Saturday, September 17, 2005


Almost But Not Quite...

Adrian Warnock is blogging about Holy Spirit Baptism again. He and I have had a bit of discussion about this before. In this post he mostly passes on a lot of source material he is developing on the subject. He begins this way
Just to kick of with, I believe that the HS is given:

1. To assure us of salvation
2. To empower us to live godly lives since, "PRINT ON A PAGE CAN NEVER MAKE US HOLY ON ITS OWN."
3. To make us more evangelistic (cf the boldness of Acts 2)
4. To give us gifts
Can't really argue with him there. I think his point about "print on a page" sort of overlooks the fact that Jesus is the Word, but I understand and agree with the point he is trying to make, so I won't nit-pick. Later on though, Adrian says this
As an outward testimony to the reality of what has happened, God pours out his Holy Spirit on believers that seek him for such a blessing. Receiving the Holy Spirit is a conscious, real experience that is usually accompanied by gifts of the Spirit such as tongues and/or prophecy.
Here's where I have a problem. First of all, I absolutely agree that "As an outward testimony to the reality of what has happened, God pours out his Holy Spirit..." where I begin to have a problem is when he describes it as a "conscious, real experience that is usually accompanied by gifts of the Spirit such as tongues and/or prophecy."

Adrain does a wonderful job earlier in his post of defending his assertions scripturally, but here I see no such back up. Save for the the Acts account of Pentecost, I see no evidence of a conscious and separate experience marking receipt of the Holy Spirit. Further I see no evidence that such an event will "usually" be accompanied with tongues or prophecy. I Corinthians contains large portions that very much work to downplay tongues, and further work to give equal and important place to other gifts granted by the Holy Spirit.

Why indeed if "But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills." would this experience of which Adrian speaks not be just as readily accompanied by an outbreak of floor sweeping for those gifted with service, or accounting for those gifted with administration.

In disagreeing with Adrian here I want to point out that I do not deny the reality of other person's experiences. I think God will manifest Himself in ways imagined and as of yet unimagined. I am sure this is a blessing to those who have had it.

What I have a problem with and challenge is the idea of this as a universal or near universal experience, or as even a "preferable" experience for most individuals. This is a unique and wonderful way for some to experience the Almighty. But for others it may not be.

We all, when we experience something wonderful, wish to share it with others, and hope for them the same. As a person schooled in science, I believe I experience God in ways somewhat unique. I can look at His creation and see Him in evidence in the detail and intricate working of that creation in ways that others, not so trained or inclined, do not share. I often wish that they could. Many are the times that I have begun to explain to someone the wonders of nuclear fusion as that which lights the stars in the sky on a beautiful night in the wilderness -- only to have them look at me with a bemused tolerance that soon dips into utter boredom. I want so bad for them to see what I see and to know God in the way that I know Him -- but they cannot, nor will they ever. Not because they do not know God intimately, but because the Holy Spirit reveals Himself to them in an entirely different, but equally valuable fashion.

I am happy for anyone that has had the experience Adrain describes, and I thank God for their experience. But I think we do ourselves a disservice, as the body of Christ, when we attempt to universalize that experience. If nothing else we open the door for false experiences for those that are not so inclined, and that is indeed the evil one's playground.


US Army In Iraq Declares War On Blogotional!...

...without even knowing it. This post passes on fighting words:.

Armadillo... Amarillo... Same Difference

Assumption of Command links to this rather funny video based on the song "Is This The Way To Amarillo" but for whatever reason, the video titles itself "Is The The Way to..." well you get the idea.

A little background -- I lived through my entire elementary school years in AMARILLO, Texas -- it's a lovely town that I am still quit proud to have grown up in.

Located essentially in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains on the southwest corner of the Great Plains, it was a fantastic place to be a kid. "Amarillo" is the spanish word for "yellow." The city is so named because of the color of the soils and rocks found in the region. It is most assuredly not indiciative of the character of the city's citizens despite many a child's efforts at derision.

This...thing, on the other hand is an ARMADILLO. It is, in essence, a heavily armored rat. Populating some of the more southern regions of the great state of Texas, Amarillo gets a little too cold in the winter for armadilloes to live there in any significant numbers.

My wife is found of saying they are so ugly they are cute -- I think they are just so ugly they are UGLY.

Anyway, here is the deal, if Mustang would be so kind as to tell me the unit and FOB from which this slanderous piece of video originates, I will fly myself to Iraq and immediately proceed to paint the entire base yellow, just to remind them of the difference between Amarillo, a lovely city which once housed a huge B-52 wing armed with nuclear weapons built in Amarillo, and a heavily armored rat.

UPDATE: Apparently it is not the US Army that has declared war on this blog, though Mustang fails to tell me which one it is. Assuming it's an unit of some sort that does not speak engilsh as a first language, this cultural affront can be forgiven, but I'm still on a hair trigger.


Comic Art

Continuing our look at the "Honorable Mentions" from my now long ago Evangelical Outpost Expert Witness piece we want to take a look at Carmine Infantino. He has the distinction of being the first comic artist I ever noticed as an artist. This was in large part due to covers like that you see here which were done way before writers and artists sold more comics than characters and stories.

Infantino had a huge role in defining the look of the silver age at DC. The "classic" look of the general stable of characters was defined in this early 60's revival of the DC stable and he drew most of them at some point in there.

Despite his enormous influence at DC, he did work at Marvel too and you can see with this Daredevil page. I do not know the business dealings of the time, but I really wonder, based just on how things looked to me as a kid reader/collector, if he was not the first star talent war in the industry.

His work at Marvel had the same level of excellence as his work at DC, but by the time he got there the look at Marvel had been pretty well established by the one and only master -- Jack Kirby. Thus to the eye of this kid he never really caught on at Marvel -- but I sure did miss him at DC. Things just did not look quite right over there.

While he did virtually all the characters at DC -- the one he "owned" and really deeply defined was Flash. This was the Barry Allen silver age Flash.

Doing the Flash he did some of the classic covers in my living history of comics. He drew the classic Flash #123 which introduced "Earth - 2" and united for the first time the golden and silver age Flashes. This comic helped define the entire "DC Universe" for the next 20 years. It is a classic turning point in comics.

So important and famous is this cover that adorning my desk even as I write is a statue based upon it, which when viewed front on, in fact duplicates the cover. It's pretty cool.

But for sheer memorability, at least to my then 10 year old mind, nothing beats this cover you see on the right. It's the book that dared ask the question that every 10yo was asking every other 10yo every time they gathered around the comics rack in the corner drugstore.

This is an image that is burned in my brain and has been for years. So classic is this story that it has been told and retold many time through the years. Why in the last year or so, the current Flash, Wally West, raced Superman while searching for his wife.

Two of the most classic covers in all of comics and both were drawn by the one and only Carmine Infantino.


The Press Get More Infantile

As if yesterday's tittering over the fact that the Presdient of The United States has to go to the bathroom occassionally were not infantile enough -- We now have an entire story devoted to the role bodily functions have played in diplomatic settings.

There is no one on the planet that enjoys body function humor more than I -- ask my wife, sometimes she worries she married an adolescent boy. But even I know there are some settings where it is just embarassing and is just as well left unspoken. This would be one of them.


Fact And Conjecture

Know the difference. This Scientific American piece illustrates it well.

According to an analysis published today in Science, the number of Category 4 and Category 5 hurricanes has almost doubled in the past 35 years.
Because tropical storms draw energy from ocean water to gain strength, it has been hypothesized that global warming--and the warmer waters associated with it--could lead to stronger hurricanes.
In their report, the authors conclude that before the observed trend can be attributed to global warming both a longer global data record and a better understanding of how hurricanes fit into general atmospheric and oceanic circulation trends is required.
And we have not even touched on the question of whether global warming is a man-made or "natural" phenomena.


