Monday, February 26, 2007

Discovery Channel finds tomb of Hanun -- or Jesus?

According to a press release from the Discovery Channel, and the associated website that they've put together, director James Cameron and archaeologists for the Discovery Channel have discovered what they say is the "tomb of Jesus," but what independent scholars are saying is probably the "tomb of Hanun."

The implications of this are obvious: if Jesus is still in a tomb, then the central tenet of Christianity is false: "on the third day, he rose again."

Read the AP article on the documentary for good analysis from both sides.

And remember, this isn't the first time that people have tried to deny Christ through attacking his resurrection.

FEELING: Disappointed in the Discovery Channel
LISTENING TO: A discussion of the Supreme Court's reproductive autonomy jurisprudence

Monday, February 19, 2007

Golden era: top tier sports succeeding at VU

When Vanderbilt restructured its Athletics Department to merge it into the Division of Student Life (now the Office of the Dean of Students), folks were quick to say that Vanderbilt athletics would shortly devolve into Division III quality, and that the Varisty Football team might have to share practice space with the Sigma Chi intramural team.

Almost four years later, it seems the nay-sayers were wrong. Vanderbilt football notched a 5-6 season, with a 4th-in-the-East finish, including a win over archrival Tennessee in 2005, and in 2006, the same team, minus first-round draft pick Jay Cutler, saw a 4-7 season with a win in Athens over the Georgia Bulldogs. In 2007, with most of the team, including many starters, returning, and with 8 home games, Vanderbilt looks set, within the next 2-3 years to finally achieve a winning season and the accompanying bowl invitation.

The story is the same for men's basketball. With Saturday's win over then No. 1-ranked Florida, the Commodores have all but clinched an invitation to the NCAA Tournament: the program's second in four years. In addition, the Black and Gold squad was ranked No. 17 in the nation by the Associated Press just this week; ESPN predicts that the 'Dores could be as high as a fifth-seed in the tournament, come March.

On the women's side of things, Vanderbilt has been consistently ranked in the Top 25 every year of Melanie Balcomb's tenure as Commodore head coach. And though she has yet to knock off the arch-nemesis Lady Vols, an SEC Tournament championship has helped soften the frustration.

Finally, the most resurgent of Vanderbilt sports, especially since the restructuring, has been the Vanderbilt baseball team. Under head coach Tim Corbin, the Diamond 'Dores have progressed each season toward becoming one of the nation's elite clubs. In 2006, the Black and Gold went all the way to the SEC Tournament Championship before falling to the Ole Miss Rebels. And this month, Vanderbilt baseball, after knocking off three teams in the Top 10, has done something that no Vanderbilt men's team has ever done in the history of Commodores intercollegiate athletics: just today it was announced that the Vanderbilt Commodores are the number one team in the country.

The marketing slogan may be cheesy, but for once, it's accurate: in 2007, it's "good to be Gold."

LISTENING TO: You guessed it -- 'Dynamite

Monday, February 12, 2007

The gospel: 'Jesus died for our sins' or 'talk about life'?

The current controversy in our society over issues as diverse as human sexuality and the sanctity of human life is really more than an argument over specific issues. Especially among Christians, it also reflects a broader conflict over what exactly is at the heart of following Jesus and his teaching. This conflict is being played out, almost by proxy, in the troubled, American expression of the classic via media, the Episcopal Church.

The Episcopal Church is, for now, the American expression of the global Anglican Communion, the Christian tradition founded upon the Church of England's Book of Common Prayer, the two Creeds, episcopacy, and (at its heart) the Bible. Lately, there has been quite a storm in our nation's (un)official religion.

Into the midst of this dispute comes the Church's new Presiding Bishop, The Rt. Rev. Katharine Jefferts-Schori. She was interviewed last week by USA Today, and one of her comments reflects the fundamental juxtaposition between the two sides in this important dispute. The author of the piece in USA Today wrote:
[Katharine Jefferts-Schori] sees two strands of faith: One is "most concerned with atonement, that Jesus died for our sins and our most important task is to repent." But the other is "the more gracious strand," says the bishop who dresses like a sunrise. It "is to talk about life, to claim the joy and the blessings for good that it offers, to look forward. God became human in order that we may become divine. That's our task."
The question then becomes, how does the Chief Pastor of our nation's most influential Church stack up against what the Bible has to say about this same question? Would the apostle, St. Paul, agree with The Rt. Rev. Jefferts-Schori's view? Let us allow Paul to speak for himself:
Now I should remind you, brothers and sisters, of the Gospel that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which also you stand, through which also you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you — unless you have come to believe in vain. For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, then to the Twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to someone untimely born, he appeared also to me.
I will only connect the dots so much as to say that I added the bold text, not Paul. But I doubt, seriously, that the apostle would object to that emphasis.

FEELING: Anxious
LISTENING TO: A discussion of whether admitting a man to a nursing school is a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution

Saturday, February 10, 2007

When the culture becomes the standard

I usually try to avoid discussing issues like this because, well, people are generally not going to be persuaded by arguments for and against (plus, it usually gets me pretty riled up). Most of us are set in stone on a divisive issue such as human sexuality. But occasionally, an argument arises that simply has to be read.

This argument is such. Read it. All of it. And then ask yourself how it differs from similar arguments made by an increasing number of "religious" people today.

Be careful, though. Your worldview might start to shift a little.

FEELING: Somewhat heartened, somewhat saddened -- that it takes an argument like this to get people to listen
LISTENING TO: Some good, country music, after getting so disgusted at the Vandy-Yew Tee game that I turned it off