CD Review: Savior – Celebrating The Mystery of God Become Man

As a worship leader, I am always on the lookout for new worship music. The Christmas season is particularly challenging as the congregation can get a little tired of singing the same Christmas carols week after week. That’s why I was really excited to receive Savior – Celebrating the Mystery of God Become Man from Sovreign Grace Music.

It would not necessarily be fair or accurate to call this a Christmas album. Most Christmas albums I hear focus more on the Christmas season than the birth of Christ. But these twelve songs are purposely focusing on the incarnation of Christ rather than the holiday season. As a result, Sovreign Grace has provided us with a worshipful album that celebrates the immeasurable gift God gave us when He sent His Son to Earth for us, to live and die for us.

The CD starts strong with Christ the Lord Is Born Today which is a song of celebration focusing on the birth. This thought is echoed through Hope Has Come which reminds us of the freedom we have in Christ through his life, death, and resurrection. There are also songs of reflection such as How Sweet The Day, which reminds us the redemptive purpose behind Christ’s birth. Another standout track is Glory Be To God (the lyrics were written by well-known hymnist Charles Wesley) that offers another upbeat song of praise of the promised savior.

It’s rare that I could say this about any CD I listen to but there isn’t a bad song in the bunch. They are all good and are songs that I could envision singing in a worship service any time of year, not just at Christmas.

These are very straightforward arrangements and easy to play. Sovreign Grace has also made it easier for churches to start using the songs by offering free lead sheets and guitar sheets on their website.

If you’re looking for a frsh set of worship songs for either personal or corporate worship, I highly recommend Savior – Celebrating The Mystery Of God Become Man.

Huckabee Gets It Right With Christmas Ad

With the compressed primary season this year and the Iowa Caucuses on the heels of the holidays on January 3rd, there has definitely been a challenge to presidential candidates how to make their appeals to voters and still maintain the holiday spirit. Mike Huckabee gets it right by focusing on the true meaning of Christmas in his ad:

Homeschoolers Help Huckabee In Iowa

Homeschoolers in Iowa are one of the reasons Mike Huckabee is doing so well according to a front page story in today’s Washington Post:

ELDORA, Iowa — Julie Roe, an early believer in Mike Huckabee, worked with what she had.

With no buttons, no yard signs and no glossy literature from his nearly invisible Iowa campaign, she took a pair of scissors and cut out a photograph of the former Arkansas governor. She pasted it on a piece of paper, scribbled down some of his positions, made copies and launched the Huckabee for President campaign in rural Hardin County.

Roe contacted friends in her home-schooling network and bought a newspaper advertisement for $38. She spread the word in the grocery store and the church foyer: “I would tell them about Mike Huckabee and they would say, ‘Who’s Mike Huckleberry?’ I’d say, ‘No, no, no, it’s Huckabee.’ ”

Huckabee’s name is no longer a mystery to Iowa’s Republican voters, in large part because of an extensive network of home-schoolers like Roe who have helped lift his underfunded campaign from obscurity to the front of a crowded field. Opinion polls show that his haphazard approach is trumping the studied strategy of Mitt Romney, who invested millions only to be shunned by many religious conservatives such as Roe, who see the former Baptist preacher from Hope, Ark., as their champion.

While early attention focused on Romney and other better-known and better-funded opponents, home-schoolers rallied to Huckabee’s cause, attracted by his faith, his politics and his decision to appoint a home-school proponent to the Arkansas board of education. They tapped a web of community and church groups that share common conservative interests, blasting them with e-mails and passing along the word about Huckabee in social settings.

It was the endorsement by prominent national home-school advocate Michael Farris that helped propel Huckabee to a surprising second-place finish in the Iowa straw poll in August. And it was the twin sons of a home-school advocate in Oregon who helped put Huckabee in touch with television tough guy Chuck Norris, who appeared alongside him in an attention-getting TV spot and on the campaign trail.

Home-schoolers could also prove to be a powerful force on caucus night. By one estimate, about 9,000 Iowa children are home-schooled. Their parents could form a sizable portion of the 80,000 or so Republicans expected to show up on Jan. 3.

