Thursday, May 26, 2005


Ken Stanley: A Eulogy

The politics of my friend Ken's life were a minefield. Subsequently, there will be no opportunity at any of the memorial activities for any of us that loved him to eulogize him. Those public meetings will be officiated by mere acquaintances, and of a sufficiently generic nature, as to avoid some very ugly and unfortunate scenes.

I cannot; however, let his passing go without additional comment, so I will take the opportunity this blog provides to make it. This post is assigned the date of his memorial service. It's up a little early because I am going to be very busy for the next few days. It is Oh-Dark-Thirty and I have been lying in bed for several hours thinking of my friend and trying to put some perspective on his life.

In the management of his personal and family life there is very little with which I could agree. As I said to an old, mutual friend yesterday -- "it sure is not how I would chose to run my life." And yet, in all but the genetic sense, Ken was my brother. The phrase that I have arrived at that best describes Ken's life is "Love in the midst of moral ambiguity."

Ken thrived in moral ambiguity -- he sought it out -- he created it. I should have sensed it when we were young college men, he in pre-med and I in chemistry taking many of the same classes. Whenever our studies brought us to those areas that were morally difficult -- often ones that society is arguing about today -- Ken would want to rush headlong into exploration and I would want to examine the question morally and decide what was, and was not, suitable paths of exploration.

As a physician he was confronted virtually daily with decisions for which there simply is no clear-cut moral guidance. Whenever we discussed them I would take the most conservative course and often urge him to "punt" the decision to someone else. He, on the other hand, was anxious to make those decisions.

Makes Ken sound like your pretty typical pseudo-intellectual godless leftie, doesn't it? And yet, this I know for fact, Ken was NOT motivated by narcissism, which makes him highly unique among anyone else I have ever met in his situation.

Ken stayed married to his wife far, far longer than almost anyone else in his life thought he ought to, and he did it out of sheer devotion to the vows he made and to the well-being of his children. He started an affair a few weeks before he left his wife, I think because he could not bear to bring himself to leave her unless he had clearly been the one that made "the mistake." He remained unflinchingly devoted to the woman with whom he had that affair for the rest of his life, a period that was longer than his 13 year marriage. He continued in that utter devotion despite the fact that she could not return it with the same level of sacrifice. Through his love for her, I have come to love her too -- even though given the circumstances most would be tempted, and many do, refer to her in very unflattering terms. In a very real sense, Ken's love and capacity to love created situations where moral ambiquity was the order of the day.

Being who I am, all of this engendered a great deal of cognitive dissonance. The devotion and love which he had and gave to me, generated the same in me -- I simply had to love him and be devoted to him in return, despite the fact that everything I thought and the very essence of my being wanted to shout moral condemnation towards him. Make no mistake, he knew fully where I stood, but we both knew we could rely on each other completely in spite of all that.

Were he here, we would have to start wrestling now because this is far too emotional and far too "girlie" -- it would be imperative that we reassert our manhood by beating the crap out of each other.

I find myself right now with all my theology sitting on a shelf useless to me. It is at times like these that I am truly grateful God is our final judge. I know with certainty that God did not approve of much of Ken's behavior. I was there when Ken prayed the sinner's prayer, and I know with equal certainty that Ken's capacity for love came far closer to God's than mine does.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005


The Saddest News

I have known this man since junior high school

We went to high school and college together. He was the only friend I had in some of the darkest hours of my life. I stayed with him many nights when the pressure of medical school was giving him anxiety attacks. I was one of the few friends he had through a very ugly divorce. I am "uncle" to his three children.

Even though we have lived 1500 miles apart for the last 20 years we spoke on the phone at least weekly. We had enormous long distance bills during basketball season because we still enjoyed watching games "together." When he was in medical school we had season tickets to watch one of the great Indiana University teams win yet another Big Ten Championship and drove from Indianapolis to Bloomington twice a week all season long -- even two days before his first daughter was due. That season may be the fondest memory I have apart from those I have made with my wife.

