August 31, 2005

Who Can Do Good?

Every so often, I hear a familiar arguement. A Christian, usually in arguement with a non-theist (covers atheists and agnostics), will say something about God as the source for morality. The non-theist will become quite agitated, and offer up examples of good deeds done by unbelievers (and sometimes anti-believers). The question is then asked:

"Can a person who is unsaved do good deeds?"

more...

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August 30, 2005

Podsafe Music Network: Yea or Nay

I joined the Podsafe Music Network a couple days ago. I figured it would give me a few more bands to feature on my podcast. And I admit, I merely glanced over the terms.

Reading them closely now, I see this:

8. You agree that a Broadcast or Music Podcast will not:

a. contain hate material, promote violence, discriminate based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation, age, or family status, or contain any other materials deemed unsuitable or harmful to the reputation of PodShow or the Licensor;

b. promote or reference software piracy (warez, cracking, etc.), hacking, phreaking, emulators, ROM's, or illegal MP3 activity;

c. promote illegal activities, deceptive practices or violations of the intellectual property rights of others; or

d. be advertised or promoted through the use of unsolicited bulk email.

Interestingly, PsMN has a category for Christian music. Wouldn't you think that any Christian programming that takes the claims of Christ seriously would potentially be in violation of the discriminating based on religion clause? As Christians, don't we discriminate? Don't we say that Christ is THE way?

The exclusivity of the Gospel is a non-negotiable. Podsafe or not, I won't be using Podsafe Music Network music on the Pewcast, and what I have downloaded is being deleted.

Posted by: Warren Kelly at 10:27 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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Small World

As a certain Curmudgeon said today, the Internet makes the world a much smaller place. I was thinking this morning, as I looked at the devestation that Katrina has left behind, about people I "know" who have been affected:

  • Don Elbourne at Locusts and Wild Honey, also the guy in charge of the Fundamentalist Forums.
  • Joe Kennedy at Live ... from New Orleans, who is now somewhere in Houston.
  • The Pastor, who is part of the huge Southern Baptist aid contingent getting ready to serve over 300,000 meals each day in the storm areas.

    Just a few of the people who I've been thinking of the past day or two. Keep them, and the others whose lives have been forever changed by Katrina, in your prayers.

    Posted by: Warren Kelly at 10:16 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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  • Just A Thought

    Maybe not even a whole thought, since I'm really ripping it off from someone who emailed CNN yesterday evening.

    When the tsunami hit, American relief was quick. We were criticized for not giving enough. Now that a huge disaster has hit the US, how soon can we expect aid from our allies?

    Personally, I'm not holding my breath.

    Posted by: Warren Kelly at 02:53 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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    PodSpider Review

    Thanks to BlogCritics, I found out about a new podcatching product called PodSpider. The purpose is to offer yet another option for downloading and listening to podcasts.

    Podspider lets you quickly and easily use your home DSL connection to compile all of the podcasts you want to hear while you're out and about. Back up and replay important passages-you'll never miss an important detail again.
    But do we really need another podcatcher?

    PodSpider does one thing that iPodder doesn't do: it will play your podcasts without opening another program. iPodder doesn't have a player built in -- you have to let it synch to either iTunes or Media Player. Obviously, iTunes plays podcasts in iTunes. PodSpider has a built-in player. It's not feature-rich, but it plays podcasts, which is the point.

    PodSpider also has a built-in directory that updates from the Web. You can submit your podcast for listing in the directory. iPodder does something similar, as does iTunes. PodSpider claims over 13,000 podcasts in its directory. I don't know if that's true -- I didn't count. I know that several of the podcasts I listen to weren't in the directory, and I was surprised at some that were listed. You can add feeds to PodSpider, just like iPodder and iTunes. I wish that I could sort each podcast by date and actually have it stay that way -- you have to redo the sort every time that you look at a podcast.

