Saturday, July 09, 2005


Loving Londoners

Gotta love that stiff Brit upper lip. I am amazed at the resoluteness and the calm of Londoners. I am equally amazed at the silliness and misguidedness of many Americans. Our isolation has truly turned us into a bunch of worrywarts and wimps.

First point -- I am going to London in a few weeks, been planned for months. Staying reasonable close to some of Thursday's action. My resolution is doubled to do so and not to be intimidated. I may end up leaving a lot more money there than I was planning on just to show the terrorists they cannot do serious damage in this fashion.

Now I just want to share a little of the best and worst of what is being said. Let's start with the worst.

Hugh Hewitt is chronicling most of the truly bad stuff, so I will limit myself to just a couple.

I don't know who this is, but the story has got to qualify as the one of the wimpiest things, most self-centered things I have ever read
."Omarion [apparently he is an R&B singer -- but R&B died years ago, so I am confused] was in London during the tragic bombings that struck this morning," a statement by the singer's publicist AR PR Marketing, released hours after the bombings, said.

Making no mention of the fatalities or casualties of the blasts, the singer's statement concluded, "He would like his fans to pray that he has a safe trip and a safe return home. He appreciates your support."

The prize; however, goes to that most stuck-in-the-sixties pothead, Tom Hayden from HuffPo.
The lesson should be that Bush has put the West, including the American people, at life-and-death risk by going to war for fabrications. We will never be "safer" as long as we invade and occupy Iraq, prop up the Saudi dictators, and crawl towards only a token Palestinian state. We will be safe when we no longer forcibly occupy Muslim lands in the oil-driven search for dominance.

Before more attacks and more deaths, it is time for Congress to take the initiative from the Bush Administration and hold hearings on an exit strategy from Iraq. It is not acceptable for Donald Rumsfeld to scorn an exit strategy in favor of a victory strategy any longer.

It is time for the peace movement and congressional allies to show solidarity with the British people by getting to the bottom of the Downing Street Memorandums scandal which the smug American media continues to downplay.
It is time for Hayden to get a clue!

And now for some of the Best Stuff.

Religious leaders in London get it right.
Mr Clarke said: "The power of their statements is to state that faith is important in our society and that all faiths have respect for other faiths, and that by working together we can address the problems of society in an effective way."

He said they agreed "that the response should be to ensure that those who try and destroy our multi-faith community should themselves not be able to succeed."
Tony Blair's immediate reaction was right on the nose.
"It is through terrorism that the people who have committed this terrible act express their values and it is right at this moment that we demonstrate ours," said Mr Blair.

"They are trying to use the slaughter of innocent people to cow us, to frighten us out of doing the things that we want to do, of trying to stop us going about our business as normal as we are entitled to do.

"They should not and they must not succeed."
As was the president.
The contrast between what we've seen on the TV screens here, what's taken place in London and what's taking place here is incredibly vivid to me. On the one hand, we have people here who are working to alleviate poverty, to help rid the world of the pandemic of AIDS, working on ways to have a clean environment. And on the other hand, you've got people killing innocent people. And the contract couldn't be clearer between the intentions and the hearts of those of us who care deeply about human rights and human liberty, and those who kill ? those who have got such evil in their heart that they will take the lives of innocent folks.
Tunku Varadarajan writing in yesterday's OpinionJournal described Brit reaction well
I spent much of yesterday morning emailing friends in London--short, worried notes with "You OK??" in the subject line. "Drop me a line," I asked, "so I know you're all right."
The responses were all reassuring, and all marked by that distinctive unflappability that no visitor to Britain can fail to notice, however brief his sojourn. When I moved to London from New Delhi as a boy of 15, I was greatly impressed by the large, stark billboards I saw all over the city depicting a pint of ale. They said: "Take Courage." That was the name of the beer, of course, but I could not help thinking that this counsel was irrefutable proof of national fiber. Which, clearly, it was.

My friend Q.'s response to my note yesterday was a very British jewel: "Yes, tin helmet firmly affixed on bean, sandbags at the door, sticky tape on the windows, but the kettle is on and we'll soon have steaming mugs of sweet tea to hand. Don't panic!"
Adrian Warnock is typically understated.
London is recovering. The Underground website even lists a "normal service" on some lines this morning. Londoners are curiously underwhelmed. Most of the folks in my office didnt down tools and watch the coverage but quietly carried on their work and left a little early to try and get home. We have lived with the very real threat of this kind of thing for decades. Most of us have felt explosions more than once. As I explained in a post last night, one of my most overwhelming feelings is of gratitude that it wasnt worse.
But this photoblog, devoted to the people of the world telling the terrorists they are not afraid is THE winner! It is sometimes profane, but the message is clear and exactly right.


Helping Heroes!

In light of the London attacks, supporting our troops, and their staunch allies the British troops, is more important than ever.

Before the bombing, the Times of London showed how not to do it.
US military kills 17 civilians in bloody rescue mission
I have held on to this story for quite some time, trying to see if anyone reported it in a similar fashion, but no one has. This is the only story I have found that lead with the collateral damage instead of the mission itself. I wonder if they would write it that way today with 50+ of their civilians dead, not as collateral damage, but under direct attack?

One way you can support the troops is make sure Congress votes them the material they need. Captain's Quarters reports on some amazingly futuristic stuff that will save lives someday.

And here is a great way to support the troops, particularly those injured in the line of duty.
The Helping Our Heroes Foundation provides a way for donated funds and services to directly reach our injured military and a way for concerned Americans to volunteer to actively support our armed forces.
Please, follow the link and do what you can today.


Comic Art

This weekend is, of course dedicated to:


They started out with this most memorable of covers by the fabulous and outstanding Jack Kirby. Kirby is the master of FF art and the image below is one of my favs. The duration of, if not the dynamics of, Reed and Sue's marriage is an uncommon example in media, and comics in particular where divorce and infidelity make for wonderful dramatic tension.
Regarding the movie: I loved it! I wish I could objectively tell you that it was a "good" movie, but I cannot. It suffers from mediocre acting in a number of roles, and the development of the bad guy is pretty weak -- deviating way too far, and unnecessarily, from the comic. That said; however, Michael Chilkis as Ben Grimm is outstanding , and that character, one of the most compelling in Marvel history, is very well done -- which in my opinion outweighs the negatives enough to give the movie a recommendation. It has all the sense of fun and "gol-ly" that I missed in this summer's Batman offering. Go, turn your brain off and enjoy, cause it's fun.

Thanks to the gentlemen at Fraters Libertas, I encountered this post at "The Freedom Dogs" about comics propoganda role in WWII. It's good stuff and I wish comics would do more of that today.

In testament to manga - it seems a movie based on one such Japanese comic is beating the pants off Star Wars in asian theaters. Not surprizing given Star Wars quality. (For reference FF, despite it's weaknesses, is better that SWIII.)

Finally, be sure and check out Expert Witness at Evangelical Outpost this weekend. I hear it's extra good.



Man faints, dies after seeing epidural

Worse, his widow is suing the hospital for "making" him watch. That had to be quite the couple, wimpy and whiny.


The Line Between Love and Obsession...

...was crossed by this guy.
To prove his love, a 38-year-old man set himself on fire before getting down on one knee and asking his girlfriend to marry him.
Might she have gotten burned when he tried to slip the ring on her finger? Might that spoil things just a bit?


Beam Me Up

In his new book, "Teleportation ? The Impossible Leap," published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., writer David Darling contends that ""One way or another, teleportation is going to play a major role in all our futures. It will be a fundamental process at the heart of quantum computers, which will themselves radically change the world."
Help Me! Help ME!


Stuff I Know My Wife Will Love!

Well, I love her, and she is my most faithful reader. Given the relatively small audience I have, I can do a little boutique posting from time to time.

