a clear text for determining sheep and wolves:

"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. Not everyone who
says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!' "

Mt. 7:15-23 (NIV)

I believe Jimmy Swaggert is a false prophet -- look at the fruit of his belief system and his practice: he has completely eliminated four of the eternal ten commandments. This is bad fruit.

Now, on the contrary, if you want to see what real Christianity is, read this essay just posted on the Christianity Today website about a student who encountered Christ in a dying homosexual activist and his cats.

One last thing, Prof. Volokh observes: "Christianity is a belief system -- not just an involuntary status such as race or ethnicity, but a consciously chosen belief system that is based on certain writings and certain traditions." I have Calvinist friends who would strongly deny this -- they would argue that they did not choose Christ, He chose them. For them, it is every bit as deep an involuntary status as race or ethnicity.

*If I remember correctly, the words used in the New Testament to refer to "Christians" literally means a slave of Christ and was used by those outside the faith, not the adherents themselves.
ACLU requests restraint on press is the title of an article in today's Omaha World-Herald. The first sentence of the story sums it up:
In a stark turnabout from its free-speech advocacy, the ACLU urged a judge
Monday to prevent the Omaha World-Herald from publishing the name of the
Plattsmouth, Neb., man who sued the city over a Ten Commandments monument.
Read the whole thing.