Saturday, June 25, 2005


Where's The Disagreement?

At dispute we have a Calvinistic understanding of I John 2:2
and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for {those of} the whole world. (NAS)
It started with pyromaniac who quotes a friend that uses the verse to challenge the Calvinistic concept of election
Calvinists never seem to face 1 John 2:2 head on. It says, "He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world." Calvinists always dismiss the plain meaning of the verse, saying that "whole world" can't possibly mean the whole world, because if it did, it would include trees and mountains and rivers and slugs and termites and other stuff.
Phillip answers this objection by saying John used the term "whole" to remind his primarily Jewish audience that Christ's salvation includes all people groups and is not limited to God's chosen people. The bracketed words "those of" included in the NAS translation above seems to support that conclusion.

Adrain Warnock; however, thinks pyromaniac (and the NAS translators) are trying too hard.
I tremble to contradict the pyromaniac, but I am afraid that I feel that his handling of 1 John 2:2 is almost certainly an example of trying to squeeze the bible into a doctrinal mould.
Adrian then goes on to argue that the offer of salvation which is the cross is indeed offered to all, but that many of us choose not to respond to that offer. God, being all-knowing and unconstricted by time, knows who will and who will not respond, and those who will are then the elect.

I am not sure why these interpretations are contradictory? Both Adrian and Phillip are saying that God's grace can and does extend to ALL people, but that election only comes to some of those upon whom that grace is offered, they just say it in slightly different ways.

Pyro's friend with the problem, is, I think, wrestling with a slightly different issue. I'll try and restate it. "How can a loving and graceful God ever condemn, that is exclude from the elect, anyone?" Or perhaps it is, "How can a just God decide a priori who will and will not be among the elect?" He may even be struggling with both questions. In other words, he wants to argue, I think, that everyone gets into heaven. I John 2:2 seems to support this argument.

I hear this sort of thing more and more -- essentially that love somehow excludes condemnation.

I find myself wondering what Jollyblogger might say in this discussion, and I think I have a good idea what it would be. Consider I John 2:3
And by this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. (NAS)
The remission of sin discussed in 2:2 is the beginning of the election process, but it is not the end. The power of the cross is not just the power unto forgiveness, but it is also the power unto transformation. We can be assured on nothing unless we experience not just forgiveness, but the precise transformation that John mentions in the verse following.

I think Pyro's friend's question belies a misunderstanding about the nature of God and election. He assumes that the doctrine of election means God does not want salvation for all. Nothing could be further from the truth, God burns with a desire for all of us to receive His glory. But He also knows that not all of us share that desire, and it is in fact His love and grace that prevents Him from tyrannically imposing Himself upon us.


Adran Warnock put up another post on this topic, and I think I am beginning to understand why he thinks there is a problem, but I am not sure I agree with him. Adrain quotes Spurgeon
I think it is needful that when a minister gets his text, he should say what that text means honestly and uprightly. Too many preachers get a text and kill it. They wring its neck, then stuff it with some empty notions and present it upon the table for an unthinking people to feed upon. That man does not preach the whole counsel of God who does not let God?s Word speak for itself in its own pure, simple language.
Apparently, Adrians feels that the pyromaniacs handling on I John 2:2 is in correct because he is somehow putting something into the text that is not there. Yet, as I point out above, the NAS translators seemed to feel it was there.

As I posted Thursday, there is a fine line here, but I certainly cannot see where pyromaniac has crossed it.


Church News

With arms outstretched, the congregation at National Evangelical Baptist Church belted out a praise hymn backed up by drums, electric guitar and keyboard. In the corner, slide images of Jesus filled a large screen. A simple white cross of wood adorned the stage, and worshipers sprinkled the pastor's Bible-based sermon with approving shouts of "Ameen!"

National is Iraq's first Baptist congregation and one of at least seven new Christian evangelical churches established in Baghdad in the past two years. Its Sunday afternoon service, in a building behind a house on a quiet street, draws a couple of hundred worshipers who like the lively music and focus on the Bible.
The Co-operative Bank has asked an evangelical Christian group to close its account because of its anti-homosexual views.

The bank said the opinions of Christian Voice were incompatible with its support for diversity.

Christian Voice said the bank, based in Manchester, was discriminating against it on religious grounds.
Why is the church succeeding in the Islamic world and being persecuted in the Christianized world? Good question, don't you think?


Krugman Reaches A New Low

I was going to pass commenting on Paul Krugman this week, sometimes it's not worth the effort, but then I found this little gem
In November 2002, Helen Thomas, the veteran White House correspondent, told an audience, "I have never covered a president who actually wanted to go to war" - but she made it clear that Mr. Bush was the exception.
Helen Thoms is "the-senile-old-aunt-you-keep-locked-in-the-attic" of the White House press corps. And this is who Krugman cites authoritatively on the character of the President?

And by the way, when someone attacks us on our soil and kills 3000 of our people -- I too want to go to war. What's wrong with that?

Anyway, while we're on the subject, check out what Cheat-Seeking Missles has to say.


Don't Want This Guy Angry With Me

A 73-year-old Kenyan grandfather reached into the mouth of an attacking leopard and tore out its tongue to kill it, authorities said Wednesday.
That is one tough dude.