This is just to make her squeamish.
Is Giant Rattler in W.Va. Real or Rumor?
Trust me, she won't care, and now that I mention there is a picture, she won't follow the link either.

This link she will follow happily.
Hurricane Dennis in 3-D
I don't call her "Weather Wife" for nothing.

I took her to the location, among many others, this discusses on our honeymoon. I think it is still her favorite place I have ever taken her.
Rushmore Faces Getting Much-Needed Wash
I have to wonder if there was any acne involved?

Friday, July 08, 2005


Dealing With London

In the days and weeks to come there will be an enormous amount said and to say about yesterday's events in London. Maybe it is because I am travelling there in a few weeks - maybe it is because of my blogging friends there, or with family there - maybe it is because of the fillial relationship between our nations, I don't know. Regardless, my heart sunk on this news much as it did on the news of 9-11, and I think to honor that I need to blog a little differently today. I have a huge pile of "the usual," but that is not where my heart resides.

I realize the way I am posting today will probabaly not make sense to people with readers and those that come in from search engines, but these posts are the posts of my heart today. I hope they speak to you as they speak to me.


Mourn The Dead

Jeremiah 6:26
O daughter of my people, put on sackcloth and roll in ashes; mourn as for an only son, a lamentation most bitter. For suddenly the destroyer will come upon us. (NAS)

James 4:8-10
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning, and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you. (NAS)


Pray For The Injured

Psalm 30:2
O LORD my God, I cried to Thee for help, and Thou didst heal me. (NAS)

Jeremiah 33:6
'Behold, I will bring to it health and healing, and I will heal them; and I will reveal to them an abundance of peace and truth. (NAS)


Support The Community

Ezekiel 37:22a,b
and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king will be king for all of them; (NAS)

Psalm 33:12
Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people whom He has chosen for His own inheritance. (NAS)

Acts 2:44
And all those who had believed were together, and had all things in common; (NAS)


Support The Responders

2 Samuel 2:5a
And David sent messengers to the men of Jabesh-gilead, and said to them, "May you be blessed of the LORD because you have shown this kindness... (NAS)

2 Samuel 7:29
"Now therefore, may it please Thee to bless the house of Thy servant, that it may continue forever before Thee. For Thou, O Lord GOD, hast spoken; and with Thy blessing may the house of Thy servant be blessed forever." (NAS)

Matthew 5:7
"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. (NAS)

James 5:11
Behold, we count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord's dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful. (NAS)


Seek Justice

Deuteronomy 10:18
"He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing. (NAS)

Psalm 25:9
He leads the humble in justice, and He teaches the humble His way. (NAS)

Proverbs 20:8
A king who sits on the throne of justice disperses all evil with his eyes. (NAS)

Matthew 12:20
"A battered reed He will not break off, and a smoldering wick He will not put out, until He leads justice to victory. (NAS)


Meet the Enemy

Exodus 15:6
"Thy right hand, O LORD, is majestic in power, Thy right hand, O LORD, shatters the enemy. (NAS)

Proverbs 24:17
Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles; (NAS)

Jeremiah 15:11
The LORD said, "Surely I will set you free for purposes of good; surely I will cause the enemy to make supplication to you in a time of disaster and a time of distress. (NAS)

Zechariah 10:5
"And they will be as mighty men, treading down the enemy in the mire of the streets in battle; and they will fight, for the LORD will be with them; and the riders on horses will be put to shame. (NAS)


Friday Humor

I don't know if a joke is wholly appropriate given the tone I have taken with the rest of today, but then again, it never hurts to smile.

A couple had two little boys, ages 8 and 10, who were excessively mischievous. They were always getting into trouble and their parents knew that if any mischief occurred in their town, their sons were probably involved.

The boys' mother heard that a clergyman in town had been successful in disciplining children, so she asked if he would speak with her boys. The clergyman agreed, but asked to see them individually.

So the mother sent her 8-year-old first, in the morning, with the older boy to see the clergyman in the afternoon.

The clergyman, a huge man with a booming voice, sat the younger boy down and asked him sternly, "Where is God?"

They boy's mouth dropped open, but he made no response, sitting there with his mouth hanging open, wide-eyed.

So the clergyman repeated the question in an even sterner tone, "Where is God?" Again the boy made no attempt to answer.

So the clergyman raised his voice even more and shook his finger in the boy's face and bellowed, "WHERE IS GOD!?"

The boy screamed and bolted from the room, ran directly home and dove into his closet, slamming the door behind him.

When his older brother found him in the closet, he asked, "What happened?"

The younger brother, gasping for breath, replied, "We are in BIG trouble this time, dude...
God is missing--and they think WE did it!"

Thursday, July 07, 2005


Why We Fight!

Well, it appears to be London's turn. Numerous bombs (count varies depending on where you read) have gone off in the London mass transit system. I was there in 2000 for the Queen Mum's 100th when a single IRA bomb went off in "the tube" -- brought the city to a standstill - I can't imagine what this is like.

Someone has taken credit, claiming to be Al-Queda related, but it is too early to tell if that is the case for sure.

Given the circumstances (G8, Olympic bid yesterday) it is likely this is international in origin and not the more local terrorism that London does experience from time-to-time. There will doubtless be much ink and many electrons spent spent claiming this is "our" fault -- that if we were not stirring the pot in Iraq...

...a ruthless, bloody dictator would still be paying people money, stolen from the rest of the world and off the backs of those he ruled, to carry out these attacks far more efficiently and far more effectively than this.

I have no doubt this is timed to harm Tony Blair, our staunchest ally, politically as much as possible. I have no doubt this is timed so that the rest of the peacenik G8 can use it to hammer on Blair and Bush. Flush with their success in Spain, they are trying again for maximal political affect.

Folks, this is war. Mourn the dead, heal the wounded, but pursue the perpetrators. Pulling into our shells will only encourage them to do it over and over until they win the ultimate political victory they desire.

Write Bush and Blair right now -- offer support.
Be on the lookout for appropriate charities in London to send money to.
Write to a soldier in Iraq -- ask them to kill a few terrorists for you today.
Pray for anyone you know in London - right now.

We cannot and should not stand for this.


How Does The Holy Spirit Deal With You?

A while back, I raised a bit of a ruckus when I asked some questions about the "baptism of the Holy Spirit" and then looked at the responses I got. This post from Jollyblogger got me thinking about some of those question again.

Now, before I get too deep into this, Jollyblogger was not writing about this topic. He was presenting some notes on a speech given at an conference he is attending. The subject was "The Trinity and Worship in the World to Come." I am just going to take some of the notes out of context and develop an idea they raise. Here's the money quote
False teachers don't say "I hate Jesus." They stand up in the morning and say "I love Jesus, I believe in Jesus." They preach a cheap grace which relies on the cross but has no concern for the coming judgment. They turn the grace of God into licentiousness, not with their lips, but with their lives. Licentiousness - living according to passions placed in second rate, ungodly pleasures. This is making God a means to some other end. They wink at sin in their own lives and the lives of others. They deny the life-transforming power of God made possible through the cross.

These folks say "I don't have any trouble loving God, I have trouble obeying God." If you separate believing in God from obeying God you are denying the doctrine of the Trinity because you are denying the life transforming power of the Spirit in your life. Can you imagine saying to your wife, "I love you, I just have trouble staying faithful to you." Obedience to God is trust in God gone public. You don't steal because you are trusting God to meet your needs. You don't bear false witness because you trust God to care for your future and so you don't need to put people down to get ahead.

We live by faith when we live between the realities of the cross behind us and the judgment ahead of us. There is really one command in Jude 17-23 - keep yourself in the love of God. The other commands are subsidiaries of this. There is one target - keeping yourself in the love of God. The other commands in Jude 17-23 are target practice.

