Tuesday, June 28, 2005

"The devil told me to have sex with sheep"

Oh, how I dread the Google searches I'm letting myself in for here!
Joshua Kiplagat, 36, sustained a serious head wound when the sheep's owner threw a machete at him after finding him in flagrante delicto with a prize ewe in the Rift Valley district of Bomet, they said.

He was then tied to a tree stump for five hours before being frogmarched naked with the violated ovine in tow to a police station where he confessed to several acts of bestiality that he blamed on the devil, they said.

Are you sure this guy's not from Montana? Whole story here. Warning: Not for the young or sensitive!

Another A/T to A Welsh View, where they really know how to treat their sheep.

Where was this when I was a teenager?

So this seventeen-year-old kid in Australia works overtime, and gets paid in bourbon!
"If I worked back late my host, instead of paying me overtime, would buy me a four-pack of bourbon. He told me not to put [the overtime] down," Mark said.

At least in this state, I suspect the time-and-a-half would be cheaper. Then again, the fine for furnishing alcohol to a minor would be more expensive than either one. (The drinking age in Australia is 18; I checked.) I guess things really are different Down Under!

Akubra tip (appropriately) to A Welsh View.

I took the MIT blog survey

Take the MIT Weblog Survey

Kind of interesting. I hadn't realized how many people I know only through their blogs, and have never even swapped e-mail with. The Blogosphere really is a different world.

Apparently there's a limit...

... even to the depths to which the Weekly World News will sink. It seems the tabloid ran a story on the "10 ugliest people in the world." That's offensive enough, but for the rag that printed this and this just in the last month, it's all in a day's degeneracy work. Unfortunately for the WWN, one of the "uglies" was Jason Schechterle, a Phoenix police officer who had been disfigured on duty. The word "lawsuit" was whispered, and the News was apparently smart enough to see that they couldn't possibly win. Rather, they donated a "significant" sum of money to the Arizona Burn Center at Maricopa Medical Center.
Stuart Zakim, a spokesman for American Media, Inc., which owns Weekly World News, as well as the National Enquirer, the Globe, and magazines such as Shape and Men's Fitness, acknowledged that the story was a mistake and said that the editors responsible for the story were fired.

"American Media stands for quality journalism," Zakim said.

I wonder how he said that without gagging.

(Akubra tip to Jim Romanesko.)

UPDATE: I forgot to mention that the Arizona Republic page about the settlement also showed this ad when I clicked on it:

Ironic, what?

I'm impressed...

Thwe Spokesman-Review allowed Jim West to speak for himself, and even put it in among the stories that don't require a paid subscription. Up to now, only those stories and letters most damaging to West have been allowed, particularly online.

And he's cheesed:
With over 92 articles, hundreds of column inches, thousands of words, several editorials and screaming headlines by The Spokesman-Review, people have a hard time remembering this simple fact: In our system a person is innocent until proven guilty.

The Spokesman-Review is not the judge or the jury, and its accusations are false.

I did not molest anyone, 25 years ago or ever, and I have not misused my official office for personal gain. I am certain the investigations now being conducted will show that I have done nothing that makes me unfit for public office...
I wish I could write that there is not a shred of truth to the things that have been written about me in The Spokesman-Review. The problem is, there is a shred of truth, and The Spokesman-Review has shredded it into a hundred small pieces and rearranged it to fit its agenda and theories.

Of course, there's no mention of any connection to the parking garage scandal. You can't expect the S-R to be too honest.

Read the whole thing here. If you follow Washington politics, you need to hear West's side of the story, however little the S-R, the Kleptocrats and the Gay Brownshirts may want it told.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Hoo boy!

This guy badly needs to increase his meds, I think. He should also take some classes in web page layout or something, as his rants are really hard to read.

What I find amusing is the resemblence he bears to some of the other inbred subliterates with dirty ears that post long-winded, incoherent rants against the Catholic Church. I'm not talking about doctrinal criticism; that's just debate among Christians. But the sort of people who invent pagan histories and conspiracies because they can't stand the idea of the Catholics having anything in common with them... Those are the ones that really get up your nose.

