You've found Father McKenzie. But are you really looking for Eleanor Rigby?

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Men in Frocks...

Strange, err, bedfellows... That bible of capitalism the Wall Street Journal today (29 September) runs an op-ed entitled “What Would Jesus Spend? Christian virtues won't hurt the economy”. All standard Michael Novak-style doctrine, except for one intriguing detail -- the writer, Professor Deirdre McCloskey, used to be Donald McCloskey, until she né[e] he underwent a surgical transformation:

In October 1995, Gary Fethke, the dean of the College of
Business at the University of Iowa, ran into a colleague, Donald McCloskey, in the hallway of the business school. McCloskey, Fethke noticed, was wearing gold ear studs – small, but on both ears. “What’s this, Don?” Fethke asked jovially. “The earrings! Have you turned gay?”

“You want to know, Gary?” McCloskey asked. When Fethke nodded yes, McCloskey, a renowned free-market economist and married father of two, motioned him into his office and shut the door. He then unburdened himself of a startling secret: At age fifty-two, after years of closeted cross-dressing, he had come to the conclusion that he needed to become a woman. And so, the economics professor explained to his astounded dean, he had embarked on a course of hormone therapy, designed to swell his breasts and alter his voice. Over the course of the next year, he intended to become a physical woman: full beard electrolysis, eyebrow bones ground down, gender reassignment surgery. At that very moment, McCloskey confessed, underneath his sensible brown oxfords and argyle socks, his toenails gleamed candy-apple red.

Dean Fethke sat stunned for a moment, then rushed to put McCloskey at ease. “Thank God”, he exclaimed. “I thought for a moment you were going to confess to converting to socialism”...

The 2004 Federal Election Online Poll

"The only poll that counts is the one on election day"

But still interesting to do, and to see the results of your own inept political reasoning (ah, the joys of democracy - mob rule!)


NOTE: Lots of registration and personal details required. Takes about 10+ minutes.

Andrew Haigh in India

Andrew Haigh is going at it hammer and tongs on the Indian subcontinent following the Aussie team around as part of and micro-monitoring their every move - check out his cricket punditry for the insider's view at:

Parking Spots

Kind of weird but funny

This is one of those "Geek sites" taht will now receive 10 million hits.

Pictures of little cars in big car spaces

Discoveries camp

Cameron informs me that Discoveries camp is on again!


You can see a picture of cameron in his ELO (!) shirt here.

Security Vulnerability in Mozilla-based browsers


Very important for Mozilla-bases browser users like myself!

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

John Saffran Vs God (Monday 27 Sep 04)

Last night I watched my first episode of John Saffran vs God ( I think). It has been hyped a bit, so I was interested in finding out what it was all about. Although I only caught snippets, here are some observations:

1. John returned to see a Priest in Sicily whom he had met while a contestant on the ABC's race around the world competition. It seems that the Priest had offered John free bed and board back in 1997, and John had responded to the favour by stealing the batteries from the priest's TV remote, and "whacking off" in the priest's bed (sans priest, of course). This became the theme for "confession", with a number of amusing takes with John trying to broach the subject. Ultimately John confesses, but it is the priest's response which intrigued me. he seems to want to laugh out loud, but he held his composure and gave a very measured response. Saffran's
apparent attempt to unnerve the priest instead made John look like a bit of a loser, desperate for a cheap gag but paling in the shadow of the man he attempts to parody.

2. John has a rant about Mormons which seems a little repetitive - crisper writing is needed at this level, but I fear this is a problem with Australian comedy generally. make a gag, repeat it many times, and your (hopefully drunk) audience will keep laughing.

3. John and director then go door-knocking in Salt Lake City Utah, dressed similar to LDS missionaries (with bicycles!) and put themselves across as atheists, trying to convert people to atheism. This was social satire at its best. Very cleverly conceptualized, and well executed. It's golden moments like these that may make the show a repeat viewing for me.

4. A straw poll amongst leftist hippy types with a number of quotes from the HH the Dalai -Lama condemning homosexuality, abortion and sex during the daytime (really). Accompanied by a look-alike Pope and Dalai Lama, Saffran wondered why the Pope is considered an intolerant dogmatic bigot, while the Dalai Lama is the religious King of Cool. He offered the condemnatory quotes to the "progressives" and got them to pick - Pope or Dalai Lama? All chose the Pope, but all quotes were from the Dalai Lama. Apart from some clever editing issues (were the ones who correctly chose the Dalai Lama left on the cutting room floor?) this was another inspired stunt by a man with an axe to grind in search of a stone.

