Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Cybrids? Are You Kidding?

In May, a Bill was proposed in the British Parliament to legalize the laboratory creation of animal-human hybrid embryos. As if this was not incredible enough, scientific teams have already begun applying for licences to create these "cybrids." I AM AT A LOSS FOR WORDS!
By the way, one should note that I did not find this in the pages of the Weekly World News while waiting to purchase groceries.

"The demand for legislation to create interspecies embryos is being driven with great enthusiasm by members of the scientific community. Researchers claim that experimentation on animal-human embryos will offer insights into possible cures for certain cancers and such conditions as Alzheimer's and motor neuron diseases."

Of course! This has become the mantra of anyone performing mad-science! At one time any ludicrous proposal could find support when coupled with "its for the children."

Before we know it, the Sci-Fi channel will have the same credibility as is not that bad yet.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Christians in Gaza

As we should all be sophisticated enough to know, there are many Palestinian Christians in the Holy Land. The recent developments in the Gaza Strip are unsettling. Although only God knows for certain the outcome of the Hamas take-over, Omar Shaban, the leader of the Catholic Relief Services for Gaza, has stated "I can't predict what will happen, but one thing is for certain: There is a group within Hamas which is starting to talk of the Islamization of society."
Let us all pray for the Christians in Gaza, for their liberty and safety. May God give them strength!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Church

I had a conversation with a very important person in my life concerning the importance of the church and whether or not the church was necessary for the salvation of modern man. Unknowingly, this person was influenced by a postmodern weltschaung. This person’s conclusion about salvation was that “it is Jesus, and myself naked. Everything else is man-made and possibly beneficial but unnecessary.” I found this disturbing and therefore wish to flesh-out, over a series of posts, my thoughts on the church its purpose and its necessity.

First, what does one meant by “church?” Of course the origin of our word as English speakers is German: kirche. One should note that this word communicates “that which belongs to the Lord” and is derived from the Greek κψριάκε. However, since the earliest Christianity consisted of a Jewish core, the term for church came from the Septuagint, or the Greek translation of The Old Testament. This is the ever-familiar εκκαλέιν. This was the term used to describe the gathering of God’s chosen people assembled for His purposes.

The Christian use of the term church describes a liturgical assembly. (I Cor. 11:18, 14:19, 28, 34-35) In I Corinthians Saint Paul used this term to communicate meetings, community, and church. It is obvious in St. Paul’s instruction to the Corinthians that there were liturgical practices in the church that were being disrupted (in this case by women). One of the earliest, biblically recorded, liturgies in the church was the breaking of bread or the Eucharist. (Acts 2:42) The Apostles, including Saint Paul, emphasized the church as a community—note the centrality of unity and communion. The church draws her life from Christ’s body, blood, and gospel. Therefore, the church constantly unites herself to Him. She is both the bride and body of Christ. (Eph. 1:22-3) As a result, to be in communion with the church is to be in communion with Christ.

In addition, the Church is a sheepfold to which Christ is the shepherd. Scripture dictates that the Church, as the Body of Christ and a sheepfold, is the necessary gateway to Christ. Christ is the shepherd who gives his life for his sheep. (St. John 10:1-16, St. Peter 5:4, Isaiah 40:11, Ezekiel 34:11-31) In each of these passages, membership with the “flock” is equivalent to both safety and salvation. Christ is the gate to this sheepfold and even says that anyone who tries to enter the sheepfold without passing through the gate is a thief. What clearer picture of Christ’s church is there? Notice, that there is no image of the Shepherd and a single sheep sharing some existential sublimity on the other side of the pasture. One might quickly reference the parable of the lost sheep…now that is existential, right? Wrong! Truly, Christ leaves the flock to save the individual lost lamb. However, He saves them by bringing them back into the flock and the sheepfold.