We build faith by magnifying the glory of God and the glory of God has a magnetic character. We simply learn about the love of God and pray for the Spirit to make this real in our lives. Asking God for help is building ourselves up in the faith.
[emphasis added]
What a wonderful statement about the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

The ministry of the Holy Spirit is to transform us, to create obedience in us, and to make the love of God real in our lives. The ministry of the Holy Spirit is not to make us happy, not to make us feel good about ourselves, not to make the crowd sing better, not to make us euphoric. Those things may be by-products of the ministry of the Holy Spirit, but they are not the ministry itself.

Sometimes the work of the Holy Spirit will not produce those things. I opined last week that the transformation the Holy Spirit brings to our lives is sometimes a process of demolition and reconstruction. That means that sometimes the ministry of the Holy Spirit is to create in us discontent, pain, and trial -- not because those things are good, but because they start us on the journey towards good.

This is why those who focus too much on the miraculous manifestations of the Holy Spirit scare me some. They seem to want to skip this hard stuff. I think we need to learn to embrace our times of trial -- not to wallow in it, but to understand that it generally is God sending us in a new direction.

SmartChristin may be thinking on the same lines. He said this recently
It [longsuffering]is not a topic preached about in most of our churches. But it is a deeply biblical and God-centered word.

What do you think "longsuffering" means? How is "longsuffering" practiced in daily Christian living?
The dictionary defines that word as "Patiently enduring wrongs or difficulties." Interestingly, in the Bible translations I have readily at my disposal for searching (King James, New American Standard, NAS Update, New International Version, and New King James) only the KJV and NKJ use the word. In those version it is considered one of the "fruits of the Spirit." The newer versions substitute the term "patience." When I review my Greek source, I think "patience" does not quite catch it -- that word implies simple waiting, but in the original the word implies forbearance and endurance, as if not only waiting, but waiting through some sort of adversity.

I may catch a lot of heat for this, but I think the Christian life is a good life, but it is not always a pleasant or an easy life. Adversity, particularly adversity against which we lack sufficient resources, puts us in a position to rely on God more than we ever thought possible. This is a cast to the gospel that would be advised against by church consultants, it's part of the gospel most do not want to hear -- but it may be the heart of the gospel, because the heart of the gospel is transformation.

In the end longsuffering is the slow, often painful, process of learning to rely on God -- allowing the Holy Spirit to purge us of the sin to which we are so enslaved.


Greatness Recognized

Powerline points us to this Chicago Tribune and this St Petersburg Times about Paul Smith -- this first CMH winner out of Iraq.
Just before the invasion of Iraq began in March 2003, Smith wrote his family a letter in which he vowed, "I am prepared to give all that I am to ensure that all my boys make it home."

Days later, in a firefight at the Baghdad airport, he took over his disastrously outnumbered platoon's .50-caliber machine gun from a wounded comrade and fired while his men scrambled to safety. When it was over, the Republican Guard troops who attacked Smith's unit were roundly defeated. Smith was dead, shot in the neck. He was the only soldier in the unit to die.
That's the short version from the Tribune piece, the PST piece goes into great detail. I lack the words to give proper tribute to such heroism. This will have to do:


Genuine Persecution

Every now and then when I feel the walls closing in around me by secular forces here in America, I read a story like this and feel much better.
The leader of an underground Chinese church is due to appear in a Beijing court on Thursday, accused of illegally printing more than 200,000 Bibles.
Cai Zhuohua, along with his wife and two other church members, has been charged with "illegal business practices", his lawyers have said.

The Protestant pastor has already been in detention for 10 months.

Although Bibles are not illegal in China, only one firm is permitted by the state to print them.

The country's Christians are also only allowed to worship in state-approved churches, although many people prefer to attend underground or "house" churches such as Pastor Cai's.
Isn't it amazing, the power of the gospel, to motivate people to take such risks. My prayers are with him.


Illuminated Scripture


As If Service Interruptions Are Not Enough...

...Now we are all going to sound like Mickey or Goofy on the cell phone.
Walt Disney Co. announced early Wednesday that it is entering the cellular business, targeting families with a wireless service under its own brand that will seek to sell cellphones to children and their parents.
I'm not sure this qualifies as a "core" business for them.



Got to give another UGH Award. Challies is reporting on a Purpose Driven Life movie?! Big name producer attached to boot, he's a good Christian guy, an acquaintance.

I'm not going to cast any aspersions on the book, but turning a non-fiction book into a movie usually loses something in the translation, often a lot of something. This sounds like serious branding to me and I have to wonder if it is really sanctified.


Were They Fresh?

Dinosaur track found in Alaska's Denali park

I thought Jurassic Park was supposed to be in Caribbean.


The Return Of Gerald Ford

President Bush collided with a local police officer and fell during a bike ride on the grounds of the Gleneagles golf resort while attending a meeting of world leaders Wednesday.
Chevy Chase could have his career back - of course he may be too old to take those pratfalls anymore.


SNAFU Funnies

Milblogger Firepower Forward has an absolutely hilarious piece about interservice rivalry and military bureaucracy. I'd quote it here, but he tells the story too well and deserves whatever traffic I can send his way. Please go read it -- it is pure entertainment.


Not The Way I Want To Be Remembered

Body of Steelers Fan Viewed in Recliner

Fortunately, I am not a Steelers fan. And what do you think this guy did during the off-season?


No, There Really Shouldn't Be A Law

A state lawmaker is pushing for doggy seat belts on the advice of an 11-year-old constituent. Marc McCann of Green Tree came up with the idea as part of state Rep. Tom Stevenson's annual "There Ought to be a Law" contest.


Love That Picture

Red Guy in a Blue State posted pictures for the 4th of July. The second one is extremely moving and worth sharing. Go see it.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005


Churches In Trouble

Hard to Tell which denomination is is in bigger trouble right now. The United Church of Christ,
The United Church of Christ's rule-making body voted overwhelmingly Monday to approve a resolution that endorses same-sex marriage, making it the largest Christian denomination to do so.
or (thanks to Holy Coast for this) The Church of England
HUNDREDS of Church of England clergy doubt the existence of God and fewer than two thirds believe in miracles, a study out today says.
Fortunately, I think that Pyromanic, currently attending the School of Theology at the Metorpolitan Tabernacle in London, may be onto some of the root casues.
The common thread in all these ideas is that they seek to tone down and tame the biblical concept of God?by eliminating the law-court imagery of God as a judge; by redefining his wrath; by questioning the reality of hell; and in general by trying to eliminate any need for the fear of the Lord. This inevitably culminates in an attack on the principles of original sin, imputation, and the idea of the atonement as a penal substitution.

Do away with original sin, imputation, or penal substitution and you undermine the foundations of a proper understanding of justification by faith, the principle of imputed righteousness, and ultimately the gospel itself. These are perilous times. People have itching ears. It's a time when Christians need to be sober, vigilant, and ready to give an answer.
Do we ever!


How To Answer An Uninformed Commenter

Assumption of Command is wondering what to do with this comment.
The unprovoked invasion of Iraq is the most senseless blunder ever undertaken by the U.S. and the world sees it. Apparantly now the majority of Americans do too. You will lose and it will be HUMILIATING. Remember the withdrawl from Vietnam? From Lebanon? From Somalia? Get ready for America's next humiliation, this time at the hands of poorly-armed, untrained Rebel fighters who have only one thing going for them. Not night-vision devices, not heavy armor, certainly not the on-call air support that the U.S. military so cowardly relies upon to bomb every single enemy foxhole when it encounters two guys with rifles. No, they have what Americans lack: COURAGE. The courage to actually fight, instead of the cowardice to keep one's head down in a hole and scream for the Air Farce to do the killing.
Against a real enemy you guys would be meat on a stick, a good reason why the world's biggest bully coward America won't even threaten North Korea or Iran and instead picks on a country like Iraq that it thought won't fight back. Wow, how "brave". But we are seeing, as the Iraqis have turned this into a real war, the American people quickly lose stomach for it. So quick to call for the bludgeoning of a seemingly-defenseless country, they panic when it becomes more involved and dangerous than a walk-over. Next time you see that awful gaudy American rag of a flag flapping in the breeze, remember that.
It is rather difficult to respond to someone with such a pervasive lack of command of anything resembling a fact. The writer fails to understand the distinctions between military decisions and political ones. He fails to understand military tactics and strategy. He even fails to understand the nature of war, if he considers what is currently happening in Iraq right now as a "real war."

