Saturday, December 12, 2009

No More Theology Amplified

This will be my last post at TA. It has been a fun ride here, but it's time for a change. My new blog is called Coming Clean and you can access it by going to That is also the RSS feed address.

TA will stay up indefinitely if you want to access any old material (there's currently no way to import this blog into the other one). The new blog already has a few posts and a GREAT video!

See you there!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Quotes of the Day

"I said to Antoine Winfield on the sideline, 'I think he just broke his leg,' Erin Henderson said. 'That's my blood out there. My brother.' It took me a second, but I got it together and my brotherly instinct kicked in.

"When I got out there, I just kept saying, 'I'm right here with you, I'm here with you.' Don't know why I did this, but I'm telling him to breathe ... 'In your nose, out your mouth, in your nose, out your mouth.' He was in quite a bit of pain, so I said, 'Grab my hand. Squeeze my hand if you've got pain.' He squeezed so hard I thought he was gonna break my hand."


"But it is ethos—the persuasive appeal of one’s character—that is responsible for both his inflated reputation as an orator and the disillusionment and disappointment many of his supporters have after hearing him speak. Unlike logos and pathos, ethos is a property of communication that belongs not to the speaker, but to the audience. The listener, rather than the rhetor, determines whether the speaker’s ethos is high or low. Before the election, when he was the embodiment of hope and change, Obama’s supporters imbued him with a high ethotic value. Now that he is President, and making unpopular decisions based on the realities of governing, many of these same fans are finding him less persuasive.

"In some ways, conservatives should be pleased by Obama’s lack of rhetorical ability. Those of us who oppose much of his domestic agenda are relieved that he can’t simply go on a speaking tour and convince large segments of the skeptical populace to support his policies. But in some ways, his failure to persuade may be detrimental to the aspirations and objectives of the nation. As the elected political leader of the United States—and the unofficial spokesman for the West—the President holds the most powerful bully pulpit in the world."


"Generations of Sunday school teachers have turned Hanukkah into the story of unified Jewish bravery against an anti-Semitic Hellenic empire. Settlers in the West Bank tell it as a story of how the Jewish hard-core defeated the corrupt, assimilated Jewish masses. Rabbis later added the lamp miracle to give God at least a bit part in the proceedings.

"But there is no erasing the complex ironies of the events, the way progress, heroism and brutality weave through all sides. The Maccabees heroically preserved the Jewish faith. But there is no honest way to tell their story as a self-congratulatory morality tale. The lesson of Hanukkah is that even the struggles that saved a people are dappled with tragic irony, complexity and unattractive choices."


"Factory-farmed food is an elitist food; it's a food that's making hundreds of millions of dollars for CEOs of corporations at the expense of normal people. Yes, it seems cheap when we go to the supermarket, but that's because we're being lied to about the true costs. We pay for them in our health care costs, the destruction of the environment and our values. What we call cheap food is the most expensive food in American history."

Movie: To Save a Life

Church made teen movie; looks pretty good:

Change Your World for Orphans


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Quotes of the Day

"Perhaps the greatest measure of Obama's declining support is that just 50% of voters now say they prefer having him as President to George W. Bush, with 44% saying they'd rather have his predecessor."


"Pornography is a visual representation of sexuality which distorts an individual's concept of the nature of conjugal relations. This, in turn, alters both sexual attitudes and behavior. It is a major threat to marriage, to family, to children and to individual happiness. In undermining marriage it is one of the factors in undermining social stability.

"Social scientists, clinical psychologists, and biologists have begun to clarify some of the social and psychological effects, and neurologists are beginning to delineate the biological mechanisms through which pornography produces its powerful negative effects."


"54 Senators voted to use your money to fund abortions; 45 voted to protect the unborn. Elections matter."


"As it turns out, the strain of the downturn hasn’t pushed the divorce rate higher; instead, economic stress seems to have made American marriages slightly more stable overall, as couples develop a “new appreciation for the economic and social support that marriage can provide in tough times,” as the study’s lead author, Brad Wilcox, puts it. Americans are also turning thriftier (saving more, cutting down on credit card debt, reviving home-based economies, etc.), which is good news for wedlock, since financial stability correlates with marital stability, and with marital happiness as well.

