June 29, 2006

New Media

Once upon a time, people mocked bloggers. Yes, I know it's hard to believe, after we toppled the Rather regime and all, but it's true. Bloggers were wanna be journalists, hacks, or worse. Now, of course, many journalists are wanna be bloggers.

Then there was podcasting. People mocked podcasters, calling us wanna be DJs. They said the music we played was substandard. OR they said we were violating copyright. RIAA hates us. And now, of course, podcasting is mainstream -- just ask NPR.

Now they're going after vloggers -- video podcasters, that is. The Washington Post calls it "Amateur Hour on Video". Valleywag is calling them self-obsessed, self-righteous, awkward sell-outs.

Truth is, I'd be vlogging right now if my video camera would plug into my computer. I've had a few great ideas for shows. After hearing the negative feedback about vlogging, maybe I need to start saving for a new camera. After all, if trends continue, CBS will be vlogging in the first quarter of 2009.

{edit: oops -- too late. ABC's World News Now is available as a video podcast on iTunes now. Someone, quick -- what's the next big trend?

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June 27, 2006

Quote Of the Year

From Bowden McElroy at Interregnum:

"The only real power bloggers have is the power to make blissful ignorance more difficult to attain."

It's funny: there are bloggers who have tried to define this thing that is blogging, and have talked endlessly about the power of blogs -- have even written books about it! -- but in one sentance, 17 words, only two of which have more than three syllables, sums it all up. No matter how many people we have reading us, the only thing we can do is inform people. How they act on what they learn is up to them.

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June 24, 2006

Scam Alert!!!

There's a new PayPal scam out there that is slick enough that it almost fooled me. The email you get is a confirmation that you just sent $109.99 to someone for books. The main part of the body is a graphic, probably a screen capture of an actual payment that someone made via PayPal. Then at the very bottom, highlighted in a yellow rectangle, is the "Dispute this transaction" link. You click that and it takes you to a page that LOOKS like PayPal, but isn't. And you give them your info and they steal your money.

VERY slick scam. Most PayPal scams show up in the email I use for this blog -- which is NOT associated with my PayPal account. So I can spot the scams pretty easilly. THIS one, though, had me going until I clicked the dispute link.

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June 23, 2006

From Presby Pews ...

While I've been reading a lot (and blogging a little) about the SBC National Convention in Greensboro, a few other denominational bodies have been meeting. The PCA, according to David "Jollyblogger" Wayne, has been a pretty boring assembly. But the PCUSA has been trying to make up for that lack in Presby excitement. And, of course, the blogosphere has been watching.

One of my favorite quotes concerning the PCUSA has to come from GetReligion:

The name of the game is “local option,” meaning that officials in blue pews get to read the Bible (and the denomination’s own teachings) in a way that allows them to move foward on issues such as the ordination of sexually active gays and lesbians and the creation — semi-officially, of course — of church rites to celebrate same-sex marriages. Meanwhile, people in red pews get to keep believing what they have believed for centuries and, of course, they get to keep sending in their pledge dollars to support national agencies that act as if basic points of doctrine and moral theology are moot, even if they remain on the books.
Sounds a bit like local church autonomy, but it ends up working against conservative congregations that have been trying to stick it out in the PCUSA. And local church autonomy is a Baptist thing, not a Presby thing, so there are some people concerned about this apparant shift to a congregational form of church government.

I've been reading Mark Roberts' reaction pieces. He's got a stake in the discussion, because he is PCUSA. And he's not ready to leave, even though he is, in his own words, "...tired of the battle."

I think this must be how many conservative Southern Baptists felt thirty years ago. So many conservatives pulled out that the fight must have seemed unwinnable. Many people wrote of the SBC as a lost cause. For a long time, I was one of those people -- not at the beginning, since I was eight thirty years ago. But as a teenager, and even in college, I thought that good, solid Southern Baptist churches were rare (even though I actually found one in Lynchburg. I figured they were an exception).

Now I'm reaping the benefits of the conservatives who stuck it out. People who fought for the heart and soul of an organization that was at one time committed to Biblical Christianity. People who prayed for a day when it would be once again.

So I'm going to agree with Mark Roberts. There are many, many people who are being led to leave the PCUSA, just as many were lead to leave the SBC years ago. The people who left the SBC went on to start great independent ministries, and had a tremendous impact on the world, so I can not and will not fault them for their decision. If God is leading people out of the PCUSA, then they should go.

My prayer is that my Presbyterian brothers and sisters will learn a little from Baptist history. The people who left the SBC condemned those conservatives who stayed. Even today, there are extreme fundamentalist Baptists who will have nothing to do with Southern Baptists, or anyone who hangs around with them. The man who baptized me is one of those people -- I will never share a platform with him, because I am a Southern Baptist. There is needless division between people who should be laboring together in the fields because of the attitudes of those who left the SBC.