Wear Your Hardhat

A vast collection of space pebbles surrounding a relatively nearby star is a planetary construction zone, astronomers say.
How badly do you think that screws up interstellar traffic?


Comic Art

An Offbeat Character

Steve Ditko is best known as the original Spiderman artist, but I like him best for an offbeat character he created for DC.Look at the hands on that character, that is classic Ditko -- notice how it looks just like how Spiderman activates his web shooters? The Creeper actually made quite a splash in the so-called "Silver Age."

The Creeper was just a little too weird to last forever, he was some sort of hybrid Joker and Batman -- sort of a "good guy madman." He has made appearances from time to time since then and there has been a miniseries, but nothing can replace the original Ditko -- it's just classic. Consider the pencils page below.

Note the woman in the upper frames that looks just like Betty Brandt -- J Jonah Jameson's secretary in Spiderman. Note the curly hair that looks just like the Osborns. Note the position of the Creeper in the lower left frame -- It's Spiderman.

Ditko is one of the most easily identifiable artists in all of comics stylisticly. Some find that problematic. I find it dull from time-to-time, but he is a classic, an absolute classic.


Looking For The Perfect Gift For Your Humble Blogger?

I have a small collection of pocket watches, so this caught my eye.
The gold watch British naval hero Horatio Nelson had in his pocket when he was shot dead by a French sniper at the height of the Battle of Trafalgar goes on sale in October for the first time in over 200 years.
Actually, the UK's National Maritime Museum in Greenwich has the very uniform he was shot in complete with bullet hole. I think it would be a shame if this piece ended up anywhere else.


Good Message From All Directions

Sometimes the same message comes at you from two directions and in two very different styles, but the fact that it comes that way confirms it's importance. That happened yesterday.

SmartChristian had this to say in his usual direct and brief style:
I have been impacted by the fact that Mother Theresa focused totally on one person at a time even though there were throngs of poor, sick, and dieing people packing the streets of Calcutta. As her eyes penetrated a single soul, the rest of the world seemed to disappear. This seems to have been characteristic also of Jesus Galilean ministry.
Allthings2all shares a very personal story about the source of the motto of her blog and says this in the first of her two concluding paragraphs
God does not measure things the way we often tend to. So often we quote numbers - this many people in a church, this many people became Christians, this many people subscribe to this ministry newletter, this many people have been impacted by this person...
You feeling the theme here? Sheep's Crib has a post where he examines one of the reasons that theme is pretty important.

Have you ever asked yourself why Jesus never gathered a congregation, appointed a board, built a church, started a program? Heck, why did He come 2000 years ago when all the wonderful tools of demographics and computers and media that we have today would have made His earthly ministry so much more impactful? Maybe you ought to be asking questions like that. And then maybe you ought to be patterning your ministry on the answers you receive.


World Ends, Women, Blacks Hardest Hit

Female U.S. Marines Ambushed in Iraq

There were other Marines in the unit that was attacked and there were other Marines that were injured. It dishonors both the women injured and the others that the headline reads that way.


It Was Bound To Happen

Remember a few years ago when we had an El Nino and the weather was a little harsh. I swear "El Nino" was spoken at least every third word on all weather broadcasts throughout the country. Eventually they were blaming everything from the weather to the price of oil on El Nino.

Well now, apparently, global warming is El Nino's problem too.
The last time the earth was warm, the waters of the Pacific Ocean may have been stuck in an El Nino pattern...
But the real kicker is in the rest of sentence
...that lasted more than a million years, scientists reported yesterday.
I am not sure I can handle a million years of lousy local news broadcasts.

Friday, June 24, 2005


You Know The Worst Part?

Joe over at Evangelical Outpost is quite scholarly and quite soft-spoken in a world of bloggers that generally rant and scream, but he ranted yesterday.
Although it is painfully obvious, it still needs to be said: anyone who truly believes such nonsense is either genuinely stupid or a slanderous bigot. To believe that America is "heading in the direction of theocracy" requires either a complete lack of knowledge about Christianity or degree of willful ignorance and gullibility that is found only among Holocaust deniers and paranoids who believe the moon-landing was a hoax. I suspect, though, that the majority of those who make such calumniating statements do so out of a sense of political futility. Unable to convince the majority of their fellow Americans to agree with their radical politics, they resort to libel in order to vilify those with whom they disagree.

What is truly shameful is that these anti-Christian bigots are so completely unoriginal. Their rhetoric is so thoroughly plagiarized from anti-Semitic propaganda (i.e., a Jewish Cabal controls the government) that you almost expect them to slip up and say something like, "Today we are living in a nation governed by an unholy cult-of JOOOWS!" I suspect that may be why they try to focus on analogies to radical Islam - it's more difficult to come off like a Nazi when you compare the Christers to the Mohammedites.
Way to go Joe! I simply am unable to maintain that level of vocabulary and rant at the same time.

