Saturday, August 20, 2005
Why Theology Matters
If you haven't heard, the movie ends with the Hillary Swank character beggin Clint Eastwood to kill her after a completely dibilitating injury and Clint granting here wish. Rob makes a great point about the priest character in the movie that I will leave to him, but this passage in his post really caught my interest.
At the risk of sounding like Rick Warren, God did have a purpose for Maggie Fitzgerald in her condition, and it was to glorify Him by enjoying Him forever. The power of God in the gospel of Christ finds a testimony through such vessels of weakness who carry in themselves the very marks of Christ and what it means to suffer for His glory. Who knows but that 35 year old Maggie Fitzgerald might have become successor to the Joni Earekson Tada legacy!Her purpose was to enjoy God...What an incredibly Calvinistic statement! When I think about it, it's not just the gospel that matters here, but the theology too.
But without a gospel-centered worldview, her life was in fact meaningless. The poor woman had no hope as she lie in bed there, with a breathing tube connected into her throat.
You see, if you have too simplistic a view of the gospel -- that Jesus died to save ME, then you would in the same situation be as hopeless as the the gospel-less character portrayed. "Why?" you ask. Well, if Jesus' death and resurrection was all about you, wouldn't him allowing you into that position appear to be abandonment.
The more I am a Christian, the more I find that Christianity is not much about me at all, but almost exclusively about God. Being a Christian is about denying myself, and glorfying God, not God glorifying me.
So here is my question -- am I being a wife beater with this post?
Today's Trip Pic
Stockholm was laid back as national capitals go. The first example was when the Mrs. and I emerged from the viewing the nation's crown jewels (quite worthy, but a tad paltry when compared to the Windsor's or the Romanovs.) to this scene of the changing of the guard at the palace. The guys in the ceremonial Prussian-looking helmets are very young and very ceremonial. National service is mandatory, but best as I could tell, these guys are doing a purely ceremonial alternative to military service. They lacked a serious demeanor and discipline on post, and were awful at simple drilling in the change.
In the whimsical department was this bit of aquatic sculpture. I never could quite tell where I was being pointed, and I wondered seriously about the lack of eyebrows, but plunked into a setting of very serious capital buildings, most older than the USA itself, it was pretty fun.
Joe has been in the game for a very long time, but is still working, like this bit he did with Stan Lee just a couple of years ago. The idea was to have Lee "reimagine" the best DC heroes, which he did with mixed results, but the art is undeniably good.
But it's Joe's older stuff that I remember from when I was a kid like this Flash. Sometimes, older characters like the Flash, designed with the then significant limitation of reproduction technology look best in those old settings.
For many, Joe may be best remembered for "creating" DC's Tarzan comic. While never my fav, it was quite successful, and quite easy on the eyes.
But to my mind, Kubert was never better than with Hawkman -- he essentially designed the modern "silver age" look of the character which is one of the most visually stunning ever created. In my collection of statues of comic heroes, perhaps the most beautiful is a Hawkman based on Kubert. Kubert's Hawkman is nothing short of stunning.
Attackers firing Katyusha rockets narrowly missed a U.S. amphibious assault ship docked at this Red Sea resort Friday, but killed a Jordanian soldier in the most serious strike at the Navy since the USS Cole bombing nearly five years ago.Here's what I think -- shooting at a military vessel prior to 9-11 when Clinton was in charge was not too much of a risk for terrorists, but now, it's stupid.
The point of terrorism is that you lack the military capability for actual war, so you attempt to "terrorize" the populace. But this is, as was the Cole attack, though that administration failed to realize it, an act of war. What's the old song chorus?
You don't tug on Superman's cape,
You don't spit in the wind,
You don't pull the mask off the 'ol Lone Ranger,...
...and you don't mess around with the US Military.
No, No, No...consider the sub-head, "'Synthetic biologists' build with one genetic molecule at a time," They are getting the "genetic molecules" from somewhere, so that's not really from scratch.
That would completely overturn our understanding of the universe, and make us take back the Nobel prize they gave Einstein and I don't see those things happening. The article explains why the claim is grandiose, so I won't bother, I just hate these exaggerated claims for the sake of headlines.