Don't condemn those who are being led by God to stay in the PCUSA. Maybe God will use their influence to bring the denomination back to Him, and back to a Biblical understanding of these issues that divide you. And if you are staying, don't condemn those who have had enough and are leaving. If you are being led by God, you must do what He is telling you to do, and you must respect those who God has given a different mission. If you learn anything from your Baptist brothers, learn this much from our mistakes. Fight modernism, fight liberalism. But don't fight each other.

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A Few Good Resolutions

Centuri0n has a few great ideas for resolutions at the next SBC convention (next year in San Antonio -- hope I get to go this time!). My favorite one:

Resolved: Baptism is necessary in the life of the believer for the sake of the believer’s spiritual growth; it is a result of the Holy Spirit’s work in the second birth, not a cause. When we make Baptism into anything else – like a measure of the effectiveness of our evangelism, or a repeated ritual from which we derive pleasure or reassurance – we make baptism into a fraud and dishonor God.

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June 21, 2006

But Can He ... Overact?

Rumor has it (and when something starts off that way, you know it's gotta be true) that Matt Damon is being considered for the role of ...... Captain James T. Kirk.

Yes, you read that right. And it seems that J. J. Abrams has William Shatner's permission and blessing for the choice. Abrams is working on the new Star Trek movie, which shows Kirk and Spock as Starfleet Academy students, so obviously Shatner can't play Kirk. Having seen the Bourne movies, I can say that Damon has the chops to play the role, but can he hold a candle to Shatner's over-the-top dramatic acting that made Kirk so ... Kirk-like.

My fear is that this movie is going to end up very Enterprise-ish. They killed that show by trying to create a backstory for everything that ever happened in the Star Trek universe. The only season that was good in and of itself was season 3 (which I have on DVD, by the way), because it was a unique story with a unique set of opponents. If they don't get carried away with creating backstory for what's already been done, this will be a great movie.

I'm not saying that they shouldn't create a few "so THAT'S why they did that!" moments; those are going to happen, and will be expected by the fans who go see the movie. But the whole movie shouldn't be about establishing the future. The series and the movies have been done -- we all know how they go. We want to see something new. This should be the Batman Begins of the Star Trek franchise. If they can do that, the fans will be happy.

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June 19, 2006

Getting To Know Someone

I've always thought that the best ways to get to know someone was to find out what they read, what they listened to, and what kind of junk was in the trunk of their car. The Internet is a good place to figure out the first two, anyway.

First is LibraryThing. You can take a look at the reading habits of people all over the world (including many, many bloggers). My own catalog is pretty incomplete right now, even though I've almost exhausted the free account that I've been using. Before you ask, I'm not sure why the book covers don't show up in my catalog. They used to, then I changed some things around and they vanished. Oh, well -- some of the books didn't have cover graphics anyway. 1/4 of the books I've got listed are review copies that I've received, which is nice. Free books are always nice ....

Second is Last.fm. You can just listen to stuff on their player, or you can download a plug-in for iTunes that tells last.fm what you've been playing lately. They have a plug-in for iPods that works through iTunes, but I haven't been able to make it work yet. My profile is pretty up to date, though the weekly top artists chart hasn't been updated in over a week. The two tracks that show up with me as the artist are sermon recordings I copied, and then listened to. I burned one to CD to send to a church in West Virginia that's looking for a pastor -- more on that later on. There are quite a few bloggers on Last.fm as well.

If you're on either, leave us all a comment with a link to your profile, so we can get to know you, too!! And if you're not on either yet, what are you waiting for?

Now all I need to do is start cartrunk.com, where people talk about all the stuff in ther trunks. Then we'll all know each other REALLY well.

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June 17, 2006

Blogroll Bloat?

So I'm reading centuri0n's blog ('cause I always do, and I like the graphics) and notice that he's been given an award. The Blogroll Bloat Award from CoffeeSwirls.

And I'm jealous, because I've got some SERIOUS blogroll issues right here at the Pew. And I think I've got more links in my three blogrolls than he does, anyway.

But what really made me think was this statement, from CoffeeSwirls -- "If you link to everybody, nobody wins. You can quote me on that if you like." (And so I do quote you.)

I've got a ton of links to people all over the Blogosphere -- some more than once. Some of the blogs in my own blogroll (Views from Other Pews) I don't read anymore. I read maybe a third of the blogs in the LoRB list, and fewer than that in the Church Directory/Evangelical Outpost blogroll. Isn't the point of a blogroll to let people know what you read? So they can go there and read it too?

