Thursday, July 28, 2011

Religious Trends Since 1991

This week, The Barna Group released the first two installments in a series of briefs dealing with the state of the church and how religion in America has shifted over the past 20 years. In Part 1, Barna looks at 14 religious variables (six behaviors and eight beliefs), and examines how expressions of faith have changed over the past two decades. His research revealed that:
  • Weekly Bible reading among adults dropped by five percent to its current level of 40 percent.
  • Sunday School attendance is currently at 15 percent of adults – a drop of eight percent.
  • Church attendance dropped from 49 percent in 1991 to 40 percent in 2011.
  • The number of unchurched adults grew from 37 percent to 50 percent over the past 20 years.
  • The number of adults who can be classified as born again rose from 35 percent to 40 percent.
  • In 1991, 46 percent of adults strongly affirmed that “the Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles it teaches.” Just 38 percent hold the same belief today.
For the complete report go to

(from FotF's Pastor's Weekly Briefing)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Best Buy's Geek Squad - a review

My hard drive on my laptop (18 months old) died earlier this week.  Headache.  I did what I could to identify the problem(s) and quickly came to the conclusion it was beyond my ability to fix.  I suspected it was a bad boot sector since it was running when I went to bed and wouldn't run in the morning.  Diagnostics showed the memory & hard disk were in working shape.  So off to Mankato's Best Buy I went to see if the Geek Squad could bail me out.

When I arrived, I was greeted, but then had to wait 25 minutes before I even got the paperwork to start filling out to inform them of my problem.  15 minutes later a tech came out of the back, asked a few questions, made a few notes, took $200+ of my money & said they'd call in 2-3 days.  As part of their services they include a "free" anti-virus software package that you chose from the 4-5 they have sitting behind their counter.  They said it was included in the price, so I asked for them to send home a copy of Webroot when I pick up my laptop.  I specifically asked that they NOT install it, as I use AVG on all my rigs (and my family members too!).

2 days later they called & said their diagnostics concludes book sector failure.  Umm...yeah...I told you that when I brought it in.

I need a new hard drive.  Ok, well what do you have that is comparable or better than what I had?  They say they have a 500Gb Western Digital.  I ask if it is 7200RPM?  No - we don't have one for a laptop with that speed.  My previous Toshiba drive (the one that died) was 500Gb & 7200RPM and whisper silent.  But I guess I'll settle for 5400RPM.

What self respecting computer shop the size of Best Buy's Geek Squad doesn't have a better hard drive to offer me?  Ridiculous.

So we talk about what it will cost for the drive and I inform them I'd like to pay to have them move what data they can rescue from the old drive onto the new drive.  There's about 8 months worth of video and photos, plus ALL my music on that drive.  About 250Gig worth.

We can do that sir.  It'll be $$$.

Ouch.  But I want that data, so go ahead and do it. 

A day later I get the call that my computer is done.  I drive to Mankato (60 mile round trip) & to pick up my rig.  When I arrive it is about 15 minutes before close.  I walk up to the Geek Squad desk & nobody is there.  So I stand there, thinking someone will come out shortly.  Nope.  10 minutes later I call the store from my cell phone, work my way through the phone tree & talk with the Geek Squad guy who is in reality only 15 feet from me in their work area.  I mention that I've been standing at their desk for 10+ minutes and how I'd like to pick up my laptop and go home.  I pay, and it is considerably less than I was expecting.  But since they already charged me $200+ to tell me what I already knew, I thought maybe that covered part of this.  I paid, took my laptop, Webroot & old hard drive and went home.

When I got home and fired it up I discovered that they had NOT recovered any data from the old drive & put it on the new one.  And they HAD installed the Webroot.  And the Windows & they loaded on the new drive come with bonus bloatware.

I'm a pretty patient and understanding person, but I refrained from calling them because I didn't want to say something that would be construed as not particularly pastoral.

