Saturday, December 6, 2008


I mentioned awhile back that I have filed for custody of my daughters. The show cause hearing has finally been scheduled, the 16th of this month. As the date approaches I am finding it more and more difficult to focus on anything. Trying to get any homework done has been a joke. Work? I find myself sitting at my desk staring at my computer, clicking the mouse around, looking around a little, and suddenly an hour has passed. I can't hardly think about anything else, at least not with any modicum of concentration. It's aggravating because I have a lot of stuff to do, but I don't think it's going to change until after the hearing. It's just the initial hearing so it won't be the end of it, but at least it will be started. I'm on the edge of my seat.

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Emptiness of the Prosperity Gospel

Lisa Miller has harsh words for the Osteens and their message.

Prosperity preachers are neither new nor unique in America, but the Osteens' version seems especially self-serving. Victoria's book betrays her interest in the kind of small gratifications that rarely extend to other people, let alone to the larger world. She recommends that women take "me time" every day, and indulge occasionally in a (fat-free!) ice cream. She writes repeatedly about her love for the gym. Her relationship advice is retrograde dross: submit to your man, or at least pretend you're submitting, and then do what you want anyway. "I know if I just wait long enough," she writes, "eventually my idea will become Joel's idea, and it will come to pass." When I asked her how she kept her two children interested in church, she answered that even though they were a broccoli and lean-meats household, she gave them doughnuts as a special treat on Sundays. All this is fine, in the pages of a women's magazine or a self-help book. But what has God got to do with it?

The problem with the prosperity gospel is that it is not rooted in any honest reading of the Bible. Bits and pieces get picked out to support the message, but you can't take Bible verses out of the context they are packaged in. Prosperity preachers are certainly not the only Christian group to do this, but their interpretation certainly speaks to our culture today, doesn't it? The message is all about getting stuff and taking the easy road. God wants you to be rich. God wants you to have lots of material things. God wants you to have a luxurious life without hardship. I find it hard to reconcile that with the teachings of Jesus, but maybe that's just me.

It will be interesting to see how the prosperity gospel weathers the global economic crisis. Will people be comforted by a materialistic message like the one preached by Joel Osteen or will we see people start to move away from their incessant desire for things robbing the prosperity gospel of its base? Who knows, but it will be interesting to watch.

The Search for Extraterrestrial Life

I hope that the economic downturn does not affect projects like the Allen Telescope Array which searches the cosmos for radio signals that could indicate intelligent life. There seems to be a number of people who question research like this that isn't producing hard, tangible results right now, but I don't. Maybe it's the dreamer in me, but I get excited about stuff like this. All science, all research has value because it is the quest for knowledge and that cannot be a bad thing.

Google: Free Speech Guardian?

Check out this fascinating NYT article about Google and their need to have a team of people dedicated to checking content to see what needs to be blocked where to follow different nation's laws. It raises some tough questions about free speech and whether or not Google should or even can be the final filter of web content.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Weekly Music Video

This song has become one of my favorites since I picked up this album a few months ago. It's a dark, moody epic about...well, I'll just let the liner notes tell you.

The Scarecrow is a tragic story of a lonesome creature, emotionally isolated from his environment and suffering from a distorted sensory preception. His feelings for the love of his life unrequited. He sets off on a journey exploring the left-hand path, striving for inner peace, ploughing his way to approval and eventually facing temptation at the inner depths of the human soul...

It's hard finding good videos for European bands especially for long (11+ minutes!) songs, so you'll have to settle for this fan made video which is just a collection of images that the creator thought of while listening to the song. It also has the lyrics for those who have trouble understanding the singer's German accent.

Avantasia - "The Scarecrow"

Avantasia is an awesome symphonic metal band that you really owe it to yourself to check out. I caught an interview with the band's founder, Tobias Sammet (who also started Edguy), where he said that growing up he was a huge fan of classic metal groups like Iron Maiden, but that he also loved the bombast of Queen. With inspiration like that, what's not to like?

EDIT: Don't mind the still image for the video. Yes it's an Iron Maiden album cover, but it's just an image used in the video. Really, it's Avantasia performing "The Scarecrow." Honest.

Weekly Secret