Friday, December 14, 2007

Middle School Musical

My sixth grade son plays the snare drum in the Greencastle Middle School band. Last night was the middle school's Christmas concert. The high school auditorium was packed with the family and friends of Greencastle's middle school kids, as those young people played and sang songs about Christmas. The song selection included the usual Christmas suspects, such as Go Tell it on the Mountain. As the choir belted out that Christmas hymn, my wife looked over at me and expressed surprise that this public school would allow their kids to sing:

Go, tell it on the mountain, Over the hills and everywhere. Go, tell it on the mountain,That Jesus Christ is born. While shepherds kept their watching Over silent flocks by night, Behold throughout the heavens There shone a holy light. The shepherds feared and trembled, When lo! above the earth, Rang out the angels chorus That hailed the Savior’s birth. Down in a lowly manger The humble Christ was born And God sent us salvation. That blessed Christmas morn. (empasis added)

My wife was surprised that such blatant phrases of salvation in Christ would be sung from the auditorium stage of a public high school.
I wasn't surprised. Why? Because Christmas carols are part of the tradition. It is simply going through the motions that make the holiday Christmas for so many people. It is interesting that Al Mohler blogged about this very thing today. You're encouraged to read his blog post "Merry Christmas, Dear Athiest".

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Why Am I Not Surprised?

Yet again shots were fired in downtown Indy, and yet again Jamaal Tinsley, the starting PG of the Indiana Pacers was involved. In fourteen months Tinsley has been at the center of three night club altercations. Shots were fired during two of the incidents. Today's IndyStar coverage of Sunday's shooting makes much of pro athletes being targeted.
Athletes say their wealth and fame make them an easy target. Their status can cause jealousy or perhaps initiate a confrontation that would enable a person to file a lawsuit and be awarded a large sum of money.
Alonzo Mourning, Elton Brand, and Jeff Foster (huh?!) are quoted in the article, and they all recount instances of harassment, simply for being professional athletes. Jermaine O'Neal and Reggie Miller are cited as athletes who travel with professional security guards.

I agree that pro athletes, especially high profile players (Tinsley qualifies as high-profile because we're talking about Indianapolis - only two pro franchises and a "small" big city), are targets. Elton Brand of the LA Clippers said:
You’re definitely a target. Anytime you’re in a bar, restaurant or club and someone wants to start trouble, you just have to back down and walk away from it because you have a lot more to lose. If you do something stupid, you’re in trouble. If they do something stupid, they’re famous.
All of that is true. So is this: anyone who is at a bar or club at 0300 (3am for you civilians) is asking for trouble. To some that may sound like a whacked out, religious, fundamentalist prude, etc., but it is accurate. There is much that one can do out on the town at 3am that is good.

According to what has been reported thus far, Tinsley and Pacer equipment manager Joe Qatato were victims. Victims of thugs, and victims of their own, especially in Tinsley's case, stupidity.

Monday, December 10, 2007

No Gordon...No Basset..No Problem!

My beloved Hoosiers dismantled the woeful Wildcats at Assmebly Hall on Saturday afternoon. Sans Gordon and Basset the Hoosiers easily handled the Kittens from Kentucky. Too bad Gordon missed his only chance at an IU vs. UK game.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Snowball Fight!!!

Romney's "Faith in America" Speech

Follow this link to read Governor Mitt Romney's "Faith in America" speech, delivered at the George H. W. Bush presidential library in College Station, Texas on Thursday, December 6th. I've also linked the coverage of the following news outlets:

Here are some opinions on Romney's speech:

The innocuous Romney speech did not move or sway my position on the former Governor in the least. I am often accused, or it is frequently assumed, that I favor Mike Huckabee because he is a Baptist, and that I do not support Mitt Romney because he is a Mormon.

Not true.

As I review the thin list of candidates for whom I could support, Mike Huckabee stands out above the rest. I will not support Rudy Giuliani; not now, not ever. I might be in favor of him as Attorney General, but not as President of the United States.

I do not support Mitt Romney because he is a political opportunist. To be elected governor of Massachusetts he had to be liberal on social issues; so he was. To earn the GOP Presidential nomination he has to be conservative on social issues; so he says he is. Whichever way the wind blows Romney hoists sail and heads in that direction.

My support for Huckabee has zero to do with his Baptist identity, and I do not withhold support for Romney because he is a Mormon. I wish this issue would die, but it will not, it cannot. We are doomed, it seems, to be forced to listen to and read journalists/pundits argue and wax eloquent on that which they are totally ignorant - theology.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Christians & Politics

The issue of religion's relationship to politics is the du jour topic on all the political news shows, blogs, etc. because of Governor Mike Huckabee's ascendancy from second-tier candidate status to legitimate front-runner. Since Huckabee has leap-frogged Mitt Romney, the Mormon candidate, religion and politics has dominated the conversation.

Instead of discussing the differences between Mormons and Christians - Mormons are not Christians - I want to draw to your attention a well-written post on Christianity and politics by Nathan Busenitz of Pulpit Magazine. The post is subtitled "Bringing in the Kingdom one vote at a time?" and it is worth a read.

