Saturday, February 12, 2005


Scripture Break...

Isa 55:1-13
1 "Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. 2 "Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourself in abundance. 3 "Incline your ear and come to me. Listen, that you may live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, {according to} the faithful mercies shown to David. 4 "Behold, I have made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples. 5 "Behold, you will call a nation you do not know, and a nation which knows you not will run to you, because of the LORD your God, even the Holy One of Israel; for He has glorified you." 6 Seek the LORD while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near. 7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the LORD, and He will have compassion on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. 8 "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways," declares the LORD. 9 "For {as} the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. 10 "For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth, and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; 11 So shall My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding {in the matter} for which I sent it. 12 For you will go out with joy, and be led forth with peace; the mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you, and all the trees of the field will clap {their} hands. 13 Instead of the thorn bush the cypress will come up; and instead of the nettle the myrtle will come up; and it will be a memorial to the LORD, for an everlasting sign which will not be cut off."


More Great Discussion on the 'Simple Gospel'

Adrian Warnock posts another update to the continuing discussion on the "Simple Gospel". (Brief aside: Adrian calls me 'pithy' in this latest post. I've never been called pithy before. I like it! Thanks Adrain!) It would now be way too involved to try and link you to all the posts and what not that have been circling this discussion. If you scroll through Adrian's blog for the last week or so, you'll find all of it.

As best as I can tell, the discussion is now centering on three essential topics, one very hotly debated, one simmering but likely to boil, and one mildly discussed -- all of it with grace and brotherhood. The hot topic is the presentation of sin/confession/repentance... in a simple gospel. The topic waiting to boil is baptism. The mildly discussed topic is the role of the Holy Spirit. I'll touch on each of them in the reverse order from how I just presented them.

Holy Spirit -- I am grateful this topic is being only mildly discussed. In my own personal life, no topic has sparked more controversy, resulted in more harsh words, or severed more relationships than this one. I have been told by people I care about deeply that my faith is not genuine because I have not experienced a separate, accompanied by utterance in tongues, "baptism by the Holy Spirit." I have less problem with this standard representation of Pentecostal theology than I do with the fact that people would have the temerity to question my faith on such a basis.

I am more of the Elijah at Horeb, still small voice school of Holy Spirit indwelling. That is not to say that I do not believe in the more enthusiastic and energetic manifestations of the Spirit, they are simply not the way the Holy Spirit has chosen to manifest Himself to me.

Moreover, I think that such glorious manifestations are playing with fire. I can personally attest to people who discovered the glories of the Holy Spirit while yet very immature in their faith. In some cases it literally resulted in their death -- they so believed that "the Spirit would manifest a healing in them," that they died waiting. I cry as I write it. It is best that the indwelling of the Holy Spirit be both at the end of the 'Simple Gospel' and that it not be hotly debated. In my experience that can only lead to heartache.

Baptism -- I am not sure that I really want to dip my toe into this one at this time, best to leave it to Adrian and Jollyblogger to debate as they say they will. Baptism is important, it is vitally important. It is part of God's direction, make that command, to us via Peter. As I said yesterday, I am not sure the form or placement of baptism is all that important. Every time I am embroiled in a discussion of the matter I come away feeling everybody has a point and I am never fully convinced. I am certain though that it has to be done. Who knows, when Adrian and Jollyblogger conduct their promised great debate on the matter, one of them may convince me?

Sin -- I have a feeling this topic may reverberate through the blogosphere forever. I can think of no more vital discussion in the church today. This topic has occupied me for some time now. As I read it, Adrian has been dealing with this issue in posts on penal substitution' or as I was taught to refer to it, "propitiation."

Some years back, a friend of mine wanted to start something he called a 'blogzine.' For a while I wrote 'weekly columns' for it. As I refer to it now, it was a place I wrote long ago, far away and never read. I wrote on this topic somewhat extensively in that ill-read space. The post discusses the need to appropriate God's forgiveness and reflects on some day-to-day applications of the concept. In this post, I discuss how intimacy with God demands self-examination, which invariably leads to all sorts of uncomfortable discoveries about oneself. In this particular column, I discuss how I believe that failure to conduct such self-examination will result in a lack of Christian maturity and how I think that is affecting the church today. (There -- now you have your reading assignment for the week -- SORRY!)

Adrian describes the phenomena we are discussing in one of his Penal Subsitution posts this way:
Jettisoning tried and tested truths in the search for original things to say-that's a good definition of neo-liberalism in my book.

Amen! I think that is why this discussion has taken off so. Neo-liberalism is gaining wider and wider acceptance in the American church, I think because it makes it easier to fill the pews in a self-image-obsessed, it's-a-sin-to-spank-your-kids age.

I will forever be grateful that Adrian raised this discussion, and I will forever participate in it. I think it is the great discussion of our time.


No, No No!

A mere two days ago, I posted on the fact that I studied science because it was not prone to the politically correct vagaries of the humanities. Now I find this article on FOXNews.
According to benchmarks for middle school education, the top objective for the district's math teachers is to teach "respect for human differences." The objective is for students to "live out the system-wide core value of 'respect for human differences' by demonstrating anti-racist/anti-bias behaviors."

Were I to teach mathematics under such guidelines, I would ignore them, or if not allowed, resign. Were I to attend such a class I would storm out and accept a failing or incomplete grade. Since I am neither and the school district where I live is not quite so misguided, I am merely tempted to fly there and offer alternate math classes free of charge.

"Anti-Racist Math" indeed! -- Find me racist math -- go on, I dare you.


Why I Oppose a "Christian Environmentalism"

I've been going back and forth in comments and trackbacks with Parableman since Thursday about what he calls "Evangelical Environmentalism." This is a huge topic and I think the conversation really needs to keep going. My previous posts are here and here.

First, let me lay out my qualifications. Academically, I have laid them out before in my post on "intelligent design." I have a graduate degree in chemistry and have attended seminary. More importantly, I am a consultant in the environmental field. I own the company and I give advice to manufacturers on both complying with environmental regulation and simply operating in an environmentally sound manner. Here is my company web site for reference. While I doubt seriously that I am entirely unique, I am probably one of the very few conservative evangelical Christians so educated and trained.

In our comments exchange, Parableman said the following:
It seems to me that you're treating my lack of expertise in the specifics of this subject as a justification for saying that I don't have the right to point out that the area is tremendously important. I just don't see why that would be so.

I was trying to make the point that when it comes to environmentalism, it is all in the details. Without the details, to say this "area is tremendously important" is to already have taken a step in a dangerous direction. But let me step back from that point for a minute and discuss four reasons why I oppose the idea of "Evangelical Environmentalism," of which that will be the last reason I present.

First reason -- SmartChristian had it right when he said:
...what is really needed, it seems to me, is a biblical theology leading to environmental practice within the church.

Great point, now try and develop that theology. The Bible is remarkably mute on virtually anything that gets discussed today when it comes to the environment. There is Genesis 1 when God grants us dominion over the earth. There is the well developed Jewish tradition, developed out of the Pentateuch, regarding cruelty to animals. And then there is God's command to bury our waste. That's about it.

Now we are into all those details that Parableman thinks are not all that important. In such a circumstance, all we can do is look at things on an issue-by-issue basis, and at the risk of sounding cliche' ask "What would Jesus do?" But back to that in a moment.

Second reason -- As Parableman points out in his original post, the guys that are trying to gin up some sort of evangelical environmentalism are pantheists. The distance from "evangelical concerned about the environment" to pantheist is very, very small. There already exist countless "Christian environmental activist groups." I refuse to link to them because most of them spout pure garbage. If any organization needs to happen in the church, it should be to oppose these groups -- their theology is idolatrous.

From a political standpoint, the biggest problem is that such people (both inside and outside the church) control the environmental agenda. In my opinion, once we start considering the the individual issues from a biblical pespective all we will ever arrive at is opposition to that agenda, and we will have no serious agenda to offer as an alternative. My opinion is based on the fact that the Bible has so little to say -- thus the lack of an alternative agenda, and because of the idolatry, or near idolatry evident in environmentalism in general, opposition is required. Opposition without alternative is a political loser, as was so evident in the last election cycle.

