Saturday, October 01, 2005
It's All Relative
This article for yesterday's NYTimes is a good example. It's a "celebration" of the 100th anniversary of Einstein's famous equation E=mc². The article over reaches in a couple of ways. Consider
The standard illustrations of Einstein's equation - bombs and power stations - have perpetuated a belief that E = mc² has a special association with nuclear reactions and is thus removed from ordinary activity.Now, all of that is strictly true, but essentially pointless. The reason is simple. Take the example of your car engine -- the amount of energy generated is infinitesimally small in comparison to the energey potential in the equation -- meaning that the amount of mass converted into energy in the operation of your car is too small to be measured. Such chemical reactions -- all of the examples cited here -- are analyzed in accordance with something called "The Law of Conservation of Mass" - the mass of the reactants (the chemicals you start with) must equal the mass of the products (the chemicals you finish with). On the macroscopic scale discussed in this quote Einstein is irrelevant, true, but pointless, good old Newton works just fine.
This isn't true. When you drive your car, E = mc² is at work. As the engine burns gasoline to produce energy in the form of motion, it does so by converting some of the gasoline's mass into energy, in accord with Einstein's formula. When you use your MP3 player, E = mc² is at work. As the player drains the battery to produce energy in the form of sound waves, it does so by converting some of the battery's mass into energy, as dictated by Einstein's formula. As you read this text, E = mc² is at work. The processes in the eye and brain, underlying perception and thought, rely on chemical reactions that interchange mass and energy, once again in accord with Einstein's formula.
But here is the big over-reach. The author starts the article with
DURING the summer of 1905, while fulfilling his duties in the patent office in Bern, Switzerland, Albert Einstein was fiddling with a tantalizing outcome of the special theory of relativity he'd published in June. His new insight, at once simple and startling, led him to wonder whether "the Lord might be laughing ... and leading me around by the nose."And he finishes with
In the far, far future, essentially all matter will have returned to energy. But because of the enormous expansion of space, this energy will be spread so thinly that it will hardly ever convert back to even the lightest particles of matter. Instead, a faint mist of light will fall for eternity through an ever colder and quieter cosmos.Somehwere in the article we went from God revealing Himself to Einstein by revealing how He makes the universe function, that is God guiding Einstien -- to the product of Einstein's work taking the role of guide, the role of God. A bit grandiose, don't you think? Science went from exploring God's creation to being, at least functionally, God.
The guiding hand of Einstein's E = mcÂ² will have finally come to rest.
You see, lying at the heart of the so-called science/faith divide is a philosophical understanding, not a scientific one. The sciences seeks only to describe how things work -- not what makes them work. Nothing in Einstein's work says it makes things work, it just describes how they work, and as we have seen, in most ordinary cases even it is an impractical description.
There is one final place where science over reaches. The article contains a description of a joust and discusses how the joust will appear very differently to the jousters and the refreee (at least if the horses run close to the speed of light it will) -- in other words, according to Einstein, "reality" is relative, it will look to different to different observers. This is the essence of Einstein's theories and many people have used it to justify the notion that there are no moral absolutes, that there are no absolutes at all.
What a bunch of nonesense! Within the realm of physics, Einstein reigns as THE absolute. The theories of relativity are not self-referential, they do not change! They may have moved physical absolutes from the Newtonian to the Einsteinian realm, but they in no way abolish the idea of absolutes.
I have some sympathy with the efforts of Christians to "push back" when science over reaches into realms that Christianity should occupy alone, but the answers lie not in playing their game, which is what Intelligent Design seeks to do, but in pointing out the fallacy of science's over reach.
Sometimes It's Just Silly
Four mountaineers hauled the three-stone Buddha up the 10,800ft Pizzo Badile peak on the Italian-Swiss border to protest about melting ice-caps and a plethora of crosses dedicated to fallen climbers that have been revealed.Let's take the religiousity question out of this for a minute and consider the effectiveness of "protesting" an "eyesore" by creating another eyesore. That's not protest, that's just petulant. "Mommy, if Billy gets bubblegum, I get bubblegum too" -- "But honey, you don't like bubblegum" -- "I don't care Mommy, it has to be fair!" -- lower lip extrudes, pout begins.
