lukegilman.com : High on the Hog Blog
Purveyor of Idle Observation

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Please note: I'm no longer updating this particular blog, but keep it around for archival purposes. Visit me at the current blog at www.lukegilman.com

But It’s Good for You

In today’s WSJ Sam Schulman takes the new crop of public atheists to task for failing to acknowledge the long, rich history of debate on theism, dismissing belief in God as addled superstition or pure ignorance. Schulman contrasts this with the nuanced understanding of religion displayed by old school atheists like Matthew Arnold, George Eliot, Carlyle, Hardy and Darwin. Those names I’m familiar with. Of the new atheists Schulman names – Richard Dawkins, Daniel C. Dennett, Sam Harris, and Steven Weinberg – only Dawkins is familiar to me from the Selfish Gene and his interviews on Charlie Rose (See interview 1, interview 2). I have no idea who the others are. This led me to wonder if there isn’t still something to be gained by reading a few books I’m very unlikely to agree with.

WSJ: Without God, Gall is Permitted ($)

There are books one hates because they’re poorly written (Dan Brown’s book falls in this category for me) and there are those we consciously or subconsciously avoid because whatever anyone says about them, they’re ‘just not for me’ meaning they are ‘not likely to reflect and enhance my own personal values or worldview.’ If I look at the books I’ve read in the last year most come from a related group of authors or adhere to a fairly consistent demographic of thought. Of course we realize on some level that reading a book does not mean agreeing with it, but our actions so often belie this. I’m convinced I would probably learn more actively disagreeing with what I’m reading than seeing my own views marginally enhanced or parroted back to me. I’ve decided to start with Sam Harris’ Letters to a Christian Nation. Any other books out there I’m not likely to pick up on my own but should? Send me an e-mail or leave a note in the comments.

Antinomianism Alive and Well in Missouri City

The Houston Press profiles Jos̩ Luis De Jes̼s Miranda, a man who claims to be Christ and were it not for this little jewel, would not be worth mentioning Рand I quote:

“Believing in Jesus of Nazareth does not make you a Christian,” he says. “Jesus of Nazareth was a Jew. He wasn’t a Christian; he was a Jewish man…People who put their eyes on Jesus of Nazareth become Jews, and they don’t know.”

That’s right. If I follow his logic, it is this – Jesus was Jewish, therefore if you believe in him, you become a Jew. Dare I ask which came first – Christ or the Christian?

HP also notes – “Last year Creciendo en Gracia’s central office pulled in over $1.4 million and added over 100 churches.” Sigh.

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Volcano’s Cross Decorating Fundraiser for La Rosa

dia-de-los-muertos.jpg

I happened to notice that local watering hole Volcano is sponsoring a cross decorating silent-auction fundraiser for La Rosa/The Rose, a non-profit that helps abused Hispanic women and their children. You can pick up a cross at Volano, bring it back and it will be auctioned off for the silent auction on El Dia Del Muerto, Nov. 1st, 2006.

If you’re interested in decorating a cross to be auctioned, drop by Volcano at 2349 Bissonnet and pick one up or call 713-526-5282. The festivities are slated for Wednesday, Nov. 1st with a preview party from 5-7, with silent auction following from 7-9. Admission is $5 for adults, free for kids.

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Amen

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The Peifer Chronicles

I’ve posted on Steve before, but I got an e-mail yesterday I couldn’t help but share.

Like returning to America, there is that definitive moment when you know you are back in Kenya. That was a lot of competition this time. A guy stopped me in Nairobi and asked me:

Guy: Do you want to buy this box of chicken heads?
Me: What do you do with a box of chicken heads?
Guy: I do not know but they are very good.

Steve’s book Your Pal Steve, is available on Amazon. He also blogs regularly.

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Immigrants Hear God’s Word, in Chinese, via Conference Call

Really interesting article from the NY Times, a lot of issues if you read between the lines

Just before midnight, the calls start coming in to the church on Allen Street in Chinatown. They come from Chinese restaurant workers across the United States.