I've got a bunch of blogs that I actually read every day, thanks to RSS and Mozilla Thunderbird. Most are on theblogroll, but some aren't. So it seems that I need to do some updating and changing.

Here's what's going to happen: I'm going to export my personal blog list from Thunderbird to an OPML file. Then I'm going to import it into either Bloglines or Blogrolling (probably the former). Then I'm going to use that for my blogroll. That will be the top blogroll, the "Views From Other Pews." And you'll know that I actually read those blogs every day.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do about the other two blogrolls. I want to keep them, just because most of the sites listed ALSO have the list, and they link to me. But they're going to be lower profile on the page, more "below the fold" so to speak. And I'll keep the main blogroll updated weekly or so, for when I add new blogs, or delete old ones. This way, readers can tell exactly what blogs I really am reading, and which blogs are just there for the links. It's not a commentary on the quality or value of the blogs that aren't on the main list -- it's just an admission that I only have so much time each day, and I have to limit the number of people who I read.

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June 13, 2006

Thoughts on Day One of the Convention

And I promise that I'll post something non-SBC related here tomorrow. I NEED to get back to my "This Week in Church History" posting that I've neglected for so long...

Day One saw an historic presidential election. Three men, all conservative, committed to Biblical inerrancy, ran a good race. One man, supported by many outside of the normal "sphere of influence" won over 50% of the votes on the first ballot, which many doubted would happen. Frank Page defeated "establishment" candidate Ronnie Floyd and Jerry Sutton, who many thought was intended to draw votes away from Page. Sutton and Floyd split half the vote, and Page went on to win.

It's refreshing for me as a Southern Baptist to have an election where there is more than one option -- and more than one option that I would have been happy with. The days of "conservaitve candidate vs. moderate candidate" are gone, for now at least. We can fine-tune the direction we want the SBC to go in, and that is a very healthy thing.

One vote that didn't get a lot of blogging attention today was the WMU issue. The Executive Committee, as I understand it, wanted the WMU to become a Southern Baptist entity, similar to Lifeway and Guidestone, rather than an auxiliary as it is now. I'm not sure why that was brought forward -- the WMU is doing wonderful things for the SBC as it is, and there would be no real benefit to it becoming an official entity. It would also have caused some problems internally with the WMU, as they would have had to drastically change the way they operate. I'm not sure that anyone at the convention outside of the Executive Committee was in favor of the motion, and it went down in flames pretty quickly. If anyone understands the rational behind the motion, please leave a comment, or email me (address is on the right sidebar).

This promises to be an exciting year for the SBC. I'm hoping that after Greensboro we can all unite and purpose to reach the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

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SBC 1st VP is ....

... I know, who really cares about the first VP position, anyway? I've been in the SBC for close to ten years, and I still have no clue what anyone after the president actually does.

But I've been interested in this race, just because one of the candidates is someone who I'd love to have seen run for president, but who chose not to. I really think Mark Dever would have made an outstanding president.

But he's not going to be Veep, either. Dever and pastor Jimmy Jackson advanced to a second ballot, where Jackson edged Dever by just a few votes (1107-1030).

Tip o' the hat to Thoughts and Adventures for the update on this vote. I'll be referencing them a lot during the convention, as they seem to be pretty reliably live-blogging, and their posts are coming through the RSS feed. For some reason, I'm not getting Marty Duren's blog in my RSS reader -- have to check on that one.

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SBC President is ...

Dr. Frank Page of South Carolina with 50.48% of the vote. Dr. Ronnie Floyd and Dr. Jerry Sutton split the remaining vote pretty evenly.

Bobby Welch reminded everyone present that Dr. Page is the president of the entire convention, not just his 50.48%, and that we are striving for unity among Southern Baptists even as we celebrate our diversity.

I'll have more about the blogging reaction to Dr. Page's election later this evening. I head out in about twenty minutes and will be out with my pastor on visitation this evening until probably 8 or so.

Congratulations to Dr. Page.

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June 12, 2006

Pastors Conference Linkblogging

I REALLY wish I could be there.

The one breakout session that has garnered the most blogging attention so far has been (duh!) the Mohler/Patterson "debate" on Calvinism. Agent Tim has a really good outline, as does Scott Lamb. Dr. Mohler participated just one day after emergency surgery on his eyes -- he told us in Systematic Theology that he has an eye disorder that requires him to wear two contacts in each eye, so I'm sure that the surgery was somehow related to that. Word from Ryan DeBarr (who isn't blogging the convention, but called me to fill me in on the Pastor's Conference) is that Dr. Mohler arrived wearing dark sunglasses which the doctors told him he had to wear all the time. He removed them on the platform. Someone needs to tell Dr. Mohler to take care of himself, and listen to the doctors!