His brother called me a late Sunday and he is dead. A car accident. There is now a very large hole in my life. I loved Ken Stanley a great deal and I will miss him very much.

He was a great father and a safe zone for children that have had a very tumultuous life. Those girls will miss him in ways I am not sure even they can imagine just yet.

He better stay in shape and keep his jumper accurate, because when I join him I will still take him underneath and waste his bony butt. That jumper is the only thing that will keep him in the game.

Monday, May 23, 2005


This Is Hard

The posts you see below were written before I got the word you see int he post above. I have put them up to honor those that I have linked to...


Interesting Faith Questions

So, I am reading along and I come to this post from new Warnie Winner Eternal Perspectives. It is a great warning about the line between form and function in church -- something I was going to write about this week, but -- too late! Mike is specifically addressing the emerging church movement.
The function of the church is inseparable from the content of its message, emphases, and destiny. The form can and should change, as Moreland says, but the function must be intact if a local church is to keep its lampstand (Rev 2:5). When issues such as the content of the gospel, holiness, and others are compromised - or when a philosophy is adopted that is antithetical to absolute truth - then that church or movement is headed in a perilous direction.
Amen and Amen, but I wonder where the line between form and function lies. Consider modern worship music, for example. I will agree that guitars replacing organs is strictly a form issue. But the very structure of the songs, the repetitive nature of the lyrics, the minimalization of the vocabulary makes me wonder if it does not cross the line. It is "dumbing down" in a real sense.

Which leads me to this post from Adventures In Following Jesus. (HT: Transforming Sermons) Adam is examining the relationship between knowledge, belief and transformation.
Action DOES follow belief. The sad fact is that most Christians don't believe what they know. I was equating "believing" with "knowing", hence my confusion. There is a huge difference. "Knowing" involves holding the right information in your head, and maybe even cognitively agreeing with it. Believing involves ordering your life around the idea as if it were so.
Here is the question that I feel compelled to ask, "Shouldn't genuine knowledge about God create belief of itself?" In other words, "How much does theology matter?"

I think those questions help draw the line between form and function. Consider the music example. No hymn gives a thorough lesson in 5-point Calvinism or any other school of theological thought, but a hymn with really meaty lyrics does make me ponder one point or another. In that pondering I may decide something that turns from knowledge to conviction and from conviction to belief and from belief to transformation. Contrast that to singing "God is awesome" several dozen times. Aside from a certain sonambulistic ecstasy being generated in the group, what has been accomplished?

Which leads us to Adrian Warnock's post from yesterday in which he is wondering what kind of church changes the world. Typical of Adrain, he is leading us into this slowly. He begins by asking which of these quotes most accurately reflects your image of the church.
1. "A church is a large, bureaucratic, and hierarchical religious organization, which typically recruits from the upper and middle classes. It has a priesthood, sacraments, and formal liturgy. Lay participation, especially in worship, is not necessarily encouraged.? (From Oxford Reference Online)

2. "I love the local church, I believe in its potential and power. I see it as the hope of the world . . . There is nothing like the local church when it's working right. It transforms lives heart by heart, soul by soul, life by life. That's why the most important thing I can do is to lay down my heart for the cause of Christ.." Bill Hybels
There is no question that the emerging and other church movements are a direct effort to move from quote 1 to quote 2. I; however, think both of these quotes quite well describe my feelings about the church. Institutions, by their very nature, and the sinfulness of those that are in them move inexorably and inevitably towards quote 1. Fortunately, God is at work in many individuals souls in that institution and they inevitably reverberate with quote 2.

Sacraments, liturgy and the concept of priesthood matter. (I don't know about all that class stuff - he's in England, I think that is more their issue than ours.) Sacraments and liturgy matter because they preserve the important ideas about our faith in a fashion that is in fact accessible to all. Ever ask yourself why icons and litury -- because nearly universal literacy is a relatively recent development. Eer wonder why the staid and highly liturgical Roman church is growing so fast in the third world -- because of its accessibility to the less literate that remain there. Those ideas matter because, as we have seen, ideas lead to belief which leads to transformation.

