Saturday, July 02, 2005


It Matters More Than You Think

Quick! -- what is the first phrase that comes to your mind from church last Sunday? I'll bet you even money it's a phrase from a hymn you sung, or the chorus of your favorite praise song from the service.

Music is a powerful, powerful force when it comes to what makes a lasting impression on your mind. Have you ever seen those films of guys at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, rocking back and forth? They are using rhythm and music to recall memorized scripture. Can you recall precise sentences used by your high school teachers? I doubt it -- but I bet you can write down the lyrics fro the ten most popular songs on the radio during that same time period. If you pick up a book you read in high school, it is almost a new experience -- but if a song comes on the radio, you sing along like you were still 16.

That's why I love this post from The Bluefish pointing to this essay on something called "Hippocampus Extensions." Here is a snippet from the HE piece
Once melody and rhythm have disarmed
One's judgment, and one's reason has been charmed
Does your church "vet" what it sings? Don't you think you should? I brought this up in Session once and everybody just stared at me -- I guess they thought the publishers did it.

And there is an ancillary point here -- how hard do you work at memorizing scripture? I don't hear this much discussed around church today, and it should be. The best way I know to keep garbage from infesting my mind is to push that garbage out by reciting memorized scripture. When you hear something just wrong, does an opposing scripture come to mind? Wouldn't it be great if it did? That doesn't mean you reject new ideas, it just means you integrate them carefully instead of letting anyone with a beat and a catchy melody drive them into your soul unexamined.

Music has been a part of the church from the beginning. (Psalms are songs, remember?) It helped people remember what was important in a time when few could read. It still should, even though most can read now.


The Press Tries To Snatch Defeat From The Midst Of Victory.

Daniel Henninger had a very interesting piece in yesterday's OpinionJournal about how "Ground Zero" has changed in four short years from a place of national unity to a symbol of national division. Here is a money
quoteWe've watched September 11 drift from unity of purpose to unhinged vituperation. The partisanship is easy to dismiss, but I believe the Bush team's deep disdain of a hostile opposition media has caused it to miss--until now--the need to organize a home front to support the remarkable sacrifice in Iraq. This failure may prove to be the one unforgivable thing.
First of all, I am sometime amazed atr how hostil the "opposition media" really is -- Major K had a fine post on that recently. He says,
The arhabi threw everything that they had at the local Iraqi Security Forces in our sister Battalion's sector, in one of the largest coordinated attacks that we have seen since we got here. They failed. We had a few patrols nearby that jumped in just to help out, and they caught the bad guys with their pants down, big time.
And then points to this headline from the Guardian.
Iraq insurgents snatch victory from defeat
President Bush has enormous faith in people, sometimes I wonder if not naively so. I honestly don't think he "disdains" the oppositon media so much as he expects them to figure out where they are wrong, and I think he expects the American people to be able to tell when the press is just wrong. That is expecting a lot of people - I desparately wish those expectations could be realized, but experience tells me people often don't rise to such challenges.

I said very early on that I think the President made a mistake when he told the nation to "go back to work" after 9-11. We were in a fighting mood, and he needed to capitalize on it. We are so wealthy and so powerful as a nation that it is very possible for us to conduct a war "on the side" that a few generations ago would have resulted in sacrifices and effort by every American, and those Americans would have glad made both. When this nation fights a war, we are all fighting a war, and we need to find a way to make sure everyone knows it.

My wife and I have made a conciosu effort to stay as involved as possible -- mostly by supporting soldiers -- we write several, send care packages, and if there was something else we could do, we would.

I want to challenge everyone this weekend to celebrate our nation, by supporting our troops. Join Soldier's Angels and adopt a deployed soldier. Go to AnySoldier, find someone that needs your help and give it. If you live near a military base, go there and thank some soldiers -- better yet, invite a few over for the picnic. Give to the USO. I don't care if you've read somehwere abou them being flooded in stuff -- they can swim, raise the water level. If your young and able and looking for something to do with your life -- go to the recruiting office and join!

This is OUR war. They are fighting for us - whether you want to believe it or not. Victory and success is their ticket home, they don't want it any other way, so if you support them, you will help them achieve just that. Please.


Comic Art

What else would you do on a July 4 weekend than patriotic superheroes. There have been a bunch. This is a fairly random sampling, based on what I could find. The very first patriotic hero was called "The Shield". And believe it or not "Uncle Sam" himself got into the action!

Most of these heroes were limited to WWII. And almost all of them sold resonably well when the war was on. Only a couple such heroes survived after the war. Most notable Captain America -- who we've seen before and we'll look at at the end. A lot of them abviously influence Cap heavily -- after all his primary weapon is a shield.

These guys were often nearly indistinguishable from one another. Consider these two -- the "Fighting American" and "Mr. US" Note that FA has a teen sidekick (all good surperheroes did in those days, but note the strong similarity to Cap's sidekick -- Bucky.

Speaking of teenagers, DC Comics has dome one of the more interesting takes on these old timers. The "Star-Spangled Kid" (above left) was a big part of the WWII "Justice Society Of America." They still publish a JSA book, featuring some of the most popular of the originals, but then featuring similar heroes often the children or grandchildren on the originals, having taken up the family mantle if you will. At right is the Kid's latest incarnation - granddaughter of the original.

And of course, what would any post about patriotic suerheroes be without the greatest of any generation -- CAPTAIN AMERICA!


I Thought It Was John Belushi's Fault

Leader blames culture gap for food fight


I Had No Idea

Schroeder Loses Confidence Vote

Guess I'll quit blogging now....sigh.


Gee, Ya Think?

Supreme Court Pick Likely to Spark a Fight

A headline for those that have been "off-planet" for a while.


I Should Hope So!

Hairless Pooch Wins Ugly Dog Contest

I wonder if Rogaine comes in a veterinary formulation?



Elephant Mimics Truck Sounds

Yeah, but does it come with a V-8 Hemi?

Friday, July 01, 2005


Let The Games Begin!

From the Wall Street Journal (subscrition required) -- just 10 minutes ago
Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, the first woman appointed to the Supreme Court and a key swing vote on issues such as abortion and the death penalty, said Friday she is retiring.
This begins what may be one of the most pivotal judicial appointments in American history.


Are We Really A Better Nation?

Every now and then, that question hits me in the face like a slap with a dead fish. This post from Howdy is one of those times. Howdy reprints a prayer, uttered by FDR during a "Firesdie Chat" on the ocassion of the D-Day invasion, as drawn from Bob Dole's memoir. I just have to reprint it here:
?Almighty God: our sons, pride of our Nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity. Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith. They will need Thy blessings. Their load will long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph. They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest ? until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men?s souls will be shaken with the violences of war. For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and goodwill among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home. Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom?I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts. With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogances. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace ? a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.

Thy will be done, Almighty God, Amen.?
My heart is greatly saddened that were a president to utter such a prayer, with such a wide audience today, he would be met with as much derision and controvery as he would support.

But there is one section there that I think is especially applicable right now -- I going to repeat it
I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.
If nothing else, and regardless of politics, I hope you can join me in that prayer. Our troops deserve our prayer support.


Pretty Big News!

Seems serious to me. Apparently the newly "elected" leader of Iran was one of the captors of American Embassy personnel way back when (think Jimmy Carter & Ronald Reagan). Chrenkoff takes a good hard look at the allegations. These pictures pretty much convince me. Powerline asks precisely the right question:

What now?

I realize these things are very complicated, and I do not pretend to be an expert -- but the man is a criminal in American eyes and is at least partially responsible for one of the greatest blots ever on our nation. Last time there was a criminal Head of State (Noriega) we went and got him.

His election is a direct "in your face" to the United States. This will also represent a huge test for the United Nations, which I am fairly certain they will fail, leaving us once again having to accept defeat or appear rogue.

Pray for our leaders right now -- They really need it.


There Are Christians...