So today I downloaded software off the web & am in the process of digging out my old files from the bad hard drive.  And it looks like it is finding everything, though it takes a long time to run, so we'll see.  But I really shouldn't have to be doing this.  So unless it is dire circumstances, I'm unlikely to be using the Geek Squad any time soon.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows pt. 2 review

Needed an evening off last night after a frustrating week, so I headed east to O-town and took in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (pt. 2) to relax and cool off.

So I'm clear, I didn't dislike the movie.  But of all the Harry Potter movies, this one is definitely my least favorite.  Throughout the movie the thought kept coming to mind "Lord of the Rings did this so much better."  Better characters, better acting, better effects, better score, better fight scenes, better good verses evil plot.

And I really feel like they mailed it on on the ending (most everything following the destruction of Voldemort).

I did like that it was fairly dark and gritty throughout, with a noticeable scene brightening (with sunlight!) to both start and end the movie.

Have you seen it?  What did you think?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Is the value in having a church in your community?

The results of a study released by the Barna Group last week, show that a majority of Americans believe that the presence of a church is “very” (53%) or “somewhat” (25%) positive for their community. By contrast, only 5 percent of Americans believe that the church has either a “very negative” or “somewhat negative” impact on their community.

Along with finding out general feelings about the value of the church, the research also attempted to discover the ways that individuals believed that churches could be meeting needs, and contributing in a positive way in their local communities. Those interviewed were asked, “Many churches and faith leaders want to contribute positively to the common good of their community. What does your community need, if anything, that you feel churches could provide?”
  • Twenty-one percent were not able to give a single response as to how churches could contribute positively to their communities.
  • Among those who had not attended a church for at least six months, one-third were not certain how a local church could be beneficial.
  • Twenty-nine percent said churches can positively influence their communities by addressing poverty and helping the poor.
  • Ten percent believe churches should assist those in recovery by providing counseling and support groups.
  • Seven percent said churches can assist in terms of financial, career-related or other educational ways—such as helping the unemployed get jobs, giving financial assistance, providing financial counseling, and offering literacy classes.
  • Ministry activities such as teaching the Bible, giving spiritual direction, serving youth and the elderly, and cultivating Biblical values were also mentioned as ways the church can have a positive impact on a community.
David Kinnaman, president of the Barna Group, made four observations about the results of the study:
  1. Even the unchurched believe churches are an important element of a community.
  2. Most Americans who have no religious affiliation or belief are not overtly hostile to churches. They are basically indifferent to the church.
  3. Other than addressing poverty, most Americans do not connect the role of the church to civic affairs such as public education, adoption or foster care.
  4. Helping individuals find their way to God through Christ is seldom seen as a way to serve the local community.
The research, which was conducted in February of this year, was based on online interviews with 1,021 adults. For the complete report go to

Where to eat in St. Paul? - Lots of great recommendations here.


  1. The Strip Club Meat & Fish
  2. W.A. Frost & Co.
  3. The Nook
  4. The Blue Door Pub
  5. Heartland Restaurant
  6. Meritage
  7. The Happy Gnome
  8. Ngon Vietnamese Bistro
  9. Punch Pizza
  10. Shish

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Where to eat in Minneapolis? - Lots of great recommendations here.

Best restaurants in Minneapolis

  1. 112 Eatery
  2. Brasa
  3. Bar La Grassa
  4. Manny's Steakhouse
  5. Hell's Kitchen
  6. Barbette
  7. Pizza Lucé
  8. Chino Latino
  9. Fuji Ya
  10. Victor's 1959 Cafe

The Gospel - Mark Driscoll

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Most Americans Say: Bible is the Inspired Word of God