Who Knew...

...a baptist preacher had a sense of humor? My buddy John at Sheep's Crib does with this delightful trio of funnies. A sample
When techies at Experts Exchange, an IT web site, choose a domain name they failed to read the print finely:
Go read it all!


Friends and Enemies

Enemy - California bans school junk food

Friend - Man Breaks 'Couch Potato' Record

It's my life!

Friday, September 16, 2005


Genuine Hope

My wife generally agrees with my pet theory when it comes to dealing with people - "They never really change." By that I mean that if a person is a jerk today, they will more or less be a jerk 20 years from now. Oh sure, they will have some of the rough edges worn off, but when pressed, "jerkness" will again become evident. My wife though is quick to testify about how God can and does "fix" people with genuine and sincere emotional and mental issues.

Eternal Perspectives is taking a far more serious look at the question.
The church unfortunately has been influenced by some beliefs from psychologists without always evaluating them biblically or theologically. There is a prevalent notion in many pews that - even for Christians - some situations are genuinely intractable and hopeless. God either won?t or can?t overcome our internal and external conflicts or the consequences of them, leaving us to suffer through life.

My concerns about this concept are legion, but foremost is the "I'm-a-poor-victim"/"I'm-such-a-martyr" attitude adopted by more than a few believers. If Crabb is correct, then we are all doomed by the vagaries of life. Until heaven, what has been is what is and what is is what will be. Get used to it.
The first sentence of that pull quote deserves a series of blog posts all it's own -- in my opinion, it's a huge problem. (That's a hint Mike, I can't think of anyone better suited!)

Anyway, EP looks at the promises of scripture and concludes there is genuine hope for real healing. To which I, Mr. "People never really change," responds - OF COURSE! To my way of thinking the key question is why we don't see more of it? Why are there so many "victims" sitting in pews? I know some people sitting in pews for 10-15-20 years still claiming the same victimhood!

When I started wrting this post I was going to go off on "Many are called, few are chosen," and there is some truth in that, but now that I am here I'm going in a different direction.

What is wrong with the what we are preaching and what we are doing in churches that the healing and victory so obviously offered in scripture is so little in evidence? I think some of the answer lies in the melding of church and psychology that I mentioned earlier. We have diluted the power of the gospel with the useful, but far less powerful tools of human science.

But more, I think we have defined "sin" down. Yesterday's sin is today's addiction, problem, or emotional difficulty. We excuse adultery due to any number of emotional issues when we should declare it as sin and urge the adulterer to seek healing from the Holy Spirit.

From a godless psychological viewpoint, the quote which EP begins his post with makes perfect sense, the lie within is exposed only when the power of God enters the equation. We need to rely less on our own understanding, and more on His power.


Good News From Mississippi

With all the Katrina news from my birth state grinding on my soul, I loved reading this OpinionJournal piece about some good things happening there. It's about tort reform legislation passed a couple years ago.
The Medical Assurance Company of Mississippi, which writes 60% of the medical malpractice coverage for doctors in the state, had raised its rates 20% the year prior to the tort reform legislation. After its passage, MACM did not raise its rates at all. "Those people who said tort reform would not work and actively fought any civil justice reform," Mississippi Insurance Commissioner George Dale said. "I think this indicates they were wrong." MACM also recently announced an end to its moratorium on new business; it also just declared it will cut its rates for 2006.

Insurance was becoming less available and less affordable prior to the passage of the tort reform legislation. Now, the opposite is true. Some plaintiff lawyers and some consumer groups still contend that tort reform doesn't work--but it does not take a rocket scientist to understand that when liability exposure is made predictable and governed by reasonable rules, risk can be better assessed, and insurance companies are more likely to offer coverage.

Gov. Haley Barbour attributes the successful recruitment of new business to Mississippi to the lower cost of doing business in the state. Texatron has invested $35 million and Kingsford Charcoal $20 million; we have coaxed back Winchester Ammunition and its $3.5 million payroll, as well FedEx Ground, as part of a $1.8 billion expansion.
What will be really interesting will be to see how this legislation works in the wake of Katrina. This is one heck of a wake up call to other states. California has recently limited punitives and some other things, but the heart of the California problem is Workman's Compensation.

Maybe I should buy a few California legislators a ticket to Jackson?


Sounds Very Familiar

Dadmanly is talking about his interaction with Iraqis again.
Culturally, Iraqis (as with Soviet citizens in that day and place) are incredibly docile, not at all used to deciding or doing much of anything aggressive or assertive. Those not imprisoned (or dead) or forced into slave labor were essentially on a public dole. No one here has much experience with work of any kind, other than the kind of work done by personal servants, landscapers, or laborers. But even then, nepotism and cronyism and very strong tribe politics means only the lowest have to do anything, the rest sit around and watch. (It's quite unusual, if 3 or 4 or 5 Iraqis are together in a work party, to ever see more than one or maybe two actually working. The rest watch, rest, or chat. This proportion holds in larger numbers, and is visible in village, rural, and army settings. (It may be different in more metropolitan Iraq, in the few such environments that exist, like Baghdad.)

It's not really that they're lazy; well, yes actually it is that they are lazy, very lazy. But that's what they've grown accustomed to. That's what's expected. In the Army, one of the biggest changes (and challenges) comes from actually getting everybody to work together at the same time. They have had no history of an effective Non-commissioned Officer (NCO) Corps, which in the American military are the primary leaders and trainers of Soldiers, with Officers being the planners and directors of larger aggregations of the smaller units (largely led by NCOs with some junior officers "in charge.")
Dadmanly points out the Soviet analogy -- something I experienced first hand. It's even worse in China where I have also been and worked.

One of the things that makes America unique is the quality of the people that live here. We are unique. We are the best the world has to offer because, simply, if you are a person seeking the best for you and your family, if you want to work hard to accomplish something - you get up from the place in the world where you live with less opportunity and you come to America, the land of greatest opportunity.

Traditionally, we have been good at breeding that energy since we are all ultimately from thattype of stock, but increasingly, I seem to be seeing it more in immigrants than natives. I have more immigrant clients than I have natives. Given my market, that means there are more immigrants starting small and medium sized manufacturing operations, at least in Southern California, than natives. I am wondering if there is something wrong with that picture?


Good Questions

Stronger Church is wondering
If there are such things as Mega-Mosques . . .
If the Koran has been paraphrased more than three times . . .
If other faiths use cartoon vegetables to tell their most sacred stories . . .
Just to name a few of the questions Peter is asking. Sometimes a question says far more than an answer ever will.


Not News!

President Bush had a more pressing worry than terrorism or reforming the United Nations during a Security Counil meeting in New York yesterday - the leader of the world's only superpower wanted to go the loo.
I was completely unaware that election to the office of President of the United States had, among its rewards and priviledges the assumption of certain superhuman powers, including no longer needing to engage in the same bodily functions the rest of us do. Because that is the only way this qualifies as news! Otherwise, this is the journalistic equivalent of snickering when you see your first grade teacher in the grocery store, because at the age of SIX it never really dawned on you they had a life outside the classroom.


No Class!

There is only one human being in the public eye that I patently refuse to ever watch under any circumstances -- Alan Dershowitz. He lacks even a semblance of grace. My mistake has been a willingness to continue to read him, thinking the process of writing would result in a little self-censorship. -- OOPS! Consider how he opens this HuffPo diatribe (HT: The Corner)
My mother always told me that when a person dies, one should not say anything bad about him. My mother was wrong.
Not content with spitting on the corpse of William Rehnquist before it was cold (on Hannity and Colmes if you missed it somehow), now the man disrespects his own mother in public to justify it! And he called Rehnquist a "thug?" I have never heard more thuggish verbal behavior in my life.