Third Reason -- The question of our role in creation is not nearly as clear-cut as it might seem at first glance. We are both a part of creation and given dominion over it. Most of the environmental agenda as it is defined today is based on the assumption that the actions of mankind are somehow "unnatural." Can that be true if we are in fact a part of creation? So, if we accept that our actions are a part of the created order, that we were in fact created precisely to shape to world to our liking, (dominion?) we are again driven into the details. What specific actions in exercising our dominion are good stewardship and what are bad? From a political standpoint, once again, we are back to offering only opposition and no alternative.

Fourth Reason -- When it comes to evangelicals, or the church, making decisions on these issues they are simply ill-equipped to do so. The highly technical nature of each issue requires enormous amounts of study and background. The world is full, absolutely full of egregiously bad "science" with regards to environmental issues. Because the topic is "hot," there is enormous amounts of grant money available for studies in the field, and a lot of it from agenda groups that want agenda science. The resources necessary for the church to sift through all this good and bad science effectively are tremendous. Is that the best way to spend our time and treasure?

Not that I am anything special, but I think our time would be much better spent trying to make more of me. That is to say, people in the field that are committed to Christ, and rely upon the guidance of the Holy Spirit. This is what the church does best and it already has the resources to do so.

Any form of "evangelical environmentalism" is a morass. All we can do is be opponents to an agenda that someone else sets. That's a political loser. If we try and set an agenda ourselves, it will require the development of untold resources and will likely divide the church.

I'm sorry, but I don't see a way to win on this one.

UPDATE: I've made a far deeper examination of this issue here and here.


Whodda Thunk?

Auto Racing is not a topic I every thought I would get into on this blog. Having grown up in Indianapolis, it's a little hard not to be a fan, but it is something I enjoy, but do not necessarily opine about on a regular basis.

For me, the biggest thrill in racing was just hanging out at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. There simply was little better when I was a kid. Particularly that one day every May my folks would let me ditch school and spend the day at the track. Where else could a punk 14-year-old have that much fun, and AJ Foyt would take the time to say "Hey!"

It's not like that anymore, which is sad. Broken Masterpieces posted this yesterday -- which is far sadder. And sadder still is that he cites this from Robin Miller to back up his case.

Robin Miller is a wannabe jerk that couldn't hack it behind the wheel. Instead, he made a name for himself by being a professional contrarian around Indianapolis, and then when ESPN and SpeedTV went big time they picked him up because there was no one else available.

C.A.R.T. is who took all the fun out of going to the track. Even before CART was formed, when it was just a whisper in the wind, the guys that eventually did it were turning what had been a very open hospitable place into some sort of armed camp. Dying were the days when an adolescent like myself could skip his weekly shave, borrow his dad's press pass and sneak into the garage and just have the thrill of watching an Unser or a Foyt turn a wrench. Garage doors were closed and the drivers were too good to mix with the kids.

And then along came NASCAR. Competition and fan focused, the predominance of NASCAR was a foregone conclusion long before open wheeled racing blew up. CART was headed squarely in the direction of F1 -- elitist and inaccessable. F1 has been BORING that last few years because of the Ferrari dominance, everybody knows it -- to the point that F1 is changing the rules. CART had gotten there to. It had gotten to the point that everytime I heard that a Penske car had won - again, I wanted to throw up.

Tony George did the only thing he could do, he tried to turn open wheel racing back in the direction of NASCAR, because that is what was working. If he hadn't, instead of two poorly attended leagues there would be nothing because NASCAR would have blown them away and CART would have likely merged with F1. I'd hate to lose open wheel oval racing altogether.

You know what -- I really don't like NASCAR. It hurts me to watch the Brickyard 400 -- you need a calendar to time those guys around the track, not a stopwatch.

Tony George is not a spoiled grandchild frittering away what grandaddy built -- He's a guy desperately trying to save open wheel racing in America. You want to help -- stop whining and buy a ticket.

Friday, February 11, 2005


Bummer Conversation

VodkaPundit has a very enjoyable post on the demise of "Enterprise." It mostly posits the Star Trek stories that could be. Be sure and read the ALL the comments -- they're a hoot!


Jordan Quits!...Jordan Quits!...Jordan Quits!

The Associated Press, as carried in the LA times reports that Eason Jordan, he of the slanderous comments aimed at the US military, has quit! (HT: Powerline)

This may be the biggest victory for the blogosphere yet!



A Reasonable Global Warming Story

I like this global warming story form MSNBC. It does not resort to the usual sky0is-falling-change-everything-now stuff that ones usually sees when reporting on the planets temperature.

Let's be real...

First Story
Check out this quote from this piece on EPA's agreeing to review some standards.
"If EPA's standards do not reflect the maximum achievable reduction in emissions..."

So, even if the standards are safe, we're still supposed to go to all the time trouble and expense to reduce them?

Second Story
This story discusses seventeen new materials that the EPA has listed as carcinogens. Among those materials listed are NEUTRONS!
The general population is exposed to neutrons primarily from cosmic radiation that penetrates the earth's atmosphere.

So let me get this straight...outer space is a carcinogen? Wasn;t this where the Fantastic Four came from?

You Have to Love The Irony...

It is now illegal to ideal a diesel bus or truck within 100 feet of a school, and for more than 10 minutes. Has anybody bothered to calculate the extra fuel consumption this will result in. (It takes a lot more to start a diesel than it does to run it.) Has anybody bothered to figure out how much more emissions will result from inefficiently operating cool engines rather than idling warm engines?


'Simple Gospel' - The Discussion Continues

DrAJ at SmartChristian points out the continuing discussion on Adrian Warnock's wife's Simple Gospel in 10 points. Adrian himself summarizes the discussion in a very recent post.

Adrian has been very kind in acknowledging my support of the Simple Gospel. I have tried to steer clear of a big discussion of what really is the simple gospel because I think it misses the real point. Now that Adrian has widened the conversation some in his summary post, I shall widen mine.

There are two important reasons I have been so supportive of Adrian's wife's presentation. 1) I think everyone should have a version of the simple gospel and they should spend more time there than they do with, shall we say, "more advanced," versions. 2) Within reason, the details of one's simple gospel aren't that important.

As to the first point, a simple gospel will change the world, Calvin's Institutes, or any other large systematic tome, will not. Most of the points that I have seen discussed about Adrian's wife's distillation are graduate school level stuff. Most people, most Christians, are never going to get there. Most people will, for their lifetimes, simply lack the education and disposition to debate such issues. My own pastor feels the need every couple of years to preach in justification of infant baptism which my denomination practices. The congregation yawns in one accord, every time. To them, baptism matters, but a debate of infant versus adult baptism does not, and a discussion of rebaptism absolutely puts them to sleep.

In order to fulfill the Great Commission we must be able to describe the gospel in a manner accessible and appealing to all. Also, as I posted a couple of days ago Jesus calls us to Himself not as learned scholars, but as children.

As to the second point, the precise formulation of the simple gospel is, within limits - and limits I think far broader than any of us want to believe, a minor issue. If it did matter so much, would the church have grown as much as it has to date? Are we really willing to go so far as to think that those of other theological bent are not going to make it through the final judgment? I posted yesterday on some of my experiences with Christians that some might consider heretical, and therefore unChristian.

Let's bottom line this -- God, His ways and His judgment, is so far beyond our comprehension, that it is an act of pure hubris to think that we can distill all this into some sort of systematic truth. That does not mean I do not think the effort is worthwhile, it just means that in the effort we have got to remain sufficiently humble, and in this instance, sufficiently means EXTREMELY humble.

Maybe I get this from my science background. In science we have said to the point of cliche' that, "The more we learn, the more questions we have." This is not just something we say to justify applying for another grant.

The same thing applies to God, the more I try to figure Him out, the more he immediately breaks out of whatever intellectual box I have built for Him and then smiles at me benevolently as if to say, "Not on your life."

The Wittenberg Gate has a very good recent post on the dangers of putting too much into our own specific formulations of a simple gospel.

