Saturday, April 30, 2005


Who Is The Audience For Preaching?

I've sat on the sidelines of the preaching discussion this week, for two reasons. One, some posts can be dashed off, and some take real effort -- I don't generally have time during the week to do the ones that take real effort. Secondly, since I am not a preacher, I wonder about my worthiness to join this great clan:

Jollyblogger addressed issues of showmanship in preaching -- this is a vitally important questions. He uses the example of Marjoe Gortner, but what about Sam Kinison? The line sure can get fuzzy from time to time. Transforming Sermons also looks at JB's post.

Scotwise links to a post from The Spirit Formed Life on the topic. Sheep's Crib reacts to this great post from Unveiled Face.

Finally, Adrian Warnock, Sheep's Crib, and Transforming Sermons all react to my last post on the subject from last weekend.

I want to pick up where I left off last with this quote:
So what is my vision for preaching? Just this -- it is a tool for my, and every other Christian in the congregation's, use in their own ministry. Each of us is called to be intimate with another, and through that intimacy the Spirit spreads. Not all of us are gifted at putting voice to the thoughts and ideas that surround that intimacy. That is what great preaching does -- it describes and explains the urgings of the Spirit that people feel, not from the preaching itself, but from the people in the seats or pews around you. A mediocre preacher will sound like a great preacher if he serves a congregation full of true and committed servants of the Lord. That's why I think a pastor should devote himself first to discipleship because discipleship will make the preaching better.
Given the model for church growth and evangelism underlying that paragraph, the question I ask in the headline to this post is of vital importance. Let me discuss that model a little more in detail.

Churches in general rely way too much on preachers and teachers and leaders of all sorts. Christ did not come to bless a few, He came to bless the world, and everyone,I mean everyone, that receives that blessing should be capable of passing that blessing on. I don't believe evangelism is the job of preachers and teachers and leaders, I believe it is the job of every single man, women, and child that calls on the name of Jesus. Jesus should be talked about in the supermarket and on the street corner. Given the number of Christians in the US we should hear that name in fast food joints and arcades and malls whenever we are there.

I do not mean that everybody should be inviting people to church so the preacher can tell them about Jesus -- I mean that everybody should tell everybody else about Jesus, not always with words but definitely telling, and then everybody else should come to church because that is what people that believe in Jesus do.

This model changes radically what the church is about. Now the church is not about spreading the Word, but about building maturity amongst those that have the Word. I also think this will radically change preaching in your average congregation. Consider:Hebrews 6:1-2 - Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washings, and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.I long for preaching that is true to these verses.

I am going to be very personal for a moment. It has been a long time since I have been in a church that was "for me." I reached a level in my Christian maturity where it seemed my only options were professional ministry, or some sort of lay limbo where my leadership and training was acknowledged, but never really put to use. God has made it abundantly clear that He does not wish for me to be in professional ministry, that is true for so many. My heart hurts for the those with real passion for Jesus Christ that never seek knowledge or wisdom or maturity because they also know they are not called to professional ministry, and that there is no place for that non-professional maturity in the church.

I argue that the church is the very place for that maturity, and the place for creating that maturity. Those that are mature go OUT from the church and do the introductions and the birthings OUT IN THE WORLD. Is that not the model that God Himself gave us when He left His heaven and came TO US?

So, I think preaching should be that which brings not mere Christianity to its audience, but Christian maturity. This means that church will very much go over the head of "seekers." So be it, church is not for seekers, rather it is for the found. The found go out and find the seekers.

I have talked to many preacher friends about this and they all become disconsolate and state that they feel called to evangelism. I generally respond with but a single question, "Why do you think Billy Graham is not pastoring a church?" If you are called to evangelism, then by all means go and evangelize, if you are in a church then preach to the found and tend the flock.


More Chernobyl Memories

Well, I have gotten some interesting reactions to yesterday's post about my visit to Chernobyl, so I guess I'll keep going. You'll recall, I decided to post because an acquaintance of mine is trying to raise money to help maintain the sarcophagus that surrounds the pile of horrifically radioactive waste that used to be the reactor. Here is a picture I took of that acquaintance, Dr. Alexi Yablokov when I met with him in Moscow about a week before I went to Chernobyl.

The visit itself was, for me, quite exciting. My wife thinks I'm a little different that way. I grew up in tornado country and loved to go outside and look for them when most were in their basements for protection. She took me to the site of Mt. St. Helen's and witnessed my utter joy at seeing the raw power that had wrecked havoc on the area she grew up in. I have vociferously declared my desire to witness from a safe location an actual nuclear explosion. So, the opportunity to visit this disaster just made me giddy.

The most extraordinary thing about it was the relative normality. When you approach the "30 km exclusion zone" you are stopped and inspected as I depict here.

But checkpoints were, when I was there - it was still the Soviet Union, so commonplace that you hardly paid attention. At the 10 km limit you changed everything, clothing, transportation all of it. Nothing but your naked, carefully showered body was allowed out of the 10 km zone. You were issued very raw woolen uniforms that you returned on departure. It felt like a scene from Dr. No, so again, it was kind of cool.

But aside from the isolation that I discussed yesterday, things seemed most normal. Birds flew around, plants grew. Now bear in mind I was there 7 years after the accident, but still one kind of expected to come up on some glowing pile or something.

The sarcophagus was, of course the highlight. Recall the reactor ran out of control and caught on fire. The resultant steam explosion blew the building apart. Thus the highly radioactive smoke and ash from the fire now rode high into the atmosphere and it was this radiation that was first detected in western Europe.

There were two essential problems. One was to get the fire out. Unlike a fire in your fire place, this one would keep burning forever, and at temperatures hot enough that the fire would work it's way through the crust of the planet. The other problem was what to do with the extraordinarily nasty pile of radioactive goo and debris that the extinguished fire would leave behind.

The fire was put out with huge amounts of boron sand. The boron quenched the nuclear reaction and the sand robbed the fire of oxygen. The sand was placed on the fire the hard way, and at the cost of many lives. People flew over and stood near a giant burning pile of radioactive garbage to dump the sand on it. There was no other way, and almost all died.

There simply was no way to handle the mess that was left, so they decided to build a giant container around it -- this is the sarcophagus. They imported miners to dig below and construction people to work above to build the giant box I described yesterday. With the fire out and by carefully controlling shifts, these people, save for some of the miners, did not die quickly or acutely. However, the cancer rates among these people are unimaginable. Most are now, some 20 years later, dead.

Needless to say, witnessing the sarcophagus from it's exterior is all any one can really do. To monitor inside, usually holes are drilled and cameras inserted, but on rare occasions, people have entered, for extremely brief periods in extremely protective lead lined suits, but the interior is a hell on earth and the risk enormous.

And now, the sarcophagus rots, threatening to once again release its contents to the greater world. I am searching for ways for the average citizen to contribute to the efforts to help maintain the sarcophagus. When I find them, I will let you know.

Do you still want more about this? Let me know. I really am afraid to bore you.


Here are parts one and three in my series on my visit to Chernobyl.


Filibuster Foolishness

Just a few links to make your weekend.

David Gelernter in the LATImes of all places points out how stupid the Dems really think we are. It is only natural they would want activists judges, they think we are too stupid to legislate.

The WSJ points out that the filibuster is the tip of the iceberg.

Finally, Thinking Right prints a letter from Laura Ingraham that gives voice to the frustration that many of us feel.


Deep Questions

SmartChristian is, on behalf of his congregation, asking some really hard questions. Just for fun, I'm going to take a shot at a few, but check Andy's site for the whole list and answer your favorites.

What happened to Jesus during the three days after His crucifixion?

The Apostle's Creed gives the short answer, as has one of Andy's commenters already -- "He descended into hell." Tempted as I am to explain in detail what that means, I would just be regurgitating Calvin; instead just click the word "Calvin" in the line in the Creed as just linked and you will get a great, and thorough answer.

How do I know I am really saved?

There's a REAL question. As a calvinist I have to answer -- You Can't! -- but it's best to assume you are, because otherwise you for sure won't be.

Is suicide the unpardonable sin?