Dershowitz has officially crossed the line from rude and inflammatory to despicable.


Friday Humor

A man standing in line at a check-out counter of a grocery store was very surprised when an attractive woman behind him said, "Hello!" beaming. He gave her that "who-are-you?" look and couldn't remember ever having seen her before.

Then, noticing his look, she figured she had made a mistake and apologized. "Look," she said, "I'm really sorry, but when I first saw you, I thought you were the father of one of my children," and walked out of the store.

The guy was dumbfounded and thought to himself, what the heck is the world coming to? Here is an attractive woman who can't keep track of who fathers her children!

Then he got a little panicky. I don't remember her, he thought, but, MAYBE... during one of the wild parties I went to when I was in college...perhaps I DID father her child! He ran from the store and caught her in the parking lot and asked, "Are you the girl I met at a party in college, and then we got really drunk and had wild crazy sex on the pool table in front of everyone?"

"No!" the woman said, with a horrified look on her face. "I'm your son's second-grade teacher."


Unusual Choice Of Running Mate

Pope, crooked referee spur German election betting

Can you be Pope and Chancellor at the same time?


Naked Astronomy

Massive black hole spotted without galaxy

Nebula all over the universe were throwing dollar bills its way!


A Whole Lot Better Than Other Places I Could Think Of

Nuclear Tests Leave Mark in Teeth,


First It's A Tadpole...

...then it's a fungus?!

Lethal amphibian fungus 'in UK'



Manicure Machine Paints Photos on Nails


No Sausage -- No Beer...

No Smiling for Passport Photos in Germany

With a name like Schroeder, I should know!

Thursday, September 15, 2005


Primary vs. Secondary

Pyromanic ponders and interesting problem
Does the Bible recognize a valid distinction between fundamental and secondary doctrines? How would you refute someone who insisted that all truth is of equal import? How do you answer those who claim no truth is worth arguing over? Could you make a biblical case for a hierarchy of truths, or for recognizing a distinction between core doctrines and peripheral ones? If so, how do you tell the difference? Do you have biblical guidelines for that? What if we disagree on whether a particular doctrine is essential or secondary? How is that question to be settled?
These are some of the more essential questions of our times. Phil provides some good answers, but asks for more resources and ideas, so I thought I'd take a shot.

One of the examples of a "problem issue" that Phil cites is "Sabbatarianism."
...committed Christians might differ among themselves on the question of whether and how rigorously the Old Testament Sabbath restrictions should apply to Christians on the Lord's day...
I first ponder this question, is the issue of Sabbath practice a doctrinal issue or an ethical one? To put a business spin on it -- doctrine is a "policy issue" while ethics is a "practice issue." When Phil is discussing this he uses Sabbatarianism as an example of a "secondary truth." I would argue that the questions concerning Sabbatarianism tha Phil rasies are in fact ethical questions, and not necessarily doctrinal ones. So why is that distinction important?

I would hope that most of us will agree that as Christians we have vast doctrinal differences with our Jewish cousins, but I would hope we have more ethically in common with them than not. There are few richer sources for thinking about ethical issues than Jewish literature. This is a vein of thinking that few Christians mine, and in my opinion, more ought to.

To be sure, some Jewish ethics have been explicitly changed in the New Testament -- the dietary laws as the prime example -- but much has not. Given that we draw on the same ethical codes and they have had about 4000 more years of dealing with them than we have, it is a rich source for understanding. If nothing else it is a great way to learn how to think about ethics, even if you arrive in a different place.

At the core of Phil's post is the question, "What is worth fighting over?" I would answer in part doctrine is, while in large part ethics is not. It should also be noted that ethics flows from doctrine, and this will help define a boundary aroound "reasonable" ethical disagreement. For example, some might argue that homosexuality is purely an ethical issue -- but it flows from doctrines about idolatry and the supremacy of God (He created the plumbing to work is certain rather specific ways), thus arguing it as "not worth fighting over" steps out of the boundaries of reasonable ethical disagreement.

Before you tell me that I have discussed myself in a circle here, what I am saying is that when we have fights over something like homosexuality -- we should not fight over the purely ethical issue, we should instead fight over the doctrine that underlies the ethic.

I wish I could describe a precise and definitive line between doctrine and ethics, but alas I cannot. What I can say is that I have found the distinction nonetheless important.


Really Fine Blogging

Fellow SCBA member, Cheat Seeking Missles has done some great blogging uncovering the left's role in the NOLA disaster. Yesterday morning Laer looked at the first trial ballon floated as prelude to lawsuits to stop the pumping.
The allegation of deliberate cover-up: The feds don't want people to know what's in the soup.The allegation of deliberate cover-up: The feds don't want people to know what's in the soup....

...One little problem in all this. Here's the top story on the EPA Web site:
Flood-Water Sampling Chemical Data Available -- Sep 11 - The Environmental Protection Agency in coordination with the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality today posted data from New Orleans flood water chemical samples collected from 6 locations on September 3.
It should be noted that fellow SCBA member Hedgehog Blog recognizes Laer's blogging greatness and re-emphasizes the point. Later in the day yesterday Laer looked at the role that wetlands preservation litigation may have played in gravely increasing the damage caused by Katrina.
but to turn a blind eye after what we've seen in NOLA is ridiculous. It's time to dial back the environmental influence to an acceptable level -- one that puts people first, but protects the environment.
We didn't start the blame game, but it might not be a bad idea to finish it.

I am amazed that those who seek to "save" the environment really just want to be the ones to control it. Even not doing things has major ramificiations on the environment. The idea that we should leave it alone is silly -- we can't, we're a part of it. The sooner people figure that out, the sooner we can have serious discussion.


The Message And The Medium

The BBC, of all places, is looking at church advertising.
Clever posters, glossy cinema adverts - the church is increasingly adopting the ways of the world in attempting to attract attention to itself. Some say it's the only way to get a message across in modern times.
OK, problem one -- the church is not supposed to attract attention to itself-- it's supposed to attract attention to Jesus! But that could just be the story writers issue.

I went to a breakfast meeting at church this morning to discuss ways to bring "discipleship" into the mainstream life of our congregation. Our whole purpose was to discuss not how to get people to church, but how to turn people that go to church into deeply committed followers of Jesus Christ.

The essence of advertising is to find the "key" message, state it plainly, simply, and memorably -- in as little time or space as possible. I don't think genuine discipleship can possibly be encouraged in such a fashion. To consider an analogy, how would you "advertise" Newton's Principia Mathmatica? Maybe that's too easy -- you could go after the three basic motion laws. Consider then a great work of literature - "Crime and Punishment" for example? Anything you can come up with will of necessity only communicate a part of that novel. See the problem.


Illuminated Scripture


Life In Iraq

I am consitently amazed at how few of our soldiers meet the "stereotype" so often assigned to them. Ma Duece Gunner has a great post describing his mission for a day.
As my rippled soles of my boots hit the crust, I look around and survey my surroundings. The ground, baked hard from eons of desert sun, is sprinkled, seemingly uniformly, with black pellets. Sheep and goat turds litter the ground, and they are to be seen everywhere, almost as if they were spread, in feeble attempt to fertilize the hard ground. They crunch underfoot, moisture robbed by the parched air, as I move toward the link-up point.
It's really interesting stuff, but what really amazes me is how well written that is. That's a long way from Clint Eastwood's nearly sub-verbal Gunny Highway.The Gunny was a hero, but eloquence was not his strong suit. MDG is a hero and eloquent!

