Tuesday, March 29, 2005

The Death Penalty—WWJD?

I found this story interesting:

Death sentence by jury that discussed Bible thrown out

This week a judge threw out a death sentence issued by a jury in 1995 because five of the jurors had consulted the Bible during deliberations. Because these jurors used Scripture, rather than civil law, as a basis for their sentencing decision, the judge nullified the death sentence and replaced it with life in prison witout parole.

As I am not a lawyer, I cannot speak to the judge's decision. However, I am bothered that these five jurors back in 1995 decided that the Bible justified the death penalty as a moral form of punishment. While "eye-for-an-eye" ethics permeate the Torah, a thoughtful biblical analysis of capital punishment should have revealed the following:

  • Cain, the Bible's first murderer, was not put to death by God. Rather, God "put a mark on Cain, so that no one who came upon him would kill him." (See Genesis 4.)

  • Some of the Bible's most important and beloved heroes -- including Moses, David, and Paul -- were guilty of murder or were guilty as accomplices. They suffered for their misdeeds, but were ultimately redeemed.

  • Redemption and repentence are key themes throughout the biblical texts. When someone is executed by the state, the state cuts short the processes of redemption and repentence.

  • Jesus himself refuted the "eye-for-an-eye" laws in Matthew 5:38-42.

  • Jesus was wrongly sentenced to death. Whenever we execute someone, we always run the risk of killing a person who was wrongly convicted.

  • Thursday, March 24, 2005

    Chili Meat

    I worked six summers at Wendy's, and I've often told friends to exercise caution when eating the restaurant's chili. You see, when hamburger patties have been on the grill too long, they are placed in a pan of water sitting on the grill. When the pan is full of discarded patties, it is rushed to the back and sat on a counter. After the lunch rush, the pan of burnt meat is drained and the patties are placed in a white bucket and set in the refrigerator. After a few days the meat is removed from the fridge, chopped, and put into the chili. At least, this is the process by which meat normally makes its way into the chili. But apparently, a Wendy's in San Jose decided to add some "fresh meat" to the mix:

    From CNN.com

    Wednesday, March 23, 2005

    Green Onions

    This week's The Onion features some quality environmental satire:

    See the What Do You Think? and the News in Brief Below:

    EPA To Drop 'E,' 'P' From Name

    WASHINGTON, DC—Days after unveiling new power-plant pollution regulations that rely on an industry-favored market-trading approach to cutting mercury emissions, EPA Acting Administrator Stephen Johnson announced that the agency will remove the "E" and "P" from its name. "We're not really 'environmental' anymore, and we certainly aren't 'protecting' anything," Johnson said. "'The Agency' is a name that reflects our current agenda and encapsulates our new function as a government-funded body devoted to handling documents, scheduling meetings, and fielding phone calls." The change comes on the heels of the Department of Health and Human Services' January decision to shorten its name to the Department of Services.

    Tuesday, March 22, 2005

    With Dignity

    Given the ubiquity of the coverage, I cannot not think about the Terri Schiavo story. I won't be able to record all my thoughts on the matter, but I will say this: Regardless of whether or not Terri Schiavo would have wanted her feeding tube removed in this situation, I doubt that she would have wanted to become the focal point of a heated national debate; I would assume that she would not enjoy having pictures of herself in a persistent vegetative state featured in every major newspaper and on every major news website; and I don't know Terri Schiavo at all, but very few people would approve of their personal tragedies being used by politicians to fuel ideological debates. I suppose by commenting, I'm only contributing to the problem.

    That's it for now.

    Monday, March 21, 2005

    10th Century Prayer

    I found this 10th century prayer (thanks to the General Board of Discipleship of The United Methodist Church) as I was preparing yesterday's Sunday school lesson. I think it makes for a nice Monday morning/Holy Week moment of prayer and reflection:

    The Lord Jesus Christ be
    with you to defend you,
    within you to refresh you,
    around you to preserve you,
    before you to guide you,
    behind you to justify you,
    above you to bless you;
    who lives and reigns with the Father [the Almighty],
    and with the Holy Spirit, one God for evermore.

    Pet store owner: Satan's image on turtle's shell

    I couldn't pass this up.

    An Interesting Take on the Terri Schiavo Case

    I've been working on recording my own thoughts on the Terri Schiavo situation, because I think the matter raises a lot of interesting and important questions. But until I have time to get my thoughts down, I'll recommend the above link. I'm reluctant to link to blogs that have such an overt political bent, but this post and the articles it links to raise even more interesting and important questions about the Schiavo case and the American ethos when it comes to life and death.

    Tuesday, March 15, 2005

    The Secrets of New Journalism Success

    From The Daily Show With Jon Stewart

    My NCAA Tournament Picks

    I'm not sure why people are so interested in one another's Final Four picks; or even why sports fans are so attentive to experts' picks. So, though it is a vain exercise, I give you my Final Four picks:

    Chicago Region
    Illinois over Arizona

    Albuquerque Region
    Louisville over Wake Forest

    Syracuse Region
    Connecticut over North Carolina

    Austin Region
    Oklahoma over Syracuse

    Final Four
    Illinois over Louisville; Connecticut over Oklahoma

    Final Game
    Illinois over Connecticut

    For the record, this is the first time I have picked the obvious favorite to go all the way. And I admit that, because I get so tired of Duke and North Carolina, I am always tempted to pick against them, and they rarely end up in my Final Fours. I also admit that, despite the hours I spend researching college basketball, my bracketology skills are lacking. But before you take me as someone with no credibility, I should say that I am the only person I know who correctly picked Syracuse to win it all two years ago.