Anyway, the worst part of Joe's post is who he cites as one of the more egregious examples of the kind of anti-Christianism he is discussing -- the National Council of Churches. Boy isn't that a can of worms. I knew they were liberal but I had no idea they were consorting openly with some of the groups Joe discusses, but check this out
The program, which was sponsored by People for the American Way, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, the National Council of Churches (NCC), The Nation, and The Village Voice...
What is truly and utterly galling to me is that it is pretty much assumed that mainline denominations donate to this pile of self-loathing lunatics. A while back when I was in charge of my congregation's mission giving, I actually had a bit of a battle on my hands to remove them from our donation list! In other words, they are using our money to do this kind of nonsense. No doubt they will claim this: "Man dies after lightning strikes metal cross," as proof God supports their efforts.

Joe; however, forgets that the press is a willing accomplice in all this. The Beeb's telling of the Mississippi Burning conviction yesterday is a case in point. The headline reads, "Preacher jailed over KKK killings." Would someone please tell me why the man's religiosity is relevant to his conviction?

Meanwhile, according to Aussie blogger Scotwise, conservative pastors are being jailed for "hate-speech." In the words of the wicked witch of the west, "What a world...What a world."

Joe is right, we have to tackle this sort of stuff at every opportunity.


A Unique Form Of Socialized Medicine

The American Medical Association is proposing that the government assume your consent for organ donation, unless you specify otherwise.

Let me get this straight, they confiscate our money in the form of taxes -- they can now confiscate our homes on a whim, and now they want our organs? I thought we outlawed slavery!


Forsaking Grammar To Make Point

Sometimes the press works a little too hard to disguise the fact that it has a viewpoint. Of course, word choice is the most common way they give an impression under the guise of reporting -- but now they seem to be stooping to ejecting the rules of grammar. This NYTimes piece caught my eye.
The anti-Americanism that surged through much of the world over the war in Iraq shows modest signs of abating, although distinctly negative views persist in the Muslim world, an international opinion poll released Thursday indicates.
Oh no, they could not write "International opinion of America improves," instead we are treated to a sentence you need to diagram to even begin to comprehend, all in the name of emphasizing the negatives.


I Can't Drive 55!

That is the best song Sammy Hagar ever recorded, inclusive of the 'Van Hagar' stuff, even if the video was sad. Praise the Lord we don't have to anymore -- and, according to LiveScience, increased speed limits have not resulted in increased automotive fatalities....

...But Bernie Ecclestone just might. I posted yesterday about his exceedlingly politically incorrect comments regarding Danica Patrick, but NRO's The Corner reports on a Sports Illustrated piece where he digs himself even deeper.
Bernie Ecclestone, head of Formula One racing, from a 2000 interview, on the perfect female race car driver: "What I would really like to see happen is to find the right girl, perhaps a black girl with super looks, preferably Jewish or Muslim, who speaks Spanish."

Anyway, back to that first bit about speed and fatalities -- I would just love a US speed-limitless 'autobahn!'


Durbin First!

Dems Say Rove Should Apologize or Resign


Friday Humor

A wealthy old lady decides to go on a photo safari in Africa, taking her faithful aged poodle named Cuddles, along for the company.

One day the poodle starts chasing butterflies and before long, Cuddles discovers that she's lost. Wandering about, she notices a leopard heading rapidly in her direction with the intention of having lunch.

The old poodle thinks, "Oh, oh! I'm in deep now!" Noticing some bones on the ground close by, she immediately settles down to chew on the bones with her back to the approaching cat. Just as the leopard is about to leap, the old poodle exclaims loudly, "Boy, that was one delicious leopard! I wonder if there are any more around here?"

Hearing this, the young leopard halts his attack in mid-strike, a look of terror comes over him and he slinks away into the trees. "Whew!", says the leopard, "That was close! That old poodle nearly had me!"

Meanwhile, a monkey who had been watching the whole scene from a nearby tree, figures he can put this knowledge to good use and trade it for protection from the leopard. So off he goes, but the old poodle sees him heading after the leopard with great speed, and figures that something must be up. The monkey soon catches up with the leopard, spills the beans and strikes a deal for himself with the leopard.

The young leopard is furious at being made a fool of and says, "Here, monkey, hop on my back and see what's going to happen to that conniving canine!"

Now, the old poodle sees the leopard coming with the monkey on his back and thinks, "What am I going to do now?", but instead of running, the dog sits down with her back to her attackers, pretending she hasn't seen them yet, and just when they get close enough to hear, the old poodle says: "Where's that monkey? I sent him off an hour ago to bring me another leopard!"


Salute To A Brave Soldier

Assumption of Command has let me know of a Milblogger injured in the line of duty. Chuck of From My Position... On the way! Chuck's wife is posting and keeping us all updated on Chuck's well-being. She is proof positive of the heroism of those our soldiers leave at home.
For those who may be thinking, "We just need to bring all the troops home and forget this war," let me tell a quick story.

As you know I told Creighton that his daddy was hurt and that he will be okay and coming home soon. One of the questions he asked was, "Why did Daddy have to go so far away to get the bad guys?" I said, "Daddy had to go far away to fight the bad guys so we are safe here in the US. We don't want the bad guys to be here in our country, so brave men and women like Daddy go far away to make sure that never happens." (A side note... a 5 year old is too young to understand that bad guys are here in the US and managed to do some serious damage on 9/11).
You have to salute a woman like that -- and drop over there and leave her a comment telling her what a hero she is, and, needless to say, her husband.