Are you Roman Catholic? If so, then yep, but if not a definite maybe. The unpardonable sin is taking the Lord's name in vain. Now the question becomes, "Is suicide somehow taking the Lord's name in vain?" If you are a Christian I have to wonder -- if you take the name of Christ, but have not enough faith to rely upon Him, do you not harm His name? I think yes. But if you are not a Christian...

The question that got the most comment at Andy's place was:
Do you have to be baptized in water in order to be saved?

Nope, but if you are saved, you will be baptized in water out of sheer obedience. Think about it...


I Thought...

...that legalized abortion was supposed to end all the back alley stuff. Then you see something like this.
After Erica's doctor's visit a week earlier, Jerry said, she had decided she didn't want to be pregnant anymore. She'd heard that if someone stood on a pregnant woman's stomach, you could abort the babies. For days, she'd asked Jerry to do it. He didn't want to, but ultimately he gave in.

Erica lay on the bedroom floor, and Jerry, about five foot eight and 180 pounds, stepped onto her stomach, just above the navel. Then he pressed his K-Swiss sneakers into her flesh. Their statements vary as to how often they repeated this process. Jerry said it was two or three times during the week leading up to the miscarriage; Erica said he stepped on her twice in the two weeks prior to the miscarriage.
But here is the kicker:
Back in the hospital, Erica did two things: She admitted that Jerry had hit her several times, and she confirmed Jerry's story about stepping on her stomach. Under a state law passed in 2003, she had just implicated her boyfriend in two counts of capital murder. Under that same law, she was guilty of nothing, since a mother has the right to end her pregnancy.
If trying to understand that does not drive you to distraction, you are either a whole lot smarter than me, or not really trying.


Dust In The Wind

These pictures of a recent snadstorm in Iraq and truly amazing. It looks like it is right out of a movie and gives you all sorts of new respect for our soldiers.


Comic Art

Is that an patriotically inspirational image or what? Captain America has personified the heroism of our military since WWII. Lately he has succumbed to political correctness which is a crying shame. For years he existed as a patriotic anachronism in the otherwise very "hip" world of the superhero, but recent writers have had to have him call into question his loyalty to the nation. Hopefully, he will be restored to his full glory soon.

That full glory was best done by the master, Jack Kirby. The King drew Cap both in WWII and during the character's revival in the early 1960's. Nobody has ever done it better, so here is one from the King. BTW, I own the book depicted below -- it's worth a fortune! Fortunatly I bought it new (check that cover price), making me old.


All The Babble You Could Want

Need more senseless babble from persons with nonsensical political views? Check the side bar. There you will find the Autorantic Virtual Moonbat. Hit the "Rant" button and you'll never have to listen to Air America again. Thanks to Sean Gleeson.


This Kid Is Good

I've been told I have a remarkable sense of direction. I was telling my parents how to get places at a very young age. But I was never this good.
The New York Post reports that a 3-year-old from Queens set off a massive search Wednesday after he slipped out of the house, hopped a city bus and snuck into a showing of the computer-animated movie "Robots."
Think about that -- a 3-year-old had to know not only to take a bus, but which bus, and where to get off. My hat's off to this kid.


Great Britain - Not So Great?

Well, Gerald Baker is not optimistic.
I haven't lived in Britain for more than a decade now, having spent most of my time in the US. But back in the country for the election, I'm not surprised at the palpable sense of futility. The British people are steadily being reduced to a state of cringing dependence on an ever-more voracious and aggrandising Government and a political establishment of almost unconquerable scale that supports and sustains it.
What a great description of the inevitable result of a socialist nanny state. Having visited communist countries I have experienced firsthand the futility of life under a government that tries to "take care of you."

The US appears, at least for now, to have turned back from this direction. Here's hoping the UK can do the same.


Kids And Blogging

I had no idea until I investigated the MySpace sites of some of the kids in the high school Bible Study my wife and I lead, but this story is not exaggerating.
With that, Marcy made a discovery thousands of parents around the country are making -- teenagers are among the most active Internet bloggers, and many are posting pictures, names, addresses, schools, even phone numbers, almost always without their parent's knowledge.
This is a huge problem for families, and kids can get in a lot of trouble this way, but when it comes to "too much information" some of the leftie blogs tell me far more than I really need to know about the bloggers. Hear me now leftie bloggers, even the adult ones, "I do not care about your sex life!"


Over Engineered?

The shuttle launch has again been delayed. I am forced to wonder if this is not more political than technical. The Challenger disaster was, after all, the result of political pressure to get a flight up when it should not have gone. I am forced to wonder if this is not the reverse of the same phenomena. Such pressure is THE biggest problem with publicly funded science.

Friday, April 29, 2005


What Should CBS Do?

Hugh Hewitt is asking that quesiton and seeking ideas. My answer is several fold.

First, given what I am going to propose below, the anchor, provided simple competence, is unimportant. They should be clearly identified as a "news reader and moderator" -- not anchor, reporter, or any other such. They will need a strong enough personality, without being shrill, to focus the audience. Maybe Joe Scarborough?

Secondly, the news show should be coupled with a web site that aggregates blogs belonging to the reporters and their producers. The object of the blogs would be to make the preparation of each story that appears on the telecast completely transparent. Probably they would be group blogs with contributions not only by the reporter, but the producers, camera and sound people, and any research assistants. Where did each piece of information in the report come from? Why did you interview this person, not that person? Why did you select the that particular turn of phrase. It's possible on some stories that take longer to develop commenters might help shape the story. The blog would reproduce all press releasee, reports and source material used in the preparation of the story, either within or by link.

Thirdly, jettison the lifestyle garbage that seems to be crowding network news lately. If network nightly news needs "feature" material, hang it up. The focus should be national and international events and politics -- leave everything else to the morning shows.

Fourth, I am all for Hugh's closing panel idea
...but the very best thing CBS could do to buttress that choice would be to close every broadcast with a panel like SpecialReport's that featured Mark Steyn, Michael Barone, and a very competent lefty. Steyn is the best non-Fox-affiliated center-right commentator in America and Barone's simply the smartest, fairest analyst working (though I think under contract with Fox, though he's not on nearly enough.) Because the trust-deficit is deepest with the center-right, you might have to overbalance the panel to the right for a few years.
Fifth, I think the "What's up in the blogs" segment on "Connected Coast-to-Coast" works if it was a little better researched and less rushed in it's presentation. I mean they had me on once so how well researched can it be? Anyway, it's a great idea but needs to be reworked.

That's all I have off the top of my head. I come up with more, I'll let you know...


Nuclear Memories

I let slip on Wednesday that I had been to Chernobyl, and have since received comments asking for some serious posting about that visit. I tend to shy away from the subject because I am such a geek about it. I have put many a dinner party to sleep with counts of roentgens and curries, generational radiative mutations, and whether I glowed after I left.

But it has been showing up in the press a lot lately. When my old acquaintance Alexi Yablokov showed up in this article, I decided it was time to speak. The story concerns the decaying shape of the "sarcophagus" that surrounds the giant pile of grossly radioactive material that used to be the reactor core. Dr. Yablokov is trying to raise money to keep the containment system in proper repair. Apparently huge funds have been embezzled from the fund designed for such maintenance. Not surprised, he told me it was happening in 1991. For reference, here is a picture of the sarcophagus:

It is just layers and layers of concrete and steel surrounding the pile of extraordinarily hazardous material, above, below and on all sides. Essentially, they kept building until the radiation levels on the outside were sufficiently safe. Steel corrodes, concrete does too, and then there is the need to poke holes in the casing to test what is going on inside, put these together and constant maintenance is required. Inside the radiation is so intense that it actually wears away the internal lining. Dr. Yablokov explains the problems well in the article linked above.

This article discusses the memories of the heroes of the mitigation and containment after the accident. Some of the statistics cited in that piece about illness and death cannot be verified due to a lack of epidemiological data from the period prior to the accident, when it comes to cancer and other chronic disease states. the heroes discussed are true heroes in every sense of the word. They knowingly exposed themselves to enormous levels of radiation to do what was necessary to put out an actual nuclear core fire and contain the remaining hazardous pile of dust and debris. The world owes these people a debt it may never fully understand.