A poll conducted by The Gallup Organization in May of this year reveals that three in 10 Americans (30%) believe that the Bible is to be taken literally and that it is the actual Word of God, and another 49 percent said they see the Bible as inspired by God, but not to be taken literally in every way.
Those who took part in the survey were asked, “Which of the following statements comes closest to describing your views about the Bible? (1) The Bible is the actual Word of God and is to be taken literally, word for word. (2) The Bible is the inspired Word of God but not everything in it should be taken literally. (3) The Bible is an ancient book of fables, legends, history, and moral precepts recorded by man.” The second option was the most popular choice with 49 percent saying that they believe the Bible is God’s inspired Word but should not be taken literally. The statement regarding viewing the Bible as legends and fables was chosen by 17 percent of those who were polled.
The research relating to the Bible, which has been conducted since 1977, also revealed that:
  • Belief in a literal interpretation of the Bible declines as educational attainment increases.
  • Those who attend church more often are more likely to hold a literal view of the Bible.
  • Republicans and Conservatives are more likely to take the Bible literally than Democrats and Liberals.
  • A higher percentage of low-income Americans believe the Bible to be literally true.
In 1977, 45 percent of Americans viewed the Bible as God’s inspired Word, but not to be taken literally, while 38 percent said they believed that the Bible was the actual Word of God and should be taken literally. Only 13 percent saw the Bible as just history, legends and fables.
The study was based on telephone interviews with a random sample of 1,018 adults. For the complete report go to

(from FotF's Pastor's Weekly Briefing)

Bible Lectures by Dr. Marva Dawn

The following videos are the Bible Lectures at the 57th Annual Meeting in 2011 of the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches in Scottsdale, AZ by Reverend Dr. Marva Dawn.

Internationally renowned theologian, author, and educator Dr. Marva J. Dawn serves as Teaching Fellow in Spiritual Theology at Regent College in Vancouver, BC, Canada. Under Christians Equipped for Ministry (CEM), she has preached and taught at seminaries, clergy conferences, churches, assemblies, and universities throughout the United States and Canada and in Australia, China and Hong Kong, England, Hungary, Ireland, Japan, Korea, Madagascar, Mexico, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Norway, Poland, Singapore, and Scotland.

A scholar with four masters degrees and a Ph.D. in Christian Ethics and the Scriptures from the University of Notre Dame, Dr. Dawn is also a popular preacher and speaker for people of all ages.

She is the author of numerous articles and over 20 books, several of which have won awards and\or been translated into Chinese, Korean, Portuguese, and other languages.

The series of lectures she presented were titled "Three Sentences for the Revelation".

Lecture One: "Jesus Christ is Lord".  (BTW - my favorite of the three presentations)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Getting to know Planned Parenthood

Saw this on Vitamin Z:

The Witherspoon Institute:

An in-depth investigation of Planned Parenthood by Americans United for Life, the nation’s first pro-life public-interest law and policy organization (where I serve as Senior Vice President and Senior Council), demonstrates that abortion is central to Planned Parenthood’s business. The AUL Report, however, uncovers much, much more than just the importance of abortion to Planned Parenthood operations. It reveals Planned Parenthood practices that are irresponsible, dangerous, and fly in the face of the organization’s claims of dedication to women in need of medical services.

AUL’s Report pulls together in one place, for the first time, a litany of scandals associated with Planned Parenthood, demonstrating the breadth and persistence of the organization’s abuses. The Report shows that the “fuss” about Planned Parenthood is currently, if anything, about far too little. What follows in this article are just a few examples of the many reasons, all documented by the Report, why state—and federal—legislatures are (and all Americans should be) rethinking their dedication to Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood claims to be a “trusted health care provider,” but the AUL Report clearly shows that there is little to trust about Planned Parenthood. Even so, the Report only scratches the surface. Congress should use its power to investigate Planned Parenthood further and determine, once and for all, if it deserves our support, our loyalty, and our money. Until Planned Parenthood answers for its behavior, the surprise is not that the people of Indiana, Kansas, North Carolina, and Texas want to take away their funding, but that Planned Parenthood has not already been stripped of taxpayer dollars throughout the nation. Slowly but surely, Americans will become aware of how little Planned Parenthood deserves our trust, our respect, and our tax dollars. It is time to consider if you really know about Planned Parenthood.

If you would like to learn more and read the complete report published by AUL, please visit

(bold emphasis mine)