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Opening day of the baseball season has arrived. This is the annual indicator that Spring is here and Summer is just around the corner. More importantly it means another season of baseball for my beloved Phillies. I’m gearing up for a season of high’s and low’s (okay… insert misery and torture instead). In all seriousness, do you Phillies fans out there think they have enough pitching to repeat as divisional champs and go further this year? Philadelphia could desperately use a championship. Go Phillies!

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Anthony Bradley, professor of Apologetics and Systematic Theology at Covenant Seminary (where I attended) was interviewed by Glenn Beck on CNN’s Headline News about black liberation theology:

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I’m disappointed to say that the Friday Night Forum on race at Barnes & Noble was not recorded because I neglected to turn on the microphone used for recording! Rob Prestowitz, director of UrbanPromise in Wilmington did a great job of getting at the heart of the race issue. The best I can do is direct you to the book resources that were associated with the event. Sorry…

These videos have been making their way around the web, so I thought I’d keep it going. Here’s Keller speaking at the Google headquarters and the Veritas Forum at the University of California, Berkeley. The Q&A time at the end of these lectures is much better than it was when he came to Philly. It was especially entertaining to learn during the Q&A at Google that the audience which came to hear Keller was the largest since Violet Blue, the sex blogger, came to speak there!

In chapter one, “There Can’t Be Just One True Religion,” Keller begins by noting that the claim of exclusivity (that there is only one way to God) is one of the most troubling aspects of Christianity for people to swallow. It’s believed by many that religion represents a significant barrier to world peace, particularly because of exclusive claims to superiority. Keller actually agrees. He says that religion can easily cause people to look down on others who hold contrary beliefs. This can turn into hatred, oppression, or even violence towards others. He asks, “what can we do about it?” He suggests that there are three primary approaches that civic and cultural leaders take to address this issue. They are calls to outlaw religion, condemn religion, or to radically privatize it.

Keller argues that calls to outlaw religion don’t work. These efforts serve to intensify religious belief, rather than eradicate it. History also shows that what replaces religion is usually even more dangerous. Secondly, calls to condemn religion aren’t effective either. This is done as many in a society attempt to stimatize religious belief. They strive to create an environment in which it is considered outlandish to make exclusive claims by insisting on certain beliefs that are assumed to be true. However, these beliefs are inconsistent. Here are a few Keller deals with:

1. “All religions are equally valid and basically teach the same thing.”

Response: This belief insists that doctrine is unimportant, yet at the same time assumes doctrinal beliefs about the nature of God that are at odds with those of all the major faiths.

2. “Each religion sees part of spiritual truth, but none can see the whole truth.”

Response: How could you know that no religion can see the whole truth unless you yourself are claiming to have comprehensive knowledge which none of the religions can supposedly have?

3. “Religious belief is too culturally and historically conditioned to be ‘truth.'”

Response: This very statement is a product of social conditions, and therefore cannot be true on its own terms. You can’t say “All claims about religions are historically conditioned except the one I am making right now.”

4. “It is arrogant to insist your religion is right and to convert others to it.”

Response: We are all exclusive in our beliefs about religion. The view above is exclusive in that it implies that those who don’t agree are wrong.

Finally, calls to radically privatize religion (you may privately believe your faith as long as you don’t bring it into the public sphere) fail to recognize that it’s impossible to check your convictions at the door. This is true for secularists as much as it is for religious people. We all live by some master narrative or worldview that informs our understanding of life, who we are, and what we are supposed to do. We all come to the table with these deep commitments that are really built upon faith assumptions that cannot be proven.

Keller concludes the chapter by suggesting that Christianity has the resources for uniquely dealing with the divisive tendencies within the human heart. Christianity teaches that God’s grace does not come to people who morally outperform others, but to those who admit their failure to perform and who acknowledge their need for a Savior. Christian faith should therefore produce humility as its adherents recognize that they aren’t morally superior to anyone. In addition, Christians should be generous and gracious towards those who hold different views then themselves, since at the heart of Christianity is the One who died for his enemies.

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You’re telling me you’re working for Benjamin Linus.”

You’ve got to love the irony in those words, knowing that Sayid will also find employment in Ben’s operation in the not too distant future. In disgust over Michael’s alliance with Ben, Sayid turns Michael over to Captain Gault, placing him in a perilous situation. We’ve seen that the captain is easily provoked and tends to overreact, so I’m interested to find out how he’ll respond. Post-island Michael is plagued by guilt over killing Anna Lucia and Libby. Throughout the episode he’s tormented by visions of Libby (not Anna Lucia since she’s not under contract with the show!) and attempts to committ suicide a few times. Are the visions a figment of Michael’s imagination, or are they appearances of the island monster off the island? I thought I heard the whispers when Libby appeared in the freighter scene. Michael’s situation reminds me a little of Jack’s from the season finale of last year. Michael is reluctant, but willing to work for Ben since he views it as an opportunity to redeem himself for what he did on the island. The free will/determinism tension figured prominently into this episode as Tom asked Michael why the gun didn’t go off when he tried to kill himself. There is no doubt that this is the underlying philosophical issue the show is wrestling with. Related to this, it seems to me that Ben is always one step ahead, like he knows what the future holds – at least some of the time.