One might also argue that the sheepfold mentioned here is the proverbial “invisible church” and not a organizational or physical as well as spiritual church. Therefore, being that a Christian is member of a holy priesthood and can interperate scripture for oneself and find salvation through ones own studies, one has no need for communities of believers or apostolic organization. If this is so, we are all clamoring in the darkness. The fact is that Jesus Christ established a church that would expand from the top-down. Most are familiar with Saint Peter’s ordination as the possessor of the keys to the kingdom. However, Jesus, before his ascension, also gave special instructions to the Apostles to go out, baptize, and forgive or retain sins. The Apostles, by the virtue of the Holy Spirit, led the church in practice, doctrine, and evangelism, bringing the church into existence. Around 80 AD, one generation removed from Christ's earthly ministry, Saint Clement of Rome wrote to the church in Corinth:
The apostles have preached the Gospel to us
from the Lord Jesus Christ; Jesus Christ [has done so] from God. Christ
therefore was sent forth by God, and the apostles by Christ. Both these
appointments, then, were made in an orderly way, according to the will of God.
Having therefore received their orders, and being fully assured by the
resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, and established in the word of God, with
full assurance of the Holy Ghost, they went forth proclaiming that the kingdom
of God was at hand. And thus preaching through countries and cities, they
appointed the first-fruits [of their labours], having first proved them by the
Spirit, to be bishops and deacons of those who should afterwards believe. Nor
was this any new thing, since indeed many ages before it was written concerning
bishops and deacons. For thus says the Scripture a certain place, "I will
appoint their bishops s in righteousness, and their deacons in faith." ... Our
apostles also knew, through our Lord Jesus Christ, and there would be strife on
account of the office of the episcopate. For this reason, therefore, inasmuch as
they had obtained a perfect fore-knowledge of this, they appointed those
[ministers] already mentioned, and afterwards gave instructions, that when these
should fall asleep, other approved men should succeed them in their ministry. We
are of opinion, therefore, that those appointed by them, or afterwards by other
eminent men, with the consent of the whole Church, and who have blame-lessly
served the flock of Christ in a humble, peaceable, and disinterested spirit, and
have for a long time possessed the good opinion of all, cannot be justly
dismissed from the ministry. For our sin will not be small, if we eject from the
episcopate those who have blamelessly and holily fulfilled its duties. Blessed
are those presbyters who, having finished their course before now, have obtained
a fruitful and perfect departure [from this world]; for they have no fear lest
any one deprive them of the place now appointed them. But we see that you have
removed some men of excellent behaviour from the ministry, which they fulfilled
blamelessly and with honour.

One should consider things historically. First, for the first 400 years of Christianity there was no established canon of Holy Scripture to interpret. During this time, the Church was led through the bishops and lesser clergy, it is a historical fact! There were those who wanted an interpretation of scripture and the gospel outside the pale of the sheepfold and account for the numerous heresies that plagued the church in the first centuries. Without the Holy Spirit's preservation through the Apostles, the Early Church Fathers, and their acolytes the gospel as recorded in Holy Scripture would not be. If we doubt this apostolic succession and/or the holy people who transmitted the gospel through the ages, we haven’t a foot on which to stand and must doubt the whole of scripture! These Saints wrote the scripture, taught the gospel to their disciples, and put into motion the chain of apostolic succession that remains to the present. Christ sent these men of faith into the world to establish His Church on earth and spread the kingdom. The Apostles passed their leadership on to their disciples. (Timothy for example) In addition, in the first century the church was organized to the point that Saint Paul was compelled to discuss the necessary characteristics of bishops and deacons. These clergymen passed-on the faith through their successors by virtue of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, it was through this apostolic leadership that the Holy Scriptures were adopted and Christian doctrine established. The Church is the only avenue and authority of the gospel established by Christ for mankind and thus, the Christian church is the vessel of God’s plan of Salvation and continuing revelation of himself to the world.

One should note that God, being omnipotent and fully just, merciful, and holy, can do all that He wills. Thusly, God can show mercy upon whomever He chooses. It is arrogance to think that we can definitely know the limits of His mercy. However, the church is God’s vessel of the gospel and salvation. The church is, by virtue of her communion with Christ and her place as the sheepfold, the Body and Bride of Christ. Therefore, the church is the necessary pathway to Christ and Salvation.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

File under: Musician with nothing else to post on...

Well, this past week, Turtle asked me what my “birth song” was. Rather than the shriek of agony my mother undoubtedly released during my actual birth, he was asking me what song was atop the “Top 40” charts the week I was born. Being the music aficionado I often claim to be, I was both ashamed for not knowing and intrigued to find out…I’m not quite sure what this says about me, but the number one song in the land the week I was born was “Another One Bites the Dust”, of course, by Queen…I’m not sure how I feel about that. This song is among maybe a handful of Queen songs that I’ll always enjoy, but I’m not sure how comfortable I am with being born under a song sang by a man who makes the guy who sang duet on Mariah Carey’s unplugged cut of “I’ll be There” look like Tom Jones...Nothing personal to the nancies…Just not the best representation of me, perhaps.

Onward, now that I’ve no doubt enraged no one that reads this blog…

I also thought it time to do a “Seven songs that I’m absolutely lovin’ right now”…

“Sleeping Lessons”The Shins. For starters, I’m a sucker for the oft referred to as the “boom-chuck” of a blue grass inspired signature present in this, as well as many others, Shins song. I’m also a sucker for proper dynamics, even when as easily foreseen as in this song. So when the song builds into the guitars all chiming in, I’m done.

“My Eyes”Travis. Off their new album which is great. This song is the kind of song that you listen to at 8:30 a.m. only to realize at 3:54 p.m. that you’ve been humming it all day long.

