Saturday, April 16, 2005


Filibuster Busting For Today

I was animated about correcting the judiciary before the Terri Schiavo judicial nightmare, but now I am absolutely committed. Today I want to focus my comments and links into two areas -- activism and religious bigotry. My background on the issue is here, and a round-up yesterday's posts on the subject from around the alliance is here. For more great background info read this great Washington Times piece that lays out some important facts about the issue. Stay up with the very latest at Confirm Them.


Hugh Hewitt is leading the charge on the activism front and this post from him yesterday gives some great details and information. Probably the best activist idea to com along originates with this post from Captain' Quarters. -- Not One Dime. As Hugh reports, many are responding by giving $0.09 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Before this came up, the NRSC called me three times this week and I told them they would not get a cent out of me until the nominees were voted upon on the floor of the senate.

Organizations to watch and to support in this fight:


The left is attmpting to prevail in this issue by casting it as a religious war of some sort. If you have any doubt, read this NYTimes piece of this blog. Even blogs that are on "our side" are worried about using religious arguments.

This is really angering me because now it is not just religiously informed views that are being attacked. Hugh Hewitt is equally, and more loudly incensed than I am. The attack on Frist is not based on him saying something like "Jesus says approve these judges," but rather on his merely associating with religious people and appealing to them as a demographic group. That is pure and simple bigotry. Such attacks are not religious tolerance, or tolerance of any sort, they are pure prejudice.

This is something we cannot stand for, and it it also provides us with a strategy. Rather than argue about needing good judges to correct the wrongs of abortion, or Terri Schiavo, or whatever less than spectacular judicial decision we chose, we argue simply that our opponents are bigots. I realize that most of us on this side of the aisle prefer discussing ideas rather than engaging in personal attack, but I think we can do this without getting too personal. We must simply and incessantly point out how utterly bigoted and hateful are arguments such like those that we have been hearing in the last 24 hours or so.

As a person of religious conviction, I an a citizen of the country and I have a right to vote anyway I see fit. If my religious convictions inform how I choose to vote, then so be it. Your atheistic or agnostic convictions are equally free to inform your vote. If I, and those like me, vote enough to elect officials in sufficient numbers to achieve what we define as our agenda, then that is how it is supposed to work. Losing does not give license for bigotry. Religious faith does not automatically disqualify a viewpoint.


Here are the currently identified wobblies. Click there names and get their contact information:

Please, use this information wisely. While you are at it, call John McCain, and tell him to kiss his presidential aspirations good-bye.

UPDATE 9:30 -- Urging activism in the opposite direction, Daily Kos seems to think the venerable Dick Lugar in on the list as well. (HT: Cheat Seeking Missles) I am not surprised, I declared Dick off the reservation on another matter earlier this week. Dick has sat in the Senate too many years, that is the only explanation.

UPDATE Noon -- "Okie on The Lam" has his say this morning. It's a humdinger.

UPDATE 2 PM -- Hedgehog Blog has gotten all fired up about comments made by a commenter and laid a few facts on him. Go get 'em Lowell!


Christian Happiness

Adrian Warnock has issued a Blogging Challenge. He wants us to respond to these words:
At Desiring God we are blood-earnest about helping people be as happy as possible in God. Because those who are not satisfied in God are not free, but slaves to the futility of seeking their happiness in this world. But those who are satisfied in God are free indeed. They are free to feed the hungry, care for the diseased, comfort the abused, minister to the poor, treat the addicted, speak hope to the despairing and serve on the most difficult mission fields. They are free to lose their lives because they know where to find LIFE.

So for the sake of God's glory and the happiness and freedom of the saints, we are pouring our lives into producing and distributing resources that help them grasp the crucial truth that God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him. For in its absence, every aspect of kingdom work eventually suffers
I have had a lifelong struggle with the question of being happy as a Christian. For many years I have felt that while I was supposed to be joyful (read content), but that happiness was not necessarily always possible.

Then I started listening to Dennis Prager on the radio who has written a book on the subject of happiness. Dennis contends:
Happiness is an obligation - to Yourself and to Others

Not only do we have the right to be happy, we have an obligation to be happy. Our happiness has an effect on the lives of everyone around us - it provides them with a positive environment in which to thrive and to be happy themselves.
On the radio I have heard Dennis contend many times that we have "a moral obligation to be happy." This idea produced a bit of a "hmmm...." response from me, that is until I got married. As my mood has risen and fallen on that of my wife, and vice-versa, I have come to see the wisdom of this contention.

But then Dennis is a Jew, so for him finding happiness really is a serious problem, and a matter of hard work. And now, I really love being a Christian, because happiness for us is a matter of letting go.

As oxymoronic as it seems, I first found real happiness when I reached the nothingness point that I discuss in the post immediately below. It is only when I discovered my own inadequacy, may own overwhelming need for God, that I could discover the true breadth and depth of God's amazing love for me, and that put a smile on my face in the midst of tears.

I fully understand the point that the quote Adrain draws upon is trying to make, but I might say it differently. Satisfaction, or happiness, is not what sets me free. Rather it is the freedom that I have when I reside wholly in God's love that creates in me real happiness. But either way, the result is the same, operating out of that freedom and happiness creates a situation in which service is not a chore but a pleasure.


A Discussion That I Really Hope Continues

I sure have enjoyed my on-going discussion with Adrain Warnock about the role of preaching in transformative faith. I like it even better now that friend Sheep's Crib has joined the discussion. Adrain also welcomes new Aussie blogger Unveiled Face to the discussion.

I want to turn to Sheep's Crib's recent entry into the fray:
Only two responses appear possible following a face-to-face encounter with the Living God, either abject rebellion or a crumbling grovel. The fear of God is that point where the hardened heart of the non-rebellious cracks and the Holy Spirit enters in a supernatural nano-second, transforming the man and saving the perishing.
I agree with that assessment. But here is where I struggle: many, many people I know that would be labeled by most as "good Christian people" have never experienced the "crumbling grovel." Many have confessed their sin on their knees, and sought the salvation of the Christ crucified and resurrected, but that brokenness that can come only from such a confrontation with God has not happened.

For me, it was that point in my life where there was literal "nothingness." If God were not real, there was nothing, no point, no meaning, no reason, NO LIFE. For me, this point came long after I had heard great preaching, and long after I had prayed the sinners prayer. It also came at a time when all in the world that called upon the name of God deserted me -- no church, no fellowship, no liturgy, no hymn. I was left with only God, or with nothing at all.

Prior to that point, I had intellectual ascent to the truth of the gospel, but I did not have a true and abiding relationship with He who that truth was about. As I have said all along. Preaching starts this amazing and miraculous journey, but the first step does not reach the destination.


Comic Art

What do these pictures have in common?

Frank Miller -- That's what. And since all three of these characters have had movies made about them, you might also know that they are creatures of the strange world where vengenence and justice are deeply intertwined and difficult to tell apart. As a comic writer/artist Frank Miller has left an indelible impression on each of these characters. As Miller has touched these characters they have moved darker, meaner, more vengeful than they ever were previously. But they remain, more or less, "mainstream" comic heroes.

In the most recently cinematized, "Sin City," Frank Miller leaves anything remotely considered mainstream in the comics world way behind. In the world Miller has invented here, vengeance and justice are completely indistinguishable. Evil is so evil that only its utter destruction through extraordinary violence can put a stop to it. The world is so corrupt that the hero's relish the extreme violence that they inflict in the cause of justice. I did not read much of the comic, it was too dark, and Miller's art in the series was just a little too ugly. Not ugly in the sense that it was badly drawn, just that it depicted real ugliness.

Now I have to make a confession that will no doubt lower some of my compatriots view of me. The movie is amazing. I do not recommend it to anybody, it is, as Okie On The Lam says totally disgusting in terms of what it depicts. Oh, but how those depictions are executed is truly marvelous. The movie was an over-the-top noir and is without a doubt the most faithful transfer of comic to film ever done. True comic fans love the Spider-man movies because they are in many cases a picture for picture match of some of the comics. Hey movie fans, does this image from a comic book more than 20 years old look familiar?
The Sin City movie does not do that just in isolated shots, it is literally a comic come to life. I hope it proves to Hollywood, once and for all, that some material does not have to be "reworked," to make great cinema.

Read this review from friend of a friend, Javier Grillo-Marxuach. I think it hits many of the right notes.

Just a couple of comments. The violence is immense, and depraved. But in large part those upon whom it is visited truly deserve it. Before it happens, the "victim" has done something so utterly vile, that you were already wishing "they would get theirs." And that they would get it in the utterly depraved fashion in which it finally arrives.

Secondly, if you break down a Bugs Bunny Cartoon, it too is immensely violent, even horrifically so. The graphic depictions in this film are very cartoonish in nature, which makes them somewhat less stomach churning than might otherwise be the case. This, of course, was not a cartoon, but it was so highly stylized in its presentation that it might as well have been. Much as Elmer Fudd can bounce back from being hit in the head with an anvil, the characters in this movie take enormous amounts of punishment and just keep coming. In the end there is little choice, but the extreme violence depicted to get the job done.

I am not going to defend, nor recommend, this movie but I enjoyed it.


What's Your Thesis?