Akubra tip to Sven for the link to the loon at the top.

One down, two to go!

For some time, I've been watching three Protestants in the Christian Blogosphere that I was pretty sure would become Catholic eventually. I haven't discussed that with anybody (except my Lovely and Brilliant Wife), and I certainly haven't been trying to evangelize any of them. I just figured, from things they had said, that the Lord was steering them toward Rome.

The other day, Dawn Eden casually let it slip in a comment window that she would be starting RCIA in the fall. (Or as I call it, PIT – Papists in Training.) Dawn was the first, and the one I was most sure about. I suppose it had something to do with her passionate pro-life stance, and her strong belief in sexual morality. (Let's face it: this is where Catholics really shine in western Christendom. Kind of makes up for our allowing David Haas and Ed Bolduc to write our music.) I think there may have been other reasons; I'm waiting to hear them (although I have my suspicions).

And no, I won't tell you who the other two are, until and unless it actually happens. The Lord has his own timing.

I told Dawn the same thing I had said to my oldest daughter, when she was baptized Catholic at the age of eleven: "Congratulations! The Ku Klux Klan wants you dead, your Seventh-day Adventist friends now believe you're the whore of Babylon, and you've just joined the oldest and biggest church in the world."

Welcoome home, Petite (Papist-Pending) Powerhouse! Let me know when you've done the Rite of Election, so I can move your link under "Papes."

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

You're not going to kiss him first? No, better not

Looks like Jim West has been fast-tracked for a lynching. Even his friends are lining up for ropes and axe handles.
Among the May 5 e-mails made public Tuesday was a letter of support from Anthony Bonanzino, chairman of the Spokane Regional Chamber of Commerce, who praised West as a "great civic leader" and "a person I am proud to call friend."

On Monday, Bonanzino was among six business executives who sent West a letter urging him to allow a recall vote to proceed quickly."

Would you like thirty pieces of silver with that?

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Warning: Set your coffee down before reading!

In the course of reading John Petttigrew's Purgatory post, I followed another link to World of Sven.
Dear Barking dog that lives next door,

SHUT UP. Shut up, shut up, shut up. SHUT. UP. Be quiet. What do you hope to achieve by going 'ARP ARP ARP ARP ARP ARP' between the hours of 4am and 7am every day without even a short break?

Persistence in such behaviour may lead to your being stuffed and mounted on my wall in between the Jehovah's Witness and the man who used to ring up and try and sell me double glazing every day.


Can you breathe again? Good. Now go read more.

Forget what I said...

... about Purgatory. John Pettigrew says exactly the things I wish I'd written here, but better than I could have.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Black's Law

Here at the Greatest Newspaper in the Northwest, we have a phenomenon we call "Black's Law," named for a former editor. Since we're an afternoon paper (one of the last of a disappearing breed), we put the final section to bed abuut 11:15. In Murphyesque fashion, all the biggest stories seem to hit after press time. To make it worse, we're Monday through Friday, so if something happens on Friday afternoon, they'll know about it in Nairobi before we can get it on the street.

Of course, sometimes it works to our advantage. We whupped all the morning papers on 9/11, for instance. (It helped that our editor happened to be in DC that day.) There have been other stories that hit in the morning that have been real scoops for us. Sometimes you're the dog, sometimes you're the hydrant...

So now I'm watching the AP wire, as it looks like a man with a bomb in his backpack was just shot at the federal courthouse in Seattle. No details yet as of 1:00.

Why can't these people be a little more considerate in their timing?

Light posting

The busy part of the month has reared its stressful head, so posts will be a little thin on the ground for a while. I still need to write the Father's Day post that I didn't get time for yesterday. Coming soon to a blog near you...

Meanwhile, take a look at the fearfully and wonderfully named Luminous Miseries. All roads lead to Rome (or so it seems to us ex-Prods), but the route looks different to us all.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Which book of the Bible are you?

You Are Romans
You are Romans.