"Here’s the pessimistic take. Yes, divorce rates are dropping, but marriage rates are down as well. People aren’t getting divorced because they can’t afford it, not because they’re suddenly happier with their spouses."

The Black Keys/Blakroc w/ Mos Def

White people love Mos Def.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

I Got a Mac

Well, that's what it feels like now that I have Windows 7 installed. Night and day.

"Now...Barack Obama"

Neil Postman, writing in 1985, on the culture of TV news in America and the affect it has had on reason, context and presidential politics, in Amusing Ourselves to Death, p. 110:
My point is that we are by now so thoroughly adjusted to the "Now...this" world of news--a world of fragments, where events stand alone, stripped of any connection to the past, or to the future, or to other events--that all assumptions of coherence have vanished. And so, perforce, has contradiction. In the context of no context, so to speak, it simply disappears. And in its absence, what possible interest could there be in a list of what the President [of the United States] says now and what he said then? It is merely a rehash of old news, and there is nothing interesting or entertaining in that. The only thing to be amused about is the bafflement of reporters at the public's indifference. There is an irony in the fact that the very group that has taken the world apart should, on trying to piece it back together again, be surprised that no one notices much, or cares.
Is this not the perfect soil in which a President like Barack Obama could gain root? Beyond the difference one might have with him on policy is the glaring way in which he can say one thing and the opposite thing in the same sentence. There is firmly held liberal ideology, but then there is crass disinformation. And, sadly, this has little to do with Obama himself (though he perhaps is the grandest exploiter yet) but with we who vote for him. And lest you think that I am harping only on Obama, as Postman makes clear, it all began with Reagan (quoting from a NYT article in 1983):
President Reagan's aides used to become visibly alarmed at suggestions that he had given mangled and perhaps misleading accounts of his policies or of current events in general. That doesn't seem to happen much anymore.

Indeed, the President continues to make debatable assertions of fact but news accounts do not deal with them as extensively as they once did. In the view of White House officials, the declining news coverage mirrors a decline in interest by the general public.
Today news organizations do have "fact checkers" who pour over speeches and press releases. Some twelve AP reporters were assigned to fact check the new Sarah Palin book. But for all the fact checking going on no one seems to care. There is no outrage, no protesting. Presidents, senators and, God help us, preachers, relay contradiction after contradiction and we the people do not bat an eye lash. Unless, of course, they lie about sex.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Microphone Fail

So Many Links (08 DEC 2009)

Top ten book lists from Wax and Challies.

CT: Modern day lepers are sex offenders.

Five crazy over-achievers.

Gary Thomas on the most effective way to influence your children.

EW's best movies of the decade (I'm sorry, but #2, despite its subject matter, was a terrible movie).

Now I really want one.

Best Christmas decorations of the year:

epic fail pictures

One Sentence Movie Reviews

Four Christmases: The humor is strained at times (but decent), as is the plot (and yet it reminded me of my own life), but the subject matter is what makes this movie work (insofar as it is grounded in eternal reality).

Funny People: Though exceedingly crass, Apatow's movie pokes and prods well at what makes us happy, and, especially with this movie, what doesn't.

The Proposal: An old-school romance with modern sensibilities; it made me smile.

Quotes of the Day

"Theology pieces sometimes require heavy lifting by readers. Magazine consultants are wont to think that such pieces are a throwback—and too demanding for modern readers. Hogwash. First, good theology always looks forward. And second, many readers are tired of small thinking and blog logic."


"God is in the longest bad marriage in history."


"The key word in Mrs. Meyer’s dream is not “vampire” or “girlfriend” but “meadow.” The key confrontations in all four published Twilight books take place in meadows, usually a meadow in the Olympic Mountains. James the Tracker stumbles upon Bella there in Twilight, Victoria’s Newbie Vampires fight the Cullens there in Eclipse, and the epic final showdown with the Volturi in Breaking Dawn takes place there as well. Edward reveals himself to Bella in the “perfectly circular” meadow of Mrs. Meyer’s inspiring dream, and she sees Jacob Black, her Quileute buddy, as a werewolf for the first time in the same meadow in New Moon.

