Saturday, September 24, 2005


Not Acting Different, Being Different

Tod Bolsinger had a great post yesterday. He is talking about Christianity not prompting us to good acts, but that it is about transforming us.
When Jesus says to his disciples (with the crowds of uncommitted people listening in) "You are the salt of the earth - You are the light of the world" he is not saying that they "SHOULD BE" salt and light, but that they, in fact, ARE salt and light whether they want to acknowledge it or not. He is not exhorting them to live better, but instead reminding them that the way they live directly impacts the whole world.

In recognizing this little fact, we then see that the Sermon on the Mount is not moral exhortation at all, but instead a declaration that the difference that his calling makes on their lives is the difference God is making in the world.
Tod's point is that we are God's agents for changing the entire world. What a great concept. God remakes us, and when we are all remade, the world too becomes remade.

I see the wisdom in this, but worry that it can be used as an arguement against politcal involvement for Christians. We sit here in the cusp of what it means to be in, but not of. We must live in the world, and we must function in it. In a democracy like America, that carries with it an obligation to participate to some level, in line with our gifts and proclivites, in the political process.

But it is an important reminder that the political process will not and cannot ultimately "fix" the world. Only the transformation that God brings to every soul can accomplish that.


Ya'll Vote Now! - Hear?

OK, so earlier this week I was amuzed by the "Stuck On Stupid" phenomena. Amuzed by my amuzement I sent a link to Hugh Hewitt offering to share. Next thing I know, I'm in the running for "Blog Of The Week." It really was not my intent, but here I am. Now that polls are open, it would be in poor taste to go electioneering, but by all means, follow the link and vote!


Truly Proud

If your heart is not stirred, your soul not moved, and you are not instantly proud of every man and woman that has served our nation in battle after you read this post from Dadmanly, then I have great sorrow in my heart for you, for you must be souless. I dare not quote any of it, for it must all be read.

Thank you, Dadmanly, for your service, and the same thanks to all your colleagues there. Would that my thanks were sufficient.


Never Satisfied

I am truly amazed at how hard the press is willing to work to make the military look bad. We've been following the story of the murder of two officers in Iraq by soldiers under their command. When last we checked, the dead officers wives were trying to get to the Article 32 hearing (military equivalent of an indictment hearing) in Kuwait. In that last look we linked to an article that reported
Esposito said she and Allen were willing to bear the financial cost of traveling to Tikrit. But the military needed to decide soon to give them enough time to arrive before the hearing, she said.
With that background, the lead to this article sort of knocked my socks off.
The widows of two commanding officers allegedly killed by a Schaghticoke soldier will fly to Kuwait on their own to witness a hearing in the case.

The Army denied the request from the widows of Lt. Louis E. Allen and Capt. Phillip T. Esposito that they be flown to the Article 32 hearing, Allen's father, Robert, said Thursday.
Either this is a classic example of "wife logic" (it's always the guy's fault) or the press just had to find a way to take a shot at the military. either way, I wish they'd get the story straight.


I Don't Fit In This World

Because this sounds criminal to me.
A substitute teacher been told not to come back to a Wichita school after she told misbehaving students to clean up the mess left when someone defecated in the back of a fourth-grade classroom.
Seems wholly appropriate to me. But I guess not to parents.
Cheryl Ward, who has a kindergartner and second-grader at Gammon, said the teacher's actions could have put the children's health at risk.

"There can be hepatitis and all sorts of things spread through human feces," said Ward, an emergency medical technician. "It just doesn't make sense to have children cleaning that up."
But it doesn't make sense to have elementary school children defecating in class or misbehaving either. If we continulally allow them to escape the consequences of their actions...Well, never mind, people wound this tight won't listen to me anyway.


Comic Art

Continuing with the "Honorable Mentions" let's look today at John Buscema. He is another workhorse of the Marvel stable during my youth and his art is some that has stayed with me as the classic. This particular clash of titans was very memorable from my youth. Like the Flash/Superman race I mentioned last week, it was a burning question for every kid that ever opened a comic.

Buscema worked on just about every title marvel had during his life. Some more memorably that others.

I have a particular fondness for his Spider-man. I always thought Spider-man was too skinny, as he is, in my opinion, back to being today, particularly in the Ultimates. With Buscema at the drawing board, Spidey never got bulky, but he looked like a hero ought to look. And despite the suspension of reality required, I loved the fact that as Spidey got muscular, Peter Parker was still as scrawny as ever. It made the whole dual identity thing work better -- like he could turn his powers on and off. I mean NO ONE buys that you can't tell Clark Kent in Superman.

This was a watershed moment in comics -- an artificial lifeform crying. The Vision is one of the underappreciated characters in comics. Never really able to stand as a solo character, he has almost always, with the exception of a few 4 issue deals, been an Avengers character. I absolutely love his look and think a proper legend to go with the look would make him a solo character beyond compare.

Kirby was the master, but Buscema is not all that far behind when it comes to the Silver Surfer family of characters. Look at the composition of this Galactus panel. That is taken directly from the Master, but it is minus many of the angularities that would make you look at Kirby a little sideways from time to time.

In my youth, nobody drew the Surfer more than Buscema. Ths image is definitely "After Kirby" both in composition and in the heavy ink lines. But it is softer somehow. To be honest, as a kid, I liked Buscema better than Kirby. It was only as I got older and learned some things about how the art should be done that I came to see Kirby for the master that he was. But this is fine, fine art, all by itself.

Buscema owned Conan, pure and simple. It took Arnold and Dino DeLaurentis to redefine the look of Conan to be anything other than from Buscema's pencils.

It is difficult to define a character or a title as the single monument to John Buscema, he did so well with so many title. But I would probably have to go with Conan as the closest association. Buscema was a giant in the industry.


You'd Think We'd Have Figured This Out Already

An expert panel tasked with resolving disagreement over what is and isn't a planet has recommended that astronomers qualify that term with another word.
I have to be honest, this stuff cracks me up. The debate rages about the discovery earlier this year of what was initially called a "tenth planet" in our solar system. The debate actually surrounds the designation about the new planet and Pluto. But here is the thing -- any person my age has known Pluto was a planet since elementary school. I'm betting this is more about not wanting someone to get the fame associated with a 10th planet discovery than a genuine scientific dispute.


Now That IS An Unusal Political System

My friend Catez at Allthings2all has been blogging about New Zealand politics lately, which makes sense since that is where she lives. The system is very different from ours, but her posts never really communicated just how different.

Dog Registers to Vote in New Zealand

That's pretty different! Smart dog though.

Friday, September 23, 2005


Stuff That Makes My Heart Hurt

Let's start with Adrian Warnock reporting on the break of the Nigerian Anglicans from the Canterbury church.
With a careful rewording of her constitution, the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) redefined her relationship with all other Anglican Churches.

All former references to ?communion with the see of Canterbury? were deleted and replaced with another provision of communion with all Anglican Churches, Dioceses and Provinces that hold and maintain the ?Historic Faith, Doctrine, Sacrament and Discipline of the one Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church?.
This is, of course, over the elevation of that gay bishop here in the US. The move is designed to give a "home" to American churches that wish to break. Schism is ugly, but I applaud the relative lack of rancor, and as a Prebyterians, I appreciate the "orderliness."

In the next item Hugh Hewitt points to a Harvard Crimson article and a blog post on the brewing fight over Israeli divestment by my own PCUSA. The Crimson article says it well
Christianity should not become too closely enmeshed in narrow political issues for theological reasonsthe idea of rendering to Caesar what is hisbut for practical reasons as well. History has shown that Christian denominations too closely attached to politics have not fared well.
This move by the PCUSA is more closely aligned with politics than anything the right has posed to date, and that is a huge problem.

Finally, there is this from milblogger Howdy:
I got home at the end of July.

It was great to be back in the states. I flew from Kuwait City International to London aboard British Airways and laid over for the night. I took three showers in 12 hours and sat in the bar in gym shorts, shower shoes and a green t-shirt since it was all I had. I drank two beers and two coffees all at the same time. I called a buddy of mine from the Royal Marines letting him know I was in the UK on my way home to the "Colonies" and went to bed for the night.