Memories...I have stories to tell personal and scientific that could fill the blog for many days. Today I will share one. My wife and I love ghost towns -- old mining towns here in the western U.S. that were abandoned when the mines played out. Many were left relatively intact because they were in such remote locations that it was not worthwhile to try and bring out personal belongings. Probably the most spectacular is Bodie, CA.

Next to the Chernobyl power plant was the town of Pripyat. Built to house the workers for the plant, it was abandoned totally in a matter of hours after the accident. People left with a bare minimum of belongings, in the middle of a carnival, leaving the entire place with an eerie feeling that they had all just been "beamed up" without notice. Here's some pictures:

It's spooky, and disheartening. You can walk up to windows, or down halls and look into apartments and see pictures on the wall and rotten food sometimes still on the table. It is a ghost town unlike any you will ever experience, ghosted not from age, or depletion of resources, but ghosted because of a horrific miscalculation by some engineers. It is a modern ghost and as such has all the spookiness of an Old West ghost town, but none of the charm.

Please give me some feedback on this. Did you like it? What other things would you like me to share. Do you want techie stuff, or just more impressions? Would you like to hear how the accident happened, or how the mess was handled? Maybe you are interested in some of the heroes stories? I have read numerous studies on the effects of the radiation in the local flora and fauna, and can share about that. Are you interested in how the site is managed today? I get a little too excited by all of it and tend to get dull, but I will try and answer your questions and interests.

And please, do what you can to support the fund raising efforts of Dr. Yablokov, it is for the benefit of the world in a sense far more real than you may see in any other circumstance.


Here are parts two and three in my series on my Chernobyl visit.


A Dilemma

Evangelical Outpost has posed a real mind-knotter. Please read Joe's whole post to get a real feel for the problem, but the condensed version is, "If eating first trimester human embryoes, harvested either from unused in-vitro fertilizations or abortions, was shown to be a boon to human health, how would you advise the president?"

My initial response is that I am awful glad he has cast me in the role of advisor and not actual decision maker, although Joe casts it as the president is going to follow my advice. In a country with a secular government and mixed values, one has to "split the baby" somehow. My tendency is to say I would allow the practice from unused in-vitro fertilizations (they are going to die anyway), but not from abortions, and I would not allow any federal funding for the practice.

Proponents of the miracle cure would argue that such will drive the cost through the roof and therefore only the rich would be entitled. Opponents go on and on about women that would sell their eggs for in-vitro fertilizations, and the fact that it is still cannibalism. When both sides still have good arguments, I figure you have "split the baby" pretty well. Morally - I would agree with the opponents wholeheartedly, which means right after I advised the president, I would probably have to throw up and then, even though I am not catholic, go to confession.

I give this response to be fair to the question as posed. In "real life" I would probabaly resign the advisor role because I could not in good conscience advise the president in the manner I just described.

To me, the key is the way that Joe set this question up. I am on the "President's Council," that means my role is not to advocate, but to weigh all aspects of the question and advise. In a pre-Roe v Wade world, the cannibalism argument would hold full sway, but it is currently the law of the land that embryoes of this type do not rise to the level of personhood, and the council I was charged with would have to take that odious fact into account.

But then there is also longer term advice. While what I propose is probabaly the best solution now, what if Roe v Wade could be overturned? Then the cannibalism argument could be forcefully reasserted. So while immediacy demanded one answer, I would also advise the president on a longer term strategy to change the underlying current assumptions that I was forced to work with. The only question would be if to do so would result in some sort of civil war? I have to say that given the current political climate, if the situation Joe hypothesized actually arose, the civil war possiblity is not so far fetched. But now I think I am reaching beyond the realm of the problem as posed.

I'll be interested in what others have to say.



SmartChristian is wondering what people think about an emerging school of thought called "panentheism." Here's a definition
In general, people are drawn to those metaphors that seem to best capture the relationship they believe God has with the world. In both classical theism and deism, God created the world out of nothing and, therefore, transcends it in the sense that God is not essentially affected by it and could exist just as well without it.

At the other end of the spectrum, pantheism rejects divine transcendence entirely, regarding the world and God as identical. Christianity is not the only religion to have proponents of this unified view. Kabbalistic Judaism and Advaita Vedanta Hinduism share it as well.

Panentheism stakes out the middle ground. ?A pantheist would say, ?God is in all creation but that?s because God is all creation,?? according to Thomas J. Oord, a professor of theology and philosophy at Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa, Idaho, and contributing editor for Science & Theology News. ?A panentheist would say that God is in all creation, but God is more than creation.? In other words, God is both immanent and transcendent.
Sounds like drivel to me. But things become really enlightening when one reaches the end of the article.
Theologians and scientists alike have found that panentheism provides a compelling case for environmental stewardship.
Sounds like the issue driving the theology or philospohy rather than the other way around. Doesn't that sort of belie a stance that God is what we make Him? Not much of a God to me.


California Politics

Sheep's Crib blows his top over the recent moves in California towards legalizing gay marriage.
Two things have become apparent to me: first, most Californian's aren't smart enough to tell the difference between them and, second, most Californian's really, down deep in their gut, don't give a flip about what happens to anyone but themselves! Most Californians are so wrapped up in themselves and their lifestyles they could care less what happens to their neighbors, let alone their state. Not good character traits to take into the future.
Harsh, but John is likely right on the nose.

Want proof? Check out this article on the Govenator's approval polling.
But his support among Democrats and independents began to erode in January when he unveiled his 2005 agenda that took aim at Democrats and their union allies. Rather than accede to his demands, the governor's opponents quickly organized to challenge Schwarzenegger and his proposals.
Unions were founded in a time when corporations held all the cards and there really was plenty of money in the coffers to get their memebers more, but that is simply not the case anymore. Now they don't seem to care if they kill the goose that lays the golden egg, so long as they get what they want.


Filibustering The Filibuster

At this point, I feel like we have been talking about this issue for so long that there is little left to say. Fortunately, some people are more original than me. Check out these posts from Holy Coast and Cheat Seeking Missles on the subject.

Holy Coast points out that Sentor Ken Salazar of Colorado is calling James Dobson the "anti-Christ." You know -- the church is reaping what it has sown in my life time. The "mainstream denominations," and I belong to one of them, have worked so hard to be inclusive, that being called a "Christian" is now meaningless. We have to be defined as "evangelicals," or "fundamentals," or Lord knows what.

It is hard to believe that just 50 years ago, we could talk about "Mere Christianity."


Hero Salute!

The Victoria Cross has been awarded to a British soldier that served in Iraq. This story recounts the man's exploits. Here is just a small excerpt:
During this long surge through the ambushes the vehicle was again struck by rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire.

While his head remained out of the hatch, to enable him to see the route ahead, he was directly exposed to much of this fire, and was himself hit by a 7.62mm bullet, which penetrated his helmet and remained lodged on its inner surface.

Despite this harrowing weight of incoming fire Beharry continued to push through the extended ambush, still leading his platoon until he broke clean.
Move over Superman, there is a real hero in town.


Friday Humor


I'd Be Too Embarassed... let this story ever see the light of day.
A Norwegian court has sentenced a woman to nine months in jail for raping a man...
But the real point of this post is to ask what this last paragraph of the story has to do with anything
Norway has long traditions of equality -- 40 percent of the cabinet of Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik, for instance, are women.
Can you say, "non sequiter?"


Not Good Eats?!

Oregon came a step closer to bidding au revoir to foie gras after the state's Senate passed a bill to outlaw the production and sale of fattened duck and goose livers.
I have got to think that a state legislature has better things to do. I am not a big fan of the force feeding that is done on some farms for this, but it is possible to make foie gras without the force fed livers, just more expensive. Why is it necessary to ban the food, particularly since they don't raise duck or goose for this purpose in Oregon?



I sure was hoping for a better explanation of the exploding frog mystery than this, it's just too mundane.
Now a veterinary surgeon, Frank Mutschmann, who has examined the remains of the toads, said they had been pierced with a single peck by crows trying to eat their livers. This in turn caused the toads to explode.

"The toads swell up as a form of self-defense. But when their livers are taken away and their stomachs are punctured, their blood vessels explode, their lungs collapse and the other organs come out," Mutschmann said.
I may have to quit blogging to write a movie script about this.