"'Mountain Meadows,' however, means something much less pastoral and positive and much more visceral and painful to American Latter-day Saints (LDS). The summer of 2003 saw the publication of three books that focused on the 1857 Mountain Meadows Massacre, in which tragedy Mormon faithful in Southern Utah executed more than 120 men, women, and children on their way to California from Arkansas.

"All three books paint the Mormon faith as inherently bloodthirsty, violent, secretive, and abusive to women and non-believers. The Twilight novels, especially Breaking Dawn, can be understood as a response to the challenge they posed to Mormon believers like Mrs. Meyer. In brief, Meyer was inspired to write works in which she addresses and resolves in archetypal story the criticisms being made of Mormonism by atheists and non-believing gentiles."


"If you were able to go back in a time machine and witness the tomb of Christ only to find that Christ did not raise from the grave, what would that do to your Christian faith?"

Greed is Hidden Inside All of Us

In one of the most exposing and devastating paragraphs I have ever read, Tim Keller comments on greed and how it "hides itself from the victim." In Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters, p. 52-3:
Why can't anyone in the grip of greed see it? The counterfeit god of of money uses powerful sociological and psychological dynamics. Everyone tends to live in a particular socioeconomic bracket. Once you are able to live in a particular neighborhood, send your children to its schools, and participate in its social life, you will find yourself surrounded by quite a number of people who have more money than you. You don't compare yourself to the rest of the world, you compare yourself to those in your bracket. The human heart always wants to justify itself and this is one of the easiest ways. You say, "I don't live as well as him or her or them. My means are modest compared to theirs." You can reason and think like that no matter how lavish you are living. As a result, Americans think of themselves as middle class, and only 2 percent call themselves "upper class." But the rest of the world is not fooled. When people visit here from other parts of the globe, they are staggered to see the level of materialistic comfort that the majority of Americans have come to view as necessity.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Thankful for a Brain Tumor

You may not know Matt Chandler (he's an up and coming preacher/teacher), and you don't necessarily need to to understand and be moved by a video he made for his 6000+ member congregation days before having a tumor removed from his brain.

He has since had the surgery and is waiting to find out if the tumor was cancerous.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Why Does No Earthly Experience Satisfy?

C.S. Lewis, in Mere Christianity:
If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world [something supernatural and eternal].

Give the 50 Million Back If You Don't Want to Be Famous

I still think we all should leave Wood's marital struggles alone, but I still appreciate Shieffer's commentary.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Suffering Compared to Eternity is Nothing

Tim Keller:
Compared to the endless billions of "years" of eternity without suffering, our troubles are brief. If we think of our lives as only 70 years long, suffering will loom large; if we think of our lives as endless, suffering is a fleeting thing. A billionaire will hardly feel a theft of the $1,000 from his pocket. A middle class man will feel it sorely. Christians are billionaires in glory.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

No Privacy from the Enemy of Sin

C.J. Mahaney, reflecting on Tiger Woods:
Tiger cannot intimidate this enemy like he can Pebble Beach or any of the field of professional golfers. And there is no privacy he can claim from this enemy, regardless of his resolve, his silence, or the name painted on his yacht. It’s likely Tiger only perceives the press hunting him out of a vain “curiosity about public figures.” But Tiger is being hunted and hounded by a far greater foe: the consequences of his sin.

And this story should humble and sober us. It should make us ask: Are there any so-called “secret sins” in my life? Is there anything I have done that I hope nobody discovers? Is there anything right now in my life that I should confess to God and the appropriate individuals?

And this should leave us more amazed by grace because there, but for the grace of God, go I.

The Meaning of the Gospel: Depart from Sin

John Calvin, in his commentary on 1 John 2:1:
It is not only the sum and substance of the preceding doctrine, but the meaning of almost the whole gospel, that we are to depart from sin.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Quotes of the Day

"People may use religious agents as a moral compass, forming impressions and making decisions based on what they presume God as the ultimate moral authority would believe or want," the team writes. "The central feature of a compass, however, is that it points north no matter what direction a person is facing. This research suggests that, unlike an actual compass, inferences about God's beliefs may instead point people further in whatever direction they are already facing."