A casual perusal of this blog quickly reveals that I enjoy discussing politics and have strong political opinions. I do not think it sin for a Christian to hold political office, but I also do not believe that holding political office is the means by which God will bring righteousness to this or any nation.
In his post Busenitz asks the questions:
Is it really the church’s mission, or even her responsibility, to gain political dominance? Should we preoccupy ourselves with congressional hearings, presidential campaigns, and economic plans? Do we need to form committees and coalitions who will raise millions of dollars to protect the Ten Commandments and vigilantly stand against any advance by the “immoral minority”?
The answer should be obvious to all, and Busenitz is correct when he writes:

No...Matthew 28:18-20 gives us the mission, or commission, with which we should be primarily concerned. It is hardly political in nature.

American Christians...must remember that our allegiance is first to God and only second to our government. Our primary concern then should be in saving souls rather than gaining votes. Rather than being consumed with political debates, we should be consumed with our responsibility as Christ’s ambassadors. These are the efforts and activities that have eternal value. And while we preoccupy ourselves with the spiritual rather than the political, we can rest in knowing that He is sovereign over the governments and affairs of this world. (Emphasis added)

That's good stuff!

I like politics. I enjoy debating political issues. I enjoy exercising my American rights and privileges, but I fear that far too many Christians equate political activism with Biblical orthodoxy. Being a social, fiscal conservative Republican is not synonymous with being a Christian.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Golden Compass

Dr. R. Albert Mohler of Southern Seminary has written an excellent review of the soon to be released movie The Golden Compass. I encourage all the Oxgoad users, regular readers, casual users, and accidental visitors, to follow this link to Dr. Mohler's bog post and read his analysis in it's entirety.

The Golden Compass is a potential blockbuster movie with a stellar cast, special effects, and CGI (computer generated imagery) graphics that rival anything produced to date. Many of you are probably aware that this particular movie has raised the ire of folks within the 'Christian' community - Catholics and non-Catholics alike - because it is based on a novel that was written to discredit and disprove Christianity.

The Golden Compass
(it was published as Northern Lights in the UK) is actually the first installment of the His Dark Materials trilogy; a series of books written by the award winning British author and atheist Philip Pullman. Hanna Rosin of Atlantic Monthly interviewed Pullman, and Dr. Mohler repeatedly refers to that interview. I have linked to it here.

As one would expect, considering the author, The Golden Compass and the following two movies which may be produced, have an agenda. Mohler writes:
This is not just any fantasy trilogy or film project. Philip Pullman has an agenda about as subtle as an army tank...nothing less than to expose what he believes is the tyranny of the Christian faith and the Christian church. His hatred of the biblical storyline is clear. He is an atheist whose most important literary project is intended to offer a moral narrative that will reverse the biblical account of the fall and provide a liberating mythology for a new secular age.
I wouldn't recommend His Dark Materials as a Christmas gift for your children!

By all accounts, the movie version of the book has softened the tone of anti-Christianity that is palpable in the book. I believe that to be a negative rather than a positive. I'd much rather the movie be true to the book, not because I like the book's thesis, but because I prefer an overt enemy to a covert one.

How should Christians respond to this movie? Here again is Dr. Mohler:
Pullman has an agenda that is clear, and Christians need to inform themselves of what this agenda is and what it means. At the same time, nothing would serve his agenda better than to have Christians speaking recklessly or unintelligently about the film or the books. This is about the battle of ideas and worldviews. While Christians will not celebrate the release of this film, we should recognize the mixture of challenge and opportunity that comes with millions of persons watching this film and talking about the issues it raises. When the movie is mentioned in the workplace, in school, on the playground, or in the college campus, this is a great opportunity to show that Christians are not afraid of the battle of ideas. (italics added)
Good advice. The last thing needed is a shrill response from Christians, on this topic or any other. I would also encourage Christians to do a self-examination of their TV and movie viewing habits in general. Just because a movie does not depict Christianity as evil and that which must be overthrown, does not mean that the movie is positive. Most movies are sprinkled, some more heavily than others, with the same anti-Christian ideology as expressed in The Golden Compass; only packaged in a different wrapping. One thing I appreciate about Pullman is his clarity.

Christians should be so clear. Clearly discerning what they should and shouldn't put before their eyes or the eyes of their children. In all things Christians should honor Christ their Lord as holy, always being prepared to answer anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet answering with gentleness and respect.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

IU 84 Tennessee State 72

Eric Gordon is quite possibly the most talented freshmen at Indiana since Isiah Thomas. I did not say he was the next Thomas, but that he is the most talented frosh since Zeke. He is leading the team and the Big 10 in scoring, and I am thrilled that he is not in gross Illini orange.

- UPDATE - 12/4/07

My beloved Hoosiers remained perfect at Assembly Hall under the leadership of Coach Verizon by dispatching the titans of Tennessee State by the score of 84-72. (I have grown weary of the cupcakes on this team's schedule. Thus far IU has played two quality oppenents - Xavier and SIU - and they are 1-1 in those match-ups. This weekend's clash with their southern rival will be the last solid program faced by IU until the Big 10 schedule begins in '08.)

IU nation held its collevtive breath last evening when Eric Gordon had to leave the game because of a bruised tailbone. Sampson wisely held him from the remainder of the contest and he should be fit for the UK game. The positive to be taken from Gordon's absence was DJ's dominating presence. H had one of the best game's of his career; albeit against Tennessee State. Hopefully DJ will have a repeat performance on Saturday, and EJ will look like he has for most of this young season.

Since the IU - UK game will be played at home, I predict that IU will win 75 - 65.