Church movements and schism happen. They happen when the underlying institution become so corrupt that they are viewed as irredeemable. Yet even the 16th century reformation ultimately resulted in redemption of the Roman church. I am not sure we are at the point of irredeemable corruption yet. Stale -- oh yeah. Form often without function -- yeah. But the form is what has preserved the ideas that lead to transformation. I am wondering if we really need a movement, or just a revival?


HIGHLY! Recommended Reading

Three blogs I read daily, Dadmanly, Sheep's Crib and Hedgehog Blog have all recommended reading Part One and Part Two of Eject Eject Eject's post on "Sanctuary."

This is a primer in warfare and civility. Too many people, way too many people, have forgetten the lessons that Bill Whittle teaches in this two-parter. Mankind has worked for centuries to make warfare, the least civilized of our activities, as civil as possible. The greatest problem with those we fight now is that they ignore those conventions of civility, and rely on our adherence to them to win their fight. I, for one, do not wish them to win.

The lessons in this Triple-E's posts are ones that everyone needs. Pass it on.


From The Horse's Mouth In Iraq

Heard from my friend Jared in Iraq again -- the news is all godd, so I have to share"

Sunday we are headed for Tal Afar!!! We have completed our portion of Task Force IED and Task Force Bullet. It is good to see the impact that we have had on the city of Mosul. When we first arrived and assigned TF IED, we had 6-9 missions each day with numerous attacks each day. We were shot at twice a day minimum as we went from site to site and often when were were dismounted trying to neutralize an IED. We've had rocket propelled grenades (RPGs) shot at us as well as mortars land near us and I every vehicle in our convoy has been hit by at least 1 IED. However, in the past month, we have not been shot at or had an IED go off. We have destroyed more weapons than would fit in 15 dump trucks!! What you're not hearing on CNN (Communist News Network) is local intelligence is reporting that the insurgents are frustrated and moving because they don't have the amount of explosives that they used's all been taken away from them. They are having to cool their heels while their counterparts attempt to gather and bring more into the country. All the while, the Iraqi government is strengthening and their police and military are becoming a stronger force to deal with.

Now we move to Tal Afar...roughly 30 km west of Mosul and not far from the Syria border. Our mission will be to work with the 3rd Armored Calvary Regiment who have M1 Abrams tanks and Bradley Scout vehicles to conduct counter-IED patrols, weapon cache searches, and cordon and searches. In English, this means we will seal off areas of Tal Afar, go door to door looking for weapons, and use military equipment to search for hidden or buried weapons as well as use military equipment to find IED's which have been placed. Here in Mosul, we would respond to units that had found IED's to neutralize, now we are looking for them ourselves and destroying them.

The guys are really excited for a new mission. By far, 1st platoon has set the record for the entire Battalion for combat patrols, enemy contact, and confirmed enemy kills. We have been very blessed to have given out 5 Purple Hearts (for injury in combat) but have had all soldiers standing and still mission capable when receiving the awards.

Please continue to pray for us as we head to this new location. We will be packed in rather tight with 27 guys in 8 rooms which normally hold 2 guys apiece, the missions will be tough and dangerous, and many of the guys are feeling the effects of being away from home. I had all of the soldiers write down some of the lessons they've learned so far from being deployed. Here is a list of some of the comments:

  • Don't take life for granted
  • There are other people that I can depend on and I'm not alone; I'm part of a team
  • How much my family means to me
  • teamwork and relying on others as they rely on me
  • IEDs hurt
  • innocent children really are the root of mankind. If you look into the eyes of a child, there still is hope and happiness in this world
  • look out for your teammate, because he's looking out for you!
  • Prayer keeps us protected!