5. John Saffran in India - he goes looking for a guru. He first finds a man who won't answer his questions, especially "What is the meaning of life?", and ends up telling another guru some porky-pies about seeing a vision of Australia in the guru's hand. The local who introduced him was insulted that he should lie, and John looked awkward backpedaling the way he did.
Attempting to excite religious experience in himself or others is one thing, but outright lying makes John seem like a slippery customer, rather than the religious leaders he is toying with.

Saffran eventually links up with the President of India's Rationalist Society, who, like the priest in Sicily, is a much more mature individual than John. Indeed, he uses John's "white skin"
in an expose of street magicians, snake charmers and pain devotees, much to the surprise of John but the amusement of the audience. Seeing Saffran get punctured through the cheek and burnt in the name of reason was an eye-opener, and he bore (no pun intended!) it with good grace.

Verdict: I enjoyed this episode of John Saffran vs God, patchy though it was. To me, Saffran comes across as a shallow experientialist looking for a cheap shot and a gag or two, but on the way he uncovers some profound prejudices and truths, not only within himself, but especially amongst the people he meets. The average perosn's religious sensibilities are profound
enough without us needing John to wipe our noses in it. Nevertheless, definitely worth a second look.

Hyde Park Homosexuals

I recently had the opportunity to visit historic Hyde Park Barracks in
Sydney. Amongst other uses, the Barracks was used to quarter convicts, and
part of the upper storey has been remodelled after the original manner.
Enormous windowless brick-walled rooms filled with row upon row of hammocks
swing silently in the near darkness of day time. You can only imagine what
it was like at night. Great depravities were perpetuted there. Some points
of historical note:

1. The colonial military authorities had great difficulty supervising the
convicts at night, as reliable watchmen could not be found, and the convicts
were untrustworthy so as not to be able to be relied upon to keep a vigilant
watch on the nocturnal habits on the inmates. Peep holes were installed but
to little avail.

2. One convict, who was blind, thanked God every day that he was so, as he
did not have to be a witness to the great horrors which occurred there.

3. Only "gentleman" convicts were so offended by what was going on; the
majority saw no problem with their behvaiour.

4. Convict boys as young as 16 and 17 were preyed upon by older men for
homosexual favours and rapes.

Yes, all four of these points refer to the homosexual practices of the
inmates. It's amazing what survives the test of time, doesn't it?

Monday, September 27, 2004

Bomb Scare in Brisbane CBD

A friend of mine had a bomb scare outside his building in Brisbane - the Commonwealth centre - and he doesn't think it was a hoax. It was apparently set to go off at 5:01pm and catch the workers leaving the building. Someone noticed the suspicious package and contacted security. The police attended and cordoned off Adelaide and Creek Streets, then once it was investigated
that locked down the entrance/exits on that side of the building. He tells me he got out the train station side so it was not an impediment to him. Apparently, it was discovered not long before 5pm. No mention of it was made on the news at 6pm. Bomb scares aren't that unusual because the building has several (Australian) Federal Govt organisations resident that rile people eg Child Support, ATO, Centrelink. His IT manager was the one came in and said it was genuine, but he doesn't have anymore info than that at the moment. Hopefully we will hear some real info tomorrow when the Security Manager reports on the incident. If you were one of the hundreds of people inconvenienced by the closed off CBD streets, you know now why.


Just re-watched "Goldmember" recently. Best quote (from Michael Cain, of

"Goldmember! There are only two types of people that I hate: People who are
intolerant of other people's culture, and the Dutch."

Just about says it all, really.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

We Know More Than Our Pastors

We Know More Than Our Pastors: Why Bloggers Are the Vanguard of the Participatory Church
By Tim Bednar

This paper explores how Christians are using blogging for spiritual formation and how they are redefining the scope of Martin Luther's "the priesthood of the believer". Throughout the paper, I will defend my claim that "we know more than our pastors" and by the end of the paper, I will show why bloggers are the vanguard of what I am calling the "participatory church".