The next day I flew to the states and landed like anyone else does when they travel by plane. It felt good to be back; but eerily ominous. I knew what was waiting for me on the horizon.

I was coming home to a divorce.
Howdy is talking about the price our deployed are paying, I agree that is a high cost, but I think it says less about deployment and more about what people expect from marriage these days, and how easy marriage is to discard. I'm praying for Howdy, and I'm praying for marriage.

My heart really hurts this day.


How We Think

Dadmanly is looking at how people take in and analyse data and if we are not predisposed to alwasy see the ugly. His discussion is based on the fact that some of the intel weenies he knows sound amazingly like the legacy media.
I am beginning to think the kind of work reporters do (intelligence or media) inevitably leads them to paint the picture with the negative data points, since that's what they see most, and most urgently.
He concludes that even if there was an irradication of press bias, reporting would largely remain negative. His analysis is; however, based on asking certain questions, in the example he uses, "What is the situation concerning violence in Iraq?" He talks about analyzing the "white space" in a graph of the violence, but what if we pose a different problem altogether, or at least a different metric?

Because there is less to count -- we count the exceptional. The means if we are analyzing for negative occurences, by defintion THEY ARE EXCEPTIONAL. Dennis Prager is fond of calling it "a proctologist's view of life." Why not plot the non-violence? Yes, the result is the same as looking at the "white space" in the violence plot, but the impact is oh-so-different.


Keeping Our Letters

The Constructive Curmudgeon is lamenting the the loss of letters, you know, handwirtten snail mail.
For one thing, we tend to replace reflection with rapidity. Email is fast, very fast?and often, too fast.
That is an indeniable truth. But he continues
Nevertheless, our handwriting-heavenly or ghastly or somewhere in between-is our creation, the inscription of our identity placed on receptive material. We may choose the type of pen, color of ink (or inks), and make idiosyncratic notations. Yes, email gives us a plethora of choices, such as fonts, emoticons (now animated), text size, photograph-pasting, and so on, but these are pre-selected for us by others. They are not created by us specifically for another. The manner of writing itself-apart from its overt intellectual content-may be revealing. A good friend of mine told me that her mother discerned the disheveled state of her soul not by the content of her writing, but by the contours of her handwriting.
Email does not reveal ourselves in the same way that handwriting does, but when well done, it will be revelatory nonetheless. For the trained, you can create fonts and customize photos. Properly used, the computer is a tool for creativity unparalleled. I never learned how to draw, but I have made art with my camera and Photoshop.

Electronic communication can be soul-less, but it does not have to be. It's a new set of creative tools to be sure, but it still allows for creativity. Properly managed, it even has the permanancy of paper.

What do you think?


Just Remember...

...When you are arguing, yelling and screaming about how MORE needs to happen to protect from Rita -- No one on earth can control this:

Even the government has limitations.


This Was Too Easy!

Roberts nomination sent to full Senate

Not that I mind, but I am increasingly afraid there will be you-know-what to pay on the O'Conner replacement nomination.


Uhhhh....No, I Don't Think So

Al Mohler points to a couple of Brit stories about The 100-Minute Bible. Quoting the publisher
Len Budd, publisher of the slimmed-down Bible, admitted that much had been lost in the reduction. "Is it a dumbing down of the Bible? Yes, but that's the world today. Although we as Christians love the Bible it is very user-unfriendly. People just don't have time to read it. If this book means more people can answer pub quiz questions on the Bible, so much the better."

So, that's the point? It appears that the purpose behind this project is something closer to cultural literacy than evangelism. The new edition is "not an evangelical document," Mr. Budd explained.
Everytime we "lower the bar" for access to Christianity, we harm Christianity. Frankly, there is enough scriptural ignorance already filling pews. Can't you just see the first time someone walks up to the preacher after service with one of these things and says, "What a crock -- that's not in the Bibile -- Look here."

There will far, far too many people that think this thing is "enough" despite the protestations of the publishers.

The Broken Messenger looks at issues related to "dumbing down" church
in a great post.
Now modern criticism of the overemphasis on such topics such as hell and sin's consequences that have stemmed from some denominations of Christianity past and present have been fair charges. Such criticism has been rightly brought forth as examples of how legalism within churches has led to a departure from the doctrines of love towards other Christians and unbelievers - and such things are still problems in the church today.

But this criticism has also sparked the unhealthy fear that the message of the Gospel will not be heard if such subjects are taught. A fair reading of the Gospel, however, demonstrates that Christ often taught forcefully and directly on each of these topics.
Can we really preach less than the whole gospel?


Friday Humor

"My stomach has been bothering me, Doctor," complained the patient.

"What have you been eating?" asked the doctor.

"That's easy. I only eat pool balls."

"Pool balls?!" said the astonished doctor. "Maybe that's the trouble. What kind do you eat?"

"All kinds," replied the man, "Red ones for breakfast, yellow and orange ones for lunch, blue ones for afternoon snacks, and purple and black for dinner."

"I see the problem," said the doctor. "You haven't been getting any greens!"

Rim Shot...Thank You, Thank you very much -- I'll be here all week.


Government Extortion

This kind of stuff really gets to me (subscription required for the link)
BP PLC, in the largest industrial-accident settlement of its kind, agreed to pay workplace-safety regulators $21.4 million in fines for scores of "egregious" safety violations tied to a March 23 explosion at its Texas City, Texas, refinery. The accident killed 15 workers and injured more than 170 others.
What that is folks, for the uninitiated, is a government bureacracy saying to British Petroleum that they broke the rules and simply leviying a $21.5M fine. There was no trial here, just an investigation and a levy of fine. Criminal charges are pending. So, what rules were violated?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration listed hundreds of safety violations -- ranging from failure to record accidents to equipment deficiencies that it called "egregious" and "willful" -- that investigators uncovered in the wake of the March blast.
Several comments.

First, precisely how would failure to record accidents result in other accidents? -- that's a pure paperwork violation. No one is endangered by this.

Secondly, "egregious" and "willful" are official evaluation terms OSHA uses when investigating an accident. Investigators assign them to violations uncovered and they serve as multipliers when determining the fines. That's all they are.

Thirdly, and, this is worst of all, OSHA, only ever shows up after an accident or if there are sufficient number of complaints lodged. What the *&%^ good is enforcement after the accident? While not to this scale, I've been through this before -- it's nothing more than a government agency using a dreadful accident wherein everyone is feeling awful already, to negoitiate a payment. It is the sickest form of taxation in the world.

OSHA is, in my estimation, the most corrupt of our bureacracies. All it does is write standards against which it can measure violations after an accident has happened and use them to extort money. What a racket!


In Serious Need Of A Life

Deadly plague hits Warcraft world

It's one of those on-line worlds you can inhabit and play around in. Here is the crux of the tale:
In the last week, it added the Zul'Gurub dungeon which gave players a chance to confront and kill the fearsome Hakkar - the god of Blood.

In his death throes Hakkar hits foes with a "corrupted blood" infection that can instantly kill weaker characters.

The infection was only supposed to affect those in the immediate vicinity of Hakkar's corpse but some players found a way to transfer it to other areas of the game by infecting an in-game virtual pet with it.
Spending unending hours pretending to be someone else in a pretend universe is bad enough, but then figuring out how to kill everyone else there? Really, there must be something better to do with your time. Although, it's better than writing a "real" computer virus, it makes a blogging flame war look tame.


Flight Of Fancy

Check out this Powerpoint (download viewer here if you need it) from this year's Paris airshow.

The star, at least according to the presentation, is the new Airbus 380 -- the brand new "superjumbo." I am sure it will revolutionize commerical air travel (unless Boeing gets it together) however, it is almost but not quite, this ugly:


MIxing Our Metaphors A Little Aren't We?

Tapping Archaeology to Seek the Cosmic Rosetta Stone


I'll Lose Weight

Mexico tests slimming powers of tequila's agave


I'm A Fan

Free beer on offer to fans of first team to beat Bayern

Thursday, September 22, 2005


Problem And Solution

Two of my favorite bloggers teamed up recently, even without knowling it. Adrian Warnock took an insightful look at sin, and specifically, teh seven deadly sins.
Sin is not a popular word these days. We might talk about mistakes, even failures but sin seems like such a strong word. Are we really ?evil?? Our culture today likes to believe that people are essentially good. The Christian doesn't share that optimism.