I continue to pray that God blesses each of you. Know that God hears every prayer and responds in His way. Your prayers are felt all the way on the other side of the planet!

For God and Country, Jared

Sure does paint a different picture than the press! I like it.



This Is Near Criminal

Cheat Seeking Missles is doing a series of posts on letters that sixth graders are writing the California Coastal Commission concerning a development near a wetlands. Here is the first quoted letter.

There is no way on God's green earth that a child in sixth grade could understand the scientific or political issues involved in a situation like this. Needless to say, I was a fairly exceptional science student, but in sixth grade I could not have begun to understand whether this development was a good or bad thing -- I would have had to take my teachers word for it.

Which is the problem. Development cases like this usually use environmental matters as a smokescreen simply because people don't want the neighborhood to change. That's enough of a misdirection/lie to honk me off, but to involve children in it that have no concept of what is going on reduces the child to less than human status -- an object to be manipulated for political gain. That's just heinous.

There Are Problems And Then There Are People With Nothing Better To Do

Star Wars figurines could create disposal problem, group warns

Some things don't need comment

Where Are The MSM Headlines About This?

Turns out the air can clean itself much better than we thought.
Natural chemicals in the air scrub away pollution more effectively than previously thought, according to new research.

Chemicals in the air produce natural air cleaners called hydroxyl radicals, which gobble up smog hydrocarbons and break them down.
Now about all that melting ice.
A satellite survey shows that between 1992 and 2003, the East Antarctic ice sheet gained about 45 billion tonnes of ice
This article goes out of its way to preserve the global warming scare inspite of this contrary evidence, but at least it's a start

Someone Agrees With Me

James Watt had a op-ed in WaPo this week. I have taken a lot of heat for saying that environmental issues are not really a "Christian" issue. Way goes farther and states the left is trying to use it as a wedge in the values coalition. Maybe I have better political instincts than I thought...

Now Here Is A Real Environmental Problem

The NYTimes had a editorial this last week about the possibility of terrorist attack on a chemical plant. They are largely right on about the danger, if misguided in their suggestions on how to improve the situation. When I read their suggestions, I tend to think the piece is a new excuse for environmental regulation since that is really what most of the suggestions would do. They have; however, identified a serious probme that needs serious consideration - by people with far less of an agenda.


Still Talking About Terri Schiavo...

...But not very much. Which is a point I will get to when I put up the few links I have.

Here is yet another article that proves doctors don't always know what they are talking about that improvement in seemingly hopeless cases is possible. You know, it is not just about "choosing life," it is about choosing hope and choosing love and choosing a whole lot of other things that matter. Somewhere in this whole thing we have got to start drawing a distinction about whose suffering we are relieving...

I did not threaten any judges did you? In congressional testamony last week, a judge, who has been the victim of a heinous and awful crime, testified that the comments made surrounding Terri's case are the kinds of things judges must be protected against.
"Fostering disrespect for judges can only encourage those that are on the edge, or on the fringe, to exact revenge," Lefkow told the Senate Judiciary Committee.
I am struck by the seed change that has happened in this country. We have created special protected classes, originally in response to the evil perpetrated against blacks in slavery and segregation, but now it seems the great political battle in our country is to have yourself declared a protected class. Then all the rules about free speech or anything else no longer apply. That is something we really have to change.

The Pope received Terri's parents last week. Which is as it should be. I got a lot of guff from people about how opportunistic and money grabbing the parents were. I do not think that is true, but I think they are inept -- they got bad lawyers, and they are bad organizers. This does not make them bad people -- they are fine people's whose hearts are in the right place. They just are not good at politics.

Which brings me to my next big point. Those of us that care about what happened and seeing to it that it does not happen again, have been focusing on the filibuster fight as a good first step. But that fight will end this week.

So now what? We need to organize -- A national organization, with individual state chapters, the purpose of which is to change the laws in each state to a uniform standard for removing life suppport, assisted suicide, and guardianship. I do not know of any such organization right now. Does anyone else? If not, it is time to get busy.