As I said, there are limits to how far I am willing to stretch this argument that the formulation of the simple gospel is not that important. I said in my original post on this topic that I think many churches are currently skating on very thin ice when it comes to the our own human role in the story of salvation. This, by the way, was one of the things I most liked about Adrian's wife's formulation, its emphasis of and distinction between confession and repentance.

But I will repeat that I think the limits are far, far broader than I am comfortable with. As much as I want solid answers and concrete boundaries, God is not providing them. I think He wants to remind us of who He is, and how insignificant we are by comparison. THAT may be the most important lesson for all for all of us that are wondering what the simple gospel is.


From the Edge of Taste

Once again, Ananova takes us to the edge of taste and gives us a good giggle.


Friday Humor

Joke One:

In the United States during the depression. Two professional men have been reduced to digging ditches as the only work they can find.

1st Man: "Y'know, those Communists seem to have some pretty good ideas."

2nd Man: "Like what?"

1st Man: "If you have two houses, you give me one."

2nd Man: "That sounds fair to me."

1st Man: "If you have two cars, you give me one."

2nd Man: "That sounds fair to me."

1st Man: "If you have two shirts, you give me one."

2nd Man: "Wait a minute. I ACTUALLY have two shirts!"

Joke Two:

Little Melissa comes home from first grade and tells her father that they learned about the history of Valentine's Day.

"Since Valentine's Day is for a Christian saint and we're Jewish," she asks, "will God get mad at me for giving someone a valentine?"

Melissa's father thinks a bit, then says "No, I don't think God would get mad. Who do you want to give a valentine to?"

"Osama Bin Laden," she says.

"Why Osama Bin Laden?" her father asks, in shock.

"Well," she says, "I thought that if a little American Jewish girl could have enough love to give Osama a valentine, he might start to think that maybe we're not all bad, and maybe start loving people a little."

"And if other kids saw what I did and sent valentines to Osama, he'd love everyone a lot. And then he'd start going all over the place to tell everyone how much he loved them and how he didn't hate anyone anymore."

Her father's heart swells with pride and he looks at his daughter with new found pride. "Melissa, that's the most wonderful thing I've ever heard!"

"I know," Melissa says. "And once that gets him out in the open, the Marines could blow his butt up."


Amen Corner

Amen and Amen to Daniel Henninger's piece at today's OpinionJournal. The only problem is that the Nobel Peace Prize is an insufficient recognition of the bravery and capability of the Iraqi people.

Thursday, February 10, 2005


Christian Environments

Last Sunday, the Washington Post carried a story on "The Greening of Evangelicals." Parableman and There is some truth in that both pick up on the story and offer some comment.

This stuff scares me. Both bloggers say essentially that it is about time Christians pay attention to these issues. Says "Truth"
Hopefully they'll start talking, because this is another one of those very important common grounds that ought to be recognized.

Parableman opines:
What I'm upset at many conservative evangelicals over is not that they don't adopt liberal policies on these issues but that they don't seem concerned about the issues at all.

There is a very good reason that conservative evangelicals have not picked up on these issues. In the first place, the Post article has little understanding of what is, or is not, an "evangelical." They paint with a very broad brush and seem to use the term to mean anyone that goes to a Christian church. While the article does mention a couple of notable conservative Christians, it's not exactly like the names mentioned are attaching themselves to a lot of the issues discussed in the article.

No Christian would deny that as Christians we have a responsibility to good stewardship towards the planet -- but past that point, things really start to hit the fan.

There are two issues that raise their heads really rapidly when the discussion of Christian environmentalism crops up. The first is priorities. Too many, way too many "environmentalists" put the environment on a higher plane than people. Bottom line this -- environmentalism, as a movement, is anti-industrialization. From toxic air contaminants to garbage disposal, from species diversification to global warming, its all about beating back the actions of mankind, particularly those acts that result in industrialization. But industrialization is absolutely necessary for the planet to support the levels of human habitation that it now does. Push industrialization back very far and people are going to start dying -- in droves. Is that really reflective of Christian priorities?

The second issue that comes up is purely technical. What is an environmental issue and what is not. Let's examine just a single example -- global warming. The fact that the planet is warming is not arguable, but how much and why are hotly contested in the scientific community.

Even if we accept for a moment that global warming really is our problem, as opposed to just a natural occurrence, Bjorn Lumborg, argues, quite effectively, in "The Skeptical Environmentalist" that it is far less expensive to cope with it than to try and prevent it. So where is the church supposed to come down on something like this? In light of the technical debate going on around global warming, the questions confronting the church are out of their field, or purely political. Such technical debate could go on about any number of environmental "issues."

A few years ago I chaired the Missions Committee of my church. We had a member that was a rabid environmentalist and he wanted to direct our church's given to all sorts of stuff that was highly debatable technically, and some of it ethically (pesticide bans for example -- 1000's die each year in the third world for want of DDT) I refused to take committee time for the argument, but he and I spent hours on the phone debating vary technical issues. In the end we agreed to clean up litter in the LA River basin, necessary, but hardly a large scale environmental "issue."

As Christians, we should be good stewards of the planet. Fine, now what?


Crime and Punishment

In preparation for "Hugh Cruise II," (call me a blog suck-up if you wish, but I've been to St. Petersburg -- great city!) I am currently reading "Crime and Punishment" by Fyodor Dostoevsky. TruePravda listed this week as the first of his series, "Books that Haunt."

Today, just today, I read the first chapter in Part Five of that novel. In this chapter, one of the characters gives a quite long speech. There are a lot of pontificating characters in this book. Anyway, the specific character I am referring to is "the progressive." He goes on and on all about all new ideas.

Now bear in mind, this book was written when tsarist Russia was still firmly intact. What we see hear in this character's rant is the proto-ideology that lead to the Russian revolution. Fair enough -- but it sounds amazingly like a lot of the left-wing tripe that we hear today.

Soviet communism has come and gone, a grossly failed experiment that killed literally millions of people. You would think that after all these ideas have been through in the last 150 years or so, they would at least find some new words to hide them behind!


Whose Intolerant!?

Next time your friendly neighborhood liberal tells you you are intolerant because you think homosexuality is a sin, or abortion is bad, pull out this story for them.
Steele altered his schedule and agreed to be interviewed and later that same day a pair of FBI agents arrived at the church...."One of the agents opened a file and told me that the FBI wanted to question me about a sermon that I preached on Memorial Day nearly six months before," Steele said....Steele theorizes somebody in attendance that day apparently misunderstood his comments ....

Misunderstood his comments!? Please! Rev. Steele cites what he believes were the controversial statements in his sermons:
"I shared the number of people who have died in wars versus the number who had died through legal abortion since 1973. There have been 1 million die in all the wars and more than 43 million abortions - that's quite a gripping contrast," Steele said. "I also tied it together by stating that we are in a different type of war that is being fought under the presupposition of freedom."

"I talked during that particular sermon about a pastor in Canada that was arrested for speaking about homosexuality in his church," Steele said. "I related how that pastor told his congregation that if speaking the truth means going to jail, ‘then by golly, that's where I'm going to be and I'm going to save you a seat next to me.'"

Will somebody please tell me what is vaguely threatening or violence inciting about these comments.

Let me get this straight. Alec Baldwin can call for the stoning of Henry Hyde on national television and it's considered entertainment. But a minister in southern, near rural, (I've been to Mount Vernon, IL "near rural" is the best I can do) Illinois, he deserves a visit from the FBI? And we're the intolerant ones?

Next time I hear a liberal how intolerant I am, maybe I'll call the FBI.


Scripture Break...

Eph 6:11-18 (NAS)
11 Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints,


The Hits Keep On Coming From Iraq

I have again heard from my firend Jared Leinart in Iraq. His words are the best testimony I can think of to the brave men and women serving this nation. That's why I share them.
Yesterday was truly a day of new things. Here I am in Iraq…and it snowed. We still have dusting left over this morning, but the Iraqi people were out taking pictures of it. In addition, the insurgents tend to stay inside on cold or rainy days. Not so yesterday. We had two missions, one of which was to escort Explosives & Ordnance Disposal (EOD) to disarm an Improvised Explosive Device (IED). Once it was disarmed and we had it loaded into one of our trucks, we received small arms fire (rifles). Seeing how our job was done, we threw EOD into their vehicles (literally) and started to move out. Our 1st Squad did a great job of laying down suppressive fire (shooting back) while we could get EOD loaded up. There were some infantry in the area that also received a Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) attack in that same area earlier. From the reports that I received, no one was injured.