Which book of the Bible are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

This is one that I thought was going to be easier to manipulate than it is. I was tempted to be Ecclesiastes, but I'd have felt like an Eeyore impersonator, and besides, it's a sunny Saturday morning.

A/T to Bunnie Diehl, who might also be Romans, but isn't as Roman as I am.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Does nobody see the irony here?

Looks like Madonna is writing another book for girls.
"She identifies with the English Roses [the four main characters]. She wants to help guide girls through that crucial stage of life," Callaway said.

All of Madonna's books, however, teach a little lesson, and they've all been inspired by her own life.

I don't know what to add to this.

Click, click! Oh, look! See Something Awful!

The guys at Something Awful have another hilarious series going, this time doing horrid things to the old Dick and Jane readers. This one in particular made me laugh my gluteus maximus off:

Check out the whole series: Part 1 and Part 2. Warning: some of these get kinda vulgar.


I'm not all this surprised, and I'm not sure I blame this woman. I'm well aware that I snore like a Studebaker with bad valves. Fortunately, my Lovely and Brilliant Wife has developed a certain hardness-of-hearing that may well be all that stands between me and statistichood.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Merciful thing they didn't have scissors

Guys, there's a reason you don't get ugly in a beauty parlor.
Arming themselves with curling irons, chairs, a wooden table leg and clenched fists, the women attacked.

Blood and urine splattered from the victim; stains adorned the white paints worn by many of the beauty school students.

Crying in pain, the robber tried to crawl away from the students, Mitchell said.

"I grabbed his legs and wouldn't let him go. I pulled him back. He wasn't going to get up out of here and tell everyone he robbed us. When he came in here, he knocked down a beehive and sent the bees flying all over."

Sharon Blalock, owner of the school, said she couldn't be prouder of her students and employees. "They just whooped the hell out of him."

You go, girls!

Pentecostalism gets weirder and weirder

Not that this bears much similarity to the Assembly of God down the street. For which God be praised.

A blog for dirty-eared inbreds

You know the sick fascination some people get from watching those "Faces of Death" videos? I get that from this guy's blog. He avoids calling himself a racist; prefers "kinist." I guess if you count marrying kin, it works.

My great-grandfather, I'm told, rode with the Ku Klux Klan in his youth. I don't hold that against him; at the time, it was more a political organization than a Nazi-Skinhead-Vermin thing. I never knew him, but I wonder what he'd say if he knew that his great-grandson (and male-line heir) was a Papist, married to an American Indian, with three Hispanic kids.

Miscegenation works for me.

Eat what and die?

Gimme a G!
Gimme an R!
Gimme an O-D-Y!
What's that spell?

A/T to Jim Romanesko.

New blog

Well, not objectively new. But I just discovered it, and since the world obviously revolves around me...
Take a look.

Farewell to Fleet Street

The OTOF Akubra is respectfully doffed. After half a millennium, the journalistic bastion of Fleet Street is no more.

The printing press was only 60 years old when Fleet Street became home to England's printing industry. The very name had been synonymous with news for a couple of centuries when Franklin started the first newspaper in North America. The free press we defend so fervently had its origins there.

St. Augustine, patron of printers (and my own patron), pray for us.

One man, one vote, one election

Seems a man in Wisconsin was the only eligible voter in an annexation election. The measure passed... unanimously.

Democrats are expected to demand two recounts.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Speaking of parades

I guess inflatable penises (penii?) are all right for parades, but traditional marriage is strictly for right-wing nutjobs.

It's not a coincidence that Poland is one of the few culturally Catholic countries left in Europe. Clue for non-"right-wing-activists": If the Soviets couldn't wipe out Poland's faith in 40+ years of brutal suppression, do you really think you can do it just by sneering at "intolerance?"
You make a mockery of all that we hold sacred here
You drive us underground in hopes that we will disappear
We seek our sanctuary where the altar candle burns
Our dignity's a legacy the cross of Jesus reaffirms.
Steve Taylor, "Over my Dead Body," 1984

Go Poland!