Dove In Head First

Eternal Perspectives has put up his Warnie Acceptance Speech. I think he is properly in the spirit of things. My favorite quote from his speech
"Yet?" What is it with the "yet?" Like somebody more deserving is going to come along!?! Oh, puh-leeeeze!!!
Given the utter insignifigance and inconsequence of winning a Warnie, Mike may very well be right on this.

Sunday, May 22, 2005


Star Wars III -- My Commentary!

Saw the movie yesterday. My comments.

First, very mediocre storytelling -- great movie making technically, but lousy storytelling. Lucas makes kung fu movies -- the minimum plot necessary to carry the audience from set piece to set piece with the dumbest dialouge. Every time the Sith and Jedi started talking about whose powers were greater, I heard some Asian guy saying "My kung fu is stronger than your karate."

Speaking of which, I really wonder if that is not what Lucas did, borrow from Asian film traditions and make it American. When the original came out, no one in America had seen a kung fu movie except film students like Lucas.

Anakin Skywalker is the least tormented pivotal character I have ever seen in a movie. He puts on and takes off entire personaes like you and change clothes, with a yawn. Bad writing, worse acting.

Philosophy. I really wasn't going to write about this, but SmartChristian let me know that Mark Roberts was writing on it. Mark is using it as a springboard to discuss the Holy Spirit. Fair enough, but why bother? The philosphy in this movie made my skin crawl. It was morally relativistic, and acted like people can pick and choose between being good and evil.

This is the reason Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader is such an unappealing character. He chooses evil. He is not overcome by it, he does not overcome it -- he chooses it. I don't like people that choose evil -- which makes movies about them hard to watch. It would have been OK if the Sith had somehow tapped into some evil inherent in the boy, but he just decided to be a Sith. Yeah, they make it look like they tempted him, but I'm not buying it.


That's Good Editing

In light of the rising tide of military hatred becoming apparent in the media Austin Bay suggested last week that the MSM ought to give up it's traditional "thinking."
It was classic "media gotcha," using the "Vietnam and Watergate" storyline of "United States bad, Third World good" -- but the phony story led to riots, deaths and an embarrassing retraction.
Powerline then suggested that the only response Newsweek would have would be
"who appointed Austin Bay its editor"
So, Austin Bay decided to audition for the job. I like what he has in mind. Maybe he should start his own news weekly.


Sunday Humor

Scotwise posts a cartoon that speaks volumes, and explains a lot of church services I have been to.


Not THAT Desperate

I was almost 40 years old when I met and married my wife. Some thought me odd, most wondered what serious but hidden illness I had. I was just waiting for the most special wonderful woman in the world. I know God would bring her, and He did.

But in all those years of waiting, and all that looking I was never this desperate.
Shoppers agree that the new hot spot for finding love is the local megamart.
If that had been the case when I was looking around, I'd have gone to E-Harmony first.

Best bet I know -- Church!


'Splain This!

Scotwise apparently thinks I can explain anything with no data. He reprints this ABC article and challenges me to explain. Iraq the Model found the same article, but he does not even know I exist.
A Russian village has been left baffled after its lake disappeared overnight.

NTV television has shown pictures of a giant muddy hole bathed in summer sun, while fishermen from the village of Bolotnikovo look on disconsolately.

Dmitry Zaitsev, a local Emergencies Ministry official, says trees also disappeared under the ground as the lake emptied near the Volga river, east of Moscow.

"It is very dangerous. If a person had been in this disaster, he would have had almost no chance of survival," he said.

He says water in the lake might have been sucked into an underground water-course or cave system but some villagers have more sinister explanations.
There is very little data here. If the lake is man-made or controlled, it could be a error on the dam operators part. The official's explanation is quite reasonable as well.

But it's the villager's sinister explanation I find intriguing. She blames it on "the Americans." Well let's see. Lex Luthor tried it in the first Superman movie. The of course, Christopher Walken tried to drain San Francisco Bay in the the Bond movie a "View To A Kill". These are both quite credible sources of information and lend credence to this villager's suspicion.