"The scientific community is not infallible, which is why disagreements over data and its interpretation should be robust and thoughtfully engaged. While claiming that 'No true scientist believes X' or 'No true scientist doubts Y' may be the easiest way to dismiss dissenters, it is often counterproductive. The slow-witted and simple-minded may be dazzled by academic credentials and institutional affiliations but most thoughtful people are harder to fool. They recognize that No True Scientist should fear honest inquiry and solid arguments—even when their colleagues disagree."


"A good president is not obsessed with detail at the expense of the big picture. A president cannot master all the details needed to make rational decisions about the issues that cross his desk. He will need a well thought out political philosophy and experts he trusts in order to make good calls. As a result, he need not be a philosopher, Reagan certainly was not, but the president needs a carefully worked out governing philosophy that can guide his decision making. A good president also needs the ability to attract the loyalty of details people, the famed policy wonks, to help frame the issue.

"A good president does not ignore detail and can change his mind in changing conditions. Lincoln and Reagan both had to jettison advisers and generals under changing circumstances. If Lincoln had not been political sensitive to his conduct, he would not have won reelection and the Union would have been lost. He was able to see when a strategy had failed and change....

"A good president can make decisions in a crisis. A James Buchanan tries to wait out his time and does nothing. A Harry Truman acts and saves Greece from a communist revolution.

"A good president understands the complex, but can explain it to the rest of us. We no more want our president to be “like we are” intellectually than we want our heart surgeon to be like we are medically. We hope he has deep and sophisticated knowledge of the political system and of a philosophy of governance. As voters we are picking our representative in Washington and our hope is that he will represent our views better than we could.

"We want someone better at the job than we would be, but who can explain to us what he is doing.

"There are two kinds of bad leader: a bad leader who wonks out on everything and a bad leader who cannot wonk out on anything. The first is a tragic failure of the virtue of prudence and the second of either intellect or diligence.

"Given this, a sound conservative has reasons to worry about Sarah Palin."

So Many Links (02 Dec 2009)

100 Days in Glacier National Park (be sure to check out pic 76...stunning).

'12 Days of Christmas' gifts would run you $87k today.

Comprehensive, chapter by chapter review of Going Rogue and the final 10 thoughts (she's really not smart enough to be president, Reynolds concludes).

15 Bohemian Rhapsody You Tubes. The best of the bunch:

I don't think Piper owns snow pants.

How to Repent and Castigate the Media at the Same Time

Tiger Woods, under immense scrutiny and insane media attention since the Thanksgiving indecent, has released a statement. If he wrote it, I applaud him.
I have let my family down and I regret those transgressions with all of my heart. I have not been true to my values and the behavior my family deserves. I am not without faults and I am far short of perfect. I am dealing with my behavior and personal failings behind closed doors with my family. Those feelings should be shared by us alone.

Although I am a well-known person and have made my career as a professional athlete, I have been dismayed to realize the full extent of what tabloid scrutiny really means. For the last week, my family and I have been hounded to expose intimate details of our personal lives. The stories in particular that physical violence played any role in the car accident were utterly false and malicious. Elin has always done more to support our family and shown more grace than anyone could possibly expect.

But no matter how intense curiosity about public figures can be, there is an important and deep principle at stake which is the right to some simple, human measure of privacy. I realize there are some who don't share my view on that. But for me, the virtue of privacy is one that must be protected in matters that are intimate and within one's own family. Personal sins should not require press releases and problems within a family shouldn't have to mean public confessions.

Whatever regrets I have about letting my family down have been shared with and felt by us alone. I have given this a lot of reflection and thought and I believe that there is a point at which I must stick to that principle even though it's difficult.

I will strive to be a better person and the husband and father that my family deserves. For all of those who have supported me over the years, I offer my profound apology.
1. Open with repentance, end with repentance. Perfect.