Brad at 21st Century Reformation is asking what 95 theses might be appropriate for our time. Just in case you don't know, the 95 thesis of Martin Luther is what lead to protestantism. SmartChristian is passing on the question. Brad offers his suggestion for a first thesis, here is my addition:


But I'm Offended That You're Offended...

Now they want the Gideons not to put Bibles in dorms rooms in Scotland (HT: Scotwise)
Stirling University Students' Association (SUSA) wants the Gideons Bibles taken out of all student rooms.

Students said providing the Bible in all university accommodation was "presumptuous" and offensive to different religions on the campus.
What I find most distasteful is the dishonesty. Really, do you think they would mount such a protest if it was copies of the Koran, or the writings of Confucius? If you wish to be bigoted and persecute Christianity, please do me the favor of not hiding behind a smoke screen of "offended."


From The World Of 50's Sci Fi...

...comes the incredibly mutated monster the wolphin. Worse yet, it's reproducing. This on the heels of the recently announced liger. "He's gone mad I tell you, completely mad." Soon there will be a fishbird and then, before you know it, the jackalope will no longer be a mere legend.

Dear friends, there is much to be afraid from the field of genetic engineering, but, as with all science, there is much good that can come out of it as well. Here we see two examples (liger and wolphin which really are true) of very significant genetic manipulation through quite ordinary means. The methodologies of recombinant DNA are just a new way to do something that has been happening for centuries. The prevention of the potential evil here lies not in banning the technology, or its results, but in making good people out of the people that use the technology.


To Vaccinate or Not To Vaccinate?

Really is not much of a question. From "Junk Science" via FOXNews
Roughly 95 percent of my reader responses came from parents of autistic children angered by my column because they feel passionately that thimerosal - a mercury-based preservative used in vaccines for over 60 years - causes autism. The other five percent came mostly from medical professionals who applauded the column because, like me, they advocate the mainstream medical opinion that thimerosal-containing vaccines aren't related to autism.

Although this debate has raged for years, and will likely rage for many more, a decisive turn for many in the medical community came with the 2004 release of a definitive report from the National Academy of Sciences? Institute of Medicine which reviewed several decades worth of studies concerning a possible link between thimerosal and autism.
I am always stunned how people who would consider faith in God irrational will search for other, far more irrational, explanations for things. These poor parents of this very disabled children can find solace only in blaming the medical industry, even when the blame is baseless. I would sure rather find solace in God.

Friday, April 15, 2005


Filibuster Busting around the Alliance

Emotions after watching Terri Schiavo die run very, very high. This is as true among the SoCal Bloggers Alliance as it is anywhere else. Busting the Democratic filibuster of judicial nominees is our first solid opportunity to respond to that miscarriage of justice along with many others.

Each alliance member has agreed to "round-up" each other's posts on a daily basis in our best blogging efforts to assist with this fight. Please read them all, support these blogs and most importantly, do the activist actions called for and help us bust the filibuster. For today,

Sheep's Crib:
Unless I see a rationale reason to change my mind, I will not ... as of this moment ... give another nickel of my kids' money or a minute of my time to a republican cause until the judicial nominations of George W. Bush get an up or down vote on the floor of the senate.
Holy Coast:
I'm getting tired of seeing the GOP act like a minority party. We even have McCain saying that he doesn't want to vote for the option because someday the GOP will be a minority again. Wow, what positive thinking! Senator McCain - you can kiss any presidential hopes goodbye buddy, because the conservatives like me will absolutely run away from you. I don't care if you go up against Queen Hillary herself in the '08 election...I'll write my own name in before I vote for you.
The Hedgehog Blog:
To me and many other, this is the essence of the issue: Judicial nominations -- primarily to the U.S. Courts of Appeals and the Supreme Court-- were, in my view, second in importance only to the war on islamofascism in the minds of GOP "base" voters. I say that as one who donated to John Thune's campaign solely because I agreed with Hugh Hewitt: We had to (a) remove Daschle in order to open the path for President Bush's nominees to get floor votes, where they would win, and (b) send a message to Democrats that there would be a heavy price to pay for Daschle-type tactics....

...But now, look what's happened. The unimpressive Harry Reid is proving just as effective as Daschle in stymieing the process. And it appears the GOP senators now have the issue on top of them, instead of being on top of the issue.
Okie On The Lam:
If you are a political Conservative you have been suffering from an adrenaline rush since yesterday, when John McCain went on Chris Matthews? Hardball program and announced that he would not support his party?s effort to change the Senate cloture rule to allow a simple majority vote to stop the filibustering of up-or-down votes on judicial nominees.
Then , of course, you can read what little 'ol me has had to say by scrilling down.

Call a Senator today and raise a little ruckus!


Preserving The Filibuster Will Let Us Watch Terri Schiavo Die All Over Again

In case you are unaware, Senate Democrats are using a filibuster to prevent votes on judicial nominees put forward by President Bush. Current rules of the Senate allow for unlimited debate, save by consent of 60% of the Senate. Thus, a minority can hold up something from happening, indefinitely, as long as the minority is greater than 40%.

This procedure was most notoriously used, at least until now, by southern Democrats in the period between WWII and the late 50's to prevent any, I repeat any, civil rights legislation from passing.

But now liberal Democrats are using it to block the confirmation of judges that pose a threat to the liberal agenda currently in place, not based on legislation, but based upon judicial fiat - precisely the kind of judicial fiat that can disregard the express wishes of the Congress and order the death an innocent and severely disabled woman.

You don't think this important? Think for just a minute about the a few of the things that have been foisted on us by judicial fiat:

If I wanted to be exhaustive, I'd run out of electrons. Jonathon Adler is so wrong on this.

Without completely tossing out the Constitution, the only way we can restore some order to the judiciary, is to get some judges on the bench that have more reasonable views, precisely the kinds of judges that the Democrats are using the filibuster to block. Filibuster has never been used for judicial nomination before, despite what some people may try to tell you. When Republicans took control of the Senate in the middle of the President's last term. Most of us thought "at last!" But along came the never before seen filibuster.

So in the last election, the Republicans get what is normally a huge majority, and here we are again. Yes, to get these judges in will require changing the rules of the Senate, but so what, they are rules -- this is NOT a constitutional issue. They can be changed back as easily as they can be changed now.

Now, Republican Senators are getting weak in the knees -- most notably John "Republican-no-more" McCain, who has stated he will vote against changing the rules. Radioblogger shows some other weakness.

Hugh Hewitt is beating this drum at a ferocious pace. Here is his post yesterday morning, and here yesterday afternoon. He even wrote on it in the Weekly Standard. Then he kept going well into the evening, first here, then here.

Some other good reading comes from Powerblog and Redstate.

Finally, here is another organization for info and to support.

So what do we do? Same thing we did to try and save Terri, we call every Senator whose voice mail we can get into and we tell them, "Bring the nominees to the floor, change the rules, break the filibuster, VOTE" Please, make some calls tonight. Rumor has it all the voice mails are full, keep calling until you find one that isn't. I do not wish to see an episode like Terri's death happen again. Latest news is the showdown will happen sooner rather than later. Time is of the essence.


A Picture Really Can Be Worth A Thousand Words

Thanks for this one Faithmouse!


A Great Word That Is New To Me

In his entry in the Evangelical Outpost Second Quarter Symposium, friend Matt Anderson at Mere-Orthodoxy coins a term in his post "scientism." At least I think he coined it, because I have never heard it before.

Matt's post is about the fallacy of trying to use science as a basis for ethics, which is what I think he is calling "scientism." As I have said before, most notably here and here, there is no real debate between science and faith. The debate only arises when one asks too much from either discipline.

In other words, there is a debate between Scientism and Christianity because both are faiths -- one mistakenly drawn from science and the other from the Holy Word of God. That's a great word, and I hope I have not embarrassed myself by carrying on about something that all the rest of you knew already.


Here Is Some Fun Stuff


Friday Humor

Time does take its toll...

And while you're viewing, check out this funny video.


On The One Hand...

...we have a perfectly legal effort, through rules and words, by conservative members of the Senate to limit (not avoid, just limit) debate on judicial nominees and it is considered "stifling" dissent.

On the other hand...

On the one hand...

...we have an art exhibit that implicitly threatens the life of the President of the United States of America (such threats are a crime) being properly investigated by law enforcement agencies of the federal government.

On the other hand...

...we have an art exhibit depicting heroic acts by our men and women in uniform being protested to the point of physically intimidating potential visitors.

Also on the other hand...

Do I really need to go on? So...would someone please tell me which political persuasion/party is the one of tolerance and free speech and which one is not.


Why Am I The Hypocrite?

I really hate it when I read a guy that makes a great theological point, but then leaves the rails when it gets practical. (HT: SmartChristian) In this case, Ron Sider in a Christianity Today interview.

Great Point:
The heart of the matter is the scandalous failure to live what we preach. The tragedy is that poll after poll by Gallup and Barna show that evangelicals live just like the world. Contrast that with what the New Testament says about what happens when people come to living faith in Christ. There's supposed to be radical transformation in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Bad Practice:
I've always been concerned with a whole range of biblical things. My commitment is to be biblically faithful, not to pick out one issue. But a good bit of my writing has dealt with the social issues that have called evangelicals to be more engaged, for example, with questions of poverty here and abroad.
Why is it every liberal Christian brings up hunger and poverty to call conservative Christians "hypocrites?" I heard Jim Wallis make essentially the same point on the radio this week. Just because I do not back GOVERNMENT programs to end hunger and poverty does not mean I do not have concern about them. I support and work in programs to end both in church. I am really tired of this kind of accusation.