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Pervs on parade

I guess some things are a little too weird even for Seattle.
Organizers of the annual parade with nude bicyclists, and last year a giant inflatable penis, have decided that people pulling a float with a chain hooked to their piercings goes too far.

They've banned a group that marched last year from making a reappearance in Saturday's parade – this time dressed up as pirates with two people suspended on a pirate ship float from hooks in their skin.

Sometimes I wish the mountain range between here and there were a lot higher.

Top this, Petite Powerhouse!

One for the "Duh" files

Michael Jackson's lawyer said Tuesday the singer will no longer share his bed with young boys.

"He's not going to do that anymore," attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. told NBC's "Today."

Ya think?

Full story here.

Martin's Law Number Two

I'm a Washington Brownsider, about eighth generation. I grew up in Klickitat County, in a town without stoplights but with horse droppings on the streets and girls who chewed. I guess I'm a bit of a hick-snob.

Hence, Martin's Law #2 states: Never trust a man who wears clean cowboy boots or drives a new-looking truck. He's a phony.

And I don't think this is an adequate substitute.

H/T to Wicked Thoughts.

Would you like your hypocrisy scrambled or fried?

Since we know that the controversy won't be over eas(il)y. This may help you look on the sunny side.

A/T to the ever-delightful Dawn Eden of New Yolk City.

Monday, June 13, 2005

It's a fine line between religious fervor and dippiness sometimes

Jesus and His mother seem to be popping up everywhere these days. And where they don't, there's always things like this.
One of my many worries is that some morning I will wake up with the urge to build a rosary of bowling balls in my front yard.

Laugh, clowns, it happened to a guy in Tennessee. Thirty-three AMF Black Beauties. Drilled. Seventy-pound-test dog chain between them.

“Jesus Christ,” said his neighbors. Exactly the reaction he was seeking. They’re lucky he didn’t do the gasoline stations of the cross.

My thoughts exactly.

UPDATE: Woops! I forgot there was a registration involved. Go to BugMeNot.com to get around it.

UP-UPDATE: Woops again! Forgot to tip the ol' Akubra to the Curt Jester.


This is worth a full-body shudder. Apparently some 3,800 surgical patients were cut open wiith instruments mistakenly washed in hydraulic fluid.
According to the investigation reports, the mix-up originated last summer when an elevator at Duke Health Raleigh was repaired.The inspectors said that workers drained hydraulic fluid from the elevator into about a dozen empty detergent drums that they got earlier at Duke University Hospital when they fixed an elevator there. Most of the drums were marked with the brand name of a detergent used to wash surgical tools. The drums were later picked up and used as if they contained detergent (the detergent and hydraulic fluid have a similar color).


Boys oughta be boys

I don't know how old Amanda's boys are, but if the ages match, I have three lovely daughters who will be husband-high in a few years. Perhaps we should talk.

I know I'm pounding a well-beaten drum, but the next generation of boys desperately needs to be raised as boys. Our generation (the Breakfast-clubbers) was expected to pretend that boys and girls were the same, and that we should all play nice, because violence never solves anything. We weren't, as a rule, taught to stand up when a lady enters a room, or to take a poke at a bully, or any of the things that our fathers and grandfathers took for granted.

A boy's hands need to know how to drink tea with a pinky extended, how to hold a lady's chair, and how to swing a fist into the mouth of some jerk who needs it. And most of all, when to do which.

Akubra tip to Patrick.

The verdict is in

Apparently the jury has found Michael Jackson innocent. I don't begrudge the Gloved One his right to a fair trial. But does anybody think that if he'd been a priest, would there be supporters protesting outside a courtroom? Would there even be a courtroom? Or would he have been found guilty by the public, lynched in the press, no defense necessary? Fair trials are for screwed-up rich people, not for men who love God enough to forego families and salaries.


Purgatorial thoughts

The other day, my Lovely and Brilliant Wife and I were talking with the kids about the relationship between time, Purgatory, and eternity. I won't pretend to understand that relationship, although it's given me a serious brain-stretching. But that's not the point of this post.