Then there is Hurl, being extermely humble in his nonethless correct characterization of many of our home bound heroes working in the Katrina zone.
These are stories you are not likely to read or hear in the main-stream print or TV media. This particular reader made the astute observation that, just like the MSM does not report the truth in Iraq, it appears they also are failing to report the truth in the aftermath of Katrina.
I am amazed that people, up to their elbows in defending our nation in a place where people are waiting around every corner with bullets and IED's can atke the time to credit heores back at home. It's our job to praise them, not the other way around -- but then that is part of what makes them heroes.

Finally, I am pleased to note that the press is finally getting straight a story this blog first looked at in June. Both Stars and Stripes and The Conservative Voice report that the soldier who murdered two officers in Iraq has been set for trial. The best part is that the word "fragging" appears nowhere in the coverage. It's a little late and a little low profile, but justice and getting the story straight are being served at the same time.

This story, from it's beginning has illustrated to me that even in a war zone people, and life, are often the same. It shows sharply the difference between war and murder -- this was murder, pure and simple.


Failing To Take The Hint

Reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools was ruled unconstitutional Wednesday by a federal judge who granted legal standing to two families represented by an atheist who lost his previous battle before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Feeling that stange sense of deja vu?

Here's the deal, the last time SCOTUS knocked this bit of silliness down they did so on rather technical legal means. It was in my opinion a decision of kindness. Not wishing to "offend" the plantiff, the appellate judges, and perhaps even the court's own minority they got the result they wanted without making the real decision that needed to be made.

Now it appears all those, save for the court's own minority, whose feelings they tried to spare could not take the hint. Not accepting the brush off they have come back for the beating. If it's a beating they want, John Roberts may be just the man to deliver it.


Are You Poor?

Evangelical Outpost reposted a piece he did on poverty the other day that was just outstanding. I want to borrow a couple of points form him and make one of my own.
But while being poor can be difficult, it isn?t the tragedy that many might be inclined to believe. From an early age I knew that while many people had more than I did, others had it much, much worse. That lesson was seared into my conscience while sitting in a pew watching Baptist missionaries present a slideshow detailing their latest mission trip. The images of true poverty gave our tiny congregation a glimpse into the everyday life in Ethiopia, a time of famine when a bucket of unshelled peanuts would be considered a feast. I was struck by the realization that as little as we had, these people had less. I was white-trash Texas poor; these people were Africa poor.
Isn't the essential issue here not one of poverty, but of self-absorption, selfishness and even a tad bit of idolatry? Gratitude is also an important issue. The next essential point that Joe makes is devestating
The fact that the government has to have a ?safety net? to catch those who would slip between the cracks of our economic system is evidence that Christians fail to do God?s work. The government cannot take the place of Christian charity. A loving embrace isn?t given with food stamps. The care of a community isn?t provided with government housing. The face of our Creator can?t be seen on a welfare voucher. What the poor need is not another government program but Christians who are willing to honor their savior.
One of the reasons I am a political conservative is that I want the government to get out of my way! Come on, admit it -- what have you hesitated to do to help the victims of Katrina because you did not want to interfere with the government? I have a pretty lengthy list that I am regretting not doing more every day.

The final point that I want to make is that in God's eyes we are all poor. Stop, I mean really stop and think about who God is, what He has done and the power He has. If you are not finding yourself unable to comprehend it, you are not doing it right. By God's standards we have nothing -- NOTHING. Even if we hold the whole planet in our hands -- He holds the universe. Our planet disappears on that scale. When we talk about reaching out to the poor it is important to remember that we are not bending over somehow, we are just helping someone else in the club.


An Incredibly Important Article!

No, I'm not exagerating. Consider the sub-head.

We atheists have to accept that most believers are better human beings

It brought tears to my eyes
The arguments against religion are well known and persuasive. Faith schools, as they are now called, have left sectarian scars on Northern Ireland. Stem-cell research is forbidden because an imaginary God - who is not enough of a philosopher to realise that the ingenuity of a scientist is just as natural as the instinct of Rousseau's noble savage - condemns what he does not understand and the churches that follow his teaching forbid their members to pursue cures for lethal diseases.

Yet men and women who believe that the Pope is the devil incarnate, or (conversely) regard his ex cathedra pronouncements as holy writ, are the people most likely to take the risks and make the sacrifices involved in helping others. Last week a middle-ranking officer of the Salvation Army, who gave up a well-paid job to devote his life to the poor, attempted to convince me that homosexuality is a mortal sin....

...The only possible conclusion is that faith comes with a packet of moral imperatives that, while they do not condition the attitude of all believers, influence enough of them to make them morally superior to atheists like me. The truth may make us free. But it has not made us as admirable as the average captain in the Salvation Army.
Would there were more atheists like Roy Hattersley.


A Blog

What will newspapers look like in 20 years?

I know, I've read Hugh Hewitt's book.


Gee, Ya Think?

Scientists Reconsider Habitability of Saturn's Moon

Thank goodness, I mean the whole lack of a nitrogen/oxygen atmosphere would be an issue for me. How about you?


Boy Howdy!

A team of international researchers announced today the detection of the farthest space explosion ever recorded, breaking the previous record by 500 million light-years.
All I can say is at those distances it must have been one big explosion! I couldn't detect a stick of dynamite at half a mile.


Because We Will Buy ANYTHING

Gillette unveils 5-bladed razor

Years ago, before the average blogger was born, Saturday Night Live parodied the double bladed razor with a triple bladed razor -- now a ho-hum reality. Is there nothing so outrageous it will remain parody?


Truth as Parody

Fat Elephant Gets a Treadmill

"Fat" Elephant? "FAT" ELEPHANT?!

Do you need more proof that the national obsession with body weight has reached ludicrous levels?

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


I Spent Most Of My Free Time Yesterday...

...Trying to coordinate some Katrina relief efforts at my church. Consequentially, you will not find the "usual" large number of posts. I trust you will understand.



This may be the best post I have ever read on Jollyblogger. He is wondering about where we, as Christians, are headed.
The question of all questions is not how close you are to that destination, but it is which direction we are going? If we get the direction straight, we are living in the light, no matter what degree of suffering and struggle with sin remains.
I just wish there was a better compass for this journey -- sometimes it's so hard to tell which direction we are going in. I love JB's conclusion -- were it true, so much would be better, so much conflict avoided.
And so for now, the goal is to face His direction and start walking.
The journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step.


Turn It Off

The Constructive Curmudgeon is wondering if too much curiosity can be a bad thing.
The old phrase, "Curiosity killed the cat," carries a current lesson. Curiosity can hurt us, too, polluting our souls and interrupting our fellowship with One who is, above all, holy. "Remember Lot's wife" (Luke 17:32).
He addresses himself primarily to much of "reality" television and obscene amounts of news coverage of horrific events like Columbine.

But there is a grave extension of this principle -- science, particularly reproductive science. Just because my scientific curiosity tells me I can clone a person, should I?

Science began as a means of learning about God by learning about His creation. It has, in some fields, become a method of trying to replace God, or at least usurp much of his power.

Not all questions I can conceive of must be answered.


The Best of Pravda

Is actually an oxymoron.

Nonetheless, there is nothing like a man with ambition
The world?s oldest schoolboy, 85-year-old Kimani Nganga Maruge took his first flight going to the US.

Maruge got into Guinness Book as the oldest school pupil in the world in 2003 after free elementary education had been introduced in Kenya. He is studying in the second grade at the moment....

...Before flying to the US Maruge also told the journalists that he was going to look for a wife in America.