"As the ice thaws there are all these crosses appearing that are really an eyesore," said Jacabo Merizzi, 46.
And don't you just love the confusion of issues here? Somehow in these poor individuals minds, Christianity and global warming are all part of a package. Don't ask me how (particularly when you consider how much time I have had to spend dissuading churches from donating mission funds to global warming causes), but there it is.
Just climb your mountains guys and be done with it!
An "Epic" Journey
They think they have found Odysseus' Ithaca. Cool! It's been about a century since they found Troy and Mycenae and figured out Homer wasn't just making up his settings. This is Agemmemnon's tomb! Well, they are not really sure it was Homer's Agemmemnon, but it was defiitely the King of Mycenae. How do they know?
Well, the pictures below are views of the ruins of Mycenae, a look up the hill at the city and the famous double lion over the gate. This hill is just accross the road form the tomb.
Someday I may have to take Mrs. Blogotional on a tour of all the Homeric sites. We had both visited Mycenae independently before we were married and it was one of the things we shared as we got to know each other.
I am tempted to wax rhapsodic about how these sites are accepted without question despite being 3-4,000 years older than sites where Jesus trod that are questioned constantly. But I won't. I think God had a reason behind the archealogical uncertainty He left in His wake.
But things like this are really cool -- the ultimate ghost town.
Celebrity Replaces Reality
Why is the Harvard School of Public Health bestowing its most prestigious award on Erin Brockovich? The dean of the school, Barry Bloom, says that it is "for her efforts on behalf of all of us, and especially the residents of Hinckley, California, whose health was adversely affected by toxic substances dumped by a utility company."The OpinionJournal OpEd goes on to opine that this is likely a move designed to raise money, but bemoans the fact that as many or more potential donors may be dissuaded as persuaded.
That certainly is the movie version (made in 2000) of the case in which California's PG&E utility company paid a $333 million settlement in 1996 after a lawsuit launched by the firm where Ms. Brockovich worked. Then, as now, she claimed that chromium 6 in the local water supply had sickened the inhabitants of Hinckley--even the "bunnies"--with results ranging from nosebleeds to cancer and death.
Yet the dean of the Harvard School of Public Health presumably does not rely solely on Hollywood for factual information about environmental poisoning. And so far the scientific literature reveals no studies that back up claims about the sickening effects of chromium 6 in the water of Hinckley or any other town. Indeed, the infamous lawsuit--which never endured the rigors of a trial--is regarded in serious circles as a classic example of junk science. With this particular award, the Harvard School's reputation for sound science is hovering over the Dumpster.
This, in my mind, is the real downside of the increasing politicization of so many things. See, I do not think the issue is political polarization, but politicization itself. Many issues, like say science, were traditionally not issues of public policy, now they are. That fact alone creates the polarization because now people not previously greatly engaged in politics must choose sides because politics has intruded into their lives.
So now an institution that should have nothing to do with politics, must become political -- it must chose a side, and hope it bets on the right side to keep the funds coming.
The question is most fundamental. I will not deny that there are some problems with the environment, but what was/is the correct way to fix them? Is it the path we have taken -- political action -- or might there be a better way?
Consider, I have formed a company dedicated to helping the environment. I work with companies to help them operate in an environmentally sound manner. Why would I do such a thing when I am so clearly on the opposite side of the political spectrum from the "environmentalists?" Because, it is not a political question, its a technical one. I do more to keep "pollution" out of the general environment than you will every know -- someday I may sit down and calculate the tons of pollution I have personally prevented, I'm sure its in the millions.
"But," the other side would argue, "your clients would never hire you if the law was not there to make them." GARBAGE! No one wants to pollute! The resentment is over the fact that the government oversight and intervention drives to cost of dealing with the pollution through the roof. I have yet had a client ask me how they can get away with polluting, but they almost all ask me how to avoid the excessive costs created but regulatory compliance. In this day and age it is not enough not to pollute, you have to maintain several reams of paper to prove you did not pollute to more than a dozen federal, state, and local agencies. I spend more time doing "pollution accountancy" than I do stopping pollution -- sometimes it really honks me off because of how much more I could accomplish if only....