2. Yes, even though you are the most famous athlete on earth, your "sins," as you rightly call them, are no business of ours. They are the business of your wife, your family, your church (let's hope you have one) and, most importantly, God.

3. "Personal sins should not require press releases and problems within a family shouldn't have to mean public confessions." Wow. So well said.

On a side note, what we're viewing is quite rare. Woods had made it to the top. Has is the life so many of us pine for. And yet, even that was not enough for him. Jeremiah 2:13:
For my people have committed two evils:
they have forsaken me,
the fountain of living waters,
and hewed out cisterns for themselves,
broken cisterns that can hold no water.

Two Sentences on the Discipline of a Child

Chris Brauns today on two sentences that guide the way he disciplines his children:
In the context of discipline I have learned to say and think:

Message #1: I love you too much to teach you that you can make bad choices without any consequences. As someone has said, “Choose to sin, choose to suffer.” Don’t be deceived God cannot be mocked. You reap what you sow. (Galatians 6:7-8).

Or, when my children are upset with me because they think I am too protective, I say and think this:

Message #2: All your life, I have been willing to die for you. I can honestly tell you that it came down to your life or my life, I would give up mine on your behalf. So, if I am willing to die for you, then having you upset with me because I am protecting you is a relatively small thing in my world. If protecting you means you being mad at me, then so be it.”

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Eddie Van Halen: Panama

I am watching President Obama speak at Westpoint. Thus, Panama. Turn it up:

Good Effort Video of the Day

Quotes of the Day

"Take a look at America's self-esteem curriculum or just watch "Oprah" once in a while and you'll see that deep down we're not so sure we are OK. At the very least, most of us need some convincing.

"As a minister, I've witnessed the worry and doubt firsthand. A mother of young children wonders if her house is clean enough and if she'll ever measure up. A cancer patient isn't sure if he prays and loves God as much as he should. A young man struggles to feel like a good person again after his affair. At the bottom of all these fears and anxieties, they are asking the same question....

"Most of us are desperate for reassurance, yet today a large and growing number of Americans are looking for answers to their deepest questions outside the church. Churches across the country are struggling to define their purpose in this postmodern and increasingly secular age. Many are de-emphasizing the Gospel and emphasizing social issues. Others are attracting crowds with self-help messages. And some are swimming with the cultural current, embracing doubt itself as a narrative.

"The problem today is that the "good news" is often replaced with good advice and good causes. Churches that should be talking about the work of Christ on the cross and the grace of God for sinners are stuck on recycled pop psychology, moral exhortation, or entertainment. But these fail to speak to the eternal question that haunts all of us: How do I know that I'm OK? We all want to know we are justified."


"Indeed, the closer you look at the scandal the more you realize it's all one big outrage. The same journalistic tribalism that allowed Dan Rather to destroy his career over "Memogate" keeps reinforcing itself. Rather picked sources who said what he wanted to hear, then he reported what they said as if it were indisputable. The same thing is happening on climate change. Ideological bias is a major factor in the news media's work as a transmission belt for the climate industry. But part of the problem is also that the journalists do a bad job when the majority of "respected" experts agree on anything complicated. For instance, it was pretty impossible for reporters to independently investigate whether Saddam Hussein had WMDs, and since the most established authorities agreed he had to have them, the news media reported the consensus, which turned out to be wrong."


"[I]f you want to hear honest talk about the realities of abortion, go speak with those abortion counselors and providers. Even the most radically pro-choice will tell you that the political discourse they hear about the subject, with its easy dichotomies and bumper-sticker boilerplate, has little correspondence to the messy, intricate stories of her patients. They hear about peace and guilt, relief and sin. And it is they who will acknowledge, whether we like it or not, that the rhetoric and imagery of the pro-life movement can touch on some basic emotional truths. Peg Johnston, who manages Access for Women in upstate New York, remembers the first time her patients unconsciously began to co-opt the language of the protesters outside. 'And it wasn’t that these protesters were brainwashing them,' she says. 'It’s that they were tapping into things we all have some discomfort about.'"


"I imagine when she approached the car with a club, he said: No, don't use a wood, use a nine-iron."