"I would also like to marry a rich American woman to bring back money for my children. There's no point marrying a poor woman because I'm also poor," he explained.
Sometimes I even have to agree with Pravda, removing my charge of oymoronism, like here
Ozone hole will shrink by itself

It is not yet clear to what extent human activity is destructive for the ozone layer
The truth from Pravda! But then even a broken clock is right twice a day....


What Happens When You Don't Do Your Homework?

Mainland Chinese tourists visiting Hong Kong Disneyland on its debut day smoked in non-smoking areas, went barefoot and even let children urinate in public.
Anyone who had ever travelled in Mainland China could have seen that coming from a mile away. I've seen children deficate in public there, but then once I get started telling these stories people of weak constitution run from the room screaming, so I'll go easy on you.

Mickey has a very tough battle ahead of him.


My Worst Nightmare

Will We Have Mega-Cyberchurches?



"Medical teams search for epidemics after Katrina"

If it's an epidemic should it not be rather apparent and the need for a "search" superfluous?


If Performance Enhancing Drugs Are Illegal In Sport...

...Should not this be?
An Australian professional football player said Tuesday he plans to have one of his fingers amputated in an attempt to improve his game.
Although, if I had stilts grafted to my legs and could figure out how to get 20 years younger, that NBA contract I always dreamed about....

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


I Had A Miserable Afternoon Yesterday... about you? Here's why
Utility workers connected the wrong wires and caused a blackout across major portions of Los Angeles on Monday afternoon, trapping people in elevators and snarling traffic at intersections, authorities said.
The couple hours lost productivity was bad enough, but given Sunday's terrorist threats and the fact that we did not know it was not terrorists until about the time the power came back on. it was just almost impossible to concentrate on work for the little time remaining in the day.

Today has GOT to be a better day.


The Basics

I have an awful memory. I'm not a techno-geek because I think technology is cool, I am a techno-geek because without my Palm Tungsten I could not remember if it was the day I was supposed to go to client X or Y. I think the reason I love the physical sciences and math is that there is so little you have to remember. Given the 6 postulates, I can come up with all of Euclidean geometry as I need it. All I have to remember to remember my geometry class is 6 simple statements. Makes it easy!

The reason I loved the simple gospel discussion I had with Adrian Warnock, and others, 8-9 months ago is analogous. Christianity should be simple -- one should not have to read Calvin's Institutes to be a Christian. That's why I love this post from Unveiled Face.
I just want to emphasise the need to regularly and explicitly describe the gospel in order to keep it central and to ensure it never becomes "assumed". It is so easy to allow our focus on any kind of entailments or points of differentiation to rapidly exceed our focus on the gospel as soon as the gospel is assumed rather than explicitly stated at every possible moment.
If you keep your focus on the gospel the rest of being a Christian will fall into place, and if you lose touch with that gospel, no matter how much you read and how hard you work, you'll wander from the path God wants you on. (Sometimes I wonder if this is not an example -- not that Christians aren't supposed to worry about the poor, it's just that there is more to it than that.) Mick put it this way
And it's so easy to assume the gospel in our personal lives. Recently, I was really struggling with some ill health and other discouragements, and I found that I needed to deliberately and actively recall the gospel - I had to literally fight to keep the gospel at the front of my mind. That just makes so much difference; to find security in a God who did not spare his own Son in his infinite mercy and love!
When we forget God's love and sacrifice, when we forget what He did for us, when we forget Him, we stray.

My intellect thirsts for heavy duty study and thought, but my soul is refreshed every year teaching the basics to high school kids. How is your soul refreshed?


What Have I Always Told You?

Science Reporting Stinks! That's what. Now, with a hearty hat tip to Instapundit, we can read a relatively complete taxonomy of the phenomena and the beginnings of a theoretical explanation.
There is one university PR department in London that I know fairly well - it's a small middle-class world after all - and I know that until recently, they had never employed a single science graduate. This is not uncommon. Science is done by scientists, who write it up. Then a press release is written by a non-scientist, who runs it by their non-scientist boss, who then sends it to journalists without a science education who try to convey difficult new ideas to an audience of either lay people, or more likely - since they'll be the ones interested in reading the stuff - people who know their way around a t-test a lot better than any of these intermediaries. Finally, it's edited by a whole team of people who don't understand it. You can be sure that at least one person in any given "science communication" chain is just juggling words about on a page, without having the first clue what they mean, pretending they've got a proper job, their pens all lined up neatly on the desk.
Note to periodicals out there -- I'm available if the price is right. I mean look, I blog and everything.


Today's Trip Pic

Today, alas our journey ends with a look at some of the more majestic sights of Copenhagen.

This is Christianborg Palace and is the current functioning seat of Danish government. Forts and palaces have resided on this sight pretty much since men decided to settle here. One of the cooler things about this palace was that the archeaological dig underneath the palace is open to the public and you can see the remains of that which went before. This is one the best examples I have ever seen of how buildings are done on top of buildings.

The spire on top of Christianborg is noted for it's three crown design. This is just a close-up of that detail because it really is pretty and it really is beautiful.

This will; however, be my most lasting memory of Copenhagen. This is the stock market building. The spire is a design of four dragons, wrapping their tails around each other to create the spire. The mixture of folklore, majesty, and whimsy really appealed to me. I wonder if I could fit a replica on the roof of my house?


What Puzzle?

Senators Aim to Solve the John Roberts Puzzle

The only puzzle Democrat Senators are concerned with is how to keep him off.


Will All Those...

...that condemned the Bush adminstration for "mishandling" the Katrina aftermath, praise it when they do something right?
The director of the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency Michael Brown, under fire and recalled to Washington in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and criticism of the Bush administration's handling of the crisis, resigned on Monday.
Somehow I doubt it.

By the way, this is about lying -- NOT politcal pressure.


From the Edge of Taste...

And not too bright either.
Organisers of the world testicle cooking championships were left out of pocket after a hoaxer claimed to be Australia's top testicle cook.

A man claiming to be Australian chef Nibel Bevan rang the World Testicle Cooking Championship in Serbia, asking to take part.

Organiser Gornji Milanovac said they imported kangaroo testicles especially for the Australian team - but nobody turned up.
Testicle cooking probably puts us on the edge of taste don't you think? So, how did the organizers react?
Ljubomir Erovic, who arranged a VIP reception for 'Mr Bevan', added: "We are sorry Mr Bevan could not make it, and hope he might still turn up next year once he realises that jokers have been pretending to be him.
Go Ahead -- "google" Nibel Bevan or Australia's top testicle cook -- I dare ya.


The Beginning Of The End?

There are those that feel that the seeds of the end of the Soviet Union were sown in the public disclosure of what happened at Chernobyl. Once the information floodgates were open and the Soviet public learned how often their government was capable of screwing up, well the rest is history.

I wonder if this spells the beginning of the end for communist China?
China will no longer consider death tolls and other relevant information about natural disasters to be state secrets, an official said Monday, saying the move was aimed at boosting government transparency.
Only time will tell, but it will be a heck of a laboratory for those that hold such about the Soviet.


Obsessed Fans?

or, Idolaters?
The ethnically divided Bosnian city of Mostar has agreed to erect a new symbol of unity -- a statue of kung fu legend Bruce Lee, worshipped by Muslims, Serbs and Croats.
It's a fine line.


Lazy Or Corrupt?

New Delhi's government has a rat catching department that hasn't caught a single rodent in more than a decade, a newspaper reported Monday.
Maybe they are just all too busy standing on stools screaming!


Government At It's Finest - UK Tax Pounds At Work

British Office Compiles List of Odd Names

Englebert Humperdink does not appear anywhere in the article -- not only are they wasting tax money, they're doing a bad job of it!