...and then there are those that claim the name, but about whom I have my doubts, and those that just think they know what it means to be a Christian. Check this out, just from yesterday
There are, however, a few issues I'd like to raise. The first is that while American fundamentalists have not called for the deaths of homosexuals lately, they still preach the gospel of gays burning in everlasting hell for their sinful earthly desires. And given that these preachers consider life after the Rapture (not to mention before birth) more important than life on Earth, isn't their message of fear and loathing analogous to their Muslim counterparts in its reflection of what they think the ultimate fate of gay people should be?
First of all, most Christians believe that pretty much anyone without the redemption of Christ will be "burning in everlasting hell for their sinful earthly desires." -- So gays are hardly unique in terms of that particular belief. There simply is no bigotry here -- so much for the "hate group" accusation.

But what really cracks me up is we have one Christian leader dissing another over his stance on homosexuality, and yet the lefties feel they can shove us all in a box, and then mislabel it to boot. And that is truly bothersome. Why do they simply denounce us, when they could be trying to convince us? Why decry instead of dialogue?

I'm pretty certain it's because they know we'll win.


I Hate It When The Messenger Destroys The Message

I have to agree with Jollyblogger that Tom Cruise is a few bricks short of a full load. But I wonder if deep within the rantings of his fevered mind, there might not be a modicum of a point?

Initial disclaimer -- psychiatry and psychology have done wonders for humanity. I do not wish to dis them as disiplines or healing arts.

But like with any good thing, they can be overused, and misused. For example, most people I know at least suspect that ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is over-diagnosed and over-medicated, particularly in boys. I truly wonder if the same thing is not true about the various syndromes for which Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft and the bunch are prescribed? Or more precisely, I wonder if there aren't more effective, if more difficult, means of dealing with those syndromes.

Yesterday I posted that that I think the transformation offered by Jesus is not a morphing, but a tearing down and a rebuilding. (Gal 2:20 - "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.) If that is the case, might not the depressive, anxiety-ridden, unhappy periods of our lives be a part of that process?

Now, of course, there are life-debilitating depressions, but that is not what I am talking about. I am talking about people that turn to the doctor (or the medicine cabinet) when they should turn to prayer. We need to be broken to experience the joy of resurrection. I just hope and pray that we do not let the power of our mental medicines get in the way.


Best Bush Interview

Thanks to Hedgehog Blog for pointing out this great interview of the President in the Times of London. It's a great read, but I have to wonder why an interview like that is in a foreign paper and not one of our own.


Parable Comes To Life

When a would-be bride called off her wedding 12 days before the big event, she threw a party anyway ? and invited the homeless.

Residents of the Interfaith Family Shelter attended the bash thrown by Katie Hosking, 22, a medical assistant, and her parents.
Just liked that story and thought I would share.


Friday Humor

A secret agent was sent to Ireland to pick up some very sensitive information from an agent called Murphy. His instructions were to walk around town using a code phrase until he met his fellow agent.

He found himself on a desolate country road and finally ran into a farmer.

"Hello, said the agent, "I'm looking for a man called Murphy."

"Well you're in luck," said the farmer, "as it happens, there's a village right over the hill, where there's a butcher called Murphy, the baker is named Murphy, three widows are called Murphy. In fact my name is Murphy."

"Aha," thought the agent, "here's my man." So he whispered the secret code. "The sun is shining...the grass is growing...the cows are ready for milking."

"Oh," said the farmer, "you're looking for Murphy the spy - he's in the village over the other direction."


And I Just Thought It Was Into A Puddle

How Ice Melts: Longstanding Mystery Solved

Actually the article is about some really interesting science
The problem is that the earliest phase of melting has never been seen. Scientists can't see the atoms involved because they are so small and because they are hidden in the structure of solid material.

So Yodh's team made some big atoms. Specifically, they made see-through crystals that are like small beads and are visible in an optical microscope.
The problem is, if it is big enough to be seen in an optical microscope, you aren't seeing quantum effects.


One Man's Fool another man's Nobel winner. Cheat Seeking MIssles reports
Congresswoman Barbara Lee's office reports she's among 1000 women to be collectively nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by a Swiss team of activists. Her office said Lee, of Oakland, was recognized for being the only member of Congress to vote against Pres. Bush's post-9/11 resolution to "use military force against anyone suspected of having committed the acts."
That prize is in a rapid deflationary cycle in terms of importance.


Do They Wear Wooden Shoes?

Snakes charmed from lairs in Dutch heatwave

Is that anything like a dutch oven?


A Must See!

A museum devoted to curry-flavoured sausage, a popular snack known to Germans as currywurst, is set to open early next year in Berlin, the head of the museum said on Thursday.

Right after I go here.


That's A Jambalaya Of A Whole Different Color

With Taiwanese youngsters increasingly drawn to Western hamburgers and fries, government researchers are trying to lure them back with something more traditional - sort of: rainbow-colored rice.

The ancient Asian staple will soon be available here in pink, green, yellow and purple, each with its own nutritional boost, said scientist Lo Tze-yen of the Hualien Agricultural Improvement Station in eastern Taiwan.
Will we have to change the name of "red beans and rice" now?


That's Gonna Be A Fish Fry And A Half

Thai Fishermen Net 646-Pound Catfish

How many hushpuppies do you have to make to go with that?

Thursday, June 30, 2005


What Does It Say...

...when the legacy media takes on Joel Osteen? What's most interesting is it is not the usual church hit-piece, CBS sees in Osteen pretty much the same stuff that many of us in the Christian community do.
Houston may be nowhere near heaven or Hollywood, but on Sunday mornings, it feels like a little of both.

Joel Osteen is pastor of Lakewood Church, the largest evangelical church in America with 30,000 weekly attendants. With a TV ministry, it's watched in at least 100 countries.

His production staff and studio rival any network. As CBS News Correspondent Byron Pitts reports, Osteen looks like an anchorman, talks like a Southern salesman and runs this congregation like a CEO.
To be honest, this coverage makes me happy. When the legacy media is so ready to distinguish Osteen's ministry from the rest of us, it reduces the external pressure for other churches to follow suit. To be honest, Osteen is beginning to remind me of the breakout minsitries of an earlier age like say Robert Schuller. EVERYBODY knows there is something different about them -- even if the secular don't understand exactly what it is.

Internal pressure to achieve such "success" remains; however, insidious. How can a Christian leader know he/she is doing well? What metric matters. Great effect in the lives of ten people is a wonderful thing, but can it pay the bills? Thousands in the pews pays the bills and a whole lot more, but are those lives really affected, or just spirtually entertained?

Semper Gumby wonders about what mischief can result from one of the more common metrics.

SmartChristian said on Tuesday
The mantra of small groups continues to echo the halls of churches. EVERYONE needs to be in a small group

To tell you the truth, I'm not interested in small groups per say, I'm interest in BIBLICAL COMMUNITY LIFE. And the fact is most small groups in the church today fall very short. So, give me Christian shared life and one another ministry in what ever size group it comes in.
This is just another way of stating what I am talking about -- it is not the program that matters, it's what the program accomplishes.

It's seriously pie-in-the-sky stuff, but I think my post from yesterday, "All About Jesus" provides the first step in solving this dilemma. We need to focus on Jesus and stop worrying about whether we are succeeding or not. Ministry is not about us expressing ourselves -- it's about Jesus expressing Himself through us. We need to let Him worry about success or failure and just do the best we can to to be His people. The only metric that matters is the metric that tells us how close we are to being the people thaqt Jesus would have us to be.


Naming Evil

Hugh Hewitt said something yesterday that I think has very deep spiritual implications
This is the core problem: A horrific disfigurement of religious belief into a killing frenzy. It was the motivation behind 9/11, Bali, Madrid, and Beslan, and it is the motivation behind the terror is Iraq today. The only solution --the only solution-- is the creation of societies committed to religious pluralism. It takes a long, long time for such societies to develop, but a beginning has been made in Iraq, Lebanon and Afghanistan. The president's speech was an argument about why perseverance is not only necessary but in fact indispensable to survival of the West. The cut-and-run caucus led by Ted and MoveOn and Howard et al simply refuses to look the evil in its face and deal with it.
How often do we refuse to look at and deal with evil? - Not just on the international/political level, but on the personal and interpersonal level. Heck, we're afraid of the word "evil," as if by uttering it we bring it into existence, when in fact we need to use the word to name it when it is appropriate. So much is written about moral relativism and it's consequences, but I want to look at this just on a church and personal level.