This commenter obviously feels that criminal terrorist attacks on unarmed and innocent civilians is "real war," while combat between equipped and trained fighting forces, using all the tools their nation can afford, to win the day as rapidly, efficiently, and with minimal civilian loss as possible is somehow a cheat.

This is the kind of person that would ask dominate teams to leave the Little League, and thinks Tanya Harding was within her rights.

My advice to Mustang would be to invite him to Iraq, then let him go side with the insurgents, we'll see how he feels after that.



From Pyromaniac
The Metropolitan Tabernacle in London is a thriving evangelistic congregation. Anyone who thinks Calvinism is hostile to evangelistic zeal ought to come here and see firsthand what evangelistic Calvinism looks like.

In fact, this church goes against all the wisdom of modern church-growth experts. It's an inner-city church doing a fine job of reaching its own local community with the gospel. The neighborhood is about as diverse as you can imagine, comprising people from more than a half dozen cultures?African, Russian, Asian, Sri Lankan, Indian, Eastern European, English, and more. The congregation, including the diaconate, reflect that heterogeneity. Yet, as far as the style of worship is concerned, there's no accommodation to cultural diversity. The services are pretty much like they were in Spurgeon's day. Nothing is deliberately contemporary or entertainment-oriented. There are no choruses. There are no video screens. There are none of the accoutrements of "contemporary worship." Although all the church-growth experts continually insist such things are absolutely necessary, the conventional wisdom is belied by the reality of what is happening here. The centerpiece in every worship service is the preaching of the Word. It's straightforward and plain. And yet every service I have ever attended at the Tabernacle has been full to capacity.
Is it possible, just possible, that the gospel well preached and purposefully lived out will produce a healthy and vibrant church regardless of the acouterments? Is it possible that if our church is not healthy and vibrant we sould examine the gospel we preach and not the way we preach it? Is it possible that the key to church growth is the people already in it?

Nah, couldn't be, then church consultants wouldn't have anything to do.


Get Out Of My Life!

The "obesity is a huge national problem" crowd is really getting on my nerves. Paul Krugman had a piece in the NYTimes Monday that was just awful
More important, however, is the role of the food industry. The debate over obesity, it turns out, is a lot like the debate over global warming. In both cases, major companies protect their profits not only by lobbying against policies they don't like, but also by financing advocacy groups devoted to debunking research whose conclusions they don't like.
Do you see the parallels to the fight against smoking here? When people started to fight back on the basis of their individual right to smoke, the anti-smoking crowd started to demonize tobacco companies. These tactics are nauseating. Then there is this
The growing availability of such treatment probably explains why the strong relationship between obesity and mortality visible in data from the 1970's has weakened. But the cost of treating the obese is helping to break the back of our health care system.
The problem here is not the cost of treating the obese, but the fact that health care is paid for by someone other than the patient. By so paying, they just create an opportunity to tell us what to do, in very personal and intimate ways.

And what is truly abominable is that this same anti-fat crowd wants us to provide care for people with AIDS -- a disease, not just a syndrome or condition, that is wholly behaviorally dependent. So the bottom line is this -- you can tell me what to do with my weight, when you are willing to tell gay people to stop engaging in far more risky and life threatening behavior. Fat people may die in their 70's rather than their 80's, but people with AIDS die much, much younger than that. How come I am not reading editorials about controlling them?

Speaking of obesity, I hope this works.
Obese people can be fitted with a device that fools their brain into thinking they have eaten to help them lose weight.

The technology, by Transneuronix, comprises a matchbox-sized pacemaker implanted into the abdomen, linked to electrodes in the stomach wall.
This is the same principle as the gastric bypass without the permanent disfiguration. I really hope it pans out because that surgery is just awful in my book. I was a candidate and refused. No way am I going to spend the rest of my life robbed of even the possibility of a decent meal.

And then there is this.
Leading groups of family doctors and pediatricians endorse routine screening using the height-weight ratio of the body-mass index. But there's no evidence that all children with high BMIs need to lose weight to be healthy ? and there's no evidence that pediatricians' weight counseling results in weight loss and better health, according to a report from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, a non-governmental panel of researchers....

...BMI can be fairly effective at identifying children who likely have weight problems, said task force member Dr. Virginia Moyer. But it can't determine if body mass is mostly fat or lean tissue, and not all children with high BMIs need to lose weight, said Moyer, a pediatrics professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston.
Oh No, we need to make children's lives miserable by ranting at them about their diet. God forbid, they might actually enjoy their childhood.


This Should Not Happen

There are not enough of us trained in science that are vocal about our Christianity. The blog "A Physicist's Perspective" has been one of those places, where reason and faith co-existed well -- that is until now.
I'm going to be taking down this weblog, unfortunately. I've very much enjoyed it, both writing it, and interacting with other bloggers and commenters. But, for career reasons, I need to be somewhat more incognito for a while. As many of you know, I do research at the interface of physics and biology (some of my work could perhaps be considered molecular biology). I'm working towards becoming a professor at a research university eventually, and, unfortunately, views like mine can be unpopular at such institutions, so I need to avoid speaking quite so publicly for the time being.
I have to be honest -- I do not agree with David's decision here. - I have no idea of his circumstances, but I do not want any part of an educational institution that would stifle my perspectives whether officially or by peer pressure.

I will not fault or deride David here, to do so would be to stoop as low as those that are applying this pressure to him, but I will say this may be the saddest commentary on science education I have read in a very long time.


Indians NOT "Native" Americans

Human settlers made it to the Americas 30,000 years earlier than previously thought, according to new evidence.
So, if the people the Europeans displaced, are equally nomadic just arriving much earlier, how come they are "native?" And since this new finding indicates that they may have come by boat instead of the traditionally accepted "Asian land-bridge" model maybe they were European in origin and all Columbus did was visit some cousins.

Boy, this is going to send a whole bunch of politically correct types back to the drawing board. They are going to have to find whole new reasons to hate white Americans.


The Best of Pravda


Theme parks can be highly dangerous of children and adults alike

Therefore it is best to stay home, eat borscht and drink vodka?

A half of Moscow may potentially go under the ground. Scientists believe that more than 50 percent of the city's territory is resting on geotectonic fractures.
I think they mean to say it is in an earthquake zone, living in SoCal, I know a thing or two about that, but this cracks me up
Moscow diggers say that many of Moscow's historical areas, including the Kremlin, are situated in potentially dangerous zones.
Parts of the Kemlin are 1000 years old! --Can't be much of a seismically active zone.


Ukrainian boy attracts spoons and forks by unseen force

Unseen force my eye -- it's called skin oils, you're looking at a future acne patient! Poor kid.


Russian scientist deciphers message from aliens, which he found on Earth

Yes, and I believe the message said something like -- "get a real newspaper in your country."

This story somehow manages to blend the ancient Egyptian Pharoahs (Before Christ, by thousands of years) with the Sophia Cathederal in Kiev, the later being built for the first time only around 1100 AD. Fascinating....


This May Not Be A Bad Thing

America's moderate and progressive evangelists, outgunned for years by the mighty "religious right," are demanding their own share of the political action.