Friday, August 19, 2005
Too Good Not To Post
The average age of the military man is 19 years. He is a short haired, tight-muscled kid who, under normal circumstances is considered by society as half man, half boy. Not yet dry behind the ears, not old enough to buy a beer, but old enough to die for his country. He never really cared much for work and he would rather wax his own car than wash his father's; but he has never collected unemployment either.
He's a recent High School graduate; he was probably an average student,pursued some form of sport activities, drives a ten year old jalopy, and has a steady girlfriend that either broke up with him when he left, or swears to be waiting when he returns from half a world away.
He listens to rock and roll or hip-hop or rap or jazz or swing and 155mm howizzitor.
He is 10 or 15 pounds lighter now than when he was at home because he is working or fighting from before dawn to well after dusk.
He has trouble spelling, thus letter writing is a pain for him, but he can field strip a rifle in 30 seconds and reassemble it in less time in the dark.
He can recite to you the nomenclature of a machine gun or grenade launcher and use either one effectively if he must.
He digs foxholes and latrines and can apply first aid like a professional.
He can march until he is told to stop or stop until he is told to march.
He obeys orders instantly and without hesitation, but he is not without spirit or individual dignity. He is self-sufficient.
He has two sets of fatigues: he washes one and wears the other. He keeps his canteens full and his feet dry. He sometimes forgets to brush his teeth, but never to clean his rifle.
He can cook his own meals, mend his own clothes, and fix his own hurts.
If you're thirsty, he'll share his water with you; if you are hungry, his food. He'll even split his ammunition with you in the midst of battle when you run low.
He has learned to use his hands like weapons and weapons like they were his hands. He can save your life - or take it, because that is his job.
He will often do twice the work of a civilian, draw half the pay and still find ironic humor in it all.
He has seen more suffering and death then he should have in his short lifetime.
He has stood atop mountains of dead bodies, and helped to create them. He has wept in public and in private, for friends who have fallen in combat and is unashamed.
He feels every note of the National Anthem vibrate through his body while at rigid attention, while tempering the burning desire to 'square-away' those around him who haven't bothered to stand, remove their hat, or even stop talking.
In an odd twist, day in and day out, far from home, he defends their right to be disrespectful.
Just as did his Father, Grandfather, and Great-grandfather, he is paying the price for our freedom. Beardless or not, he is not a boy.
He is the American Fighting Man that has kept this country free for over 200 years.
He has asked nothing in return, except our friendship and understanding.
Remember him, always, for he has earned our respect and admiration with his blood.
And now we even have woman over there in danger, doing their part in this tradition of going to War when our nation calls us to do so.
As you go to bed tonight, remember this shot..
A short lull, a little shade and a picture of loved ones in their helmets
Nothing Remains To Be Said
I get many emails from soldiers in Iraq, and they sound a lot more grown-up than most Ivy League professors and certainly than Maureen Dowd, who writes as if she?s auditioning for a minor supporting role in Sex and the City. The infantilisation of the military promoted by the Left is deeply insulting to America?s warriors but it suits the anti-war crowd?s purposes. It enables them to drone ceaselessly that ?of course? they ?support our troops?, because they want to stop these poor confused moppets from being exploited by the Bush war machine.Those two paragraphs are just a little bit of Mark's near perfect take on the current media frenzy in Crawford.
So, when Cindy Sheehan came into view, Bush-disparagers from Washington to Hollywood cried ?Bingo!? ?Cindy Sheehan is my hero,? says Christine Lahti, former star of TV?s Chicago Hope. ?You can run, Bush, but you can?t hide. Her courage is waking up America.? Evidently it woke up motion-picture personality Viggo Mortensen, who flew to Crawford on a pilgrimage to Mrs Sheehan. For the press corps, it?s not exactly the Spielberg/Clinton summer summit in the Hamptons, but it?s as close as they?re going to get.
Well, maybe I should link to this deadnuts-on appraisal from Gadfly's Muse, which adds a Christian perspective to Steyn's pitch perfect politcal take.
I just have to say that if there is anything worse than killing the unborn for the sake of convenience for the adult, it's using them as raw material -- for anything. This is more dehumanizing than simple abortion. To date, abortion proponents have known they were killing something -- it might not be human, but it was in some acknowledged sense life. These developments turn that life into product. Not sure I can live with that.