Having said that, Sider does make some good points about the lack of difference between many that call themselves Christian and those that do not, things like pre-marital sex and divorce rates. Can't fault him on those points.


Dog Idolatry?

Yesterday. SmartChristian accused me of being a little too zealous in my love of superhero comics. Well, who am I to buck a trend? I have the same question about Dory at Wittenberg Gate who draws lessons about God's grace from her dogs. (HT: Transforming Sermons)

Actually the post is really cute and makes some good points. I guess I'm just feeling picked on...


Making Mountains Out Of Molehills

I think this story falls into the "anything for ratings" category. Here is the headline:

Radio Host Fired For Wondering If Pope Went To Heaven

But then you read the story:

Last week, Minto questioned some of the Catholic church's beliefs, such as purgatory, and fielded a question from a caller who asked whether the pope would go to heaven. Many evangelical Christians believe that someone must be a "born-again" believer to enter heaven.

Minto, who is also senior pastor of the 100-member Turning Point Community Church, said he told the caller that whether someone was born-again was personal and "between an individual and the Creator."
Sounds to me like the host gave a pretty good answer, although I would think a discussion of the Catholic doctrine of purgatory would be pretty dull.

You know, on second thought, this is not "anything for ratings," this is "anything to make Christians look bad."

Thursday, April 14, 2005


Minister Now!

When I first ran read this Scotwise post I was planning on springing off of it and give a mini-sermon about how each of us has a ministry, and we should not wait for our church staff to do something. A sentiment I still hold. You are far better equipped to minister in real ways (not just setting up tables for some church event) to people around you than any professional, simply because you are their friend.

But then I ran across this story. (HT: The Scriptorium, but not the one in the SoCal Alliance)
A woman was arrested for allegedly forcing her 12-year-old daughter into prostitution and trading a 14-year-old daughter for a car.
Doesn't that just hit you in the gut like a ton of bricks?

That is what makes the street ministry that Allthings2all's Catez is involved in so compelling. She recounts her latest foray here.
Later, in the heart of the city we stop in a dark side street. We know this street now. It's where a group of child prostitutes congregate and get picked up. There's just two of them there when we arrive. I sit on a low concrete wall and share a drink and some conversation with one, while another woman from our team does the same with her friend. I ask how old she is and she says 24. I can tell she's about 15-16. "I've got a knife for protection", she tells me. She's small, slim, and obviously wouldn't get far against an adult man if she was attacked.

I ask her why she is prostituting. "For the money", she says. "I like clothes". Across the road on another corner are two young men sitting watching - waiting for us to go so they can muscle the girls money away from them. The girls know they are there and why they are being watched. We talk for a long time. I gain an understanding of why money is so important to this kid who is trying to be sophisticated. "I can only handle one night a week of this", she says. What can I say to a girl whose parents think she is just having fun in the city and don't know she is selling herself on a street corner? What is my answer to a girl who was introduced to prostitution by an older relative - who promised it would be a means of independence and extra money to buy self-esteem? I listen, and she is open to things I have to say.
Catez did exactly the right thing. She stood there with the girl and put that sad young lady in the presence of the Holy Spirit that resides in Catez.

These stories take me back to Scotwise:
These last days in which we live are perilous, but they are also days of great opportunity! God has given gifts to the body of Christ that they may be used for the extension of His Kingdom. So let?s use them now, that we may see drunks become sober, drug addicts become addicted to Jesus, families that were broken by the enemy ? repaired by God, people from all walks of life ? would know the real meaning of life, children prevented from abuse of all kinds! So what are you waiting for... ?Get On With Your Ministry!?
When I read such things the truth of those words rings so loudly. How can we sit at home when there is such pain in the world? Reach out to someone today!


Post Schiavo Fixes

I said it yesterday, and I will say it again today, the first, but far from the last, really substanitive opportunity that we have to respond to the mess that was Terri Schiavo's death is in the current Senatorial debate over judicial nomination.

There is a tendency to relax now that Terri is with the Lord, but we have to work hard to prevent other such occurences. If you doubt what is at stake, see this post from new SoCal Alliance member Hedgehog Blog.
Nearly half the newborn babies who died in Flanders over a recent year-long period were helped to die by their doctors, a new study reported yesterday.
Dr. James Dobson is more adamant about the judicial appointment issue than I have ever heard him.

Hugh Hewitt is all over this, and happy as a pig in slop being there. Hugh just loves this stuff. Yesterday Hugh listed "the wobblies," that is those Republican Senators that are getting weak in the knees about breaking the filibuster. Get on the horn to them, today and everyday.

There is a new blog that is the place to go for the very latest in this fight -- Confirm Them. Visit now, visit often.


What's Happening at Sporting Events

You will find no more avid a sporting fan than I -- well at least until Indiana University installed the worst coach in its storied history. But never in my born days...

Soccor hooliganism is old news by now, but it is sad every time it happens.

Something like this is just awful though. Here is the Fox version of the story.
A 13-year-old boy is in custody in Palmdale today, accused of killing a 15-year-old boy by hitting him in the head with with a baseball bat.

The attack occurred about 8:30 last night during a dispute at a Pony League baseball game.

A Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy says she doesn't know what sparked the argument. But witnesses told K-A-B-C that it started when the older boy cut in front of the 13-year-old in a line.
Where does a 13-year-old find that much anger? And where is the adult supervision when he went to pick up the bat?


Episcopalians Ripping Themselves Apart

Sheep's Crib does a marvelous job of staying up on the news. I fail to see why a denomination is willing to tear itself apart over something that is so clearly extra-scriptural. This is reform for reform sake, not for truth's sake. That is really sad. God is not honored.


Illuminated Scripture

My wife always impresses me with her art. This weeks entry is based on some mural work she did in our home.


Pure Hate

Why would anybody do something like this?
...exhibit of mock postage stamps, one depicting President Bush with a gun pointed at his head.
Seems the exhibitor is all bent out of shape because the Secret Service is investigating.
The exhibit's curator, Michael Hernandez de Luna, said the inquiry "frightens" him.

"It starts questioning all rights, not only my rights or the artists' rights in this room, but questioning the rights of any artist who creates ? any writer, any visual artist, any performance artist. It seems like we're being watched," he said.
Of course he's being watched. It's a threat against the life of the President of the United States. Last time I checked, such threats were a crime.

Why would anybody want to do this? Certainly there are better ways to get your point across.


Iraq News

Leading Milblogger Austin Bay, as a piece on Strategy Page in which he points out that the Iraqi 'insurgents' are trying to create a similar disheartening effect in the publics mind as was created by the Tet offensive in Vietnam. Most important point, which he makes only briefly -- Tet was a media win, but a huge military loss for the enemy. Fortunately, while the press is currently against Bush, more or less, they are not for the 'insurgents.'

As if on cue when I read Bay's piece, came news they are now resorting to kidnapping. At least the kidnapee is a Hoosier, they're pretty tough.


Motives, Agendas, and Science

This starts out as a really interesting story about studying human development.
The five-year Genographic Project, being announced Wednesday, will use sophisticated laboratory and computer analysis of DNA to figure out the patterns in which people moved from one part of the world to another. It is sponsored by the National Geographic Society and IBM.
Cool, enough. I am not sure I have as much confidence that genetic data can do what they are proposing as they do, but it is a worthy effort nonetheless. But then you start to smell a rat.
The project is also inviting participation from the general public, for a fee. People may buy a kit for $99.95 (plus shipping and handling) that will allow them to scrape the matter from the inside of their cheeks and send it in.
Can you say profit motive? And then, almost before the thought could finish firing my neurons, comes this little gem.
Wells said he is not concerned that the database might be skewed with samples from people who can afford to pay nearly $100 to participate, saying even nonrandom data will help scientists understand migration patterns.
Not concerned?, NOT CONCERNED! Of course not, 1-900 polls are an accurate measure of public opinion too. Science just left the building.


What's Happening at Schools?

Apparently, nothing good.

Since the BIG Story broke, I've been poking around. Mostly in the hopes of finding out these sorts of things are isolated, but I'm beginning to wonder.

At FOXNews, Joanne Jacobs has a round-up of some breathtaking stuff.

The Indianapolis Star published an op-ed about last week's pie assault on David Horowitz at Butler. I think the piece is supposed to be funny. It tries to make light of Horowitz contention that it was violence. When I was on Young Life staff, I told the kids if they got enough people to club, they could hit me with pies afterwards. One of them almost broke my nose. Trust me, pie throwing is violence.

Tuesday at Harvard the CIA and Dept. Of Homeland Security were recruiting and they brought protests. Here is the student newspaper news account and here is an eye-witness opinion piece from the same source. From the opinion piece:
The propagandist's techniques of disruption varied: their base tactics ranged from coughing incessantly to the point where none of the panelists could be heard, interrupting presentations to ask ludicrous questions such as "Isn't it true you train your employees to torture," staging a mock deportation of an ethnic minority protestor midway through the discussion, clapping obnoxiously to halt the dialogue, and ridiculing students who posed legitimate questions to the panelists. A protestor sitting three rows behind me physically made himself vomit.
The protest itself is bad enough, but you would think students at the one of the most prestigious universities in the world would be a tad be more erudite in their self-expression. Must not be as hard to get into Harvard as everyone says.

