May 31, 2006

Godblogcon 2006

The site is up, the date is set. August 3-5, 2006 at BIOLA.

Now, I think it's great that BIOLA is sponsoring the thing again this year. But I have the same problem that I had last year -- it's too far away for me to travel. I can't get there -- again.

My suggestion is that we have some type of rotating system where the conference changes locations every few years, so that people can actually attend one every so often. Couple years at BIOLA, (west coast) couple years at Southern (midwest), then pick a location in the north or northeast, and a location in the south. This thing is big enough that it could be done, and more bloggers can actually attend. Godbloggers are all over the nation (and the world, for that matter -- maybe we need to hold the thing in England and continental Europe as well!), not just on the West Coast.

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May 29, 2006

By Semi-Popular Demand

I've had several search-engine hits from people looking for a review of Artemis Fowl. I never posted one here, though I've referred to the books before. I've read the entire series, though, and reviewed it at Blogcritics. So you don't have to leave, and to keep from disappointing any more visitors, here's the review. It's a bit brief, but it gives a good overview of the series.

more...

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May 25, 2006

It's Been Five Years...

Five years ago today, my life changed.

It was about 7:40 in the morning. My wife and I had just arrived at the school we both were teaching at, and I was signing in. Someone in the office came running back and told me I had to call my mom, right away.

At the hospital.

My dad woke up complaining that something didn't feel right. He wanted to go to the doctors. Anytime Dad wanted to go to the doctor, there was a problem. Mom wanted to call 91, but he wouldn't let her. They hopped into the car and took off for the hospital.

Dad didn't make it there.

When Mom called, it wasn't official, though it was already over. We left school and before we could get clothes thrown into a suitcase to head down, my sister called to let us know he was gone.

My wife was pregnant at the time -- in only three more months, she would give birth to our first child. I've gone from being a manager at Lowes to teaching to preaching. I've gone from barely finishing my undergrad degree to attending seminary. I can only speculate about what Dad would have thought, though I know that he'd have been shocked at the idea of me getting my masters, and actually wanting to do it.

In a lot of ways it was my own trying to deal with his death that led me to seriously consider seminary. I wanted answers. There was a part of me that was mad that God would take him before he got to see his granddaughter. I could have either rejected God entirely (as I've seen some do) or try to find out the answers to the questions I had.

Five years later, the only thing I've really learned is that I'll never learn enough. But I know enough to realize that there are people out there with questions, and they need someone to provide the answers. Someone to point them to the Answer. And I figure that's my job.

And now, five years later, my wife is expecting our second child. We just found out that it will be a boy, and he's due on September 25 -- the day after my Dad's birthday. And I think that's pretty cool.

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May 23, 2006

And WHat Brought You Here This Evening?

Since I haven't exactly been prolific lately, I got to wondering what brought people to the site. o I looked at the searches people have been typing in to get here. Here are a few of the more humorous ones, a la Parableman.

failures of evangelical christian homeschooling statistics: This person is either looking for statistics on homeschooling failures, or information about bad statistics, or something. Unfortunately for them, the failures are far outweighed by the successes.

staurofilakes: From my review of The Last Cato. In fact, two of the results point to my review -- one at this site, and one at Blogcritics. Looks like most of the sites in the search are references to that book, too. Probably someone who, as I was, is interested in the super secret group of Cross protectors.

where the baptist faith went wrong: Well, since I'm a Baptist, I would say that it hasn't in any way that is meaningful or substantial (though I'm sure there are areas where we can do better). Quotation marks would have helped you out here...

the current events today affect the creation of israel: HOW can events today affect the creation of the state of Israel almost 60 years ago? Where are you hiding that time machine?

sex and the teengager mind: what are kids do when we aren: I'm assuming this is an incomplete sentence, and it refers to a book. Quotes REALLY would have helped this one out a lot -- that and spelling 'teenager' right.

And finally:

A wishes with want some thing from God........God wished to A ok you will get it is done..... God told your brother B i: huh??? That's all I can say about this one.