I originally thought that politics in this fashion might tear the church apart, but then it dawned on me -- the church already is pretty well torn apart, this might just bring things to a head, or at least make the choices clear.


John Belushi Strikes -- I Duck

Chirac in Food Fight Over British Cuisine

Those silly European frat boys.

Schroeder dodges British cooking spat


A Different Era

Powerline has a fascinating remembrance of the recently deceased Gaylord Nelson, who, among other things, founded "Earth Day." Powerline tells a lovely story.

Given what Earth Day has become, I am not sure about Mr. Nelson's legacy, but since we are remembering -- I remember the first Earth Day. I organized kids at school to go out and pick up litter, something that remains one of the most worthy environmental activities anyone can do today.

Like the civil rights movement before it, the environmental movement has morphed into some sort of monstrous parody of what it was when it began. That's just a crying shame.


Here's A Protest I'll Get In Front Of!

Hundreds of protesters, some wearing just thongs and plastic bull horns, marched through Pamplona on Tuesday to protest against the centuries-old running of the bulls, Spain's best known fiesta.
If they promise to do that every year, maybe I could be convinced to forget the bulls
"It's wrong to kill and its certainly wrong to torture," said Stella of Wales's Cynwyl Elfed, a woman in her seventies wearing just knickers and strategically placed tape. "It is really sick to enjoy torture."
And then again, maybe NOT -- Ewwwwwww.


Better Than Projectile Vomiting?

Mich. Family Filled With Champion Spitters

Tuesday, July 05, 2005


Phasers On Stun

The DoE Office of Security and Safety Performance Assurance, together with the Department of Defense, is "exploring the potential" of directed energy weapons based on millimetre-wave rays.

Dubbed Active Denial Technology (ADT), the systems are an emerging class of non-lethal weaponry using 95GHz millimetre-wave directed energy.

According to the DoE the technology is capable of rapidly heating human skin to a pain level that has been demonstrated as "very effective at repelling people" without apparently burning the skin or causing other secondary effects.
Kewl! I want one.


Is It ALL Sanctified?

Consider the question in the head from two angles. First, if you look at all, you will see lots of things bearing the label "Christian." Christian real estate agents, Christian plumbers, kitschy Christian doo-dads.... Are such items/services really somehow sanctified and different from the "non-Christian" variety? Secondly, you see churches getting into all sorts of "ministries" - weight loss, jazzercize, business exchanges.... Are such things really legitimate ministries for the church? Try this on for size -- Jesus was a carpenter by training, when He built a table was it distinguishable from and better than those built by say, Joseph?

I don't think so. God sanctifies us, so people will probabaly like doing business better with us than others, but that does not make our products or services somehow better. Furthermore, I find it troubling when we try to paint it that way. Two reasons -- it robs the label "Christian" of its true value, and it co-ops the church to missions other than those for which God ordained.

Generally when these things are happening, one of two things are going on. In one case, people who really enjoy something simply want to justify it by calling it Christian. Take for example collecting comic books. Know anyone like that? How can that be a "Christian" activity? If I get together with other Christians to trade, how is that different than trading with non-Christians? Other than lowering the probability of cheating, I cannot think of a solid substanitive difference. Trading comic books is a sanctity neutral activity, it can be done by sanctified people or un-sanctified people, but the activity itself has no standing. If I am worried that my comic collecting interferes with my relationship with God, then calling it "Christian" does not change that -- I have to change myself, maybe even sacrificing that activity until I can handle it in a fashion that does not interfere.

Worse is when the church starts getting into things that God clearly did not have in mind for it. Bottom line is it just turns church into a marketing tool. If you are an aerobics instructor and want a class -- set your class to praise chorus' and marketed it through a church, how have you really glorified God? Haven't you really demeaned Him by claming His name for something that is sanctity neutral? Haven't you used resources of His body for other than the mission He set for it?

Maybe I'm full of hot water here, but I find this stuff really troubling. How about you?


To The Heart Of Matters

SmartChristian has really been cutting to the chase lately, pointing out repeatedly that it's not the program, but how well the program works. This time, he discusses fellowship.
Now I want to say that I'm not that interested in Christian fellowship per say, not at least how the modern church often understands and practices it, but instead give me BIBLICAL FRIENDSHIP.

I'm not interested in coffee fellowship time or fellowship events, just give me some true down-home biblical friends who I can trust and walk through life with.
I agree with that sentiment wholly -- I'd rather sit with one good friend all night than go to a party or event any day of the week.

When it comes to fellowship events, I think they are a two edged sword. Sometimes, we have to go to them to find the people who can be our good friends, but people often use those events as a shield to prevent real intimacy.

I have found that real friendship is something that requires genuine effort. After that fellowship event, I have to make the effort to call those that I think might be friends and issue an invitation for something less crowded and more relaxed. I also find that I have to be prepared for lots of rejection.

People are afraid of genuine friendship, it requires way too much self-revelation. It's not unlike growing in the Christian faith. Many are called, few are willing.


They Honestly Want Us To Lose?!

OK, a couple of things. First, I have always operated under the assumption that those that oppose the military efforts in Iraq are sincere in wanting what's best for America. Secondly, I know the people that hang around "Democratic Underground" are not necessarily the best and the brightest, but I never thought they were plain dumb.

Well, this little DU tidbit proves both assumptions wrong.
VIETNAM 2 PREFLIGHT CHECK: (Iraq-Vietnam parallels)
It's so inane it does not bear refutation. What is so amazing is that someone would put in the time, energy, and effort to look for reasons why they think we could lose this war. How does that help anything?

How Vietnam ended is NOT A GOOD THING. We should be looking for ways to avoid it, not imitate it.


Life On The Front Lines

Semper Gumby had a great post yesterday describing his weekend in Iraq.
Late Friday evening we, the Automedics, rolled out with the engineers to start the cordon and search. The commander of the 2nd battalion 2nd Iraqi Army had organized a March against Terror along with all the locals shieks, muktars and the governor. He asked our unit to assist him in making it a safe demonstration. I KNOW the citizens in Baghdad did their march on 12 May and the American Muslims did their marches back on 14 May. It is great that less than 2 months later the citizens of Ninevah feel safe enough to do their own march.
Everytime I read stuff like this, I am astonished at how, absent the filter of the legacy media, things are really going very well there.

Here is an analogy that might help. Remember the Northridge earthquake here in Southern California back in the early '90's? If you wantched the news you would have thought the whole town fell down. Don't get me wrong, there was a lot of damage from the quake, a lot of shattered lives, but my overwhelming impression just the next day, was how normal everything was. I spent the day visiting clients to make sure their businesses were OK, and there were no grand environmental disasters I had to attend to. There weren't. I drove through far more areas without damage than with. Things were tough, but things weren't BAD.

When I hear from guys like Gumby, that's what I figure it is like over there. Things are tough, but they aren't BAD, and they are getting better.


Spend More To Pay Less?

States spend nearly a quarter of a billion dollars a year on remedial writing instruction for their employees, according to a new report that says the indirect costs of sloppy writing probably hurt taxpayers even more.

The National Commission on Writing, in a report to be released Tuesday, says that good writing skills are at least as important in the public sector as in private industry. Poor writing not only befuddles citizens but also slows down the government as bureaucrats struggle with unclear instructions or have to redo poorly written work.
I don't know quite what to make of this. Most people don't write very well. I am amazed when people tell me I do, I think of myself as very average in the writing department, but then I read and find out I am at least above average -- astonishing!

But this is a government commission designed to find out what bad writing costs so they can squeeze more money out of congress to save the money lost to poor writing. Does anybody see a problem here? If you do, you are probably an above average writer.


Bad News For Lowell!