Double Take

The Bluefish is a UK blogger -- so this gave me a double take

South Central MTC

I could not help but wonder why a Christian blogger in England was reporting on the formation of a 'Metorpolitan Transit Committee' in "Riotsville" L.A.

Of course, he wasn't, he was talking about a training center in south central London, but it made me laugh at myself -- so I thought you'd want to laugh at me too.


This One's For You Ken

Only a basketball score could have brought a bigger smile to my recently deceased friend Ken's face than this
The Colts barely missed their first shutout since 1997, Manning threw two second-half touchdown passes, and Indianapolis cruised past the Baltimore Ravens 24-7 Sunday night.
I could not bring myself to watch the game more than a few minutes at a time, the impulse to call him was just too strong -- I have NEVER watched a Colts game that I did not talk to him, ever.

This article is an homage to him, without even knowing about it.
The American health care system has many problems, but one of them is at once obvious and generally ignored: most doctors and hospitals still work in the buggy-whip era of information technology, dependent on pen, paper and manila folders.
Not Ken -- a founding physcian of Indiana Heart Hospital he was -- the first fully paperless hospital in the world.

Pray for me, I'll get over football, but once we take to the hardwood....

Monday, September 12, 2005


God is GOOD!

Miscellanies On The Gospel had a great post on Saturday about "The Pleasurable and Unpleasurable Goodness of God" His point, put simply and directly is that goodness, particularly God's goodness is not constrained by our conceptions
He is the same good God when we are having bad days, bad weeks, bad months, bad years, or bad decades. When hurricanes, tsunamis, terrorist threats, wars, and economic crashes are at work, God is at work also. And where God is at work, His goodness is at work. The external circumstances of events, situations, and incidents is no criterion at all for determining whether or not God is good. The cross destroys such a paradigm.

The gospel teaches us then that inside the most wretched of experiences, God is good. When a wife is dying of cancer, God is good. When a wife is giving normal and healthy birth to a normal and healthy child, God is good. When a husband is falling into pornography or adultery, God is good. And when a husband is excelling in his employment and making a lot of money, God is good. When our children continue in persistent disobedience, God is good. When our children are obedient, God is good. God is good.....all the time.
What's more, if God is good in all circumstances, and God is on control, then all that happens will accomplish God's good.

Sometimes I wonder if the line we cross when we become a "mature" Christian is the line demarcated in Christ's prayer at Gethsemane -- "Not my will, but Thine." We so desperately want to understand things -- "Why did this happen?" -- "How could God...?" But we never can have such understanding. Do your pets understand how a can opener works? NO -- but they understand that good comes from it. That's all we need to understand, that good comes from God, and we must learn to be satisfied that such is all we know.

We are intelligent beyond what is good for us. We need to tame that intelligence to serve one whose intelligence makes ours look nonexistent. Miscellanies put it this way
Let the gospel reorient our thinking on God's goodness then. And let us put forth a hand of mighty diligence in meditating and experiencing that goodness especially when things are displeasurable for us! For those are the toughest times to see that light, aren't they? Oh, it's so easy to rejoice in God's goodness when we feel the pleasure of that goodness. But oh, how easy it becomes to complain against God's goodness, questioning Him, putting Him on the witness stand, when we feel the displeasure of that same goodness we once rejoiced in.
The best way to begin that process of taming our intellect is to develop the habit of gratitude. Have you thanked God for the unpleasantness in your life? Start there, set aside the big stuff for now, that will come as the habit develops, just try thanking Him for that ingrate that cut you off for the parking space, then go from there.

God IS good.


Why We Are A Nation Of Laws...

...Not Men. Government in the Ukraine is falling apart. And as you read the story, you cannot help but be amazed at how personal the conflicts are.
But, in an emotional broadcast, Mrs Timoshenko said life in government had become intolerable because of the presence of another man in her relationship with the president. She was referring to Petro Poroshenko, a top aide and key ally of Mr Yushchenko.
Sounds like some sort of love triangle doesn't it?

The greatest failing in the fall of the Soviet Union, and the still staggering rise of democracy is that they have tried to be deomcratic relying on the subterfuge of democracy that existed in the constitutional documents of the Soviet state. In other words, people have continued to fight for despotic power, just not from within the Communist party.

True democracy is not measured in new leaders, but in new laws. This is why we are doing it so right in Iraq.


Those Pesky Canadians

Last week we looked at the conflict between religious freedom and women's rights in Canada and I worried about the discriminatory nature of allowing Christian and Jewish civil tribunals, but not Islamic ones.

Well, turns out they are going to be equal opportunity constrainers of religious thought and speech.
A Canadian pastor who works with at-risk youth is preparing to face his province's Human Rights Tribunal because of a letter to the editor he wrote calling homosexuality immoral and dangerous.
Even more bothersome than the restraint of religion here is the fact that the man is on trial for speech! Call him ignorant, denounce him for a fool if you want, but try him? For speech! If that is the case, can I bring Michael Moore up for sedition?


Today's Trip Pic

Our trip culminated, as I have said, in Copenhagen. I found this city quite charming. It lacked the splendor of a St Petersburg, but was quite hospitable and enjoyable.

Hans Christian Anderson is the first thing that comes to mind for most people at the mention of Denmark and this statue of the Little Mermaid marks the harbor. Fortunately, no one from Disney was anywhere in the vicinity when we visited.

Given the fame this statue enjoys, I have to say it was a bit of a disappointment. It is fairly small, and where I had expected something in the middle of the harbor, it is very close to shore. More charming than it is majestic, it is nonetheless worth the viewing.

The famous Tivoli Gardens is a bit more garish than I had anticipated, but fun nonetheless. What I found most remarkable is somewhat illustrated by this picture -- the juxtaposition of the garishness in the garden with the architecture without. A bit like placing Disneyland where the ancient agora is in Athens -- oops, I shouldn't say that, someone at Disney might get ideas.

Most student of science know of Tyco Brahe. This is one of the places he worked, and I thought it was cool -- even if entirely too urban to be of much practical use.

Tomorrow we will look a little more at Copenhagen and then our trip shall be concluded.


How Free Is Salvation?

Blogcorner Preacher took a well earned swipe at a preacher that was working just a little too hard at making a buck over the weekend. He quotes that church leader as saying, "Salvation is not free," and then counters this way
Ahh, "the church business." To be sure, we can't keep a roof over our congregation's heads without money. But here's the thing, my money-grubbing friend: salvation is, precisely, free. It is a gift from God. It can not be bought.
Indeed, we cannot purchase salvation. Indeed it is a gift to us, but it is far from free -- that gift was purchased by another with the most precious blood of God Himself incarnate. A gift is not "free," someone other than the receipient simply bears the cost. The price for salvation is completely beyond our means, but it is most assuredly not "free."


Sometimes Satire Is Just Ignorant

To write good satire, you have to have a good and thorough understanding of that which you satirize. Clearly this guy does not.
All of which has come as something of a shock to Bobby Henderson, an unemployed physics graduate from Oregon. According to Mr Henderson, the FSM - as His Noodliness is sometimes known - "revealed himself to me in a dream". Like most mysterious prophets, Mr Henderson communicates with the outside world only occasionally, although this may be more to do with having only one telephone line to his home in the small town of Corvallis and a Google e-mail account swamped by hundreds of messages every day.

Not that he ever saw himself as a rival to Mohammed or Abraham. The divine inspiration that came to the 25-year-old one night earlier this year was originally intended as a satire on attempts by some Christian groups to change the way evolution is taught in science classes in some American schools.