Why has the church abandoned the word? Yesterday we looked at the case of a Christian leader convicted of sexual assault on a minor. What he did was evil. Why did I not use that word in my post about it yesterday? Oh sure, I was condemning, but I fell short of the mark. God, through Jesus on the Cross, can redeem even evil -- by calling it what it is, I do not rob it of the opportunity for redemption, rather I point out its utter need for redemption. In fact, by failing to call evil as evil, I make it appear as if some other, lesser redemption is all that is needed rather than the self-denying, soul transforming, sin destroying redemption that only comes from Jesus.

When I examine myself, I rationalize in a similar fashion. "oh, that's not much of a sin," I say to myself -- when in fact it is nothing short of evil. That is the crux of the matter that Jesus drives at in the Sermon on the Mount. "You have heard that the ancients were told, 'You shall not commit murder' and 'Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.' But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court;" (Matt 5:21-22a) Jesus is not here tightening the behavioral restrictions -- he is illustrating that evil goes to our very core.

People avoid the concept of evil, the word itself, because evil must be destroyed. The beauty is that Jesus has unleashed the powers necessary to destroy it. But we live in the age of the "already, not yet." We live in the age where the power is available, but its job is not complete. On a personal level we avoid it because that power will in fact destroy us -- but it will also rebuild us. The transformation available to us in Christ Jesus is not magical -- it's not morphing. It is tearing down and building anew. We are not so much transformed as we are rebuilt.

That's why the point Hewitt makes on the Iraqi war is so relevent. War is not about destruction, it is and should be about rebuilding. It is exactly the same war we wage within ourselves. When we fail to name evil -- when we fail to allow the destruction of evil, whether by governments and armies or by the soul searching of the Holy Spirit, we prevent destruction -- but we also prevent the rebuilding.


How Can The Press Report On What It Does Not Understand?

Boy did this article catch my eye when the headline moved in front of my face

Maths 'stuck in downward spiral'

But when I read the article, I was somewhat flabergasted. Consider the first few paragraphs.
Mathematics is in a "spiral of decline", with major reforms of A-levels and GCSEs needed to improve the situation, academics say.

A report from the UK Mathematics Foundation says the situation is "far more serious" than is usually admitted.

There were far too few numerically trained workers to teach their successors, while A-level entries had declined sharply since the 1980s.
What's wrong with this picture? Anybody?...Anybody?...Buehler?...Buehler?

Numbers (i.e. "numerically trained") are but one small portion of mathematics! The article itself demonstrates the problem it claims to report. The ultimate negative self-reference! Sad, but fun.


Illuminated Scripture


Progress Against Polygamy

There appears to be some genuine law enforcement progress against the polygamist Mormon cult located on the Utah/Arizona border. The NYTimes is reporting on even more ugliness, and the fact that authorties are using cult excapees as weapons against the community.
"Women in the polygamist culture are looked at as property, as a piece of meat," said Ms. Jessop, formerly one of seven wives of a motel owner, whom she was forced to marry when she was 18 and he was 50. "We're not looked upon as human beings with rights. The women are basically baby-producers. It's a difficult thing to break away from. You don't contest it."

But in a twist that might have seemed inconceivable when she ran away two years ago, Ms. Jessop and another escapee, Margaret Cooke, stand poised to join the board of a sect trust that owns almost all the property here and in adjoining Colorado City, Ariz. The board, like everything else, has always been run exclusively by men.
Go get 'em ladies! I'm behind you all the way.


A Giant Common Sense Sucking Black Hole... the only answer I can come up with for the question Peggy Noonan so expertly asks:
Why are our politicians so full of themselves?
I highly recommend this piece.


Waste Your Time... -- It's pretty fun.


Not Your Average Swimming Hole

A dark, lake-like feature on Saturn's largest moon, Titan, has been imaged by the US-European Cassini spacecraft.

Researchers have long speculated that Titan might harbour open bodies of liquid methane - and the 235km by 75km target is the best candidate to date.

But they are being cautious about interpreting the feature, which has what looks to be a smooth shoreline.
If you ever get to visit the shore of this lake, whatever you do -- don't light up.


New Jewelry Store Opens

Thousands mob Bombay beach in 'diamond' rush
Thousands of people have been flocking to a beach in India's financial hub in a manic diamond rush, but police said on Wednesday the stones were fakes and warned them to stay away after one treasure hunter was drowned.
Nah -- People aren't greedy by nature.


Man Bleeds To Death After Mosquito Bite

Mom Pleads Guilty in Diaper Rash Death

It's really not the least bit funny, the Mom is getting off too easy as far as I am concerned with an involuntary manslaugther charge -- but some headlines just cannot be ignored.


How Do You Get A Shopping Cart Drunk?

Man Accused of Drunk Shopping Cart Driving


So What's Left?

Activists want fish off aquarium menu

Won't empty tanks be pretty dull?


Now That's A Migration

Kangaroo on the Loose Near Indiana Airport

I didn't even know they could swim!


What Are They Protesting And What Has Halted?

Naked bullfight protest brings halt to Madrid

What is the problem, bullfighting, or doing so while naked? (OUCH!) How do you halt an entire city?

Wednesday, June 29, 2005


All About Jesus

I really loved this post from Blue Fish.
But, primarily the gospel concerns God. It is chiefly occupied with the great scandal of how a just God can spare any sinner. How can God allow sins to remain, apparently, unpunished. And the answer is found in the death of Jesus. Without that the one who justifies is unjust.

We take offense at times that God does not save all. The true offense is that God saves any. He would be within the bounds of his own justice for God to judge all.
I view my journey as a Christian as a journey that began about me and is moving towards God. I love what Blue Fish says when he says "the gospel is about God." There is so much we can draw from that statement.

Adrain Warnock pointed out Monday that kids in the UK think of Jesus as a superhero. That could be lots of fun for someone like me, but it is serious. Superheroes are trivial, Jesus most decidedly is not. Why would kids feel that way? Because they think Jesus is about "saving" them, when he is really about revealing God.

Unveiled Face said yesterday
Personally, I find it hard that we could read 1 Cor 1:12-13 and then continue to so boldly label ourselves "Calvinists" or "Arminians" or anything else.
And he is absolutely right. Our particular school of theological thought is about us -- what we think about God, God is so much bigger than our tiny little minds can comprehend.

Scotwise is so right when he quotes Thomas Brooks
"Every thing that a man leans upon but God, will be a dart that will certainly pierce his heart through and through. He, who leans only upon Christ, lives the highest, choicest, safest, and sweetest life."
I wonder, when we work so hard to build churches that are appealing -- when we focus on demographics and focus groups, and developmental models, and the "services" people want if we are not losing sight of the fundamental truth that Blue Fish states so simply. Those things are focusing on people when we should be focusing on God.

The all-important transformation occurs not when we reach a certain level of behavioral compliance -- that is a consequence of the transformation. The tranformation occurs when we stop asking what God can do for us, and start asking God what we can do for Him. The transformation occurs when we lose sight of ourselves and allow our vision to be overwhelmed with the glory of God.


Something I Really Hate

Allthings2all carries a story about a Christian leader in New Zealand convicted of sexually assualting minors. Catez does a great job of discussing how confusing things can get for Christians in this circumstance, and she chastises me (albeit unknowingly).
It is always difficult when a "Christian" is brought to justice for this type of offending. Often there is confusion - some people will get big on the need to forgive "the brother", and even suggest he should not be submitted to the legal process. My position, and this comes from having seen this type of scenario before, and from talking with victims, is that a true Christian would take responsibility in order to stop offending, and would take steps which show repentance. If the offender truly considered the damage to the victims, then he would not have qualms about facing up to his actions and owning them. In Capill's case, it was a victim who is now an adult who turned him in - years after his offending she was a bridesmaid at a wedding and he tried to kiss her. No sign of repentance from Capill there.