Later that day, we had a call that a Vehicle Borne IED (car bomb) had been set off near some infantry troops but a huge artillery shell (155mm for those of you that know anything about artillery shells) that was part of the bomb didn’t blow and was still there. As we were loading it up to get rid of, a donkey-pulled cart came around the corner with no driver. On the cart was a 55-gallon barrel. Not knowing what was in it, the infantry guys tried to scare off the donkey, but as it came closer to where we were working, the infantry had to shoot the donkey. We have had reports of insurgents sending explosives in such a manner so you can never be too careful.

The people of Iraq are cautious. When we come rolling down the street, they pull their vehicles off to the side of the road (you would too if an armored personnel carrier with a 50 caliber machine gun on top was behind you). It’s hard to imagine how these people live in such conditions. We had a call the other day where we had to recover a mortar round that had landed in an elementary school courtyard. The children had tied a string to the part that was sticking out of the ground and were going to pull it out when their teacher stopped them and called it in. The children are always excited to see us go by. They will come out of their homes and wave at us or give us a thumbs up. The Iraqi National Guard (about the only military the country has left) has a bit to be desired. They had a station right next to where we were taking fire yesterday and the few guys that were outside quickly made their way back inside. Oh well.

Life here is not too bad. We are starting to get into some type of routine. Of course we are on call 24 hours a day to handle UXOs or IEDs. For the most part we don’t get called too much in the nighttime. The food could be a little better. It does make me look forward to home cooking…even Mom’s home cooking!!! So far the guys are holding up well. We’ve shifted a few guys around, as many of them have never been out of the state of Indiana before so they’re trying to find their niche.

Please continue to pray for our troops. Each one of the guys goes through each and every day trying to stay focused on the mission while still trying to deal with issues that are occurring at home while being 5000 miles away. Also please pray for the Iraqi people. They are living in such troubled times and have trouble seeing anything farther than the next few days. They truly live for the moment, as their future is so cloudy.


Song of Songs Continued

A Little Bit About Everything did a follow-up piece to the questions surrounding the Superbowl ad and the fact that GoDaddy's founder used to market QuickVerse Bible software. They interviewed the developer of QuickVerse.

First of all, I think it was good work on the part of A Little About Everything to do this follow-up interview and get at the facts.

As I thought from the original WorldNetDaily piece, there is no connection between GoDaddy and Quickverse other than people who knew each other and did business together some years ago.

The QuickVerse developer felt, as I do, that the commercial was more parody than T&A.
Rairdin doesn't believe the commercial is racy, gratuitous, or anything other than great parody. "People have a hard time comprehending parody," Rairdin says "It's too sophisticated. They focus on the means and not on the end. They can't get past the real objects that are standing in for the parodied objects."

The problem I find in this whole thing is this:
Rairdin approached Parsons "strictly [on] a business venture -- marketing Bible software to his church customers." Faith, at this point, wasn't a motivation -- getting the Bible software into the hands of potential consumers through a strategic marketing partner, was the preeminent goal."

Can we really afford to think of things so vital to our Christian selves with any business goal being more preeminent? As a business owner myself, I struggle with this question everyday. In the end, my business is not as successful as it could be if I had different priorities, but I have more than enough. In the end that is what matters God has provided.


Peggy Noonan and the Pope

Peggy Noonan has a great piece in the WSJ today on the Pope and his personal suffering. I can just hear all my staunchly protestant friends yelling at me about the "herisies" of the Roman church, about how blasphemous, or near blasphemous, is her comparison of the Pope's physical suffering to those of Jesus.

Quite frankly, I don't care. I have said before that I was in the Soviet Union in 1991. I want to share two experiences. The first was in a home. I was visiting Chernobyl. (I'm a scientist, remember? I was there as a part of an environmental technology exchange program) Inside the "exclusion zone" are several villages. Of course, most people in them were evacuated, but some were too old or too stubborn. We visited them. Needless to say, they get few visitors. In one old woman's house, I noted, in a corner an icon. It was ancient, as was the house. That icon has been there long before Vladimir Ilyich started his grand revolution, and I'm willing to bet it's still there today.

The other story occurred in Kiev. I was visiting the Monastery of the Caves, the oldest Christian establishment in the region. I was taking a picture of one of the beautiful sacred paintings on a wall. An old woman came running down the street, which was quite a sight because she was barely able to walk, yelling at me. She called me "the devil" (well, the Ukrainian word for it) because I was attempting to capture God.

Icons and paintings, both object of extreme religious veneration for these women. Many enlightened American protestants would likely condemn the idolatry of their faith. But I spoke with these women -- I felt the conviction of their hearts and their longing for God. I sensed the Holy Spirit in them just as I do in many of my brethren here in the US, and around the world for that matter.

I am convinced, as one can only be by the Holy Spirit, that the prayers of the women, even if they were to icons, were as responsible for ending the scourge of the Soviet Union as was the policies of Reagan and Thatcher.

Pope John Paul II is a part of the legacy as well. And despite whatever doctrinal differences I may have with him, he is a Christian leader, and he has been a very effective one. I am grateful for the Pope. I am grateful for Peggy Noonan, and for her faith. I may disagree with her doctrinally, but I WILL NOT decry her faith, nor deny her salvation.

God is so much bigger than we can even begin to understand.


Because My Wife Cares

Will this create some sort of constitutional crisis in Great Britian? Probabaly not -- it is not a church wedding and she will only be a "consort." But did we not do away with this sort of scandalous royal behavior (that is to say consorts) back in the Victorian age?


Christian MSM?

SmartChristian asks, "What is the Christian Mainstream Media?" He is concerned about accountability for those in that role and the role the Christian Blogosphere can play in creating that accountability, much as the poliblogs do for the MSM, 'ala Easongate.

The obvious first answer would be the teleevangelists. We have seen what I have dubbed as "a prophetic swarm" form around Joel Osteen. They are certainly easy targets.

But then there are the Christian publishers of both words and music, many of whom consider "Christian" just another sales demographic and allow all sorts of things, some heretical, some just vile, to get out there with the label "Christian" on them.

For those of us that are so affiliated, there may be the higher governments of our denominations. My own, the PCUSA, has a long and checkered history of doing remarkably stupid things. It seems like we are always involved in some battle to bring the denomination back form the brink of one disaster or another, but each time we come back, we are that much closer to the edge.

Fortunately, the Christian equivalent to the MSM is a far more diverse group than the political MSM. But that also makes it much harder for the Christian Blogosphere to hold it accountable. For one this, we are a pretty diverse bunch, and what one of us thinks is a big deal, someone else might not. That fact not withstanding -- I think this is a role the Christian blogosphere should seek to play.

Organizing is a good starting point. GodBlogCon is the starting point for that organization. Be there or be square.


Reasons to Love the Military

The Super Bowl Ad thanking our troops has been found objectionable by some. Such people do not have a true appreciation for the sacrifices those in uniform make, nor do they understand what is necessary to preserve the liberty they enjoy.

I, on the other hand, love stories about the heroism, bravery, and just plain goodness of the military. This story and this story are further examples.


Why I Studied Chemistry

I have stayed out of the whole Ward Churchill thing -- he's just an idiot, world's full of them. But this piece by Mark Goldblatt is an interesting analysis of the whole situation. Certainly goes a long way to describe why I always felt uncomfortable in my non-science classes -- and I went to school back when all this nonsense was just taking root.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005


The Next Step On Jordan

Powerline asks tonight, "Where Do We Go From Here?" regarding the Eason Jordan Story. They point to an interesting NRO piece by Jim Geraghty.

As this story has progressed through the blogosphere, I have been pondering a related question. We seem to have tremendous ability to at least make something an issue or story that might otherwise not have seen the light of day. We also appear to have some destructive capability. Geraghty points out that the blogosphere cannot take full credit for Christmas in Cambodia, or Lott, or Rather -- though it's contributions were quite significant.