    Bottom line -- PodSpider is another entry into the increasingly crowded podcatcher market. For now, it's free, but there are plans to charge later on -- possibly as much as $24.69, if the graphic on the home page can be believed. If you're willing to actually pay for a podcatcher, iPodderX is a much better bargain at $12.47 (if you get in on the Windows XP beta test -- $24.95 is the regular price for the Mac version, so I assume that's what it will be for Windows as well). And iPodderX lets you read regular RSS feeds as well as audio and video feeds.

    I may keep PodSpider, but I don't see it replacing iTunes as my primary podcatching software. If you're using iPodder, you might want to jump on this free trial. But I don't see this drawing people from iTunes or iPodderX any time soon.

    Posted by: Warren Kelly at 02:24 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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    Review: Unlock the Prison Doors

    I've had this one for a while -- it was actually the first book I volunteered for from Mind and Media. And yes, I got it free, but nobody paid me to write this -- as will probably become obvious to you.

    This book is, first of all, tough to read in public. If you don't believe me, try taking a book subtitled "Keys to Breaking the Chains of Habitual Sin" to the doctor's office and reading it in the waiting room. Check out the looks you get. The nice thing is, you won't be crowded -- nobody will sit next to you.

    The book was poorly edited -- there's a noticable typo on the very first page of text. Errors like this abound in the book -- it is almost as if they sent out proofers copies rather than a finished product. Typos, misspellings, and errors like that are glaring to me -- ironic, since I don't always catch them in my blog posts, but even there I will correct them once I see them. That illustrates the importance of having someone else look at your work before sending it out.

    But a book, ultimately, is judged on what it says, not how it's spelled. The book has some promise; the topic is one that evry Christian struggles with at some point or other. But the book seems to be focused more at new Christians than at older saints. The tone is, as another reviewer has said, similar to a Sunday School teacher teaching a class of young children.

    Read by a new Christian, this book could be valuable. It presents the material simply and quickly, with ample Scriptural support. But it doesn't say anything that most older Christians haven't heard before in church services. I looked forward to the book "provid[ing] ... a better understanding of [myself] and the trap of 'sin cycles' and the oppression of spiritual strongholds." I was disappointed.

    Posted by: Warren Kelly at 12:10 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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    Book Review: The Thinking Toolbox

    This book needs to be taught in America's classrooms. Desperately. If I was still teaching full time, I'd do it in a heartbeat.

    Now that the gushing is out of the way, let me expand on that. Critical thinking is an important skill that everyone needs to acquire. Unfortunately, critical thinking doesn't show up on standardized tests, so schools aren't as concerned about teaching it. And it shows.

    This book makes it easy to teach your kids how to think critically. It goes into enough depth that it's valuable for kids of all ages, but it can easilly be taught to smaller kids. You can use this book at home, too -- no special skills are required, as long as you can read and think.

    Two years ago, when I taught computer applications, I spent several weeks teaching my students about the internet, and how to evaluate the information they find there. I pointed out a site -- www.dhmo.org. The site provides valuable information about the effects of a substance called dihydrogen monoxide, and its use in everyday life. Read the site, and you get outraged.

    Then, the punchline. DHMO is ....................................... water. Dihydrogen (H2) monoxide (O). But everything the site says about water is true. The problem is in how it's presented. It's all about thinking critically -- taking facts and evaluating what they actually are saying.

    That's what this book teaches. That is what kids need to learn. Just don't wait for the schools to do it -- get this book and do it yourself.

    {And, yes, I got this book from Mind and Media for free. Nobody paid me to write the review -- if I thought the book was bad, you'd know it. The book is not just good -- it's important.}

    Posted by: Warren Kelly at 10:56 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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    August 29, 2005

    Podcasting the Faith: A How-To Guide

    No less a media outlet than the New York Time has this story. Churches are getting into podcasting.

    I've been doing a podcast for my church for almost two months. For a church our size, buying radio or TV time is not feasible. Podcasting is, simply because it's dirt cheap.

    Godcasting (as it's come to be called) has really taken off. Podcasting News ran an article recently calling Godcasting the "killer app" of podcasting. And all you have to do is take a look at the number of religious podcasts available on any given podcast directory to see that churches are jumping on the bandwagon.

    more...

