Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Scary movies

In America, Halloween is ranked second among all of the holidays in dollars spent on holiday celebrations.

That puts Halloween ahead of Easter, when we celebrate Jesus victory over sin and death, ahead of Independence Day when we celebrate freedom and liberty, and ahead of Thanksgiving when we express our thanks to God for the innumerable blessings he showers on us.

So what is the significance of this last day of October? What is the compelling message that leads Americans to consider this day a higher priority than Jesus resurrection? The message is simple: "Boo!". Yeah, that's it. "Boo!"

It is traditional to watch a scary movie today. Blood, gore, a guy with blades on his fingers jumping out and making you scream, psychos, evil villains, undead, zombies, chainsaws, hockey masks, and people meeting an untimely demise are common themes in these films. I don't watch many of these films, but I do admit to enjoying "Silence of the Lambs" and "Psycho".

Tonight, in keeping with this tradition, I am going to watch a real bone-chiller, perhaps the most frightening movie of them all: Waco: Rules of Engagement.

What makes it particularly horrific is that the sequel is apparently on the way.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Your tax money at work

Dallas City Hall is launching a new billboard campaign against saggy pants.

Granted, wearing your pants down on your hips with your underwear sticking out looks dumb. But of all the things they could spend our tax money on, why that?


What makes the Newsboys so good?

Last weekend we drove down to Austin to see the Newsboys in concert. The Newsboys are a Christian band from Australia who have been around for just about as long as U2. Unlike U2, they have not lost their original greatness, as they continue to add to their 6 gold records. Their name sums up who they are and what they are about. "Gospel" means "Good News" and their purpose is to spread the news of Jesus Christ.

So what is it that makes the Newsboys so good?

They are extremely talented musically. Watching Peter Furler go from guitar to bass to drums, all while singing in his own gravelly style is remarkable. But there are lots of talented acts out there.

Their concerts are lots of fun. The high-tech lighting and video make it an amazing experience. And who can argue with upside-down dueling drums and Captain Crunch fights? But their greatness is not just in their entertainment value.

In my opinion, what makes the Newsboys uniquely great is one man who does not even appear on stage. His name is Steve Taylor, and he writes most of the lyrics. I listened to Steve Taylor's solo work way back in the day. He was something of a firebrand, belting out confrontational lines such as "You're so open-minded that your brain leaked out." My favorite song from his solo career is called "Bad Rap", and it includes this verse:

You save the whales, you save the seals,
You save whatever's cute and squeals.
But you kill that "thing" that's in the womb
Would not want no baby boom
Good, bad, laugh and scorn
Blame yourself for kiddie porn
Convenience is the law you keep
And your compassion's ankle deep.

Who ya tryin' to kid, kid?
Wrap it in a fine philosophy.
Who ya tryin' to kid, kid?
But your bottom line still says "me, me, me"
Got your heads together now?
Got a way that's better now?
Who ya tryin' to kid, kid?
Steve Taylor has written dozens of songs for the Newsboys, and I wish that I could share a whole bunch of them with you. We could discuss how he uses a song about Breakfast to show how we don't mourn like those who have no hope, or how he uses plays on sounds and names in a song about how our lives and words must point people to Jesus. But to really do them justice, you'll have to sit down with the lyric sheet, listen to the music, and get lost in the wit and genius of a great songwriter, but most importantly appreciate how he uses his gift to bring glory to God.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Circular arguments

Scientists say that they have "taken a baby step in trying to answer the cosmic question of where we come from. "

Their answer: dust.

"In the end, everything comes from space dust," said Markwick-Kemper of the University of Manchester in England.

But where does the dust come from?

The Spitzer Space Telescope was used to address that question. Astronomers used the telescope to find and identify a large amount of recently-formed space dust in the wind bursting out of a massive black hole 8 billion light years from here. They used the wavelengths of light coming from the quasar to determine the makeup: glass, sand, crystal, marble, ruby, and sapphire.

Ok, so where do black holes come from? They are the remnants of massive stars which have burned themselves out and collapsed under their own gravitation into a dimensionless point.

And where did the original star come from? Well, from space dust of course. It's that old chicken and egg problem all over again. You need dust to make stars and you need stars to make dust, so where did it start in the first place?

When science starts with the assumption that there is no God, it rejects the only possible first cause. Science, in its true form, is an investigation into the creative work of God. The Bible says that "you are dust, and to dust you shall return," but it also says who made the very matter of the dust out of nothing. God made it, and until scientists acknowledge that fact they are only running in circles.