Yet to read + critique. Will update shortly. But sounds like more blogger hype. "Blogger Saves the World" etc etc

Jesus homepage


100 bizarre worship tricks

Well, something that I have been grappling with for many years but doesn't seem to be a problem for some is how to properly "do" worship. Accordingly, here is a list of 100 bizarre (to my pre-modern mind) worship "special effects" for the postmodern age... (from Jonny Baker, of course)

And I like the fact that he has called them tricks. he knows EXACTLY what they are. More smells and bells. Postmodern Christian listgroup, here we go again...

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Social Justice Stuff

What does Nelson Mandela, failed leader of a failed African state, have to say about that?

One Big Whopper



It'’s amazing, but true. A child will be born today who you'll never meet.

But something you do, or don'’t do, today will change the course of their life.


This is pure unadulterated hype. Why put the mockers onto the everyday punter, when it's really the big multinational corporations in bed with corrupt third-world governments that's REALLY doing all the harm. Who are you trying to dupe? Shame on World Vision for supporting such nonsense.

Ellen DeGener(ate) to Play God(dess)

More Cameron forwards....

COMEDIAN Ellen DeGeneres is getting a promotion - to supreme being.

DeGeneres will star as God in a remake of the 1977 comedy "Oh, God!".

The original starred George Burns as the creator and John Denver as a supermarket manager tapped as a new prophet.

"Ellen is a strong comedian and she has always done material about God and questions about God," said Jerry Weintraub, who produced the original movie and also will oversee the remake.

Weintraub said he would hire a screenwriter and director with the aim to shoot the movie during a break in DeGeneres' schedule from her talk show next summer.

From: The Herald Sun, your daily dose of tabloid trivia!

I wonder what the comparison would be between an octogenarian Eastern European Jew formerly known as Nathan Birnbaum?

Seventeen magazine, the girls' fashion bible, gets religion

Care of Cameron . . .you know who you are . .

NEW YORK -- Faiza worships five times a day, while Rhianna is as likely to believe in God as in the Easter Bunny. Kristin prays too, but to the God and the Goddess.

This teenage religion debate can be found on the pages of a magazine better known for explaining how to match lipstick to blush -- not exploring the concept of a higher power.

But under editor in chief Atoosa Rubenstein, the girlsÂ’ publication Seventeen has added a faith section that includes inspirational messages, personal stories of spiritual struggle and testimonials on such issues as prayer and gay teens who attend church.

The content is serious. Verses from the New Testament are printed beside sayings from the Prophet Muhammad. The teachings of Pope John Paul II and the Dalai Lama are also featured.

On the Net: Seventeen:

Friday, September 17, 2004

Palestinian Family Terror

Nice article from your ABC making contact with terrorists - now, will they pass on their infor to the aprropriate authorities or maintain their journalistic "integrity" and pave the way for more innocent deaths?

In an exclusive interview with AM, members of the Qawasmeh family say
Israel will never crack the secretive family cell.

Mark Willacy reports from Hebron.

Scattered in the dust and rubble of Abdul Qawasmeh's home are family photographs from happier times. And stuck proudly on a wall which survived the Israeli army demolition is a large photo of youngest son Ahmed. But it's not a family snap from times gone by, but rather a so-called martyrs poster printed last week. "I'm going to be honest with you, what my son did was right," Abdul Qawasmeh tells me.Two weeks ago Ahmed Qawasmeh hopped on a bus in the Israeli city of Beer Sheva and detonated a suicide bomb belt. Within moments a second Palestinian man blew himself up on another bus just a few hundred metres away. Sixteen people were killed, among them a three-year-old boy. Ahmed Qawasmeh was the fifth member of his Hebron-based family to become a suicide bomber.

Note the terminology:
1. family cell
2. martyrs poster
3. suicide bomb belt
3. suicide bomber

Let's change that:
2. TERRORIST poster
3. TERRORIST bomb belt
4. TERRORIST bomber

Doesn't sound much like family tragedy any more, does it Mark? Let's hope Mr Qawasmeh runs out of relatives real soon.

Best of Youthmultimedia


George Bush Sings Bono

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Aussie Hostages in Iraq

From the ABC's AM Program interview with Michael Rubin, who finished a stint in July this year as an adviser to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad:

On who is behind it:
"...but there's so many groups they're a dime a dozen and they always tend to shift."

On how Iraqis feel about it:
"It sounds more like an al-Qaeda linked group. Iraqis may be nationalistic, but many of the Iraqis when you read the Iraqi newspapers and such frown on such things as kidnapping, because they feel that it gives a) Iraqis and b) Muslims a bad name."