So how did it get this bad? Judging from this story, it's because those "in charge" are just flat out doing a bad job.
A 16-year-old disabled girl was punched and forced to engage in videotaped sexual acts with several boys in a high school auditorium as dozens of students watched, according to witnesses....

...the principal, Regina Crenshaw, was suspended and will be fired for not calling police, school officials said. And three assistant principals were suspended and will be reassigned to other schools. Crenshaw had no comment Tuesday.
(emphasis added)
This is so blatant it is not even funny. This woman, and her staff, knew if they called the cops, the public would know they have no control over their school. They were willing to allow this CRIME go unprosecuted for the sake of their careers. Ugh!


Christian Carnival -- Wow!

AnotherThink hosts this week here. It's huge this week, so I have had no chance to get through it, but as always, I recommend it.


What's Happening In the UK Elections?

We have had no more staunch an ally in the War on Terrorism that Tony Blair. On domestic policy, the Honorable Gentleman and I have little if nothing in common, but his presence when the President addressed Congress after 9-11 will forever give him a soft place in my heart.

He is fighting for his political life. British elections are far quieter than ours, but often far more entertaining. Yesterday's Wall Street Journal had this review of what is happening. Adrain Warnock also has some insight.

Mark Steyn was on Hugh Hewitt yesterday and he thinks even if Labour wins, Blair is out. The Tories are the natural allies of those that won the last election here, but everyone seems to agree that they don't have a snowball's chance. Which puts me in the position of rooting for Labour, which is Blair, but then if they win and Blair doesn't continue as PM, it is a real loser from an American perspective.

See why this is kind of entertaining?

Wednesday, April 13, 2005


A Discussion of Science, Faith, and Philosophy

This post is one of the ones that is catching up with some great stuff I could not get to while I was traveling last week. In this case it is three posts done by some of the best on the interface of science, faith and philosophy.

Jollyblogger and Allthings2all both comment on a book called, The Soul of Science. Actually, Catez is drawing comments from David's review of the book. The book and the reviewers/commenters attempt to reconcile the apparent 'battle' between science and faith. Great reads all.

Evangelical Outpost comes at essentially the same topic from an entirely different direction and uses some recent work in cognition to demonstrate how the recent Terri Schiavo debate cannot possibly be limited to being a purely "scientific discussion."

I have written on the topic several times. This post and this post on the matter have been very well received.

I have to confess that I find the topic both fascinating and frustrating. Fascinating in the sense that it is where I live (I have a graduate degree in chemistry and almost got one from seminary) and frustrating in that it is just not that difficult a reconciliation for me, but seems to be for so many people.

Amongst prominent Christian bloggers, Allthings2all is in a similar position. A Physicist's Perspective also sits in this position. I also have a few friends that are persons of strong faith, and have some scientific achievement, but it is a pretty small club. However, of everyone I know or read in this position, the interface is not nearly so problematic as it is for those who are not in the position.

Does this fact make those of us that do occupy such a position some how far more wise, or smart than those that do not? I cannot speak for the others, some of them have wisdom I cherish greatly, but for myself, I can answer unequivocally -- NO!. My work in science will never reach the level of a Nobel, or even the Priestly Medal. In the Christian realm it is not like I have hundreds of devoted disciples seeking my wisdom; I have four high school kids in a Wednesday night Bible study, and a highly variable blog readership. Nope, I'm nothing very special.

I for one think the problem is not so hard for me simply because I understand both areas of study well enough to know their limitations. I do not try to stretch either area of thought and understanding beyond what it is intended to address.

That statement belies something that I think is very worthy of discussion -- the effects of specialization. As the book Jollyblogger reviews points out, Christianity gave root to the idea of a mechanistic universe which gave rise to modern science. But when that happened, what we knew about how the mechanical universe worked was knowable by one person. Such is not the case anymore. Furthermore, one cannot know all of even a given field. Many is the biochemist that would be hard pressed to teach an undergrad course in physical chemistry, don't get me wrong, they took it at some point, but they have left it very far behind. This necessary demand for specialization tends to give one a very myopic world view. It is from such "intellectual myopia" that I believe that the perceived conflict between science and faith arises.

And yet, in this day and age, such specialization is necessary for great achievement in a field. So, my question is this, how do we maintain such a level of human achievement and still avoid the intellectual myopia?

I think we start by dropping the pretense of a conflict. Further, I think this pretense should be dropped unilaterally by those on the faith side of things. People of faith need to quit debating science and start embracing it. That does not mean we accept it when someone draws a conclusion beyond the limits of a given scientific discovery or theory (e.g. evolution proves there is no God). But it does mean that we stop poo-pooing a scientific idea simply because at first glance it conflicts with some belief.

Maybe the church should be sponsoring scientific symposia?


A Home Run

Sometimes, I think Scotwise crawls into my head everyday and then writes a post in response to what he finds.
One of the greatest revelations that I have ever had as a Christian was that you become stronger in your walk with the Lord by serving people. This revelation came to me when I was young in the Lord; it became the biggest motivation for my wanting to become a Pastor.
As the Terri Schiavo media blitz has faded into the sunset, so has my blog traffic. And I have been in the dumps about it. Thank you John for reminding me why I started this to begin with -- not to attract attention to myself, but to give others attention to the Lord.


Youth and Religion

The Washington Times had an article yesterday about a new report from the Brookings Institution about the youngest generation and how it relates to religion, entitled "OMG! How Generation Y is Redefining Faith in the iPod Era." You can see the actual study here. Discussion on this topic has spread through the SoCal Alliance like wildfire. Dawn's Early Light was first, followed closely by Sheep's Crib.

While this data is important, things like this always give me a "check in my spirit." Sheep's Crib has real wisdom when he says,
My warning to those whom God calls to directly engage "Gen Y" is to avoid novelty at the expense of the Word who took on flesh and dwelt among us.
Amen and amen. Can we really "redefine faith?" After all, the object of faith is unchangable. When we start redefining things we usually just get lost.

Dawn's Early Light summarizes the reports closing observations this way:

  1. There are no silver bullets - old school methods of building community will not work with Generation Y.
  2. Support experimentation - To reach Generation Y, non traditional methods of creating community are necessary.
  3. The Power of Culture - Music, DVDs, film and the written word are powerful tools for conveying meaning. Mel Gibson's Passion of Christ indie production is an example given.

There are never any 'silver bullets' for anybody. Experimentation, within limits is always a good thing. But here's the thing, I lead a weekly Bible study for a group of "Y'ers." You know when it got good? When I started doing the stuff that I did when I was their age, instead of trying to be up-to-date and "hip."

What I have found is not kids that need new ways to build community, but kids that are starving for it. All my wife and I really needed to do was give them a small taste, then they were addicted. "The more things change, the more they stay the same."

Finally, I cannot help but reflect on the fact that Jesus came when their was no media. In a very real sense depictions of Jesus in movies, or music, can be substitutes for His actual presence -- thus idols. That is an area where we should proceed with extreme caution. But then Sheep's Crib already said that.


The First Solid Responsive Opportunity to Terri Schiavo's Death

In the wake of the Terri Schiavo's most unfortunate death, there is much the nation needs to do. The first real and solid responsive opportunity will be in the upcoming Senate fight over ending the filibuster for Presdient Bush's judicial nominees.

Hugh Hewitt was gearing up for this fight even before the whole thing with Terri. He posted yesterday on Republican Senators that are going 'wobbly' on ending the filibuster. Hugh urges contacting those wobbly Senators and give you the the links you need to do so. I second the recommendation and send you to him for the info.

New SoCal Alliance member Proverbs Daily posted last Friday on the filibuster and has some great thoughts to share.

There was a lot surrounding what happened to Terri, but lying front-and-center was the utter contempt of the federal judiciary for the will fo the American people as acted upon by Congress. Ending the filibuster and getting some constructionist, as opposed to deconstructionist, judges on the bench is the only way we can change that contempt.


An Eternal Dilemma

Over at Classical Education, Joi posts on how hard it is to be single in church when most are "family oriented."
I myself, however, am single, and likely to remain so.

so how do I continue to uphold my beliefs in the importance of children and families when I'm incredibly sick of "family-oriented" Christianity?
As someone who did not get married until nearly 40, this is a feeling I know really well. I also hated "singles ministry" because they invariably ended up as a collection of people that were single for VERY good reasons, or they were a Christian 'meat market.'

The solution I found that worked best was to make a "friend" of a family in church. A home that would include me in family stuff whenever it arose. From holiday meals to "family" retreats, I was included. Finding such a family was really hard work, and I had to be pretty aggressive about it. But I have some great friends to this day...


Read This...

...and cry. It is a wonderful "coming home" piece by a soldiers recently returned from Iraq, from yesterday's Wall Street Journal.

