Crucifixion today

This report reminds us that Saudi Arabia still crucifies people, though it’s not quite crucifixion as the Romans did it. From Saudi court upholds child rapist crucifixion ruling:

A Saudi court of cassation upheld a ruling to behead and crucify a 22-year-old man convicted of raping five children and leaving one of them to die in the desert, newspapers reported on Tuesday.

The convict was arrested earlier this year after a seven-year old boy helped police in their investigation. The child left in the desert after the rape was three years old, Okaz newspaper said. . . .

In Saudi Arabia, crucifixion means tying the body of the convict to wooden beams to be displayed to the public after beheading.

Unlike some human rights activists, I’m not quibbling with the punishment for this particularly horrible crime. I suspect that beheading the criminal before crucifying him was seen, historically, as a merciful gesture. But the shame of crucifixion–displaying the malefactor for all to see–is retained.

This latter-day version preserves at least part of the significance of what our Lord went through: How heinous it indeed was for Jesus to bear the sins of the whole world, including these child rapes. How repulsive the spectacle. How shameful, that He be lifted up.

God convicted and condemned. God humiliated. God killed.

Nietzsche and the death-of-God theologians, the new atheists who accuse God of immorality, those who mock and blaspheme God today, have nothing on what God already did of and to Himself.

To redeem us.

Good, but not perfect, night for conservatives

In yesterday’s elections, two states that voted for Barack Obama elected Republican governors and Maine voters repealed in a referendum that state’s previously passed approval of gay marriage. The only bright spot for Democrats was in New York, where they picked up a previously Republican congressional district, turning back a conservative insurgent who drove the Republican out of the race.

What do the Republican victories mean? It isn’t necessary to see them as a repudiation of President Obama for these elections to have big political consequences.

Virginia’s Republican landslide will put the blue dog Southern Democrats on notice that their constituencies may turn against them very quickly if they perceive them as too liberal. This can only have an inhibiting effect on their support for controversial liberal proposals, such as health care reform.

The Republican win in New Jersey shows that even liberal Democrats in an overwhelmingly liberal Democratic state will not tolerate corruption, constantly rising taxes, and administrative ineptness and are capable of turning against the party and electing a Republican. This sends a message to Democrats that they can take nothing for granted, and it sends a message to both parties that they had better have competent candidates who can do a good job in the offices to which they are elected.

Where are the grassroots of the Left?

Richard Fernandez notes that grassroots conservatives have mobilized, what with all of the Tea Parties and the surge of political activism. But where are the grassroots leftists, the ones that raised all of that money and that did all of that organization for Barack Obama during his campaign? We learn that those grassroot organizations have been subsumed into the official Democratic party apparatus. They are directed from the top. Whereas the conservative groups are directed from below, to the point of defying the Republican party when necessary.

Similarly, in yesterday’s elections, the young people and minorities who surged to the polling places to elect Barack Obama just didn’t turn out in big numbers. Social conservatives, though, did.

Conception without male or female

Scientists have used stem cells to generate both sperm and egg. This opens the way for conceiving a child without either a father or a mother. See No men OR women needed: artificial sperm and eggs created for first time .

Election Day

Today is Election Day. Here in Virginia, in one of the contests of national interest, I voted. (No, I’m not going to tell you who I voted for!) Here are some of the elections worth watching:

Heading into Tuesday's elections, Democrat gubernatorial candidate R. Creigh Deeds was trailing Republican Bob McDonnell in polls by double digits in Virginia. In a three-way race in New Jersey, Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine was in a close race with Republican Chris Christie and independent Chris Daggett. And in the race to fill the vacant 23rd Congressional District seat in New York, Democrat Bill Owens was in a tight fight with conservative Doug Hoffman after the GOP's hand-picked candidate bowed out over the weekend.

Elsewhere, California Lt. Gov. John Garamendi is expected to maintain the Democratic Party's hold on the open 10th Congressional District seat near San Francisco, while New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is expected to cruise to a third term. Atlanta, Houston, Boston, Detroit and Pittsburgh also will elect mayors, while voters in Maine and Washington weigh in on same-sex unions and voters in Ohio decide whether to allow casinos.

One question the Virginia election might resolve: Is early involvement in the Christian right the kiss of death for a candidate? The Democrat gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds uncovered his Republican opponent Bob McDonnell’s master’s thesis that he wrote when he attended Regent University years ago. It contained politically incorrect ideas opposing abortion, critiquing feminism, and taking other socially conservative positions. Deeds thought he had found a silver bullet that would kill McDonnell’s candidacy. McDonnell disavowed some of what he said back then, though not his pro-life convictions. Apparently, Virginians don’t recoil from such ideas as Deeds expected them to, since McDonnell has a double-digit lead going into today’s election. (Still, I must tell my students: Be careful what you write in a term paper, lest it come back to haunt you.)

Meanwhile, in the New York election, the Republicans had nominated a liberal, pro-abortion candidate. Party leaders were aghast that conservatives, including conservative Republicans like Sarah Palin and Tim Pawlenty, campaigned for the Conservative Party candidate instead. Where is your party loyalty? But the Conservative Party candidate surged in the polls, causing the Republican to drop out of the race. Whereupon she endorsed the Democrat! Where is your party loyalty?

At any rate, if you have elections where you are, if only for local officials–who are much neglected but are very signficant– do remember to vote! It’s a duty of your vocation as a citizen!

Muhammad: The Movie

In the “you don’t know what you are getting into” department, one of the producers of The Lord of the Rings movies is planning on making a movie about the prophet Muhammad:

Producer Barrie Osborne cast Keanu Reeves as the messiah in The Matrix and helped defeat the dark lord Sauron in his record-breaking Lord of the Rings trilogy. Now the Oscar-winning American film-maker is set to embark on his most perilous quest to date: making a big-screen biopic of the prophet Muhammad.

Budgeted at around $150m (£91.5m), the film will chart Muhammad's life and examine his teachings. Osborne told Reuters that he envisages it as "an international epic production aimed at bridging cultures. The film will educate people about the true meaning of Islam".

Osborne's production will reportedly feature English-speaking Muslim actors. It is backed by the Qatar-based production company Alnoor Holdings, who have installed the Muslim scholar Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi to oversee all aspects of the shoot. In accordance with Islamic law, the prophet will not actually be depicted on screen. . . .

The as-yet-untitled picture is due to go before the cameras in 2011. It remains to be seen, however, whether it will be beaten to cinemas by another Muhammad-themed drama. Late last year, producer Oscar Zoghbi announced plans to remake The Message, his controversial 1976 drama that sparked a fatal siege by protesters in Washington DC. The new version, entitled The Messenger of Peace, is currently still in development.

A Hollywood non-Muslim is going to teach the world “the true meaning of Islam”? Either he will offend actual Muslims or he will present a white-washed version, one that possibly will inspire Westerners to embrace a new Westernized and sanitized form of the religion. (See what some Americans have done to Hinduism, Buddhism, and paganism [below–note the lack of sacrifices].)

The earlier movie “The Message” offended Muslims to the point of violence, but this remake looks like it will atone for that insensitivity by rendering the prophet as “The Messenger of Peace” for this religion of peace.

Shooting the movie without showing the main character, though, will be an interesting challenge. “Ben Hur” managed scenes with Jesus that never showed Him, but that was only for very short sequences. And the point of view shots that replaced the visual depictions of our Lord (which still bother some Christians to this day) show a degree of adoration that would probably also violate Islam.