As a Protestant, I had always thought that Purgatory was supposed to be like a jail sentence we serve out as punishment for our sins before we can be let into Heaven, a revenge by God for our sins. It's not; it's more like the front hall of Heaven, where we take a final shower before entering into God's perfection. It's a gift, not a punishment. Like most of God's blessings, it's uncomfortable to receive in our sinful state, but glorious to have received afterward.

Posting about Kenneth Taylor (see below) caused me to think about Purgatory again. Like most Protestants who arrive at the Pearly Gates, Dr. Taylor was probably surprised out of his boots to find himself in Purgatory. I'm not impugning the man's character here; we're all sinners, short of the glory of God. When we begin the journey toward heaven, God begins working changes in us to make us reflect His goodness, but the process is never finished while we're alive. It's only after our time on earth is done and we're about to step into God's glory that he takes the final bits of sin off of us and makes us perfect. The Godlier we are on earth, the less there is to correct at Purgatory. But no matter how Godly He makes us while we're here, we still can't be holy enough to enter Heaven when our time comes.

That's why I don't think Dr. Taylor was unhappy to find he had been wrong about Purgatory. The Lord had spent most of Dr. Taylor's 88 years molding him into the sort of servant He wanted. This process might have been difficult, but it only happened because Dr. Taylor loved the Lord and wanted more than anything to be holy. So when he arrived in Purgatory, God was in effect giving him the desire of his heart, by completing the work He had been doing all along. At the front door of Heaven, God gave Dr. Taylor the last gift he would ever receive as a sinner: perfection and sinlessness.

I can't say Purgatory sounds like a lot of fun (not that we really know a lot about it), but I'm grateful that God loves me enough to finish His work in me, just like Dr. Taylor. Now we come short; in that day, we won't anymore. Praise God for His unflinching mercy!

Update: My LABW points out that in the general course of things, people don't shower in the front hall. She suggests a welcome mat as a better analogy.

See why I married her?

A sturdy brick in the building

Last Friday, Kenneth W. Taylor entered into heaven, where I expect the line of people waiting to greet him was unfathomably long. Dr. Taylor is probably best known for his Living Bible paraphrase of the King James version, which has some flaws but is still a wonderful tool for reading the Word of God. I remember as a kid in the 70s learning my memory verses out of the KJV, and then checking the Living to make sure I had understood them right. Dr. Taylor spent his life in Christian publishing, explaining the Bible and Evangelical Christianity in terms that even a kid could understand. I didn't know him personally, of course, but he planted and cultivated seeds on paper that gave me a beacon to home in on when I had wandered away from Christ and needed to come back. I'm grateful to him for that.

When Jesus told Peter "Upon this rock I will build my church," He wasn't just giving Peter first place; He was also assuring us that the Church would be more than just one man, or even a collection of men, but that He would use men to build it. Looking back over the centuries, we can identify some of the bricks that God used to build. Some are high-profile, some are remembered today only by God, and some are so strong and so useful that the support they give the whole structure is unmistakeable. Not only through his Living Bible, but also through his work at Moody, Inter-Varsity and Tyndale House, Dr. Taylor was a brick that the Lord used to great effect. I think it may be another generation before we see what-all the Lord will build on him.

May God give Dr. Taylor the rest he deserves, and I hope to meet him someday.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Get your money for nothing...

I see that suing the Catholic Church has become a billion-dollar industry.

Now, I don't want to be unsympathetic toward people who were molested as children, but does anybody really believe that (A) all of these 11,500 people really were severely abused by priests, and (B) that each one needs that much money for it? After all, if the statistics are right, one in four women and one in ten men was molested as a minor. The vast majority of them go on to live mostly normal lives. It's tragic, but not usually the end of the world.