Others who are blogging the convention are Wade Burleson (of course), Joe Thorn, Steve Weaver, Marty Duren, and Steve McCoy. As I find others, I'll post 'em here. If you find some I missed, let me know!

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June 10, 2006

The Use of Satire

sat·ire
n.

1. a. A literary work in which human vice or folly is attacked through irony, derision, or wit.
b. The branch of literature constituting such works. See Synonyms at caricature.
2. Irony, sarcasm, or caustic wit used to attack or expose folly, vice, or stupidity.
{from Dictionary.com}

There are many people who think that satire is unfitting for Christian use. Perhaps that is because satire is so often used against us (the good folks at the Landover Baptist website, for example) that we don't want to use it ourselves. But when you've got such Christian heavy-hitters as G. K. Chesterton and C. S. Lewis doing satire, it's hard to ignore the thought that humor, especially scathing humor, is very useful in getting a point across.

A month or so ago, the Reformation21 blog had several posts on just this topic. Of course, the root of the matter is Carl Trueman's posts, which are often a bit satirical, or are at the very least parodies. I particularly appreciated this wuote (from May 5th):

After all, sin is absurd; sinful human pretension is absurd; and while it is indeed tragic, it is also, in its pompous claims for itself, ridiculous in the true sense of the word.
Phillip Ryken also notes in that blog that there are many times when satire or sarcasm are the methods used by the Old Testament prophets (in a post that promises an ESV Literary Bible, which I am eagerly awaiting).

We have to be careful how satire and sarcasm are used. We seem to live in a world of Ford Prefects, who cannot understand sarcasm unless they are really paying close attention and looking for it. People may miss our point alltogether if we're not careful. But without sarcasm and satire, we would be without passages like this, when Paul is lamenting those Judaizers who want to require new Christians to be circumcised:

Galatians 5:12-15 (ESV)
12 I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!

13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." 15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.


But what really brought this topic back to my attention was Doug Wilson's post today, concerning satire and sarcasm in Christian discussion. And HE says
As we read through Scriptures carefully, without a pietistic set of blinders, we find that satire, mocking, godly taunting are routine weapons of choice whenever God's people confront idolatry.
I like satire. I have a warped enough sense of humor that I really enjoy reading satire, whether it's Swift's "A Modest Proposal" or C. S. Lewis' Screwtape Letters, or even just enjoying the latest edition of The Sacred Sandwich or Lark News. I'm not skilled enough to wield this weapon properly, unfortunately, though it doesn't keep me from trying. It's my hope that what we cannot correct by using more direct means (vast petition drives, boycotts, occasionally preaching and teaching) we might be able to address and correct through humor -- especially satire. By showing people how ridiculous they are acting, we can show them that they need to change.

And change is a good thing. Really.

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SBC Convention Time

So it's that time of year again. The Southern Baptist Convention is meeting in Greensboro next week -- Pastor's Conference starts on tomorrow evening, and the main convention starts on Tuesday.

And I'm stuck at home.

I'd planned on going this year, because I think that there are going to be some important votes come up. I really wanted to go to the Pastor's Conference this year, because there are some outstanding sessions being held (including the Mohler/Patterson discussion on Calvinism and Arminianism). But finances won't allow me -- we can't afford to miss work to go down, especially with a baby on the way.

There are plenty of Southern Baptist bloggers headed down that way, though not all of them will be blogging the convention. I'll have links to what they have to say, and as I have a chance to watch the streaming video of the convention, I'll have my own comments, too.

I think it's a great reflection on the SBC that we've got three men running for president this year, each supported by some very distinguished SBC members. This year's election will be more than just rubber-stamping a candidate that "everyone knows will win." I think that's one thing that has always bothered me with the SBC elections -- it never seemed like there was a real choice.

The fact is, Southern Baptists are pretty unified in their basic theology. We have disagreements about peripheral issues, but we all start with the basic premise of the inerrancy and infalibility of the Bible, the sovereignty of God, and the sufficiency of Christ's atonement. We agree on (dare I say it?) the "fundamentals." But that doesn't mean we agree on everything. Our biggest problem right now is making sure that we don't make the peripherals into hills on which to stand (or die). We can agree to disagree, and still work together.

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June 02, 2006

Quote Of The Day

Your are not educated if you don't know the Bible. You can't read Shakespeare or Milton without it, even if there was nothing else of it. And with the schools now, that's what I hate about secular relativism. It's afraid of insurance liability. They don't even teach it as a document. They stay out of the whole thing to avoid controversy. So the kids can't quote the King James Bible. That's terrible. And I quite understand Christian parents who want protect their children from a nihilistic solution where there's no way of knowing what's been discussed.
Al Mohler? Jerry Falwell? George W. Bush? Nope. more...

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