Let's see... a cloning lab is irradiating frogs to use their genetic material to fill in the gaps in fossil harvested dinosaur DNA in an effort to make dinos for exhibit. One of the frogs escapes and is found by an evil government scientist who discovers it's "explosive potential." Using DNA from the left over bits he clones another one, this time mixing it with whale DNA, and feeding the result a steady diet of weapons grade plutonium laced mosquitoes. The result is the ultimate weapon, a six-foot tall frog that when threatened, blows up in a nuclear explosion.


So This Means

From yesterday's NYTimes:
Other analysts said they thought that the findings added to a growing body of evidence that the typical American is poorly equipped to take advantage of what proponents call the ownership society: a future in which individuals are free to invest their own retirement money, rather than having to accept the returns offered by the Social Security program or a group retirement program at work, like a pension plan. Many surveys have shown the public has doubts about the Social Security program, with young people, in particular, confident that they could do better by investing on their own.
So? The proposals that are still on the table allow people to continue with original Social Security is they wish. But what really irks me is that those of us that have put in the time, energy and effort to learn a thing or two are forced to pay into this cockamamie poor return system with our money. Nobody wants to remove anybody's safety net here -- it's just that some of us would like to have the government quit taking our money forcefully and then paying us lower than bargain basement interest rates for the priviledge.


Best Group Blog... this parody of Adrianna Huffington's new celebrity effort. It is also a good explanation of why I spend little time on the west side.

Thursday, April 28, 2005


Life Wins!

I am a little teary as I write this post -- these are a couple of great stories. This one from Major K talks about a deeply wounded soldier surviving when all thought he would die. The Major asks for prayer for SGT F -- I certainly shall, and I'll pray fro the Major while I'm at it. This post from Scotwise is about a woman that fought for her unborn baby that doctors thought was dead, and wanted to abort. She was right and the doctors were wrong.

I have a number of very good friends that are physicians, so I hesitate to publicly criticize them, trust me - in private I can get ornery, but they have a difficult job and the good ones need support, not derision. I remained relatively mute on the role of physicians in the whole Terri Schiavo affair. But here is the problem -- doing what they do generally produces one of two reactions in the doctor.

The first, and preferable, reaction is humility. A good doctor knows how much he/she does NOT know, and is humbled by how much they cannot diagnose or cure. They are honest with their patients about their shortcomings, and work with the patient (as opposed to ON the patient) to try and help.

The other reaction is hubris. By definition, doctors are smart, and by virtue of the hazing they undergo to receive their MD, many come to believe they are some sort of "special." These types believe they are endowed with special authority to decide life and death. These doctors will tell you what you want, even if you don't. Any doctor of this type that accepts me as a patient does so at grave personal risk.

In the soldier case, I can't tell what was going on, but in the near abortion, I'll bet big money the doctor was in the second type. The system used to train doctors needs to be revised to help candidates achieve the appropriate level of humility, or else a lot of people that don't need to die are going to.

The bottom line on both these stories and this brief rant is that we are far from omniscient. What we don't know will constantly surprise us. Can we really go around killing the unborn and the disabled based on what we don't know?


Mourn For The Lost

One of the things that really bothers me about BIG ministry is that it concentrates so much on churning people that it has no sense of mourning for those that they do not reach. They lose sight of the fact that those that leave, or never come might actually die, physically and spiritually.

That's why I loved Catez' latest recount of her street ministry at Allthings2all.
I asked her why she sniffs glue. She said it makes her feel warm inside. She meant spiritually warm - a way to block out the black hole of memories and experiences. When we left her I felt emotional. I struggled in my silent conversation with God. Here is a woman who is still an emotionally crippled child, expecting a child of her own. A child that may enter this world disabled and/or substance dependent. I felt quite helpless.
You ever here something like that from your nearest mega-barn pastor?

And this quote from Catez touches on another vitally important spiritual theme -- helplessness. It is precisely in that feeling that I most encounter God. (say....I AM a good Calvinst!) Not that I think God casues someone like that woman and her unborn child to suffer so for the sake of my spirituality, but I do know that God wants me helpless. He wants me in utter and total reliance on Him.

Interestingly, He often uses that sense of mourning to drive me to that place. The less I can help someone like that woman, the more I have to turn to God. Fortunately, He has enough grace for both of us. It is hard to cherish such "tough" emotional situations, but in retrospect, there are many of them that I do.


Cool Science

Dust devils scoot across Mars

Which absolutely begs the question -- can the Weather Channel and storm chasers be far behind? Turns out the rover currently on the surface -- some of my clients made parts for that rover, cool huh? -- took pictures of some of the whirlwinds. When do we get pictures from inside the great storm on Jupiter?

There is fusion, and then there is fusion.

Scientists say they have achieved small-scale nuclear fusion in a tabletop experiment, using tried and true techniques that are expected to generate far less controversy than past such claims....In the UCLA experiment, scientists placed a tiny crystal that can generate a strong electric field into a vacuum chamber filled with deuterium gas, a form of hydrogen capable of fusion. Then the researchers activated the crystal by heating it.

The resulting electric field created a beam of charged deuterium atoms that struck a nearby target, which was embedded with yet more deuterium. When some of the deuterium atoms in the beam collided with their counterparts in the target, they fused.

The reaction gave off an isotope of helium along with subatomic particles known as neutrons, a characteristic of fusion. The experiment did not, however, produce more energy than the amount put in ? an achievement that would be a huge breakthrough.
Is it true fusion if no energy is created? What was the atomic weight of the resulting products? Was the resulting helium stable? I looked for the Nature article the MSNBC report is based on and it has no answers to these questions either.

Based on what's reported here, I think they got some sort of cool subatomic process, but I'm not seeing fusion in the "power of the sun" sense.


Some Get It, Some Don't

Radioblogger points out that Bob Dole is back in the Republican mainstream when it comes to the judical filibuster based on this NYTimes op-ed.
In the coming days, I hope changing the Senate's rules won't be necessary, but Senator Frist will be fully justified in doing so if he believes he has exhausted every effort at compromise. Of course, there is an easier solution to the impasse: Democrats can stop playing their obstruction game and let President Bush's judicial nominees receive what they are entitled to: an up-or-down vote on the floor of the world's greatest deliberative body.
As Radioblogger said:
Welcome home, Senator. It's good to have you back.
In the "don't get it" category is this piece from The Nation.
Senate majority leader Bill Frist appeared through a telecast as a speaker at "Justice Sunday," at the invitation of the event's main sponsor, Family Research Council president Tony Perkins. "Justice Sunday" was promoted as a rally to portray Democrats as being "against people of faith." Many of the speakers compared the plight of conservative Christians to the civil rights movement. But in sharing the stage with Perkins, who introduced him to the rally, Frist was associating himself with someone who has longstanding ties to racist organizations.

Four years ago, Perkins addressed the Louisiana chapter of the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), America's premier white supremacist organization, the successor to the White Citizens Councils, which battled integration in the South. In 1996 Perkins paid former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke $82,000 for his mailing list. At the time, Perkins was the campaign manager for a right-wing Republican candidate for the US Senate in Louisiana. The Federal Election Commission fined the campaign Perkins ran $3,000 for attempting to hide the money paid to Duke.
And then he met with Agent Scully who knows several aliens personally, who are the real power behind the builderburgers and the Rothschilds, who actually control everything. -- Sheesh!


Does The Bible Read You?

Transforming Sermons links to a post from Journey with Greg Taylor. Says Milt
I like that concept of the Scripture reading us. There's a certain danger in having the Word of God between book covers--something we hold in our hand, carry with us or leave behind us as we choose. The more we read the Bible the more we're tempted, I believe, to feel we have mastered the Scriptures. In reality, we won't get anywhere until we allow the Word to master us.
John 1:14-And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 10:30 - "I and the Father are one."

Sounds like the Master I need!


