Stephen Barr on John Edwards

Deep Thoughts from Senator Edwards

By Stephen Barr

Thursday, March 15, 2007, 10:09 AM

Senator John Edwards has offered us a reflection that gives us a glimpse of his hidden theological depths: “I think that Jesus would be disappointed in our ignoring the plight of those around us who are suffering and our focus on our own selfish short-term needs. I think he would be appalled, actually.”

“WOULD be”? Would be as in “he would be, if he knew about it”? There is a very false note here. A Christian who prays naturally thinks of Christ as ever-present and all-knowing, not as a figure from the past who would doubtless have something interesting to say if he were still alive, or who would have definite opinions of certain matters were they called to his attention. On the other hand, at least Senator Edwards didn’t say that Jesus would be turning over in his grave.

Stephen M. Barr is a theoretical particle physicist at the Bartol Research Institute of the University of Delaware and the author of Modern Physics and Ancient Faith and A Student’s Guide to Natural Science.


Good Music XX

[See, if you so desire, previous entries here, here, here, etc.] 

In my best music of 2006 I included one album which I was convinced would be on my list if I had it.  Well, now I have it.  It is mewithoutYou‘s Brother, Sister.  (See also their myspace page for a video.)

Every once in a while a band comes along that defies two aspects of “CCM” (Crappy Christian Music): 1. It’s crappy; 2. It’s derivative and unoriginal.  mewithoutYou are not only not crappy, they are unique.  They are Christians making music that the world should envy, and, for once, not the other way around.  Their lyrics are not only full of strong and vibrant imagery, but they are both Biblically literate and theologically deep.

You caught me making eyes at the other boatmen’s wives/and heard me laughing louder at the jokes told by their daughters/I’d set my course for land/but you well understand/it takes a steady hand to navigate adulterous waters/the propeller’s spinning blades held acquaintance with the waves/as there’s mistakes I’ve made no rowing could outrun (“Messes of Men”)

What new mystery is this?/What blessed backwardness??/The Immeasurable One is held and does not resist!/Struck by wicked words and foolish fists of senseless men/the Almighty One does not defend! …

What new mystery is this?/In overflowing emptiness the Invisible is seen among the shadows and the mist,/before my doubting eyes the Infinite appears in time-/the Unquestionable is questioned but makes no reply!/What new mystery is this?!/”My Rabbi!”/my lips betray with a kiss/What new mystery is this? (“A Glass Can Only Spill What it Contains”)

I’m a donkey’s jaw on a desert dune/beside the bush that Moses saw/that burned and yet was not consumed/she’s the silver coin I lost,/I’m the sheep who slipped away/we pray with fingers crossed/but you listen anyway …

I had a rusty spade but I’m not the fighting sort/if I was Samson I’d have found that harlot’s blade/and cut my own hair short!/then in a market dimly lit I come casually to pay/you see my coins are counterfeit/but accept them anyway (“In a Market Dimly Lit”)

This album is one you should not miss, and if they come to your town, go see them.  I had the chance to see them this last Monday, and it was one of the best shows I’ve been to.  The venue was in East St. Louis, and if you know anything about East St. Louis, I need say no more. 

After two or three songs, the singer, Aaron, says, “I’m having a little trouble getting into it tonight.  This area is so dreary and depressed.  There are only power plants and strip clubs.”  Someone in the crowd says “I like strip clubs!”  Aaron says, “Well, that’s your prerogative.  Me, I think they do more harm than good.”  [Understatement!]  Then, during “Wolf Am I! (And Shadow),” where the refrain is “One day the water’s gonna wash it away,” he gestures around and says, “One day the water’s gonna wash it all away/On day the water’s gonna wash that place away” (gesturing in the direction of a strip club).  Great, great show.  Too bad they weren’t the headliners. 