Life Imitates Movie

Remember the movie "True Lies?" Bill Paxton plays this hilarious used car salesman who pretends to be a spy to pick up women. You never know who is more pathetic, him for the ploy, or the women that fall for it. I never dreamed it could really happen.

Yet a guy in England has used a similar idea to con people out of about a million pounds. At least in this instance I know who to deserves my pity.


I'll Take The Humpback Please!

Whale burger on menu at fast food chain

What do you eat that with mustard and plankton on top and a side of deep fried krill?


Poopin' On PETA

Remember those PETA people that got arrested for animal cruelty? Well, they've really stepped in it -- they are getting attacked from all sides.

Real Clear Politics carried a piece yesterday that revealed much."
In 2003, PETA euthanized over 85 percent of the animals it took in," said a press release from the lobby, "finding adoptive homes for just 14 percent. By comparison, the Norfolk (VA.) SPCA found adoptive homes for 73 percent of its animals and Virginia Beach SPCA adopted out 66 percent."

The center's David Martosko considered PETA's hefty budget -- reportedly, $20 million -- and many contributions from well-heeled Hollywood celebrities, then figured, "PETA has enough money in the bank to care for every unwanted animal in Virginia (where it has its headquarters) and North Carolina."

Except PETA apparently prefers to spend donations not caring for flesh-and-blood animals entrusted to it, but on campaigns attacking medical researchers, meat eaters or women wearing furs. It is as if PETA prefers the idea of animals to animals themselves.
Turns our some animal shelters were sending them animals, thinking they were being adopted instead of euthanized -- but not anymore.

A commenter on my post about this Monday says so much with so few words
They are better off dead.

Pet Ownership is Slavery!!!
That may be the sickist, most morally twisted statement I have ever heard. Of course I don't accept that "pet ownership is slavery" but let's buy the premise for a minute -- by this logic in the 19th century, rather than help the Underground Railroad, we should have killed escaped slaves! I no longer have any trouble understanding how a nation like Germany could go as wrong as it did prior to and during WWII.

Thursday, June 23, 2005


Reading and Understanding Scripture

Jollyblogger has a great piece on new schools of scriptural interpretation. David does a excellent job in oh so many ways in the post. I especially like this little bit:
But having said that, theologians and interpreters for centuries have believed that the bible had a unifying theme, whether it be the theme of redemption, the kingdom of God, or simply a Christological theme. Systematic theologians studied this theme and other associated themes from a topical standpoint, and in more recent years, those in the biblical theology movement like Vos and Ridderbos have studied the theme of redemption from a historical perspective.

And throughout the centuries these scholars have used the tools at their disposal. I think it is safe to grant that though the reformers used a variety of tools, they probably gave greater weight to some of the more philosophical tools of study. Today, folks like Sanders and Wright make greater use of historical-critical tools. We may argue over which tools are better, but I think it is safe to say that all of these tools come from schools of thought which have built in presuppositions.

Getting back to the point though, I would encourage advocates of the New Perspective to be careful about discarding the insights of the past.
I realize that what I am about to say is going to make me sound like a bit of a dummy, but I'm dealing from the heart here, not necessarily the intellect.

I have always had trouble with the idea that scriptural interpretation is so changeable. God after all is most decidedly unchangeable. God also has, I have to believe, been working through theologians and thinkers for the last 200 centuries, somehow guiding them.

I first really began wondering about this about 7 years ago when I was teaching a class on I Timothy and we came to the passages about the role of women in the church. Needless to say, a strict interpretation is not too popular in this day and age, and particularly not in a PCUSA church. A few years before, I had heard a pastor say that in essence, "the passage says something entirely different than what is actually says -- based on recent archeological finds." I really struggled with that.

There are a couple of things that kept running through my mind. Firstly, if God is truly active in His church, then why would He allow centuries of misinterpretation to lie unchallenged? Secondly, it seems to me that if we believe scripture to be the inspired Word of God, then God should have supplied us with sufficient context within the document itself to avoid at least gross misinterpretation. In other words, if we come to understand scripture based on other information sources, then either scripture is not all we think it is, or those other sources a whole lot more than we think they are.

25 years ago, I taught another Sunday School class on covenant theology and when we were looking at the Pentateuch as background, I brought up the 4-source critical theory, in retrospect just to look smart (ah, youth). Anyway, as is typically the case, that raised all sorts of gasps from people that had never heard about textual criticism before. One man, that I think was older than Methuselah, stood up and said, rather emphatically, "The Bible said it, I believe it, and that's that!" Well, so much for reasoned discussion in that class.

I realize that I am sounding a little like that guy in this post, and I am not entirely comfortable with that position, but that said, sometimes, I just think we think too hard. There is a balance between the scholarly and the blindly faithful when it comes to reading and understanding the Bible. I have yet to find that balance, but I think it is very important to always bear in mind that the balance is there somewhere.


