Blogosphere: May 2005 Archives

Congratulations to Lawton, Oklahoma, pastor and blogger John Owen Butler for getting a mention in a Business Week article on religious podcasting. John's podcast can be found at, and it features recordings of the singing of the Psalms by choirs from around the world.

His latest entry is Psalm 98, set to the tune "Desert," a joyous tune I've also heard used for the hymn "O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing." (The tune is Common Meter, so it could be used for a vast number of hymns.)

Round up the bloggers

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Mike Hermes of Okie Doke is proposing an Okie blogger round-up for sometime in the fall of 2006. He wants to start the planning now to make it a successful event, and to help the process along he's launched a new blog as a home for brainstorming and organizing.

The first-ever Okie blogger bash back in January was a lot of fun. It's nice to be able to put a face and a voice with the words on the CRT. This event promises to be even bigger, and just the work to put it all together will get bloggers networking.

Great idea, Mike, and I'll do all I can to support the effort.

I tend to go a bit crazy with Mozilla's tabbed browsing capabilities. Rather than move on from something interesting, I open a new tab and keep browsing, and the tabs become a snapshot of what's caught my attention. I have 12 open at the moment, and it's about time I shut Mozilla down for a while. So let me write about a few and close them up as I go along.

Jim Davila of the University of St. Andrews has a blog called Paleojudaica, which received an Instalanche for his post about MIT's Time Traveler Convention and his speculations as to why no time travelers were in attendance. The normal stuff of his blog is ancient Judaism and archaeology. Recent entries include one on the destruction of antiquities on the Temple Mount and a link to an article about Egyptian Karaite Jews, a people who migrated to Egypt under the Persian Empire in about 550 B.C. and who began leaving Egypt because of persecution during the 1950s. Elsewhere, Davila has an essay on why he blogs about his academic speciality:

I don't remember the exact concerns that led me to open a blog. I think it was partly frustration with the carelessness and inaccuracy with which the mainstream media often treats specialist subjects such as my own, combined with being impressed with how often the major political blogs were able to catch the media in errors and sometimes get them to correct them. I think it was also partly my longstanding interest in making my work available to a popular audience. Having a blog gives me an international forum to give non-specialists a better perspective on the media reports they read about my field and to speak to them with something approaching my whole voice rather than just my scholarly voice.

Manuel L. Quezon III, grandson of the founding father of the Republic of the Phillipines, is a columnist and also a blogger about Filipino life and politics.

A new blogger called Zippy Catholic has been stirring the anti-evangelical pot by arguing from Gödel's incompleteness theorem that sola scriptura -- a fundamental doctrine of the Protestant Reformation which asserts the sufficiency of the Bible -- "asserts its own irrationality." His first post on the topic is here. That was linked elsewhere leading to a lengthy comment thread, featuring Zippy and some other Catholics debating a handful of evangelical Protestants. Then Zippy posted yet another entry in which he seems to say that evangelicals believe in salvation by knowledge, which leaves out those incapable of abstract thought, but in fact we are saved by love, and we love Jesus by doing what He commands, and what Jesus commands is that we obey the Catholic church. (Yes, I'm oversimplifying. That's why I link, so you can read it for yourselves.) In the comments to that latter entry, I posted a question and a further clarification, to which I have yet to get an answer that doesn't beg the question:

Zippy, you write: "those who love Him will do as He commands because they love Him." How does one who loves Christ know what Christ commands, so that he may be able to do it?

How can I know that Christ commands me to heed the successors of Peter and the Roman magisterium, rather than, say, rival claimants to apostolic authority in Salt Lake City or Constantinople? How do I know who truly speaks for Christ?

You can read the entry and the replies I've received to my question.

Kevin Johnson, one of the Reformed evangelicals participating in the discussion, has also posted some thoughts here and here.

Kevin Johnson also participates in a blog called Communio Sanctorum, which is described as "an online theological journal designed to highlight the sacramental, trinitarian, and covenantal connection we have with the historic Church...[,] a Reformational contribution to catholicity." Apropos to the above discussion, here's an article on sola scriptura and the place of councils and confessions:

Rightly does the Protestant tradition, building as it does on substantive strains of the larger catholic tradition, say that no authority under God is absolute. This is why, for instance, we conceive of the Church (particularly in her Councils) as being the minister and not the legislator of the Word. 'Sola' Scriptura does not mean that we cannot have Councils and that they cannot lay down definitive rulings on matters of doctrine and practice; it just means that 'definitive' cannot itself mean 'irreformable'.