“Open wide my door, my Lord, my Lord/To whatever makes me love You more.” (“C-Minor”)



For Those in St. Louis

For Immediate Release

March 12, 2007



Seminary Professor Jeffrey Kloha Will Appear on Radio Talk Show


St. Louis – Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, professor Jeffrey Kloha will be the featured guest on St. Louis’ 97.1 FM Talk with Dave Glover on Wednesday, March 14, from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. Kloha will discuss a variety of contemporary biblical issues, including the controversies surrounding the recent television documentary “The Lost Tomb of Jesus.” Anyone with access to the Internet may listen to the interview from the station’s Web site (


Kloha is assistant professor of exegetical theology at Concordia Seminary, specializing in New Testament studies. Several online theological resources featuring Kloha’s responses to “The Lost Tomb of Jesus” are available on Concordia Seminary’s Web sites at and Additionally, an archived audio file of an interview with Kloha on the KFUO radio program “Issues, Etc.” is available at


For more information, contact Seminary Relations, Concordia Seminary, 801 Seminary Place , St. Louis , MO 63105 ; (314) 505-7370; ;


Now That’s Inconvenient

This story has been around for a few days, but I just think it bears repeating–especially after the Al Gore-lovefest, I mean the Grammys, the other night.

Steven Milloy writes,

While Gore relaxes in his posh pool house and heated pool, you should be taking shorter and colder showers, and hanging your laundry outside to dry. As Gore jets around the world in first-class comfort to hob-nob with society’s elites about his self-declared “moral imperative”, you should travel less and bike to work. You should use less electricity while Al and his wife, Tipper, use 20 times the national average. Now that’s a real carbon offset.

“Are you ready to change the way you live?” Gore literally meant you – and only you.

Do you realize that it costs Al Gore more money to heat his pool than it costs me to heat my house? Drafty windows and all? Gore makes a big deal about his carbon offsets, which is a stupid idea in the first place, and yet he doesn’t even pay for his offsets.

First, Al Gore doesn’t purchase carbon offsets out of his own pocket and the actual economic cost, if any, to him is unknown.

The actual offset purchaser is a London-based investment firm, Generation Investment Management (GIM), that Al Gore co-founded with former Goldman Sachs executive David Blood and others in 2004.

GIM supposedly purchases carbon offsets for all 23 of its employees to cover their personal energy use, according to a March 7 report. These offsets, then, would be provided to Gore more as an employee benefit, thus requiring very little sacrifice on his or his family’s part. …

But it’s the carbon offset purchases through which Gore really validates application of the $300-man epithet to him. His company buys the offsets for their employees. There’s no cost to him. He benefits politically – and perhaps financially, as well – from them. He then advocates that the rest of us who cannot so easily offset are carbon production suffer myriad personal sacrifices.

Of course he’s laughing on the Grammys. (And, btw, did you really think that Melissa Etheridge song was the best? How can Dreamgirls have three nominated songs and not win?) He’s laughing because he owns more houses right now than most people have in their lifetime. That’s the joke.


“They Won’t Know What Hit Them”

You may think that last year’s mid-term election was a referendum on the war in Iraq. You may think that Rick Santorum lost because he supported the President. There may be truth to both of those. However, there is something much more distressing underlying conservative defeats in some national and many state political races. You might call it “lavender money.” It comes from extremely wealthy homosexuals such as Tim Gill in Colorado. Joshua Green writes in the March 2007 issue of The Atlantic:

A tough loss can be hard to swallow, and plenty of defeated politicians have been known to grumble about sinister conspiracies. When they are rising stars like Danny Carroll, the Republican speaker pro tempore of Iowa’s House of Representatives, and the loss is unexpected, the urge to blame unseen forces can be even stronger–and in Carroll’s case, it would have the additional distinction of being justified. …

Over the summer, Carroll’s opponent started receiving checks from across the country–significant sums for a statehouse race, though none so large as to arouse suspicion (the gifts topped out at $1000). Because they came from individuals and not from organizations, nothing identified the money as being “gay,” or even coordinated. Only a very astute political operative would have spotted the unusual number of out-of-state donors and pondered their interest in an obscure midwestern race. And only someone truly versed in the world of gay causes would have noticed a $1000 contribution from Denver, Colorado, and been aware that its source, Tim Gill, is the contry’s biggest gay donor, and the nexus of an agressive new force in national politics.

These homosexual donors are interested in state races in order to stop “antigay” politicians before they reach the level of Rick Santorum–enemy #1. “Operating at that level,” Green writes, “gave them a chance to ‘punish the wicked,’ as Gill puts it–to snuff out rising politicians who were building their careers on antigay policies, before they could achieve national influence.” They fancy themselves the Hammer of God to crush dissenters to the homosexual cause of full acceptance.