    Note: I removed the "DIY Tournament Selection" post, because I made that list of suggested 1-through-8 seeds prior to Sunday's games and did not take into account the outcomes of four major conference championship games.

    Note: I'll try to post my picks for the women's tournament by tomorrow.

    Note: I'm picking Oakland in tonight's play-in game. Team's with losing records usually have some success in Dayton.

    Friday, March 11, 2005

    Tonight We Shall Dine on 7-Layer Burritos

    After a nationwide boycott of Taco Bell led by denominations such as the Presbyterian Church USA and The United Methodist Church, TB has agreed to lead an effort to improve working conditions for the farm workers who pick tomatoes for the Bell and other restaurant chains.

    (I'll confess that, since receving a thoughtful and informative letter from Taco Bell president Emil Brolick a few months back in response to my "why I'm boycotting" letter, Ashlee and I have eaten a handful of 7-Layers and Burritos Supreme.)

    Chinese Democracy

    Mike Mullins sent me a link to this intriguing article on Axl's eleven-year-old project that may or may not ever reach completion. (The stuff about Buckethead is great.)


    Mike Mullins has been keeping me posted on the Indiana General Assembly's efforts to pass a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages (which are already illegal in Indiana). The Indiana legislators are almost as ridiculous as their Tennessee counterparts. Having lived in Indiana for 24 years, I don't know whether to laugh, cry, or shrug.

    As Mike points out, the picture accompanying this article is classic:

    IndyStar.com: "At Statehouse, passions erupt over amendment"

    Nuvo's coverage is a little more gutsy. (The first picture accompanying this article is just disturbing):

    Nuvo: "God Hates Gays: Intolerance, tolerance meet at the Statehouse"

    I am bothered that a) Christian schools bussed students to the Statehouse to support the amendment and b) many supporters of the amendment shouted "God hates gays" at those who were opposed. I haven't the time nor the energy to explain why yelling "God hates gays" is entirely incompatible with Christian teaching. And I won't discuss why, as a Christian educator, I am angered that some Christian schools chose to take their students to the capitol to support this bill rather than a bill that would, say, help lift people out of poverty or provide quality healthcare for people who are otherwise uninsurable. Finally, I will not bother you with my thoughts on how divorce, marital infidelity, spousal abuse, and antiquated gender roles are more serious threats to the institution of marriage than anything homosexuals are doing.

    Tuesday, March 08, 2005

    Hillsboro Beats Beech in Double OT

    My brother-in-law coaches the Burros, who are now on their way to state.

    The Gap Widens, But by How Much?

    I came across these statistics on the widening gap between the haves and have nots while doing some research at work. The figures are a couple years old now (and the IPS is hardly an objective source), but they are disturbing nonetheless.

    Monday, March 07, 2005


    Thursday, March 03, 2005

    Hidden Galaxies

    I love when astronomers find new stuff billions of light years away.

    It's Happening Too Fast

    I am now the father of a one-year-old. Little Meyer turned one at 12:09 yesterday. We celebrated at the Aquarium Restaurant, the centerpiece of which is a 100,000-gallon aquarium with sharks, eels, and several varieties of fish. (Much of the restaurant's menu is seafood; so, before ordering, you must take into consideration the guilt that comes with eating tuna in front of a tuna.)

    I didn't notice any major changes in Meyer yesterday. He still walks into walls and tables, says a handful of crude words, and plays with the cats. The birthday was, however, an occasion to look back, to think about what we were doing a year ago, and to reflect on how much has happened since then. Our baby is a totally different person now than he was when we first met him, or even than he was a few months ago. Thinking about the diaper and clothing sizes he's been through is really incredible. At any rate, I now understand cliches such as "they grow up too fast" and "before you know it, he'll be driving."

    Tuesday, March 01, 2005

    Thank You, Doug

    I would like to thank Tennessee State Senator Douglas Henry for his quick response to the e-mail I'd sent him regarding a ridiculous bill being debated in the State Senate. I have never received such an expedient reply from an elected official. However, I didn't quite understand the letter he sent me. It read:

    "Certainly I acknowledge the force of the arguments which you set out and appreciate your having written."

    Let me know if you understand what this means.

    Rhythm Back in the News

    The Nashville Rhythm are in the national news again and again for an embarrassing reason. After all the mid-season turmoil the team endured (losing their star player to a league in Korea, the owner firing the coach after confronting her on the court during the third quarter), my hometown's minor league basketball team made the ABA playoffs. But for reasons that are not entirely clear, they have decided not to participate.

    Read the article I wrote on the team when they were enjoying a more civilized era.

    Who's Watching Ebbers?

    I'm having to do some research on the trial of WorldCom CEO Bernie Ebbers for a project at work and am finding that major media coverage of the trial is hard to come by. CNN.com, for example, has nothing. A quick web search gave me no links to major papers or news outlets. (To be fair, NPR did a brief story on the trial yesterday.)

    If I recall correctly, the WorldCom scandal was the largest case of corporate accounting fraud ever. A lot of people, both employees and investors, lost a lot of money at the hands of WorldCom. (Not to mention, WorldCom received its share of no-bid contracts in Iraq.) A trial to determine whether the company's CEO was responsible for this mess should be more newsworthy.

    But alas, the best info I could find was from a paper in Mississippi:

    Ebbers Trial–The Clarion-Ledger