No, in my experience, laws were and are not necessary to stop pollution, just education, Once people know something is bad, it'll take care of itself. You want to protect the environment? Make your case, make it for real (as opposed to presumptions, specious models, and what if's), convince people and it will be protected.
Then perhaps Harvard could pay attention to science more than politics and we would not have messes like this.
The Phantom is on of the more interesting characters in comics - in part because he hasn't done well in magazines, but has done phenomenally well as a newspaper strip. My personal opinion is there is a large gap between his look and his legend. His legend just does not suit a costumed superhero. I know the costume is what has allowed the generational stuff, but I think he would be better suited to a mask to preserve the anonymity of the hero and otherwise normal jungle clothes. Just one man's thoughts.
This is one of those covers. One that has stuck with me since I was but a wee lad. The menace in the face of the Hulk is amazing.
This also marks, if not the beginning of the story line, it is the signature cover of the story line where Rick Jones, who burst into comics as the Hulk's sidekick (it was Rick that Bruce Banner saved from the gamma bomb when he became the Hulk), put on the Bucky costume (Cap's WWII sidekick) and became Cap's sidekick for a while.
That period for Cap was awfully good, he had to deal with the fact that he lived, albeit in suspended animation through the events that killed Bucky Barnes, and all the guilt that implied. Given that his stories with Bucky really were written in WWII they very much had a father/son thing going on, so you can imagine how Cap felt. It made quite an impression on me, even as a kid.
But Steranko is most known for his work on the modern Nick Fury, operating as an agent of SHIELD. Fury is another revived WWII character.
In the big war Fury was a sergeant followed by his Howling Commandos. In the modern age his unit was used as the nucleus for a super-secret government agency to protect the world from menaces that the public simply wasn't ready to fathom -- you know, the superhero world. Fury and SHIELD were a super hi-tech James Bond sort of deal. They, by the way, always had the best bad guys. AIM and Hydra, based loosely on the Specter of Bond fame were just too cool.
Steranko's art is probably most notable because it is some of the first was widely acknowledged as good that did some things that Jack Kirby didn't. Until Jim, most guys were trying to stay within the lines that Kirby had established. Steranko pushed the envelope.
Wait'll The Lawyers Get Their Hands On This
Do you swear to take a brain scan, a whole brain scan, and nothing but a brain scan, so help you MRI?
Was It Playing 'Dead?'
It's Hard To Take Pictures Without Them
Think about it -- it'll come to you.
Friday, September 30, 2005
How Do We Talk About Sin?
The Calvinists and the evangelism program writers are all correct - man is a sinner, he is totally depraved, he is racially corrupt, he is unable to believe savingly on Christ apart from the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit.I think David may be on to something here, at least up to a point. Consider his conclusion
But I suggest that, in order to convey the sinfulness of sin, and the corruption of man, the best place to start is not talking about original sin, but in talking about original righteousness.
Of course we do live in a time where the New Age movement portrays man as a god, and even in the church there are many who want to ignore that inconvenient little thing called sin. So, I am not saying we downplay sin. I am only saying that we live at a time when most don't understand what it is that makes sin so sinful. By discussing sin or the fall against the backdrop of righteousness and creation, the sinfulness of sin becomes more apparent, and thus the need for a redeemer becomes all the more apparent.The idea here, at least as I understand it, is in this "I'm OK" age to give people a comparison against which they can judge that they are not so OK. After all, the point of this step in the evangelism process is not to help them build a theological understanding, but to convict them of sin so that they can come to God in he proper posture.
But I think there is a missing piece of the puzzle. In addition to this being the "I'm OK" age, this is the age of right now! Yet, we, as Christians live in the "already, not yet." In addition to conviction of sin, immediate benefit needs to be apparent. That apparent benefit is largely missing because we as Christians and the church do not largely show it. It's not something people need to be told, it is something they need to witness.