This episode was a reunion of sorts in that we saw the return of a number of characters – Michael, Walt, Libby, Tom, Minkowski, and Naomi. I was very surpised to see Tom again. I thought he was back from the dead until I figured out what was going on with the time-line. As an aside, we now know why Tom told Katie she’s not his type in an early episode last season! We still don’t know exactly how Michael and Walt were rescued, but we do know Michael is living in secrecy under a new name. I’m growing more convinced that it was Michael in the coffin from the finale last season. The name in the newspaper article that Jack cut out in that episode was one we aren’t familiar with, but this fits with it being Michael since he is living under a new name. Also, at this point it doesn’t appear that Michael is destined to live a very long life! The major question raised by the episode evolves around who is behind the Flight 815 cover-up. Is it Charles Widmore or Ben Linus? A similar question applies to who shot down Danielle and Karl. Did Ben set them up, much like he did Goodwin? Or was it members of the freighter since we do know the pilot took the helicopter on another mission? I don’t have any concrete evidence either way, but I lean towards it being Widmore’s people for some reason. Do you think both Rousseau and Karl are dead? I definitely belive Karl is, but I’m not sure about Danielle. We’ll have to wait and see.

One last thing – was the patient next to Michael in the hospital Alvar Hanso?

There’s a lot to talk about over the next few weeks before LOST resumes on April 24th. There’ll be 5 episodes remaining when it does pick up again.  

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Yesterday I had the opportunity to take a trip to D.C. as a guest with students from the Delaware College of Art & Design. It was a fantastic experience as I not only got to look at great art, but also got to hear the perspective of those who know a whole lot more about art than I do. I learned more than I have in the past when I’ve gone to museums. It’s amazing what you can learn when you look at art with a group of artists! A new world was opened to me as I was able to appreciate things I would have overlooked on my own.

After spending a few hours at the National Gallery of Art, we went over to the National Building Museum for an exploration in architechture. At the end of the day we hit the Washington Monument, the Korean War Memorial, and the Vietnam War Memorial.

National Gallery of Art

National Building Museum

My favorite exhibiton on display at the National Gallerty of Art was Let the World In by American artist, Robert Rauschenberg. This exhibition included pieces from all periods of Rauschenberg’s work in print media. He’s noted for incorporating the commonplace into varied forms through the integration of newspaper and magazine clippings as well has his own photography. What I liked about Rauschenberg’s printmaking was his celebration of everyday life as he merged daily images into a collage.

Soviet/American Array III

Samarkand Stitches

L.A. Uncovered

What impressed me most throughout the day was how every piece of art tells a story. We are inescapably storied-beings so when we humans create works of art (whether we’re talking about painting, photography, architecture, etc.) we tell some kind of story. The question to ask is, what story is being told?

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about life & spirituality 

If you are a student at the Delaware College of Art & Design (DCAD), join us for weekly conversations about life and spirituality. We meet on Friday afternoon’s at the Saville on Market Street. For more information, click here.


About Campus Conversations:
We don’t have many places in our society where we can come together for respectful dialogue about ‘stuff’ that really matters. So the purpose is to give people a place where they can interact with one another about issues of life and spirituality. It’s also a place for people to safely ask difficult questions, get honest answers, and figure out what they believe without any danger of being rejected, regardless of what conclusions they might come to.

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How tricky? The use of flashbacks and flashforwards in the same episode got me. I wasn’t sure what was going on. I will say that I don’t think Jin is dead. I could be wrong, but I’m just not convinced at this point that he’s gone. The date of death on his tombstone was the day of the plane crash, so something funny’s going on here. Could it be that the tombstone was erected as part of the cover up of the real crash, and Jin’s still on the island in the future? The obvious question then would be why do Sun and Hurley play such a convincing role in grieving? I have two possible theories to offer. One is that they know they are being spied on by people who want to know the whereabouts of the island. Remember Hurley’s encounter with Michael Abbadon in the mental hospital? Maybe Hurley and Sun are playing the part to convince those watching that Jin really is dead so they won’t go looking. On top of that, Hurley and Sun genuinely have something to grieve in that Sun is separated from Jin since he is still back on the island. The second theory is related to the first in that maybe the tombstone was erected as part of the cover up, but Sun simply uses the tombstone to remember and think about her husband who is alive on the island. As Sun sits beside the grave, she says she misses Jin so much. This would obviously apply even if he were alive. As she is in labor earlier in the episode she requests that they find her husband and do whatever it takes to get him there (my paraphrase). Either Jin is alive and she wants so badly for him to be present, or she is still in shock (both from her labor and from the fact that Jin is dead and not there). So the first of these theories is tied to a more elaborate conspiracy theory.

I loved the way they re-introduced Michael into the story. I would have been disappointed if he was revealed through an intense cliff hanger at the end of the episode since every LOST fan knew Michael was Ben’s man on the boat. Since we all expected it, I appreciated how he was revealed subtly as the custodian on the freighter (asked to clean up a splattering of blood on the wall no less!). By the way, this freighter is a boat of horrors, replete with bloody walls, roaches, crazy people who have bloody noses, and crazy people who read books upside down and jump overboard to their death. I can’t wait for next week’s episode which will tell the story of what Michael’s been up to since he left with Walt. I’m intrigued by the theory that Ben sent Michael into the past (some have commented that Michael looks different – maybe a little younger). Those who keep careful track of time on LOST say Michael and Walt left in late November, while the freighter has apparently been off the island since mid-December. Some say, and I agree, that this would not be enough time for Michael to position himself to become a custodian on the frieghter. So what do you think, is it possible Ben sent Michael into the past? We already know that travel around the island can play tricks with time if the right coordinates are navigated.

Who exactly are the Oceanic 6? Are we to include Aaron in that number? That’s my guess. What do you think? Who makes your Oceanic 6 list?

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My buddy Jeff Robinson sent me this link, with the note, “I guess she had a good seat!”

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