Huckabee’s apparent success has been a surprise to many and there’s no doubt from this article that homeschoolers are an integral part of his success not so much because of their educational choices but because they rely so much on word-of mouth to share information. Whether this campaign tactic leads to success on January 3rd remains to be seen. But if it does, it could fundamentally change poitical campaigns to focus more on word-of mouth communication than more traditional forms of political advertising.

You Cry Out

Steroids in baseball, Rick Warren’s side of the story, Putin as Prime Minister, Christmas traditions, and/or whatever else you want to talk about. Christmas break’s a-comin’, and it may get quite around the blog, so here you can start your own conversation.

Review: Dance Praise 2: the ReMiX

I was given a review copy of “Dance Praise 2”, produced by Digital Praise, which is a “Dance Dance Revolution” (DDR) type game for the PC or Mac that uses recent music from Christian artists. While I’ve played a bit of DDR with my kids, the kids are definitely the experts in this field, so a bit of this review comes from them. Additionally, computers are my biz, so I’ll hit some of the technical details of the software.

Short take: This is a great game to get your video gamers off the couch and having fun while getting in some good exercise (especially at Expert level). It’s a bit easier overall that the DDR games I’ve played and seen, but there are definitely challenges for even your most experienced stepper. The music is all recent Christian music, so you don’t have to worry about the song selection (and it’s high quality music, to boot). If you’re already a DDR player, there are a few differences that will take a little getting used to, but they’re not show stoppers. You can get the whole family involved — individually or head-to-head — and there are some great variations on the usual game play. Recommended.

Now, for the details.


I installed this on a laptop running Windows XP, so I can’t speak to the Mac installation. The installation itself is rather simple; agree to the typical license, pick a directory to install into, and off it goes.

A few words on my choice of hardware; a laptop. DP2 is a computer game (supports Windows Vista/XP/2000 or Mac OS X v10.2 and later), and does not run on any game console. However, while computer screens are getting bigger, most folks don’t have one the size of their TV (because they are getting bigger, too). A smaller screen is harder to see, and especially if you hook up the maximum 4 dance pads it would be tough for all to get a good view of it. In my experience and based on what I’ve seen, the family computer is typically in the bedroom, office, or other place not really conducive to this kind of game. You need lots of floor space and a big screen.

The laptop deals with these issue. It’s portable, which doesn’t restrict you to where you can play this, and, like many laptops these days, has an S-Video Out jack that, directly or via an adapter cable, plugs into the TV. Problems solved. Your situation may well differ and you may have a computer and location that works just fine, but if you don’t there are ways to solve them.

Game Play

If you’ve not been in an arcade in a decade, “Dance Dance Revolution” is the most popular game in this genre. Basically, as the music is playing, arrows (up, down, left and right) move down the screen and when they reach a certain position, you step on that part of your dance pad, which has corresponding arrows. When you have two arrows at the same time, you jump and hit them both. If there’s a bar attached to the arrow, you hold your foot down on that arrow until the end of the bar, then take it off. The arrows are typically choreographed to the words and/or music you’re listening to (thought DP2 allows a Computer-generated choreography option), so you step out a preset dance to the music. OK, the term “dance” isn’t entirely accurate, since if you did these moves at an actual dance party, you’d get some seriously funny looks. Nonetheless, there’s timing and a sense of musicality involved, and it exercises that all-important foot-eye coordination. >grin< (Hey, you need that for driving, right?)


Of course, this is the area where DP2 stakes out its territory; the use of popular Christian music. If you want a preview of the music, the web page plays substantial clips of all the songs included with the game. The music runs the gamut from the slower (“Voice of Truth” by Atlanta’s own Casting Crowns), to the harder (“Love” by Day of Fire), to the very danceable (Stacie Orrico’s “Don’t Look At Me”), to a good assembly of pop and rock (tobyMac, Superchick, ZOEgirl, DC Talk, Eleventyseven, Caedmon’s Call, and on and on). The standard package comes with 52 songs. Glad to see my man Michael W. Smith made the cut.

Since one is dancing to a beat, the more prominent the beat, the better. Christian music, at least that played on most Christian music stations, is pretty sparse on actual dance music. Hence, most of the music is pop, rock, hip-hop, and the like, and while most do have an obvious beat to them, there are stretches where it’s not so obvious what the steps are synched to. For example, the aforementioned “Voice of Truth”, while a great song on its own, isn’t what one might consider (OK, it isn’t what anyone would consider) a dance tune. It’s basically a rock ballad, and often the dance steps are synched with the movement of the words than any easily discernable beat.