There's a certain kind of message - I could call it morality railing I suppose - which has always caused me concern. It seems to me that there is too much protest in that kind of message, and the harshness suggests to me that the messenger is off the beat. Not necessarily in the way Graham Capill was, but when some-one is trying to sell hostility as love it doesn't add up to a real Christian response.
She chastises me because my gut impulse in a situation like this is to string the guy up and do unspeakable things to him. The damage this man has done in the name of God, and to the name of God is almost incalcuable.

I have far more experience with situations like this than I would like to have. In separate incidents, I have been very close to both perpetrator and victim. There are some things that need to be understood -- people who do these sorts of things are driven by compulsions that they can never rid themselves of. With guidance, and care, and compassion they can gain some control over those compulsions, but they must forever after be viewed with suspicion and care. In these instances even genuine repentance and forgiveness can never result in a loosing of the safeguards that must be erected around such individuals to prevent it from happening again. There must always be something of the pariah about a person who has done this sort of thing. A person that is truly repentant will understand that and invite the safeguards and the associated "scarlet letter," if not for themselves, then for the sake of their vicitims and potential victims. I am at peace with the perpetrator I have known, but it will forever be an uneasy peace, and it is someone I love dearly.

As to the victims -- they face enormous amounts of very hard work to bring their lives into some sort of normalcy. Many find it easier to wallow in the state of victimhood, fortunately the victim I have known did that hard work. My prayers are with them in this situation.

As to the damage this man and others like him have done to God's name and His Kingdom, only God can decide what to do about that in the end. Fortunately, I don't have to. I think Catez is right when she says
As Christians I think we need to be clear on these sort of issues.
If the church is too quick and easy to forgive we run the risk of appearing to condone such things. If too harsh, we cancel out the gospel message. But the church must be crystal clear, we cannot afford ambivalence.


Official Denouncement

As Christians, we need to police ourselves when our brethren do something really bad. This is one of those times.
NewsCenter 5's Gail Huff reported that Staff Sgt. Christoper Piper, 43, served in both Afghanistan and Iraq and was awarded a bronze star for his combat service. The Green Beret died when his convoy was bombed June 3 in Afghanistan and a right-wing Protestant Christian church group from Topeka, Kansas is planning to demonstrate at Piper's funeral services at the Old North Church. They claim U.S. soldiers like Piper are dying because the country is being punished for its tolerance of what they see as immoral behavior, such as homosexuality.
Do they honestly think God would do something that unjust?

I hereby declare this group not Christian by any standard I know, so anyone that wants to use them to point out the foibles of Christianity, you aren't doing it here.


The Best of Pravda

A cow and a bull were caught during an act of love in public, which they arranged in the Kaliningrad region of Russia. The two loving animals "did it" in an office supplies shop.
I'm thinking they need better fences, or stronger doors there in the Kaliningrad region.

Zone-51 is a mysterious and secret US base located 130 kilometers off Las Vegas, Nevada. The green room is believed to be situated in this very army base. The room supposedly contains not only alien remnants, but fragments of an alien spaceship, which crashed in 1947.
Well....they believed in communism too.

According to eyewitnesses, the custodian of the temple found the puppy sleeping near the entrance to the shrine. The man picked the animal up to remove it from the passage, when he noticed that it was a weird many-legged little dog, a six-legged dog, to be more precise.

When the strange finding was examined in the shrine, it turned out that the fluffy creature also had two penises. That was probably the reason why the priests named the dog as Ong Fatt, which translates as Lucky.
Those Malayasian priests are pretty funny guys.


Way Cool!

Go here and follow the directions.
Fly from space to your neighborhood. Type in an address and zoom right in.
Search for schools, parks, restaurants, and hotels. Get driving directions.
Tilt and rotate the view to see 3D terrain and buildings.
Save and share your searches and favorites. Even add your own annotations.
This may be the ultimate map!


Call Mulder

Man: Flesh-eating aliens were chasing me when I caused fatal car crash

This sounds like his kind of case.


Because It's Instinctive?

USDA Fails To Figure Out Why Tiger Attacked Illusionist Roy Horn

Just a wild guess on my part -- I mean it's not like tigers have spent centuries undomesticated, roaming huge territories and killing things.


That's A Relief

Cosmic Crash Won't Destroy Comet or Earth

And here I thought the Deep Impact mission was a plan by Osama Bin Laden to wreak interplanetary havoc. I'll sleep much better tonight.


Write Your Own Punchline

Cop Stabbed During Dunkin' Donuts Heist

Sometimes they make it a little too easy. This one falls in that category too:

Manila faithful flock to bury Sin

I just hope at the funeral no one said, "I have come not to bury Sin, but to praise him."

And if you are the least bit dirty minded, you'll come up with a dozen or so real winners for this goody:

Why You Can't Tickle Yourself

And they will all be best kept to yourself.


A Novel Approach

Women in an eastern Indian forest are stripping naked to distract police and to help a criminal gang avoid arrest while illegally chopping down trees, the Hindustan Times reported on Tuesday.
That may be the most inventive bit of criminality I have heard about in a long time. People this smart almost deserve to get away with it.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005


Aging Churches

Cerulean Sanctum has been examining the business/church interface for a while now. His latest got Transforming Sermons attention -- and mine. I want to use the same money quote TS does, and another. First the one in common with TS
The "old is bad" meme has caught on even within God's Body. Churches preach that your appearance does not matter and that age means nothing--while at the same time they kick out the gray-haired worship pastor in favor of the trendy postmodern guy who loves Coldplay.
I have to be honest, I think CS aims well here, but still misses the essential point. Appearance isn't the issue in these cases, it's the perception that "the young are the future of the church." The media driven stuff that does this sort of falls into the background when you consider the real cost of ejecting the older:

I really like the second quote from the post

What we in the church tell the downsized and unemployed is a contradictory message, too. We say we'll stand by them, but then offer no help in finding them work.
Churches should be running ministries specifically to job-seekers. My father ran one for years, he helped people prepare resumes and CV's, he counselled them on interviewing technique, he networked them. Any church of any size ought to have such a ministry. My church is small enough that when I hear someone is out of work, I just go talk to them, but bigger churches need to organize something like that. I strongly recommend it.


These Things Do Get Aroound!

I have been working very hard to disassociate the recent military murder in Iraq from the term "fragging." (see those posts here -- here -- here -- here) Some have wondered why. Here's Why!

Ward Churchill backs fragging
Controversial '9-11 prof' suggests rolling grenades under line officers

Obviously the guy hasn't had enough headlines lately - so he has decided to make a bigger jerk of himself than he already has.

And while we are discussing completely imbecilic ranters that are still adelpated from the 60's can we forget Tom Hayden? He is alive and blogging at HuffPo
In January 2005, a group of fifty peace activists from the Vietnam and Iraq eras issued a global appeal to end the war. The appeal proposed undermining the pillars of war (public opinion, funding, troop recruitment, international allies) and building the pillars of peace and justice (an independent anti-war movement linked to justice issues, a progressive Democratic opposition, soldiers and families against the war, a global network to stop the US empire).
Is it just me or does that all sound vaguely familiar? You'd think he learned something in the intervening 35 years between those two eras he cites. The rest of us have.

One more thing while we're placing loose with words like "fragging" -- consider the word "torture" -- Assumption of Command gets it just right in this must read.

UPDATE 6/30/05

Blackfive has happened on Ward Churchill's inanities and has some great resources to try and upseat Churchill from his teaching post. If anything can bust tenure -- calling for the murder of American military officers ought to qualify!


Premature Ejaculation

The fireworks this July 4 are going to be a bit more spectacular than usual. That's when "Deep Impact," a NASA probe, is going to have a device impact a comet to create a crater and allow us to get a look at what the comet ejects and what its core looks like. That is truly a cool idea.