Putin Finds A Theme

Russians continually look to the past for the "good old days." And when they do, they continually plunge themselves back into oppression for the sake of being able to brag about world importance or military might, or some such. Apparently Vladimir Putin is now trying to capitalize on that tendency. First there were these comments a few days ago, and now this.
Try, if you can, to picture the scene. A vast crowd in Red Square: Lenin's tomb and Stalin's memorial in the background. Soldiers march in goose step behind rolling tanks, and the air echoes with martial music, occasionally drowned out by the whine of fighter jets. On the reviewing stand, statesmen are gathered: Kim Jong Il, the dictator of North Korea, Alexander Lukashenko, the dictator of Belarus, Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski, the former dictator of Poland -- and President George W. Bush.

That description may sound fanciful or improbable. It is neither. On the contrary, that is more or less what will appear on your television screen May 9, when the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II is celebrated in Moscow.
I can't blame the Russians for wanting to "turn back the clock" to a time when they were far more influential in the world, but there has got to be a better way than this.


Great News!

Pierce Brosnan will play James Bond in the next 007 film, co-star Dame Judi Dench has revealed
Best since Connery -- sounds good to me!


Illuminated Scripture

For very personal reasons and all sorts of "couple stuff," this work of my wife is very meaningful to me. It's almost as beautiful as she is:


Interesting But Unrelated

If you have been following the increasing tensions between Japan and China, then you'll like this story. Apparently they have stepped back from the brink...for now.

This editorial by Thomas Sowell keeps popping up everywhere. It deserves a huge AMEN, but I figured if I did, I'd be accused of racism.

Finally, read this post from Hedgehog Blog. It is a great post on illegal immigration, an issue that is generally a loaded gun around these parts. Great Job Lowell!


Bored? Sorry!

Joi at Classically Educated takes on a teacher that apologized for being boring.
Since when is it appropriate for a teacher to apologize for being boring? The students are there to learn, not to be entertained;
Amen Joi!

She then goes on to wonder what this says about our society.
Is this why so many people leave churches at the drop of the hat?
Is this why so many leave marriages when the passion ceases?
Is this why so many kids grow up without spending time with their parents, who are tired and give material objects in place of time?
I am tempted to blame this on too much TV, but that would assume that TV is both fun and entertaining, which it generally is not.


American Influence Spreads

Read this story about the current election campaign in the UK.
Election battle gets personal

Tony Blair hit out today at the taunts of "liar" from Michael Howard.

The Prime Minister accused the Conservative leader of "playing the man, not the ball" as the election battle reached new depths of bitterness. He also said Mr Howard was being "extreme and inept".
For a Yank like me, that sounds like election business as usual, and not worth the ink or electrons.


Woman Has Litter Of Children

This story is miraculous and wonderful and everything a story of childbearing surrogacy should be. But when stuff like this is going on -- I wish they had adopted instead. I personally don't think my genetic material is that valuable.


Very Punny

My wife loves puns. They cause me physical pain. This papal allusion is for you dear.


Sex, Fungus and Frogs

First I found this story about fungus mating.
Members of the same sex of a pathogenic fungal species can mate and produce offspring, scientists report in the April 21 issue of Nature.
I smiled and the post almost wrote itself -- finally an explanation for the exploding frog story, which originally posited that a fungus was responsible for the phenomena.

But then I ran into this story.
Berlin has ruled out the possibility that it is a fungus that made its way from South America....
Sigh...there goes that punchline.

Just a couple of comments. First I think the people are getting way ahead of themselves if they think fungus sex is going to tell us anything really important about human sexuality.

Secondly, not that I have any experience, at least not that you know about, but instead of checking the frog parts for virus' and bacteria, they might want to check for gunpowder residue. Firecrackers...

Wednesday, April 27, 2005


Bolton On The Filibuster

OK, the head is either a bad pun or an obvious play for some search engine hits, can you blame me for trying?

Turns out not as many philanderers are "bolting" the party as we might think, at least not by Duncan Currie's count. I have been disappointed too many times to hope completely, but this is the best news I have read in a while:
But Frist, in a rare news conference conducted on the Senate floor, said he would not accept any deal that keeps his Republican majority from confirming judicial nominees that have been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
This is also good news, but the tone of the article is amazing. (It's the LA Times, what else can you expect.) It seems one of the nominees has called what's going on a 'war.' Hugh Hewitt shows how disingenuous it is to attack her form using such "heated" rhetoric.

Speaking of Hewitt, he's ghost-writing again. (Well, his career started doing it for Nixon, can you blame him?)

Lousy poles continue to run rampant. BOTWT takes this one apart.

Chuck Colson, one of the headliners at Justice Sunday writes on the issue. Look at his picture -- no horns anywhere.

Finally, since we are watching the Dems melt down, check out Confirm Bolton.


Christian Divorce

21st Century Reformation continues his effort to form a modern set of theses. The latest concerns marriage. I'm going to give this one a big AMEN.

A few years ago I was on the ruling board of a church when one of the staff members filed for divorce. When I suggested that the staff member should at least be given a paid leave of absence to concentrate on marriage, I was ignored -- loudly. There is something very, very wrong in the church on this issue.


Laughed Out Loud

It's bad form to reproduce someone else's post wholehog, but Grace and The News hit a home run with this one.
It's an old police technique: the skidmarks lead right to the perpetrator
Headline: "DNA Tests on Old Underwear Lead to Arrest" (AP)
What can I say, toilet humor works for me. Oh!, and for my fans in Great Britain and down under that "toilet humour."


Home, Home On The Range

PIKESVILLE, Md. (AP) - A herd of buffalo somehow got loose and wandered around an upscale neighborhood Tuesday, disrupting traffic and alarming homeowners before officers managed to corral them in a tennis court.
This used to be a common sight in Abiliene or Dodge City, but now,
More than a dozen police cars and a police helicopter were used to herd the roughly 10 beasts, authorities said.
Used to be one guy on a horse could handle 10 head. I'm not even sure 10 head counts as a "herd." I realize handling buffalo, actually bison, is not a skill in high demand these days, but come on, they're dumb animals. You realize this was a 1.2 car to head ratio plus a helicopter. Sounds a bit excessive to me, but I appear to be in a minority here:
"Somehow they figured it out; I've got to give a lot of credit to the creativity of our officers," police spokesman Shawn Vinson said.
Sounds pretty self-congratulatory to me.


When In Doubt -- Go Negative

This is a story that simply did not need to be written.
"During the days of Saddam (Hussein), I used to make one coffin a day. Now, I make scores of them and the demand increases with every suicide car bomb that explodes," said the 67-year-old Baghdadi.
Peace by oppression, that's the ticket!



Syria is gone from Lebanon.
Syria ended its 29-year military domination of Lebanon on Tuesday as soldiers flashing victory signs completed a withdrawal spurred by intense international pressure and massive Lebanese street protests against a force that once reached 40,000.
Lebanese elections to follow soon. That's great news, absolutely great news.


The Best of Pravda


...but fairly interesting. Apparently you can hire a German simply because they are...well...german. With a name like "Schroeder," sounds right to me.


First they make a discovery

Ants with sadistic tendencies discovered

Then they send them here:

Another monstrous ecological disaster possible at Chernobyl

Next thing you know -- 50's science fiction movie. THE GIANT SADISTIC ANT THAT ATE MY GRANDMOTHER.

I should not make fun of the Chernobyl story, it is very serious business. The decaying state of the sarcophagus has actually been known for years. It was evident when I was there in 1991 -- some seven years after the accident. I'm thinking that some international coalition is going to eventually have to take charge of the site. The nation responsible for the catastrophe no longer exists and the cost of maintaining security at the site is beyond the capability of almost any nation but the US. The site could cause damage across a huge swath of the planet.


A Brit Thing?

Not really. Adrian Warnock reports that the new Dr. Who series (an absolutely great sci fi TV series of series) on the Beeb is doing back-handed political commentary. I agree with Adrian
Whilst it made good TV, the BBC is a public service broadcaster. Surely during an election campaign they should not be airing a clip on an entertainment programme so obviously designed to embarass the prime minister?
But obviously he has never seen PBS!


Power Mad?