Then, too, in the majority of these cases, the alleged victims have simply been paid off by the Church. No evidence has had to be brought. All that's necessary is that the allegations not be blatantly disprovable. In our diocese, we had an accusation leveled at a priest by a man who claimed to have been molested repeatedly by a priest in the 60s. A little investigation revealed that the very elderly priest had been living with his sister at the time in a state of senile dementia. Naturally, by the time his miraculous recovery was revealed, he was long dead. As are a great many of the accused, which makes them unable to defend themselves. Who's the victim there?

I guess the lesson we should take away from this is that if you're going to be molested, make sure it's not by somebody with no assets. If you play your cards (or cardinals) right, you could retire on the proceeds. The Church has become the new 401(k) plan.

And your Chicks for free

I couldn't resist.
This is a hoot for anybody who's ever been torn between laughing and crying at Jack Chick. Alas, the Cthulhu tract "Who will be eaten first?" has been taken down. Chick Publications has no sense of humor.

To be honest, I grew up with Chick tracts, and I always thought they were a pretty reasonable, if somewhat corny, evangelism tool. I actually never saw the ones lambasting the Catholic Church until I was an adult, and by then, I knew a tinfoil-hat theory when I heard one.


Thursday, June 09, 2005

Cold war for Christ?

Closer at Blogodoxy has some thoughts on this article suggesting that the Catholic Church and the various Evangelical groups are about to start wrangling in earnest for members around the world. Closer points out a part of the reason for the Evangelical inroads:
At the risk of causing controversy, I would stress that the evangelical road is quicker, easier, and more seductive than the far more penitential yet spiritually richer one of Church Tradition. Their doctrines are less secured and thus their capacity to translate those doctrines into the varying cultures they interact with becomes considerably easier--even, perhaps, to the point of losing some of the cores of the faith. (Though, I admit that would have to be evaluated on a mission-by-mission basis.) This sort of doctrinal plasticity also appears to carry over into their methods of worship which, again, are far more open to a variety of cultures for the sole reason that they are always open; no universal standard or even, it seems, direction exists within the movement.

Certainly there are some very doctrinally strong strains within Protestantism, but this seems like a pretty good analysis of the sort of Evangelicalism that's more marketed than preached. It's very much a feel-good Christianity, and I think it's the logical outworking of the anti-hierarchical attitude created by the Reformation. The Reformers stripped away the Church's tradition with sola scriptura, and Pop-Evangelicalism carries on the stripping-down by downplaying doctrine in favor of experience. (Ironically, the rich experience to be had through life in a Traditional church is derided as "works-based," and liturgical worship as "dead.")

What kind of Christendom are these Evangelicals trying to convert the world to, and what are the converts losing in the process?

Gay brownshirts on the march!

(To steal another phrase from Überblogger Mark Shea while he's on hiatus.)

All your bridges are belong to us!

Hat tip to The Mighty Barrister.

Speaking of Bunco Kelly

I came across this while I was looking for a link for the last post. Portland is my old stomping ground, and I've always thought it was a more interesting city than it gets credit for.
Portland in those days was filled with colorful characters and dastardly criminals. Bunco Kelly, the man who sold a crew of corpses, is just one of the many crime bosses who had his heyday in this bustling den of crime. Crimping was an established system as early as the 1870s, and the man generally credited as "The Father of Portland Crimping" was one James Turk, a menacing character who began by buying up some sailors' boardinghouses along the waterfront. He called himself an "agent" who would find work for his sailor tenants -- the term "crimp" is said to come from British slang for "agent," in fact -- but the reality was that he would often sell men against their will to any ship in port that was willing to pay. He had two sons, one of whom followed faithfully in his father's footsteps, while the other refused to work in the family trade of flesh for money. To punish his disobedience, the recalcitrant lad was sent to sea for several months to pay for his supposed transgressions. You know a man's a mean sonofabitch when he crimps his own son.

The movies have nothing on real-life history!

Be all you can be...

... whether you jolly well like it or not. Can they really be this desperate in the Corps? It calls up images of Bunco Kelly.

I hope somebody at the recruiting office ends up scrubbing a lot of latrines for this. The Marines deserve better.

Akubra tip to Washington State Political Report.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005


There are better ways to get a leg up on high airfares than this.