...and worry.
Newsweek's technology columnist Steven Levy has declared that the lack of "diversity" among the web's most popular blogs requires corrective action. The goal? A blogosphere whose elite tier "reflects the actual population" ? i.e., where female- and minority-written blogs are found among the top 100 blogs in the same proportion as females and minorities are found in the general population.
Thank goodness I am not a top 100 blog -- I can't deal with quotas. Besides how are we going to force readers to certain blogs?

...and grow angry.
"We referred to this other analyst at the CIA, whom I'll try and call Mr. Smith here, I hope I can keep that straight," Bolton said at one point.

Committee Chairman Richard Lugar, R-Ind., and Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., both mentioned a name, Fulton Armstrong, that had not previously come up in public accounts of the intelligence flap.
It's official -- Dick Lugar has left the reservation. I knew Dick when he was mayor of Indianapolis, I'd attend men's prayer breakfast with him. He was a pretty smart guy, but this is just the latest in a number of less than stellar moments recently. Based on my trip to Indy last week, he may not make through the next election, which is not really good becasue no Republican will oppose him, so that means a Dem.


The Best of Pravda

WHAT? This story identifies a new type of person called a "technosexual," but then the characteristics they describe have almost nothing to do with sex. Why am I confused? -- It's Pravda

FUNNY? They must have been really short of material at the "Russia Makes It Funny" desk when they decided to post this. I guess 'love birds' are funny without a puch line.

FASCINATING This story remembers Yuri Gargarin, the first human into outer space. I'm sure you remember that they beat us there. The piece is typical Pravda post-Soviet chest thumping, but it put me in mind of the Yuri Gargarin monument that was absolutely my favorite monument in all my Soviet travels. It looks like a a Max Fliesher cartoon character.

Oh yeah, while we're talking about Russia, looks like everything old is new again.


Silly Students

This NewsMax piece looks at yesterday's BIG story (no new info on the investigation) in a larger context, interviewing victims of several such campus attacks. These attacks are not funny, and when viewed as a whole they do not paint a pretty picture. The left really is driven by hatred.

Which makes this story worrisome to me.
Irked by the success of the nationwide Day of Silence, which seeks to combat anti-gay bias in schools, conservative activists are launching a counter-event this week called the Day of Truth aimed at mobilizing students who believe homosexuality is sinful.

Participating students are being offered T-shirts with the slogan "The Truth Cannot be Silenced" and cards to pass out to classmates Thursday ? the day following the Day of Silence ? declaring their unwillingness to condone "detrimental personal and social behavior."
While we certainly need to combat the political "homosexual agenda," but fighting actual gays and their bedroom behavior in this fashion can do nothing but make us the evil, oppressive monsters they think we are. When it comes to dealing with what goes down in a homosexual bedroom, God's grace, not condemning tee shirts, will be the best tool.


Nerd Moment

This WSJ piece (subscription required) is about the fact that some mathematicians are closing in on proving the "Reimann hypothesis." The proof is worth a million bucks! Interested now?
Riemann wanted to fathom why the heck primes were related to logarithms. He suspected he might find a clue in a formula that adds up 1 + 1/2 + 1/3 + 1/4 + 1-over-every-other-counting-number, but with the twist that each fraction is raised to an exponent (multiplied by itself some number of times). For bizarre exponents -- those that use the imaginary number the square root of -1 -- this sum equals zero. Riemann guessed at the general form of these "magical exponents." If his hypothesis is right, then mathematicians will know how primes thin out along the number line.
Are you asleep yet? Let me put it to you this way -- most encoding systems are based on prime numbers. If the hypothesis can be proven, it might make it much easier to break various codes, from military radio codes, to the encryption that protects you online sales transactions. Now you should be interested.


New Christian Blog Showcase Is Up!

Here it is, please support these blogs.


Interesting Things To Check Out

-> Really want one of these.
The robot can walk, get up and respond to voice commands such as "turn right." It links to mobile phones so that people can check on images of their homes taken on a digital camera inside the robot's head. It can be controlled by a remote and is programmed to do a dance. It also makes musical sounds.
If only it could burp the baby and walk the dog.

-> There are good comic books and then there are bad ones. (first item)

Evidently, a Pope John Paul II figure will soon be gracing the pages of a Colombian comic book.

Wearing an anti-devil cape and chastity pants, the pontiff comic strip character will use his superpowers to stomp out evil. He'll be drawn in the muscular style of other well known superheroes, and with him he'll carry holy water, communion wine and a faith staff with a cross on top.
Bad taste, really bad taste.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005


The BIG Story

In the 2003 NCAA basketball tournament, the team from tiny little Butler University made the Sweet Sixteen. I was about as proud as an double alum can get. -- I have both undergrad and graduate degrees from that institution.

Last week, while I was in Indianapolis, moments from campus, an incident occurred that could rob me of that pride. David Horowitz was lecturing as a guest of the local College Republicans, and was hit in the face with a pie. This is the story as told in the Butler campus paper. Here is the AP story as printed in the local Indianapolis paper. Here is that same local paper's take. Here is additional coverage by a local television station. Finally, here is an op-ed from the Washington Times addressing this incident and other recent, similar incidents.

I am so heartbroken, I almost cannot blog about this. I really love Butler, it is a great university that is just enough below the usual radar that it can offer a high quality education without all the hype and garbage. I was there in the turbulent 70's and loved it in part because it was not subject to all the mess that was prevalent on so many other campuses. Until this happened, I would recommend Butler to any student that was in that really good, but not quite Ivy League category, in other words, an "A-" student. They would get a great education for a fraction of the cost and without the competitive hassles.

Needless to say, I have reached out to a number of contacts that I have on campus. I'm at that age where a lot of my contemporaries are now chairing departments and sitting on boards. To date, the only thing I have that I can publish is a statement from the university president which is quoted extensively in all the links I have presented above, so I won't reprint it here.

David Horowitz has written about the incident and the subsequent apologies from the university administration on his site.
I spoke with Dr. Bobby Fong, President of Butler University this afternoon. He deeply regretted and deplored the incident in which I was attacked by radicals during a lecture at Butler. He said they would be prosecuted. He said a university should be a place of civil discourse and that there should be zero tolerance of this kind of criminal behavior. I was pleased with our conversation and the President's commitment to creating and defending an academic environment that it is respectful, and that honors the principle of intellectual diversity. President Fong reinforced my belief that the principles of the Academic Bill of Rights are widely supported in the academic community and opposed only by radical ideologues. I believe we will see these principles formally adopted by many universities and states in the months to come.

It is not clear that all the attackers were Butler students. Radicals in Indiana targeted Bill Kristol when he spoke at Earlham College last week. It is possible a radical network has decided to pursue a strategy of intimidation to prevent conservatives from appearing on college campuses.
The rumor around campus is that it was not students, a rumor that I desperately hope to be fact. These attacks are bad, really bad. But when it happens at your alma mater, especially when that is a school know for its quiet academic excellence, it's a real gut wrencher. I am very grateful for Horowitz' grace in these circumstances.

Pray for Butler, please.


Judeo-Christian Morality in an Ethically Pluralistic Society

That headline is the subject of a symposium called by Evangelical Outpost for the second quarter of the year. Joe is posting the entires as they come in.

I have to be honest, the idea strikes me as a little odd. In my youth, many rejected faith because, "All religions are pretty much the same." By that, they generally meant that the ethical codes of all religions were pretty much the same, which is a true statement. Of course, it ignores all other aspects of religious faith than ethics, but ethics is the topic here.

Anyone who has had even an introductory course in Old Testament is generally wowed by the striking similarities of the Code of Hammurabi to the Torah. The idea of a significant "ethical pluralism" is a one that I do not think mankind has really struggled with since Old Testament times.

The reason is because of the one very unique innovation of Jewish thought -- MONOTHEISM. In polytheistic society, differing ethical codes could be held up as associated with the various gods, but it was monotheism that put the stamp on a specific ethic. In the western world, monotheism has been the predominant school of thought for many centuries, and thus the idea of ethical plurality has been somewhat foreign.

I argue that any ethical system needs some sort of religious impetus behind it to give it necessary authority, or else it will be little more than words. In the end governmental authority cannot enforce an ethical code without becoming entirely too oppressive. Ultimately, a populace will reject such governmental authority. Only religious authority, which seeks to motivate the populace from within rather than through oppression can result in the widespread acceptance of an ethical code.

This fact has been so well known that governments have usually tried to claim religious/ethical authority for themselves, from Pharoh (or the Chinese emperor) being a god to Constantine making Christianity the official religion of the state, to Henry VIII as head of the anglican church, those of government authority have usurped the authority of religion.

America is somewhat unique in its efforts to separate these two authorities. But here is where the rub begins to come. The Founding Fathers began the separation experiment on the assumption that society did indeed have a common ethic, regardless of which particular religion provided that ethic with its authority.

So why the history lesson? Simply to argue that I do not really think that the problem is a "Judeo-Christian" ethic, but an authoritative ethic of any sort. Anytime I have heard anybody offer some sort of secular ethical system, it has been such a slippery thing, that it was menaingless.

The issue as I see from a totally functional standpoint is can our nation survive without a common ethic? Given that the vast majority of people in the nation are either Christian or Jewish, which ethic should dominate is hardly a question.