But apparently the comet has ideas of it's own as it is already beginning to eject stuff.

There is some talk that the comet -- too small for the naked eye to see -- will become visible when Deep Impact hits. I know I'll be looking!


Now What!?

Just when I thought I had it all figured out...
Overweight people who diet to reach a healthier weight are more likely to die young than those who remain fat, according to a study.
Let me make sure I have this straight -- it's bad to get fat, but if your fat, it's bad to diet, but then you might get heart desease, and losing weight will help with that, so you should diet, but then you might die sooner...

Daisy, Daisy,


History Matters

John Fund had an absolutely dynamite piece in OpinionJournal yesterday.
What will slip further down a memory hole will be the major reason why it is important for students to study our history: America is an exceptional country in that we were born out of a shared set of ideas--human liberty and opportunity, accompanied by a common set of values. It is often said that while being a Frenchman or German is bound up in ethnicity and ties to the soil, it is possible to become an American by adopting this nation's creed and beliefs.

We are risking something very basic by failing to communicate the basic ideals of America and instead, as historian David McCullough told me, "raising a generation of students who are historically illiterate." But many of those students will eventually become curious, and without a solid grounding in the past, they could easily fall prey to revisionist history, whether it be of the Confederate or Oliver Stone variety.

Yale professor David Gelernter says that "ignorance of history is destroying our judgment." He points to Sen. Dick Durbin's ignorant comment comparing the actions of U.S. personnel at Guantanamo Bay to those of Nazis and Soviets. His remarks went largely unremarked upon by fellow senators until talk radio made them an issue. Future leaders may make even more horrific missteps: a 2003 survey of seniors at the top 55 liberal arts colleges found that over half thought Germany, Italy or Japan had been a U.S. ally in World War II. The concern about historical amnesia crosses the political spectrum. Bill Moyers, the liberal PBS pundit, has said "we Americans seem to know everything about the last 24 hours but very little of the last 60 centuries or the last 60 years."
I had lunch with a friend yesterday during which we were discussing how absolutely ignorant so many people are of history. He told me a story about a discussion with a vegan wherein it was pointed out that Abraham Lincoln understood that value of all life and ate meat to boot, wherein the vegan replied, "And he probabaly died in his 30's from a heart attack." UGH!


Think Big

A wild idea to combat global warming suggests creating an artificial ring of small particles or spacecrafts around Earth to shade the tropics and moderate climate extremes.

There would be side effects, proponents admit. An effective sunlight-scattering particle ring would illuminate our night sky as much as the full Moon, for example.

And the price tag would knock the socks off even a big-budget agency like NASA: $6 trillion to $200 trillion for the particle approach. Deploying tiny spacecraft would come at a relative bargain: a mere $500 billion tops.

But the idea, detailed today in the online version of the journal Acta Astronautica, illustrates that climate change can be battled with new technologies, according to one scientist not involved in the new work.
If you're going to dream, dream big I always say, but before we do this, can we solve air pollution in the LA basin by putting giant fans on the mountains? And maybe we can clean up Chernobyl by genetically engineering some sort of really big lizard that likes to eat amazingly radioactive material. I mean, I really love this plan, I just think we have some higher priorities at the moment.


From the Edge of Taste

There a real buzz about this one:
Flies take over village
The bad thing is that the headline does not reflect the really tasteless part.

And while we are being tasteless, thanks to NRO's Corner for this little gem. I do love toilet humor.


And Pigs Fly

Australians drink less beer

Than who? Germans, maybe? With a name like "Schroeder" I guess I should know.


Night Of The Living Dog

SCIENTISTS have created eerie zombie dogs, reanimating the canines after several hours of clinical death in attempts to develop suspended animation for humans.

US scientists have succeeded in reviving the dogs after three hours of clinical death, paving the way for trials on humans within years.
What makes them "eerie zombie dogs?" Do they eat only fresh human brains? Walk slow and grunt a lot?
Pittsburgh's Safar Centre for Resuscitation Research has developed a technique in which subject's veins are drained of blood and filled with an ice-cold salt solution.

The animals are considered scientifically dead, as they stop breathing and have no heartbeat or brain activity.

But three hours later, their blood is replaced and the zombie dogs are brought back to life with an electric shock....

...Tests show they are perfectly normal, with no brain damage.
That's no fun, zombies are a lot more fun when they are brain damaged.


I Did No Such Thing

Schroeder Seeks Bush Support on U.N. Seat

Besides, even if it were true -- how would a shrub help?


Hugh Hewitt In Fender-Bender

Hewitt overcomes Dent challenge


Who's Sick Now -- Paul or Ringo?

Bid to save rare British beetle


Formula One Really Needs This.... they need a hole in the head.
Formula One teams could boycott future races if they get severe penalties for their role in the US Grand Prix fiasco, Minardi boss Paul Stoddart said.
But then these teams are not necessarily money makers -- they are engineering platforms and advertising for the manufacturers.

Monday, June 27, 2005


Making My Blood Boil

Found this on Opinionjournal over the weekend.
Those were the days of innocent dumbing-down. Now mathematics is being nudged into a specifically political direction by educators who call themselves "critical theorists." They advocate using mathematics as a tool to advance social justice. Social justice math relies on political and cultural relevance to guide math instruction. One of its precepts is "ethnomathematics," that is, the belief that different cultures have evolved different ways of using mathematics, and that students will learn best if taught in the ways that relate to their ancestral culture. From this perspective, traditional mathematics--the mathematics taught in universities around the world--is the property of Western civilization and is inexorably linked with the values of the oppressors and conquerors. The culturally attuned teacher will learn about the counting system of the ancient Mayans, ancient Africans, Papua New Guineans and other "nonmainstream" cultures.
I am unsure where to even begin to rant about this atrocity.

Mathematics is the last purely objective language. It is the one place where argument involves actual and irrefutable proof. I realize that many will never understand this, but there is little more beautiful in the world than a short, elegant and very profound mathematical proof.

Besides, mathematics is not the property of western civilization. It's ultimate roots are in ancient Persia, but much of it was borrowed from other sources including China, India and the Mayans. Math is not a cultural phenomena, but a natural one. It is born not out of ideas, but out of pure description.

Arithmitic -- that is the branch of mathematics associated with counting things -- was born out of a very practical need, commerce. But mathematics as a whole was born out of a desire to describe what was happening in the universe around us.

Calculus, seemingly born of Newton and Liebnez, is found in some forms more anciently. It is not a cultural statement, but rather the only way possible to describe the fundamentals of motion in the macroscopic universe.

Only someone with no understanding of mathematics or its history could be so ignorant as to propose something like "ethnomathematics." I have to calm down before I can say anything sensible about how to combat this trend, but combat it we MUST!


When He's Right...

Al Mohler has put his foot firmly in his mouth a couple of times in the last couple of weeks (see here and here) but when he is right, he is right.

Al's post for yesterday quotes Paul S. Jones on hymns
Although worship has become a buzzword in all ecclesiastical circles, minimal attention is given to biblical teaching concerning worship. As a result, we find evangelicals slipping away from biblical worship and justifying their practices on the basis of the Zeitgeist. A hedonistic, narcissistic, relativistic, 'me-focused' age, though, is hardly one that should inform and define our approach to God.
I can't argue with that.


Finally, I've Made up My Mind About Flag Burning

I've been mute on the flag burning amendment thing becasue I haven't known what to say. But thanks to Powerline for pointing me to Mark Steyn in the Chicago Sun-Times which has helped me make up my mind -- I'm against the amendment.

Steyn summarizes his arguement in his last paragraph
That's the point: A flag has to be worth torching. When a flag gets burned, that's not a sign of its weakness but of its strength. If you can't stand the heat of your burning flag, get out of the superpower business. It's the left that believes the state can regulate everyone into thought-compliance. The right should understand that the battle of ideas is won out in the open.
I agree wholeheartedly, and would add a thought.