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    August 27, 2005

    Google Talk

    So by now, you've all heard about Google Talk -- Google's entry into instant messaging.

    I have it. I've actually stopped using Skype and switched to Google Talk-- there was only one person on Skype that I actually talked to anyway, and I needed to free up some hard drive space (can't believe I've filled 40GB. When I bought the computer, I said we'd NEVER need a bigger drive than that).

    I haven't actually talked to anyone on it yet. But I like the software. You can customize the status messages so they say more than just "Off Line" or "Busy." Mine say "Sleeping," "Podcasting," and things like that. The actual instant messaging is easy to use -- I spent a little while talking to Bill Wallo. I'm ready to get rid of MSN Messenger (if my sister would accept my invitation!).

    I'll still have a VOIP program, but I'll be using Gizmo Project, pending a test later today. It offers me the one feature that Skype doesn't have, but that I need -- the ability to painlessly and seamlessly record phone conversations. I can do it with Skype, but I have to have separate software to do it -- and the free version of that software doesn't support MP3 encoding (of course, I could just pay the $15 it costs to get the pro version. Have I mentioned how cheap I am?).

    Posted by: Warren Kelly at 01:25 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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    August 25, 2005

    Insert your own joke here ...

    I've gotten WAY off track. My purpose in starting this blog was to engage in commentary on Christian issues without becoming just another Christian political blog. And for the past two days, my regular posting has had it's position usurped by my comments on Pat Robertson.

    And now, I'm going to do another political post. {sigh} But you'll understand when you read it ... more...

    Posted by: Warren Kelly at 05:42 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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    Happy Birthday, Sluggy!

    OK, we pause from OUR regularly scheduled blogging to wish the gang responsible for Sluggy Freelance Happy 8th Birthday.

    8 years ago, I was just starting to surf the Internet. I'd been married for 6 months. I THINK I had started doing the "internet wrestling federation" thing at that point (think professional wrestling meets role playing game and you'll get the idea. It was actually rather fun, and I was pretty good at it).

    I knew little about HTML. I was still a year or so away from my first website. And the word "blogging" hadn't been coined yet.

    My point is that 8 years is a LONG time in Internet years. So go read Sluggy Freelance. Read it from the beginning -- maybe buy a book or two.

    Posted by: Warren Kelly at 10:56 AM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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    August 24, 2005

    Pat Robertson's Crutch

    He needs one, because this is really lame:

    August is a slow news day, but it seems like the whole world is talking about my comments about the Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez. … I didn't say 'assassination.' I said our special forces should 'take him out.' And 'take him out' can be a number of things, including kidnapping; there are a number of ways to take out a dictator from power besides killing him. I was misinterpreted by the AP, but that happens all the time.
    What he SAID was:
    You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it. It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war.
    Pat, you said assassination. Face it.

    Can someone please muzzle Pat Robertson? At least tell him to be quiet before he makes this any worse.

    Posted by: Warren Kelly at 10:27 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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    BACK!!!

    Just a general announcement that, after a LOOOONG outage, the Pew is back.

    BIG thanks to the folks at mu.nu for their hard work in getting things back up and running.

    Now let's see how much traffic I can get off that Pat Robertson thing before it's old news ....

    Posted by: Warren Kelly at 04:20 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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    August 23, 2005

    The Pewcast Is UP!!

    FINALLY!!!

    This podcasting stuff is tough -- especially when you have to schedule around a noisy four-year-old. The laptop is working again, and I can record to it, so future podcasts will be done that way. It's a bare bones setup, and the quality probably isn't great right now -- but it will improve. I'm hoping to be able to get better equipment in the near future.

    You can subscribe at iTunes as soon as they add the feed, and you can listen to it by clicking the button on the right sidebar.

    Posted by: Warren Kelly at 09:23 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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    Stem Cell News

    The news that Harvard scientists have successfully converted human skin cells into embryonic stem cells -- without using a human egg or new embryo -- is likely to muddle the already complex debate over federal stem cell research policy.
    from The Washington Post
    more...

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    Pat Robertson's Big Fat Mouth

    {Well, THAT headline should get me some hits from Google!}

    from Associated Press
    Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson suggested on-air that American operatives assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to stop his country from becoming "a launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism."