I would argue that our nation cannot continue to enjoy the prosperity and dominance that it has without a common ethic. When people talk about the moral fall of the Roman Empire preceding its political fall, this is really what they are referring to; as the empire grew and did not aculturate those that it conquered, chaos ensued and the empire fell.

There is a difference between a society and a nation. A nation is defined by a border and by governmental institutions, but a society is defined by the common goals, aspirations, and values of those living in it. A nation functions, but a society lives.

In a state of ethical plurality, the nation may continue, but the society breaks down. This is the direction I think the United States is headed in if we cannot agree to a common ethic. I desire more than mere functionality for my personal life, and for the life of my society.

The best case in favor of a Judeo-Christian ethic that I have ever read is the one that Dennis Prager has been serially publishing at At this point he has published ten such pieces. Here they are:

There is more at stake here than simply finding a "place" for a specific ethic in a pluralistic society. The society itself is at stake.


Church and the Sexes

I was very pleased to see my good friend Sheep's Crib get a link from SmartChistian concerning this post on why men don't like going to church. The discussion centers on a book by the guy named David Murrow. Quoting from the book
The ideal values of a Christian are often identified as nurturing, verbal expression, tenderness, gentleness. If that's the definition of a Christian, it's going to be a lot harder for a man to achieve that than for a woman to, in most cases.

We have to give men opportunities to use their strengths and their gifts in the service of God instead of trying to squeeze them into roles that they feel are feminine or emasculating, .... We need to start valuing masculine traits such as aggression, boldness, and competitiveness and figuring out ways that we can integrate that into every area of church life.
I think Murrow may have overstated his case here, but there is a valid point in the discussion. The church does emphasize the traits he mentions, and they are indeed feminine, but they are also of God. The problem is not those traits, but I do think churches de-emphasizes the masculine part of God's nature that would balance those traits.

I also think the church needs to re-examine the role of women in leadership. (Don't stone me yet, let me finish!) Women exercise leadership in an entirely different fashion than men. For example,it is commonly said that women need to talk about problems, and men need to solve them. I think that is very generalized, but reasonably accurate. I'll confess to being frustrated in many a meeting that went on at least 20 minutes longer than I thought was needed.

Women have brought much of value to church leadership (hey, it's how I met my wife!), but sometimes at the cost of making men back off more than they should. I think we need to put some real conscious thought into how to bring the best of both forward, rather than have them exist in some tug-of-war state.


More Fun Than I Should Be Allowed To Have

This web site lets you design your very own comic book superhero. Your options are quite numerous. I am tempted to give up blogging just to play with it. Give it a whirl. If you are particularly proud of your effort, send it to me. Who knows, I might feature it in "Comic Art" some Saturday.


Jeremiah was... Old Testament prophet. If you thought "a bullfrog" when you read the headline, bet I know your age.

Anyway, it is my favorite of the prophetic books, and Challies wrote a great post of the 23rd chapter
And so I challenge you to choose your teachers with the utmost of care! Examine those who stand in the pulpit and those whose books you read. Choose to place yourself under the teaching of those who are humble before the Word of God - who treat it with gravity and respect. Give your attention to those who have stood in the council of the Lord to see and to hear His Word, and who have paid attention to the Word and listened.


Speech Control

FOXNews is carrying a great feature called "Tongue Tied" about efforts at controlling speech for the sake of political correctness. If it wasn't for the fact that most of it was controlling religious speech, it would be funny.


From the Edge of Taste

Well, here it is. I have to confess this is one of Ananova's better efforts. Read the story carefully, it really is funny.


Worth Supporting

This organization looks like it might be worth the read and a donation.
The Judeo-Christian Council for Constitutional Restoration is pleased to announce a major conference in the ongoing struggle to rein-in a runaway judiciary
The conference has already happened (parts broadcast on C-SPAN) but the goal is most worthy.


Shower After Visiting THIS Church

Monday Morning Insight reports on a church that offers a money-back guarantee for tithers. (HT: SmartChristian)
Bay Area Fellowship on South Padre Island Drive also has offered a guaranteed tithing program during the past six years but plans to discontinue the money-back guarantee after one congregation member recently became disgruntled, said Bay Area Fellowship Pastor Bil Cornelius.

Cheryl Brooks, Bay Area Fellowship member and former employee, said the church owes her a refund of $21,000 for her contributions made during the past three years, the duration of her membership at the church.

Cornelius said his tithing challenge was only for three months, and the church never promised to return contributions spanning years. Despite the three-month time frame, he did offer Brooks a refund of her 2004 contributions totaling $2,694 to settle the dispute, which Brooks refused.
Oh yeah, this the church really needs -- disputes over tithing contracts.


Politics As Unusual

OK, not really, but it got your attention...

I have stayed away from the whole effort to get Tom Delay because it just strikes me as more left-wing demonization of Christians, which, frankly is getting old. Until this. Bob Novak reports in the Chicago Sun-Times that the NYTimes tried to solicit a Republican to write an anti-Delay op-ed. There is no activism on the part of the journalistic organization, just move on.

Writing in NRO, Robert Moran suggests that Sandy Berger got off easy, and suggests a way to change that. Hmmm...

Holy Coast has a bunch of quotes that seems to indicate the best way for the Republicans to win the next election may be to step aside and let the Dems speak -- a lot.


Fun With Animals

Watch out for that moose! The story is about efforts to decrease car/moose collisions. Turns out that moose don't like to take alternatives under highways that are designed in many places to accomodate deer and bear. I had a close encounter with a moose camping in Canada one time. Animal came right into camp and started eating my supplies. Didn't even care when I slapped him on the rump. These guys are right when they say
"We're investigating ways to manipulate the drivers and also ways to manipulate the animals," said John Perry, a biologist with the Maine Department of Transportation. "And when moose are involved, it might be easier to manipulate the driver."
While looking around MSNBC from the last item, I ran into this story which lead me to this web site.
Unfortunately, on June 30th, 2005, Toby will die. I am going to eat him. I am going to take Toby to a butcher to have him slaughter this cute bunny. I will then prepare Toby for a midsummer feast. I have several recipes under consideration, which can be seen, with some pretty graphic images, under the recipe section.

I don?t want to eat Toby, he is my friend, and he has always been the most loving, adorable pet. However, God as my witness, I will devour this little guy unless I receive 50,000$ USD into my account from donations or purchase of merchandise.
Oh come on, it made you smile a little. I think it is quite ingenious, and potentially delicious.

Needless to say the "animal rights" activists are all over this guy like white on rice. But where are they on this issue.
Yale University researchers say their study that used lasers to create remote-controlled fruit flies could lead to a better understanding of overeating and violence in humans.

Using the lasers to stimulate specific brain cells, researchers say they were able to make the flies jump, walk, flap their wings and fly.

Even headless flies took flight when researchers stimulated the correct neurons, according to the study, published in the April 7 issue of the journal Cell.
Imagine, manipulating those poor defensless headless flies, all for the sake of research into human psychological disorders. They should begin picketing Yale right away.

Monday, April 11, 2005


A Schiavo Round-Up

The Pope's death has rightfully sucked the air out of the news cycle for pretty much anything else. The new Pope will have much to say about the future of Christianity. However, I think the fallout from the great debate over Terri Schiavo's death will have a tremendous effect on this nation in a somewhat shorter term. So I want to keep looking at the issues.


Cheat Seeking Missles points to a Florida editorial that pokes "fun" at those that tried to save Terri's life. I fail to see where there was any humor.

A letter writer to the Milwaukee paper tells us "enough is enough." (Third item) "Valuable political and legal resources have been distracted by the Schiavo case, which had no business in the highest court in the land." I see, but the life of a snail darter in the Supreme Court , that IS worth the resources? Did you ever notice how papers use letters to make a point?

Off the Top battles the competing stories about Judge Greer's church membership or lack thereof. We wonder why there is so much debate on an issue like this -- even the papers don't get the facts.

I am greatly pleased by the role that the Internet and blogs played in the debate. This article examines that role, but once again fails to mention the magic word "blog."


Hugh Hewitt examines the mystical connections between the death of Terri and the death of the Pope. I have no doubt the Holy Spirit is working mightily right now, but as usual, I just not sure what He is up to.

Radioblogger prints the transcript of an interview the aforementioned Hugh did with a Senator regarding judicial appointments and the role faith is playing in that discussion. Given the role judges had in the Terri case, that's about as important as a discussion can get.

Sheep's Crib urges us to stand on our faith. His reminder is most important when we feel like we "lost."


I have heard this over and over:
In Schiavo case, politicians have managed to make a tragic situation much worse
Hogwash. Our government and politicians intercede in life and death matters all the time, all of them tragic. Anyone who does not think an abortion is tragic, regardless of circumstances or justification, is just sick. The same here. All the politicians did was try and mitigate some tragedy.

There were a couple of good pieces looking at the politics of the thing in general from USNews and NYTimes.


As best as I can tell, judges acted like judges have been acting in recent years in this case. I don't like it, and I think we need to take political steps to fix it. I definitely think there was cronyism, but that is pretty standard business. I do not think there was anything that rose to the level of actual corruption.

Some disagree
. (HT: C-POL) I'll let you read it and decide for yourself.


The confusion amazes me in this situation. This article calls for allowing euthanasia in Britain. But it calls for it for the dying. Terri was not dying.