On why it has happened:
"That said, unfortunately I think Australia's in this position today largely because the Philippine Government and the Spanish Government previously caved in to such blackmail."

On who is helping the terrorists at home:
"Most certainly the Australian election is relevant to this issue. The insurgents tend to be remarkably politically sophisticated. Remember that those home networks, I wouldn't be surprised if people in Australia were emailing some of the insurgents, basically describing the Australian political situation and try to determine how to best affect it."

So, according to the expert, we have an obscure Islamic Miltant Group with links to Al-Quaeda, not Iraqi nationalist terrorists but Islamic religious terrorists, kidnapping Australians in the hope of influencing Australia's foreign policy, because it has been shown to work as the Spanish and Phillipinos have already caved in, being aided in some way by locals here in Australia.

Therefore we have terrorist sympathisers in Australia, quite happy to assist Islamic terrorists who kidnap people in order to achive their political ends. Who are these people? Where do they come from? Where do they live? And why do they hate our government and way of life so much?

This is a poor advertisement for Islamic Australians. Where are the voices from the Australian Islamic Community decrying hostage taking and armed militancy? Why is there such a great silence? Imams of Australia, speak up! Distance yourself from these groups who would hold Australia, your country, to ransom. Join your Iraqi brethren in condemning such acts of terrorism.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Patriotic posters with a twist

From Adam...

Hi All

I get a newsletter from, which is a parody version of the Official White House website and damn funny too. They have a poster page that doesn't pull any punches and probably more factual than any of the crap from the real White House.

...very funny, effective anti-propaganda.

Haroon Siddiqui on Beslan

In the interest of balance, I have found some material by Haroon Siddiqui , well-known columnist at the Toronto Star, commenting on the Beslan massacre of the innocents:

"Commentary on the Beslan tragedy fell into two camps, attributing the terrorism either to the so-called Islamic culture of death or to Russian brutality in Chechnya...."

He goes on to explain this first point of view (Islamic culture of death) , and then turns to the second (Russian brutality in Chechnya):
"The contary view .... justifies the killing of innocent civilians. The thinking is found not only among some militants but also their backers among Muslims."

Siddiqui then goes on to list the Russians heavy-handed apparoch in Chechnya and compares this with Bush and Sharon.

If I read this quote right, it is OK to kill other people's children if they have killed yours first. Revenge is the way to go. So there is support for the Chechyan terrorist who said at the school,
"The Russians killed 20 of my children and now I am going to kill you."

Haroon Siddiqui is not just explaining their evil motivations. He is justifying them to a world that weeps.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Vote early, vote often

Don't forget to vote for the Prime Minister of Norway. Every vote counts!

Pray for Justice

The horror of the Beslan school massacre has the world feeling angry but impotent about the spectre of terrorism, writes Ruth Limkin.

The climate of international Islamic terrorism perhaps sheds more light upon the events in Beslan

Evil men and women must not be free to do this.

The United Nations' track record gives us little hope that we can expect a great deal of justice from this international body.

In the midst of great distress, reports started to filter through yesterday that within the gymnasium, the hostages prayed, and taught others who had no religious background, how to also pray.

Helicopter Crash Kills Aussie Bishop

An Australian Greek Orthodox bishop was killed alongside the spiritual leader of African Greek Orthodox Christians in a helicopter crash that killed 16 off the coast of northern Greece on Saturday.

Bishop Nectarios was a bank manager before being ordained a priest-monk and serving at the St Nectarios Monastery in Adelaide....He was the head of the church's operations in Madagascar, Mauritius and Reunion - which was part of the Alexandrian church before becoming its own diocese in 1997.
Peter VII, the 55-year-old Alexandrian Patriarch, was greatly respected for his work on improving Orthodox relations with the Coptic and Roman Catholic churches, as well as his humanitarian work in Africa.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Mark Steyn on Beslan

I remember a couple of days after September 11 writing in some column or other that weepy candlelight vigils were a cop-out: the issue wasn't whether you were sad about the dead people but whether you wanted to do something about it. Three years on, that's still the difference. We can all get upset about dead children, but unless you're giving honest thought to what was responsible for the slaughter your tasteful elegies are no use.


Some interesting discussion on the youthmultimedia list.