This however, would be a massive undertaking. No I think this beyond the capabilites of the US military/industrial complex. My money is on aliens.

Actually, lake drainage like this is, while not common, not outside the realm of human experience. It is almost always related to rapid and massive geological change. A landslide, and earthquake, something of the sort that changes the topography of the surrounding land allowing the lake to drain to a lower location.

Ukraine, a few hundred miles from this location, has the deepest caves in the world. There might also be caves in the region of the lake. Wouldn't take much.


Sermons and Lessons

I thought this was particularly good this week, from Charles Spurgeon, The Approachableness of Jesus.


There Has To Be A Better Way

F.D.A. Considers Implant Device for Depression
I really have a problem with this. For the record, I have struggled with life debilitating depression at a couple of points in my life. I am not without understanding of the nature of this illness.

But I got over it, without drugs and without implants. I know the value of Prozac and it's ilk and I have watched it improve the lives of many, many people. But it disturbs me that our society is increasingly turning to artifical means to overcome emotional difficulty. It is especially disturbing to me in children whose problems generally result from their parents issues.

We really need to start doing the hard work of getting better. It is very hard work, but it pays of in the end. I think the real problem is that it is almost impossible to get over these illnesses without artificial aid absent faith. But I also think that creates an opportunity.


The Water Is Warm!

Congratualtions to new Warnie Winner Eternal Perspectives. We have got to figure out some hazing for this group!


It's Funny Cide leading Funny Cide By A Nose...

That may not be as far fetched a race call as you might think.
After winning the 2003 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, Funny Cide should be making multimillionaires of his owners in stud fees alone.

After all, the colt Smarty Jones was sold for $39 million shortly after his Derby and Preakness victories last year and now fetches $100,000 for every offspring he fathers. Similar riches await the owner of this year's Derby winner Giacomo if he can capture the Preakness on Saturday.

Funny Cide, unfortunately, was castrated shortly after birth, so breeding the gelding is impossible. There is, however, an intriguing -- if still remote -- possibility of extending Funny Cide's dead-end bloodline: through cloning.
I have to agree with this
"Part of the intrigue, part of what makes horse racing so appealing is the challenge and the art of breeding a better animal,'' said Dan Rosenberg, president of Three Chimneys Farm in Midway, Ky. , which breeds Smarty Jones and a stable of other blue chip runners.

"It will become less appealing if it comes down to which owners and breeders can hire the best scientists,'' Rosenberg said. "Do we really want races that pit 10 Secretariats against each other?''
And if we do it with horses, why not human athletes as well? Imagine every NBA team with a Michael Jordan and Kareem Abdul Jabar -- Coached by A Bob Knight.

You know, when you think about it, that is a really ugly ethical side effect of cloning. What will it mean in the great movement towards equality and away from excellence in our world. Now instead of "dumbing down" so no one feels insignificant, we'll do a little gene manipulation and voila -- you're a superstar. Sound problematic to me.


Why I Always Take Health Studies With A Grain...

This will make you fahoodled.
The vitamin is D, nicknamed the "sunshine vitamin" because the skin makes it from ultraviolet rays. Sunscreen blocks its production, but dermatologists and health agencies have long preached that such lotions are needed to prevent skin cancer. Now some scientists are questioning that advice. The reason is that vitamin D increasingly seems important for preventing and even treating many types of cancer.

In the last three months alone, four separate studies found it helped protect against lymphoma and cancers of the prostate, lung and, ironically, the skin. The strongest evidence is for colon cancer.

Many people aren't getting enough vitamin D. It's hard to do from food and fortified milk alone, and supplements are problematic.
Medicine is an informed art -- it has a long way to go to make it into the realm of science. Continuous study and learning is the nature of the beast, but we have really got to be more careful before we go turning people's lives all around...

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