When you really get to know what is inside people's hearts you realise that ?sin? is possibly the best word for it.
Adrian goes on to examine the seven deadly sins, and their consequences in a way that only someone of his unique backgournd could.

Transforming Sermons then comes in to look at the response, quoting from Peter Nelson in Christianity Today.
The way forward for Western and other imperfect Christians is the path of humility and brokenness. Of course, humility and brokenness don't sell very well from the pulpit, not to mention in our society. But that's irrelevant. What matters is that the Lord, in his sovereign ingenuity, wills to teach us trust and humble dependence by bringing us through hardship; trials represent the roundabout, yet only true way toward spiritual maturation. And the Lord includes among these hardships the spiritual turmoil suffered by forgiven sinners who become painfully aware they are far from the peak of holiness.
I have always discovered God most, when my need for Him has been most apparent. Hiding from sin helps us to hide from God. Confessing sin opens us to His glory. Christianity is unique in that we find our salvation precisely in our weakness.


Thinking About The Narnia Movie

I have never anticipateed anticipated a movie, not Spider-man, not Batman, not X-men, like I am anticipating the upcoming Narnia movie. I have seen the trailer probably a dozen times now and each time, I tear up.

iMonk is worried that the marketing machine and the mechanisms of movies will rob the story of it's magic. And Common Grounds Online has a link to an on-set report from a theologian no less.

I don't have the huge worries Spencer does, but everytime I think about it, I will admit to a little voice in the back of my head saying things like, "What if Aslan is not not quite right?" -- "Suppose they try to tame the blatant gospel parallels?" -- "What if Edmund is so annoying at the beginning that I never buy his 'salvation?'"

Then I remind myself, as much as I love the Narnia books, as much as those stories have meant to me, they are not holy writ -- that are not sacred. Allegory, parallels and imagery notwithstanding -- they are children's stories. They are artistic creations by a truly talented man. The questions that I ask above are questions of possession, questions rooted in how much the books mean to me. But it is not about me -- it is about the books. And frankly, much as some of my images of Christ are strongly built on Aslan as I read him int eh books, that is a form of idolatry -- Aslan is not my savior -- Jesus is.

If I wanted to, I could devote an entire blog with daily posts on how superhero movies don't get it quite "right." They stray from the "true" comic book legend in so many ways. But why, movies are different from comics, which are different from books. I take them on their own merits and I enjoy them greatly. I expect the same with this movie. It will probabaly not capture my heart in the same way that books do, but I bet it does so in new ways.


Why It's Worth It

Writing in yesterday's OpinionJournal, Iraqi president Jala Talabani said the following:
While the problem of some of our neighbors supporting terrorism is bad enough, we can only imagine what our neighbors might have done if American troops had not been present. Most likely, Iraq would have been transformed into a regional battlefield with disastrous consequences for Middle Eastern and global security.

Without American forces, the vision of American leadership and the quiet fortitude of the American people, Iraqis would be almost alone in the world. With its allies, the United States has provided Iraqis with an unprecedented opportunity. Iraqis have responded by enthusiastically embracing democracy and volunteering to fight for their country. By giving us the tools, your troops help us to defend Iraqi democracy and to finish the job of uprooting Baathist fascism.
That's why we're there and that's why its worth it. Sounds pretty good to me.


Illuminated Scripture


Not Funny

At least not to my way of thinking, though thanks to Cheat Seeking Missles, it seems the Washington Post disagrees. What am I talking about? -- The FBI's formation of an "anti-Porn Squad."

Apparently porn has grown so mainstream that fighting it is now considered a joke. The articles report some of their humor. CSM makes some great points about how porn is not acceptable
Even if you fancy looking at 18 year old girls with a history of sexual abuse as they wrestle on camera with their demons by destroying their self image and possibly their lives,
But even if you are a complete libertarian and are willing to go with that, there is one point that you are missing.

Porn is not just reasonably accepted now -- it is virtually inescapable. We have got to find a way to at least put a fence around it and keep it from showing up in my email -- or worse some kids email. It is not that difficult to foresee a day, if it continues to be so readily accessible to youngsters, that we will see kids copulating in public because that is how they think it is supposed to be done.

If you don't think an FBI squad is the way to go, then by all means give me an alternative suggestion before you start cracking wise.


What Is Compassionate Conservatism

Brendan Miniter got a little beathless this week at OpinionJournal claiming that Republicans have left conservatives behind.
What President Bush, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and other Republicans haven't figured out yet is that deficit spending isn't a problem for them unless it endangers the broader conservative agenda. If it does, it will become the electoral issue. And what we're seeing is that Katrina is swamping every goal conservatives have, from limiting government to cutting taxes to reforming entitlement programs. Katrina spending has already imperiled plans to repeal the death tax, and Congress is already $60 billion into a spending binge. Handing out $2,000 debit cards was just the beginning. The conservative Congress has brought back the welfare state.
I have no credentials with which to enter this debate, but I've never let that stop me before. Conservatives, particularly "compassionate" conservatives, are not adverse to things like this is the wake of an extraordinary tragedy like Katrina.

Should these things become a way of life, then they are a problem. This conservative for example, has no problem many of the depression era programs of FDR that became the welfare state, it's just that they should have been dismantled during the war. The key to conservativism in this instance is not the response to Katrina, but the response to the response. If, three years from now in the '08 presidential election cycle, when recovery is well under way Republicans run on a platform that these moves have done their job and it is time to dismantle them -- no problem. Some, no doubt, should be dismantled even before the election. The public wants these things right now, and that will benefit Republicans in '06.

The other thing is in this instance, speed matters. "Purely" conservatice response proposals would meet opposition from the Dems that care little for anything but thier own politics. While, given majorities, the Republicans would prevail, this is no time for a debate. Better to do what you have to to get united action and fix things later.

Sometimes, in a crisis, you throw money at a problem -- it really is the short term solution, even for conservatives. It's paying the debt incurred that is defining.


This Just Sickens Me

We've all probabaly heard horror stories about individual families in China and what they do to try an comply with China's "one-child" policy. But now it seems some of those horrors are unofficially official.
FAMILY planning officials who forced women to have abortions and couples to be sterilised were reported yesterday to have been sacked or detained for abuse of China's "one child" policy - but legal experts doubt that they will ever be punished.

The officials had been trying to reduce the high birth rate in the city of Linyi, in Shandong province, but their approach was investigated after a number of people complained to the authorities."Some persons concerned in a few counties and townships of Linyi did commit practices that violated the law," Yu Xuejun, spokesman for the National Population and Family Planning Commission, said. "The responsible persons have been removed from their posts. Some of them are being investigated for liabilities and some have been detained."

He did not say how many officials were involved.

Some women said that their relatives had been detained to put pressure on them to agree to a late-term abortion. Parents with two children were ordered to submit to sterilisation. Several families decided to seek legal redress. However, in a sign of the nervousness among local authorities about the challenge to the state, Chen Guangcheng, a blind rural activist leading the class-action lawsuit, was seized from a Beijing street and placed under house arrest.
We have got to get the gospel in there in a big way!


Great Moments In Alliteration

Chinese Police Bust Bogus Booze Bootlegger

Bounced his butt to the brig.



Cereal Science: Why Floating Objects Stick Together

Now, as proof that I am a complete and utter nerd, I knew the "real" answer even before I read the article. Talk about a font of useless knowledge.


A New Slang Term?

Israeli Couple Fined for Kissing in India

Exactly what part of the body is "India" that kissing it would result in a fine?


Maybe I Was Wrong

A while back, I posited a body armor design based on some laser sighting problems some soldiers were having in Iraq. Apparently, in field experiments in the Houston, Texas area, similar designs have been known to actually attract attack.

Back to the drawing board.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


How A Hero Thinks

Ma Duece Gunner (who is a hero as are each and all of our deployed troops) answers an anonymous commenter that is typically opposed to our military actions in Iraq.

For me to do anything but link would only take away from this great post. If you read anything today, read this.