Today's Trip Pic
I have never written in this space of my fondness for corn, but it is a very real thing. Growing up in Indiana, it was hard to avoid. The first conversation I ever had with my wife was about my garden where I was growing corn because corn more than 5 minutes off the stalk is just not sweet enough for a corn snob like me. Having been to Europe before, I found it practically devoid of corn, and what I did have, well, it did not appeal to me. Nonetheless, this was a fine sight
An this was simply the first sight that greeted us in the Stockholm airport and it must be posted.
Obviously, salmon in Stockholm cares about me.
Fortunately, while in Sweden, we never ran into this. Somethings just are not worth the effort.
What Does This Say About The Future?
The stance the church took at the last General Assmebly on Israel, of which these actions are a part, is one of two issues that threaten to schism the church next summer when GA again convenes -- the other being gay ordination and/or same-sex marriage. It is probably stuff like this that threatens the church, well in decline, more than the theological and style issues I am so found of discussing.
One of the things that has held the church together this long are the extreme finacial complications created by schism. In the PCUSA system, the congregation does not own it's real property, the higher church bodies do -- makes revolt pretty hard. Which is why this story from Sheep's Crib is fascinating.
A judge has ruled that the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles cannot confiscate the property of a congregation that has broken with the diocese and national denomination to protest consecration of a gay bishop.Due to differences in how the churches are organized and managed, I don't know if the ruling can be applied to the Presbyterian case, but as they said on Laugh-in, "Here come da judge...Here come da judge."
In tribute to victims of the 9-11 attack on New York City, the U.S. Navy is using 10 tons of steel from the World Trade Center to build a new warship that will help defend the nation from terrorism.And they are calling it the USS New York - another great idea. This ship will make me extra proud when I see it.
And then consider these tidbits of cynicism:
- My husband and I divorced over religious differences. He thought he was God and I didn't.
- I don't suffer from insanity; I enjoy every minute of it.
- I Work Hard Because Millions On Welfare Depend on Me!
- Some people are alive only because it's illegal to kill them.
- I used to have a handle on life, but it broke.
- Don't take life too seriously; No one gets out alive.
- You're just jealous because the voices only talk to me
- Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder.
- Earth is the insane asylum for the universe.
- I'm not a complete idiot -- Some parts are missing.
- Out of my mind. Back in five minutes.
- Nyquil, the stuffy, sneezy, why-the-heck-is-the-room-spinning medicine.
- God must love stupid people; He made so many.
- The gene pool could use a little chlorine.
- Consciousness: That annoying time between naps.
- Ever stop to think, and forget to start again?
- Being "over the hill" is much better than being under it!
- Wrinkled Was Not One of the Things I Wanted to Be When I Grew up.
- Procrastinate Now!
- I Have a Degree in Liberal Arts; Do You Want Fries With That?
- A hangover is the wrath of grapes.
- A journey of a thousand miles begins with a cash advance.
- Stupidity is not a handicap. Park elsewhere!
- They call it PMS because Mad Cow Disease was already taken.
- He who dies with the most toys is none the less dead!
- A picture is worth a thousand words, but it uses up three thousand times the memory.
- Ham and eggs. A day's work for a chicken, a lifetime commitment for a pig.
- The trouble with life is there's no background music.
- The original point and click interface was a Smith and Wesson.
- I smile because I don't know what the heck is going on.
If a group of US researchers have their way, lions, cheetahs, elephants and camels could soon roam parts of North America, Nature magazine reports.This is a good idea?! Some of those animals are dangerous to humans and you want to set them loose in this country? And what about that whole "invasive species" concern. Sounds pretty invasive to me. And while there were Pleistocene relatives of these animals in North America, that was a long time ago with a very different climate. The modern cousins come from areas far, far more temperate than the American Midwest. Anyone that has traveled the Great Plains in the dead of winter (and I have) can tell you a lion from the savannahs of Africa is going to end up a statue -- they never heard of such cold.
The plan, which is called Pleistocene re-wilding, is intended to be a proactive approach to conservation.
Oh sure, it would break up what may otherwise be the single most boring highway landscape in the world along I-70 in Kansas or I-80 in Nebraska with the occasional lion or elephant, but is that really a reason to do something like this?
Sorry, this strikes me as just silly. Can you say "grant bait."