SoCal ally Hedgehog Blog may be in deep trouble

Hedgehog numbers 'in nose-dive'

If ever there was a time to implement the Endangered Species Act, this may be it!


From the Edge of Taste

It's a triple header today.

Here's a man that truly got what he deserved.

This will make you order room service in Taiwan (It's funny, not gross, trust me.)

This makes me laugh
and it really shouldn't. I think that fact is proof I'm still in seventh grade.


Like It Makes A Difference

Blast at Illegal Chinese Coal Mine Kills 19

I had some incidental business dealings with the Chinese coal industry back in the late '80's. Trust me when I tell you, whether this particular mine had proper government approval or not would have made little difference. The conditions in the "legal" mines were pretty bad.


Volcanic Action

News is erupting everywhere.
An underwater volcano is thought to be behind a huge column of steam above the Pacific Ocean, Japanese officials say.
I'm figuring it's either that, or Godzilla is waking up again. Somehow, I think the big lizard might be more fun.

Closer to home
A large part of the growing lava dome on Mount St. Helens fell Saturday, sending an ash plume above the crater rim, the U.S. Geological Survey reported.
Like Yogi said, "It ain't over 'til it's over"


This You Have to Love

A performance artist whose latest work, a running tap, aims to highlight water loss has been told to turn it off -- and stop wasting water.
Ah, the banality of "protest."


Chasing Deep Pockets

Russian astrologist sues NASA over comet crash

Check out her reasoning
"It is obvious that elements of the comet's orbit, and correspondingly the ephemeris, will change after the explosion, which interferes with my astrology work and distorts my horoscope," Izvestia daily quoted astrologist Marina Bai as saying in legal documents submitted before Monday's collision.
Now it is true that the impact actually did alter the the comet's orbit, but an amount that is undetectable by the best instruments available. When you walk from the front to the back of an airplane, it changes the planes course slightly, do you think the pilot notices? If this woman's calculations are affected by this impact, she has some of the most powerful computers in the world at her disposal because we are talking effects out about 15 decimal places or so.

I'd say the only thing she is calculating is how to spend the money.


If You Have A Couple Of Days...

...then this may be the way to fly.
A US company says it has successfully completed test flights of a potentially environment-friendly aircraft powered by liquid hydrogen.

Liquid hydrogen stored on board and oxygen extracted from the air are combined in fuel cells. The electricity generated drives the propellers.

California-based AeroVironment says a full tank of hydrogen would keep the unmanned plane in the air for 24 hours.

Planes using fuel cells might help curb greenhouse gas emissions from aviation.

The aircraft, called Global Observer, looks more like a glider than a conventionally-powered plane, with its wingspan of over 15m, small fuselage slung underneath and extended, "dragon-fly" tail.
Keeping a plane aloft and actually having it be useful are two entirely differnt things.


Horror Comics Are Back

The Comics Code arose largely out of the horror comics of bygone days. It pretty well killed the genre -- but apparently it is back in a big way.
A woman takes an ax to her husband in their new home, someone is boiled alive in a public pool and a father is swallowed by the earth. Just another day in Hell. The gruesome acts never actually happened in this rural hamlet with the diabolic name, but those and other macabre tales are brought to life - and death - in the new comic book, "Hell, Michigan."
By today's standards, the horror comics that resulted in the code are no big deal, and the code stifled genuine creativity in comic for decades. I just hope this time around the creators show a little restraint so we can avoid a repeat.

Monday, July 04, 2005



NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft accomplished it's mission last night as the probe struck comet Tempel 1 as you see above. I am desparately seeking a way to explain, in plain language how spectacular this accomplishment was -- there simply is no terrestial analogy, the scale is too large and the speeds too fast.

I was struck watching it live last night how similar it looked to missle sight video from the Gulf War, but in that instance, the target is generally stationary or nearly stationary. In the case of air-to-air, the launch platform and the target are moving relative to each other which greatly simplifies the solution. Surface-to-air missles come closest, but even the fastest military jets are standing still in comparison to a comet, and they are a lot closer to the launch platform.

Here is what really struck me as a long time space flight observer -- computing power. The pictures were being computer enhanced on the fly as they came in. When Viking landed on Mars, for example, it took hours to get a picture transmitted and enhanced. The flight parapemters on this mission are some of the most complex since Apollo, maybe the most complex. During Apollo the computers were little more than calculators are today and they were doubled checked by a team of guys with slide rules, taking minutes. These were done using numerous complex spatial modelling and calculational techniques, in a matter of microseconds.

This was genuine celestial fireworks, tonight will, I am afraid, pale in comparision


Pictures For the Fourth


A Salute To Our Efforts

From OpinionJournal on Saturday, General Barry McCaffrey looks at what is happening in Iraq soberly and wisely. His conclusion says it all
Now is the time for nonpartisan, collective leadership to support and guide our strategy in the ongoing operations in Southwest Asia. Lack of political will and clarity will surely snatch failure from the impending realization of our objectives if we do not act to support those who have given so much to America's defense.
Sounds like the best possible way to celebrate our independence.

There is a lot about this country worth celebrating. Leave it to Scotwise to find some of them. He does it again here. Everyone needs to follow these links and give John the traffic. John's an Aussie -- it's not even his holiday. That's humbling.

As is this post from Brit Adrian Warnock in which he examines Great Britain's role in oppression and freedom and the quotes the Declaration of Independence. It really is a great country when a citizin of the nation from which we gained independance is so moved by our founding documents. Thanks Adrian! Oh, and in a bit of a tease, and on behalf of Scotwise (and some of my maternal ancestors) I would remind Adrian that it was the Scots that taught the English about freedom.

And finally, this is the best possible news I've come across for this this holiday -- wounded in the line of duty Milblogger Chuck is now safely ensconced at Walter Reed, and his wife continues to post for him. She is now passing on some of his verbal utterances.
Notes to self:
1. "July is never a good time to visit DC - very humid."
2. "When falling off a canal river bridge wearing body armor, it is never smart to fall in head first."

One more quote:
"You can talk about our President, his politics, and his family, but you can never talk about his character. I met him face-to-face today and I will protect him as well as I protect my own."
Any man that can, in such circumstance, retain his sense of humor and say things like that about the President is a true hero. We really need to see a whole lot more of Chuck and his ilk in the legacy media.



Well, I seem to be in some pretty good company. I posted the other day about the possible overdiagnosis and overprescription of some psychoactive drugs. Looks like Al Mohler and Christina Hoff Sommers agree, and in a far more scholarly fashion than I. I love it when the chorus kicks in.


Pollution... going an entirely different direction today. This post from HuffPo, of a letter written by a 12-year-old, shows how that child's mind has been polluted in ways that are far more insidious than toxics in the atomsphere. The mere fact that a 12-year-old has an opinion on gay marriage at all is appalling.


The Dullest Way to Spend the 4th of July

Man Said to Recite Pi to 83,431 Digits
But a determined Haraguchi started anew and had broken his old record on Friday evening, about 11 hours after first sitting down to his task, the paper said.

He reached the 80,000-digit mark after midnight early Saturday, according to the paper, which had a photo showing Haraguchi with his eyes closed, his face contorted in concentration.
I think I'd rather watch fireworks.


Space - Never What You Expect!

Saturn rings have own atmosphere

Even the moon does not have an atmosphere -- that's just cool. It also shows how remarkably massive the rings are to generate enough gravity to hold an atmosphere.


Find The Biggest Dummy

So Many To Choose From:
The president of the National Organization for Women declared a "state of emergency" for women's rights and planned a march on the state Capitol as news of Sandra Day O'Connor's retirement reverberated through the group's annual convention.
It's a good thing she does not engage in hyperbole or she'd be a real dummy.
A homosexual "pride" parade in Jerusalem went on Thursday night, despite one protester's violent acts.

Earlier, city officials tried to ban the parade on the grounds that it would offend city residents.