Michael Medved is fond of discussing the "do something: disease. That is to say, when we see something we do not like, we feel we have to do something. Sometimes, our principles actually prevent us from doing something -- in this case our respect for free speech should prevent us from this action.

I believe it was Abraham Lincoln that said "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt." A mute response to someone burning a flag simply says "You are not worthy of response, your actions speak for themselves." Something like a constitutional amendment grants these cretins far more attention than they deserve.


Speculating About A Military Murder

My fascination with the recent murder of two National Guard officers near Tikrit continues. The news on the situation has slowed down considerably, which I am grateful for because the press has been using it for fodder for the Iraq=Vietnam meme.

But a little news continues to leak out. Star and Stripes has a piece on the whole units efforts to come to grips with the situation. This unit needs to know that our prayers and best wishes are with them.

The Journal News of Westchester, New York has a piece about how the military legal process will work in this situation.

Within these stories, there are some interesting little tidbits. And since some in the press have used this incident to speculate, I thought I might speculate as well -- call it forming a theory of the crime so we can look for evidence to see if it's true.

First snippet (from the S&S piece)
The mission is supplying the entire division?s 23,000 soldiers with armored trucks, uniforms, office supplies, ammunition and everything else the units need to operate.
My father was a supply sargeant during the Korean War era, though fortunately never deployed. I am not sure people understand how incredibly complex that job is. Think about the amount of material required to supply 23,000 poeple with everything. Just keeping track of all of it is an enormous job.

Think also what it would be like if you were someone who had demonstrated a propensity for breaking the law -- something we learned about the accused in this case in the last post. All that stuff sitting around, some of it worth enormous amounts of money, and you controlling at least some of the paperwork -- sure would make it easy to steal something, wouldn't it?

Consider the next snippet (also from the S&S piece)
Allen, 34, had arrived in Iraq just four days before he died. He had volunteered to come over and help this specific company, Willsey said.
Maybe 1st Lt. Allen so volunteered specifically because there were indications of problems in the unit -- funky paperwork, material missing, who knows, but something.

Now, suppose you were this law-breaking supply sargeant when Allen shows, what would you do? Remember now, you have already demonstrated that you don't have a lot of problems with things like theft, destruction of property, and at least the potential to harm another human. Murder might just seem like a good way to save yourself.

Look, I'm speculating here, I admit it, unlike some in the MSM. But my point is this -- why rush to decide there are big problems in the military? This could be nothing more than the most common of crime stories -- murder for profit.


Straight From Iraq

I've heard from Jared in Iraq again.

Greeting once again from Fort Tal Afar. Well, we are finally past our halfway point. Right now the date of the day (and it changes often) for us to come home is somewhere around the end of December. Since I mobilized in mid-October (wow that seems like a long time ago), we are on the home stretch. Right now our focus is not get complacent but to remain vigilant in all that we do.

Our missions have been pretty varied. There is a large mountain range just south of us that runs about 10 miles long and is about 2 miles wide that we are searching for weapon caches. We found some bombs the other day, but the insurgents had already taken all of the explosives out of them. We do sweep through the area looking for tire tracks and freshly dug areas to help find these. In addition, we have also been doing some engineer route recons. There is only one way for the tanks that we are with to get around the mountains and it takes about an hour to get around them. We have been going through the mountains looking for passes that the tanks can traverse. I even took some time myself to get behind the wheel of a 12,000+ lbs HMMWV and take it on some serious off-roading looking for passes. "Where we're going, we don't need roads!" We also have been conducting route sweeps at night looking for insurgents placing IED's. On several occasions, we have been driving with all of our lights off, using night vision devices and thermal imagery (based off body heat) and spotted guys placing bombs on the side of the road. We move to intercept these people who always take off in their cars/trucks. This is where it gets interesting because these HMMWV's were made for power and protection, not speed! We have shot up a few of their vehicles, but many times, they drive off into villages and hide amongst the locals there.

We have conducted several large scale operations in the area. We have twice taken sections of the city of Tal Afar and conducted cordon and searches where we block off a section and go door to door searching houses. We have captured several known terrorists this way thanks to some good intelligence work and the bravery of some of the locals in reporting the locations of these men. These missions tend to be the most dangerous as we are moving through insurgent territory to include kicking in their doors and trying to determine immediately who is hostile and who is not. My heart goes out to the children of this country. They are so young and innocent but trapped in this dangerous country. On this last large raid, a team and I went on a door to door move to find some snipers shooting at another of my squads. As we would kick in doors to get out of the street where the enemy was shooting as us, we would find women with their children. These little children were actually quite calm with all of the bullets flying. We would actually have to take these children and their mothers into a back room that would provide them the most protection. All while we make our way to their roofs to shoot back bullets and grenades at the enemy. In another house, the mother was offering one of my squads cold water while her children were playing. I knelt down to play "high-five" with a young boy not much older than Hannah. He would jump as high as he could to slap my hand and when he would hit it, he would just grin and giggle. The sad part that blew me away was when I asked one of my squad leaders where the man of the house was. He informed me that his hands tested positive for explosives and he had an AK-47 with several magazines of ammo (which the weapon is not illegal to own, but there is a restriction on ammo). This family's father/husband had been taken into custody and they were serving us tea and their children were playing with us. (Note: the man was questioned and released as he had the extra ammunition for protection and he worked with fertilizer, which causes a positive for explosives).

Pretty soon, we will be doing a demolition mission where we will be blowing up this rubbled police station that not only stands as a reminder of the damage the insurgents can do, but also gives them a hiding place to put out IED's on a major route. We were originally going to reduce the 2-story building to rubble, but now are going to do some surgical explosions to just bring the building down and then have a large bulldozer to finish the job.

The fort we live in is getting some improvements, in some part to the guys of my squad. We have about 5 large rooms that house about 30-50 Americans and about 10 large rooms that house about 60-75 Iraqi Army soldiers. We went in and built some walls to help section off the rooms to give some of the guys some privacy and their own living area. We have done some electrical and plumbing work to help improve the standard of living here. The food service and unit we are supporting are working to complete a contract that will start serving American. We were able to use some money to get some Tony's mini-pizzas and Hot Pockets, however, I never knew you could really mess up French Fries, until I got here.

The guys are really getting settled in. They have repaired a large TV that the Iraqis had sitting here and now have a mini-movie theater. I keep asking if the guys want to borrow the 36-disc set of Little House on the Prarie that I have, but I don't get many takers. Show's what they know!

Please continue to pray for us as we are in harms way, just as much, if not more, than ever. Philipians 4:13: I can do all things through him who strengthens me!" God will get us through!!!

For God and Country, Jared

I am consistently blown away by the way he reports such things -- these people really are heroes. While we are on the ubject of really honoring these guys like we should, please, I mean really PLEASE read Ben Stein's Last Column for E!online.


We're Not The Only Ones With Court Problems

Yesterday I reported that Jerusalem had stopped a gay pride parade. Today, thanks to Scotwise, we learn that Israeli courts have ordered it back on.

In yesterday's post I said
Homosexuals must realize they are, if not abominable, certainly a minority. In a place where relgion is so prominent, something like a gay pride parade cannot be interpreted as anything but an "in your face." Forget morality, to try such a thing is simply rude.
I stand by that. I am getting really sick and tired of people abusing their rights instead of accepting the responsibility (like say to simple politeness and civility) that they impart.



It's something on an interesting brew this week...


They are carrying on in England about what they call "micro-generation" for electrical power. The idea is that everyone would have their own little solar staion on the roof, of wind mill to power thier home, and then they would sell their excess power to the grid.

Let's contemplate that for just a moment. How attractive would it be if every home in your neighborhood sprouted something like what you see here? I mean the mini-dishes sprouting up for satelitte cable are bad enough and they are not that ubiquitous just yet.

And then there is the issue of solar panels. Oh yeah, they are attractive on a roof, and they will now dictate rooflines, limiting not just the roof, but the complete architecture of the home. And given that different rooflines and accompanying architectural styles have developed over the years to accomodate local preciptation patterns, something that is actually quite useful.

