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Google is partnering with the Israel Antiquities Authority to launch the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library, an online collection of 5,000 images of scroll fragments. Among the texts is the Book of Deuteronomy, which includes the Ten Commandments, and part of Chapter 1 of the Book of Genesis, which is seen in the picture above and measures in at about 10 cm. Google said the initiative will shed “light on the time when Jesus lived and preached, and on the history of Judaism.” “Millions of users and scholars can discover and decipher details invisible to the naked eye, at 1215 dpi resolution,” Google said in an official blog post. “The site displays infrared and color images that are equal in quality to the Scrolls themselves. There’s a database containing information for about 900 of the manuscripts, as well as interactive content pages. We’re thrilled to have been able to help this project through hosting on Google Storage and App Engine, and use of Maps, YouTube and Google image technology.” // Read more here…

This from Religion Clause:
The ACLU of Utah announced Tuesday that it had filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of the Main Street Church of Brigham City challenging the constitutionality of Brigham City, Utah’s so-called Free Speech Zone Ordinance that requires a permit for the Church to hand out literature on the sidewalks of the city.  The complaint (full text) in Main Street Church of Brigham City v. Brigham City, Utah, (D UT, filed 9/11/2012), alleges that the Church wants to hand out literature on differences between its beliefs and those of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  It wants to leaflet and engage in discussions with those receiving their literature during the month-long Open House for the LDS Temple in Brigham City.  It applied for a permit to carry out its activities on the public sidewalks adjacent to the streets on all four sides of the LDS Temple, but the city denied permission to leaflet on the two sidewalks with the heaviest pedestrian traffic. The suit alleges that the ordinance unconstitutionally restricts plaintiff’s freedom of expression and assembly as well as its free exercise of religion.
So… Main Street Church doesn’t believe the same way the mormons do.  That’s cool.  Neither do I. Main Street says that public sidewalks are public and, legally, you can’t keep us off the public sidewalk.  So far, so good. Because of that, Main Street Church would like to hand out anti-mormon literature in front of the mormon church as mormons are entering. Hold it. Can you do that?  Probably legally, you can.  Thus the lawsuit. Should you do that?  And is there a way to do that without actually being a jerk?  That I’m not sure.  Actually, I think it’s doubtful. Let’s turn the tables.  What if the Mormons stood outside the sidewalk of Main Street Church and handed out the Book of Mormon, saying how Main Street Church was all wrong. Houston, we have a problem. Can we not think of a better way to do outreach to Mormons than this? Your thoughts? Todd

Some thoughts from Mark Driscoll on why he’s getting so much flack… from Christians… on his new book on sex and marriage.  Here are some exerpts from a piece he wrote for CNN’s Religion Blog: You try to write a book on marriage and sex with your wife and next thing you know there are a lot of ants crashing your picnic. My wife, Grace, and I recently published “Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship, & Life Together,” which quickly became a No. 1 New York Times best-seller. In it, we’re brutally honest about our past struggles, share the lessons we learned along the way and talk frankly about sex. Criticism has ensued. If you wish to find that criticism, just do a Google search. You’ll find plenty. My intent here is not to name names and pick a fight with my critics, but to provide context on why there is criticism. We knew before we wrote the book that we’d catch a lot of flak, especially on the chapters dealing with sex. We also knew the criticism would come from every direction, as some people would think we went too far and others would think we didn’t go far enough. But we wrote it anyway. Why? Simply put, we want to help marriages — and single people aspiring to marry — and we wanted to do so in a way that is practical, biblical and applicable to the reality of today’s culture. If the book accomplishes that, we’ll take the criticism in exchange for helping people. We don’t think our book is perfect and we tell folks upfront (literally in the preface) to take what is helpful and leave the rest… /// Many Christians, because of upbringing and past church experiences, view sex as gross and something that should not be talked about in public… Those who view sex as gross criticize our book because we speak too openly and frankly about sex for their taste. The accusation is that the private counsel that pastors give to people in the church isn’t suitable to give in a public context. But many critics tend to want to debate nuances of theology rather than engage head-on the practical realities that many people are facing… While it may be fun for bloggers and critics to discuss these things, our hope was that couples would instead be the ones having these conversations to build their marriages in ways that don’t pressure, abuse or use one another. /// There are some who think about almost nothing else but sex, treating it as a kind of god. This can happen in the form of addiction to sex or porn, severe promiscuity, adultery or participating in various sexual acts that the Bible speaks against, making personal preference and desire more important than what God says about sex… Those who view sex as a god criticize our book because it doesn’t go far enough for them. Because we teach that the Bible does call some sex acts sin, such as pornography, premarital sex, homosexuality, adultery and more, we are criticized for being judgmental, prudish, antiquated and fundamentalist.. In the end, for conservatives we’re too liberal, and for liberals we’re too conservative. We can’t win. /// Thoughts? You can read more here.

Can I make a confession?  I’m about Rob Bell’d out. But this interview has been the best, or at least the most engaging yet.  Take a look… Was the interviewer too harsh, or was he pushing in the right direction? Actually… this turned more into a debate than an interview.  Who got the upper hand on this exchange?

Rob Bell has a new book coming out on March 29, and it’s already stirring a lot of controversy. Even the title of the book is provocative: Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived. As you can tell from the book promo from the publisher, it raises some very important questions.  Even before Bell gives his answer to the questions he raises in this video, people are taking sides: Justin Taylor has a not so good feeling about the book, that he blogs about at The Gospel Coalition. John Piper tweeted the following:  “Farewell Rob Bell” with a link to Taylor’s post. But another blogger, Scott McKnight thinks all the jabs at Bell may be a little premature… especially since we haven’t seen exactly what he has to say about universalism… at least not yet.  McKnight is quoted at Christianity today as saying:
Justin may be right about what Rob believes, but if he is wrong then he owes Rob Bell a huge apology. I want to wait to see what Rob Bell says, read it for myself, and see what I think of it. Rob is tapping into what I think is the biggest issue facing evangelicalism today, and this fury shows that it just might be that big of an issue.
I think we’ll have to wait and see. But until then… what’s YOUR view of the video?  Is it just a great promotional video, or is Rob Bell really going to reveal his universalist theology? Leave a comment with your thoughts… Todd