A Car Befitting A Mid-Life Crisis
Those Priorities Again...
Israeli animal rescuers will enter Gaza's Jewish settlements after they have been emptied of people to round up stray dogs and cats, an animal welfare group said on Thursday.As long as the cats and dogs are OK....
I agree - let's go!
New Warnies Awarded!
I wonder if they know that the award means that have to by Adrian and his wife dinner whenever they are in London?
Wecome aboard bloggers, I hope you know it's all downhill from here.
Thursday, August 18, 2005
The Best News...
The California Supreme Court ordered that Proposition 77, a ballot initiative involving political redistricting, should appear on the ballot in the special state election to be held on November 8, 2005. (Costa v. Superior Court (Lockyer), S136294).Yesterday's Wall Street Journal had this to say about the decision:
When these columns criticized his move, Mr. Lockyer sent us a letter suggesting he was merely trying to protect voters from devious populists. Well, not quite, said the state's high court. "We conclude that it would not be appropriate to deny the electorate the opportunity to vote on Proposition 77 on Nov. 8, 2005, on the basis of such discrepancies," said the court in a 4-2 decision. Mr. Lockyer's antics underscore the desperation of politicians out to prevent competitive elections.That's just about the editorial equivalent of a raspberry, and I love it!
Those of us that have had to deal with Sacramento as a part of our professional duties know the place to be a zoo. My exposure is minimal, but others, including SoCal ally Hedgehog, have far more experience. Hedgehog quotes a great column by Jill Stewart, then says this:
The resulting process is ugly. As a general rule, in our legislature policy is not made, it is brokered. Here's how it works: Interest groups write the bills and agree on them, then take the agreed-on product to legislative a sponsor. Once the sponsor is certain that the bill, as written, has the support of the right interest groups (meaning the ones that donate substantially to him or her) , Legislative Counsel polishes the language, the bill is introduced, and it is voted into law. Depressing, but true.I've said it here before, and I will say it again -- I live in a small valley, population around 20,000-30,000, a solidly conservative neighborhood. It is broken into 4 Assembly Districts and 3 Senate Districts. I vote with people living worlds away as the political landscape flies. It is simply idiotic, the part of the district in my neighborhood is literally a few blocks.
The old saw is that "lovers of law and sausage should never know how either one is made." True enough. But in California we'd like to at least have something to say about who is making them. Prop 77 would at least give us a chance.
Districting in California is beyond gerrymandering, it's the establishment of fiefdoms, and it has got to stop. This may be the best decision ever made by the California Supreme Court. Now all we have to do is win the campaign.
Forgiveness and Consequence
The prosecutor, Thomas Spota, had been ready to seek harsh punishment for a crime he rightly denounced as heedless and brutal. "This is not an act of mere stupidity," Mr. Spota said. "They're not 9- or 7-year-old children."The article does not define what "a far more satisfying" result is, but judging from the tone, it was less punishment than anticipated. There is something unsettling in this. The crime was not just against Ms. Ruvolo, it was also against society -- that is why it is a crime. The prosecutors job is to represent society, not the victim of a particular crime. The victim's forgiveness does not lessen then severity of the crime against society.
That is true. But Ms. Ruvolo's [the victim] resolute compassion, coming seemingly out of nowhere, disarmed Mr. Spota and led to a far more satisfying result.
Don't get me wrong, I am glad for the reconciliation between victim and perpetrator - that is the way I believe Christ intended it, but that does not mean the societal consequences to the perpetrator should be reduced. We are not just individuals, but also members of something larger than ourselves. To forget that in our justice system is to foster narcissism -- something we can ill afford.
Today's Trip Pic
That does not change the fact that I had a very important mission while I was in London. Perhaps comparing these pictures will better illustrate just what I mean. You just never know what your humble blogger may really be up to, now do you?
We all have our secrets...
Being A Competitive Christian
Personally, I think the whole thing is based on a false dichotomy -- competition is not inherently sinful, which Rusty points out -- what is sinful is what we are willing to do to win the competition. What is sinful is putting winning ahead of obedience. What is sinful is harming another for the sake of victory.