Illuminated Scripture

Father's Day was last weekend. My wife's departed father is responsible for this week's entry.


Seismic Silliness

One of the greatest earthquakes in American history happened not in California or Alaska, but in the Mississippi River basin. So this story should not be news.
Strain is building on a fault near Memphis, Tenn., that was the site of a magnitude-8.1 earthquake in 1812, according to new observations that settle a debate on the risk of another huge quake.

The odds of another 8.0 event within 50 years are between 7 and 10 percent, geologists said Wednesday.
I still can't figure out why the press just loves to report that there might be an earthquake -- sometime -- Duh!

Now this is fun.
American scientists have come up with a hi-tech method of surveying elephants, using military-designed seismic sensors to detect their footsteps.

Researchers from the Geophysics Department at Stanford University used the sensors to monitor African elephants and other large mammals in Etosha National Park, Namibia.
I wonder how long it will be before they are using seismic sensors to compile obesity statistics?


Here's The Christian Carnival!

Right here at In the Spirit of Grace. Like always, good stuff.


As It Should Be

From The BBC
The American and Canadian Churches have been excluded from one of the Anglican Communion's top bodies after refusing to change their views on homosexuality.

The policy-making Anglican Consultative Council voted them out for three years over their willingness to ordain gay clergy and bless gay relationships.
Except for the fact that the "ex-communication" is at this juncture only for three years, this sounds like a very wise decision to me. I am glad to see the larger Anglican Church take a stance like this.


Oxymoronic Headline

New Invisible Watermark to Prevent Fake Photos

If it's invisible how can it be a "mark?" Worse, nothing in the article involves water.


When Is A Molecule A Particle

I know, you probably don't care, but this is kind of interesting to a chemistry nerd like me. From LiveScience
Scientists who have created the smallest precisely crafted organic particles are billing their breakthrough as a potential boon to medicine and technology.

The tiny structures could one day be used as vehicles for delivering drugs or genes into the human body or perhaps imaging you from the inside-out, the researchers said today. They might also find uses in electronics.
I went and checked the article from the Journal of the American Chemical Society. (here's the abstract) They're using techniques that are similar to semi-conductor manufacture.

The reason I am fascinated by this is that both the LiveScience and the journal articles use engineering terms to describe how this is done, but it is essentially very sophisticated chemical synthesis. There are "molecules" larger than these "structures."

I'm wondering where the line between science and engineering is being drawn these days. And I wondering if there is anybody that will read this to it's conclusion.


F1 Is In Bigger Trouble Than I Thought

Last weekend's race proves they have big problems in the world of Formula One. But, as Holy Coast points out, they may have bigger problems. League President Bernie Eccelstone commented recently on Danica Patrick:
"She did a good job, didn't she? Super. Didn't think she'd be able to make it like that," Eccelstone told a gathering of reporters. "You know, I've got one of these wonderful ideas that women should be all dressed in white like all the other domestic appliances."
Maybe I need to look on the bright side. My wife won't go to a race, of any kind, to save her life, but then she couldn't get me to a ballet without armed escort, so I figure we're even. Maybe now I could get her to an F1 race just to throw stuff at Bernie.


And You Thought Professional Wrestling Was Silly

Nope, it's big business, very big business. The Motley Fool discusses the WWE's latest branding and marketing ploy reviving the reputation of some old timers. All I can say is that an appearance of legendary old-timer Rowdy Roddy Piper is a pretty good way to separate me and some cash -- that guy was hilarious.


If You've Seen "Bridget Jones' Diary"...

...then this post from Scotwise is unsurprising. It concerns a survey taken in Europe.
The magazine gave citizens a choice of 20 incidents and asked them which ones they found most annoying. At the top of the list with 86% came "people who just throw their trash away". In second place are dog droppings on sidewalks (82%). Jumping the waiting line is in third place (81%).

Cursing and swearing came in 14th place. 52% of all Europeans are irritated by foul language.
That movie sounded more like "Goodfellas" than a romantic comedy. Frankly, I am glad to know that at least 52% of them found it annoying.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005


Slandering The Military

I have said it once, and I will say it again, and again -- there is only one force on earth that can beat the United States military, and that is the United States public. I have explained how that happens previously.

The erosion of public support and confidence in the military comes, when those opposed to the administration's use of the military use problems the military encounters, and mistakes the military makes to drive a wedge between the military and the public, essentially, they are willing to lose whatever battle our military may be engaged in to move forward their political agenda. Sounds like a bad set of priorities to me.

Many on the left seem to be playing this gambit in two stories that have been raging for the last week -- one capitalizing on a mistake, and one on a problem. The one that capitalizes on the mistake is Dick Durbin and his complete egregious comments on the Senate Floor. Read all about it at Hugh Hewitt. Hugh has been all over this like white on rice for the better part of 10 days now -- there is little I can add to the discussion. The mistake appears to be some mishandling of prisoners at Gitmo sometime ago. Look, the military is not perfect, name me an organization or institution that is. They will make mistakes. But they will fix them. At least they will if the politicos give them the opportunity -- and that puts them head and shoulders above most organizations and institutions which stumble along afraid to admit their mistakes and too incompetent to fix them.