If you want a bigger selection, you can go to the web site to purchase expansion packs of songs and dances. Packs are by music genre, so you can pick pop & rock, alternative, hip-hop, worship songs and others. There is also an option to download some free songs and an update.

And what is Christian music without the message? There is an option (turned on by default) that displays the lines being sung. No worries here about what your kids are listening to. There’s also an option (again, on by default) that displays the CD cover that the current song is on. It’s a smart bit of product placement, but also allows you to support the artists if you like the one or two songs of their’s that you’re hearing.

Game Types

There is the usual dance mode, where the arrows fall and you hit ’em all as they arrive at the bottom. When you’re selecting a song, you can instead tell it to choose a random song, play the songs in sequence, or a nifty idea called “Tune Into You”. That last mode starts with an easy song and slowly works up the difficulty. It then sets the difficulty level in your profile (discussed later) to what it believes will be a challenge for you. Starting with that is a good idea.

There is also an arcade mode, where some arrows are worth 2 or 3 times their normal value, and some actually deduct points, so you don’t want to hit them. Some arrows have bombs that clear the screen of any visible arrows, and some that throw a smoke cloud that obscures the bottom of the screen. Once you’re used to a song’s dance steps, this certainly throws a few curves at you. Additionally, though I was unable to try this, if you play arcade mode head-to-head, some arrows apply to your opponent, so you can toss a smoke bomb his way or perhaps give her big points.

There’s also a version of the venerable Tetris game called Dancetris, where you use the dance pad to move the falling blocks so that they fit together. Interestingly, this is where a forgiving dance pad can turn against you. When playing the dance game, if your pad registers a step when you’re close but not perfectly centered on the arrow, that’s good for you, since you’re keeping your eye on the screen, not the pad. However, in Dancetris, you may find yourself moving the blocks when you don’t intend to, or further than you intend to, and your “forgiving” pad becomes your enemy. This can be more challenging or frustrating, depending on how you look at it.

While you can get some good exercise in dance mode, DP2 also has 2 exercise modes. Time Exercise gets you moving for a certain amount of time, and Calorie Exercise lets you set a target number of (estimated) calories burned.

There is a Shadow Dance mode (no relation to Andy Gibb) where one player sets up dance steps for the other, but that is for head-to-head play, and I have but one dance pad.

Options and Profiles

The game has a place to save Profiles, so you can have things like difficulty level, scores, and even background graphics saved for you. When you come back to the game and select your Profile, you’re set to go; you don’t have to set your options from scratch. Scores are automatically saved with your profile, and you can keep track of personal best scores for all songs and all difficulty levels, and can compare to other players on your computer. So, for example, I can see that my oldest has a high score that is 4 times my personal best on the Expert level when dancing to “All About You” by Nate Sallie. (Hmm, something to shoot for.)

DDR Differences

As I said, my kids and I are DDR players, which is the definitive game in this genre. If you are one as well there is a small bit of an “unlearning” curve.

The DDR series of games has, generally, the same interface for choosing game types, songs, and such. Being used to that meant that we had to throw out our assumptions about how to do what we wanted to do. The DP2 interface is not difficult to understand, it’s just that it took a little getting used to for our DDR brains.

When the dance is going on, the arrows come down from the top of the screen, which is different than DDR’s default where the arrows come up from the bottom. DDR allow you to change the arrow direction, so this isn’t a difficulty issue or anything way out; it’s just the way that DP2 decided to do things. If we’d never seen DDR, I imagine it would feel natural, and indeed my kids mostly adjusted to it fine.

In both games, there are two types of steps; a normal step where you hit the arrow, and a hold where you hold your foot on the arrow until the end of the hold bar. In DDR, you just have to hit the arrow at the right time and hold for at least as long as the bar. In DP2, you must do that plus get off the arrow at the end of the bar to get credit for the step. That’s a little more difficult, actually, and it tripped up my DDR pros often. (The documentation mentions holds but doesn’t mention this release requirement.)