Which brings me to the real point I want to make. The phrase I have heard uttered so many times is, "I would not want to live like that." I am not entirely sure I would either, but I know my wife would want me to. So, it seems to me that if I ever did reach such a state, to have left a living will that would instruct the ending of my life would be a pretty narcissistic action wouldn't it?

In all this stuff about the "right to choose one's death" is a complete lack of understanding that a life does not live in a vacuum, it affects so many other lives. This much I know, if you strip away all the discussion, Michael's hard fight to kill Terri was selfish, even if Terri really did want it, they simply shared the same consuming narcissism.

Yes, I have a right to chose a lot of things. But for the sake of those I love, I often set aside that right. Why is this any different?


What Is Wrong with the Modern Church?

This is the question that SmartChristian asks in linking to this article.
Lynn is in good company. Thousands like her who by all litmus tests would be gauged as devout, even zealous, Christians are voting with their feet and becoming "stayaway saints."
The article goes on at great length examining the demographic, social, cultural, and media based reasons for this phenomena.

Where is the voice of prophecy in this question? When Jeremiah called the Israelites to God did he discuss the worship music? Did Daniel spend time in the lion's den because of inadequate demographic data?

I went through my own "stay away" period. The reasons were simple. I could not find God at church, so I went looking for Him elsewhere. All I got at church was grief, all I wanted was uplifted.

Two things will fix this problem:
  1. Spend less time worrying about what will appeal and more time worrying about the Word; and
  2. Make church for those who believe, let them that believe bring in those that do not. In other words, stop reaching out and start equipping.

In purely secular terms emphasize quality over quantity and watch the world change.


Some Really Great Links

Joi at Classically Educated sounds a truly prophetic voice regarding the church.
The Church is not a business. It does not matter what the polls say, only what is right. Truth matters. If the Church holds on to Truth, it can weather any storm. If it releases its hold on Truth, it will disintegrate.
Scotwise reminds us of the JOY of our salvation.
Knowing we are forgiven is to know JOY!
Sheep's Crib reads the tea leaves and wonders if the end times approach.
Anyone besides me getting a sense of eschatological excitement?
That is an excitement I try to have every day, tea leaves or no.




Fellow SoCal Alliance member Cheat Seeking Missles has had a great couple of posts recently on environmental matters in his field. This one examines extremism in the environmental movement and this one looks at the continuing efforts to link environmental problems with Christian escatology. Some people really need to figure out that there is a whole bunch more to being a Christian than reading books by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins.


This story about the new cancer-risk guidelines adopted by the EPA makes a point that I continually return to:
Mr. Walke's organization was one of the few environmental groups to temper its appreciation for the new guidelines by raising concerns over language inserted by the Office of Management and Budget that allows outside groups to challenge scientific conclusions before they become part of the new guidelines. Dr. Jennifer Sass, a defense council senior scientist, said that such "expert elicitation" provides an open invitation to the chemical industry to weaken the guidelines and to delay their being put in place.
I get it now, experts that weaken regulation are 'for sale,' but not the ones that support strengthening it.


I love it when we shoot ourselves in the foot. This article points out how relatively insecure the storage of nuclear waste at nuclear power plants is. Meanwhile, this article objects to the proposed Yucca Flats nuclear waste disposal site based on some paperwork issues. So, we are going to leave our wastes in an insecure situation because some scientists made a legitimate decision to exclude some data from a study based on a likely computer glitch.


Look, smoking is not the brightest thing in the world to do, but do we really have to carry things this far.
NEW research suggests women who smoke while pregnant are putting their grandchildren as well as their children at risk, writes Jonathan Leake.

The study suggests that some of the chemicals in smoke can permanently alter the DNA of those exposed to it in ways that can be inherited by smokers? Children, grandchildren and possibly subsequent generations too.
(emphasis added)
So we are going to create a whole new panic about a habit that everyone knows has significant health risks, based on a suggestion? Just once I'd like the proof before the panic.


A Great Pope Tribute

Catching up from my travels, I ran into this great Protestant tribute to the Pope from Orson Scott Card as published at RealClearPolitics. As a Protestant, I have been trying to figure out what is appropriate for to say, but someone has beaten me to it.


Speaking of Lurid

This article and this article tell a story that is pretty ugly. (HT: Between Two Worlds via SmartChristian)

BTW is rightfully worked up because Inter-Varsity Press is apparently publishing some writings by this attempted-murdering lesbian feminist ordained minister. Based on the updates, sounds like IVP is going to work through this. I; however, am a little more concerned about a church that would let its ordained staff get this far out of control This is a case for a hierarchical church government system if ever I saw one. The damage a story like this does to the gospel is most unfortunate.



All of us have made bad decisions in our lives. And many of us have paid a very high price for those bad decisions. Sometimes that price extends well beyond the point of repentance. It just goes to show you that there really is value in protecting people from doing things that "do not hurt anyone but themselves." This lady needs to figure that out.

The details are too lurid for recount here, but the worst part is the government (read "our tax dollars") is compensating this woman for ramifications resulting from a conscious decision that she made. What is wrong with this picture?

Sunday, April 10, 2005


Sermons and Lessons

Here is another great one from John Piper:

"I Am Who I Am" Says the Lord
September 16, 1984

Exodus 3:13-15

Then Moses said to God, "If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they ask me, 'What is his name?' what shall I say to them?" God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM." And he said, "Say this to the people of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you.'" God also said to Moses, "Say this to the people of Israel, 'The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you': this is my name for ever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations."

For the next seven Sundays I hope to preach a series of messages which was inspired last August when I read Psalm 9:10, "And those who know thy name put their trust in thee."

The aim of all my ministry is the advancement and joy of your faith to the glory of God (Phil. 1:20,25). Preaching is one means to that end, and therefore when I ponder what to preach I look for things that will stir you up to trust God with all your heart. Psalm 9:10 says that people who know God's name will trust him. It seemed to me therefore that the Lord would strengthen our confidence in him for the future of our life together if I could help you know the name of God better. "Those who know thy name put their trust in thee." So for seven weeks, leading to a climax during our missions conference, I hope to unfold a different name of God each week.

The reason knowing the names of God will help us trust him with our daily affairs and with our eternal destinies is that in scripture a person's name often signifies his character or ability or mission?especially when the name is given by God. Adam names his wife Eve, because she is mother of all the living (Gen. 3:20). God changes Abram's name to Abraham to show that he had made him the father of many nations (Gen. 17:5). God changed Sarai's name to Sarah (Gen. 17:15). He changed Jacob's name to Israel (Gen. 32:28). And when the Son of God came into the world his name was not left to chance: "You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins."

I have four sons. The first was born in Germany. So we sought out a German name related to the word Christian and put our prayer in his name: Karsten, in the confidence that God would bring him to faith in Christ. Then came Benjamin whose birth announcement was a paraphrase of Moses' blessing on the tribe of Benjamin in Deuteronomy 33:12,

Beloved of God he dwells secure
Upon a cosmic boulder;
Though small and to the world obscure,
He rides on Yahweh's shoulder.

Then came Abraham and we put the hope of Romans 4:20 in his name?that someday he might grow strong in his faith like Abraham of old and give glory to God. And finally came Barnabas, our son of consolation, and we took a name from a great man of encouragement who was full of the Holy Spirit and faith. In other words, we have tried to give our sons names that will be their destinies and their character. We have given them names to grow into and to strive for and pray for.

Now there is a big difference between me and God. When I name someone, I don't have the power or the authority to make the person fit the name. I give names in hope and prayer that my sons will become what their names imply. But God has the right and the power to cause anyone he names to become what the name implies. The names he gives are sure indicators of the destiny of those he names.

And when he names himself, we may be sure the name is packed with who he is and what he intends to do. God does not choose names for himself at random, say for the sound or for an ancestor or to avoid embarrassing nicknames. He chooses names for the sake of revealing things about himself that will deepen our love for him and enlarge our admiration and strengthen our faith.

So my prayer is that these seven messages will open our eyes to God's glory, and enlarge our acquaintance with his magnificent character, and fan the flames of our love, and strengthen the fiber of our faith. My hope is in the word of God: "Those who know thy name put their trust in thee."

The most common and the most important name for God in the Old Testament is a name that in our English versions never even gets translated. Whenever you see the word LORD in all capital letters you know that this name is behind it. In Hebrew the name had four letters?YHWH?and may have been pronounced something like Yahweh. The Jews came to regard this word with such reverence that they would never take it upon their lips, lest they inadvertently take the name in vain. So whenever they came to this name in their reading they pronounced the word "adonai" which means "my lord." The English versions have basically followed the same pattern. They translate the proper name Yahweh with the word LORD in all caps.

This is not a very satisfactory thing to do, because the English word LORD does not communicate to our ears a proper name like John or Michael or Noel. But Yahweh is God's proper name in Hebrew. The importance of it can be seen in the sheer frequency of its use. It occurs 6828 times in the Old Testament. That's more than three times as often as the simple word for "God" (Elohim?2600. El?238). What this shows is that God aims to be known not as a generic deity, but as a specific Person with a name that carries his unique character and mission.