My question is this, tearing down MSM is only part of the issue -- how do we replace them? At some point we just sound like yapping dogs with the "MSM bad" stuff. Right now the traffic comes from proving them wrong -- How do we prove ourselves right? How do we move from being the fact and bias checkers to being the news providers?

The blogosphere may have made the Rather and Jordan stories, but they are reactive, "MSM bad" stories, and we considered victory achieved when those stories made it to MSM. I for one would rather replace MSM than build a story to the point they they get it. I would rather have people looking to us first, as opposed to the place they turn when things in the MSM seem a little out of kilter. How do we get there?


Odds and Ends


Ran into this site yesterday. (HT: Boars Head Tavern) Maybe I'm gullible but, at first I thought it was funny and making a point, albiet sarcastically. Evenutally I looked at it enough and I thought it was just mean. Which raises a question -- How do we overcome this as the impression people have of us?


I just spent some time trying to establish some trackbacks on a piece I did. How come none of the liberal blogs have trackbacks? Is this proof that liberalism really is definitionally selfish?


Living With Your Own Mess

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, they of the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional fame, has, according to FOXNews, been sued for religious representations. The irony is wonderful, but the facts are amazing:

The case was brought by an attorney who was admitted to practice before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in June. In his lawsuit against the San Francisco-based court, Ryan Donlon (search) said the certificate admitting him contains the court's seal which unlawfully contains what he believes is a tablet object representing the Ten Commandments.

Cathy Catterson, the court's clerk, said the seal highlights a woman, known as "the Majesty of the Law" who is reading a large book. At her feet is a tablet with 10 unreadable lines on it — what Donlon believes is the Ten Commandments.

Donlon -- Get A Life!



The finest institution of higher education throughout the land celebrates its 150-year anniversary this year.

As a graduate, your humble blogger should know about these things. Go 'Dogs!


Trial Of The Century

I just heard the news on the half-hour on LA's KRLA radio proclaim Saddam Husssein's trial as the TRIAL OF THE CENTURY. I'm inclined to agree, but if Google hits are any measure (878,000 for Saddam), Michael Jackson's trial has that "honor" all sewed up (3,280,000).



So I'm riding along in the car and along comes one of those ads on the radio. You know the ones...for your local evening news declaring yet another new something to worry about. Usually that's the cue to change the station, but as the hand moved to the button I heard "Irritable Male Syndrome."

Well that blew my mind. First thought -- some feminist is comparing us to bowels. But then I did a Google search and then a Technorati search. Turns out there are a lot of people worried about this.

OK, I have not exactly researched thoroughly, but it looks to me like becoming a cranky old man is now a "syndrome." WHEN ARE WE GOING TO GET OVER OURSELVES?

I'm sure there are gentlemen out there that suffer from some extremely virulent and ugly form of this (more likely their wives), but is this a dramatic public health crisis requiring major news coverage?

For the record, I hearby declare myself a sufferer of "CCMACS" - Curmudgeonly, Cranky, Middle-Aged Christian Syndrome.


Wise Words

Boars Head Tavern is, in their usually animated fashion, carrying on a debate today on determinism vs. free will and related topics. All apparently springing from the discovery of a faith statement issued by John Piper's church. (Piper is the best Christian author I have read in 10 years - shameless plug, shameless plug)

Jim Nicholson's post on the matter is true wisdom. He formulates the problem this way:

Assertion #1: God makes everything that happens happen, (insert various bible references here)

Assertion #2: things happen that displease God, (insert various bible references here)

Conclusion: God makes things happen that displease himself.

He answers it this way:
The revelation was this: "Gee, I don't know."

That is real wisdom, No seriously -- "Gee, I do not know," may be some of the most important words a Christian can utter.

The nature of God is such that we can never know. The sooner we get used to the that, and the more we accept it, the better our explorations will be.

Can you know the totality of anyone? I mean it, a parent, a spouse, a sibling -- do you really know them? Now, imagine God, so much bigger, smarter, more powerful that He defies description. If you cannot really know another person, how can you expect to really know God? You can't.

The best you can hope to do is love Him, share your life with Him, and explore Him to the best of your capabilities.

"Gee, I don't know," is real wisdom.


Can the Gospel be Too Simple?

Adrian Warnock continues to be quite kind to me in his sharing of his wife's Simple Gospel in 10 Points.

I have avoided posting what I am about to since Adrian originally put his post up because it seemed too obvious a notion to me. But after reviewing the comments and trackbacks, maybe not. So here it is:

Matt 18:1-10 (NAS)
At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" 2 And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, 3 and said, "Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 "Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 "And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; 6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it is better for him that a heavy millstone be hung around his neck, and that he be drowned in the depth of the sea. 7 "Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes! 8 "And if your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the eternal fire. 9 "And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out, and throw it from you. It is better for you to enter life with one eye, than having two eyes, to be cast into the fiery hell.10 "See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you, that their angels in heaven continually behold the face of My Father who is in heaven.

Something to remember when arguing theology and what exactly is the gospel.


Who's Worse the NYTimes or the Mexican Government

Check this piece from the NYTimes about the Mexican government printing a guide to illegally crossing the border. Bad enough the Mexican government published it, but is it really necessary to advertise it and include helpful hints in the story?


Poor Starving Students Everywhere Beware

This piece from Pravda attacks a staple of every cash-challenged person everywhere. Consume at your own risk! -- As if you did not already know that.


Isn't This Taking Song of Songs a Little Too Far

This WorldNetDaily piece reveals that the guy who owns (of the highly risque Super Bowl ad) is the guy that founded Parsons Technology, one of the leading providers of Christian Software on the market. (HT: A Little About Everything)

I'll be the first one to admit that God is not sex adverse, and sex is so common in marketing today that I did not find the commercial particularly out of line, mostly because it was more making fun of last year's Janet Jackson debacle than being actually titillating.

What I do have an enormous amount of trouble with is that this is a huge sign of how much marketing and sales and money has entered the evangelical mindset.

Now Parson's to my knowledge has never claimed a personal relationship with Jesus. The piece indicates that their initial Bible software was written by a VP, who clearly is a Christian (Homer nods to the original post, now corrected: A Little About Everything); however, all of us have worked for companies that did not share our convictions. I'm not sure there is any personal admonishments necessary here. As I read the WND piece, Parsons himself is no longer associated with Parson Technology and neither, as I understand it, is

But when you combine it with this post over at, you really have to wonder what's going on.

SmartChristian is also asking right now, "What is an Evangelical?" I think this incident points out that for many "Evangelical" is a market demographic -- and that includes many in the church. There is a terrifying book I read recently called Branded Nation. It discusses marketing and churches. Made me shudder.

There is no question that marketing offers tools that can help the church spread it's message -- but there is a danger. Marketing by definition treats people as things, or at least members of some anonymous category. Is that what Jesus did? Is that what we should be doing?


How To Get Through School -- STUDY!

This piece from the Wall Street Journal, is a little disturbing. (HT: Boar's Head Tavern)

Education does come way too easy today, but the solutions are almost worse than the problem. Senior projects are not a bad idea, but they do not make up for 12 years of not learning readin', writin', and 'rithmatic. Guess I'm a back to basics kinda guy.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005


Feeling and Thinking

Michael Spencer, the Internet Monk, posts a great essay today. He calls the piece "A Grace I'm Not Afraid to Feel: Hope for Christians who want it all." and he examines the relationship and battle between the reformed and charismatic churches and tries to carve out a place for those of us who want to be somewhere in between.

Step into the office, readers. The doctor is in. Today's problem: Getting over a common malady among serious, reformed Christians. Yes, I mean that nagging split personality between believing what is true, and experiencing what is real. Is a high view of doctrine, Word and Sacrament the enemy of genuine piety and experience? Is it the Calvinistic lecture hall versus the Charismatic "really big shoo?"

To begin with, we need a basic question. Which matters more to you? What is real, or what you feel? Those two questions simplify a more complex sounding dilemma: Should we seek objectivity or subjectivity? In matters of Christian faith, the question is just as important: Is the Christian life an objective acceptance of what is real, feeling not withstanding, or is it a subjective experience of what we genuinely, even intensely feel is real for our lives now?