In DDR, when a step is on an off-beat (e.g. eighth notes), the off-beat arrows will be in a different color as a visual cue. DP2 doesn’t do this. If you follow the music, it’s often obvious when you’re doing off-beats, but when there’s a big gap and the next arrow is going to be on an off-beat, or if you’re doing Computer-generated choreography, it would be nice to have this cue.

On the easy level, when you stand there for 5 seconds or more waiting for the arrow to make it to the bottom of the screen, hitting that arrow long before it gets near the bottom counted as an early step for 0 points. On DDR, being too early never registers as a miss. The earliest that a step is recorded is the earliest that it can score points (And of course, you can be too late.) Hard to explain, but DDR players will know what I mean. What this means is that in DDR you’re not required to move back to the middle of the pad after every step, and this allows for better and faster stepping. The fact that this is most noticeable on the super easy difficulty could tend to make young or new gamers a little frustrated.

The harder levels are not quite as hard as DDR can get on “Heavy” mode. My kids were able to play through songs on Expert level from the get-go. Having said that, let me explain a few things. My kids have been DDR-ing for a year now, so they’ve got the skills and can sight-read a dance first time and do quite well. They’re light-years ahead of me (I don’t often venture away from “Light” mode on DDR, but have been known to handle “Standard” a few times), so they can hack it. On the other hand, the steps on DP2’s “Expert” level are indeed a slight bit easier than DDR’s “Heavy” mode. I can barely keep up with watching the DDR arrows fly by in that mode, so while DP2 is easier, it’s in the sense that Algebra is easier than Calculus. Both will challenge you if you’re new to math.

What’s also forgiving is DP2’s Power Bar, analogous to the one in DDR, which grows when you get steps right and shrinks on misses. When the Power Bar is empty, the dance is (optionally) over. Thing is, it takes a boatload of missed steps to empty the thing. When I tried a level 5 Expert dance, I managed (to my amazement) to finish it. Looking at the stats, though, I had more misses than Perfect and Great steps combined. DDR would never have let me get away with that. So again, DP2 is on the whole easier, but if your goal is to play the game and not always have to “beat” it, this is probably a good thing. My kids thought that made it too easy. I loved it.

Misc. Notes

I have a Red Octane Ignition dance pad for use with DDR on our PS2 console. It has a USB connector included so I tried using this with DP2. The pad was recognized by the PC and, initially, it seemed to be recognized by DP2. Hitting the X spot worked to dismiss the opening title screens, and when DP2 got to the screen where you tell it which pad is pad 1, pad 2, etc. it did notice that I had 2 pads attached (the one included with the game, and my Red Octane). However, when hitting the up arrow to register the Red Octane pad, the program didn’t respond, while it did for the official DP2 pad. A perusal of their web site’s list of Frequently Asked Questions pointed me to a utility to install that would support 3rd party USB pads. However, after installing it the program responded the same way to the Red Octane pad. Technical support was polite but said that they don’t provide assistance with 3rd party pads, which is understandable.


This is a great game for turning couch potatoes into exercise fans. This genre of game is one of the main reasons that, when we had to buy a new refrigerator, it had to have an in-the-door water dispenser. This Dad got tired of refilling the water tub after an afternoon of DDR, but I was happy that the kids were working up a healthy sweat (and drinking lots of water instead of soda). We had seriously considered getting the original Dance Praise, but, as I mentioned, the main reason we didn’t was because our computer situation wasn’t conducive to it. We bought DDR, and (now I know) I got very lucky with the play list. With Dance Praise 2, that concern about music is off the table, making it a game you can enjoy with the whole family, especially with the head-to-head and gaming modes.. It will both ease you into this genre of game, but also challenge you and keep you on your toes, so to speak, if you already have some experience with it. With all the variations and options, and the ability to add new songs with expansion packs, it won’t get dull. Recommended.

[tags]Digital Praise,Dance Praise 2,Contemporary Christian Music,DDR,Dance Dance Revolution,games[/tags]

WND Interviews Rick Warren, Part 2

WorldNetDaily has part 2 of a 3-part series up on their site today interviewing Rick Warren. This article touches on fame, megachurches, and Warren’s trip to Syria, among other things.