In particular, Mr Henderson was taking aim at the concept of Intelligent Design, or ID, which provides a supposedly scientific alternative to the Old Testament belief that God created the world in six days and nights, but which dismisses most of the fossil record as false and which relies on the Earth being far younger than geological evidence shows.
"Creationism" may hold to the young earth stuff, but ID does not. All this satire, all these electrons, all these smug people thinking they are so smart -- and they are aimed at the wrong target.

Who is it that's not very bright here?



As proof of my theory that "environmentalists" are generally just chronic complainers that want nothing to happen and nothing to change, ever, anywhere and in anyway, I offer this story. Logging of certain extremely valuable hardwoods has been banned because the trees are in such short supply -- but not satisfied, they want to ban the harvesting of dead logs from the bottom of rivers that were cut long, long ago.

Speaking of which, some seem to think undeveloped land in the UK is disappearing. To be frank, virtually all the land on the island has had human intervention on it at some point in history, given that it ia a small place compared to my nation, I was amazed at how much open country there was. My guess is these complainers are just having their favorite piece of land developed. Oh wait, this is England we're talking about here, make that "favourite."

In a related vein, waiting for the "perfect solution" may only create a larger one. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved yet another site to store spent nuclear materials -- this one on the middle of nowhere Utah (I've been through the area during my days of working in gold mining, trust me on this) and of course, everyone is lining up against it. Bottom line folks, if we do not figure out something to do with our spent fuel and waste it's going to be everywhere, putting everyone at the perceived risk. If Chernobyl wasn't all that bad -- this will be easy.

Alternative energy is in the news, and the stories I saw this week illustrate the real driver behind it, and it's not the environment. There is this general story out of Scotland
About 7,000 jobs could be created by such projects.
And this story out of England about "renewables" (biomass digestion to produce gas, or direct burning)
Farmers are increasingly being drawn to the idea.
So what do I think is the real driver? "Why offer a better product at a cheaper price when I can create a scare and get the government to create a high margin market for me" -- That's what

Finally, global warming remains as confused as always, I really wish they'd get their stories straight. I thought it was about modern man, industrialization and greenhouse gases, but this week we learned it started with ancient man -- dirt is really the problem -- and vegetation, which is supposed to absorb the dreaded CO2, is part of the problem.

Global warming has become the great all-pervasive evil that Erlich's stupid notions about over-population were. Erlich's idiotic ideas are bringing an end to western Europe as they fail to reproduce. Will the idea of global warming end society as we know it?


Point Well Taken...

...even if the journey there is a bit arduous. David Warnock is looking at a logic puzzle and refuting one man's logic with some of his own that is not entirely airtight. Regardless, David's ultimate point is extremely well taken
My parents ran their own business, they could have follwed the MBA route and made more money. They chose a middle route which meant that they could also have a family life and take time to do the things important to them by not making the persuit of financial reward rule everything.
This is certainly the path I chose with my business -- I keep it purposefully small.

The larger point from the discussion David has that I would draw is that life involves a lot of things -- family, church, money, recreation.... "Great Success" at any one of those requires sacrifice in the others. I have known a lot of very high acheivers in my life -- billionaire business leaders -- star athletes -- actors and entertainers -- I've even met a US President on a personal basis. All of them I have met had to ignore or "put on hold" some aspect of their lives to achieve that level. Some of them we need (Presidents for obvious reasons and business leaders to create jobs for others) some of them we don't (are the Olympics really better just because somebody ran the 100 meters ten thousandths of a second faster than last time?) I sure would like to find a way to help those we need lead a more rounded life. Those we don't need, we just need to learn to live without.

I have been berated in my life for my lack of ambition -- particularly in college where my grades were way above average and my profs wanted my success to reflect on them. I have an ambition -- it's to be a good man, and a good man of God. That's enough.


A Rumor I Hope Is False

Iraq The Model reports on the threatened use of chemical weapons by terrorist factions in Tal Afar. The good news is, if they actually have the capability -- it's there and not here. Thank God we asked the innocent civilians to leave before we began this offensive. Pray for our soldiers.

This probably explains the threat.

And while we are looking at terrorist threats, this story hits a little too close to home.
A videotape televised on Sunday purportedly from a U.S.-member of al Qaeda threatened Los Angeles and Melbourne, Australia, on the fourth anniversary of the September 11 attacks.
Of course, telling us what they want to do, and actually doing it are two entirely different things.


Must See TV

Pictures from other celestial bodies are always cool, but sometimes just because we know their origin -- if we didn't, it would look like earth through a filter of some sort. Not so with this. TWO moons in the night sky. Can't mistake that for earth.


The Joke Muse Eludes Me....

...but there has to be a polish joke in here somewhere.
Customs officers in Dorohusk, on Poland's border with Ukraine, have made an unusual seizure, confiscating nearly 530 kilogrammes (1,166 pounds) of meteorites they found hidden on a Russian-registered truck.
How can something that literally falls from the sky be contraband?


At Last...

...a mounted game even I can play
Straddled atop hulking pachyderms and wielding long mallets, the Chivas Regal Scotland team clinched their second King's Cup Elephant Polo title Sunday after scoring a golden goal in overtime to beat Thailand's Mullis Capital, 6-5.
I doubt I would put too much of a load strain on an elephant!


There Are Flight Delays...

...and then there is this.
Stranded Ryanair passengers were forced to hire a bus and drive 600 miles home after their flight was cancelled and they were told that the next aircraft out of a small French airport would be in 10 days time.
Remind me to stay out of small French airports.

Sunday, September 11, 2005



Monument - Winslow, Arizona - A Piece of the World Trade Center

Adn while you are remembering -- read this very important piece from Mark Steyn and remember IT's A WAR!



I have Boar's Head Tavern to thank for finding this thing. It's one of those cutesy web quizzes -- to find out if you are going to heaven!? Uncountable words written, millions educated, religions born and burned out, wars fought, reformations, thousands of years of history, and it can be reduced to a blog quiz? If only God had known.


Sermons and Lessons


In 1947 a movement of the Spirit produced the founding of the Church of the Saviour in Washington, D.C. Pastored by Gordon Cosby, this church demonstrated a radical faith witness to the rest of the world. Elizabeth O?Connor was one of the church?s early members and would later join the church staff. Her writings would chronicle their story, letting the rest of the world know of the amazing work God was doing in their midst.

O?Connor is a gifted writer whose insights into the spiritual journey have helped countless women and men grow deeper in their own walk with God. Her writings challenge and confront, as well as encourage and inspire. The following selection comes from a book that comprises several letters written to the early faith communities of the Church of the Saviour. Although these letters were written to stir and nurture the faith and commitment of these young churches, they speak a fresh word of exhortation to all scattered pilgrims on the very important subject of money.


1. The Handling of Money

?Filthy lucre,? as money is sometimes called, has been a favorite topic of conversation for us since the early days of The Church of the Sayiour. We talk about it probably as much as Jesus did. When the founding members, young and poor, were forming themselves into a properly incorporated community of faith, they struggled for a discipline of membership that would help them and future church members to deal concretely with at least some aspects of the handling of money. In its first writing the discipline read, ?We commit ourselves to giving 10 percent of our gross income to the work of the Church.?

While there was some precedence in biblical history for the 10 percent figure, our first members felt that this kind of giving would enable them to begin to tackle the injustices of society in a way that would be meaningful to themselves, as well as to others. Their proposed constitution and disciplines were submitted to Reinhold Niebuhr, an eminent theologian of the last generation who had agreed to read them and comment. His only suggestion concerned the discipline on money. ?I would suggest,? Niebuhr said, ?that you commit yourselves not to tithing but to proportionate giving, with tithing as an economic floor beneath which you will not go unless there are some compelling reasons.? The discipline was rewritten and stands today in each of the six new faith communities:

We covenant with Christ and one another to give proportionate1y beginning with a tithe of our incomes.

