Creation Museum opens: Thank God for Kentucky!

May 28, 2007

The Creation Museum opened its doors to the public for the first time today, attracting a great deal of media attention. Everyone who cares about Tennessee’s national image should mark this opening by bowing down and say “Thank God for Kentucky!”

We used to say “Thank God for Mississippi,” for so many times the Magnolia State kept Tennessee off the bottom of the list of the 50 states in dollars spent on public education or items along that line. Now Kentucky has caused us to dodge a bullet, for is the unfortunate site of the Creation Museum, an embarassment that is at once an affront to science and an insult to intelligence.

I know that a state has no control over what sort of institutions choose to set up shop there, and Tennessee already has enough eye rollers, thank you very much, but we certainly didn’t need this one. We’re still living down the Scopes Trial. Having a place like the Creation Museum or Bob Jones University (which was founded in Cleveland, Tennessee but mercifully slunk off to South Carolina) has a bad effect on how a state is perceived by the rest of the country.

Having this Creation Temple of Disinformation in one’s borders lowers the stock of high school graduates, reduces the influence of that state’s colleges, and makes Kentucky the fodder for comedians everywhere. Thank goodness it wasn’t Tennessee!


‘The Miracle’ in Pigeon Forge

May 22, 2007

And it came to pass that they went unto the town called Pigeon Forge, therein to look upon the wonders along the street called Parkway. They came looking for a wondrous woman named Louise Mandrell, but they found that she had departed the city, leaving only her website, which hath the gift of everlasting life. In her old theater, however, a wondrous new show offered an aerial battle of angels, Lucifer live and on stage, Adam & Eve & the apple, and an on-stage crucifixion and resurrection. All this was billed as The Miracle, and it was revealed to them that they could witness all these things for $33.40 a head.


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Inking people for the Lord

April 29, 2007

The Tennessean has an article on a Christian oriented tattoo parlor that’s been on Broadway for three years and will be featured this week on American Bible Society Presents, a cable TN show. The shop is called Billy Joe’s Tattoos, at 301 Broadway.

Billy Joe has a website as well, from which the photos below were extracted. They were created (does one say “drawn” for tattoos?) by Emily, one of Billy Joe’s artists.




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COGIC: big church, big business

April 10, 2007

The Spring issue of Memphis Business Quarterly contains an article on the Church of God in Christ, a denomination headquartered in Memphis with a worldwide membership estimated at 6.5 million. Visitors often go to see the historic Mason Temple, where Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his last, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech, but few know of the extent of the denomination.

According to the article, “Aside from its television and radio programs broadcast from their downtown Memphis headquarters, COGIC has a scattering of real estate holdings in Memphis worth an estimated eight figures. It operates a publishing house, runs a local bookstore that sells everything from COGIC sweatshirts to pencils to hats, and produces worldwide TV broadcasts, all within Memphis city limits. It opened a college here in 2001, and its logo graces a MasterCard debit card. COGIC’s annual meeting, also held in Memphis, brings close to 60,000 visitors, and requires them to rent the FedExForum and the Cook Convention Center – all while filling their own overflowing 5,000-seat Temple of Deliverance – for the convocation ceremony.”

The longtime leader of COGIC, Bishop G.E. Patterson, died on March 20, 2007.


Mason Temple

Billy Graham statue unveiled in Nashville while son readies megabuck mausoleum

December 13, 2006

An article in today’s Tennessean announces that today the Southern Baptist Convention is unveiling a statue of Billy Graham, the leading evangelist of the the 20th Century–some might say of all time.

From the article: “The statue of Graham holding a Bible in one outstretched hand and standing in front of a 17-foot-tall cross will be permanently installed at Commerce Street and Eighth Avenue, on property owned by LifeWay Christian Resources, the publishing arm of the Southern Baptist Convention.”

On the same day, an unreal article in the Washington Post tells of conflict in the Graham family about where Billy and his wife will be buried. Ruth Graham, who raised five children in the mountains of North Carolina while Billy was on the road saving souls, wants to rest not far from the couple’s Montreat home. Franklin Graham, the son who now leads the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, has other plans, wanting to bury his parents in a “library” theme-park in Charlotte.

Here’s a paragraph from the article–the “she” is novelist Patricia Cornwell: “The building, designed in part by consultants who used to work for the Walt Disney Co., is not a library, she says, but a large barn and silo — a reminder of Billy Graham’s early childhood on a dairy farm near Charlotte. Once it’s completed in the spring, visitors will pass through a 40-foot-high glass entry cut in the shape of a cross and be greeted by a mechanical talking cow. They will follow a path of straw through rooms full of multimedia exhibits. At the end of the tour, they will be pointed toward a stone walk, also in the shape of a cross, that leads to a garden where the bodies of Billy and Ruth Graham could lie.”

Jesus wept.


Imaging the brain while talking in tongues

November 7, 2006

I live about 100 miles from Colorado Springs, where tongues have been wagging of late about the antics of the Rev. Ted Haggard, a national evangelical leader who resigned his post as minister of the 14,000-member New Life Church under accusations of frolicking with a gay prostitute and purchasing methamphetamine

My first thought was “Thank God this didn’t happen in Tennessee,”  but Haggard’s choice of recreational drug led me to comment to friends, “well, that explains the talking in tongues.” 

The devil made me say that.  I have no evidence that the good reverend ever took up glossolalia, which is the technical term for what is described in the Biblical book of Acts as “tongues of fire” descending on the Apostles and causing them to speak in languages unknown to them. Talking in tongues is a central part of worship in Pentecostal churches, where parishioners believe that the spirit of God descends upon them and makes itself known by this behavior. 

Whatever causes it, talking in tongues certainly livens up church services.  Today’s New York Times contains an article describing how researchers at Penn took images of the brains of five women while they were talking in tongues. The leader of the study is quoted as saying “the amazing thing was how the images supported people’s interpretations of what was happening.” 

Researchers focused their imaging equipment on blood flows in particular areas of the brains, and were able to “pinpoint blood-flow peaks and valleys unique to speaking in tongues.”

The article doesn’t say what sort of imaging equipment was used, but it must have been an MRI.  Whatever you think of talking in tongues, you have to admire the mental concentration of the women who could reach spiritual ecstasy while inside one of those claustrophobic, tunnel-like chambers amid the loud, knocking sounds that take place when the instrument is running. 

The Lord does indeed work in mysterious ways. 

A Neuroscientific Look at Speaking in Tongues – New York Times