Catch Phrase Of The Decade

Yesterday, with yet another hurricane potenitally bearing down on the Gulf Coast, the press seemed to spend more time talking about "what went wrong" with Katrina than getting out the information necessary to keep it from happening again with Rita.

Lt. Gen. Russel Honore decided to spell things out for the press and after they did not get the message, he told them they were "STUCK ON STUPID." You can get a full transcript here at Radioblogger.

Hugh Hewitt and Instapundit are proposing "Stuck on Stupid" media awards. This picture is my humble offering as the logo for the award. It is indeed a grand catch phrase.


I Had A Great Conversation Last Night

GodBlogCon God Blog Convention I was talking, via Skype, with SmartChristian -- Evangelical Outpost and Jollyblogger.

GodBlogCon God Blog Convention We had a fascinating conversation about the conversation they will be having at GodBlogCon, as a part of the plenary sessions this October 13, 14, & 15. What a great group of people!

GodBlogCon God Blog Convention We laughed, we cried, and we really enjoyed each others company -- which I think is the point. GBC gives us a unique opportunity for fellowship and community building.

If you haven't yet, I hope you will plan to come to
GodBlogCon God Blog Convention
BTW, if you want to come but something is standing in the way, why not email me and tell me about it. No promises, but I'll certainly see what I can do.



ChirstWeb links to this story from England.
Four Church of England bishops on Monday proposed that the church apologize to Muslim leaders for the war in Iraq.
That's bad enough, but listen to the reason:
The report says the U.S.-led invasion appeared to be "as much for reasons of American national interest as it was for the well-being of the Iraqi people."
In the first place, this would indicate that war is not justified when it is in self-interest. Apparently these guys don't understand the difference between a soldier and a mercenary. By their logic our military can function only as mercenaries, fighting only someone else's fight, not our own.

Secondly, even if it was primarliy in our own interests and not theirs, can they honestly believe the Iraqis were better under Hussien? Who knew? I thought the whole secret police, arbitrary execution, gassing of citizens, mass grave thing was about as low as a country could get. I guess not -- I guess a formative democracy is worse.

These guys are ignorant. That's all I can say, ignorant.


A Little Full Of Ourselves, Aren't We?

Quick -- most influential evangelical thinker of the last century? Come on, blurt it out, first name that comes to mind...

I am betting more than half of of you thought of CS Lewis.

So, if you want to influence evangelicalism in general, is it a bright idea to take a swipe at Lewis? - as the title to this Pyromaniac post does - Essential Christianity, not "Mere Christianity"

I don't have a problem with the post so much as I think the title is a gratuitous shot at an admired figure. Lewis is never mentioned in the post. Besides, Lewis' word choice has as much to do with the fact that he was a Brit as it does any idea he was trying to communicate. You know, the whole "two peoples divided by a common language" thing.


Follow Hurricane Rita... excruciating detail on this blog. All the information, and more, without the hyperbole of the legacy media.


The Best of Pravda

Apparently even Pravda thinks America and Russia do have some things in common:

These days, Russia and the US are focused on two similar trials on sex fiends

But what a thing to share!

And based on this story, please what's the difference between Pravda and say, a carnival sideshow?

Genderless baby-mermaid born in Moscow region

This headline made me laugh uproariously...

Liberal mental illness?

...Then I read the story. It's an opinion piece arguing with, of all people, rabid American talk show host Michael Savage. Why a Russian commentator would feel compelled to argue with Savage I will never know. He is so over the top that even Americans don't bother.


Envy Rears Its Ugly Head In Scientific Research

Green sperm to aid fertility work


He Better Be!

Is God Enough?

This is actually a really good post at Common Grounds Online. But you know me, can't resist an opportunity at sarcasm.



How smart are you, part 2

Humble too!


Who's Pedalling?

Cassini Spots Spokes in Saturn's Rings

And are there playing cards clothespinned to the forks?

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


Why Aren't You Going To GodBlogCon?

GodBlogCon God Blog Convention
Never Mind -- I don't want to hear about it -- I want you to come!

This is going to be a great conference! It is going to feature the best that Christian blogging has to offer and it is going to offer ways fro you to improve your blog.

Ever wondered what Joe Carter (Evangelical Outpost) looked like? This is your chance to find out.

What about Andy Jackson (SmartChristian)? Ever wonder what he thinks about the future of Christian blogging? You will find out here.

Want to know if David Wayne (Jollyblogger) throws all those theology references into his normal conversation? You'll find out at this conference.

These three guys will be having a panel discussion in the plenary session during the Friday of the conference. Moderated, I add most humbly by yours truly.

Then, of course, Friday night you'll hear from the likes of Hugh Hewitt and friends (John Mark Reynolds, Mark Roberts, and Tod Bolsinger)

Have you become satisfied with the Christian blog ghetto? I hope not. This conference present us with an opportuniy to discover ways to change that "ghettoization." Even if you cannot come, you will be able to benefit because it should help the Christian blogosphere in general. So please, if you cannot come, urge others to -- go here and get a link/logo. Please, feature it on your blog between now and the conference.

How can blogging make the church better? How can blogging from the church make the world better? Think about what we accomplished for Katrina aid - $1.3M Obviously there is power in blogging. How can that power be used for God's purposes? (Not that Katrina aid wasn't God's purpose) This will be the place to work that out together.


The Argument OverThe Pledge Of Allegiance

I must confess to some amazement at the debate that has come up in the Christian blogosphere regarding last week's decision that the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance was unconstitutional.

Jollyblogger has a pretty decent symopsis of the discussion and some comments of his own, so I won't recount the discussion here. It centers primarily on the concept of civil religion, it's difference form genuine Christianity, or any other religion, and it's place in American society.

Now, on top of that discussion let's look at this post from Al Mohler. Mohler is looking at a piece by Arthur Schlesinger in the NYTime over the week and quotes him as saying
The idea of original sin was a historical, indeed a hysterical, curiosity that should have evaporated with Jonathan Edwards's Calvinism.
This quote illustrates why the idea of civil religion is radically important. Schlesinger's analysis is dead nuts right on in terms of the prevailing civil religion, but as the discussion Jollyblogger follows makes VERY clear - that's something very different from practiced Christianity.

The Second Helvetic Confession says this
Not All Who Are in the Church Are of the Church. Again, not all that are reckoned in the number of the Church are saints, and living and true members of the Church. For there are many hypocrites, who outwardly hear the Word of God, and publicly receive the sacraments, and seem to pray to God through Christ alone, to confess Christ to be their only righteousness, and to worship God, and to exercise the duties of charity, and for a time to endure with patience in misfortune. And yet they are inwardly destitute of true illumination of the Spirit, of faith and sincerity of heart, and of perseverance to the end.
I would venture to say that many of those who and "in, but not of" the church would be adherents to the prevailing civil religion. Should the prevailing civil religion wander too far from genuine religion, should we excommunicate such poeple? I would answer, "NO!" For by their presence in the church we may reach them with the true gospel.

And yet, the presence of such people in the church influences the church as well too. It cannot help but be so, communication is a two way street, particularly when a lot of those people help foot the bills. When we consider the example that Mohler points out -- the doctrine of original sin, the signs of its erosion in the church is everywhere. While it has not been officially discarded, it is increasingly difficult to hear it preached upon or spoken of. In other words, as the civil religion erodes, so, apparently does the genuine religion.

Thus, while remainingin the boundaries of Christian behavior that Jollyblogger discusses,
Still we must respond to these things and the first thing Christians need to do is remember that the Christian faith was made to thrive in a hostile environment. The Bible tells us how we can respond to hostility by loving our enemies, praying for those who persecute us, blessing those who curse us and doing good to those who hate us (Matthew 5:44). We can also rejoice that we have been granted the privilege of suffering for Christ (Phil. 1:29-30). Anger, retaliation, name calling and the other standard fare of much of our national discourse must not be present in the lives of Christians.
it is vitally important that we fight for the civil religion.