I am troubled by this division in the church and what it means for each of us as persons of faith. As a high church goer of the reformed faith, I have twice now found myself in congregations that have chased the charismatic model (because that is where the recent success is), one with disastrous results and the other with the jury still out.

Michael discusses the influences on his life that have helped him find a synthesis of the two viewpoints. Finding such a synthesis has been the great struggle of my walk with Jesus as well. Intellectual by character and seminary trained, most of my adult life has been devoted to experiencing the very real presence of God without falling off a cliff into some sort of self-indulgent babbling trance.

I think; however, this division has implications for the church that are of equal importance as the implications for our personal lives. The traditional, mainstream, reformed churches are withering on the vine. Most of the charismatic churches I know end up embroiled in enormous scandals, generally involving illicit sex or embezzlement, at some point in their life cycle. Does either really advance the Kingdom?

I would like to challenge the church to try and find the synthesis that Michael describes. It has to be something more than just adopting low-church worship styles, or high-church governing systems. No, this needs to be a genuine synthesis, finding God in our hearts and institutions.


Dennis Prager Saves the Day

Jim at Stones Cry Out has a post today singing the praises of Dennis Prager's recent series of columns at on role Judeo-Christian values have played in maintaining and advancing civilization.

Dennis speaks of the battle that is currently going on between worldviews and argues that the Judeo-Christian worldview is the only one that offers and serious hope.
There is an epic battle taking place in the world over what value system humanity will embrace. There are essentially three competitors: European secularism, American Judeo-Christianity and Islam.

As Jim says, these columns are well worth your time. The link above takes you to the first column in the series, check the archives to find the others.

I am going to go out on a limb here and state that I think Dennis Prager may be one of the best hopes for the church today. Dennis is a devoted and passionate Jew, understanding of our conviction that Jesus is the Messiah, but he utterly rejects it. Nonetheless, he is very influential among Christians out here in California, and increasingly across the country as his radio audience grows.

Why do I think this? Simple -- Dennis has almost single-handedly restored a discussion of ethics and values to the Christian conversation. In my lifetime, the church has become a larger and larger umbrella; we have stretched to the point of abandonment our values and ethics, and more lately our theology is getting pretty spongy. Almost anything goes anymore.

Dennis has reminded many of us of our roots in a system of values. He has replaced values and ethics on the pedestal with theology and faith. I cannot recommend Dennis' radio program and writing and speeches enough. I also cannot adequately convey my thanks to him for the influence he has had on my thinking.


More on the Simple Gospel

Adrian Warnock gives me a kind mention based on my response to his post on "The Simple Gospel in 10 Points."

I have to confess some amazement at the comments and trackbacks that Adrian's post created. They ranged from "too simplistic" to "too complex" and everywhere in between. Whatever happened to C.S. Lewis' notion of "Mere Christianity?" Never mind, I just did a Google search on "Mere Christianity" and found way too many people that thought Lewis was an idiot.

This makes me ask -- Why do we make things so difficult? If we cannot agree on a simple notion of a few points to represent the heart of the Gospel is it any wonder the world at large finds Christianity as foolish. But then Paul said that was not such a bad thing.

I am going to take a stab at why things are this messy - idolatry. That's right idolatry. We tend to equate idolatry with Baal worship. Some of my most radical protestant brethren will tell you that our orthodox brethren are idolatrous because of the role icons play in their worship, but that's not what I'm talking about. No idolatry is far more insidious than that.

The way I understand it, idolatry is letting anything, anything whatsoever take a more preeminent place in our hearts than Jesus Christ himself. Not our ideas about Jesus, not our institutions dedicated to Jesus, not even our gifts from the Holy Spirit. We get so wrapped up in those things that we forget about Jesus Himself, and that is when it all goes off the rails.

The best analogy I can think of is weddings. In this day and age weddings are the biggest event in an individual's life. Subsequently people pour enormous amounts of effort into the design of the ceremony, the decoration, the clothing, the photographer.... When they do so, thay often forget that the wedding is about them and their intended pledging their lives to each other, and about celebrating that pledge with those that are nearest and dearest. I know many stories of broken relationships that happened because someone in a wedding was wound so tight they said an irrevocable and terribly hurtful thing to a member of the wedding party, or maybe even their intended. Does that make any sense?

Some times we get so wrapped up in buildings and programs, worship music and liturgy, staff and volunteers, that we forget to talk to Jesus -- forget to read about Jesus -- forget to invite Jesus in our hearts. The person of Jesus is more important than any theology about Jesus.

That's why I love a simple gospel -- It does not get in the way of Jesus.


They Do Love their Protests

This piece from Bangor, Maine really raises my hackles. (HT: BOTWT) Basically a bunch of peace protestors marched against an art exhibition of paintings of combat in Iraq and Afhanistan, painted by a military man because it glorified war.
About a half-dozen artists carried signs and stood vigil outside the Farnsworth as the show "Fire and Ice: Marine Corps Combat Art from Afghanistan and Iraq" was previewed for museum members. Fay's paintings show soldiers carrying out their daily duties while serving on hostile ground.

I am way past worrying about the whole one way free speech thing on this one. I am just sick, sick and tired of people attacking our men and women in service. The lack of graditude, and the misunderstanding of what it is that enables such protestors to mount their almighty protests absolutely amazes me.

I was in the Soviet Union in 1991, a few months before it fell, and during the failed coop attempt against Gorbachov. I was in the People's Republic of China in 1989, just months after Tianamen Square. Sometime I would like to take all these protestors and send them to those places at those times and see how they feel about the US military after they try their protests.

I understand to some extent when kids do this sort of thing, but the article quotes a 73-year-old woman! Where does that come from? It is a testament to the wealth and freedom this country provides that a woman could make it to that age that utterly stupid. I'll use that fact to try and settle myself down.


Where Are the Gay Activists?

See this link from Ananova. Here's the lead:
A German zoo has imported four female penguins from Sweden in an effort to tempt its gay penguins to go straight.

Isn't this discriminatory? Aren't these penguins being robbed of their inate right to be who they are? Don't we need to dispatch armies of lawyers to bring litigation against the zoo? How can we stand for this?

Oh Wait!...This kind of makes sense. Hmmmmmmmm.


Syria Next?

See Larry Kudlow's NRO piece today. He has an interesting prediction from a reliable source.


Journalists...Surrender Now!

You know a story has reached critical mass when they start making fun of it. This funny, sarcastic bit at Scrappleface is truly enjoyable. (HT: Hugh Hewitt)

Unfortunately, I do not think the Rules of Engagement described are enough. There is no provision for journalists that refuse to surrender. In such cases I would suggest the military call in the bloggers to shoot the jobs out from under the jounalists.


Only Joseph Biden

Over the weekend, WorldNetDaily reported on a piece from the Boston Globe in which Joe Biden stated that we need to pay attention to Iran's "emotional needs" in an effort to stem their rush to nuclear capability.

This is a man who has had one to many trips to the counselors office. Precisely what are we supposed to do -- mobilize regiments of psychologists to invade Iran? Maybe we are all supposed to get on an airplane, go over there and give the mullahs a big hug? Better yet -- a new program of Prozac aid.

Enough with the sarcasm. Biden's contention is that they feel they need nuclear weapons because they are afraid of being bullied. So he feels the answer is that we are supposed to stop being bullies. Since when are we bullies?

Look I am all for anybody striking back when they have been bullied, but on the playgrounds I grew up on, if you went over with a bat and hit a guy just because he was bigger than you and your were afraid he was going to bully you, you were more or less asking for a beating.

Sorry Joe, this may make my top ten list of idiot remarks.


Christian Economy

In today's Outtakes at Evangelical Outpost, Joe Carter comments on a story out of England. It seems an ecumenical group called, "Churches Together in Britain And Ireland" has released a report embracing prosperity and economic growth.