The incident that capitalizes on the problem is the murder of two officers in Iraq recently. There was an arrest in the case reported last Friday. We've already discussed at length (here -- here and here) the incessant use of the term "fragging," with its allusions to Vietnam as the first effort to use this incident to drive the wedge.

Now we find whole new angles at play. Most interestingly, something called "NORTHEASTERN FEDERATION OF ANARCHO-COMMUNISTS" reports it pretty straight, although they go out of their way to bring up Vietnam. But you have to ask yourself why a communist group out of Canada would report the story at all.

The NYTimes cannot play it nearly as straight -- this story is about how all the families involved -- killed and killer are struggling. This is right out of the 1960's era anti-war playbook. Focus on the individual and lose sight of the greater objective. This op-ed from the Westchester Journal News just claims that we citizens can't take anymore of it.

Fortunately, our men in uniform are holding the line. This report tells how some men close to the situation, home on leave, are doing the right thing, and keeping quiet. Justice can only be served if investigators and prosecutors in the area are allowed to do their job without press interference.

Things are not what they seem in this case. Information is already starting to emerge that this was no dissatisfaction with the military thing. The Troy (New York) Record and the Insurance Journal report that the accused murderer has a history of insurance fraud and that he built a bomb in his basement back home. It is starting to sound to me suspiciously like this guy is mobbed up somehow, or at least a pretty sophisticated criminal in his own right.

But the bottom line is this --why am I have to turn to small town papers and industry newsletters to get to the bottom of the story? I probably don't even need to tell you at this point, do I?

Again, as with any institution or organization bad apples get involved. That does not say that anything about the military, it's mission, or the administration -- and those that try to say it does are working in a fashion that is seemingly designed to cost us victory.

And while we are discussing military matters, Brendan Miniter had a great piece in WSJ yesterday arguing against the point that all these wedge drivers are heading towards.


Schiavo Case Moves Into The Purely Petty

I could not believe this when I read it.
Michael Schiavo angered his late wife's family Monday by not notifying them about the burial beforehand and by inscribing on her bronze grave marker the words "I kept my promise."

Michael Schiavo - who said he promised his wife he would not keep her alive artificially - also listed Feb. 25, 1990, as the date his wife "Departed this Earth."

On that date, Schiavo collapsed and fell into what most doctors said was an irreversible vegetative state.
If you ever needed proof the whole thing was about Michael -- and not about Terri -- isn't this it? He is so self-absorbed that he stoops this low.

I find myself struck dumb by this -- how can any person be this self-absorbed and petty? That level of narcissism is almost beyond my comprehension. This is just loathesome behavior -- just loathesome.



Dick Durbin can rhetorically group our military with the greatest killers -- no that's too calm a word -- the biggest monsters of the last century (Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot) and people defend him, but there is instant hue and cry when a republican accusses dems of "demonizing" Christians.
The rhetorical warfare came as the House considered a proposal by Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., to put Congress on record against "coercive and abusive religious proselytizing" at the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Rep. John Hostettler, R-Ind., criticized Obey and Steve Israel, D-N.Y., who offered a similar condemnation of academy officials earlier this year on another bill.

"Like a moth to a flame, Democrats can't help themselves when it comes to denigrating and demonizing Christians," Hostettler said.

Democrats leapt to their feet and demanded Hostettler be censured for his remarks. After a half-hour's worth of wrangling, Hostettler retracted his comments.
Boy, it's a good thing those Dems keep thier own house in order, or they might be hypocritical somehow.


Perception Over Reality... a way of life here in California. Never have I seen it more starkly than in the precipitous drop in approval rating the Govenator has been experienceing. Being a man, Arnold is taking responsibility. I just hope he knows how to fix it.

The democratically controlled legislature, with their very powerful allies in the teachers union, have been able to paint him as the bad guy, when in reality he is the only one looking at the hard problems the state has and trying to address them. the reason I am concerned is that most people here don't really have much care for reality -- they tend to deny it at every turn. That is, unless the crisis hits them personally, as the power crisis did a while back which is how Arnold got the job to begin with.

He's done a great job of solving the immediately crisis' -- but now he has to fix the systemic problems out of which they arose, and that means a lot of profligate spenders are going to suffer, but they won't go down without a fight. It's time for the grass roots California Republicans to get busy.


I Refuse To Believe This

Rebecca has been posting lists for a while now. Yesterday she let us know about 100 of the World's Worst Invasive Alien Species - terrestrial variety.

I think Rebecca is leading us on here. Kudzu is only number 77. I think this comment from my last post on kudzu says it all:
Planting direction: Take a cutting. Drop it over your shoulder. Run for your life.
If there are 76 things worse than that in the world -- I am amazed we are still alive.


The Best of Pravda


It was a group of beavers living in a small river not far from the power line, which caused the small-scale blackout in the two villages. Beavers felled a tall aspen tree that was growing on a bank of the river. The tree fell down right on the wires of the power line. The emergency system automatically disconnected the damaged line from electric power.
'Round here, engineers usually take such things in account.