On fame and fortune:

After the windfall from sales of his books – “The Purpose-Driven Life” is regarded as the best-selling hardback of all time – Warren dropped his salary and paid the church back for 25 years of wages. He and his wife, Kay, give a “reverse tithe” of 90 percent of their income and live on 10 percent.

But with 22,000 filling the 120-acre Saddleback campus on weekends, ministries in 167 countries and a global “P.E.A.C.E. plan that aims to conquer the world’s five biggest problems, he’s aware of being perceived as an “empire builder.”

“If I wanted a big name I would have gone on TV,” he said, arguing Saddleback “may be the only church of the 10 largest in the country that doesn’t televise its services.”

When Saddleback was founded in 1980 with just seven people, he “didn’t want to turn the church into a studio.”

“I don’t want to be a celebrity,” Warren said. “And on top of that, if I put my sermons on television, I compete with other churches, I don’t help them.”

On Saddleback being a megachurch:

Many learn about Saddleback from secular journalists, he said, who assume the big crowd on weekends is “what we’re all about.”

But the thousands who come Saturday and Sunday are just a “funnel,” he said, to small-group ministry. Warren said his aim was to create something inexpensive and reproducible – evangelism-oriented meetings that would draw the unchurched. The current goal, he said, “is to reach 10,000 more people for Christ in the next 40 months here by the end of 2010.”

“A crowd is not a church,” he said. “A crowd can be turned into a church, and you have to have a big crowd to get a big church. But a crowd is not a church. So we don’t kid ourselves.”

On meeting with rogue state leaders:

The fundamental reason he is willing to meet with the leaders of rogue states such as North Korea or Iran, he said, is “because Jesus said, ‘Go into all the world.’ Not into all the politically correct world. But he even said, ‘Love your enemies.'”

He cited the Apostle Paul, who said, “I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.”

“I know people, bloggers, who think that’s heresy,” he said referring to online critics. “I know people who if I wrote that – and they didn’t know it was in the Bible – they would say the guy is a chameleon.”

Paul, he argued, was not a chameleon, he was being strategic.

“Jesus said be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. And what the church is, usually, is harmless as a dove,” he said. “A lot of things that are being done today in the name of Christ are very unwise. Rather than opening doors for the Gospel, they are closing doors for the Gospel. They are giving us a black eye.”

On bad press he got in WorldNetDaily itself:

Warren insisted the only mistake he made in Syria during his November 2006 visit was that he should not have allowed a photo op at the end of his meeting with Assad.

The state news agency issued a report that Warren contended was not accurate. It read: “Pastor Warren hailed the religious coexistence, tolerance and stability that the Syrian society is enjoying due to the wise leadership of President al-Assad, asserting that he will convey the true image about Syria to the American people.”

Warren also was quoted saying, “Syria wants peace, and Muslims and Christians live in this country jointly and peacefully since more than a thousand years, and this is not new for Syria.”

But Warren’s critics say, regardless of whether the state Syrian report was true, he was captured on a 50-second home video walking down a Damascus road mentioned in the book of Acts, Straight Street, saying Syria is “a moderate country, and the official government rule and position is to not allow any extremism of any kind.”

In the video, which was briefly posted on YouTube, Warren said, “Syria’s a place that has Muslims and Christians living together for 1,400 years. So it’s a lot more peaceful, honestly, than a lot of other places, because Christians were here first.”

Warren argued that when he suggested there was freedom of religion in Syria, he didn’t mean everyone had the freedom to convert to Christianity.

Christians are “actually meeting above ground, they are not in secret, I’ve been in their churches,” he said.

“The problem is we’ve got to get them moved to the next step, which is the freedom of conversion,” he contended.

“It’s quite different than in many places I’ve been … I won’t mention the countries, but I’ve been in those countries where you can’t even meet above ground,” Warren said. “Every time I go to those countries, I have to go in secret.”
Warren said there were no photographers there during the meeting with Assad, but film crews were brought in at the end for a photo op.

“And then the government agency, of course, put out their pro-Syrian statement, ‘Rick Warren thinks we’re sliced bread,’ you know, that kind of stuff,” he recounted.

Warren said WND editor and CEO Joseph Farah then wrote an initial column based on information from the Syrian state news story.