SmartChristian has an extensive quote from Challies about accountability amongst Christian bloggers.
While this type of spiritual accountability is built into the local church, it is conspicuous by its absence on the Internet. Any person can have a ministry online and be free from any real accountability. Blogs are a prime example of this. There are many blogs run by Christians that receive tens of thousands of visits every week. Many bloggers have a far bigger and diverse audience than the pastors within their local church. They can teach, instruct and encourage other believers from behind their personal computers. Unfortunately they can also do great damage. Yet they do all this with no real accountability. I am sure that many, perhaps even the majority of bloggers, have no accountability whatsoever with what they write on their web sites. This seems to fall outside of the structure of the local church.
And who shall provide this accountablity? Does Challies want the job? Sometimes the tone of his posts would lead me to think he does. He gives a definite air of superiority in his writing and frankly I often quit reading mid-post just because I am tired of being spoken to like I was a child. Sounds like a humility problem to me.

So Tim, you still think there is an accountability problem amongst Christian bloggers?


Step Right Up... the Christian Carnival, right here at Wittenberg Gate.


Proof Of Original Sin and Total Depravity

So many people anymore doubt the essential evilness that defines us, but I do not know how they can when they read something like this.
Welcome to the disturbing world of the "happy slappers" - a youth craze in which groups of teenagers armed with camera phones slap or mug unsuspecting children or passersby while capturing the attacks on 3g technology.

According to police and anti-bullying organisations, the fad, which began as a craze on the UK garage music scene before catching on in school playgrounds across the capital last autumn, is now a nationwide phenomenon.
If we are all inherently good, where do things like this idea come from? The kids doing this better hope they don't run into me, I'm unlikely to follow the script.


Church Conflict

Mark D Roberts is blogging a series on church conflict. (HT: SmartChristian) (Go to his "Table of Contents" at the top of his blog to read the series in order) I like everythig he has written, but am a little frustrated because so far it is pretty short on practical advice.

I have been in churches riven with the kind of conflict he is addressing. I seem to be pretty astute at seeing the signs and usually bail on the church before it gets really ugly -- done it twice in my life. Both churches, within a year or two of my departure, blew up like a fungus fed frog. And both, even while I was still there had a sermon series preached by the pastor that sounded remarkably like Mark's series to date.

My opinion, when a church reaches a point where it realizes it is in "serious conflict" and starts seeking congregational consultants, or pastors start preaching series' like this, the deal is done, the die is cast, it's over.

We need to start training pastors and lay leaders to recognize the roots of these conflicts far, far earlier in the game. And then we need to get to work making serious disciples.


How Come

Abraham has an absolutely great faith story. But how come nobody ever talks about Issac's faith? Who really has more faith - the sacrificer or the sacrifice? What would you do when you walked to church with your dad and he suddenly started to tie you up and lay you on a pile on kindling?


Prayer Matters...

...and Laura Ingraham is asked for it. Apparently she has breast cancer. I wouldn't wish that on any one, so of course she has my prayers. Looks like it's becoming unanimous amongst the SoCal Blogging Alliance with Hedgehog Blog and Holy Coast doing the same.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005


The Filibuster and Justice Sunday - The Aftermath

I have to be honest, I expected much more gnashing of teeth and tearing of hair after Justice Sunday than I have actually been able to find. It seems like the event was so "normal" that the critics could find little to criticize. Instead, they have simply taken to saying that the event portends doom, for the church and for the Republican majority.

Blog NewsHounds reports on a FOXNews program that brings those portentions to the church. Andrew Sullivan in the New Republic doomsays the Republican majority.

The Orange County Register has an entirely different view, seeing the event as an important first step in a presidential run by Frist. Doesn't seem to be much middle ground -- the event will make a president or end a party. Hmmmm...

Ken Salazar, who has been publicly wrestling with Dobson, appears to be the first hard target after the event, as protesters gathered at his wife's Dairy Queen today.
Salazar issued a statement calling the Dairy Queen protest "outrageous" and "un-American."
He probably thinks that because no one bought anything.

Michael Barone writing at Real Clear Politics has probably the best take.
But whether the United States is on its way to becoming a theocracy is actually a silly question. No religion is going to impose laws on an unwilling Congress or the people of this country. And we have long lived comfortably with a few trappings of religion in the public space, such as "In God We Trust" or "God save this honorable court."
Sean Higgns at The American Spectator reminds us of how little we remember Jim Jeffords. This is probably a good reminder for those Republican Senators that are philandering on the party.

Who are those philanderers? - you ask. Check out this web site that feature writing by all your favorite Salem Radio Talkers (Prager, Medved, and Hewitt) There is a link right at the top that will tell you who they are and how to contact them.

Speaking of Hewitt, he had some interesting observations, but sidekick Radioblogger stole the blogging show yesterday. Check out his transcripts of the major speeches from Justice Sunday and Hugh's interview with Rick Santorum on yesterday's show. I do love getting the news straight from the horses mouth. Duane's the man for that.


Just got this email from Ken Mehlman:
Dear John,

Hypocrite - noun, one who pretends to be what he is not or to have principles or beliefs that he does not have.

The Democrats' efforts to block President Bush's qualified judicial nominees are not only hypocritical but are examples of partisan politicking at its worst.

Republicans in the Senate are working to ensure that all of President Bush's judicial nominees receive a fair and final up-or-down vote. Despite Senate history and tradition, Democrats are aggressively trying to prevent qualified judges from receiving what's been afforded every judicial nominee for over 200 years.

During the Clinton Administration, Democrats demanded up-or-down majority votes on judicial nominations, but, now that they are in the minority, they have become the party of obstructionism and double standards.

On July 25, 2003, President Bush made history by nominating Janice Rogers Brown to the federal bench. Brown is the first African American elected to the California Supreme Court and was reelected by California voters with 76% of the vote.

The daughter of Alabama sharecroppers who grew up in segregated schools in the midst of Jim Crow policies in the South, Brown is a single mother who worked her way through college and law school.

Despite her sterling personal and legal credentials, during the 108th Congress, Senate Democrats used a hypocritical double standard to block her nomination. Judge Brown is not alone. Senate Democrats obstructed an up-or-down vote on 9 other well-qualified judges. Some of these judges have been waiting for a vote for four years.

It seems Democrats have changed their tune on giving all judicial nominees a fair up-or-down vote. They now claim the filibuster is a sacred tool of the Senate. But in 1995, Democrats, including nine who still serve, voted to rid the Senate of this tool.

That's right, nine current Democratic Senators voted to get rid of the filibuster. Now that it suits their needs, they praise it. What's worse than this hypocrisy is these same Senators now lead the obstruction and threaten to shut down the Senate. Their claims of loyalty to, and reverence for, Senate traditions are just another sham designed to hide their hypocrisy.

To learn more about how the Party of Nine has become the obstructionist party of no, click here! See how these members used to demand fair up-or-down votes on judicial nominees, but now want to block nominees and hold the Senate hostage.
He also urges me to call my Senators, but they are both Democrats and I am not big on spitting in the wind. Last time I called Feinstein she tried to tell me I was stupid. Anyway, call the philandering weebles. See the link at top here.


Men At Church

Sheep's Crib has a great examination of the issue of men and church. Namely that they are there less and less. I think John has a really interesting take on the subject, but I wonder if he is not overthinking it, at least a little.

When I was a kid there was "man-stuff" at church and there was "women stuff." Men were on ruling boards, taught, and cared for the physical property. Women managed the pitch-ins, ran the kitchen and had "circles." Now, women have invaded all the man-territory. (But I don't know any men going to the circles.) I have been on ruling boards with and without women and they are very different things. And as absolutely sexist as this will make me sound, I like them better without women. Not because I dislike women or think them inferior, simply because they organize and do things so utterly differently than men that what might be fun becomes a chore.

There have been a lot of efforts lately to reignite "Men's Ministries" in churches. Fine, enjoyable, but ultimately disatisfying. Men don't feel like they are men unless they, at least, think they are in charge. I doubt there is a wife in the world that does not instinctively understand that fact. When a man cannot feel like he is "in charge" he is likely to take his ball and go play somewhere else.

Men don't go to church much anymore because we let women into leadership and they have made it a "women's place." Men need "man places," and until the church supplies it to them, with at least the illusion of being in charge, they are likely to stay away.


