Wednesday, June 12, 2002

Baptists and Thorny Issues Part 2

I'm very impressed that Baptists took a stand and pointed out that God is not Allah and that Mohammad was a pedophile (among other things). Let's deal with the truth. The one thing I don't like is that no scriptures are quoted in the story. The public needs to know why Christians believe as they do. Simply put Islam attempts to stand on Christianity, which Biblically cannot happen. The Bible cannot be true if Islam is as well. Islam is false if Christianity is true and if Christianity is false then Islam has built on a false doctrine in which case it is also false.

God loves everyone, and Christians must as well, but part of the way we must show that love is to call non-Christians to live for Him. Here are a few passages I would like to have seen in mentioned in the article when the conventioneers interviewed supported their side.

Jesus' claim in John 14:6 to be "...the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me", would have been a good start. I Timothy 2:5 would have been another of many good passages. "There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." And there's always the all-time favorite to trip up Mormons and Muslims, Galatians 1:8. "But even if we or an angel from Heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned."
Baptists and Thorny Issues Part 1

Sounds like the quotes from the Baptists were pretty good, but this would have been a prime opportunity for 200 delegates to leave their seats and go talk with a protestor like Jesus would have. I'm don't know if that happened or not, but it sounds like it didn't. This isn't to say all Christians who have a different sign on their door would have handled this perfectly, but hopefully everyone can learn from it.

Tuesday, June 11, 2002

Three-minute book review: Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Genre: Classics Recommended: Yes

Synopsis: A naive country gentleman's daughter samples the uppity social climes of Bath.

Who am I to doubt a Jane Austen, book, but it's apparent to me that the authoress got much better with age. Northanger Abbey was the first novel Austen wrote (but not the first published). She was just a teenager when she penned this one, and her characters and narrative are a pale reflection of the icons that would populate Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, etc.

The story takes place mostly in Bath, which is a frequent destination in Austen stories. It was almost like I had been transported to Austen's world, but I happened to be stuck with a particularly dull set of acquaintances. I was tempted to peer across the concert hall into another box and see if something more interesting was happening there.

Still, trademark Austen wit is evident throughout as she wryly exposes the excesses of her own social sphere. I particularly enjoy her matter-of-fact explanations of plot recited directly to the audience. With a wink and a nod, these occasional sections relay the facts of story to the readers with an appeal that they use their own best judgement for how the particulars would occur. Sounds like a silly gimmick, but she pulls it off.

Why should I read it? If you'd like a more complete picture of Austen's writing career, this one can provide some background. Not her best, but still Austen.
Three-minute book review: It Ain't Necessarily So by David Murray, et al.

Genre: Current Events Recommended: Yes

Synopsis: An examination of the way media reports the results of scientific surveys and research. The subtitle is "How media make and unmake the scientific picture of reality."

I was expecting great things from this book, but I generally found it too politically skewed to be a reliable guide. The authors argue persuasively that the news media have ultimate control over the public's understanding of scientific "truth". Many times this leads to an inaccurate portrayal of the significance or accuracy of research. But the book's exclusive use of pro-Republican examples tainted the otherwise effective arguments.

Don't get me wrong, this isn't another book about liberal bias. Its main points are that reporters often over-simplify the results of a study to make them seem more definitive than they are. Or they practice "press release journalism", which means they just regurgitate whatever the source tells them, without providing context or opposing views.

The overall goal of the book is that citizens would use critical thinking when reading media accounts along the lines of "scientists have proved that..." I would just add the reminder that you should employ these skills when receiving information from conservative sources, too.

Why should I read it? If you'd like to become a smarter news consumer, there's some useful stuff here. But be ready to wade through a serious conservative bias.