“I happened to be in Rwanda from there,” Warren said. “I wrote Joseph and said, ‘Joseph that’s just not true. I didn’t say those things. You’re reading a statement.’ And he wrote back in a very accusatory letter that said, ‘Well, I can’t wait to see the video.’ In other words, he didn’t believe me.

“I didn’t lie at all. He didn’t stop to check it out,” Warren insisted. “And so he then writes six columns on the basis of his assumption. There was no video of that meeting. At the end, they took a picture, so he chose to believe what the government said, instead of believing me.”

Farah said he stands “by every word I wrote in those columns.”

“After all this time and all these different explanations, I am 100 percent convinced everything I wrote was accurate,” Farah said.

Again, this is just a small portion of the article. There are more details regarding church discipline, his ministry at Saddleback, and the Syrian trip. I encourage you to read the whole thing and decide what you think about Rick Warren for yourself.

[tags]Rick Warren,WorldNetDaily,The Purpose-Driven Life,Christianity,Syria,Bashar Assad,Joseph Farah,megachurches[/tags]

WND Interviews Rick Warren

WorldNetDaily has part 1 of a 3-part series up on their site today interviewing Rick Warren. It looks to be an opportunity for Warren to answer his critics, and he’s certainly using it that way, although it muddies some waters, while clearing others up,. It’s a very good interview, regardless of your views on him. Below are some excerpts but please read the whole thing.

Regarding mistakes:

“Without a doubt,” he told WND. “I make mistakes all the time.”

But he added, “I always own up to mistakes that I actually do. I just won’t own up to mistakes that weren’t really a mistake.”

On apologizing:

Last month, Warren drew some fire for signing a dialogue-seeking letter in which Christian theologians and ministers responded to an initiative by 138 Muslim leaders by apologizing for the medieval Crusades and “excesses in the war on terror.”

Asked specifically which excesses he had in mind, Warren replied:

“Ahhh, you know what … I have no idea,” he said. “Because I didn’t sign it sentence-by-sentence.”

Similar to his endorsement of an initiative acknowledging man-made global warming, Warren said, “There might have been statements there I didn’t agree with, but generally I’m saying, I think it’s a good idea to get people talking.”

“It comes back to,” he said, referring to the letter to Muslims, “I am a pastor, not a politician. And what I’ve learned is that, in marriage if I’m trying to keep a divorce from happening … I’ve found as long as I can get the husband and wife talking, they’re not going to divorce. The moment the talking stops the divorce is inevitable.”

(My suggestion is not to dilute the value of your signature by not reading or agreeing with everything you sign. Keeping the conversation going is admirable. Compromising on what you believe is not. Warren makes a good point, and defends it well, that he’s a preacher, not a politician. On the other hand, you can only cry “Wolf!” so many times before your support is both meaningless and misinterpreted.)

More on apologies:

Warren said apologies actually are an important part of his evangelism strategy, noting how the approach can disarm antagonism.

He pointed to one of the speakers at Saddleback’s AIDS conference, David Miller, a founder of ACT UP, who he “led to Christ, simply because I started with an apology.”

Two years ago, at the first “Global Summit on AIDS and the Church,” Warren recalls Miller came up to him “spittin’ nails.”

“He was so angry, he was ready to knock my head off,” said Warren, who remembered Miller telling him he had always hated the Christian church.

“Now, I could have been defensive back, but I said, ‘David, I’m sorry, I want to apologize to you for any meanness that’s been said to you in the name of Christ,'” Warren said.

“And it was like I punched him in the gut,” Warren continued. “You could have knocked the wind out of his sails. Like I just popped the balloon. And then, here, two years later, after this relationship, I’m going to baptize him.”

On climate change:

On global warming, Warren said he didn’t endorse the “Evangelical Climate Initiative,” as others did, to assert humans are causing it.

“I don’t even care about that debate so much as I care that Christians should be at the forefront of taking care of the planet,” he said.

“And actually, you tell me which side you want to be on, and I’ll tell you which reports to read. OK. I can show you noted scientists who tell you we are near disaster, and I can show you noted scientists you say there is no problem at all.”