This is not–or at least was not–an open attack. It’s all about stealth. “Revealing targets only after an election makes it impossible to fight back and sends a message to other politicians that attacking gays could put them in the crosshairs.” Shut up or we will silence you.

What were the results of these good vs. evil confrontations? According to Green,

In the 2006 elections, on a level where a few thousand dollars can decide a close race, Gill’s universe of donors injected more than $3 million, providing in some cases more than 20 percent of a candidate’s or organization’s budget. On Election Day, fifty of the seventy targeted candidates were defeated, Danny Carroll among them; and out of the thirteen states where Gill and his allies invested, four–Iowa, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Washington–saw control of at least one legislative chamber switch to the Democratic Party.

They will not be satisfied until they have their way. What do they have that those who oppose the radical homosexual agenda do not have? Patience. Conservatives so often seem impatient in politics, as if it were an all or nothing proposition. Small gains are not enough; we want everything now. Is it not apparent by now that the radical left will wait us out? They’re not going anywhere. Are we?

“You have to create an atmosphere of fear and respect,” said [Gill’s political counselor, Ted] Trimpa, “and set up the proper context for them to do the right thing.”

The tried-and-true fear tactic. If you do not bow to the homosexuals, they will cut you down. They know what is “right;” you will obey. Now politics often works this way: if we put you in office and you do not do what we want, we will vote you out again. This is different. This is an attempt to create a pink monolith in state and, eventually, national government. You can run, but you can’t hide.

But for now, Gill and his friends are going after state races: “You hope that the forces of darkness [!] will be the ones distracted by the shiny bauble of the presidency,” Gill said.

Forces of darkness? Punishing the wicked? Come now, surely they haven’t started believing in a morality as absolute as all that? But of course they’ve always been as absolute about their cause as any raving, fire-and-brimstone fundamentalist. If you’re not on their side, you’re on the devil’s side.

If this article is correct in its conclusions, and if you care about this world–even in its temporary state–you had better believe that involvement in politics is not unnecessary. Do not be lulled to sleep by recent wins on homosexual “marriage.” As Joshua Green’s article shows, the other side is just getting started. Will we who care about marriage and the family in this country take the challenge seriously? Yes, the world will end one day. But how long will Jesus tarry? “Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8 )


Things Bill Maher Doesn’t Understand

So Bill Maher (and his minions) finds it hi-larious that Christians (“the Christian Right”–at least he acknowledges that they’re right) oppose the HPV vaccine. His argument (that’s generous of me) is roughly as follows: because Christians hate sex so much, they’d rather kill their daughters than allow them a little “fun.” Ha, ha. Those silly Christians.

But of course, if your entire “argument” is one big exercise in missing the point, what are some snide jokes in the process?

Now for the bad news: Not everyone is pleased with this vaccine. That prevents cancer. Christian parent groups and churches nationwide are fighting it. Bridget Maher — no relation, and none planned — of the Family Research Council says giving girls the vaccine is bad, because the girls “may see it as a license to engage in premarital sex.”

Which is really a stretch. People don’t get the vaccine for typhoid and say, “Great, now I can drink the sewer water in Bombay.” It’s like saying if you give a kid a tetanus shot she’ll want to jab rusty nails in her feet. It’s like being against a cure for blindness because it’ll encourage masturbation. It’s like being for salmonella poisoning in peanut butter because it’ll discourage weirdos from spreading it on their ass and calling the dog.

These analogies would only work if people want to drink the sewer water in Bombay or jab rusty nails into their feet, or if people actually think that masturbation–there’s a selfless action for you!–leads to blindness, or if…well, you get the picture.

Now, whatever the other Maher might have said, the point is not so much that girls will have a license to engage in premarital sex, as if, as Maher so subtly points out, this vaccine will make girls who had no prior thought of sex suddenly want to jump into bed. Again, not the point. Rather, it’s that those who are having sex will lose further inhibition. This is not an isolated case, as if the only consequence of sex was HPV. This is about an all-out crusade on consequences.

Here is the point that Maher with his sledgehammer-style commentary couldn’t have seen even if he wanted to: we don’t like consequences. We don’t like consequences of sexual promiscuity, so we have herpes medications, HPV medications, AIDS medications, etc. What STD do we not have a medication for? And if you get that other horrible disease from sex–the dreaded fetus–we have “clinics” where you only have to hurt and bleed a little bit to solve your problem: our modern purgatory. Don’t like the person you married, or their sex (as in gender)? That’s alright, we’ve got cures for that, too. It’ll only cost you a couple hundred dollars, and you can be free. Don’t want a divorce? Find another unhappy person to fulfill your shortcomings. Two halves make a whole, right?