I love it!

Now this is what I call putting your money where your mouth is.
"I know he had been here before, because he knew where everything was and he knew where to park," [church member Jimmy] Love told the Athens Banner-Herald. "I thought he'd be back, so I wanted to leave a little note and tell him that God loved him and that he would forgive him."

The did call the police, so the other cheek isn't entirely turned. Still, even that can be a kindness, if it gives the thief a chhance to repent. Wouldn't be the first time.

Some great photos

These pictures are making me homesick.

I grew up near the scenes in the first few Columbia River photos, and Tim Goddard captured the way I remember them perfectly. Some places really don't change much in two or three decades. Check out the rest of Tim's site while you're there.

I'm in the middle of the newsroom...

...so I had to stifle the raucous guffaws that this deserves. If you're similarly constrained, you'll have to settle for chortling.

A tip of the ol' Akubra to Mason Logerot.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Pondering Protestantism: Church history and authority

Warning: This is a long one!

I've been thinking a lot about Protestantism lately, both because most of my family is Evangelical, and also because I've been spending a lot of time reading Challies-Dot-Com and The Bayly Brothers. In particular, David Bayly posted some thoughts a while back on the visible vs. invisible Church, which got me to thinking about it all over again. To be honest, this was a huge factor in my poping, and although I never questioned the matter very closely before then (I was not a terribly well-informed Baptist), I don't understand how Protestants who actually know their faith handle the issue. (Note: I'm not baiting anybody here; I really would like to understand.)

It seems to me that all of the Biblical references to “The Church” refer to an institution, beginning with Jesus’ “Upon this rock” promise to Peter. It could be that they can all be read as referring to all believers in general, or it could be that it’s meant to convey both. So let's consider both sides of it. The trouble with asserting an invisible, non-institutional Church is that even Protestants hold to certain beliefs that required definition from an institutional Church, like the canon of scripture and the nature of the Trinity. Other beliefs also defined by ecclesiastical authority, like veneration of saints and transubstantiation, are rejected by Protestants, on the grounds of sola scriptura.

Logically, there are three possibilities:
1. The Church has always held the authority to define doctrine, that authority being exercised by the hierarchy in conjunction with scripture, but not limited solely to scripture.

2. The Church has never held that authority, and is instead a collection of widely disparate bodies of believers united by their faith in the same Christ, but not by any temporal body.

3. The Church had that authority at one time, but has lost it at some point through corruption.

Possibility number 1, obviously, is the position of all Christians except for Protestants. Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and the various traditional Oriental churches all hold to this, and do not appear to have ever not taught it. Protestants, by the very nature of their protest, must either reject this position or acknowledge themselves to be in rebellion against legitimate authority. (For the moment, we’ll leave aside the question of whether that Church is headed by Rome or by all five Patriarchs in union. It’s an important question, but since Protestants recognize the authority of neither Rome nor Byzantium, it’s not really relevant here.)

Possibilities 2 and 3 pose certain problems. If the Church has never had the authority to define doctrine in the absence of explicit scriptural teaching, then the Council of Nicea had no authority to define the Trinity, and the Councils of Hippo and Carthage didn’t have the authority to define the New Testament canon. Hence, if we take what’s behind door number two, both those things, taken as axiomatic by Protestants, are in reality matters of individual judgment. (Incidentally, the logical end of this line of reasoning legitimizes the Mormons, whose departure from Christian orthodoxy comes from defining for themselves both the canon of scripture and the Trinity.)

The third possibility is no more supportable than the second. Let’s take an example:
If the Church was empowered, say, to define the New Testament as 27 books long (Council of Hippo, 393, and Third Council of Carthage, 397), but was not empowered to define Mary’s role as the Mother of God (Council of Ephesus, 431), then that leaves a window of only 34 years in which the Church could cease to exercise authority in doctrinal matters. If we allow the definition of the theotokos at Ephesus to stand (since it’s more a statement on the Incarnation than on Mary), then we have to go to the next council that defined something unpalatable to Protestants. How about the Second Council of Nicea, in 787, which upheld the veneration of icons? Few Protestants would agree that the Church had the authority by that time to make such a decree, since they consider that veneration tantamount to idolatry. That’s a window of 390 years, which may be enough time for the Church to have lost its teaching authority. But the question remains: at what point did the shift occur? In which year? At what event? I have yet to receive a credible answer to that question from any Protestant.