This is not sounding like the brightest idea I have ever heard.

More than three decades after the Endangered Species Act gave the federal government tools and a mandate to protect animals, insects and plants threatened with extinction, the landmark law is facing the most intense efforts ever by the White House, Congress, landowners and industry to limit its reach.
Thank goodness! This law is, in its present form, so wrong in so many ways. From failing to define what a species really is, to failing to differentiate between a natural extinction (after all it was happening long before we came along) and a man-made one, to the fact that it amounts to an unconstitutional taking, this thing is a disaster.


Once in a while, some very real problems emerge. Here is a couple of examples. From Iowa
At least 200 gallons of animal fat were spilled into a storm sewer Thursday morning, state environmental officials said.
That's a mess, and in no way easy to clean up. And then from the old home state of Indiana
A foul odor from a stream that had turned brown prompted a resident to call authorities who discovered raw sewage from a treatment plant had seeped into the water.
There's a job I'm glad I am not on.


I am not sure I am in complete agreement with all this piece has to say, but I thought it was interesting enough to pass along. It's a truly libertarian take on EHS regulation.


Devaluing Excellence

I discussed grade inflation yesterday. It's pretty bad, but this is worse.
The Columbus Stars were removed from their league last month because they were too good. In some of their last games, the Stars beat the Red Sox 18-0, World Harvest 13-0, Sugar Grove II 24-0 and Sugar Grove I 10-2.

Other teams began complaining - and canceling.

Michael Mirones, board chairman for the Canal Winchester Joint Recreation District, pulled the Stars from the league and returned their $150 entry fee. He suggested the Stars play in a travel league against better teams.
OK, that's it -- anyone rated higher than me in the ecosystem or the Blogdom of God has to quit blogging now! It's just not fair!


Goodbye Tigger!

Paul Winchell, the original voice of Tigger in the Disney animated versions, has died. I met Paul once back in the mid-'80's at a party. He was a very soft-spoken guy and very nice.

He was an amazing talent, and created what is, in my never to be humble opinion, one of the best and most memorable cartoon voices of all time. Tigger will now always be an imitation of the best.


A Wrong Turn At The Corner

John J Miller at NRO's Corner blog is making fun of comic books and comic book movies, based on this WaPo piece. I am not sure he read the whole piece nor understands the serious dollars that are at stake in the super-hero movie game.

I guess it's OK that I will always be a geek in Mr. Miller's mind, but then I find the whole Beatles - Stones question pretty geeky too.

Sunday, June 26, 2005


The Old West

I dearly love the American West and it's history. In recent years, that history has been written and re-written. Everybody with an axe to grind is trying to use the history of the American West as their wetting stone. "The settling of the American West is the story of environmental exploitation." "The story of the California gold rush is the story of the oppression of Chinese immigrants" "The white man was genocidal towards the native American."

Such theses have made me loathe to read any recent histories -- I don't learn history, I just get a sermon. Thus it was with some trepidation that I clicked into this NYTimes piece. I was hoping for something that examined the "reality" of the west. Which this article as least started to do. It does point out that the gunfights and cattle rustling are just a small, but exciting part of the total picture.

But the sermon had to be made.
The Indians saw that Washington's new interest in the Black Hills would be disastrous for them (a topic for a later column). Raiding was no longer costlier than trading for the settlers because they could now let troops do the raiding for them. Hobbes had expected war in the absence of government, but the West didn't really get wild until the feds arrived.
So, apparently, the latest story of the west is that of an expansionist and imperialistic government taking and opressing the free lands.

As with all periods of history, the period of the western expansion of America is a mixed bag. There is good and bad, admirable and loathesome. In the end the settling of the West is the story of American doing what they do best, and being the best they can be. Yeah, there is some ugly in their too, but there always is.

I am reminded of one of the last lines of the movie "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence."
This is the west, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.
I don't think that is about being less than truthful, that is about choosing to focus on the positive. It's about knowing the bad, but concentrating on the good. I really wish the latest batch of historians would learn that lesson.


The End Of A Ministry

From the BBC:
Billy Graham leads 'last' rally
Why is the word "last" in quotes? It calls him a liar, and he does not deserve that.


How'd You Like To Get This In The Mail?

A pet hamster is at the centre of a bizarre police investigation after it was put in a sealed envelope and posted in a letter box, it has been revealed.
Do you think they marked it "Hand Cancel Only?"


As It Should Be

Jerusalem bans gay pride parade

Jerusalem is the holiest city on the planet to three different religions, all of which find homosexual practice at a minimum outside the realm of normality. Well, that is understating the case -- the religions find it an abomination.

Homosexuals must realize they are, if not abominable, certainly a minority. In a place where relgion is so prominent, something like a gay pride parade cannot be interpreted as anything but an "in your face." Forget morality, to try such a thing is simply rude.

Hooray for the Jerusalem authorities.


Physicians Not As Nerdy As Other Scientists

That appears to be the primary point of this article.
In the survey of 1,044 doctors nationwide, 76 percent said they believe in God, 59 percent said they believe in some sort of afterlife, and 55 percent said their religious beliefs influence how they practice medicine.

"We were surprised to find that physicians were as religious as they apparently are," said Dr. Farr Curlin, a researcher at the University of Chicago's MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics.

"There's certainly a deep-seated cultural idea that science and religion are at odds," and previous studies have suggested that fewer than half of scientists believe in God, Curlin said Wednesday.

A previous survey showed about 83 percent of the general population believes in God.

But while medicine is science-based, doctors differ from scientists who work primarily in a laboratory setting, and their direct contact with patients in life-and-death situations may explain the differing views, Curlin said.
Faults with this reporting are numerous. First of all they quote no specific statistics concerning "scientists." Secondly, they do not define "scientist," which can cover a huge range of individuals. Thirdly, medicine is as much art as science, a fact they conveniently ignore.

My conclusion
: Reporters must be required to take graduate level statistics before they get to report on "studies."


Because I Am Compelled

I ran acorss this really neat article on the BBC site about astronomical viewing. I was going to talk some serious science, but I find myself unable to resist the joke. Headline:

Why does the moon look so big now?

Because it's a very big man showing it to you -- that's why. (Wait for it -- the chuckle will hit you.)


Sermons and Lessons


Born in Fantiveros, Castile, in Spain, John became a Carmelite monk in 1564. He studied philosophy and theology at the Carmelite college in Salamanca, one of Europe?s leading universities. In 1567. the year he was ordained, he met with Teresa of Avila. Teresa saw great potential in John and put him in charge of the order. She admired his rigorous life-style and leadership ability. She was not disappointed, as John was able to establish several new orders.

It was during this time that he was named ?John of the Cross,? as a result of his suffering and commitment. He spent the rest of his life in the service of the Catholic Reform through his leadership and many writings. He was eventually arrested and put in confinement by those who opposed the reform. It was in confinement that his most famous work, The Dark Night of the Soul, was written. It describes the work of God upon the soul?not through joy and light, but through sorrow and darkness. The concept of the ?dark night? has become an integral part of understanding the spiritual journey. Though he died four centuries ago, John of the Cross continues to exercise a significant influence on Christian spirituality.


1. To Purity the Soul

At a certain point in the spiritual journey God will draw a person from the beginning stage to a more advanced stage. At this stage the person will begin to engage in religious exercises and grow deeper in the spiritual life.

Such souls will likely experience what is called ?the dark night of the soul.? The ?dark night? is when those persons lose all the pleasure that they once experienced in their devotional life. This happens because God wants to purify them and move them on to greater heights.

After a soul has been converted by God, that soul is nurtured and caressed by the Spirit. Like a loving mother, God cares for and comforts the infant soul by feeding it spiritual milk. Such souls will find great delight in this stage. They will begin praying with great urgency and perseverance; they will engage in all kinds of religious activities because of the joy they experience in them.

But there will come a time when God will bid them to grow deeper. He will remove the previous consolation from the soul in order to teach it virtue and prevent it from developing vice. The following sections deal with the seven capital sins. In each of the sins it becomes clear how the soul has begun to misuse its spiritual consolation and why God must take it away in order to purify the soul from these imperfections.