I am always amazed that people fail to realize that God rarely, if ever, tells us what to do with our lives. Rather, He tells us how to do it. Think about that for a minute. God really does not dictate our professions to us -- He may equip us better for one than another, but I don't think He cares much if a drive race cars, or a flower cart. What He cares about is that whatever I do, He gets the glory. Whatever I do, I do in obedience to Him. Whatever I do, the fruits of His Spirit are evident.
How Long Will It Be...
A lightning strike amid a drenching rainstorm Tuesday sent 19 Fort Benning soldiers to the hospital.I guess it really is fortunate that most people that truly loathe the military enough to say something like that, would think it foolish to invoke God's name.
Most of the soldiers were treated at Martin Army Community Hospital and released, although four remained hospitalized overnight for observation.
Pray for these soldiers -- that's the last thing they needed.
I saved the link because I thought that headline was somehow a little too celebratory, it carries a tone as if it was a good thing that the bombing has resumed. Kind of like the bombers were home run hitters. Apparently, I am not alone in that perception, becasue Reuters changed the head in the link above to read
Fortunately, Australian News carried the story with the original head.
This Story Really Bugs Me
The Natural History Museum is moving its collection of 28 million insect specimens out of their current home to be housed in a £65.9 million extension.But then puns bug me too.
The London museum says the move, to a new building due to be completed in 2008, will help safeguard the specimens for future generations to view.
A Competition I Would Love To Enter
A nine-year-old boy's winning design for a monster is to feature in the next Doctor Who series on BBC1.If only I had known, I have all sorts of ideas for great monsters -- Kerrystein, a beast that actually sucks the charisma directly from you -- Clintarkanlek, a monster that is capable of putting an entire nation to sleep simply by delivering a speech, none of which are less than 1.5 hours.
William Grantham, from Colchester, Essex, has come up with an Abzorbaloff, a monster which absorbs his victims in his gargantuan body.
I could keep going, but it might be more fun for you to come up with some ideas...
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
There Is A Theme Here
Today's Trip Pic
Let's start where the trip started -- London. After the Blogotionals had dinner with the Warnocks the London living Warnocks were kind enough to give us a ride along the Thames embankment, allowing us to see so many wonder sites lit up -- like Big Ben. It is better lighted than it is during the day. And, it made a great picture.
Also while in London, we visited Grovesnor Square, which sits in front of the US embassy. Appropriately, when we visited in 2000 contained statues to FDR and Eisenhower. This trip we found an addition -- a memorial to the UK victims of 9-11
Most notable on the list of names was Rick Rescorla. He's a true hero. One of the better finds of the whole trip.
A Serious Toy
Sometimes, toys are far more than toys. Just thought you might want to know.
The Best of Pravda
Sverdlovsk region, Russia. A shop assistant managed to prevent the robbery by biting a shoplifter. According to the department of private security of the Government?s Department of Internal Affairs in Sverdlovsk region, the incident took place in one of the typical Russian kiosks where the articles are sold through a small window.I knew there was cannibalism during the siege of Leningrad, but things aren't that scarce anymore.
While the shop girl turned away a man thrust his hand into the window and started collecting money from the cash register. When the woman saw this she immediately reached at the hand with her teeth.
Second Item: call this wishful headlining. The story is an analysis of riots in China, but this is the headline
Could this be a bit to quell potential propblems due to their own poverty levels?
Washington adores to live on the knife's edge, inventing conspiracy theories and lies and then putting into practice what can only be described as a murderous foreign policy, supporting coups placing fascist dictatorships in office and more recently removing Saddam Hussein, who was alleged to have WMD which posed an immediate threat to Washington and her allies.Is it possible, just possible that this defense of Iran could be based on the fact that Russia is supplying them with know-how? Maybe?
The Iraq policy began with 9/11, with which Saddam Hussein had no engagement whatsoever and ended with one hundred thousand civilians slaughtered and Washington taking control of Iraq's oilfields, doubtless already engineered long before September 11th.
Iran, named as one of the members of the axis of evil by the intellectually challenged President of the United States, whose black-and-white, tunneled vision of the world is only too famous, is now targeted by Washington and the hype machine as the new pariah in the international community.
However, unlike Washington, Iran has not invaded a sovereign nation based on lies and unlike President Bush, President Mahmud Ahmadi-Nejad has not committed an act of wanton mass murder neither have his troops perpetrated acts of torture and sexual depravity on a scale unseen outside Hollywood.