I forget where I found this, but it's a column by novelist and left-leaning Catholic priest Andrew Greeley about Cardinal Ratzinger, written before he was elected pope. This was intriguing:

Many devout Catholics would recoil at [Ratzinger's] blunt assertion (which I quoted the other day) that it is wrong to say that the Holy Spirit elects the pope because there have been popes the spirit would never have elected. He might also be less likely than some other popes to identify his convictions with direct communication from God.

Last tab -- political not religious, but it also has to do with authority and interpretation. Todd Zywicki at the Volokh Conspiracy notes an Alabama Supreme Court concurring opinon for a decision in which the Court actually defers to the legislature's long-standing interpretation of the Constitution's requirement for a majority vote to enact legislation.

Justice Parker then goes on to argue that each of the branches of government have an independent obligation to interpret the constitution, and that as a result, the court should defer to a longstanding constitutional interpretation by the legislature:

[T]he Alabama Legislature has consistently followed the third interpretation for at least three decades. I believe the Legislature is within its authority to interpret § 63 in this way, and I therefore conclude that this Court should defer to that interpretation. By so deferring, we show proper respect to a coordinate branch of government.

On the same blog, the next entry up, Eugene Volokh writes that the Montgomery County, Maryland, Public Schools have adopted a sex-ed curriculum for the 8th Grade that includes handout listing "myths regarding sexual orientation." One of the "myths" listed: "Homosexuality is a sin." The "fact" rebutting the "myth" counts the biblical passages condemning homosexual behavior, notes that Jesus never spoke on the issue, notes that religion has often been used "to justify hatred and oppression," and praises liberal Christian groups for "beginning to address the homophobia of the church." Looks like a state institution pronouncing on matters of theology, and the U. S. District Judge Alexander Williams Jr. noticed:

The Court is extremely troubled by the willingness of Defendants to venture — or perhaps more correctly bound — into the crossroads of controversy where religion, morality, and homosexuality converge. The Court does not understand why it is necessary, in attempting to achieve the goals of advocating tolerance and providing health-related information, Defendants must offer up their opinion on such controversial topics as whether homosexuality is a sin, whether AIDS is God’s judgment on homosexuals, and whether churches that condemn homosexuality are on theologically solid ground. As such, the Court is highly skeptical that the Revised Curriculum is narrowly tailored to serve a compelling government interest, and finds that Plaintiffs’ Establishment Clause claim certainly merits future and further investigation.

Last Thursday, Williams granted a Temporary Restraining Order preventing the curriculum from being deployed as planned.

From the blogroll


Haven't done this for a while -- a few bits and pieces worthy of note around the blogosphere:

New York City bloggers Karol and Ace premiered their weekly Internet radio show, "Hoist the Black Flag," on RighTalk. I missed the live Tuesday 4 p.m. EDT webcast, but it's running again right now, and will be running hourly until 1 p.m. EDT Wednesday, rotating through RighTalk's five channels. Their guests this week were James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal and syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin. They'll replay the show twelve times over the weekend. Interesting show, but I expected to hear the phrase "Arrr, Matey" more frequently.

Bowden McElroy writes about life in his house as a very outnumbered man:

With the college semester being over, everyone is home now. At least for another few weeks until the older two girl's summer plans start. Which means I'm back in the full swing of experiencing culture shock in my own home. What I want Steven to understand is this: while you are raising your daughters, there will be moments when you CANNOT understand what is happening in your own home. Don't worry, you haven't lost your ability to speak English, you haven't lost your grip on reality; you have, however, entered a culture completely alien and foreign to anything you have experienced before. Just relax and hang on.

With Cheese has an anthem for bloggers, the perfect musical accompaniment for those preening glamour photos that so annoy Christopher Hanson. (HT: Overtaken by Events.)

Jason of Worldwide Rants proposes a blogger handsign as a way for bloggers to recognize each other in public. Hat tip to Jessica, who likes the idea but says, "Some people may look at us funny and ask why we were trying to break our own fingers." I tried the sign and noticed that, viewed from the wrong angle, the handsign may be misinterpreted and may result in a broken nose.

Many thanks to Dan and Angi for reminding us about the joys of Engrish, the website that collects entertaining manglings of English from the mysterious Orient and elsewhere. This is a truly unfortunate name for an ocean-going vessel.

Today was the second anniversary of BatesLine.

In April 2003, we had just connected to broadband. I had been thinking about getting a domain name so our e-mail addresses could be independent of our ISP. I had also started reading blogs, beginning with National Review's The Corner, then Instapundit and Little Green Footballs. As long as I was finding a host for our domain, I may as well find one that would set up a blog for me. What I had in mind was a place to make note of and comment on news and other interesting things I found on the web, and to make those comments and notes available to friends and family. I did not begin with grand ambitions.

