January 30, 2008

Burleson Resigns

Wade Burleson has announced his resignation as trustee of the IMB. I have, in recent days, had questions about his intentions in much of what he wrote, but I have always thought that it was important for trustees to have the ability to air their dissent, publicly if need be. And I still believe that it's a bad idea for Southern Baptist entities to require things of their members and employees that go beyond what the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message says. And if his account of the trustee meeting is accurate, I cannot understand why his apology was not deemed sufficient.

There is a resolution that has been forwarded to the SBC Executive Committee that would call for a vote on Burleson's continued service. That vote promised to be a pretty divisive and potentially rowdy vote, and at least now that controversy will not happen.

I am disappointed that Pastor Burleson's apology was not accepted. Having read the text at his blog, I think that it demonstrates his willingness to work within the system to effect any change he feels is needed. It looks to me like the Executive Committee of the IMB felt that anything short of apologizing for his disagreement with the IMB policies was not a sufficient apology, and that is unfortunate. I also think that this decision has the potential of making Burleson a sort of martyr to many of his supporters in the SBC -- though not as much potential as the resolution that sought to remove him as trustee.

Ironically, I had just told my wife about that resolution, and told her that Indianapolis would be interesting. We're looking forward to getting to go to the convention this year -- it will be our first since Atlanta. Maybe it will be quieter after all.

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January 28, 2008

Book A Week: Week 4

Week four and book four. Short book last week, fiction the week before, and another short one for week one. Time for something industrious.

The book this week is Infamous Scribblers by Eric Burns. Subtitled "The Founding Fathers and the Rowdy Beginnings of American Journalism." The book weighs in at over 400 pages, so I'm going to be doing about 70 pages per day to meet my goal -- that's a bit over three chapters, on average.

I've wanted to read this book ever since it came out a couple years ago. Finally bought it over the weekend at Borders, with a gift card my sister gave me for Christmas. I was a bit upset to see the price at Amazon -- it's less than half of what I paid at Borders. I've decided I'm never buying a book at the bookstore again -- there's not enough value added to my experience at a brick and mortar Borders to make me want to pay $10 more for a book. Instant gratification isn't worth that much to me. That's the sad thing about Amazon's dominance in the online bookselling business: they can discount heavily enough that it's not worth driving to the bookstore just to get the book today.

And I'm sure, as my wife said mere moments ago, that I'll be back in the bookstore buying books again in no time. But I'm going to be a lot more conscious about the prices of books that I really want -- bookstore purchases are going to end up being impulse buys, or killer sales. The days of me taking a wishlist to the store and leaving with an armload of books are over. I'll pay the shipping and let the UPS guy haul my books to my house for me.

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Book Review: One Christ, One Body by Scott G. Cunningham

This is a small, thin book that attempts to cover a very important subject. And there is a lot of great information in the book. I learned a few things from reading One Christ, One Body, and (more importantly) the book gave me a lot to think about.

I had a few problems with the book, though, and part of that is probably due to the size. It seemed at times that Cunningham was trying to say that demonimationalism is wrong and divisive, and that we should work to make denominations a thing of the past. In fact, he does say that denominational leaders should work to resolve the differences between denominations, and not let denominational squabbles interfere with cooperation among Christians. But at the same time, Cunningham also says that we have to teach the truth to people who do not believe the truth.

I don't know of any denominational divides that are over things that people think are not important truths. I'm not talking about things like Bible translations or music styles -- I'm talking about church structure, authority structures within the church, proper candidates for baptism, etc. These are all important issues, but they are issues that will not be resolved any time soon. We can cooperate with each other as long as we don't have to compromise on our doctrinal standards, and we should be doing that. But it seems to me that Cunningham is taking both sides of the issue here -- we have to get over our doctrinal divisions, but we also have to teach other Christians the truth. There's some conflict there, and I'm not sure that Cunningham resolves it in this book.

The book is easy to read, though it seemed to go off on tangents at times that reminded me of a few of my own sermons (and some blog posts, too). Some minor grammatical issues stood out for me (LOTS of commas that were in wrong places), but I don't nit-pick about that. On the whole, the book is an interesting perspective on the Christian Unity issue, but one that unfortunately falls short of providing answers.

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January 27, 2008

Book A Week Note

I haven't forgotten -- LOOONG, busy day today, and I haven't had time to post. I'll have the review post tomorrow afternoon, along with the intro to the new book.