Chen Yingjie, 25, is one of those on the other end, dialing the Manhattan church, the Church of Grace to Fujianese, on a recent night from his room above the China Garden in Dowagiac, Mich., a town of 6,000. “Every time I call in, I know that the Lord is alive and that there are brothers and sisters by my side,” Mr. Chen said. “I don’t feel as empty.”

The callers — more than a hundred crowd the line on many nights — are for the most part like Mr. Chen, illegal immigrants from the Fuzhou region of Fujian province, coming off bone-wearying 12-hour shifts as stir-fry cooks, dishwashers, deliverymen and waiters at Chinese restaurants, buffets and takeout places.

Read the article:
Michael Luo, Immigrants Hear God’s Word, in Chinese, via Conference Call

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Issues of self-determination in societal sub-cultures

This item in today’s Houston Chronicle – Texas Supreme Court to hear case of suit against pastor – caught my attention today because it dovetails with something I’ve been thinking about lately. A DFW woman is suing her pastor for defamation, which is not all that suprising given the details –

In 2000, Penley told Westbrook that she was divorcing her husband, and Westbrook recommended an attorney. She also resigned her church membership because its bylaws set forth procedures allowing the congregation to discipline her and others for inappropriate behavior.

However, Westbrook met with church elders and later distributed a letter about Penley’s decision to get a divorce. The letter said she was involved with another man, although it didn’t specify the nature of their relationship.

The letter urged church members to shun Penley as part of a “tough love” approach for her to see her errors.

Penley and her husband divorced in 2001, and she married the other man. She then sued, challenging Westbrook’s actions as a counselor under the Texas Licensed Professional Counselor Act.

Nothing like a good old fashioned shunning. More interesting than the details of the case are the legal implications of the interaction of two sets of ‘law’ – the authority the state takes in holds in regulating the actions of professional counselors, and the authority of the church in disciplining its members.

There are a lot of legal issues (most of them, actually) that I’m completely clueless about right now (Hopefully less so in three years) but I’ve been actively cultivating ideas about some areas of possible study.

First, the American legal structure tolerates a number of overlapping jurisdictions – state, federal, municipal courts and some specialized courts, which manage a rat’s nest of statutory, case and regulatory law some of which may have competing claims for jurisdiction over a particular case. In addition, there are informal bodies that perform quasi-legal roles, in this case a church which takes it upon itself to discipline its members for their actions. These quasi-legal roles are quite pervasive and accepted for the most part – parents, after all, spend a lot of time and energy evaluating the actions of their children, correcting and meting out punishment as they see fit. Employers set rules, sometimes quite arbitrary, which carry legal weight, within certain limits. Churches too have a long history of performing this role, much of it gradually abrogated over the last hundred years. A group action such as concerted shunning seems a lot more shocking now than it did in the early colonies when church rule was de facto indistinguishable from civil authority.

I think I’ll have more to say on this later, but I’ve just started listening to Jon Meacham’s American Gospel and want to think about it in light of the historical structure he lays out. His interview with Charlie Rose is available from Google video for 99 cents.

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The Grace Bible Church Podcast, Guinea Pigs Needed

I just finished creating a podcast for my church and I need a few guinea pigs if any of y’all would be willing. Basically I just need to know if it works and if people have trouble subscribing or downloading the mp3 files. If you want to play, grab a copy of iTunes and follow the directions below. If you are offended by the idea of being associated with rodents, feel free to refer to yourself as a beta-tester.

1. Download a podcast reader such as Apple’s iTunes (it’s free, no excuses)
2. Install it, then run the program
3. Click the “Podcasts” option in the Source menu (on the left)
4. Copy the link http://feeds.feedburner.com/GraceBibleChurchPodcast
5. From the iTunes menu select “Advanced” and “Subscribe to Podcast”
6. Paste the link from step 4 into the URL field

For steps 4 through 6 you can also try to drag and drop the following icon:

Subscribe to the Grace Bible Church Podcast

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