DOWN HOME: Topanga’s lucky tree wasn’t aglow

Posted: 12/14/07

Topanga’s lucky tree wasn’t aglow

You almost have to be a hurdler to get around our house these days.

Blame the dog. Or the Christmas tree.

We should’ve seen this coming when we got a new puppy last spring. But we were in love with our little flicker of fur and gave no heed to the morrow—or at least to the Christmas season.

Topanga made herself right at home from Day One. Very soon, Joanna and I understood what the breeder meant when she told us, “This dog wants to be a person and sees no reason why she shouldn’t be a person.”


EDITORIAL: The gospel in one stunning eyeful

Posted: 12/14/07

The gospel in one stunning eyeful

Christmas pageants often remind us Baptists of something we’re all too prone to forget: Worship can engage all the senses. The Baptist branch of the Christian family tree grows mighty close to the huge Protestant Reformation branch, which rejected the Roman Catholics’ statuary and the Orthodox’s icons, so precious few visual elements remind us of the God we worship and the Christ we adore. We also don’t go in for all that incense, which just might cause us to think of the Holy Spirit, whose pervasive presence we desperately need. Since most Baptists long ago substituted juice for wine and unleavened chicklets for bread, we gave up on the sense of taste in worship. And with screens flashing songs and Scripture, many of us don’t even enjoy the tactile sensation of holding a hymnal and caressing a Bible anymore.


Maybe an ear should be the Baptists’ symbol for worship. We’re all about listening to fine singing and good sermons. But you could check your eyes, nose, tastebuds and fingertips in the foyer of most Baptist churches and get along in worship just fine.

Except at Christmas. One of the best things about our Christmas pageants is they remind us worship should be a sensory experience. If your church is anything like ours, this is the one time of year when you can go to a worship service and enjoy a sensory feast. Even if your shepherds don bathrobes and your wise men drape themselves in bedsheets, a Christmas pageant is a celebration for all the senses. (OK, unless your pageant’s “actors” include a donkey, sheep, goats and/or a camel or three, your sense of smell probably isn’t stimulated.) Often, after the music has ceased, we recongregate in the fellowship hall to enjoy Christmas goodies. Let’s hear it for the tastebuds.

Our church’s 2007 Christmas pageant certainly did not disappoint. We’re blessed with a terrific choir and an excellent orchestra, so music always floods our sanctuary with vibrant, joyful reminders of the splendors of this season. This year was no exception. Truly superb.


Christian website offers YouTube alternative for wary Baptists

Posted: 12/14/07

Christian website offers YouTube
alternative for wary Baptists

By Grace Thornton

The Alabama Baptist

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (ABP)—Move over, YouTube. Baptists have video cameras. And they’re using them, now that they have a “safe” place to share their videos online, said Bill Nix, CEO and president of Axletree Media.

Axletree’s E-zekiel, a website builder and host used by churches and other nonprofits around the world, has come out with a video counterpart to its popular web service:, which launched in early November.


Faith Digest

Posted: 12/14/07

Faith Digest

Court rejects faith-based prison program. An Iowa prisoner rehabilitation program run by evangelicals oversteps church-state boundaries and should not receive government funds, a federal appeals court has ruled. InnerChange Freedom Initiative runs a program “dominated by Bible study, Christian classes, religious revivals and church services,” according to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit. While participation in the program was voluntary, prisoners who signed up got better cells, were allowed more visits from family members and had greater access to computers than other inmates, the court found. The prison program, affiliated with Chuck Colson’s Prison Fellowship Ministry, received state funds from Iowa beginning in 2000. Part of that money must be returned to the state, the court ruled, but it reversed the decision of a lower court that would have required InnerChange to repay the entire $1.5 million it received in government funds.

Religion website acquired by Fox., one of the country’s leading websites devoted to religion and spirituality, is under new management as part of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. and the Fox Entertainment Group. The acquisition adds to News Corp.’s $64 billion media empire, including the 20th Century Fox film studios, the Wall Street Journal, MySpace, the Fox Faith film division, and HarperOne and Zondervan, two of the biggest names in Christian publishing.


GodTube offers Christian alternative to YouTube

Posted: 12/14/07

GodTube offers Christian
alternative to YouTube

By Heather Donckels

Religion News Service

DALLAS (RNS)—Chris Wyatt and the Internet have something going.

In the late ’90s, the young television producer helped start, the world’s first social networking website. The site exploded into the Internet’s largest pre-MySpace network.

Care to comment? Send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , our editor. Maximum length for publication is 250 words.

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