It’s not an idle question, nor is it meant to be a straw man. Rather, it strikes me as both crucial and relevant. Debate over “Upon this rock” notwithstanding, the other half of Jesus’ promise to Peter said “and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” If the Church once possessed authority, and no longer does, then at some point the gates of hell must have prevailed, at least until 1517. I don’t see any alternative. The same Church that defined the Trinity at Nicea is the one that ruled on icons 462 years later. And despite a split between East and West, there’s an unbroken historical line to the same Church that ruled on transubstantiation in 1215 and on justification in 1563. The East-West schism has little bearing on either of those issues, since both Catholics and Orthodox believe more or less the same in those areas. Only Protestants reject those doctrines outright.

So, Protestant readers, I’m very interested in your answer to that question, or for that matter, whether you think it’s germane at all. At what point do you believe the Church’s dogmatic authority ceased to be?

God bless you, please, Mrs. Robinson

Anne Bancroft has died of cancer at 73.

I had no idea she was married to Mel Brooks, quite possibly the funniest filmmaker living today. For 49 years, no less! Say what you will about Hollywood marriages; some of them do last. But if a 49-year marriage to a world-class smart-ass doesn't make her a miracle worker, I don't know what does.

I found this little bit of trivia in her biography at the Internet Movie Database:
She and Mel Brooks met on the set of a TV talk show, and Mel later paid a woman who worked on the show to tell him which restaurant Anne was going to eat at that night so he could "accidentally" bump into her again and strike up a conversation.

That's one of the most romantic how-we-met stories I've ever heard.


I haven't blogged in almost three weeks! Where does the time go?

Actually, it has not gone idly by. (Then again, with six kids, one of them a toddler, nothing goes idly by.) Lots of stuff going on in the family these days, which will probably bore the bejabbers out of y'all. Nobody in my family reads this blog except my Lovely and Brilliant Wife, and I don't think anybody who does read it knows my family personally (assuming I haven't lost all my readers in the intervening weeks). Nevertheless, the news:

My little sister is coming back from Pittsburgh tomorrow after about ten years, with a husband and an adorable litle girl to show for her time back east. Well, she's got a lot more than that. She also apparently has a renewed faith to show for it, and her husband was baptized not too long ago as well. She doesn't tell me these things, but I get the impression that she had a lot of issues to work out with God, and it's good to see them on the same page, as it were. I've forgotten what it's like to share a time zone with her, and I've actually missed her, which I wouldn't have laid odds on when we were kids. Welcome home, Small Sister!

My brother is getting married in a month. I got an invitation to his bachelor party in the mail yesterday. His friends have actually booked a set of hotel rooms in Portland for three days. I kind of wish I could be there, as it sounds like the sort of bachelor party that ends in visits to the bail bondsman. Then again, I'm getting a little old for the throw-up-in-the-street sort of weekend to sound like as much fun as it did when I was 25. My Lovely and Brilliant Wife concurs wholeheartedly.

Finally, while I'm noting milestones, I notice that my best-friend-since-childhood, Nate Hilman, is about to celebrate his tenth anniversary next month. I'm embarrassed to admit I can't remember the date, especially since I was his best man - the first and only time in my life I've worn a tuxedo. I think Nate may be the only friend I have who's actually managed a full decade. He's also, as the link at the right indicates, the Greatest Wedding Photographer in the Northwest, so he's seen a lot of marriages begin, and probably more than a few end as well. At the wedding, I said that Nate put me in mind of a Lamed-Vovnik. I still think so.

So enough dull family stuff. Look for some actual honest-to-goodness blogging in the near future.