“That’s How Strong My Love Is”Otis Redding. Very rarely have or will I do a “songs that I’m currently lovin” list without an Otis Redding tune on it. I’ve written extensively, well for a blog, about what exactly makes Mr. Redding the greatest soul singer of all-time, and if I haven’t made you a fan yet, you may be lost. Still if you are and somehow haven’t heard this song…Do yourself a favor, quit your job right now so you can go home and listen to it right now. It’s like a love potion…You hear it and the first woman to catch your eye has you nailed.

“Losin’ You”The Marshall Tucker Band. This song traverses the following path ever so sweetly: just another sad country ballad, oh wait those steel guitars sound sweet, “ain’t no denyin’, you been lyin’”- wait am I actually singing along, man she really broke my heart, oh sweet! Steel guitar solo….BAM!!!! Jazz break right smack in the middle of one of the best she-broke-my-heart southern ballads ever made, is that an electric piano? alto sax?...I love this song!....O.k. maybe just for me, but if the previous even remotely intrigues you, check it out.

“Distant Lover”Marvin Gaye. All I have to say is the part where he breaks down and starts with the whole “Somethin I wanna say, when you left you took all of me with you”…and then gets to “Do you wanna hear me cry…PLEASE!..PLEASE!”…That’s just magic…Here again, if you think I’m just sappy, check it out…

“Never Be the Same”Christopher Cross. I’m not even going to explain this cause I’m just going to get worn out anyway…You know deep down you love it too!

“Girl from the North Country”Bob Dylan. (from “Freewheelin”)… “I wonder if she remembers me at all, many times I’ve often prayed”…Haven’t we all, Bob. Haven’t we all…


Monday, June 18, 2007

Crush of the Week!

I'm co-opting one of Micah World's weekly features here. I came across this young lady the other day...and frankly, I'm madly in love. A Russian soprano, this siren offers three characteristics that are unquantifiable...elegance, beauty, and passion. Ladies and gentlemen, Anna Netrebko...and do yourself a on the link.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Once more into the breach dear friends...

So, my life has dramatically changed over these last few weeks. I've moved states and cities, I've changed jobs and schedules, and am just now getting acquainted with my new life. Here are a few things that have been on my mind lately(there is so much to say, but this will be a truncated exposition, I fear).

I. Housekeeping. For those who might be all, I'm very happy with my decision to move. Though there is an adjustment time required, the whole thing has been positive, thus far. Naturally, there are those whose company I miss, but I've gained the daily company of others that is equally needed, or more so. To all of you who I've not contacted is not reflective of my thoughts or feelings for you...just a time of settling...and you'll here from me soon enough...whether you want to or not.

II. Immigration. I want to make this perfectly clear...and I think I speak for most who were/are opposed to Agri-business/democrat plans of amnesty for Mexican illegal immigrants...just because I might stridently oppose your agenda, I am not necessarily racist. As one who has studied ardently various periods of history, nation building, and migration movements of people...I can say definitively that a nation that cannot/will not enforce stated boundaries is doomed to implosion. Go ask the Cossacks, Vandals, or the Carpathians if unfettered immigration works. Also, my insistence on English as a common language does not make me makes me human. There isn't a nation in this world that doesn't cling to a self-identity through language and culture. Go to China....go anywhere in Asia...go to Sub-Saharan Africa....hell, go to freakin Mexico...they all self-define through the lens of culture and language. The difference is that in the United States...our requisites for cultural acceptance and mobility are ridiculously lax when compared to most other nations. Finally....and I really want to emphasize this....I am completely and wholeheartedly in support of legal immigration. Having lived abroad for extensive periods, I know all too well the feeling of being the outsider and trying to live life in success. A vibrant and colorful immigrant community is wanted and needed in this country. It is a source of strength. Illegal immigration, though, is anathema to civility, order, and commonality of vision and motive.....all of which are necessary for a successful nation...and anything less is unacceptable.

III. Euphonic Bliss. I saw the ASO perform Orff's Carmina Burana the other night...and wow. Simply put, one of the most amazing pieces of music I've ever had the pleasure of seeing performed. If you ever get the chance...

IV. Hamas vs. Fatah. Why is it that the media insists on calling Iraq a 'civil war' but refuses to utter those words with regards to Palestine? On the one hand, you have foreign fighters from all over the region spilling into Iraq...attacking Iraqi civilians to foment terror and fear...and on the other hand you have Palestinians fighting.....other Palestinians. I'm sure the media have a good explanation though.....but what could it be....?

V. Sarkozy. Something tells me that this guy is going to be fun to watch.

VI. I wish there were more time, but finally... I leave you with one of my favorite videos I've seen in a while....hyperbole, thy name is Dennis Miller.