In the meantime, Tod Bolsinger is giving us some great pointers on how to live until the God really does rule the earth.
Think about what it will be like when God?s righteous reign and rule permeate all of creation. Think of the way that the Bible describes it: the lion will lay down with the lamb. There will be no more wars. No more injustice, no more deceit. People will live in peace and harmony, fulfilling their commitments and loving each other the way God loves us.
What a great vision! The church shouldbe moving towards it, but alas, from my perspective, the influence of the civil religion has the church moving away from it. Thus it is necessary to enter the debate and fight for the civil religion -- to have it align as closely as possible with the genuine religion of Jesus Christ.


Oh Come On!

There are few greater achievements in the history of mankind than putting men on the moon. In nine years and for $25.4 billion we put eight men on the moon over the course of a couple/three years. We did this in the 1960's when the world's best computers were little more than today's handheld calculators, and material science, particulalrly when it comes to plastics, was nearly infant.

And yet, in a proposal revealed yesterday, NASA says it will take more than four times as much money and thirteen years to get back there. And yet, this slow-motion, high-cost project will be essentially a modification of existing technology, not anything radically new.

The primary issue for such a journey -- that it takes spacecraft of remarkably different capabilites to accomodate the three phases of the mission -- launch, travel, and moon-landing -- remains the same as it was in the 1960's. But I cannot help but think that with all the new capabilities we have we cannot come up with something better than a large apollo type mission launched with the shuttle - particularly when it comes to the moon landing craft.

I guess this stuff still does not really capture the public imagination, that what did in the '60's had little to do with the moon and lot to do with beating the Sovs, and thus the resources are not available to really tackle this mission like it should be. But for the life of me, I can't understand why. We spend more money on movies about space travel than most things, you think we'd want the real thing.


What Exactly Is Poverty?

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina there as been a lot of talk about "poverty" in America. Speeches, blogs, articles, you name it, we've heard about poverty in America in the last few weeks.

Evangelical Outpost talked about how to handle it last week and I commented on it. This week another very respectable Christian blog, Common Grounds Online had something to say on the subject.

Let's juxtapose a couple of pull quotes. From Evangelical Outpost:
There is a particular group of Americans, many of them Christians, who don?t give much thought to their material wealth. Forty-six percent of them not only own their own homes but have more living space than the average individual living in Paris, London, Vienna, Athens, and other cities throughout Europe. Nearly three-quarters of them live in households which own a car; 30 percent own two or more cars. Ninety-seven percent of their households have a color television and over half own two or more. Seventy-eight percent have a VCR or DVD player while 62 percent have cable or satellite TV reception. Seventy-three percent own microwave ovens, more than half have a stereo, and a third have an automatic dishwasher.*

Some of them vote Republican. Others would identify with the ?Religious Right.? More than a few of them are evangelicals. This group of citizens are among the richest humans in the world yet give almost nothing in order to relieve the suffering of their less fortunate neighbors on the planet.

Who are these people? In America we call them ?the poor.?

*Understanding Poverty in America by Robert E. Rector and Kirk A. Johnson, Ph.D
From CGO:
Hurricane Katrina has pulled back the curtains and shone a spotlight on the ugly drama of poverty, race, and class issues in the United States. Senator Barack Obama spoke out on the floor of the Senate after the disaster, ?I hope we realize that the people of New Orleans weren?t just abandoned during the hurricane, they were abandoned long ago?to murder and mayhem in the streets, to substandard schools, to dilapidated housing to inadequate health care, to a pervasive sense of hopelessness.?

Such statements make me uncomfortable? in large part because they have a ring of truth.
I have a hard time reconciling those statements, particularly in light of my international travels, something that has allowed me to see genuine poverty.

The fact of the matter is that in America we grade poverty on a curve. We measure the financial well-being of the nation, plot the bell curve and declare the lower percentiles as "impoverished," even if the same curve were set for the planet those same people would be at worst B+ students.

Consider that while the financial ruin from Katrina is enormous, even when compared to late last year's tsunami, the American cost in human life is almost insignificant in the same comparison. That too is a measure of what is real poverty and what is not.

I do not want to pretend like there are no issues in America, but I do want them put into some perspective. If you want me to worry about "have-nots," you are going to have to do better than point me towards "America's poor."

I will no doubt be accused of being hard-hearted and calloused. Believe me when I tell you I am not -- what I am is a solid believer in reality. There is nothing I want to do more than help the citizens of the Gulf Coast and I am working very hard to do that very thing. But I am really tired of people whining about how "poor" they are (That is not, btw, what CGO is up to so I am making no accusation at them here) or trying to convince me how poor they are.

The aid that is flowing into the area is almost as overwhelming as the disaaster itself. We are an incredibly wealthy nation. The sooner we realize it, the sooner we are GRATEFUL for it, the better off we will be.


There Is Political Correctness....

...and then there is this.
The Red Cross and its Islamic cousin, the Red Crescent, could soon be joined by a Red Crystal. The move is an attempt to create a neutral emblem in an age of growing religious strife, in which aid workers have been attacked and the Red Cross headquarters in Baghdad bombed.
Do you really think the attacks they cite were based on the presence of either a cross or a crescent symbol? Do you think just maybe the attacks came because the people who perpetrated them are an evil sadistic bunch of scum? Do you think such people will respect a "crystal" any more than the cross or crescent?

Sometimes the correct answer to the question "Why do they hate us?" is "Because that are jerks, that's why."


Could This Be A Clue About Education Problems?

A teachers' union is calling for a crackdown on bad behaviour including swearing and bullying in schools.

The National Union of Teachers wants the government and local councils in England and Wales to adopt its charter on pupil behaviour.
Teachers need a union and legislation to control behavior in schools? Yeah, I think this could explain a few things.


Alphabet Soup -- A New Feature

Welcome to a new weekly feature here in Blogotional, replacing the Tuesday "On The Edge Of Taste" feature which I think amused me but no one else.

This feature has grown out of two threads. The first was my recent series of postings on our trip to Europe, which as best as I could tell, people enjoyed. The other thread is how much my wife and I love to travel, and when we do, we love to try and go through the alphabet and name places we have visited that begin with that letter.

So, for example, this being the first such post, the letter is "A." And in honor of my current state of war with what is now apparently out British allies (check the comments in the link), I am going to talk about Amarillo, Texas.

This is more or less the Amarillo of my youth. I could not get an exact date for the postcard, but it looks more or less right. I was there kindergarten through 5th grade - roughly 1963-1969.

It was just a great place to be a kid. I think it is the second or third sunniest city in the country, a great place to spend all sorts of time outdoors.

Amarillo is on Old Route 66 -- famed in song! And with that came the ususal assortment of roadside attractions, the best of which is still there today. The Big Texan Steakhouse is one of those joints that will serve you a steak approximately the size of half a cow and if you can get it all down in a hour -- it's yours, for free. And yes, this should go a long way towards explaining my grand love affair with beef.

Amarillo is also dead center in "tornado alley." Lots of storm chasers, both the professional kind and the tourist kind operate out of there. As a kid we had one of the few two-story houses in town. Amariilo also sits on top of a large plateau elevated by a little under 1000 feet over the rest of the plains. I could sit in my room and watch storms 100's of miles away. And at night, I could see lightening forever. It was a grand thing when you were a small boy.

This too likely explains my fascination with all things tornado. I love to watch them on TV, and in person, though here in SoCal, that doesn't happen very often.

The would be the grand natural attraction associated with Amarillo -- Palo Duro Canyon. It is the second largest canyon in the country and it is spectacular as you can see.

It has much of the beauty of its big cousin in Arizona, though it is not so overwhelming, either in scope, or with crowds. It's that later part that makes it really fun.

The other natural wonder is the Alibates Flint National Monument. My father was a part of the move to get this area declared a National Monument. I happen to have in my possession the book of letters from scientists and civic leaders that was submitted to Congress to lobby for the designation. This is from the days when photocopies were expensive and computers unheard of. These are carbon copies on original letterhead of all the letters, bound to boot.

This is, oddly enough, my fondest memory of the town. Back in the day the spent natural gas fields around Amarillo were used to store the entire world's supply of helium -- most of it came as a by-product of gas production around there.

This is a monument to that industry that was erected during the time I lived there. My father played a key role in its construction and siting, though it has been moved since those days. Each of those arms is a time capsule to be opened at certain intervals as history progresses. It made me extraordinarily proud to see my father on the dais when it was "opened" -- something I will never forget.