It's instructive to look back over two years' worth of stats. According to awstats, BatesLine had 142 visits from 80 unique IP addresses for the entire month of May 2003. I received absolutely no referrals from other websites in that month.

There's some good stuff in that first month worth of posts, including one of the most frequently accessed BatesLine entries, "Cute Baby Pictures." It's on the first page of Google results for that phrase, although I doubt the many visitors who hit it are looking for images of a half-inch long baby toad or a baby armadillo -- even though they are very cute. Since 99% of you didn't read any of it at the time, it's all new to you, and maybe I'll start rerunning it.

In July and August, BatesLine became the de facto website for the opposition to Vision 2025, and traffic began to climb as radio stations and even the Tulsa Whirled linked to the site. (Do you think I should sue?) I received 2298 visits in August and peaked at 3496 in September -- 833 on September 9 alone, the day of the Vision 2025 vote. It was in the course of this election that BatesLine was first noticed and linked by A-list Oklahoma blogs like Dustbury, OkieDoke, and Reflections in d minor.

It was also in August that I got the world's smallest Instalanche for this article on using WiFi to spur development in downtown Tulsa. (I linked to this Instapundit item, and Glenn updated later with a link back to me.) How small was it? So small that I only just now noticed it -- 24 hits. Compare that to the 10,488 hits from Instapundit in February 2005, linking to my items about the threat letter from the Tulsa Whirled.

The Vision 2025 campaign transformed BatesLine into a blog mainly about local politics. It also began the partnership between BatesLine and KFAQ. Michael DelGiorno, Gwen Freeman, and I had lunch shortly after the vote, and Michael suggested having me on regularly as a Vision 2025 watchdog. As other local issues cropped up -- the 71st and Harvard case in October 2003, city elections at the beginning of 2004 -- that role broadened to include all of city politics. I think I've only missed one Monday morning since we began way back then. Month after month, KFAQ's website is the single biggest referrer to BatesLine.

Traffic climbed steadily over 2004, as BatesLine covered the new City Council majority and offered some first-hand reporting from the Republican National Convention. I also got to know a number of official convention bloggers and New York City-based conservative bloggers -- connections that would come in handy earlier this year. Traffic peaked in October at 15,015 visits, with October 22 the biggest day to date at 3,389 visits, thanks to a link from National Review's The Corner to this item reporting Chris Matthews' claim that George W. Bush is not pro-life.

The threat letter from the Tulsa World dominated February 2005, which has been BatesLine's biggest month to date -- 40,082 visitors, nearly 28,000 in a two-day period. For much of that traffic, I have to thank Ace of Spades (to whom Karol Sheinin introduced me at a New Criterion "Tuesday at Fitz's" in New York City back in late November) for responding to the mass e-mail I sent to nearly every blogger I'd ever met. Ace's entry was picked up by Michelle Malkin, who wrote about it (and hit my tip jar!), and Michelle's entry caught Instapundit's attention. Many others were kind enough to write about the issue, but Ace was the vector by which the story gained international attention.

Kevin McCullough interviewed me on his New York City radio show. CNN's "Inside Politics" mentioned the story three times. Bob Cox of The National Debate and founder of the Media Bloggers Association contacted me, expedited my membership in that organization, and put me in touch with the MBA's General Counsel, Ron Coleman. Ron sent a reply to the Whirled that has yet to receive an answer.

While Instalanches don't last forever, they do allow prospective regular readers to discover a blog for the first time, and I'm sure with each of those bumps in traffic, some Tulsa-area readers found BatesLine for the first time. Traffic has tailed off to about 1300-1500 visits per day -- half-again more than before the Whirled's threats. It had been a bit higher, but I noticed traffic flagged a bit just before Tax Day and hasn't completely recovered.

Everyone of those numbers is a real live human being (except for the search engine bots and the referral spam bots), and I thank you for taking the time to visit, to read, and to tell your friends. Many of you have been kind enough to send encouraging comments by e-mail or to stop me at events to express your appreciation. I'm grateful to those who have dropped a few bucks in the tip jar (the "donate" button on the home page) and to those intelligent advertisers who have chosen BatesLine to deliver your message to an intelligent readership. I've been especially gratified to see several of my readers start blogs of their own. Although this is still a hobby, I do feel an obligation to fill you in on local politics and provide you with some food for thought, and it's nice to know that it matters to you.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Blogosphere category from May 2005.

Blogosphere: April 2005 is the previous archive.

Blogosphere: June 2005 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.



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