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January 24, 2008

Follow Me ...

... and I will make you Twitters of men.

Yes, I've taken the plunge and started a Twitter account of my own. I'm using it to speedlink to blog posts that I think are interesting, or should be commented on, or are good fodder for a post of my own. So set up your account, and follow me!

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January 22, 2008

Imagine ....

Imagine a man in public life. He was raised Muslim. His father is a practicing Muslim. He is now an active member of a politically active church -- a church that is considered pretty controversial in some places, and whose pastor is hated by his political opponents.

Would you elect him President? Senator?

What about .... seminary President? more...

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January 21, 2008

Book A Week: Week 3

The book this week is One Christ, One Body: The Father's Plan by Scott G. Cunningham. Obviously, the book is about the need for unity in the Body of Christ. I've had this book for a while, and have been looking forward to digging into it.

I think unity in the Body is an important subject, but it's also one that has been abused in the Church. We have to be unified, but that doesn't mean we turn a blind eye to heresy and heterodoxy when it appears. That's the path that many seem to take, and I'm looking forward to seeing what Cunningham's take on the subject is.

I picked this book because this is going to be a busy week, and I won't have time to read a longer book. At only 91 pages, this is a book that I can read and do justice to this week.

Stop back on Sunday for the review!

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January 20, 2008

Book Review: Opening Atlantis by Harry Turtledove

Week 2 of 2008 and the Book A Week challenge brings us Opening Atlantis, the latest offering from master of alternate history Harry Turtledove. I've been a fan of Turtledove's since I read Guns Of The South many, many years ago.

The premise of the book seems to be that part of North American (everything east of the Mississippi, judging from the cover art) broke off from the main continent. This landmass is much closer to Europe than the New World was, and thus is discovered and colonized much quicker (1451).
more...

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January 14, 2008

Book A Week: Week 2

The book for this week is Harry Turtledove's latest alt-history novel, Opening Atlantis. It's the first of a trilogy, which means I'm breaking my own rule: no more Turtledoves that are longer than two books. Seriously. I gave up on the Settling Accounts series after nothing really happened in one book. The series books have collapsed under their own weight, but the stand-alones and the two-parters have been pretty good. I'm taking a chance with a trilogy, but I'm hopeful that it won't disappoint me.

From Amazon.com's description

New York Times bestselling author Harry Turtledove has intrigued readers with such thought-provoking "what if..." scenarios as a conquered Elizabethan England in Ruled Britannia and a Japanese occupation of Hawaii in Days of Infamy and End of the Beginning. Now, in the first of a brand-new trilogy, he rewrites the history of the world with the existence of an eighth continent...

Atlantis lies between Europe and the East Coast of Terranova. For many years, this land of opportunity lured dreamers from around the globe with its natural resources, offering a new beginning for those willing to brave the wonders of the unexplored land.

It sounds promising, and it's pretty unique in terms of alt-history: a POD (point of divergence) that really doesn't hinge on human decision (as far as we know right now).

So Sunday you'll have the review. I have to have the book finished by Friday, because that's when new releases are due at the library. Yes, I said library. I didn't buy this one. After the last Settling Accounts book I read, I determined that I'd only read Turtledove if I checked it out of the library. I'm almost back to reading him full-time again; this trilogy will probably make the decision for me.

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Webcomics Observation

Yes, I know I abandoned my webcomics thing almost as soon as it started (and I don't plan on reviving it, so don't worry), but I read something today that's just prompted a post.

In the world of webcomics, artists miss deadlines. That's something that fans get used to; though we don't always like when it happens, we try to understand that it does happen. Webcartoonists have real lives and real jobs, and putting food on the table and paying rent take priority.

Usually, when a comic is late, there will be a simple news post. "Sorry I'm late this time, but ..." Sometimes, though, a cartoonist goes the extra mile, as is the case with Clint Hollingsworth, the man behind The Wandering Ones. Today's cartoon is a sample of the kinds of things he posts when the regular comic is late. Sometimes I wonder how he gets these things done, but can't get the comic itself done .....

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January 13, 2008

Book Review: The Way of the Christian Samurai by Paul Nowak

This is the first in my 'Book a Week' resolution/challenge/whatever. Each week, I read a book and blog about it.