Thousands of marchers (estimates vary) paraded down the streets of Jerusalem under the rainbow banner of the homosexual community. Hundreds of ultra-religious protestors lined the parade route.

More than 800 police officers and a helicopter were on hand to secure the event. But despite those precautions, three marchers were injured when a 30-year-old ultra-orthodox Jew broke through police lines and stabbed them.
The parade is dumb, but the stabbing is cretinous.

I hate to say this, but the ones whose values I most agree with win the "Biggest Dummy" award this time.

Sunday, July 03, 2005


Webcast Worth Watching

It is happening tonight 10:52 PDT - 1:52 EDT - 5:52 GMT -- the Deep Impact probe hits Tempel 1 comet. It's kind of like a pitcher throwing a baseball and hitting a tennis ball between the players -- except they are a lot heavier and there will be a lot more debirs.

You can watch it live by going here and following the links to the webcast. Webcasting starts at around 8 PM PDT.

This is gonna be better than a superhero movie!


An Interesting Juxtaposition

Two blogs I really enjoy Jollyblogger and Eternal Perspectives seem to be dealing with different slants on related issues. That issue in a nutshell, is "spiritual authority," -- how it is gained, how it is granted, how it is earned, and what honor or respect we owe it.

Jollyblogger addresses issues by examining a paper someone write called "We Know More Than Our Pastors" that deals with how blogging is resulting in new ways to "do church." EP has done a couple of posts recently (here and here)recounting dealings he has had with people that simply lack sufficient respect for biblical knowledge and training.

This discussion is really close to my heart for reasons that I hope are obvious. I am nearly as well trained as most pastors, but because I do not serve in a professional pastoral role, that can be a source of great friction in my life and particularly in my relationships with pastors. There are some things that I would like to address based solely on my experience.

I was drawn to study for the ministry as a profession largely because it was a profession that would pretty much allow me to tell other people how to think -- kinda like blogging, huh? If that drew me in, I have to think it has drawn in a lot of other's as well. Those of us that were drawn to that aspect of the profession are going to be put off by anyone in the congregation that wants to either argue, or is simply very independent, or in some cases is too inquisitive.

In my case the desire to "tell other people what to think" was/is born very much out of an insecurity -- a feeling that I just don't quite fit into the world, so I'll try and remake it into a world into which I do fit. Thus if you argue with me you are telling me that I really am a misfit since what world should not be one into which I fit. If you are too independent, you thwart my plans, again, leaving me a misfit. If you are too inquisitive, you threaten the vision of the world that I have simply by examination.

As someone who has a lot of information with which to argue or question, pastors that are like me generally end up very unhappy with me because I end up doing those things. The words, "I'm the pastor here" have been uttered in my presence more than once. I will admit to being a pushy know-it-all in my younger years, but in recent more mature years, my desire has been to build a relationship in which the pastor and I can work together, but I still run into this issue, a lot.

Other more secure pastors than I sometimes create a different issue that can end up in the same place. Mark Daniels posted this past week about being a "recovering snob." His words, not mine. I think in his confession Mark has put his finger on a big part of the perception that Mike at EP is struggling with, though I have no idea if Mike himself has done anything to create that perception. So many pastors and leaders (Mike is not serving as a pastor, but like me is trained so) are viewed as being "not really real." That is to say they seem to live in a different world than the rest of us. People, rightly or wrongly, perceive such people as not having a real grasp of the world in which the rest of us live. Thus, when they start throwing knowledge at us we tend to react with, "So, how does that help me put dinner on the table for my family?"

Some pastors, in my opinion, foster that "other worldly" perception -- it insulates them from people (hey we are back to that insecurity thing) and it grants them an air of authority that they might not otherwise enjoy.

So having said all that, there are some simple lessons, reminders, that I will not so humbly render to pastors. These are not aimed at anyone in particular, the links I have made here are simply what set me thinking along these lines, I know none of the people involved enough to say if these lessons apply to them or not.

Well, now I am starting to sound like a motivational speaker, so I'll knock it off, but you get the idea.


Background Expertise

Evangelical Outpost has been running a series every Friday he calls "Expert Witness." The idea is to give bloggers with a particular area of interest and expertise some exposure that sucha widely read blog can provide, and allow the reader to gain a foundational understanding of that particular area of interest.

This week's entry is about the philosophy of technology by Macht of prothesis blog. He touches on a lot of points

It is very interesting stuff, but in the end I found the piece frustrating becasue it laid all of that out, but never really examined the questions towards any conclusion. Here's the concluding paragraph

We have really only touched the surface of the subject of technology. There are many other topics including the difference between natural and artificial, technology and politics, technology and ethics, sustainable/appropriate/intermediate technologies, and others. The two views of technology that I discussed - instrumentalism and substantivism - each have nuggets of truth to them. Neither is an adequate theory, however. The betterment of humanity will not come through faith in technical control or through the rejection of modern technology. Technology is neither savior nor the scapegoat for what's wrong with this world.
One of the things I think I find most frustrating is the attempt to differentiate technology activity from other forms of human activity, like say the arts. I would contend that all human activity is technological in nature. Consider cave paintings in France -- before they could be made, someone had to figure out what pigments to use, how to prepare them and how to apply them -- those are all technological innovations. Humans are in large part defined by being technological -- defined by and differentiated from the rest of life by changing their environment to suit their purpoases rather than adapting to the environment as it is presented to them.

As best as I understand it, technology is just an expression of the creative image of God that is within us. We differ from God in that we cannot create from nothing, but as He was driven to create, so are we. To differentiate technological creativity from other creative activity is, in my opinion, an artifical differentiation. All things that can be said about technology can be said about the "arts." If everyone painted, we would soon develop an environmental crisis in the scarcity of pigments, oils, and thinners, and we would have an enormous problem with waste disposal. If everyone made music, there would be unimagined levels of noise pollution.

Somehow, I am troubled by considering the issues related to technology apart from considering the human conidition in general. As Macht concludes that exisiting philosophical views on technology are inadequate -- he fails to look at the question of why. Ultimately, those views have to be placed in the context of humanity itself, and when they are, one can gain the middle ground that he seems to seek.

Oh, by the way, I heard a rumor that next week's "Expert Witness" at Evangelical Outpost is going to be particularly exciting.


Sermons and Lessons


Henri Nouwen was born in Nijkerk, Holland, and came to the United States in 1964. A Roman Catholic priest and psychologist, he has taught at several prestigious universities, including Yale, Harvard, and Notre Dame. He is the author of over twenty books, among them The Gencsee Diary, The Wounded Healer, and With Open Hands, with the more recent ones being Gracias and The Road to Daybreak.

Nouwen?s spiritual pilgrimage has brought him in recent years to serve the mentally handicapped in L?Arche, an international network of communities. After spending one year in Trosly, France, he has been at Daybreak in Richmond Hills, Ontario, Canada, since 1986. At a L?Arche home, the mentally handicapped and their assistants live together as God?s children trying to enflesh the gospel. Assistants provide basic care for their charges: cooking, cleaning, encouraging, and praying.

Henri Nouwen?s spiritual sensitivity is both refreshing and prophetic. The following selection invites us to intimacy, invites us to the spiritual life.


1. Hard Work

The spiritual life is a gift. It is the gift of the Holy Spirit, who lifts us up into the kingdom of God?s love. But to say that being lifted up into the kingdom of love is a divine gift does not mean that we wait passively until the gift is offered to us.

Jesus tells us to set our hearts on the kingdom. Setting our hearts on something involves not only serious aspiration but also strong determination. A spiritual life requires human effort. The forces that keep pulling us back into a worry-filled life are far from easy to overcome.

?How hard it is,? Jesus exclaims, to enter the kingdom of God!? (Mark 10:23, TB). And to convince us of the need for hard work, he says, ?If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me? (Matt. 16:24, JB).