David's idea here is a good one, but for genuine conversion to result, it must be accompanied by we as individuals and the church in general getting much better at looking like Christians. We have to come much closer to realizing that original righteousness than we currently do.
A Guest Blogger On Intelligent Design
I've seen a spate of recent articles on "Intelligent Design". I was about to sit down and write an intellectual argument about how it's a destructive Platonic mistake that the Church has made before; it's one of those ways that "seemeth right to a man" [Proverbs 14:12]. But I stopped. What could I add? Other people way smarter than me have already made the point.
Then I realized what I was feeling was a wave of sadness. The kind of sadness you feel when a friend has been betrayed. Which is odd, because I don't usually think of God as a "friend", at least not in the happy-clappy sense of the word.
But at that moment I sure was having the emotional response.
Dear Fellow Christians,
God is real. He's big, noisy and in-your-face real. He?s obvious to anyone who looks. Science is another word for looking.
Intelligent Design is solo ratione self-stimulation. God's revelation of Himself is sufficient. Looking elsewhere is faithless, disloyal. Christians looking elsewhere is . . .
Welcome To My World
This picutre is the big fire out in the west end of the San Fernando valley -- I live in the east end. As I sit at my desk I look out a large picture window and see the Verdugo Mountains in all their glory. Right now, rising from behind the mountains is smoke. The Burbank side of the Verdugos is burning, though the news is telling me they are getting it under control rather quickly.
This happens every year, whether we want it to or not. It's dangerous, but as we have seen recently, it is not quite the breathless earth-shattering occurence the media would have us believe. (Even if the NYTimes thinks its the conditions and not the reporting.) We'll be fine, a few homes will burn, but they are well insured. It's incovenient and heart-breaking, but rarely end-of-the-world kind of stuff. It's just another fire season.
Good Stuff To Read
I would love to comment extensively on each of these links, but alas. Good stuff though, read it all
- Peggy Noonan on the real price we pay when we ask the governmnet to help.
- Common Grounds Online on what technology can never do.
- Transforming Sermons on whether the church does evangelism, or we do.
- Evangelical Outpost on the intellectual vacuousness of post modernism.
Oh yeah, did I tell you Blogger went down? Did I curse it? &^%%$%#$*%^(*&)(*&)()*&**&^!
Salmon Day - The experience of spending an entire day swimming upstream only to get screwed in the end. ?God, today was a total salmon day!?Which of course means I have to do this
Yes, Yes I Have
Dating A Wrestler Or A Python?
I'm sure he only have tee martoonies.
Facial Fine Finisher
I Bet These Guys Expense Accounts Are Flush
I just hope they put the lid down when they are done, Lord knows what their wives will do when they get home if they don't.
Another Excuse Bites The Dust
Thursday, September 29, 2005
In "Celebration of Discipline," Richard Foster argues that "the majority of Christians have never seriously wrestled with the problem of simplicity, conveniently ignoring Jesus' many words on the subject. The reason is simple: this Discipline directly challenges our vested interests in an affluent lifestyle."I agree with this, to a point. The article goes on to describe, in a fashion entirely parallel to the standarargumentsts about tranformation reducing the incident of sin in our lives, that an attitude of simplicity will result in actual unclutttered closets.
Foster makes an important distinction when he describes the Christian discipline of simplicity as "an inward reality that results in an outward lifestyle." In other words, focus too quickly on the externalsÂ—the doing withoutÂ—and it's the good intention that is likely to be cast aside instead of the extra blender.
But simplicity is more than just uncluttered closets. "It is possible for a person to be developing an outward lifestyle of simplicity and to be filled with anxiety," according to Foster.
