Archive for December, 2006

Curly’s a guitar legend

December 28, 2006

Playing Guitar Hero at my sister’s hosue has payed off: I passed “Bark at the Moon” on Expert tonight. Awyeah.


The geographic and archaeological origins of human life

December 12, 2006

One way to make essay-grading easier is to check to see if marked errors have been corrected on the revised draft. If they haven’t, then I know I can safely assign a C without actually reading the paper.

I marked the following sentence on one student’s draft. Student revised it, but came back just as bizarre as the first version. The key word is marked so you don’t really have to read the sentence.

First version: “However, with the rise of geographical evidence in the 18th century came proof that the earth was much older than originally believed.”

Revised: “However, with the rise of archeological evidence in the 18th century came proof that the earth was much older than originally believed.”

Maybe geographical and archaeological evidence can tell us something about human origins. Perhaps some “Pangaea” theory, or evidence of a prehistoric house equipped with monkey bars as well as bookshelves, for that “in-between” period in our history?

California diocese splits from Episcopal Church

December 3, 2006

Article is here. A few Episcopalians are not happy at the split, and for a curious reason:

“There is a schism, and it’s a sin,” said the Rev. Rick Matters, a co-founder of Remain Episcopal, the caucus favoring unity. “To secede, we are like one of the Southern states that led to the Civil War.”

Is all schism a sin, or just this particular schism? Because if all, it’s time for the San Joaquin Diocese, to say nothing of Canterbury, to start knocking on the Vatican’s door a little more insistently. The ECUSA here seems oblivious that it has been in schism from Rome, either in itself or through its Church of England parentage, for almost 500 years.

The Pope Without His Sting

December 3, 2006

This article appears in today’s online NY Times. My running commentary is in [square brackets in bold.] Note that this article is about Islam, and specifically about the pope’s trip to Turkey. The better part of the trip was spent in worship and prayer with the Orthodox Church. But there is nothing political about this–no controversy of any kind that the Times would be interested in–so you hear not a word about this part of the trip.

Okay, here’s the article:

The Pope, Turkey, and lying newspapers

December 2, 2006

Richard John Neuhaus’s comments on the Pope’s recent trip to Turkey are, as always, illuminating. I’ll paste a couple of important passages here.

On the recent visit to Rome of Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury (Anglican Church):

During Dr. Williams’ visit, all the niceties were of course observed, but the mood was grim. There is a keen awareness that the Anglican Communion is in a process of breaking apart.

He then cites Benedict XVI’s words to Williams, concerning the ordination of women as bishops and the moralizing of homosexuality:

Recent developments, especially concerning the ordained ministry and certain moral teachings, have affected not only internal relations within the Anglican Communion but also relations between the Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church. We believe that these matters, which are presently under discussion within the Anglican Communion, are of vital importance to the preaching of the Gospel in its integrity, and that your current discussions will shape the future of our relations.

Neuhaus then comments on an article in Newsweek by George Weigel, containing an amazing list of freedoms that the Turkish government denies to the Orthodox Church.

The Orthodox Church cannot govern itself. Turkish law decides that the ecumenical patriarch must be a Turkish citizen living in Turkey. A recent memorandum from the patriarchate said, “The result of these restrictions is that in the not so distant future the Ecumenical Patriarchate may not be able to elect a Patriarch.” The Turkish government closed the patriarchate’s only seminary in 1971 and has refused numerous requests to reopen it.

The government refuses to grant the patriarchate legal “personality,” in defiance of the Lausanne Treaty of 1923, which defined the legal position of minorities in Turkey. Refusing to recognize the patriarchate as a legal entity means that it exists at the sufferance of the government and is subject to the waxing and waning of political whims and passions. In Turkey, popular passions about “Christian” and “Greek” influence are frequently paranoid in character and intensity.

The government refuses to give work permits to non-Turkish citizens who want to work at the patriarchate. So the handful of non-Turks at the Phanar, as the site of the patriarchate is called, have to leave the country every three months to renew their tourist visas. Moreover, the patriarchate is not allowed to own property. It owns none of the churches, schools, or monasteries under its jurisdiction, and the state has recently seized the thirty-six cemeteries where are buried the generations of the Orthodoxy that once was. The state decides who can teach in schools that serve the Orthodox, as well as which books may be allowed in school libraries.

Any wonder why the Ratzinger, before he became Pope, said that Turkey had no place in the European Union? In how many other places, besides a Muslim country stuck in the Dark Ages, would you find this much repression of basic religious freedom? Okay, so there are a lot of such places . . . but not many of those places are in traditionally Christian countries.

Finally the claim by the New York Times that the Pope had “reversed” his opinion on Turkey and the EU. Neuhaus writes:

Here is what happened. Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, met briefly with Benedict at the airport. Erdogan was under pressure from some Muslims who strongly opposed his meeting the pope, but he turned the occasion to his advantage, claiming that he had asked the pope to support Turkey’s admission to the EU. He quoted the pope as saying, “We know we don’t have a political role, but we wish for Turkey’s entry into the E.U.” Erdogan added, “His wish is a positive recommendation for us.”

Before he was elected pope, Cardinal Ratzinger had expressed definite misgivings about Turkey’s being part of Europe. The “reversal” that the Times headlined was of its own manufacture, however. The reporters and editors took at face value the boast of Erdogan after his brief meeting with Benedict. The story follows the line of the Times following the pope’s lecture in Regensburg, Germany. Editorially and in news reports (the two are easily confused), the Times criticized the pope for raising awkward questions about Islam and violence—questions to which thousands of Muslims reacted with violence.

What the Times calls a “reversal” and “concession” by the pope is based on the uncorroborated statement of Erdogan.

Thank God for the Holy Father, speaking up for Christianity and religious freedom on the world stage. Who else can do it, or will?

Go laugh at Richard Simmons

December 1, 2006

This was pretty funny . . . there’s no link from my blog, but just go to YouTube and search by title. That’s David Letterman behind the mushroom cloud.