Let's put two and two together, shall we?

Link to Red Simons camping up a few soundbites from the PM. Who do YOU trust?

Link to Fairfax article (SMH) postulating pop culture constant pumping out content.

It's not just music - the whole world is in a rush..... Politicians communicate in shorter and shorter sound bites.

Accelerated culture, says Schwartz, also throws up more global issues: "The age of uncertainty and this all-incessant change is actually tied up with fear ... you know.... politicians are all crooks...."

And "clever" has-been comedians try and distill a complex political issue into a few sound bites played over and over again. Imagine the words of JFK or Martin Luthor King being boiled down with this treatment. It trivialises the issue to absurdity, adds nothing to public debate, and dumbs down discussion to a few power point friendly dot points.

And it's been done before. Never heard of Pauline Pantsdown?

Friday, September 10, 2004

World 'wants Kerry as president'

From the BBC:

World 'wants Kerry as president'

A new poll in 35 countries suggests that people around the world would prefer Democratic challenger John Kerry as US president over George W Bush.

"Kerry would win handily if the people of the world were to elect the US president"
Steven Kull, Maryland University

Steven Kull, brilliant stuff. That's why we call them "soverign democracies". George Bush is NOT the WORLD'S president, he is the President of the United States. Only. How would the Norwegians (74% Kerry, 7% Bush) feel is the same question were asked of Americans if they preferred Kjell Magne Bondevik or Kristin Halvorsen as Prime Minister? The answer would be very telling. Who?

How about this? FatherMcKenzie readers, vote now! Who do you want to see elected Prime Minister of Norway? Results soon...

Monday, September 06, 2004

Lucasfilm sequels...

From John:

I guess the problem with repeated sequels to a grand 'space opera' movie like 'Star Wars' is that the 'gee whizz' magic gradually wears thinner and thinner with each instalment, and audiences become more aware of plot holes and characterisation flaws.

Although, I must admit that 'Star Wars' sequels in the tradition of various s.f. Grand Masters would lack something. Just imagine.....

'Jedi of Dune' by Frank Herbert - Where Luke conquers the Empire with an Army of Religious Zealot Sandpeople and sets up a regime worse than Palpatine and Vader's. Most of the Rebels are executed for 'heresy' and the whole thing is somehow justified by evolutionary imperatives known only to a mysterious sisterhood.

'Foundation and Empire Strike Back'- Luke, seeing through Obi-Wan and Yoda's meaningless explanations, discovers a means by which the Force is able to be technologically detected and blocked and finds true happiness as a scientist. Princess Leia formulates the laws of psychohistory and has a long, didactic conversation with Han Solo, who goes on to cause the Empire to self-destruct using clever trade tactics.Little do our heroes suspect that R2-D2 and C-3PO (who are actually ancient telepathic robots, R. Daneel and Giskard) are the real reason for all rebel victories, patiently and benignly shepherding the Galaxy whilst pretending to be mechanical comedians.

'Star Wars Scream with Blood on Harlequin's Birthday' by Harlan Ellison - Luke and Darth Vader turn on the Emperor, killing him and setting up the Utopia Meditative Co-operative, where Puppies live in people's scio-skins. Chewbacca eats Han and Leia. C-3PO and R2-D2 take over a Sandcrawler and torture the Jawas inside in a variety of hideous ways.

And that's not to mention 'Lord Vader's Castle' by Robert Silverberg, 'The Hitch-hiker's Guide to Endor' by Douglas Adams and 'Clone Supermen are our Superiors' by Robert Heinlein.

The Bourne Supremacy

"They should have left him alone" - Yes, indeed.

Not going to waste much time reviewing it. Go to if you want more detail. Suffice to say I did not like it. Here's 12 reasons if you want a justification:

1. hand held camera shaking made me nauseous
2. let's just zoom RIGHT UP into the face of the actors, shall we? ALL THE TIME
3. micro-second establishing shots
4. too many jump cuts (yuck!)
5. long, repetitive and boring car chase sequences
6. where does he get all those spy gadgets from if he's "out"of the agency?
7. he is a killer and seeks "redemption" - but he doesn't even say sorry! (see it to know what I mean - but don't see it, if you know what I mean)
8. he recklessly endangers the lives of innocents and police simply going about their job, yet is too noble to personally kill the real baddies - he simply allows them to die. Good old Lion King morality again.
9. nice to know the Italians, the Germans and the Russians all jump to the tune of the CIA
10. now that the cold war is over, the baddies are just criminals and their motivation is money, unlike the real world where the baddies are fanatics and their motivation is ideology
11. complete lack of meaningful dialogue
12. too tight a focus during action and fight scenes - said to be a director's fall back when detailed choreography and stunt work is too time-consuming. Just zoom in and let the audience imagine the rest. Think of it like watching the 100m Olympic final as a blur of wrists, shoulders and shins.

