jtrhart

Posts Tagged ‘news’

Book Giveaway

In books on May 1, 2008 at 7:29 am

April Giveaway

Click here to enter to win a set of books. This month challies.com is giving away a great set of books. Every click enters you into the drawing and helps improve my chances. Thanks!

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A Nerd's Guitar

In technology on April 30, 2008 at 8:54 pm

guitar

This is pretty cool. Here is a Gibson guitar that will automatically tune itself. A combination of DSP, tiny motors, batteries, and utter nerdines make it all possible. Guitar not sounding so hot? Just pull out the knob and wait a few seconds, the motors will turn the pegs until each string is tuned to your preferred settings. Now if they could just make this work on my voice my joyful noise just might be a little less noisy…

How Do You Define Religion?

In news on April 24, 2008 at 7:30 pm

My good friend and realtor extradorinare Dave passed this article my way. It seems Florida is considering offering a license plate with a cross, a stained-glass window and the words “I believe” on it. This would be in addition to the plethora of other sports team and college university logos already offered by the state. Obviously there is opposition to this, it could be seen as state-endorsed religion (a big no-no according to the US Constitution). One law-maker was quoted saying:

“It’s not a road I want to go down. I don’t want to see the Star of David next. I don’t want to see a Torah next. None of that stuff is appropriate to me, I just believe that.”

So this got me thinking. It is easy to say that Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam are religions because it’s always been that way. But when you get down to it, how do you define religion? Belief in God? There goes Buddhism. Belief in an afterlife? See ya Hinduism (sort of). So what distinguishes religion from other belief systems?

During the course of a week millions of people flock to large meeting places, some indoor, some outdoor, some capable of holding thousands, some only a few dozen, to join with each other in their common love for a particular thing. During their meetings they express their excitement in various ways, sometimes in song, sometimes in silence, sometimes with clapping, other times you’ll see arms stretched towards the heavens. There are common rules at these gatherings that most folks will follow and there are consequences for breaking these rules. But even when these folks aren’t gathered together, they still connect and read and experience whatever it is they worship. There are websites, radio stations, TV channels, books, magazines and plenty of merchandise devoted to their similar object of affection.

Is this how you define religion? Does that sound like church or the NFL to you? You really could substitute just about any passion in that last paragraph I just used sports because I see a lot of parallels between the worship of our favorite teams and the worship of God. One could argue that no one really considers sports to be of eternal consequence but what about religions that don’t even believe in an afterlife?

This seems like a difficult question, I mean let’s face it, Jedi is considered a religion in the UK so I’m not sure anyone has really nailed this one down.

So, after all that, what do I think? From a legal standpoint you have to define it somehow, otherwise everyone would claim themselves as a religious organization on their income tax forms and not have to pay taxes. But how about from an eternal standpoint? I think Tim Keller says it well when he says “religion is I obey and then I’m accepted by God”. Religion is a way to get what you want from God be it blessings, health, happiness, or a good spot in heaven. Religion turns God into a genie-in-a-bottle. Someone to give you what you want and to make everything go smoothly in your life. Here’s what Christ says about all this, “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?” Jesus says we’re not to give up parts of our lives or follow a set of rules to gain favor, He says we’re to give up our entire lives and follow Him; a person, God.

I don’t like thinking of Christianity as a religion but yet I can’t escape it. I just hope that, given the animosity that seems to exist against organized religion, my practice of following Christ will be seen as so different it doesn’t even have the smell of religion.

Together For The Gospel Conference

In links on April 16, 2008 at 7:28 am

Together for the Gospel is going on right now in Louisville, KY. You can check out Tim Challies’ liveblogging of the event or wait for the talks to be posted on the T4G blog. This years’ speakers will be Ligon Duncan, Thabiti Anyabwile, John MacArthur, Mark Dever, RC Sproul, Al Mohler, John Piper and CJ Mahaney. Enjoy!

Proof That We Don't Have Free-Will?

In theology on April 14, 2008 at 8:42 pm

calvinIn Christian circles, this debate has been going on for centuries. Both sides of the discussion bring plenty of Scripture references that prove, in their minds, that man does or does not have free-will. But neither side has ever brought in an argument from science….until now. Apparently a team of scientists was able to show that the brain has already made up its mind before the will even begins to think about the decision it has to make. From the article:

“The outcome of a decision is shaped very strongly by brain activity much earlier than the point in time when you feel to be making a decision.”

arminiusThis was kind of a neat experiment. They put a few subjects in an MRI scanner and told them to randomly, whenever they felt like it, press a button in either their left or right hand. They scanned the areas of the brain that dealt with decision making and were able to form patterns and “predict” which button they were going to press with 60% accuracy up to 10 seconds before they actually pressed the button. So, I suppose anything better than 50% was good enough for them to say that the brain is working and affecting your will long before you feel like your will has kicked in and you make a decision and hence we don’t have free-will.

Fuel for Calvinists? Shame for Arminians? Not likely.

Jason VanDorsten is Back to Blogging

In links on April 4, 2008 at 10:04 pm

Jason VanDorsten, pastoral intern at Reston Bible Church (where my family attends), has joined Matthew Wireman’s Off The Wire blog. I’m looking forward to some great material from Jason. Read his first post on why pastors should allow the people they minister to see all sides of their lives, even the messy ones. Enjoy!

And 90% Chose Murder

In abortion on April 3, 2008 at 7:16 pm

Here is an article from Ken Connor titled “Disposing of the Disabled” (HT: kerux noemata). My heart sunk when I read that, according to the New York Times, 90% of babies are murdered once the parent(s) finds out it has Down syndrome.

90%. Let that number sink in.

I appreciated the author’s relating the problem of abortion to the period of time when blacks where not treated as equals in America and his hope that abortion would, in the future, become as equally shameful to us as a horrible period of American history:

There were times in America’s past when neither blacks nor women were regarded as full fledged members of the human family. As a result, they too were deprived of the full panoply of rights endowed by the Creator to those created in his image. Those were not the best of times in America’s history. Thankfully, however, there were other times when Americans were willing to pay the price to see to it that both blacks and women received the protections they were entitled to by virtue of their humanity. Will we be willing to pay such a price for the unborn and the handicapped in our time? Again, only time will tell.

Unfortunately, the main difference between these two time periods is that one group had a leader emerge from its own ranks to fight for justice and reform and the other group’s leaders are taken out before they even emerge. O Lord, forgive us.

Al Mohler on "Explaining Religion"

In links, news on March 28, 2008 at 5:35 am

A few weeks back, I posted a link to an article in the Economist about a new study attempting to find why, biologically, people believe in God. Dr. Mohler has a post on the same article (not in response to anything I’ve done of course) but provides much more insight into the study. Have a look, and while you’re at it, if you don’t read Al Mohler’s blog on a regular basis, I’d encourage you to do so.

Updated News on the Recent New Testament Manuscript Find

In links on March 26, 2008 at 8:55 pm

Reclaiming the Mind has some updated news on the recent discovery. While you’re at it, have a look at The Center For The Study Of New Testament Manuscripts, they have some great resources on textual criticism there.

How To Spend $3,100,000.00

In news on March 21, 2008 at 7:02 pm

If you had 3.1 million dollars, what would you do with it?

A group of researchers have decided to use their millions to find God, or, as the article puts it, the biological reasons why people believe in God:

Religion cries out for a biological explanation. It is a ubiquitous phenomenon—arguably one of the species markers of Homo sapiens—but a puzzling one. It has none of the obvious benefits of that other marker of humanity, language. Nevertheless, it consumes huge amounts of resources.

Interesting. Have a look at the article, there are a few neat experiments that these folks have in mind.