Joe is rather sarcastic that they are just coming to this conclusion now, but I am a little more sympathetic. Scripture is not entirely clear on the matter of free markets vs. Socialism. On the one hand there is the description of a Christian community in Acts 2 that seems very socialistic. But then there is law after law in the Old Testament confirming personal property rights -- a highly capitalistic notion.

I'm not sure that God has a specific economic system in mind. I have always felt that if each of us committed to Christ and filled with the Holy Spirit that somehow things would work well, regardless of the specific economic system we live in. I think that is why Jesus said "render unto Caesar" and Paul was relatively cavalier about slavery.

Money is not definitionally evil, but it sure is a tempting idol.


I Was Going to Leave Eason Jordan Alone...

No really, I was -- but then Howard Kurtz published an interview with the man in the Washington Post. (HT: Powerline, Easongate)

In that interview, Eason reasserts his position that he was simply trying to distinguish between "collateral" and and other kinds of unintended damage.
"I was trying to make a distinction between 'collateral damage' and people who got killed in other ways,"

Well, why didn't he just say so to begin with? As I posted yesterday, the military makes a distinction between "collateral" and "unintended" damage, but also admits that it is a distinction without a significant difference, except in the planning stages of a mission.

Mr. Jordan, if you were just trying to make this distinction, why don't you just apologize for the offensive manner in which you expressed yourself and we will move on.


Prayer Moment

Be sure and visit the GodBlogCon Prayer site. Pray for the conference, and pray in general.


Read This

James Taranto, he of "Best of the Web Today" fame,, has a great piece today at on the shaky legal history of sexual privacy decisions, including abortion and impending gay marriage.

Monday, February 07, 2005


This Will Make Your Head Swim

From Evangelical Outpost and Wittenberg Gate, we learned over the weekend that an Chicago court ruling grants parents the right to sue a fertility clinic for WRONGFUL DEATH concerning the loss of a frozen embryo.

The Wittenberg Gate post is particularly thorough at examining how the apparent sanctity of abortion rights creates many unfair judgments for other matter such as still birth, miscarriage, and so on. As Dory puts it:

This case is yet another of many that illustrate the tension that exists
between abortion supporters who wish to suppress recognition of the rights of
the unborn, and the parents of the unborn who want their children to have legal
protection and recognition.

I posted on the immature, but seemingly effective in this day-and-age. "Because I want to, that's why" argument over the weekend.

Bottom line, to preserve the irresponsible's "right" to escape the consequences of their actions, the responsible and the pained are to be punished. So many situations make it impossible to relieve everyone's suffering. This is a sad illustration of that fact.

I, for one, would rather preserve the "rights" of those that try to be productive members of society, than those that merely wish to escape a bad decision.


Afghan Success, or Why America Matters

When slander against the US Military fills the air, it is always refreshing to learn that the rest of the world does not hold us in such contempt. This story from the Pak Tribune shows that our military is really a symbol of hope to many in the world. (HT: Chernkoff).

When I get too worked up about the whole Eason thing, stories like this remind me that the MSM perspective often does not spread beyond the MSM.


Living With The Devil

Not feeling tempted enough? Do you need to live someplace where the devil is literally at your doorstep? Check out this story from FOXNews. As my wife is quick to point out, we have lots of natural wonders named for the devil (Devil's Postpile National Monument, for example) So what's the big deal about living on Satan Wood Drive?


Homosexual Response

Michael Spencer, the Internet Monk, may be shaping up to be my blogging soul mate. He gave me a tremendous shout out on his discussion blog Boar's Head Tavern today. I will be forever grateful for his kind words.

While I was perusing his other posts, I ran across a tremendous post he did a while back on the apostolic response to the homosexuality that was rampant in the first century. Here's his summary of his point:

Paul sees that. He does not have a plan for cultural transformation.

+He has a commission to make disciples.
+He has a commission to cross cultures and build the church.
+He has a commission to make the church an alternative community centered on Christ and the Gospel. A Kingdom outpost now.

Paul's response to the homosexuality of his culture IS the church. Not something the church does, but the creation and life of the church is the response.

I could not agree with his sentiment more, but I think there are a few caveats. In the end Jesus is the only, THE ONLY possible answer to societal ills. Jesus' mission was a mission of personal redemption. Jesus' mission was clearly to change the world -- one person at a time.

That said; however, when it comes to the homosexual agenda we are confronted with right now, I am not sure the church can afford to sit on the sidelines politically. I will briefly state some reasons I think such.

1) The homosexual lobby is actively seeking the affirmation of protestant denominations. This may not concern my Roman Catholic friend Internet Monk, but for people like me, this is a huge concern. My own denomination, PCUSA, may seriously and irrevocably shatter in the next 2-4 years on this single issue.

2) Much of the energy behind the efforts aimed at the protestant denominations comes from an increasing societal acceptance and even celebration of homosexuality. It is unfortunate, but the protestant church often takes its cues from the greater society instead of the other way around. In the highly competitive environment that the protestant churches find themselves in (and likely the Roman Catholics in the US as well) the desire to fill the pews often, and shamefully, trumps certain spiritual precepts. This fact pushes the battleline for those of us in the protestant denominations back from the purely denominational to the society at large.

3) The situation is very different than it was in ancient Rome or Greece. Monk's point about the general prevalence and acceptance of homosexuality is not debated, but in both of those instances, there was no effort to move the society past acceptance of homosexuality to actual endorsement. That is very key. In seeking to have our society endorse homosexual marriage, the homosexual lobby seeks to attack the most fundamental unit on which our society is based. Regardless of my religious conviction, on this basis alone, I would have to enter this bit of public debate. My religious convictions simply add impetus and urgency to the debate.


Eason Jordan -- Passing the Baton

It appears the blogosphere has done its job. The piling onto Eason Jordan has begun. David Gergen has been heard from, as has Senator Dodd. Hugh Hewitt said on his radio program today that this absolutely will break in the MSM in the next few days, even with the withdrawal of the offer of the video.

This story is now a lot bigger than your humble blogger can hope to participate in. My job has been to contribute to the general furor and thus provide energy to force the story to the surface. To keep track of the news, let me refer you to Hugh Hewitt, Easongate, Captain's Quarters, Michelle Malkin, and LaShawn Barber.

The bottom line remains, if he said anything remotely like what has been reported, and increasingly confirmed by attendees, he offered an massive insult to the US military. If he said exactly what was reported, he accused the US military of a heinous crime. If it is the first option, he better apologize, something like that just should not be in a man with his power and influence. If it's the later option, he better come forward with the evidence so we can prosecute the offenders ASAP -- otherwise, it's just slander, and then he really ought to lose his job.

Stay on top of this story and act to correct this hideous slap in the face of our brave men and women in uniform.


This is cute

Never hurts to laugh at ourselves every now and then -- even if it is Ray Stevens making us laugh. Please enjoy this link.

By the way, I was born in the Great State of Mississippi and still have a great deal of family down there. I think I may have met this squirrel!


The Simple Gospel

Adrian Warnock has an absolutely marvelous post on a Sunday School lesson his wife taught this past weekend.

In it, he makes the point that the gospel is really a simple message and he breaks it down into 10 points:

1. Everyone has Sinned
2. God hates sin
3. Sin must be punished
4. Jesus took the punishment instead of us on the cross
5. Admit you have been naughty
6. Believe that Jesus took your punishment
7. Say sorry to God
8. Ask God to be in charge of your life
9. Be baptised (note the order here)
10. Receive the Holy Spirit

He then asks for comment from people that cannot believe any or all of it, and why people want to complicate it so much.

I certainly agree with his point that the gospel is simple, and that we tend to overcomplicate matters. I can hear the debates happening now. "After all, aren't some of these points more important than others?" "What is the good news for this culture at this time?"

First of all -- this is a great summary. Second of all, ALL OF THE POINTS ARE IMPORTANT.

I'll be honest --I really miss points 5(naughty) & 7(sorry). It seems like all I ever hear about it God's grace, and never about what I have to do to appropriate that grace.

In the last 7-10 years, I have probably heard more sermons on the prodigal son parable than any other passage of scripture. ALL of those sermons (15-20), absolutely all of them, had one common aspect -- None of them discussed the attitude of the prodigal when he returned to his father.