It was interesting looking around the internet and reading some of the responses to this book -- especially the negative ones. It's easy, I suppose, to go negative on a book that takes a new approach to something. It's easier than, say, actually admitting that you might be doing something wrong, or looking at something in the wrong way.

On Tuesday, I mentioned a negative review of this book. Well, it wasn't really a review, since I seriously doubt that the folks at Berean Call actually took time to read the book. And they'd probably take great pride in the fact that they haven't read it.

And that's a shame, because when you actually sit down and read the book, you understand where Nowak is coming from. You start to see what Christians can learn from looking around us, at people who don't serve God, and yet are doing tremendous things.
more...

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January 09, 2008

Political Pong

CNN has a pretty neat new game available at their website -- Presidential Pong. You can play as Hillary Clinton, Barak Obama, Bill Richardson or John Edwards on the Democratic side, or Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, John McCain, or Sam Brownback on the Republican side.

And that's the problem. Sam Brownback?? Not Mike Huckabee?? What is CNN trying to say here, anyway? I can understand limiting the field to four on each side, but how did they pick the four? Go play, and complain.

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January 08, 2008

Music Mon ... er ... Tuesdays

A day late, I know. Story of my life this week, and I really have no excuse (except for producing the podcast yesterday, I really didn't get much accomplished at all).

Speaking of podcasting, Brent over at Colossians Three Sixteen has decided to start a podcast of his own. I'm looking forward to the show -- the more Christians we have podcasting, and examining exactly what it means to be a Christian artist -- in whatever art form you choose -- the better. I haven't really been participating in the ongoing conversation about what Christian music is, or whether we should even use the term, but I plan on offering my two cents in an upcoming post. But if you want a preview, read my comment at The Blah Blah blog (which you really need to subscribe to, if you haven't yet).

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Book A Week: Week 1

(OK, so I'm a day late. I won't have a problem getting this one done, since I started it on time AND it's a short book.) This week's book is The Way of the Christian Samurai by Paul Nowak.

The book has generated some controversy among people who focus on the less savory aspects of the samurai way of life, and who seem to have missed the point of the book. But more on that Sunday, when I review the book.

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January 05, 2008

Epiphany

Tomorrow is the Feast of Epiphany. And I've always figured that Epiphany was a celebration of the birth of Christ, kind of an Eastern Orthodox Christmas celebration.

But in researching the holiday for this post, I learned something. Originally (and by that I'm talking middle 4th century), January 6th was the Feast of the Nativity. St. Epiphanius says that the January 6 is hemera genethlion toutestin epiphanion -- Christ's "Birthday; that is, His Epiphany." So January 6th is the first celebration of Christmas -- the December 25th date came as a result of the change to the Gregorian calendar, it seems.

Interestingly, we also read of some early indications that the early Eastern church celebrated Christ's baptism and nativity on the same day(St. Clement of Alexandria in Stromateis, I, xxi, 45, for one example). The practice continues, as many Orthodox churches celebrate Epiphany as the Theophany -- the revelation of Christ as God's Son, which happened at His baptism.

The West celebrates the arrival of the Magi on January 6th. By 534, the Nativity and the Epiphany were separate celebrations in the West, but the traditional worship on the 6th was too strong, it seems. Interestingly, both holy days commemorate the same thing -- the mystery of the Incarnation -- but do it in different ways.

Of course, if you're in Louisiana, Epiphany is the beginning of the Mardi Gras season. So start baking those King Cakes (and send me one, too!).

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Software Review: SwordSearcher 5

I received a copy of SwordSearcher 5 recently to review, and I've been putting it through its paces. There's a lot to like about the package. But it also falls short in a few areas.

One of my favorite aspect of SwordSearcher is the library. It's nothing compared to the Libronix library, of course, but it doesn't cost nearly as much. Andrew Miller's Church History is included, as well as Osborn's Classbook of Biblical History and Geography. There's also a selection of Great Preaching of the Faith, which includes sermons from a diverse group of preachers, including Edwards, Calvin, Finney, and Torrey. There's also over 700 sermons from Spurgeon. Many of the commentaries in the package are already available elsewhere, as are the dictionaries. For a full list of resources, check the web page.