I'm not so sure about that. I'm not sure about that, not in America today. We are simple too affluent. I know many people who live very simply, but are very cluttered and have many things. People that are hugely generous with their time talents, and finances, still accumulate a lot of stuff. This is the real money quote from the article
Of course, too much stuff can also leave too little room for God. With the time required to shop for, move, insure, use, store, clean, maintain, organize, and worry about our stuff, time in God's Word, time to minister, time for church, and time to reach out to others can easily get edged outÂ—hence, the call for simplicity.The issue is not our things, but our relationship to our things -- do we hold our things as idols? The real problem is not simplicity, but people living beyond their means. The anxiety of too much stuff, the complications thereof, result only when people live just a little bit beyond what they can afford. I would argue that the call to simplicity is about consumer debt more than anything else.
I have an issue with all the recent talk about simplicity, and that is that it makes it appear that people of genuine generosity and genuine affluence somehow cannot be true Christians. People should live within their means, they should avoid debt, they should never let their possessions stand in the way of God, They should be grateful to God for all that they have, they should be generous past the point where it amazes their tax guy, but those points are very different places for different people.
We need to be careful in the discussion of simplicity that we do not fall into an unworthy judgmental pattern.
This is a conspiracy indictment. Now I am no lawyer, but I know enough to know that conspiracy is awfully hard to prove. But what's worse is the indictment does not do anything but name DeLay. All actions cited in the indictment are by others and the document contains no statement or evidence of the conspiratorial connection between DeLay and his co-indictees. There was obviously enough evidence to convince a grand jury, but it is not mentioned anywhere in the indictment. If I were DeLay's lawyers I might move for dismissal at arraignment due to a lack of evidence.
Politically motivated indictments are old news, but usually they are better substantiated than this is. I'd talk about this, but there is nothing to talk about.
I now turn you over to Michelle Malkin. who is all over this with every possible useful link.
I think covering the coverage is going to end up being the sport with this story. Already the BBC is screwing up:
This headline belies
- The fact that even the press views this as a political indictment without much criminality to mention - they are after all smearing Bush despite the fact that he has even less to do with the goings on that DeLay
- That the Brits don't quite get the separation of powers in our constitution
Lest you think I am pushing media bias when this is simply a matter of a foreign country not entirely understanding our system consider this alternative headline "Top US elected official faces criminal charges"
This, ladies and gentlemen, is a job custom made for blogging. The indictment will be huge news -- it already is. The dismissal, which based on my reading of the indictment could come very quickly, will be buried -- unless, of course, we bloggers push it to page one. The other thing that bloggers need to do that you can count on the legacy media not doing is a thorough investigation of this prosecutor. At first blush he appears to be an equal opportunity chaser of well placed politcos, which makes him less partisan but no less of a grandstander. The guy needs a workover in the worst way.
And so the games begin.
Heros Remember Heros
That feeling is only intensified by this post from 365 and A Wake Up. It's soldiers remembering soldiers they have lost. There is an eloquence bestowed upon them simply by the source, only amplified by the fact that these guys are just good writers.
What can I say? Those that have passed are heros in the greatest possible sense. Those that survivie them are heros by virtue of their loss and their sacrifice. I am humbled by them.
First there were the child abusing child care workers. Global warming has an enoromous amount of traction with little or no evidence. It is pretty much the media equivalence of the monster under the bed.
One such fear that is increasingly gaining prominence is MOLD. Don't get me wrong, in some instances, mold is a health risk, but they are far fewer and farther between than the great wave of litigation of the last years would indicate. Which, of course, is the key to this fear -- it's a lawsuit mill -- it's an industry. You doubt me? As an environmental health and safety consultant I get offerings almost daily to become a mold litigation expert.
Well, now mold is "the big problem" in the hurricane flooded south. Blogging ally Holy Coast had this to say
I look for this to be the source of the next round of lawsuits against the insurance companiesThat, I think you will find is why this is news. Somewhere behind this story is a law firm pulling the strings -- I'll put money on it.
You want to know what's really amazing? Put a little bleach in some water in a spray bottle. Spray the solution on the mold -- NO MORE MOLD! It's that simple.
Christianity Under Fire
I don't go here very often, but such things have got to be the work of the evil one. Any attempt to actually forbid the speaking of Christ's name must be of supernatural origin. Activism is needed on this issue, but so is prayer. This is not just a political war, but a spiritual one and we must fight it on all fronts. Join me please in praying about this.