2. Proportionate Giving

None of us has to be an accountant to know what 10 percent of a gross income is, but each of us has to be a person on his knees before God if we are to understand our commitment to proportionate giving.

Proportionate to what? Proportionate to the accumulated wealth of one?s family? Proportionate to one?s income and the demands upon it, which vary from family to family? Proportionate to one s sense of security and the degree of anxiety with which one lives? Proportionate to the keenness of our awareness of those who suffer? Proportionate to our sense of justice and of God?s ownership of all wealth? Proportionate to our sense of stewardship for those who follow after us? And so on, and so forth. The answer, of course, is in proportion to all of these things.

Proportionate giving has kept us from mistaking our churchgoing for Christianity, and from looking at our neighbor to see what we should be doing. In our better moments we desire that each member and intern member work under the guidance of the Holy Spirit to determine what proportionate giving means in his or her individual situation. We have, of course, hoped for ourselves and for others that the proportion of giving would increase as we identified with the oppressed and learned to trust God at deeper levels for our own future.

3. The Borders Have Been Pushed Out

By and large the discipline has served us well. Over the years we have kept the 10 percent floor for members and the 5 percent floor for our intern members. Many have struggled with the minimum giving, and some have turned away. Others have broken loose and showered our community with riches. The borders of the mission have been pushed out, and the suffering of our city has been eased a bit.

Sometimes the giving has been excessive and ecstatic, and sometimes impulsive ? a diamond engagement ring dropped in the offering plate, a silver service set appearing at the door, a check for several thousand dollars representing the total accumulated wealth of a young couple.

4. Blessed Be the Tithe

I first heard the tithing discipline explained in a class in Christian Growth that I was taking when I was new to The Church of the Saviour and the Christian faith. Following the class we met with the members of other classes for a short worship service. The small chapel rang with the words, ?Blessed be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love.? My untutored ears heard the words as ?Blessed be the tithe." I went home to explain the discipline to my nonreligious household, and commented, ?They even sing about it.?

The next Sunday we all went to see those strange people, and to hear about the things they were planning. Gordon Cosby was preaching his annual sermon on money, which was as spellbinding then as now. Before the year was over my household was tithing, and when the time came to purchase a retreat farm, we threw caution to the wind and went with everyone else to borrow what we could toward the down payment. It was not that our souls were so quickly converted, but that we sensed that something important was going on, and we wanted to be a part of it. We had been captured by a man?s vision of what a community might do if it really cared about the oppressed and the suffering.

5. Reclaiming Ourselves

In a recent sermon on money Gordon said as forcefully as ever that to give away money is to win a victory over the dark powers that oppress us. He talked about reclaiming for ourselves the energy with which we have endowed money: ?Money is a hang-up for many of us. We will not be able to advance in the Christian faith until we have dealt at another level with the material, it is a matter of understanding what it means to be faithful to Jesus Christ.?

He went on to say that the poor suffer because they are not able to give. Without any doubt Gordon?s teaching-sermons on money have influenced the whole orientation of the new communities toward the material area of life. Each of them began on a sound financial basis because each began with a small nucleus of tithing members. All contributions of the communities are used to further the work of the missions within the year they are given. Nothing has ever been put aside for a rainy day. We have followed faithfully the injunction given by Moses to his people as he led them out of bondage, ?No one must keep any of it for tomorrow? (Exod. 16:19, JB).

6. Stabilizing Our Standard of Living

Despite our corporate style and our exposure to the issues that are raised around the subject of money, we know that we have not gained much ?downward mobility.? While we have succeeded in stabilizing our standard of living, most of us cling to what we have known. Though the budgets of our faith communities are large by traditional standards, we are fully aware that they represent only a fraction of the potential giving of the congregation.

We still wrestle with fear when we consider abandoned giving. Our wills, with rare exceptions, look like the wills of those who have never been committed to the building of a faith community, or who have never had the poor in mind. This may indicate that, in the face of the threat caused by consideration of our deaths, we regress to old definitions of family and narrower spheres of identity. in any case, most of us would probably say that we are not as free as we would like to he where the material things of life are concerned. What may have looked like radical obedience to us a quarter of a century ago, no longer seems radical today.

7. Faces That We Know

Coming to know some of our suffering sisters and brothers in the Third World and in the ghettoes of Washington has made all the difference in the way we view the earth. The unemployment statistics are made up of faces that we know. We behold the plight of the poor not only with fresh eyes, but with the awareness that our faithfulness in the past gave God one way of performing veritable miracles.

Scattered throughout our new faith communities are persons who ask with increasing uneasiness what it means to he faithful in this time in their individual treks and in our slow migration as a people out of the old orders of ?necessity and death.? In a personal and in a corporate way we are wrestling once more with the question of what we are to do with our money. Some of us experience an inner division, for our hearts so often tell us one thing and our heads another.

When we begin to take the Scriptures seriously, ?You cannot serve God and Money? (Matt. 6:24, NEB) becomes a personal address. One would expect God to applaud our small efforts at faithfulness; instead a Spirit comes and takes us where we are not yet prepared to go.

8. The Worship of Idols

As we become exposed to the poor and their needs, the rich young ruler and the widow and her mite lose the storybook quality of our childhood faith, and become figures in the counterculture literature of a revolutionary leader ? the very one whom we call Saviour. The First Commandment and all the Scriptures on the worship of idols begin to lay bare our own primitive selves. Some of us have looked into the face of our idols and found that one of them is money.

Though we along with millions of other churchgoers are saying that Jesus saves, we ask ourselves if we are not in practice acting as though it were money that saves. We say that money gives power, money corrupts, money talks. Like the ancients with their molten calf we have endowed money with our own psychic energy, given it arms and legs, and have told ourselves that it can work for us. More than this we enshrine it in a secret place, give it a heart and a mind and the power to grant us peace and mercy.

9. Individual Answers

Do we believe that money and possessions have a way of coming between people who want to be in community with each other? Do we really believe that every life has resources more priceless than gold, and that our hearts, minds and labor are adequate for any task? What if the world is right and there are things that only money can buy, gifts of the spirit that only money can unlock, and blocks that only money can push aside?

The questions continue to be raised, and we continue to struggle for the answers that in the end have to be individual answers, for we are each at a different place in our spiritual trek with different understandings of what the Gospel has to say to us about what we do with our money.


The Lessons Of The Past...

...are not always good. This post from an under-20 blogger is devastating.
For eight critical years of my development as a person Bill Clinton was president. For many of those years he seemed more like a porn star. I remember laughing over excerpts of the Ken Star report with friends. Jennifer Flowers, Kathleen Willie, Paula Jones, Monica Lewinsky. Oral sex in the Oval Office. You just can?t respect a guy like that. My friends and I didn?t. We were not political yet, we were just middle school kids. Bill taught us not to take the presidency seriously.
Hum, and my generation thought Nixon was bad news in office.


False Premise TV

ChristWeb is talking about a National Geographic TV Series about science and the Bible. I am really tired of "efforts" to reconcile them -- it's not an either/or question! If people took the time to learn and understand both....


More Bad Science Reporting

This story is about how surfactants work, and it presents it like it is a new discovery.
Richmond compared the molecules to hungry tadpoles that bury their heads in the oil or other contaminant on the surface and leave their tails sticking up out of the water.
That's pretty much the theory of surfactant action that I learned in college 25 years ago! These studies appear to use new instrumentation and techniques to verify the hypothesis and fill in some details, but it is far from a "new" discovery -- but then can we really expect a reporter to understand what they report on?

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Site Feed


eXTReMe Tracker

Blogarama - The Blog Directory