    "We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability," Robertson said Monday on the Christian Broadcast Network's "The 700 Club."

    "We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator," he continued. "It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with."

    At least AP doesn't call Robertson an evangelical (borderline) or a fundamentalist (never has been). I figure that won't survive this article's translation onto the front pages of newspapers throughout the nation, though.

    And before you argue with me, yes it is a boneheaded thing to say. Especially for a minister of the Gospel. Ever since Robertson ran for President, he's become increasingly political at the expense of his ministry. Maybe he thinks politics is his ministry. He needs to read the Mark Study I just posted ...

    And no matter who he is, calling publically for the assasination of a foreign leader is completely irresponsible -- no matter how badly the guy needs killing. The President has publically stated that we aren't in the assassination business. That should end the issue as far as private citizens goes -- if there's something else going on covertly, then it needs to stay that way.

    Pat Robertson needs to realize that he's doing absolutely nothing to further the kingdom of God when he says this kind of stupid thing. I wonder sometimes if he's more concerned about furthering the kingdom of Pat.

    Posted by: Warren Kelly at 10:17 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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    August 22, 2005

    Evolution, ID, and WHY We are Here

    The New York Times, that stalwart bastion of quality, unbiased reporting, has been taking on Intelligent Design quite a bit.

    I don't usually cover this topic, simply because I don't know much about it. Once upon a time, it would have fascinated me. Now, I don't pay as much attention as I probably should. But something in this article made me feel that I needed to say something -- something that has been bothering me.

    "One of the rules of science is, no miracles allowed," said Douglas H. Erwin, a paleobiologist at the Smithsonian Institution. "That's a fundamental presumption of what we do."

    That does not mean that scientists do not believe in God. Many do. But they see science as an effort to find out how the material world works, with nothing to say about why we are here or how we should live.

    I've emphasized the part I want to talk about, because as I've been reading both sides of the origins issue, everyone seems to contradict that statement. Evolution does seek to show us why we're here. more...

    Posted by: Warren Kelly at 04:08 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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    August 21, 2005

    History For Sale

    This is a rant. I don't usually go on personal rants that have little to do with my purpose for this blog (Christian theological and cultural discussion), but I have to vent.

    We are selling our history. more...

    Posted by: Warren Kelly at 04:26 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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    Must Read Blogging

    So I'm cruising through the RSS feeds I'm subscribed to, and a post jumps out at me. This one, at Al Mohler's blog.

    Anyone who has had Dr. Mohler for a class knows he has a sense of humor. He can be a very funny man. But that's not what he's known for -- his focus is in a different direction. Which is what makes this so funny:

    I've dropped a few Oreos in my time. Ok, maybe more than a few. My Oreo habit, kept from public view until now, is supplemented by a milk habit that's even harder to break. Oh yes, I've become highly adept at hiding my Oreo habit, though some may argue that the effects are more difficult to hide. My local Oreo pusher, a.k.a. "Sugar Dude," hangs out at the local grocery store, lurking right by the cookie aisle. His nefarious accomplice, "The Milk Man," pushes his white poison in the dairy department. I work hard at hiding my habit. Oreo addicts must be especially careful about those pesky dark crumbs and the real give-away, the milk moustache. Many's the time I've had to duck in for a quick appointment with the tooth brush, hoping against hope that no one would see the dark stains on the brush. My secret is out.
    Dr. Mohler should consider himself fortunate. My own Oreo supplier ("Choco Monster") has recently started importing the high-quality "double stuff" Oreos. Those things are murder to try to quit cold turkey.

    Posted by: Warren Kelly at 02:29 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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    Study of Mark: Mark 8:14-21

    Now they had forgotten to bring bread, and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. And he cautioned them, saying, "Watch out; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod." And they began discussing with one another the fact that they had no bread. And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, "Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?" They said to him, "Twelve." "And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?" And they said to him, "Seven." And he said to them, "Do you not yet understand?"
    (Mark 8:14-21 ESV)
    more...

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