(Note: The word Jehovah originated from an attempt to pronounce the consonants YHWH with the vowels from the word adonai. In the oldest Hebrew texts there are no vowels. So it is easy to see how this would happen since whenever YHWH occurred in the text the word adonai was pronounced by the reverent Jew.)

The most important text in all the Bible for understanding the meaning of the name Yahweh is Exodus 3:13-15. God has just commanded Moses to go to Egypt and to bring his people Israel out of captivity. Moses says to God in verse 13, "If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they ask me, 'What is his name?' what shall I say to them?" God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM." And he said, "Say this to the people of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you.'" God also said to Moses, "Say this to the people of Israel, "The LORD (that is, Yahweh!), the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, has sent me to you': this is my name for ever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations."

Now notice that God gives three answers to the question, "What shall I tell them your name is?"

Second, in verse 14 God says, "I AM has sent me to you."

Third, in verse 15 God says, "Yahweh ? has sent me to you ? this is my name for ever ?"

So two facts persuade me that this text provides an interpretation of the name Yahweh. One is that the name Yahweh and the name I AM are built out of the same Hebrew word (hayah). The other is that Yahweh seems to be used here interchangeably with I AM. "I AM has sent me to you" (v.14). "Yahweh ? has sent me to You" (v.15). I think it would be safe to say that God's purpose in this meeting with Moses is to reveal, as he never had before (Ex. 6:2), the meaning of his personal name Yahweh. The key is in the phrase I AM and especially in the phrase, I AM WHO I AM.

So here is where we ought to spend a lot of time meditating. What does it mean when you ask your God, Who are you? and he answers, I AM WHO I AM? I hope you can begin to feel this morning how important these words are. There aren't any words more important than these. Any words that you think might be are important only because these words are true. The more you ponder them the more awesome they become. I know I can't do them justice. But perhaps the Holy Spirit might take my stammering attempt and open some vista for you.

I want to try to unfold at least seven implications that I see in the divine name, I AM WHO I AM.

First, God exists. Or as Francis Schaffer never tired of saying, God is there. At first this may seem so obvious and so basic that we wouldn't need to mention it. Well, it is obvious and it is basic, but the reason we should mention it is that most people live as if it were not true, or as if it were a truth that makes no difference in life.

Suppose the President of the United States invited you and a few of your friends to the White House for a reception. As you enter the cozy green room the President is sitting by the fire place and you walk right by him without a glance or a greeting. For the whole evening you neither look at him nor speak to him nor thank him nor inquire why he called you together. But every time the one reporter asks you if you believe in the existence of the President you say, Of course. You even agree that this is his house and that all this food came from his kitchen. But you pay him no regard. Practically speaking you act as if you do not believe he exists. You ignore him. He has no place in the affections of your heart. His gifts, not himself, are the center of your attention.

The vast majority of people who say they believe in God treat him this way. He is like hydrogen. You learned once in school that it is in the air you breathe, but after that your belief in it has made no difference in your life. Every time someone takes a poll you say, Of course, hydrogen exists. Then you return to things that matter.

Put yourself forward a few years to the day when every human being will give an account of himself before the living God. God will say to millions of people, "Now it is my understanding that you said often during your life that you believed in me. You affirmed my existence. Is that right?" "Yes." And is it not true that in your life the more honor and importance and virtue and power and beauty a person had, the more regard he was paid and the more respect he was shown and the more admiration he received? Is that not the case?" "Yes." "Then why is it that I had such an insignificant place in your life since you say you believed in me? Why didn't you feel more admiration for me and seek my wisdom more often and spend time in fellowship with me and strive to know the way I wanted you to make all your every day decisions? Why did you treat me as though I were like hydrogen?" What, I ask you, what is the world going to answer? What are thousands of so-called Christians going to answer, whose faith in God is virtually the same as their faith in hydrogen?

O how easy it is going to be for God to condemn the world at the judgment! Sometimes in our self-asserting pride we actually think that God is going to have trouble finding enough evidence to be just in sentencing people to hell. But if you allow yourself to think clearly for a moment about the overwhelming implications of the statement, "God exists," you will see that it is going to be very easy for the Judge on that day. The defendants will be utterly speechless because of the manifest inconsistency of their lives. The portfolio of the prosecuting attorney will not have to be opened beyond page one where it says, Defendant affirmed that God exists; personal life lived as though God made no difference.

Contained in the name Yahweh is the first and most important truth about God: he exists. And for those who will stop pursuing their own glory and their own private pleasure long enough to consider it, that makes all the difference in the world.

The second implication in the name I AM WHO I AM is that God's personality and power are owing solely to himself and to no other.

Push back with me before there was any earth or any solar system or galaxies or universe at all. Push back in your imagination to when there was only God. Then, if you can, push back behind God. Where did he come from? How did he get to be the way he is? If you asked me how I got to be the way I am, I would answer that my father and mother gave me a set of genes and they reared me a certain way and I have been surrounded by thousands of influences in my environment?that's how I got to be the way I am.

But when we ask God how he got to be who he is, he answers, I AM WHO I AM. In other words, nobody gave me a set of genes. Nobody and no power brought me into existence or shaped my personality. I had no beginning. There is no reality outside myself that did not come from me. And so there is no force or influence upon my character and power except what comes from me and is controlled by me. I am utterly absolute. Behind me there is no reality.

Asking the question, Why is God the way he is? is like asking me, When are you going to stop beating your wife? It is unanswerable because it assumes a state of affairs that does not exist. I am not beating my wife and so I cannot stop. And there is nothing behind or outside God that could be an answer to the question, why he is the way he is. The utterly self-determined character of an everlasting God is the endpoint of all our questions. There comes a point when you stand face to face with absolute reality and realize that he simply is who he is.

A third implication of the name I AM WHO I AM is that God does not change. In Malachi 3:6 God says, "I Yahweh do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed." Within the name Yahweh is the affirmation I AM WHO I AM. But if who God is is not determined by any forces outside himself then he is not subject to the changes we are. People change their mind because of unforeseen circumstances or weak resolution. God foresees all circumstances and has no weaknesses. Nothing in all creation takes him off guard and backs him into a corner where he might have to act out of character or compromise his integrity.

He is who he is, and therefore, as James says, "With him there is no variation or shadow due to change" (James 1:17). He is the same yesterday, today and for ever. His absolute name is the granite foundation of our confidence in his ongoing faithfulness.

The fourth implication of the name I AM WHO I AM is that God is an inexhaustible source of energy. Isaiah 40:28 says, "Yahweh is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary." If God is the everlasting absolute Reality, then he is the Creator of the ends of the earth and of the universe. And if he is the Creator of everything, then all energy?all motion and combustion and fusion and fission originate in him. Somehow all the energy in the universe must get started. And since God is the first and absolute reality it all starts in him. He is an inexhaustible reservoir of power.

This must mean that he is energy. He is power. His personality is radiant with infinite energy. He never needs recharging. He never needs a back up system. There is nothing for him to plug into. Everything in the universe plugs into him. If he ever shut down there would be absolute nothingness. In him we live and move and have our being. He cannot faint or grow weary. He is an unending river of life and the source or our strength every morning?and will be for all eternity.

The fifth implication of the name I AM WHO I AM is that objectivity is crucial. What I mean is that it is very important that we believe in objective truth that is more than our own subjective feelings or desires. We may desire God to be a certain way. We may feel that he simply can't be the way some people say he is. But what we feel or what we desire does not make God what he is.

When God says I AM WHO I AM, he summons us to humble objectivity. He puts an end to the notion that everybody's view of God is as good as everybody else's. God is who he is and nobody's opinion of him makes any difference. Therefore, our calling as his creatures is to strive to know him for who he is, not for who we would like him to be.

The sixth implication of the name I AM WHO I AM is that we must conform to God, not he to us. If children should learn their manners from their parents and not the parents from the children; if players should learn their moves from the coach and not the coach from the players; if soldiers should learn their strategy from the general and not the general from the soldiers; then surely it is plain that creatures should conform all their lives to the will of their Creator!

But O how few of God's creatures follow this path of reasonableness. The vast majority of God's creatures go their own way with little or no thought of conforming their lives to the daily will and character of an absolute God. And when they think of God they picture him arbitrarily in images of their own making, to suit their own desires. But if God simply is who he is and not who we make him out to be, then it is we who must conform to God and not he to us.

One final implication of this magnificent name, I AM WHO I AM, is that this infinite absolute self-determining God has drawn near to us in Jesus Christ. In John 8:56-58 Jesus is answering the criticism of the Jewish leaders. He says, "Your father Abraham rejoiced that he was to see my day; he saw it and was glad." The Jews then said to him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?" Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly! I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM."

Could Jesus have taken any more exalted words upon his lips? When Jesus said, "Before Abraham was I AM," he took up all the majestic truth of the name of God, wrapped it in the humility of servanthood, offered himself to atone for all our rebellion, and made a way for us to see the glory of God without fear.

In Jesus Christ we who are born of God have the unspeakable privilege of knowing Yahweh as our Father?I AM WHO I AM?the God
  • who exists
  • whose personality and power is owing solely to himself
  • who never changes
  • from whom all power and energy in the universe flows
  • to whom all creation should conform its life.

This is the name of God: I AM WHO I AM! And may those who know the name of God put their trust in him.

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