You Can Take The Boy To The Big City...

...but you can't wipe the red off his neck. Holy Coast is reporting on Sunday's NASCAR meltdown. It was a long day in New Hampshire with multiple incidents. This is just the capper
But just in case NASCAR wasn't mad enough at him, Gordon then went on live national television and called Waltrip "a piece of s###". Yes, he dropped the S-bomb on live TV.
This is the number one motorsport? Are you sure it's not hockey with engines?

HC is fond of giving me a hard time over how fragile Indy cars are, but it prevents stuff lie this -- usually. If you start pushing each other around the track in Indy cars people die.

This stuff plays with your beer swilling infield dweller, but if NASCAR wants to continue to control the hearts and minds of motorsports fans everywhere they are going to have to get a handle on it. (This isn't quite it either) My wife is not going to let me keep NASCAR races on the tube if the S-bomb is going to come flying out all weekend.


That Must Have Been Some Celebration

Footballer, 16, dies after goal

For the record, I realize that is a really tasteless joke, but so frankly is the headline. Just thought I'd illustrate it.


"I Never Took A Touch Typing Class In My Life"

Sounds of Typing Give Messages Away


Play To Your Strengths

Psychopaths could be best financial traders-research


What About An Unstory?

If the Children Can Drink Uncola, What About Unbeer?


Sometimes I Can't Help Myself

I should be the last person in the world to do fat jokes, but this is just to good:

Star Devours Companion

Monday, September 19, 2005


You, And Your Worldview

When he stops ranting and starts writing, I love the Internet Monk. This is one of his best in a long time -- it concerns the current movement in developing a Christian "worldview"

Disclaimer: Nancy Pearcey's book on the subject has been pretty widely discussed in recent months, usually favorably. It is in my "to be read" pile along with about 20 other books. I'll get there, but for the record I have not as of yet read it and any coments I make here are general and in no way a specific response to that or any other work on the subject.

Here is iMonk's money quote
My contention is that the term "worldview," while useful as a summary of major components of the faith, is a poor and deeply flawed term for the sum total of the faith.
Amen, and Amen.

To me the bottom line is this -- "worldview" is an intellectual exercise, but Christian faith is a totality of being. I posted yesterday about how radical faith should really be -- radical faith does not merely change how you look at and think about things, it changes WHO YOU ARE.

Jesus did not die on the cross so I would think differently about any particular issue or idea. He died on the cross to transform me into the glory for which I was inteneded upon creation.

A Christian worldview is a consequence of being a Christian, but it is in no way what it means to be a Christian. As the idea gains popularity, like many popular ideas in Christianity, it runs the risk of replacing Christianity itself. The distinction here is important.


Is "Reform" Enough?

Condi pretty well gave the UN "what for" on Friday.
World leaders at a summit this week adopted a watered-down version of proposed reforms advanced by Secretary-General Kofi Annan and by the Bush administration.

Rice, in her first speech before the General Assembly, called on the 191 nations to try harder.

"The time to reform the United Nations is now," she said. "And we must seize this opportunity together."
Few things, particularly bureacratic things, reform well. There are simply too many little fiefdoms and power centers that are unwillin to participate in the reformation for it to really work. That is why history is full of schism and revolution. That is why demolition and reconstrution generally works better.

The problems entrenched in the UN are well documented. I am sure the administration is trying to give them one final chance -- but I wonder if the time has not come to pull our support altogther. The thing will rapidly collapse without us. Then we can build something new -- something that actually works.


Presbyterian Issues

My Mormon ally - Hedgehog Blog - is passing on some Presbyterian issues and asking for comment.

A little background - PCUSA is very democratic. Overtures, the equivalence of "bills" in the legislature, are proposed by congregations who must them shepherd them to be approved by their local Presbytery that then brings them to the highest body -- the General Assembly, where they are voted to become part of the church or not. Lowell's friend comments on 4 overtures coming our of his Presbytery in preparation for the summer '06 GA.

The first one, concerning divestment of church investments in Israel, is shaping up to be the hottest issue at the GA. At the last GA the church quite ignorantly voted to divest from Israel based on the usual leftest propoganda favoring the Palestinians. In other words, supporting terrorists over nations, justifying their terrorist acts. Not a bright idea. I am not hesitant to pick sides in the Middle East, but if the church chose to take a neutral "peacemaker" role I would not object too strenuously, but this is just choosing the wrong side. This overture, or one like it -- there will be dozens -- simply has to be passed. Hugh Hewitt is getting into the middle of this fight. I spoke to him about it a few weeks ago. This is very important.

The second overture calls on the church to stop any backing on either side of the abortion question. That's a punt -- it is the church equivalent of "don't ask, don't tell." All it will do is delay a discussion the church will have to have at some point for later. Likely wise given the fact that there are bigger fish to fry right now, but it pains my soul to say that.

The third overture would, in essence, amend the church's constitution radically and remove one of the greatest barriers to schism in the church. It would tone down the rhetoric, but fracture the church hugely. Congregations would begin breaking off right and left based on whatever issue was important to them. In my opinion, it would stop the fighting, by essentially ending the PCUSA -- there would be nothing left after a few years. If it passed, I would be first in line to move to take my congregation elsewhere just because it is easier than the fight for the church. This is a bad move.

The last overture seeks to reapportion voting in the church to be more "representative." I am not sure it is that skewed right now -- I'd need to see serious data before I 'd take a stand on this.

There is no mention of homosexual issues in the post which is surprizing. That is likely to be the other big item at the next GA. But then for conservatives, there is nothing to do but defeat overtures brought by the left, so given that this post was to posit overtures, I can see why it was not mentioned.

Ain't it grand to be Presbyterian -- all the political fun of being an American, with genuine biblical concerns added in.


Who's Religious?

This NYTimes oped is just annoying. It is ostenably about how the Daili Lama grasps science so much better than all us utterly superstitious Christians.
It's been a brutal season in the culture wars with both the White House and a prominent Catholic cardinal speaking out in favor of creationist superstition, while public schools and even natural history museums shy away from teaching evolutionary science. When I picked up the Dalai Lama's new book, "The Universe in a Single Atom: The Convergence of Science and Spirituality," I feared that His Holiness, the leader of Tibetan Buddhism, was adding to the confusion between reason and faith.
The contempt of religion in general that seeps from that paragraph is almost frightening. What's more, it belies a certain religious adherence to the precepts of science. It illustrates the same lack of open-mindedness that religious figures are so often accused of.

The "defense of science" that this article proports to offer stinks of weak science. Science, above all things is about data. If one must resort to such language and tone, then obviously the data is insufficient as to be convincing. People such as this are not so much pro-science as they are anti-religion. I, for one, am tired of them.


Worst Science Reporting Ever

In the sky is falling category:
A silent tectonic event, so powerful it has shifted southern Vancouver Island out to sea, but so subtle nobody has felt a thing, is slowly unfolding on the West Coast....

..."Southern Vancouver Island
[Canada] is sort of sliding towards the west right now. We're moving towards Japan," said John Cassidy, a seismologist with Natural Resource Canada at the Pacific Geoscience Centre near Sidney, B.C. "It's a very small amount. We've moved about three millimetres to the west over the past couple of days."
On condition on anonimity I have spoken to a contact at the earthquake monitoring offices of the USGS -- you know the people responsible for tracking such things in the US. It has been reported to me that this is likely a problem in the GPS (global positioning system) equipment they use to track earth movements.

But that's OK, we have a public to alarm....


The First Genuine...

...and specific information I have gotten about toxicity in the floodwaters of New Orleans. Important stuff.


I Haven't Blogged Much About the Roberts Nomination Hearings...

...because the nominee hasn't had much to say. Which is, I believe, the point and he is smarter than me.



Few thing illustrate the folly of environmentalists to me more than this story
The federal government has given a California group permission to kill one species of owl in an attempt to save the Northern Spotted Owl from extinction, but the process has left some people in the timber industry shaking their heads.