Warren said he does not support the Kyoto Protocol, an agreement rejected by the U.S. requiring radical emission reductions opponents say would destroy economies and harm the poor – “not at all do I agree with it.”

“I didn’t sign on to say, I believe all things that the radical environmentalists believe. Not at all,” he said. “I just thought Christians ought to be saying, We care about the planet too.”

(I agree with his stance, though that being the case he shouldn’t have signed the ECI. (Full disclosure: My brother-in-law and fellow SCO blogger Jim does PR for the ECI. And I’m still invited to his house for Christmas. Right? >grin<))

On rumors:

Warren said some criticism is simply baseless, charging many “don’t do their due diligence on research.”

The Robert Schuller “mentorship,” for example, likely originated with a statement the Crystal Cathedral pastor made on CNN’s “Larry King Live.” But Warren said he’s met Schuller only a couple of times and never had a one-on-one conversation with him.

The claim was furthered by author George Mair in a biography of Warren called “A Life with Purpose” then spread like wildfire among Internet blogs.

“In the first place, this guy is not even a Christian, never talked to me, never talked to any staff member, never talked to any member of my family, and in the book claimed that he did,” Warren said. “He flat-out lied.”

More tomorrow.

[tags]Rick Warren,WorldNetDaily,The Purpose-Driven Life,global warming,Christianity,Muslims,AIDS,David Miller,ACT UP,Evangelical Climate Initiative,Kyoto Protocol,Robert Schuller,Larry King,CNN,George Mair,A Life with Purpose[/tags]

Colorado Shootings

Details on yesterday’s Colorado church and youth mission shootings can be found here. Analysis at The Moderate Voice,


Emotionally Tied to Embryonic Stem Cells

Now that normal skin cells can be made to mimic embryonic stem cells, you’d think that the big push to keep destroying embryos and the ethical considerations that accompany it would pretty much die out. You’d be wrong. Michael J. Fox, one of the more vocal and visible players advocating embryonic stem cell research, will have none of that.

MENOUNOS: Tell me what that does to Parkinson’s and how exciting that was for you?

FOX: Well any of these breakthroughs are fantastic. And it’s just thrilling. And at the same time too we don’t want to discontinue the embryonic stem cell research that’s being done because one begat the other and, and it all becomes part of a broad canvas that we want to continue to work on.

In the name of some ephemeral “broad canvas”, Fox simply won’t let go of his emotional tie (how else to explain it) to actual embryos. Science could very well get rid of the need to deal with the ethical and moral entanglement, but Fox won’t cut the umbilical cord.

MENOUNOS: Do you think that this will end the whole hot button issue of stem cell research?

FOX: Well I want to make sure that we, that, that doesn’t happen. But I think that the bottom line is whatever happens in the next election, the chances are very good that there’s gonna be a new attitude towards science.

Sounds to me like it’s Fox who needs to new attitude. Science is progressing, George W. Bush’s stand against destroying embryos has been vindicated, but Fox is stuck in his ways and his politics.

FOX: Well just about everybody’s in favor of it with the couple of exceptions on the, on the Republican side. But, but what I did in the last election in the midterm was not about parties but, but about who was in a race where they supported stem cell research and, and were, were opposed by someone who’s not in favor of stem cell research.

MENOUNOS: Who are you backing this election?

FOX: Whoever the most pro-science candidate is that comes out of either primary.

Turns out that Dubya’s faith in science — that it would find a way around destroying embryos — is the most pro-science of them all. Too bad he’s not running for re-election, eh Michael?

[tags]embryonic stem cells,science,Michael J. Fox,abortion[/tags]

New Poll: Romney

OK, we did this for Guiliani when he was in the news regarding the Religious Right vote, so now that Romney’s given his “Faith” speech, let’s now see how folks feel about him. The Guiliani poll showed that our readers were willing to vote for him by a wide margin over staying home, so let’s see how Romney fares. If you have a comment about why you’d vote (or not vote) the way you would, put a comment here.

Romney’s “Faith” Speech

I’m not sure if this was the right thing to do, but Mitt Romney feels it necessary to give a speech that, while billed as one dealing with his Mormon faith, doesn’t really appear to deal with that specifically. From the news reports on those parts of the speech released so far, Romney sounds defensive.