2. Secret Pride

Beginners in the spiritual life are apt to become very diligent in their exercises. The great dan¬ger for them will be to become satisfied with their religious works and with themselves. It is easy for them to develop a kind of secret pride, which is the first of the seven capital sins.

Such persons become too spiritual. They like to speak of ?spiritual things? all the time. They become content with their growth. They would prefer to teach rather than to be taught. They condemn others who are not as spiritual as they are. They are like the Pharisee who boasted in himself and despised the publican who was not as spiritual as he.

The devil will often inflame their fervor so that their pride will grow even greater. The devil knows that all of their works and virtues will become valueless and, if unchecked, will become vices. For they begin to do these spiritual exercises to be esteemed by others. They want others to realize how spiritual they are. They will also begin to fear confession to another for it would ruin their image. So they soften their sins when they make confession in order to make them appear less imperfect.

They will beg God to take away their imperfections. but they do this only because they want to find inner peace and not for God?s sake. They do not realize that if God were to take away their imperfections from them, they would probably become prouder and more presumptuous still.

But those who are at this time moving in God?s way will counter this pride with humility. They will learn to think very little of themselves and their religious works. Instead, they will focus on how great and how deserving God is and how little it is that they can do for him. The Spirit of God dwells in such persons, urging them to keep their treasures secretly within themselves.

3. Attached to the Feelings

Many of these beginners will also begin to have spiritual greed, the second capital sin. They will become discontented with what God gives them because they do not experience the consolation they think they deserve. They begin reading many books and performing many acts of piety in an attempt to gain more and more spiritual consolation.

Their hearts grow attached to the feelings they get from their devotional life. They focus on the affect, and not on the substance of devotion. Quite often these souls will attach themselves to particular religious objects or holy places and begin to value visible things too highly.

But those who are on the right path will set their eyes on God and not on these outward things nor on their inner experiences. They will enter the dark night of the soul and find all of these things removed. They will have all the pleasure taken away so that the soul may be purified. For a soul will never grow until it is able to let go of the tight grasp it has on God.

4. Three Causes

The third sin is spiritual luxury. ft is from this sin that all of the others proceed, and thus, it is the most important. Here is what happens: a soul which is deep in prayer may experience profound temptations and find itself powerless to prevent them. Sometimes this even happens during holy communion, or when saying confession. This happens from one of three causes.

The first cause is the physical pleasure the body takes in spiritual things. The lower part of our nature, the flesh, is sometimes stirred up during times of devotion. But it cannot possess and lay hold upon the experience, and so, begins to stir up what it can possess, namely, the impure and the sensual.

The second cause is the devil. In order to disturb and disquiet the soul the devil will try to stir up impurity within the soul, hoping that it will give heed to these temptations. The soul will begin to fear these temptations and become lax in prayer, and if they persist, it may even give up on prayer altogether.

The third cause is an inordinate fear of impure thoughts. Some souls are so tender and frail that they cannot stand such thoughts and live in great fear of them. This fear in itself can cause their downfall. They become agitated at the least disturbance and thus are too easily distracted.

When the soul enters into the dark night, all these things are put under control. The flesh will be quieted, the devil will be silent, and the fear will subside, all because of the fact that God takes away all of the sensory pleasure, and the soul is purified in the absence of it.

5. Saints in a Day

When the soul begins to enjoy the benefits of the spiritual life and then has them taken away, it becomes angry and embittered. This is the sin of spiritual wrath, the fourth capital sin, and it, too, must be purged in the dark night.

When their delight comes to an end, these persons are very anxious and frustrated just as an infant is angry when it is taken away from its mother?s breast. There is no sin in this natural disappointment, but if it is left to itself, it may become a dangerous vice.

There are some who become angry with themselves at this point, thinking that their loss of joy is a result of something they have done or have neglected to do. They will fuss and fret and do all they can to recover this consolation. They will strive to become saints in a day. They will make all kinds of resolutions to be more spiritual, but the greater the resolution, the greater is the fall.

Their problem is that they lack the patience that waits for whatever God would give them and when God chooses to give them. They must learn spiritual meekness which will come about in the dark night.

6. Beyond the Limits of Moderation

The fifth sin is spiritual gluttony,. Many souls become addicted to the spiritual sweetness of the devotional life and strive to obtain more and more of it. They pass beyond the limits of moderation and nearly kill themselves with spiritual exercises.

They will often try to subdue their flesh with great acts of submission, lengthy fasts, and painful penances. But note: these are one-sided penances; they do not come from God. Such persons are working their own will, and thus, grow in vice rather than in virtue.

They are not walking in true obedience, but rather, are doing what they want in the time and measure that they have chosen. They do these things not for God but for themselves, and for this reason they will soon grow weary in them. For this reason, it is probably better for these persons to give up their devotions entirely.

The problem is this: when they have re¬ceived no pleasure for their devotions, they think they have not accomplished anything. This is a grave error, and it judges God unfairly. For the truth is that the feelings we receive from our devotional life are the least of its benefits. The invisible and unfelt grace of God is much greater, and it is beyond our comprehension.

It may be said that through their efforts to obtain consolation such souls actually lose their spirituality. For true spirituality consists in perseverance, patience, and humility. The sin of spiritual gluttony will prompt them to read more books and say more prayers, but God, in his wisdom, will deny them any consolation because he knows that to feed this desire will create an inordinate appetite and breed in¬numerable evils. The Lord heals such souls through the aridity of the dark night.

7. Weary with Spiritual Exercises

The last two sins are the vices of spiritual envy and spiritual sloth. People who fancy themselves as spiritual are quite often not pleased to hear about the spiritual growth of others. Their chief concern is to be praised themselves. They are not pleased that such attention is being given to someone else and would prefer to be thought of as the most spiritual of all. This is contrary to love, which, as Paul says, rejoices in goodness.

Spiritual sloth happens when the pleasure is removed from the spiritual life. Such souls become weary with spiritual exercises because they do not yield any consolation, and thus, they abandon them. They become angry because they are called to do that which does not fit their needs. They begin to lose interest in God for they measure God by themselves and not themselves by God. Such souls are too weak to bear the crosses that are given to us to help us grow, crosses we face in the dark night of the soul.

8. God Works Passively

Let it suffice to say, then, that God perceives the imperfections within us, and because of his love for us, urges us to grow up. His love is not content to leave us in our weakness, and for this reason he takes us into a dark night. He weans us from all of the pleasures by giving us dry times and inward darkness.

In doing so he is able to take away all these vices and create virtues within us. Through the dark night pride becomes humility, greed becomes simplicity, wrath becomes contentment, luxury becomes peace, gluttony becomes moderation, envy becomes joy, and sloth becomes strength. No soul will ever grow deep in the spiritual life unless God works passively in that soul by means of the dark night.


The Worst Is Yet To Come

Arthur Richardson thought he'd pull a prank and pretend to swallow a friend's truck key. Unfortunately, Wednesday's prank backfired when Richardson plopped the key in his mouth and gravity took over.

Richardson went to a doctor Thursday, who X-rayed his stomach and got a clear picture of the key. The doctor said the key posed no danger, but Richardson's friend needed to use his truck.

So Richardson and his friend took the X-rays to a locksmith, who used the pictures to fashion a new key. And it worked in the truck.
This too shall pass, but I'm betting it won't be easy.


A Must Not Read

Novel Written by Saddam to Be Published


Just When You Think You've Done Good

I've shared in this blog before that I have been losing weight -- haven't said how much, but I will now reveal that it is significant, very significant. To the point where I have been feeling a little smug about it. Not any more.
Nebraska Man Has Lost 573 Pounds in a Year
Poor guy....


Old In The UK

The BBC carried stories over the last couple of days about a 109 year-old WWI veteran and 2 people in their 90's getting married.

I bet there are no children in the future for that couple, unless their names are Abraham and Sarah.

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