{minor edit for some gramar/spelling that I was wrong on}

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My DaVinci Code Post

OK, so somewhere in the job description for "Godblogger" it says that I have to post something here about the DaVinci Code movie. I wasn't going to, since I haven't read the book and don't plan on going to the movie -- no, not because I'm afraid of being challenged. It's not the kind of movie I really want to see. My wife might go see it, and if she does, I'm sure I'll hear all about it. I thought that my review of The DaVinci Codebreaker would count, but evidently not. So here goes.

The one comment I keep hearing is "What's the big deal? It's a fictional book! It's fiction! Enjoy it as a fictional story!" And I agree, in a way. I really do feel sorry for people who get their worldviews and their history from fiction. They probably thing The Patriot and Braveheart were both documentaries. People who are that gullible have more problems than The DaVinci Code anyway.

The problem is that to so many people, it's not fiction -- at least, the history involved isn't fiction. And one of those people is Dan Brown himself. Back in 2003, Brown was interviewed on the NPR program Weekend Edition and was asked about the fiction/fact issue:

LINDA WERTHEIMER: How long does it take you to research a book like this? I assume that, among other things, you would hear from the world if you’ve got anything wrong. (why yes, Linda, he has. He just ignores us.)

Mr. BROWN: Certainly. And it takes me about two and a half years to entirely research and write a book like this. Before I even started writing a page, I’d spent a year in research, and a lot of the research for “Angels and Demons” that I did in Vatican City played into this book, as well as my art history training in Seville.

WERTHEIMER: You’re trying not to get too fictional with the facts here?

Mr. BROWN: Absolutely. The only thing fictional in “The Da Vinci Code” is the characters and the action that takes place. All of the locations, the paintings, the ancient history, the secret documents, the rituals, all of this is factual.


So for all of those people yelling at Christians that it's all just fiction, you might want to let Dan Brown know. And then you might want to find out how bad the research he did really is.

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May 22, 2006

This Just In ...

DATELINE: Obscurity, USA.

The Dixie Chicks, realizing that nobody remembered them, have taken it upon themselves to remind us all that they don't like the president.

Not satisfied, apparantly, with the rebuke of country music radio the last time, Natalie Maines and Company have released their latest single, "Not Ready," an apparant message to President Bush that they're not ready to make nice, especially since his approval rating is down.

When informed of this development, President Bush reportedly wept uncontrollably for about an hour, then changed his party affiliation and hired Al Gore to be his image consultant. Dick Cheney reportedly commented "It was those Dixie Chicks. George has always been a fan, and the last stab at him hurt him bad. He was hoping that they'd forgiven him -- he wanted them to play at the GOP convention in '08. He was crushed when he heard the song -- he knew it was aimed at him."

First Lady Laura Bush was unavailable for comment, though rumor has it that she was out having her hair bleached and cut when we attempted to speak with her.

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Book Review: He Said It! I Did It!

When you get a book that's subtitled "Lessons From My Father on Mastering Personal Finance" and see that it includes Bible study questions at the end of each chapter, you think many different things. The first thing I thought when I saw this book and read the press release that came with it was "prosperity gospel."

Thankfully, that is not the case with this book. Charles Buffington III has written this book as a guide to managing your finances with a goal in mind -- and the goal is to use the wealth you get to help others. Wealth is not an end unto itself -- it is a means to an end. The book is really, first and foremost, about stewardship: putting the resources that you have been entrusted with to the best use possible not just for yourself, but for others.

Buffington recognizes that for the average American, debt is a huge problem. In fact, debt has a power to enslave people -- we are stuck in jobs we hate because we have bills to pay. How many of us have ever sat back and said "If I just had these bills paid off, I would..." But unlike so many other writers, he also recognizes that some debt is not avoidable. He breaks debt down into two categories -- constructive debt and toxic debt. Constructive debt is your home mortgage, or your business loan. Toxic debt is the payments on that new plasma TV, or the even bigger car. Constructive debt should be minimized; toxic debt should be avoided.

So many of these "get out of debt and stay that way" books have a very preachy tone. Reading many of them, I feel like I'm in college again, and my father is lecturing me about using and abusing credit. In He Said It! I Did It!, we learn with Buffington, from his father. Each chapter begins with a conversation with Charles Buffington II, where we get an overview of what the chapter is going to teach us. This makes it a lot easier to read -- we know that the author isn't a know it all, because he had to learn these lessons, too, just as we are.