A Brilliant Idea

Ales Rarus is really onto somthing with this post.
MoveOn is currently soliciting opinions for their agenda for the next four years. It is highly likely that their "Action Forum" will become an echo chamber of Democrat propaganda and ranting. I would like to strongly encourage Republicans, Greens, Libertarians, Consitutionalists, and members of any other groups - left, middle, right, or orthogonal - that are poorly represented at MoveOn to vote on submitted suggestions and add suggestions of their own. Furthermore, I urge you to spread this idea to as many folks as possible.
Isn't that a hoot! Lower Taxes -- Oil Drilling In Alaska -- Constructionist Judges! Watch the skin actually crawl off the organizers backs...


Things That Make You Ill

I am going to have to take a shower after I write this post. It seems that it has not been standard practice in the medical community to work to preserve the life of a child that survives an abortion. (Shudder...shudder) Now, the Bush administration is going to begin enforcement efforts based on a law that makes such efforts mandatory, as told here by the SFChronicle and here by the NYTimes.

Performing or having an abortion is something that makes me uncomfortable to think about, but to take part in such a procedure and have the child emerge alive and then to allow it, or cause it, to die is simply beyond my comprehension.

But if that is not enough for you, check out this Scotwise post.
A 20-year-old Scottish woman is suing a hospital where she had an abortion in 2001 after one of her twins survived the operation.

Stacy Dow, who is raising her now three-year-old daughter Jayde with her parents, said yesterday she was seeking $616,000 to cover the costs of raising the child.
I read too many more stories like these and I am going to get really serious about starting an chain of orphanages across the country. Those institutions have fallen out of favor in the United States, but these two stories are the best reasons I have read in a long time to get them going again.


Some people might wonder why I say "orphanage" - after all, what's wrong with the foster care system? I don't think anyone wants to put a child in the foster care system, it is a large faceless government bureacracy, no doubt full of wonderful caring people, but a bureacracy regardless. Children are lost in it, we hear about it all the time.

An orphanage, while institutional, is smaller and private and with proper regulatory oversight probabaly would provide much better care than many foster homes. In the situations described above, perhaps lives could have been saved if there had been an obvious, less bureaucratic place to put the children.

I also have to say that I have been deeply in prayer since posting this originally, the soul sickness evidenced by these stories is heartbreaking and horrifying. It causes me near physical pain to contemplate such things, and it gravely concerns me that some can read it wothout being moved.

Dear God, help us.


Animal Cops

First it was monkeys, now it's dogs.
While they don't yet have their own network TV show, canines are increasingly becoming recognized crime technicians. There?s no doubt about it ? the nose knows.
Your nose is probabaly the most sensitive general chemical receptor you'll ever work with. And a dog does it better than us, and they are a whole lot more portable and cheaper to maintain than a GC-MS.

This one strikes me as a better idea than the monkey. Dogs are easier to train than monkeys.


From the Edge of Taste

Courtesy of Comedy Central, check out this video.


Not The Smartest Thing To Say

In his annual state of the nation address to parliament and the country's top political leaders, Putin said the Soviet collapse was "a genuine tragedy" for Russians.
I am not sure I know how to react to that. Putin seems to be saying that the unity supplied by the Soviet system strengthened Russia -- that was true, but it was a union formed out of oppression, fear, corruption and true evil. If he means that the departure of these things was also bad -- LOOK OUT!

Russians being who they are, are going to long for the days of strength. It seems to be a historical thing with them. They need a leader that does not lead them in nostalgia, but one that helps them form a new vision. They need to learn how to handle the chaos of freedom, not pine for the oppression of totalitarianism.

Somehow, I think this article more accurately reflects what Putin's real issues are.
The issues are largely local, but the complaints against Mr. Rakhimov's government evoke those that were raised against the recently ousted leaders in Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan and are now increasingly heard about Mr. Putin. They include allegations of manipulated elections, increasing state control of business, and corruption.

While Mr. Putin's authority seems to remain solid, events here reflect an emerging sense of grievance and impatience that is increasingly being expressed to one degree or another on the streets across Russia.
Russia is really a relatively small area that has managed an empire. I wonder if, instead of struggling to hold that empire together, an approach similar to Britain might not be more suitable?


Time For A Tsunami Party?

We had the Boston Tea Party, but now it sounds like Britain needs its own internal version.
BRITAIN'S largest charities have been unable to collect millions of pounds pledged for the victims of the Asian tsunami, The Times has learnt.

The charities involved have failed to secure more than £9 million tax relief on money pledged in telephone donations because, under Revenue & Customs rules, it cannot be claimed over the phone.
I guess when you have 1000 years or so of regulation to sort through a few things are bound to slip your notice and create a bollox. What is truly amazing to me is how the situation seems to be able to be handled with a few phone calls. I guess sometimes it really is still good to be the King.


Just Now Catching On?

The Washington Times carries an article about the move among scholars to change the traditional calendar designations "B.C." (Before Christ) and "A.D." (anno Domini, latin for 'the year of our Lord') to B.C.E. (before common era) and C.E. (common era). This is pretty old news.

More, it is just silly. They are still using the appearance of Christ as the great divider in time, they just want to call it something different. One cannot help but think "A rose by any other name would still smell as sweet." But what really cracks me up is that from a purely scientifc viewpoint, it would be much easier to have a straightline time instead of any sort of "positive" and "negative" time line. But where to put the beginning?


He Who Rules The Media...

Maybe the Taliban have not been as completely beaten as we had hoped. They have managed to cobbled together a radio station according to in-country blogger Afghan Warrior.

In case you haven't noticed, capture of media centers is one of the major objectives of any miltary campaign. I think the Karzai government better get busy.


From The World Of Science


Check out this story.
A meteor shower Sunday night sparked a flurry of frantic phone calls to police departments across New England from people who saw bright lights moving in the sky, a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration said.
It is 2005 in the United States of America, the best educated nation in history. Are there really people left here that panic at the sight of a meteor shower?


Well, maybe not so bad. Remember the recent movie version of The Hulk? Early in the movie Banner was experimenting on a frog and it exploded. Needless to say, when I saw this article, I went looking for the Hulk in the neighborhood.
As many as 1,000 toads have died after their bodies swelled to bursting point and then exploded, according to reports from animal welfare workers and veterinarians.
The article says only that "scientists" are looking at a fungus. Personally, I think someone fed them Coke and Pop-Rocks.

Oh -- and while we're alluding to movies based on Marvel comics characters. There is Fantastic Four movie coming this summer!

Monday, April 25, 2005


Justice Sunday And The Filibuster - The Day After

John Leo had a piece from yesterday that I missed in the prior post.
Accusing the Democrats of running a jihad against believers clearly implies that people who vote Democratic are either terribly ignorant or simply not good Christians, Jews or Muslims.
I understand what he is saying here, and it concerns me, but the church has been riven by so many other issues, many far less consequential than this, that I am not sure we can use it to stop us. Also reported before the event on Sunday was that, during Passover, Rabbi Daniel Lapin was going to participate.

According to the NYTimes account of the event, Frist played things just right.
In a short videotaped statement included in the telecast, which was called Justice Sunday and emanated from a packed Baptist mega-church here, Dr. Frist, the Senate majority leader, neither referred to religious faith nor addressed criticism that the event was inappropriately dragging religion into a partisan battle.

Instead, he focused on accusations by Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader, that Dr. Frist was a "radical Republican" for participating in the telecast, which aimed to build conservative Christian support for his threat to eliminate the filibuster of presidential nominees
The Kansas City Star tells much the same story, as does the LATimes, though seemingly giving even more coverage to the counter event held elsewhere in Louisville. Most interesting to me is the continual thrusting forward of Jim Wallis, quoted in the LATimes
Jim Wallis, a liberal evangelical who edits the magazine Sojourners, said that the religious conservatives' stance favoring one party and one position on judges "borders on idolatry."

"When they say that people who disagree with their views and their strategy are not people of faith, they've crossed a line," Wallis said. "When they use faith as a weapon, as a wedge, it feels like instigation of a religious war. And the creation of a Republican theocracy."
I have to wonder if it has occurred to Wallis that by making these comments and entering the political fray he is doing precisely that which he accuses religious conservatives of doing? Besides, if faith does not have some definition of those who are "in" and those who are "out" it becomes utterly meaningless. I would also remind Wallis that the left started this fight by excluding judicial nominees based on deeply held beliefs.