Messages from Heaven

Messages from Heaven

Discovered this on a google browse in search of the phrase "at the heart of every good movie is a redemption story". Hmm.

A biblical examination of the apparitions of the Virgin Mary and other supernatural activity, on the rise throughout the world. Does the Bible anticipate apparitions, signs and wonders in the last days? Does the Word of God reveal the origin of these phenomena? This unique video exposes dangerous deceptions.

AND there's also a quiz on the site: Do you think like a Protestant or Catholic?

I am an 8 out of 10 Protestant. Or semantically challenged.

The top 20 things that suck about the new Star Wars Trilogy

The top 20 things that suck about the new Star Wars Trilogy

Title says it all really. Though I think we could do better. I mean, George is making a fortune here. We should be able to cane him a little harder.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

"Best of the Christian Press 2003."

Website MethodX gets "Best of the Christian Press 2003" award from The Associated Church Press.

And yes, the website [formerly "wesbite"] has the obligatory "Spiritual Types Test".

I thought I would come out as a "Padawan"

but . . .

I am a SAGE. Yess - to be a Jedi at last!

Now I am the MASTER.

(you can be a Sage Prophet Lover Mystic )


Friday, September 03, 2004

On fire for baptism

Ireland's first floating church, operated [formerly "opearted"] by faith-healing Tridentine Catholic bishop, Michael Cox, burst into flames today, then exploded and sank minutes after a rescue helicopter winched its three crew members to safety.

A despondent Cox, 58, said he had a vision of "going around the coast
with her, and challenging any abortion ships that might come into the area, and
fighting evil."

Back to the drawing board, Bishop.

Church pins hopes on chocolate

See Church pins hopes on chocolate for a desperate take on getting pews warm. What annoys me is not these initiatives, asinine as they may be, but newspapers gleefully predicted the decline of the Church, as such prophesied rates, there will be negative millions attending Church nevery Sunday within the next 10 years.

Such prognostacations are a bit like the paperless office. An intriguing theory, but one that will never come to pass.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Brother Harry Smuggles Gospel

"It's a story that resonates with the Great Story for which we are all designed ... Harry is a Christian hero parents can joyfully share with their families," Granger enthused. " J.K. Rowling's books are filled to the brim with Christian themes, imagery, virtues and meaning, implicit and almost explicit, and this is the reason, oddly enough, that the books are so popular. The human heart longs for experience of the Christian message, even imaginative experience, and Harry Potter ‘smuggles the Gospel' better than anyone!"

Vatican returns Contested Icon to Russia

Vatican returns Contested Icon to Russia
Link from Mark Shea

Notes by Tom:
(1) This is a parody. It is not a real news item.
(2) The guy who wrote, the "Curt Jester", it is Catholic (even according to the Scott-ist definition).
(3) He is not having fun at the Pope's expense.
(4) Therefore it is intrinsically licit (licitum intrinsece) to read this, and even laugh at it, if you find it funny (as I did).
(5) But you really need to see the pictures to enjoy it fully.

Arnold, The Presarian

Who would have thought it possible? An interesting (and well-documented) insight into the Governators rise and rise from Austrain obscuredom to possibly the most powerful man in the world. . . the stages in the regress to barbarianism.

Beats being Auric of Gelderland from Lichtenstein anyday.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Sophie's Choice

Recently I have been listening to Phil Jenson's Sermon series on "The Cross". He was describing Jesus' response to his approaching execution as an intense emotional struggle. A similarity with the death of Socrates is drawn in the book Sophie's World. However, Phil contrasts the true passion of Jesus, as he approaches what he knows to be the real truth about death, with the cool, rational response of Socrates, who himself said, "Whether to live is better than to die - who knows?". In reading Sophie's World for myself, I came across another interesting Socratic approach to the problem of knowing - the answer is actually inside everyone, but it just needs to be teased out.