Every time I hear one of these sermons, and I heard another one very recently, I want to stand up and ask, "What would happen if the son came home and instead of asking to be a servant in the household, he assumed his sonship would be restored to him." "What if he came back and just asked for more money?"

Certainly all the preachers I have heard tend to assume today that people have some sort of innate understanding of their depraved status. In this self-image obsessed culture, I think convincing people of their depravity is the largest obstacle to the gospel message.

What I really wonder is why we ignore the unpopular parts of our simple message? If people do not confess all 10 points, can we say we have reached them? I am not calling for old-fashioned fire and brimstone damnation preaching here. All I am saying is that God's grace requires appropriation -- and we can only do that appropriation on our knees.

If we do not remind people of the proper posture when approachig the Throne of Grace, can we be assured they have reached it?


There Are Some Great Young People In This Country

Check out this column from 15-year-old Kyle Williams on WordlNetDaily. For a kid, he has both amazing research skills and amazing insight and wisdom. Wonder if I can get him to attend my Wednesday Night High School Bible Study?


Unintended Consequences

From "Russia Makes It Funny" comes this story about how regulations passed with even the best of intentions, can have less that great results. There is a great deal of wisdom behind small government. I wonder if Star Trek's Prime Directive is an argument for small government. All I know is, be careful what you wish for. No telling what you'll get.


Eason Issue in Stasis

UPDATE 10:30 am PST

Maybe not such statis after all. Michelle Malkin scored THE interview with Rep. Barney Frank. According to Franks' account of the seminar, Jordan did initially make a slanderous assertion, though he tried to back just far enough out of it to avoid slander. Once again one's initial choice of expression speaks volumes.

Access to the video may not be as we have hoped.

Original Post

The issue of Eason Jordan's abominable utterances, finds itself in the limbo between the blogosphere and the MSM this morning. MSM is waiting on the video, and the Blogosphere is chasing down whatever leads and angles they can find. Captain's Quarters this morning picks up on an interview that was conducted with a BBC reporter that was present at the conference. Easongate pulls some good investigative work into the actual deaths of journalists in country.

Both posts are reporting expanded interpretations of Eason's clarification email, that even this lowly blog received. Essentially the agrument contends that the US Military did not murder journalist, but rather that they were mistakenly identified as targets, and therefore killed with mistaken intent. Further, it appears that Jordan was attempting to make the point that this was somehow different than "mere" collateral damage.

The military does make a distinction between "collateral" and "unintended" damage. But both are considered one of the unfortunate side effects of war. The following quote is from a presentation made by COL Gary Crowder, and located at the link just given:

If, however, in the course of dropping that bomb, a laser-guided bomb, for example, a fin breaks off the laser-guided bomb and the thing goes spiraling 3,000 feet away from the target, there was really no practical way for me to plan for that. That is not collateral damage; that is unintended damage, and if there are civilians killed, they are unintended civilian casualties. I don't mean to kind of draw a fine legal line between the two, but it's important to understand that as we plan these things, there are a great deal of things we can do to mitigate collateral damage and in fact have potential to mitigate some unintended damage, but these things, again, are mechanical devices and some will fail. And so if somebody has a hope that we're going to go into a conflict and nothing is going to happen in terms of collateral damage, unintended damage or civilian casualties, I think you should absolve yourself of that hope because that probably is not a realistic expectation. (emphasis mine)

While this presentation concerns bombing, earlier in the presentation, intelligence failure is included in unintended damage, and the mistaken targeting of anyone, including a journalist, is in fact unintended damage. Note that the military draws the distinction between collateral and unintended damage not on any moral grounds, but on the grounds that they can plan for the mitigation of collateral damage, while unintended damage is for the most part simply unavoidable in war situations.

So now the question becomes, if we grant Jordan his distinction, does it make his abominable utterances any less offensive? In one sense, if the tape reveals that Jordan was trying to make this distinction, as opposed to accusing the military of murder, his choice of words remains highly insulting, but perhaps not slanderous.

That said, I have a couple of questions I would love to ask Mr. Jordan. The first question would concern why Mr. Jordan chose the words he did to make this relatively minor distinction. One would presume because Mr. Jordan holds the military in a certain contempt. That alone would be sufficient to justify the outrage that has been expressed in the blogosphere. Our military is simply too honorable to be subjected to such disdain at the hands of a few elite.

The other question I have for Mr. Jordan is that if he were trying to make this distinction, as opposed to making an accusation, why did his clarification email not contain an apology for any offense the misunderstanding may have created? Again, one is forced to conclude that Mr. Jordan does not care if he offends the military. Again, this is outrageous on the face of it, and again, it is worthy of the outrage that has been expressed.

Mr. Jordan, you are entitled to your opinion. But many of us do not wish to have opinions such as yours driving our media coverage. Are we gunning for you? You betcha. Even if what you said is not slander -- and the trial is still going -- it was ugly, hateful, and dishonorable. We expect more from our media leadership, and we are going to do our best to get it.

Sunday, February 06, 2005


Those Amazing Soviets

Do you remember the Monty Python Sketch about the funniest joke ever written? The premise was that a guy actually wrote a joke that was so funny, it would cause you to laugh yourself to death. It then goes on to describe how the Brits used it in WWII to kill Germans, and the precautions they took to make sure no Allies were killed by the deadly joke.

Seems the Soviets similarly liked to use things they came across serendipitously as weapons in the Great Patriotic War. Unfortunately, they forgot the precautions against infecting the themselves. Equally unfortunately, they weren't silly.

The Soviets were notorious for their pursuit of a technical goal regardless of the consequences.

The next time you hear someone mouthing off about how the consumer economy of the United States is going to spell the utter destruction of the earth, take a moment to think about what real pollution is.


Stupor Bowl Musings


Great News From Iraq

A little less than a year ago, my wife and I, through the auspices of Soldier's Angels (know it, participate, give -- NOW!), adopted a soldier in C Company 1-14 25 I.D.(L). Each week we have written him letters, and as often as possible, we have sent him "care" packages.

We have heard little from him. The 1-14 has dubbed their duty time in Iraq as "The Iraq Tour '04." They have been to all the hot spots. When action called, they were there. They had little time to send notes to strangers back home.

Amazingly, with such heavy action they had not lost a man, until the last few days. That's the bad news.

The great news is that they are coming home. And as they prepare to do so, they are able to tell their stories about their time there.

We look forward to perhaps meeting "our" soldier. But then again, perhaps not. Regardless, it has been a pleasure and an honor to support one soldier in the Golden Dragons.

In advance -- Welcome Home Golden Dragons! Job well done! Please accept the heartfelt thanks of a grateful nation.


Eason Jordan -- The Latest

There are two big developments today on the Eason Jordan front. The first is that a new blog, Easongate, devoted entirely to this story has emerged. Bookmark it, read it, adsorb it. (HT: Instapundit, Powerline, Hugh Hewitt) This blog is from a bunch of military guys for whom this stuff would be really personal. I'm all for 'em. Go get him gentlemen.

The other big news is that Hugh Hewitt interviewed Rebecca McKinnon, the other blogger that was present at Jordan's abominable utterances, and she essentially confirms Abovitz's original telling of the story.

The American Digest has a rather pessimistic post on how all of this will come out. (HT: Instapundit) I find Digest's use of the term "unwritten blacklist" a little overly dramatic for what is essentially a staightforward argument. - Based on his very powerful and influential position, Eason Jordan is able to see to it that this story never sees the MSM light of day, either by directly squelching it at CNN or by besmirching the reputation of any MSM reporter that takes it on; thereby destroying that reporters chances for advancement.

I find this argument somewhat persuasive. It's certainly possible. But in the end this story is really a test of the blogosphere. Can the blogosphere push this story to the forefront on the MSM? The next week will likely tell. I have no doubt the blogosphere will be able to someday, but can it today?

One other thought. If Jordan truly believes his abominable utterances, then he believes that a rather heinous crime has been committed. Why has he not taken his concerns to the DoD, and if blocked there, why not to some international body? His assertion is so vile in its implications that I would think his morality would compel him to do something about it. That is, if he really believes what he said.

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