The government recently gave the California Academy of Sciences permission to kill 20 Barred Owls in an effort to learn why they are thriving in the same forests where Spotted Owls continue to decline.
This appears to me to be a classic case of "survival of the fittest" -- after all better adapted species have been displacing and wiping out other species for the totality of life on earth -- that is after all the basis of evolution. I thought the problem was mankind was "interfering" with that natural process? Isn't it interference to stop it as well as speed it up?

At what cost environmentalism? Consider these articles

Frog action plan to cost millions
About a third of frog, toad and salamander species are facing extinction; threats include fungal disease, pollution and habitat loss.

The Washington DC meeting is expected to call for the establishment of a large-scale captive breeding programme.

The cost of preserving amphibians from extinction may run into tens of millions of US dollars per year.
Green energy £1bn consumer costs
Consumers could be paying about a billion pounds a year to subsidise green energy projects like wind farms, according to a group of MPs.

The Public Accounts Committee said in some cases the government is paying out twice as much as the wind farm companies need to break even.
Those are enormous figures! It is said that communism hasn't disappeared, it just turned from "red" to "green." When I see figures like that I tend to agree. As the environmental probelms grow in scale and the monies demanded to "solve" them increse seemingly exponentially, one cannot help but wonder if some sort of "world domination" isn't a genuine goal here.

Finally in nuke news, I would love to know the tech numbers from this story
Almost 12 million tons of radioactive waste will be moved from the banks of the Colorado River, the source of drinking water for more than 25 million people across the West, the government said Wednesday.
What they are talking about here are uranium mine tailings. Raw uranium has very low radioactivity levels to begin with, and this is the mine tailings, which will be the lowest grade of all from the mine. Couple that with the fact that the concern is leaching from the tailings pile into the Colorado river, a very real thing that can happen, but which will serve to even further dilute this already dilute material. Without the numbers it is impossible for me to say, but this smells of public hysteria more than genuine problem. $400 million is a lot to spend to squelch fear when there are real problems to solve.

I just hope this story is true.
After a gap of three decades in orders for nuclear power plants, two companies interested in building new ones announced Thursday that they had formed a partnership intended to create a new business model for the industry.
Properly managed, nuclear power generation remains the cheapest, most efficient method we have, bar none. We have to overcome some prejudices, but it is the future's best hope.


Cool, Way Cool!

Best picture from space I have seen in a long, long time.


Life Imitates Hollywood

Cleveland Doc Wants to Try Face Transplant

I'm thinking this doc has been to the movies one too many times. Good movie though.


Not High On My 'To Do' List

Adults Can Relive Teen Testing Angst

This would also be why I rarely watch the WB.


The Glory Of Competition

Price war has beer drinkers hopping for joy
Garner, 22, of Sarasota, paid $8 for a case of Budweiser on Friday -- about half as much as it usually costs.
Ain't capitalism grad? Though in reality that is about all Budweiser is worth.


Everyone I Can Get My Hands On

Merkel, Schroeder Compete for Germans' Votes

Though I must admit to not being sure what to do with them once I have them. Meanwhile this is proof of a family trait:

Opposition Leads; Germany's Schroeder Won't Concede



Nessie Nips At The Dangly Bits

Nude Swimmers Abandon Loch Ness Swim

Sunday, September 18, 2005


The Forgotten Practice

Catholic think it a sacrament and imbue it with great ceremony. Protestants do not find it sacramental, and have maybe forgotten it a little too much from my perspective. What am I talking about? -- Confession.

Eternal Perspective took a look yesterday and what the prophet Hosea had to say on the subject.
Perhaps subconsciously subscribing to Greek dualism, Christians tend to be more comfortable with confessing our sins that confessing our selves. We view the flesh as somehow alien or foreign, something that used to be who we are but no longer is: the responsibility for sin, we reason, is in the weakness of our fallen flesh and not in our selves. We can bend the knee and confess (Gr. homolegeo, to say the same thing, to agree with) that behaviors or deeds in which we have engaged are sinful and unacceptable to God.

But Hosea does not stop with deeds or even attitudes. He goes after us, after who we are.
How often have we heard "God loves the sinner but hates the sin." True and not true the duality created by the statement is a false one. WE ARE SIN. Sin is a part of the fabric of our being.

God's plan and desire for us is far more drastic and dramatic than we tend to think it is -- Jesus did not come to clean us up around the edges. This is no new model year spruce up we are talking about. Paul is not fooling around when he uses words like "new creation" and "transformation."

That transformation, that re-creation starts witht he acknowledgement of its necessity. That's all confession is an acknowledgement of our need for God's hand. EP ends his post this way.
We need to be saved from - not merely our sins - but from our sinful selves. It is who you are, not merely what you do, that needs to be confessed.
That's radical faith. That is what God calls us to -- not a partnership -- but a complete surrender. Throwing the doors fully open without negotiation, allowing Him to both demolish and construct.

Nothing less will do.


Yet Another Oxymoronic Headline

The Normality of Gay Marriages

Quote this NYTimes oped:
The main reason for the flip-flop is that some 6,600 same-sex couples have married over the past year with nary a sign of adverse effects. The sanctity of heterosexual marriages has not been destroyed. Public morals have not gone into a tailspin.
Let's see, 6600 "marriages" in one state, in one country, in a one year timespan as compared to all the marriages throughout the entire course of human history -- Don't you think it is a tad bit early to draw such an ambitious conclusion.

I am also dismayed at the realtively narrow view this article takes of what might be considered ill-effects. It talks about success in the lives of the children of same sex couples, ca that even be measured in a year? Might we want to wait a generation or so? And how would you measure such effects anyway. I mean if we are not allowed to judge people,how can we say which child grows up better?


Sermons and Lessons


Born into a poor family in Lorraine, France, Nicholas Herman (later known as Brother Lawrence) grew up and became a soldier and a household servant. He never received any formal education, and yet he left behind one of the classic memoirs of the devotional life.

In 1666 he became a lay brother in the Discalced Carmelite order in Paris. He worked there in the kitchen, calling himself ?a servant of the servants of God.? He remained there until his death at the age of eighty. In his own life he determined to be an experiment of living every moment in ?the presence of God.? His attempts to create an habitual state of communion led to new heights of spiritual living. Like a pioneer, he discovered a new world of spiritual living that others, notably Frank Laubach and Thomas Kelly, have since traveled.

No task was too trivial for Brother Lawrence, for he was able to transform the mundane chores of the kitchen into glorious experiences of heaven. Like Benedict and Bernard of Clairvaux, he blended work with prayer.

The following selection comes from a book that was compiled after his death. His abbot, Joseph de Beaufort, collected Lawrence?s letters and notes, which were found in Beaufort?s room along with added accounts of conversations he had had with Lawrence. Perhaps no other writing in all of Christian literature so beautifully and simply expresses the joy of living in the presence of God.


1. An Habitual Sense of God?s Presence

I write this only because you have so earnestly requested that I explain to you the method by which I have learned how to develop an habitual sense of God?s presence which our Lord, in his mercy, has been pleased to grant to me.

I must tell you that it is with great difficulty that I am obliged to share this with you, and I share it only with the agreement that you show this letter to no one. If I knew that you would let it be seen, all the desire I have for your advancement would not force me to send it. Nonetheless, the account I can give to you is as follows....

2. My All for God?s All

I have found in many books many different ways of going to God and many different practices in living the spiritual life. I began to see that this was only confusing me, as the only thing I was seeking was to become wholly God?s.

Thus, I resolved to give my all for God?s all. After having given myself wholly to God that he might take away my sin, I renounced, for the love of God, everything that was not God, and I began to live as if there was none but God and I in the world.

Sometimes I imagined myself standing before him as a poor criminal at the feet of the judge. At other times I beheld him in my heart as my Father and as my God. I worshiped him as often as I could, keeping my mind in his holy presence and recalling it back to God as often as I found it had wandered from him.

3. The Difficulties That Occurred

I found a great deal of pain in this exercise, and yet I continued it even in the midst of all the difficulties that occurred, trying not to trouble myself or get angry when my mind had wandered involuntarily. I made this my business throughout the entire day in addition to my appointed times of prayer.

At all times, every hour, every minute, even at my busiest times, 1 drove away from my mind everything that was capable of interrupting my thought of God.