The Christian church's engagement with society through popular culture is similar - we believe that we need to "connect" with the masses, so we use popular culture (films, TV, music) with the intention of making the link from The Matrix to the good news. But the approach in my experience is essentially Socratic. It assumes that Christ-consciousness is "inside" the hearer, "inside" popular culture, and we just need to lead them to that insight. "Really, you've been Christian all along - although you thought you were just a U2 fan".

In reality the converse is true. Such an approach needs to be turned on its head. The gospel breaks through into your domain from the outside - it is not an insight that you "realize" by drawing on your popular culture "experience" - it is the direct experience of God by you.

'Brevissimae bracae' is Latin for hotpants

From The Age:

But he acknowledged that the translation for hotpants was particularly admirable. "Bracae is a good classical word for trousers and brevissimae means very short," he said. "I'd have to agree with them on that one."

But what's Latin for weblog?

"Almost Famous"

"Rachel Jordan", call your office. This excerpt is from 'Almost Famous: The "celebrities" who love the GOP', by Rob Long, at

Even for me, an ultra-loyal Republican, the two creepiest words in the English language are "Christian rock".I've listened to my fair share of it, too -- long drive across the country; busted iPod -- and there's something so weird about it. It sounds like regular bad music when you first tune in. The lyrics always seem like regular bad music lyrics, too -- "I feel your body next to mine/ And that makes my whole life shine" -- but after a second or two you realize that they're singing about Jesus, not some girl named Mandy, and the whole thing just seems, well, creepy. Because rock music -- and most other forms of entertainment, when you really think about it -- is fundamentally about carnal desire. And Jesus, when you really think about it, is fundamentally not.

Which is all a long way of saying that I don't think I'm going to enjoy the "entertainment" portion of the Republican National Convention. It won't all be Christian rock, of course. According to the most recent RNC press release, conventioneers will be treated to country music acts such as Brooks & Dunn, Lee Ann Womack, Darryl Worley, and Donnie McClurkin. They'll be joining Michael W Smith, Daniel Rodriguez, Daize Shayne, Sara Evans, and Dana Glover on the podium. Sounds exciting, no? I'm aware that I'm going to sound like one of those liberal Democrat media snobs -- which is unfair, because I'm a conservative Republican media snob -- but who are these people? I live in Venice, California, so I happen to know who Daize Shayne is -- Google her yourself, if you're interested -- but most of the other names are drawing big blanks.

There are rumors, of course, that Britney Spears is a closet Bushie -- which might be true; she's from Louisiana, right? -- and we've all seen Ted Nugent's Republican spiel. But the sad truth is, the real difference between Democrats and Republicans is that their celebrities are, like, actually famous and ours are, well, singing weirdly erotic songs about Our Savior. [...]

There's at least one very crass pun waiting in that excerpt, but you'll have to work it our for yourselves since I'm not going to stoop to that level.

More on Catholics in Crisis

I have read both the St Matthias Briefing's "Catholics in Crisis" article and the book A Long Way From Rome that it reviews. The book is disappointing from an evangelical perspective. A collection of ageing baby-boomers who want to liberalise Catholicism, and occasionally try to appropriate analogies from Protestantism to do so (the usual suspects: "a new Reformation", Luther nailing his theses to the church door, etc). The Catholic liberals make the same mistakes as the traditionalists: they assume that Protestantism is more liberal than Catholicism. This is true in precisely two (2) areas: if you are a clergyman who wants to marry, and if you are a married couple who want to use contraception. (And even in these areas, Catholicism allows ex-Protestant ministers to stay married even after being re-ordained as Catholic priests, and markets timed-abstinence methods of birth control as being more reliable than pills and condoms). In just about every other theological area, the adherents of sola Scriptura either agree with the Pope (eg, on homosexuality) or are stricter (eg, on whether God permits Christians to pray to saints or to pray alongside Muslims).

The Briefing review I found a bit fluffy, and light on analysis of the book. The most interesting part was the note at the end -- that the author "became a Christian at the age of 19 and was a member of the Roman Catholic Church for 29 years". Unless Jensenism now encompasses some Mormon-type belief in the pre-existence of spirit babies up to a decade prior to conception, I take this as evidence against the often-raised charge that the Sydney Anglicans around the Carlingford Vatican regard [all] Catholics as "non-Christians".