"Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again..."

Location: Tampa, FL, United States

Friday, August 24, 2007

Local Pastor and Wife Take Another Press Beating

Yesterday Pastor Randy White of Without Walls International Church announced to his congregation that he would be filing for divorce from his wife Paula. Allegedly Randy and Paula are pastors. I say that in light of I Timothy 3, which reads, "1 It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do. 2 An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money. 4 He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity 5 but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?), 6 and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. 7 And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. "

Apart from the "husband of one wife" excerpt, of particular note is verse 7, "... reputation with those outside the church..." Randy and Paula have been polarizing figures for years for reasons extending beyond their strained exegesis of scripture (see: theology, prosperity). The cars, the homes, the failed promises, the body guards, the inaccessibility, the PR firm. Pastors are to be shepherd-like and the Whites exhibit little shepherd-like qualities and behaviors.

The Tampa Tribune reporters dogging the Whites surely would have stated why Randy was divorcing Paula if they knew. They apparently didn't. Whether or not there was adultery involved is not publically known. That's not a complaint but a statement of fact. If there was adultery involved then there's biblical justification for divorce, and reason enough requiting Randy to vacate his pastoral position (Paula should never have been in the pastorate to begin with). If there wasn't biblical justification for divorce then a strong argument can be made that Randy disqualifies himself from the pastorate once he breaks covenant with Paula, if not immediately because of his stated intentions. Because they state they'll continue as "pastors" one can only conclude they serve their flesh more than they serve the One of Whom they claim to preach about.

So will they skate from this controversy and flourish with their own separate ministries? Possibly. Then again, looked what happened to Elymas.

The church has historically been plagued with baggage of the false prophet sort. God is quite able to handle it and grow His church in spite of the hiccups.

The Whites have plenty of company in the Christian church of the afflicted and tempted. Though God's people are redeemed they're certainly not immune from commiting sin and making decisions based on bad judgment. Yet as Paul taught, with positions of Christian leadership comes greater responsibility. The standard and expectations are higher. It's hoped the Whites rebound from this latest test and not merely trade in one plague for another. But from their intentions stated yesterday...

Appreciating Paul

The Apostle Paul lived during a time when donkey, ship and sandals were the travel mode de jour. He might have dreamed about air travel but those days were still down the road (pun intended). Many recall Paul visited Ephesus, Philippi and Rome but don't remember that Paul also graced Assos, Kios, Rhodes and Patara. And if the names of these odd cities happen to sound familiar to some, fewer yet know how many miles apart they are.

Let's say on Paul's first missionary journey he traveled from Wall Street to Times Square to Central Park to Harlem and back again to Wall Street. Well, he didn't make it out of New York City but he did travel several miles. Hearing of such a trip one would form an opinion about how demanding it may have been and appreciates it to some degree partly based on this limited information. Now let's say Paul also journeyed from Armonk to Chester to Herkimer to Warsaw (NY) and back to Armonk. If you're not familiar with these cities traveled you can't confidently assess nor appreciate the ease or difficulty with which the trip was made. In this latest example Armonk is another city in New York near New York City, and Warsaw is on the other side of the state. Chester and Herkimer are more or less along-the-way cities. In this example Paul would have traveled a few hundred miles.

On Paul's third missionary journey (the "real" one) he did pass through Assos, Kios, Rhodes and Patara. He also stopped in Athens, Greece, Corinth, Tyre and other better-known places of interest. Looking at the map you can tell he went well about two thousand miles, give or take a few cubits and stadia. When one reads about the trip (Acts 18:23 - 21:17) the text imparts greater richness if you familiarize yourself first with a map of the region considering the great distance he traveled.

Now debrief yourself on Paul's trip to Rome (Jerusalem to Rome) and see if the related text (Acts 27:1 - 28:16) imparts a little more umph with you having gained more familiarity with the cities involved and their proximity to each other. Not content with the geographical edge? Add to it topographical and weather information (e.g. see Northeaster- Acts 27:14) to enliven the story even more.

And the distance from Jerusalem to Rome? It's like going from Tampa, FL to Denver, Colorado.

Happy sailing, and walking!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Does One Really Need a Flu Shot?

This graph (#1) depicts the mortality rate for influenza and pnemonia dating back to 1900 and up through 2003. This graph (#2) plots the same data but only for 1960 through 2003, overlaying a line representing the prevalence of flu vaccination coverage for those same years.

The flu vaccine first came out in 1945. In 1918 the infamous Spanish flu (no relation to Jennifer Lopez) struck and killed lots and lots of people. Overall, over the course of the 20th century, there was a relatively consistent drop in flu- and pneumonia-related deaths for the first half it, and a leveling off for the latter half. In fact, most all of the diseases we have vaccines for today were dropping before the vaccines were developed and released onto a soon-to-be-drug-friendly population.

You'll notice in graph #2 there was a steady rise from about 1980 to 2000 in both the flu- and pneumonia-related mortality rate and in vaccination coverage (as a percent of the population). Was the vaccine causing illness? Probably not. Was the vaccine coverage ramping up because reporters were having conniption fits about how we might all die? Don't know. Was the rise in both events coincidental? I still don't know, but in an otherwise healthy adult there seems to be a lack of evidence to suggest routine annual flu shots. In fact, the prestigous Cochrane Library said so in this 2007 publication. (Drop down to the "plain language summary" and read the first line).

Fighting inflammation

Inflammation is a wonderful thing. Inflammation is bad of course too. Focusing on inflammation that comforts you like a bad song, there are a number of things that one can throw at the problem before reaching for the celecoxib, ibuprofen or naprosyn.

In the absence of allergies, fish oil (DHA and EPA) or Neptune Krill oil (with astaxanthin) is a good start. After that there's tumeric, pycnogenol, ginger root, boswellia, nettle leaf extract (not nettle root), glucosamine, condroitin, MSM, primrose oil, borage oil, cat's claw and more. Nothing there appeals? Try ramping up the papaya, spinach, blueberries, pineapple and onions.

This list is certainly abbreviated, but it is cartilage- and pain-sparing.

The above information is not intended to diagnose, cure or treat disease. Consult your personal physician for all health-related matters.

Campaign Fatigue Sets In

With only a little over a year to the presidential election of 2008 it seems like the candidates have already campaigned themselves out. They've collectively spent millions and millions of dollars and few people know more about them now then they did months ago. I imagine the race for 2012 will kick off next year and overlap with the '08 race.

Michael Vick

Last month former Atlanta Falcon quarterback Michael Vick stated he wanted to clear his good name, and fight the dog fighting-related charges in court. A few weeks later he cops a plea deal. Admitting guilt is a strange way to resuscitating one's good name.

The knee bone's connected to the hip bone.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Nanobacteria and Disease

Nanobacteria (or calcifying nanoparticles [CNPs])are reportedly tiny little critters that make run of the mill bacteria look like Big Foot. About 20-200 nanometers long, these little guys (nanobacterium sanguineum) seem to be able to surround themselves in a calcium-laced igloo and hide in various parts of the body, including arteries. Nanobac, a company in Tampa, FL, is one of the pioneers in addressing disease related to nanobacteria. It will be interesting to see if they and others make a dent in treating diseases partly related to calcification (e.g. heart disease, kidney stones, prostatitis, etc.)