Stories like this and this. One is about a "spirtual healer" and the other a "witch." People know in thier bones that there is more to reality than we can take in with our senses. Russia has had a long tradition of such folklore -- consider Rasputin -- but when the more legitimate aspects of spirituality are suppressed, you're going to end up with very illegitimate stuff.


The fact that Russia Makes This Funny makes me think it is a nation of frat boys.


But, Do Women Having Orgasms Smell Like Grapefruit?

Reading LiveScience yesterday was just weird.

First they report that women having orgasms shut down their brain, or at least large portions of it. Now given the study methodology
The volunteers laid on a scanning machine bed and were injected with a dye that shows changes in brain function on a scan.
Then they had sex. You have to wonder about the results -- I think most of us would have to shut our brains down to have an orgasm under those circumstances. They got no meaningful results for men --which will no doubt be fodder for countless jokes from all the women out there.

Then they report that grapefruit odor makes men perceive women as younger than they actually are. How long do you think it's going to be before grapefruit juice is the active ingredient in "Oil of Olay." Or better yet, include it in collagen injections. Personally, I like my wife just they way she is and if she smelled like grapefruit it would just make me hungry.



It's time to grant another UGH Award. This time it is a quote from an OBITUARY,as linked to by The Scriptorum.
Alas the stolen election of 2000 and living with right-winged Americans finally brought him to his early demise. Stress from living in this unjust country brought about several heart attacks rendering him disabled.
Say it with me now...UGH!


Proof Harry Reid Is NOT The Brightest Bulb In the Four-Pack

We've suspected it for a long time, but here's proof. It's a press release from the Senate Democratic Communications Center. Headline:
Democrats Unveil Initiative to Keep Science Out of Politics
but then the lead for the piece says:
Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid and Senator Chuck Schumer today joined whistleblower Rick Piltz to unveil the Senate Democrats? latest effort to keep politics out of science.
It is bad enough that the headline and the lead say two almost entirely different things, but the erroneous headline is not just wrong, its stupid - "Don't confuse us with the facts" is the essential message. But then, they really do operate that way sometimes.

And while we are politicizing science -- oops, I mean avoiding politicizing science, it seems the ACLU wants to make sure that foreign nationals in universities have the same access to science information as American students. As a scientist, I understand how desparately important it is to "kick ideas around," but I really don't think we should make it too easy for just anybody to build an atomic bomb -- do you?

Tuesday, June 21, 2005


Been To The Bay...

...or Back From The Looking Glass.

Spent a 3-day weekend in the San Francisco Bay area. Good friends, can't complain about that, but in general, the place is a looney bin. Makes LA look like the Bible Belt. Uncovered an amazing statistic -- only 3% of people in the bay area ever enter a house of worship -- of any kind, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, you name it -- only 3%.

Churches there are struggling mightily. At what point does a place cease to be a "Christian" place, which is how we think of America, and become a "mission field." I know, I know, "the whole world is a mission field," and all that -- but I'm talking on a different level here. There are lots of places in the world with a higher percentage of Christians than the bay area that are considered mission fields, meaning we send in missionaries with support from some place else.

In a practical sense, a mission field is a place where the gospel has not sufficiently penetrated for the churches there to be self-supporting. Christian churches of every stripe are closing in the bay area rather routinely precisely because they cannot support themselves. So here is my question, why are these denominations blithely allowing these churches to fold? In a designated missions field a church building is considered a huge asset from which to do the work of missions, and the denomination supports that by raising money from churches in home areas.

I am deadly serious about this, instead of closing these churches, send the pastors elsewhere in the country to do their pastoral ministry and send in the missionaries. The statistics say it's time.


When Does It Happen?

Allthings2all has a really wonderful post on the interface between intellect and spirit when it comes to Christian regeneration. One point she makes is that the Bible is not the gospel. That is just a dynamite point. The Bible is part of communicating the gospel, but, in the end, that is all it is -- a means of communication. It is the inspired word Of God, but it is not sanctified in the sense that people are, and it is not THE WORD.

I really like this passage from the post [emphasis added]
The effectiveness of the gospel, in which the death and resurrection of Jesus are central, is not in quantity of intellectual assenters but is evidenced by the quality of changed lives. Thus Christians convey the gospel for others to hear, and are "witnesses" or "testifiers" to the power of God to salvation from their own experience also.

I would agree that there is often a process that leads up to the spiritual regeneration that occurs when a person becomes a Christian. The process ends with faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ, spiritual rebirth and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The intellectual grappling, discussing, and growing conscience pains are leading to the same point - the gospel. The process is not about earning credits on the way to God - but rather continues to expose that we are indebted to God and disconnected from him.
I read that, and certainly thought it before I read it, that "exposing our indebtedness" means the process Catez discusses ends in brokenness.

The intellectual ascent that is discussed in the post is an empowering process, not a breaking process -- but the final confrontation with Jesus breaks us, it comes not in learning about Jesus, but in learning how utterly unworthy and insignificant we are in His presence.

So as we spread the gospel, how do we help people see that? In a world where "feeling good about yourself" seems to be THE preemminent value, how do we help people see that the best feeling in the world comes from understanding your essential lack of worth?


GIve Me A Strong Wind And A Bright Star.....