One thing I really like in SwordSearcher is the 'Deep Referencing' links feature. Next to each verse in the Bible pane are links to the various resources that reference that verse. This makes in depth study of verses much easier to do. There's also a paragraph option available in the Bible pane, though selecting this option disables the deep referencing links.

My main Bible software package is e-Sword. I picked it because it was free, and easy to use. SwordSearcher is just as easy to use, and includes some features that e-Sword doesn't have (like the whole library search, and the deep referencing links). e-Sword does have one thing going for it, though -- it has a wealth of Bibles available. 8 are available with purchase (Amplified, Complete Jewish, HCSB, Message, NASB study set, NKJV, NLT, and the NIV family bundle). There are 26 available English translations for free (not gonna list them all). There are 10 original language editions, PLUS the Latin Vulgate. And a horde of foreign language translations.

Unfortunately, this is where SwordSearcher lets me down. 12 English Bibles (4 of which are King James editions, and three more of which are historic English translations like Bishops and Tyndale's). 2 Greek (no Septuagint, no Hebrew). 4 foreign language -- Spanish, French, German, and Dutch. They have a response for this objection:

Requests for particular material in SwordSearcher, such as new Bible versions, modern commentaries, etc., are hard to fulfill because of licensing and copyright issues. For example, a certain publisher currently requires a five-figure upfront payment to license their popular Bible version, in addition to requiring per-copy royalty payments that cost more than a printed paperback version of their publication. Regardless of anyone's reasons for wanting or not wanting this kind of material in SwordSearcher, it is simply a moot point as long as these kinds of restrictions are in place.

Also, with Forge, any publisher can easily make their material available for SwordSearcher themselves. If a particular publisher has material you would like to see in SwordSearcher, you may want to contact them to let them know they could publish their material in SwordSearcher format without paying a penny in licensing fees.

However, feel free to email us letting us know what you would like to see in SwordSearcher. We are constantly seeking additional library material for the software, and if you know of a public-domain work that would be a good addition, let us know.

Forge is SwordSearcher's tool for importing large amounts of text into SwordSearcher. It allows you to import books that you own into SwordSearcher, so publishers CAN release their own stuff for the software. But the user can't create a file for their favorite translation and import it.

SwordSearcher costs $49.95. e-Sword is free. I'll hang on to SwordSearcher, just for some of the resources it offers that e-Sword doesn't, but it looks like e-Sword will still be my workhorse. Until someone donates the new edition of Bibleworks to me, of course.

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January 04, 2008

Graphic???

Where's the title graphic?

I have no clue. It's in the source. It's hosted at a site that seems to be working. It should be there.

But it's not. And I doubt I'll have time to figure it out tomorrow. {sigh} Maybe by Sunday it will be back.

Or maybe I'll try out my GimpShop skills and see if I can make a new one.

{EDIT} It's back, and I haven't done anything to fix it. Must have been a hosting hiccup or something.

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Go Mike Go!!

I'm paying more attention to politics lately. Maybe it's because I got so irritated at the "Religious Right" snubbing one of their own on the grounds that he "isn't electable." Huckabee was running neck and neck with Ron Paul for the most ignored candidate for the GOP nomination, until the CNN debate.

Do I think that it's the evangelical influence that got him the win in Iowa? Not really. Only 46% of evangelical voters in Iowa supported him. Half of Republican-voting evangelicals didn't support him! That's telling, to me. The evangelical block still isn't united behind one candidate.

Huckabee got 40% of women. 40% of "young" voters (under 30). 41% of voters making less than $30K a year. Where is CNN reporting on Huck's appeal to women? Or youth? Or the "financially disadvantaged" folks? (thanks to Michael Medved for the stats)

The answer is simple. It's easier to tell people that the former pastor won by appealing to his natural base (evangelicals) than to admit he's got a broader appeal than anyone thought he would. That a conservative populist message resonates with Republicans just as strongly as Obama's populist message dos with Democrats.

And many evangelicals are letting them "blame" us. We'll take the credit, because the GOP has marginalized us. We want to feel important again. And people of faith are supporting Huckabee. But not just traditional evangelical Protestants.

The fact is, Huck was outspent by Romney and he won anyway. Edwards was outspent by everyone and hit second for the Dems. I really think this is the election that will show everyone that the best candidate isn't always the one that spends the most money to get your vote. It's the one that deserves your vote.


MikeHuckabee.com - I Like Mike!

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