Someone’s already jumping to the exceptions: what if your husband beats you? Are you saying divorce shouldn’t be allowed? What if you’re raped? You can’t get an abortion? What if you got AIDS from a blood-transfusion? They just have to suffer? Besides the fact that exceptions to a rule are exactly that, exceptions to a rule, there is something very important at stake here that our modern hedonists cannot understand: sometimes life is not fair. If your husband beats you, you should get out of the house. Should you get a divorce? That’s another question. If you get AIDS from a blood transfusion, should you have medicine? Of course. And you should have medicine anyway. But you are ignorant if you think that having medicine for herpes and commercials that show people living fun, free lives do not contribute to a recklessness when it comes to sex. All those commercials say is that herpes may be a little uncomfortable, but it’s not bad at all! Members of the opposite sex will still want to have sex with you!  You are ignorant if you think that we can remove all consequences from all actions and have a better world in the process.  More importantly, maybe it’s not always the best thing to get rid of all conceivable sources of suffering.  If that were the case, I would eliminate Bill Maher and his juvenile column.

What might a world without consequences look like? We might start with the positive: the secular hedonists are likely to go the way of the Shakers–that is, the way of extinction. What with the diseases and no offspring, I’ll give them a couple generations at most.

Negatively, if they get their way, all our children will have STDs because it just won’t matter anymore. It’s not about having sex, it’s about having sex that goes against what is built into us: to be one flesh only with one other person. Once again, I have little to no chance of getting HPV (at least the sexually transmitted kind) because I’ve had sex with only one person (my wife) and she has had sex only with me. The consequences have nothing to do with not liking sex. Hey, I love…nevermind. They have to do with having sex with the wrong people.

But the above only focuses on the lack of physical consequences for what they tell us is free, fun, no-strings sex. There are consequences beyond what we see and experience in our bodies. If you actually think that there is such a thing as “no-strings” sex, you are simply naïve. For those who might wish to attribute to Christians anything other than malice and evil motives, could it be that we might actually be concerned about things that go deeper than the physical? The physical is of course intrinsically connected to the spiritual, but we are speaking to those who think the physical can be utilized like one might utilize a hammer or a pencil. (“There is my body, and then there is me.”)

One more thing we should be clear about: I am not against the vaccine itself (other than the aforementioned crusade against consequences), but against making it mandatory–even with an opt-out clause–for little girls. No one has given any percentages about those who have HPV and cervical cancer. The media makes it sound as if every single woman or girl who gets HPV will get cervical cancer. I don’t think so. Talk about scare tactics.

But it would be no good explaining these things to Bill Maher. These are all things that he doesn’t–maybe cannot–understand.


The Cult of Separation

Daniel P. McGinley writes in the Washington Times,

I know I am supposed to love my neighbor, but the Rev. Barry Lynn sure makes it hard. And so does everyone like him who continuously lies about some impending theocratic-right-wing-Christian takeover of the government. Not a single, legitimate Christian group wants to establish a theocracy in this country — not one. Yet the Reverend and his cohorts continue to cry wolf and the media all too readily provides them a platform. …

During a recent discussion on National Public Radio (the Cult’s official station), Mr. Lynn warned that Christians are trying to “convert [their] theological beliefs into legislative fiats.” That sounds ominous doesn’t it? Hardly. The Reverend’s “warning” is nothing more than his disappointment that Christians actually participate in the democratic processes of this nation.

Furthermore, the Reverend is not warning about the legislative fiat of mandatory church attendance, tithing, forced belief in Jesus as Lord and Savior, or something that is really of a theological nature. He is talking about abortion, the Cult’s most sacred sacrament. Abortion, as everyone knows, was forced upon every community in this country by judicial fiat. But the Reverend does not seem too worried about that type of fiat. …

Mr. Lynn unsurprisingly sees no problem with his Cult being entangled with the government. After all, its charter members, the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood, both receive government monies. Of course, they are anti-religious, so that makes it “constitutional.”

I commend to you the entire piece.


Fwd: Fwd: Re:

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