...or in this case galaxies of bright stars. There is a privately-funded solar wind sail experiment being launched into space this week. "Space sailing" has been the stuff of fantasy for a long, long time now. It would be way cool if this works.


It's Tuesday...It Must Be From the Edge of Taste

Our first item needs cautious handling, even in this space because it's subject matter is horrific, not tasteless, but the media coverage is tasteless. Apparently a young man went on some sort of deviant sexual spree in a neighborhood in South Carolina, involving both small girls and pets. The tasteless part is that the story addresses the pets and not the little girls.

Our second item is a lot lighter, but more tasteless:
Michael Jackson has compared his acquital on child abuse charges to Nelson Mandela's release from prison.

He made the claim on his website where the jury's verdict was also ranked with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the birth of Martin Luther King.
Dick Durbin has nothing on Michael Jackson when it comes to bad analogies.


Is Your Dog Stoned?

According to SCOTWISE, someone is going to start marketing dog biscuits containing cannabis seed.

All humor aside, this means someone is going to be able to legally grow the cannabis to produce the seed. What's going to happen with the leafy by-product? You're nuts if you think they are going to write it off as waste.


Racing Fiasco

It's rare that I agree with Holy Coast on much about motor sport, wheeled tanks just don't make as good racing as speedy little cars with big wings, but Rick has it absolutely right about this past weekend's Formula One race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Tony George and IMS are running for cover and pointing fingers, which, as far as I know the story, is the only option open to them.

F1 cars are the most fantastic machines in racing, but they are a bit prissy. Michael Schumacher, who won Sunday's excuse for a race, once said that he would never run in the Indianapolis 500 because it was "too dangerous," read "too fast." Bottom line is this, while F1 cars are the premiere machines in the world, the engineers have just a little too much power -- and engineers are generally overly cautious sorts. Racing is about being on the edge.

The future of F1 in the US really is in jeopardy, which given the fact that the race has not been run enough times at Indy to depreciate the upgrades they made to accomodate the series, is just a crying shame. I suggest you follow Tony George's suggestion and complain to Michelin loud and long.

And ask them this -- why could they not just produce tires that could handle the track and the speeds. These guys are 50 mph slower than indy cars, and they got safe tires.

Monday, June 20, 2005


Schiavo Autopsy Fails To Deal With The Important Questions

So we learn from the autopsy report that she really was as brain damaged as they said she was, and that all of us that hoped, prayed, and fought for her continued life should be ashamed. Fortunately, some very powerful people understand that there was more at stake.

Courtesy of Cheat Seeking Missiles, the money quote after the report really is this
"Terri did not die from an atrophied brain. She died from an atrophy of compassion on the part of her estranged husband and those who helped him to have her deliberately killed." -- Frank Pavone, Terri Schiavo's priest
Some Christians rightly say "That's Not The Point!" and others wonder if we should not apologize to Michael Schiavo.

The bottom line is this -- some questions cannot be answered by medical science.

I could go on, but I have to agree with Lauren at The Scriptorum on this one -- The Fight's Just Getting Started




In the same week:
The debate's over: Globe is warming
Evidence is underwhelming
I'm beginning to think their motto should be "We Report...You're Confused."

Federal scientists are planning to shoot a small number of barred owls they say are crowding out the threatened spotted owl in northern California _ an experiment that could lead to killing thousands of the larger owls on the West Coast.
Does that at all sound familiar?
As a supplement to the task which was entrusted to you in the decree dated January 24, 1939, to solve the Jewish question by emigration and evacuation in the most favorable way possible, given present conditions, I herewith commission you to carry out all necessary preparations with regard to organizational, substantive, and financial viewpoints for a total solution of the Jewish question in the German sphere of influence in Europe.
Insofar as other competencies of other central organizations are affected, these are to be involved.

I further commission you to submit to me promptly an overall plan showing the preliminary organizational, substantive, and financial measures for the execution of the intended final solution of the Jewish question.
Something is very wrong here.


You figured the at some point the left would find a way to leverage terrorism to their agenda, but I never figured it would come in the environmental movement. They are passing new regulations to "protect" chemical plants for terror activity. In and of itself, that is not a bad idea, but when you see the language they employ, you know it is just a new lever to get their hands on the industry.
"The existing patchwork of authorities does not permit us to regulate the industry effectively,"
You'd think they could at least use the language of protection instead of regulation, but they are just too anxious.


Such Sweet Irony

PETA Workers Charged With Animal Cruelty

(HT: Holy Coast) Turns out PETA is involved in animal euthanasia.

The two were picking up animals to be brought back to PETA headquarters for euthanization, PETA president Ingrid Newkirk said Thursday. Neither police nor PETA offered any theory on why the animals might have been dumped.
Once again, we see the true agenda of those on the left -- they don't want to preserve the lives of animals, they just want to be the ones do decide when they die! Can anybody say "power mad?"

Sunday, June 19, 2005


Sermons and Lessons

In light of some recent discussion, I thought this sermon by John Piper on Hebrews 6:1-3 would be a good choice today.


Find Your Christian Flavor

Using this handy flowchart

courtesy of the Evangelical Outpost

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