Opinion pieces are still trying to catch up with events, so there is little to point to. David Brooks, here as carried in the Minneapolis Strib, points out precisely how much damage Roe v Wade has done to our society. From MichNews, J. Grant Swank points out campaign appearances by Clinton and Kerry made in churches, and wonders why Frist's appearance was so different.


Holy Coast looks at John Fund's Political Diary (WSJ) entry on the topic today. Says Rick:
My only fear now (besides the possibility of weak-kneed Republican Senators) is that the Dems will fold now in hopes of saving the battle for the Supreme Court. I'd rather have Frist trigger the nuclear option now, than have another battle when the first Supreme Court nominee doesn't meet the liberal standards of the Dems.
Got to agree, better a small tactical atom bomb now than a startegic hydrogen bomb later.


Hedgehog Blog looks at comment by Laura Ingraham and notes that the future strength of the Republican party may very well be at stake. He also points to the importance of the judiciary issue with the example of the Boy Scouts. I have to agree with him, it is hard to imagine something that just a few years ago was considered the epitome of American life is under judicial attack. We have to win this fight -- and leaning on the philanderers is the way to do it.


Hedgehog Blog reprints a policy email just received from the Senate Republican Policy Committee. It's obvious, they are laying the table to bust the filibuster.


Filibuster Philandering...Sunday Goodies

This post will cover all the news that I found fit to print on the issue on Sunday. I expect after the Justice Sunday event, the Monday papers will be full of invictive. We'll try and cover that with a post later in the day.

Why "philandering?" Simple -- it's alliterative and the Republicans that continue on the fence have, as time has gone on, moved from wobbly, to weebles to just flat out cheating on the party. As the vote gets closer, they should be committing to our side.

Mitch McConnell is the "majority whip" in the Senate. That means it's his job to count votes. He says we have the votes. (HT: Hugh Hewitt)

However, if you read the press....

The LA Times, here reprinted in the Indianapolis Star which I carried as a kid, claims that the issue will split the Republican party. The Minneapolis Strib once more drags out the tired old Abe Fortas story in support of the Dems. The San Diego Union Tribune worries about the traditional agenda groups based on the filibuster vote. If you only read this far, you will be forced to conclude that the sky will actualyl fall if the judicial filibuster is defeated.

Thankfully there is some reason in the world. Mark Steyn looks at the Bolton nomination, which is being handled by breathless Dems in much the same manner as the filibuster - with tactics of fear and loathing, and ends up comparing Voinivich to a monkey. The Christian Science Monitor looks at some of the laws, rules and facts -- always a good plan in a situation like this. David Broder suggests that the Dems should back off the filibuster in exchange for an agreement from the President for no more recess appointments. That is the first "compromise deal" I have heard floated that made any sense at all. In a pre-Justice Sunday appearance, Charles Pickering has called the filibuster over nominess "unconstitutional."

Speaking of Justice Sunday...The Dems are thrashing around like a smallmouth on a hook. Salazar (D-CO) is all over James Dobson like white-on-rice. The Dems started this fight by opposing judges based on "deeply held beliefs." Time to reap the whirlwind people. Newsday points to "protests" that turn out to be the NCC (National Churches of Communism) comments from earlier this week - some protest.

Try an experiment. Do a Technorati search on "filibuster" -- now do the same on "Justice Sunday." The filibuster search will turn up some pro- and con- blogs, but the "Justice Sunday" search will be all left-wingers ranting as if the apocalypse were upon us. The leader in the Justice Sunday as anti-christ crowd would be Frank Rich.
But that has not stopped some ingenious American hucksters from trying...

It may not boast a plume of smoke emerging from above the Sistine Chapel, but it will feature its share of smoke and mirrors as well as traditions that, while not dating back a couple of millenniums, do at least recall the 1920's immortalized in "Elmer Gantry."...

The fraudulence of "Justice Sunday" begins but does not end with its sham claims to solidarity with the civil rights movement of that era. "The filibuster was once abused to protect racial bias," says the flier for tonight's show, "and now it is being used against people of faith."...

As Bill Maher summed it up for Jay Leno on the "Tonight" show last week: " 'Activist judges' is a code word for gay." The judges being verbally tarred and feathered are those who have decriminalized gay sex (in a Supreme Court decision written by Justice Kennedy) as they once did abortion and who countenance marriage rights for same-sex couples. This is the animus that dares not speak its name tonight.
He goes on and on with this kind of vile invective. The bottom line is this. The Dems have had Christians on a leash for years. Churches worried about losing parishoners have either remained silent or gone liberal. That was OK when the left either really was in the right (civil rights) or in matters about which God and scripture did not really speak. Roe v Wade was a wrong move on the left's part, but the Christians patient, knowing they could undo what had been done by playing within the rules and working hard.

The left has now pushed too much on its advantage. Playing within the rules, but in an entirely ungentlemanly manner with the filibuster and pushing the very gay agenda of which Maher and Rich spoke. Christians simply can no longer stand idly by while these things happen.

Here is Hewitt's list of philanderers and potential philanderers:
Take time this Sunday while watching the NFL draft or pursuing whatever relaxation you chose, to call the Congressional switchboard at 202-225-3121 and leave messages for GOP Senators Chaffee of Rhode Island, Collins of Maine, DeWine of Ohio, Hagel of Nebraska, Snowe of Maine, Sununu of New Hampshire, Voinovich of Ohio and Warner of Virginia to urge them to vote to end the filibuster. Please also leave a message with Senator Frist to schedule the vote before the May recess.
Get on the horn and light them up. I for one will not stand for this religious bashing, morals bending garbage any more.


Papal Influences

It's all about the 60's. Most everybody figures that today's liberals are people who never quite grew up out of the 60's -- that they have a very myopic view of life, defined almost entirely by that brief and turbulent period. This became evident int he last election when John Kerry referred back to it, over and over again, like is was holy writ. But an article, as linked above, defining the entire thought formation of the new Pope as a counter-reaction to that period may be the final proof.

It's not possible it's out of a sense of right and wrong, or a deference to the ancient and holy writings of catholicism -- no it's all about the 60's. PLEASE!


Schiavo Round Up For The Week

It is amazing to me how rapidly this story has faded into the sunset. Links and stories are getting harder to find. Pro Life Blogs and Blogs For Terri remains great places to go for info on other individuals that find themselves in circumstances similar to Terri.

I have to be honest; however, we lost on Terri and we will lose on other individual cases as well unless we get busy changing laws and judges. Here's the round-up.


I've had it with lousy push polls. Bottom line, the numerous and very fine distinctions in an end of life situation make living wills nearly impossible. When confronted with the actual circumstances, family member never know how they will react.

Now the Brits are getting in on the act. Can you say Groeningen Protocol?


This WaPo piece is somewhat disgusting and somewhat truthful. The piece opines that the battle is not really between Christianity and secular humanism, but between left-wing and right-wing Christians. There is no question that there is a battle between left and right in the church, no question, and it is a discussion that we must have.

We have to be very careful though. As a member of one of the mainline "liberal" denominations, I am pretty tired of being told I am not a "real" Christian because I don't worship at "Sam's Club on the corner." I could rant for days about the mega-barn independent church movement, and it's failings as well (and I have). Inside the church, we have got to tone down our rhetoric. We need to seek unity on the issue and we need to allow for the differences in worship style, etc.


The current filibuster fight over judicial appointment's in the Senate remains the best currently available response to Terri's death.

I also ran across this very good summary of all the legal wrangling surrounding Terri. It's a great reference piece.


It was all Terri's fault now. The discussion of Terri's eating issues is something I find really disturbing. It's as if "lifestyle disorders" (obesity, anorexia, smoking...) make us somehow less human, more deserving of suffering. That is a place we just cannot afford to go in this society.

Don't believe in slippery slopes? Check this out.
A 78-year-old stroke victim was shot to death in her hospital bed, apparently by her husband, who was killed by police at his home later in the day when he ignored warnings to drop his gun, authorities said.
What we do as a society can have very grave, even if unintended consequences. If you don't think this man was prompted, to some extent, by Terri, you have another thing coming.

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