This has been my practice since the first days I entered into religion. Though I have done it imperfectly, I have found great advantages in this practice. I am aware, however, that all of these advantages are to be attributed to the mercy and goodness of God, because we can do nothing without him?especially me!

4. A Familiarity with God

But when we are faithful in keeping ourselves in his holy presence, keeping him always before us, this not only prevents our offending him or doing something displeasing in his sight (at least willfully), but it also brings to us a holy freedom, and if I may say so, a familiarity with God wherein we may ask and receive the graces we are so desperately in need of.

In short, by often repeating these acts they become habitual, and the presence of God becomes something that comes naturally to us. Give God thanks with me for his great good¬ness toward me, which I can never sufficiently admire, and for the many favors he has done for so miserable a sinner as I am.

5. The Very Best Return

I have never found this method I am describing in any books, and yet I seem to have no difficulty with it. I had a conversation a few days ago with a very devout person who told me the spiritual life was a life of grace. He said it begins with a holy fear, is increased by the hope of eternal life, and is consummated by the pure love of God. He said that each of these states has different stages and different methods by which one arrives at that blessed con¬summation.

I have not followed all of these methods he describes. On the contrary, I found that they discouraged me. This was the reason why I made this resolution to give myself wholly to God as the very best return I could to him for his love. Because of my love for God, I then renounced all.

6. Faith Alone Was Enough

For the first year I spent much of the time set apart for devotions thinking about death, judgment, hell, heaven, and my sins. I continued this for a few years, applying my mind to these thoughts in the morning and then spending the rest of the day, even in the midst of all my work, in the presence of God. I considered that he was always with me, that he was even within me.

After a while I accidently began doing the same thing in my set times of devotion as I had been doing the rest of the day. This produced great delight and consolation. This practice produced in me so high an esteem for God that faith alone was enough to satisfy all my needs.

7. The Source and Substance of My Suffering

This was how I began. And yet, I must tell you that for the first ten years I suffered a great deal. The awareness that I was not as devoted to God as I wanted to be, the awareness of my past sins which were always present in my mind, and the great yet unmerited favors God did for me were the source and substance of my suffering.

During this time I sinned often only to rise again soon. It seemed to me that all the creatures of the world, all reason, and even God were against me. All that was in my favor was faith. I was troubled and sometimes with the thought that all of my blessings in this endeavor were merely my own presumption, pretending to have arrived at this state so easily while others arrive with great difficulty. At other times I thought that this was all merely a willful delusion and that, in attempting this, I had lost my hope of salvation.

8. An Habitual, Silent, and Secret Conversation

When I finally reached a point where I wanted to quit, I found myself changed all at once. In my soul, which until that time was in distress, I suddenly felt a profound inward peace as if it were in its true place of rest.

Ever since that time I have walked before God in simple faith, with humility and with love, and I apply myself diligently to do nothing and think nothing which might displease him. I hope that when I have done what I can, he will do with me what he pleases.

As for what happens to me these days, I cannot express it. I no longer have any pain or difficulty because I have no will except that of God?s, which I endeavor to do in all things, and to which I am so resigned that I would not pick up a straw from the ground against his will, or for any other motive than out of pure love for God.
I have since given up all forms of devotions and set prayers except those which are suitable to this practice. I make it my business only to persevere in his holy presence wherein I keep myself by a simple attention and a general fond regard to God, which I refer to as an actual presence of God. Or, to put it another way, an habitual, silent, and secret conversation of the soul with God. This often causes me to have feelings of inward rapture?and sometimes outward ones! They are so great that I am forced to have to moderate them and conceal them from others.

9. Full of Mercy and Goodness

In short, I am assured beyond any doubt that my soul has been with God for nearly thirty years. I have not shared it all so as not to bore you, but I think it is proper that I tell you what manner I imagine myself before God whom I behold as king.

I imagine myself as the most wretched of all, full of sores and sins, and one who has committed all sorts of crimes against his king. Feeling a deep sorrow, I confess to him all of my sins, I ask his forgiveness, and I abandon myself into his hands so that he may do with me what he pleases.

This king, full of mercy and goodness, very far from chastening me, embraces me with love, invites me to feast at his table, serves me with his own hands, and gives me the key to his treasures. He converses with me, and takes delight in me, and treats me as if I were his favorite. This is how I imagine myself from time to time in his holy presence.

10. The Inexpressible Sweetness

My most useful method is this simple attention, done with a passionate regard toward God to whom I find myself often attached with greater sweetness and delight than that of an infant at its mother?s breast. So much so that? I if I dare use this expression?I choose to call this state the bosom of God because of the inexpressible sweetness which I taste and experience there.

If sometimes my thoughts wander from God because of necessity, I am recalled back to God soon after by inward sensations so charming and delicious that I am afraid to speak of them. I desire you to see and know my great wretchedness rather than the great favors which God does for me, unworthy and ungrateful as I am.

11. A Stone Before a Sculptor

As for my set hours of prayer, they are only a continuation of the same exercise. Sometimes I imagine myself as a stone before a sculptor from which he will carve a beautiful statue. Presenting myself before God, I ask him to form his perfect image in my soul and make me entirely like himself.

At other times when I apply myself to prayer, I feel all of my spirit and all of my soul lift itself up without any care or any effort on my part. It continues as if it were suspended and firmly fixed in God, as in its center and place of rest.

I know that some will accuse me of inactivity, of delusion, and of self-love. I confess that it is a holy inactivity, and would be a happy self-love if the soul in that state were capable of it, because in reality, while I am in this state of repose, I cannot be disturbed by such emotions which were formerly my strength and support, but which in that state hinder rather than assist.

I cannot allow this state to be called a delusion because the soul which enjoys God in this manner desires nothing except God. If this is a delusion in me, it belongs to God to remedy it. Let him do what he pleases with me; I desire only him and to be wholly devoted to him.


MIlitary Murder Drama Continues

We reported earlier this week that the legal process to bring to justices American sodliers that killed other American soldiers to justice was about to begin. Now there is a bit of a snafu.
The widow of Capt. Phillip Esposito asked the Army yesterday to let her attend a military court hearing in Iraq that will probe her husband's killing, which the military suspects was committed by a subordinate.

Staff Sgt. Alberto Martinez of Troy, N.Y., is accused of killing Esposito, 30, of Suffern, and Lt. Louis Allen, 34, of Milford, Pa., at a former palace of Saddam Hussein's near Tikrit. The June 7 attack at first was thought to be by the enemy, but the military later ordered a criminal investigation.

"As of today, we have put in a request to the Army to go to Iraq so that we can bear witness to the first step to bring our husbands' murderer to justice," said Siobhan Esposito, 31, who made the request along with Allen's widow, Barbara.
Mrs. Esposito is more than willing to meet the Army halfway on, offering to bear the travel costs herself, but I do not know what to make of all this. I have sympathy for the woman's desire to confront her husband's killer, but justice in this situation belongs to the military courts, not her.

I think given the woman's willingness to compromise here something should be worked out that accomodates her desires. However, I think as a society we need to be careful and not confuse societal justice with personal.


It's Not "Man Bites Dog," But It's Close

From Scotwise
The man lost his temper and began beating his Deutsch-Drahthaar hunting dog with a rifle when the animal refused to release a killed bird it had brought back.

But the dog's paw caught the trigger and the hunter was blasted with buckshot.
Boy there is an arguement for positive reinforcement training if ever I have heard one!



Fire officials in southern Victoria state said the man, Frank Clewer, had built up at least 30,000 volts of static electricity in his jacket simply by walking around the western city of Warrnambool, according to a report by the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

He received his first shock when he walked into a local business Thursday afternoon. "It sounded almost like a firecracker or something like that," Clewer told the ABC. "Within say around five minutes the carpet started to erupt."
I'd love to know the details here -- precisely what materials were involved. There could be some really fun materials science in this. Static electrricity raised to the level of genuine hazard. Start engineering plastics with impurities specifically to create discharge at certain voltage levels. The jacket as capacitor. A substitute for this thing?

Okay, slow down John -- you're starting to go totally geek on them. Don't mention x-ray diffraction or gel permeation chromotography. Don't do it, you'll lose them completely. Take a deep breath and move on.

I'm sorry - cool story, huh?

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