Many of the lessons in the book are common sense: stay out of debt, live below your means, save, invest, etc. We all know that we should do those things. Where the book becomes most valuable is in its example. We see someone who, just like most of us, has heard the lessons but not lived them. He's in the same boat we're in. But he applies these lessons, and ends up better off. He's able to do things for people because he's got the means to do it. He sets a goal, and achieves it by applying the lessons his father teaches him. And those lessons are lessons his father also learned the hard way, so we have two people with whom we can identify. That encouragement, that knowing that these things really do work, is where the book is the most valuable.

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Check The Temperature ...

... because hell might be getting ready to freeze over.

Al Mohler and John Shelby Spong agree on something. And I agree with them, too.

Spong said "Unity is a virtue in the church, but not the supreme one. Truth is higher." Mohler agreed. So do I.

Now, when you read the rest of Spong's interview, you'll find plenty to disagree with, as did Dr. Mohler, and as do I. But I think it's interesting, and enlightening, that even an arch-heretic like Spong realizes the importance of truth. Now if only he could actually see the truth.

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May 16, 2006

Explanation

Light blogging lately (as if you didn't notice). This time of year is really hectic for anyone in education. Students are preparing for and taking exams, and getting ready to graduate. Teachers are writing exams, grading papers, and bracing themselves for the grading mayhem that follows. Substitute teachers are scouring the classifieds looking for their summer employment.

I'm a sub. SO you know what I've been doing.

I've got a bunch of stuff in my "Blogging fodder" folder, so hopefully I'll have some time -- possibly this Thursday, maybe this weekend. I've got a couple podcasts to produce, and some resumes to fax out.

While you're waiting for me, check out the newest gizmo from our good, non-evil friends at Google -- the Google Notebook. I think this is going to be getting a workout on the desktop AND the laptop.

Oh -- unfortunately, you have to be on a Windows or Linux machine, unfortunately. I figure a Mac version will be coming soon.

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May 12, 2006

A Translation ...

Real Networks CEO Rob Glaser said some pretty serious things recently about Apple, iPods, and those of us who use them.

If you want interoperable music today, there is a very easy solution: it's called stealing. The average number of songs sold for the iPod is 25, and there are many more songs on iPods than 25. About half the music on iPods is music obtained illegitimately either from an illegal peer-to-peer networks or from ripping friends' CDs, which is illegal. But it's the only way to get non-copy protected, portable, interoperable music.

Now, notice he never gives any sources for this information. And he ignores the fact that you can rip your own CDs and put them on your iPod. I got to thinking -- he's either incredibly uninformed, or there's another motive. I refuse to believe that he's that dim, so I've provided what I think is a pretty good translation of what he said:
You can't play Real media files on iPods. Apple got to the portable MP3 market before we did, and Rhapsody isn't catching on. We were too short-sighted to see that people would want to take their music with them, and not we're in trouble because people are using iTunes rather than our software. So I'm going to bash Apple and iPods. Maybe someone will feel sorry for us.

I've currently got 141 songs on my iPod, and a bunch of podcasts. They're all legal. I'd LOVE for someone to show me where he got that 25 songs number.

The whole interview with Glaser is at the Guardian site.

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May 06, 2006

Media Note

From the "Why haven't I blogged about this already?" file:

I was interviewed by Stacy Harp, the brains AND brawn behind Mind and Media/Active Christian Media. We talked for 40 minutes (her podcast is normally only half that, if that long!), and you can listen to it here. But if you REALLY want something worthwhile, you'll just subscribe to the podcast -- head over to her site for details. It's a fun interview, even though I wouldn't shut up and let her play parts of my podcast!


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May 02, 2006

Book Review: The DaVinci Codebreaker by James L. Garlow

Whenever you read anything about The DaVinci Code, for or against, you are going to be bombarded by buzzwords and jargon. Often, these buzzwords are used by different authors in different ways, which can lead to some serious confusion. Historical references are also made that they just didn't cover in your high school World History class.

more...

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May 01, 2006

Study of Mark: Mark 9:1-13

And he said to them, "Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power."

And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. And Peter said to Jesus, "Rabbi, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah." For he did not know what to say, for they were terrified. And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, "This is my beloved Son; listen to him." And suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them but Jesus only.
(Mark 9:1-8 ESV)

more...

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