Like I said Pravda is getting a little serious again, and not necessarily for the better. It's taking all the fun out of this feature.
Democrats have decided that unless there is an unexpected development in the weeks ahead, they will not launch a major fight to block the Supreme Court nomination of John G. Roberts Jr., according to legislators, Senate aides and party strategists.It's that highlighted phrase that worries me -- They just might have something up their sleeve.
In a series of interviews in recent days, more than a dozen Democratic senators and aides who are intimately involved in deliberations about strategy said that they see no evidence that most Democratic senators are prepared to expend political capital in what is widely seen as a futile effort to derail the nomination.
It's Only A Flesh Wound!
The (Invincible) Black Knight
No one shall pass beyond your defended territory, which you will defend to the death and multiple amputation.
Thanks to Snugg Harbor for this link. Problem is, I really wanted to be one of the Knights that say "Niegh"
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
The Return Of Regular Blogging
The technical problems were irritating and will remain that way for a few days as I must completely rebuild the hard drive of my laptop which went completely south. This meant I read almost nothing on the trip (apologies to my blogging friends!) and what I did post was far less than I had hoped (not to mention expensive).
Blogging highlight -- sitting in a room blogging with Hugh Hewitt. Actually talking back and forth and saying "Hey check this out." Hugh was far more gracious and approachable than a person in his position would be required to be. Turns out Hugh and I know some of the same people and I now can confidently call him friend.
There is no way to sum up a trip like that in one or two posts. That is why blogging as we went would have been better., but I will let you find out things piecemeal.
It was a great vacation, but it is good to be home.
A Guest Blogger Strikes! His Title? - Kirkegaard, Feh!
While John scours the Baltic for his aquatic namesake, Blogotional proudly presents a number of expert guest contributors. Here's the first: Davis X. McKenna, Liberal Trade-Spokesperson for the North American Blogger's Congress.
First of all, let me extend my sincere thanks to John Schroeder for leaving the continent. No, I kid. As anyone can tell by reading Blogotional, John can seem to be a very nice person. And believe me, I've met him.
But about Kirkegaard. Once upon a time, I found myself in a Bible study class on the writings of St. Paul. On one evening, in one conversation, I managed to disagree with St. Paul, Kirkegaard, Freud and Einstein. I mention this only to forewarn you, gentle reader. I can be rash and thoughtless.
That said, I'm a big fan of old Soren K., except for the time he came up with that single most destructive and pernicious error in Western Christianity: the Leap of Faith.
He has rightly been called the first Christian Existentialist. And he did it almost a century before Existentialism even appeared. Existentialism, briefly, is the belief that life, the universe and everything are meaningless, but that we should all pretend otherwise because, somehow, pretending makes it real.
Similarly, Kirkegaard imagined an infinite wall between us and God that we can't climb over, dig under or run around. But by believing, we can somehow be on the other side. This is stupid.
In places where the Leap of Faith is embraced, there's really no operational difference between "faith" and "self-delusion". If you're doing this, stop it, now.
On the other hand, Kirkegaard wrote a lovely non-stupid extended metaphor about worship, which, if John or any of his Blogotional readers had bothered to consider, would have obviated the recent effluence of worship discussions on this very blog.
Kirkegaard's idea of a personal encounter with God is also fairly pernicious, but only because it's been misunderstood and misapplied. It makes American Christians sound especially silly. They have a personal computer on their desktop, personal hygiene spray in their medicine cabinet, and a personal lord and savior in their jeans pocket.
Well, This Explains A Lot
Russia's long winter will just fly by for a herd of Russian cows which, a newspaper reported on Tuesday, will be fed confiscated marijuana over the cold months.Well, that story certainly explains some of the odder things we saw. All over St. Petersburg, cows sitting on street corners looking oblivious, begging and unmotivated, and whenever someone dropped a dime in the hat they were using for begging -- they got potato chips with it. Now I know why.
And I Missed It!
A replica Viking ship made of 15 million ice cream sticks is to be launched in Amsterdam on Tuesday by a former Hollywood stuntman who hopes eventually to sail it across the Atlantic.Now THAT would have made the journey worthwhile!
I Wonder If These Things Are Connected?
Then I saw this picture on Scotwise
And I am forced to wonder if the Pope is trying to deal with the high price of oil?