Republican Mitt Romney declares in a speech being delivered Thursday that he shares “moral convictions” with Americans of all faiths, but should not have to explain his own religion just because he’s striving to become the first Mormon elected president.

“To do so would enable the very religious test the founders prohibited in the Constitution. No candidate should become the spokesman for his faith. For if he becomes president, he will need the prayers of the people of all faiths,” Romney said in remarks prepared for delivery at the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum.

Well, actually, explaining your religious views does not, in any way, violate the Constitution. Article 6 states:

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

What I emphasized there is that one’s religion cannot be used to disqualify someone from running for or serving as President or any other office. We’re past that already; Romney has not been disqualified on account of his religion, and should he win the election he can serve.

Once someone is a candidate, however, questions about their values and views that are affected by their religious beliefs are completely fair game. How his religion, or lack thereof, informs his opinion on abortion, gay rights, tax policy and the like are certainly allowable questions. If there are any limits, they are limits of reasonableness; what is reasonable to understand about their religion that would be required to understand how they would govern. Mike Huckabee put it this way:

“I think it’s a matter of what his views are – whether they are consistent, whether they are authentic, just like mine are,” Huckabee told NBC’s “Today.””If I had actions that were completely opposite of my Christian faith, then I would think people would have reason to doubt if this part of my life, which is supposed to be so important, doesn’t influence me. Then they would have to question whether or not there are other areas of my life that lack that authenticity as well”.

Frankly, people are just as free to vote against someone because of their religion as they are to vote for them because they make a good impression on The Tonight Show, and neither is unconstitutional.

So the constitutional issue is completely off the table, but that seems to be one of the main points of Romney’s speech, and that sounds very defensive, which is not how you need to appear with less than a month before the Iowa caucuses. He does make some very good points regarding church-state separation that I wholeheartedly agree with. But his appeal to the Constitution to refrain from getting to detailed about his beliefs doesn’t come across well, and the speech may do more harm than good for his campaign.

[tags]Mitt Romney,Mormonism,Latter Day Saints,US Constitution,Article 6,Mike Huckabee,separation of church and state,religion,religious test[/tags]

Prince Caspian

The trailer is now available.

The movie opens May 16, 2008.

Hat tip: Tim Ellsworth

Do You Know Roe?

The 35th anniversary of Roe v Wade is coming on January 22, 2008. How much do you really know about the decision? This web site will as you 12 questions about it and see how well you can do. I only got 7 out of 12 right (43rd percentile, apparently). Take it and post your scores here.

And this is a “closed book” test. No Googling while taking it.

[tags]Roe vs Wade,abortion[/tags]

Identity Politics

Identity politics may not make a whole lot of sense, but it sure makes choosing a Presidential candidate easier.

The dozen or so Spelman College women had come together in a basement classroom, after hours, to hash over a choice unimaginable just a few generations back.

Fliers posted across campus summed up the thrust of their conversation: “Should you vote for Barack Obama because of your race, or should you vote for Hillary Clinton because you are a woman?

With Democratic primaries quickly approaching, black women throughout Atlanta and across the nation are asking each other that question. They are debating it as they post blogs, meet for political round tables, host fund-raisers and whip out their checkbooks.

It’s an ongoing discussion that, for many black women, stirs visceral emotions as they weigh their racial and gender identity.

At Spelman that evening, Shayna Atkins, 19, cut to the chase, pointedly asking her peers: “Would you feel like a sellout if you didn’t vote for Barack?”

“Maybe if it were 1963,” shot back Marquise Alston, another 19-year-old who is a Clinton supporter.

(Spelman College is an historically black liberal arts college for women.)

So, according to this mindset, black women have never had any candidate that would speak for them. Ever. Amazing, then, that a bunch of white guys overturned segregation in public schools and gave us Brown v Board of Education.

Identity politics is only skin deep. How about choosing a candidate based on, oh let’s say, their ideas. Not the color of their skin but the content of their character? Well, we can at least dream.

[tags]Hillary Clinton,Barack Obama,Democrats,identity politics[/tags]

Nehemiah’s Wall Found?

Could be, though that is still disputed. New evidence suggests that it is. Details here.

[tags]Nehemiah,Bible,Jerusalem,Eilat Mazar[/tags]

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