2. The Small, Gentle Voice

Here we touch the question of discipline in the spiritual life. A spiritual life without discipline is impossible. Discipline is the other side of discipleship. The practice of a spiritual discipline makes us more sensitive to the small, gentle voice of God.

The prophet Elijah did not encounter God in the mighty wind or in the earthquake or in the fire, but in the small voice (see 1 Kings 19:9?13). Through the practice of a spiritual discipline we become attentive to that small voice and willing to respond when we hear it.

3. From an Absurd to an Obedient Life

From all that I said about our worried, over-filled lives, it is clear that we are usually surrounded by so much outer noise that it is hard to truly hear our God when he is speaking to us. We have often become deaf, unable to know when God calls us and unable to understand in which direction he calls us.

Thus our lives have become absurd. In the word absurd we find the Latin word surdus, which means ?deaf.? A spiritual life requires discipline because we need to learn to listen to God, who constantly speaks but whom we seldom hear.

When, however we learn to listen, our lives become obedient lives. The word obedient comes from the Latin word audire, which means ?listening.? A spiritual discipline is nec¬essary in order to move slowly from an absurd to an obedient life, from a life filled with noisy worries to a life in which there is some free inner space where we can listen to our God and follow his guidance.

Jesus? life was a life of obedience. He was always listening to the Father always attentive to his voice, always alert for his directions. Jesus was ?all ear.? That is true prayer: being all ear for God. The core of all prayer is indeed listening, obediently standing in the presence of God.

4. The Concentrated Effort

A spiritual discipline, therefore, is the concentrated effort to create some inner and outer space in our lives, where this obedience can be practiced. Through a spiritual discipline we prevent the world from filling our lives to such an extent that there is no place left to listen. A spiritual discipline sets us free to pray or, to say it better, allows the Spirit of God to pray in us.

5. A Time and a Space

Without solitude it is virtually impossible to live a spiritual life. Solitude begins with a time and a place for God, and him alone. If we really believe not only that God exists but also that he is actively present in our lives ? healing, teaching, and guiding ? we need to set aside a time and a space to give him our undivided attention. Jesus says, ?Go to your private room and, when you have shut your door, pray to the Father who is in that secret place? (Matt. 6:6, JB).

6. Inner Chaos

To bring some solitude into our lives is one of the most necessary but also most difficult disciplines. Even though we may have a deep desire for real solitude, we also experience a certain apprehension as we approach that solitary place and time. As soon as we are alone, without people to talk with, books to read, TV to watch, or phone calls to make, an inner chaos opens up in us.

This chaos can be so disturbing and so confusing that we can hardly wait to get busy again. Entering a private room and shutting the door, therefore, does not mean that we immediately shut out all our inner doubts, anxieties, fears, bad memories, unresolved conflicts, angry feelings, and impulsive desires. On the contrary, when we have removed our outer distractions, we often find that our inner distractions manifest themselves to us in full force.

We often use these outer distractions to shield ourselves from the interior noises. It is thus not surprising that we have a difficult time being alone. The confrontation with our inner conflicts can be too painful for us to endure.

This makes the discipline of solitude all the more important. Solitude is not a spontaneous response to an occupied and preoccupied life. There are too many reasons not to be alone. Therefore we must begin by carefully planning some solitude.

7. Write It in Black and White

Five or ten minutes a day may be all we can tolerate. Perhaps we are ready for an hour every day, an afternoon every week, a day every month, or a week every year. The amount of time will vary for each person according to temperament, age, job, lifestyle, and maturity.

But we do not take the spiritual life seriously if we do not set aside some time to be with God and listen to him. We may have to write it in black and white in our daily calendar so that nobody else can take away this period of time. Then we will be able to say to our friends, neighbors, students, customers, clients, or patients, ?I?m sorry, but I?ve already made an appointment at that time and it can?t be changed.?

8. Bombarded by Thousands of Thoughts

Once we have committed ourselves to spending time in solitude, we develop an attentiveness to God?s voice in us. In the beginning, during the first davs weeks. or even months, we may have the feeling that we are simply wasting our time. Time in solitude may at first seem little more than a time in which we are bombarded by thousands of thoughts and feelings that emerge from hidden areas of our minds

One of the early Christian writers describes the first stage of solitary prayer as the experience of a man who, after years of living with open doors, suddenly decides to shut them. The visitors who used to come and enter his home start pounding on his doors, wondering why they are not allowed to enter. Only when they realize that they are not welcome do they gradually stop coming.

This is the experience of anyone who decides to enter into solitude after a life without much spiritual discipline. At first, the many distractions keep presenting themselves. Later, as they receive less and less attention, they slowly withdraw.

9. Tempted to Run Away

It is clear that what matters is faithfulness to the discipline. In the beginning, solitude seems so contrary to our desires that we are constantly tempted to run away from it. One way of running away is daydreaming or simply falling asleep. But when we stick to our discipline, in the conviction that God is with us even when we do not yet hear him, we slowly discover that we do not want to miss our time alone with God. Although we do not experience much satisfaction in our solitude, we realize that a day without solitude is less ?spiritual? than a day with it.

10. The First Sign of Prayer

Intuitively, we know that it is important to spend time in solitude. We even start looking forward to this strange period of uselessness. This desire for solitude is often the first sign of prayer, the first indication that the presence of God?s Spirit no longer remains unnoticed.

As we empty ourselves of our many worries, we come to know not only with our mind but also with our heart that we were never really alone, that God?s Spirit was with us all along. Thus we come to understand what Paul writes to the Romans, ?Sufferings bring patience . . . and patience brings perseverance, and perseverance brings hope, and this hope is not deceptive, because the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given to us? (Rom. 5:4?6, JB).

11. The Way to Hope

In solitude, we come to know the Spirit who has already been given to us. The pains and struggles we encounter in our solitude thus become the way to hope, because our hope is not based on something that will happen after our sufferings are over, but on the real presence of God?s healing Spirit in the midst of these suf¬ferings.

The discipline of solitude allows us gradually to come in touch with this hopeful presence of God in our lives, and allows us also to taste even now the beginnings of the joy and peace which belong to the new heaven and the -new earth.

The discipline of solitude, as I have described it here, is one of the most powerful disciplines in developing a prayerful life. It is a simple, though not easy, way to free us from - the slavery of our occupations and preoccupations and to begin to hear the voice that makes all things new.


What Was Lost Is Now Found

Da Vinci Sketch Hidden Under Painting

You have to think there was a reason for that, might want to leave well enough alone.

Lost notes on alchemy by Isaac Newton found

Proof that even one of the most brilliant scientific minds in history can go barking up the wrong tree.


Pray For Me - I Could Not Help Myself

As God is my witness, I am aware that the pun is the lowest form of humor - but they come to me unbidden, begging for release.


That's Going To Be One Big Bowl OF Cole Slaw

Vegetable growing is big in Alaska. We mean really big: 39-pound turnip big, 75-pound rutabaga big. And then there's the cabbage....

I just hope no one grows zucchini, one zucchini plant grown here can feed roughly 10,000 people, I would hate to think what would happen there.


The Gospel, The Whole Gospel, And Nothing But The Gospel

Sheep's Crib posted on Friday regarding an article by Jeff Robinson in teh Baptist Press on a recent address by RC Sproul. John quotes Robinson's conclusion:
Referencing Luther's sermon, Sproul reminded listeners that those who preached a false gospel that necessitated the Protestant Reformation did so because they were seeking power. It is not so different today with the popularity of watered-down gospels, Sproul said, and Christians must follow Luther's example and settle for nothing less than the uncompromised Gospel which is the power of God unto salvation.
I have to add my AMEN! to John's. Great Stuff.

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