A Statistical Update
Thanks to commenter Rebecca I can point you to this great post from statistician/blogger Magic Statistics. He, like I, points to the confusion between correlation and causation, but goes on to point out some methodical errors in the study, including
- an equation of rejection of evolution with religious faith
- no explanation of what countries are chosen for study, and what are not
- no explanation for the selection of times frame for the study
- no examination of other possible correlative factors
The line between "study" and hit piece is pretty fine, but I think it is fair to say we have crossed it here.
Find Yourself At A Loss For Words?
Thou shalt become as popular as a boil on the king's backside, O ye bull of Bashan!Extra credit awarded to the first comment that can tell me where and what "Bashan" is - honor system - without looking it up.
Iraqis Pick Up Democracy Fast
Iraqis expressed fury on Wednesday over the three-year jail sentence for Lynndie England, the U.S. soldier notorious for holding a naked inmate by a leash in Abu Ghraib prison, saying it exposed American hypocrisy.Jackson...paging Jesse Jackson!
They said the sentence would have been more harsh had she been convicted of abusing Americans.
I think they are figuring this stuff out just fine.
That's A Relief
Now that there's been "testimony" I can rest easy -- I never realized. I've spent my whole life being torn in two.
I, For One, Would Have Sought A New Strategy After The First Couple Of Thousand
Next Up? Nessie!
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
What Causes You To Shudder?
Even if there were no hell, it would still shudder at offending him alone.It's not about us. It's really not about us. It's about God. It's not about saving us from hell, it's about us not offending God.
The implications of that statement are immense. Do you think about this when you go to church? Is the primary question on your mind, "What will I get out of it today?" or is it "What can I do this morning to please God?" It is only when you choose the second question that you can see real evidence of transformation in your life.
Is the church's purpose to serve it's customers? -- NO! - it is to serve God. When we ask what will bring people in we ask the wrong question, and it reveals that we are not properly attuned in our faith. The ONLY question is what will please Him.
Christianity in general today is entirely too preoccupied with what Christianity means to us -- we should be far more preoccupied with what we mean and can do for God.
Here's A Good Reason To Attend GodBlogCon
No, I think what set me apart, tiny separation though it was (I only won by four vites) was that I have made friends. Some specifically linked driving traffic to vote for me. I'm a part of a blogging alliance all of whom voted for me. In other words, by being allied with others I was able to accomplish far more than I could on my own.
That's the essence of GodBlogCon -- meeting people, making friends, forming alliances -- putting ourselves in a position where we can do far more for the Lord than we can do on our own. GodBlogCon could be the key to turning your blog from personal journal to real world changing ministry, and in so doing you could make some real friends. Click the graphic, go to registration and join us for GodBlogCon, Oct 13-15. I want to meet you!
Bogus Conclusion Alert!
The conclusion (emphasis added):
In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy and abortion in the prosperous democracies.What's wrong with this picture? Correlation does not equal casuation!
The study, which compares the relatively secular Britain with the relatively religious US, tells us little that we did not already know. It makes no connection between the two facts, American has higher rates of those things and American has more believers. Oh sure, the study's authors are full of speculation as to a connection -- but they cannot make one based on the data at hand.
Cheat Seeking Missles has a few comments on this little gem.
This is a non-story.
It's A Fine Offer
Thanks FEMA for making it, it's quite kind. But, No Thank You. See, if I let you reimburse me for all that I've done it would sort of defeat the whole charity idea that I started with.
It's great FEMA made this decision and it should stand, but any church that accepts it I'm going to have serious questions about.
Now He Makes This Decision?
As of today, I believe Cindy Sheehan has jumped the shark. Looking at the glee on her face as she was arrested yesterday confirms a creeping feeling I've had for a while -- she's enjoying her celebrity just a little too much.Not when she claimed New Orleans was "occupied" -- NO. Not when she "called out" the President -- NO.
It's this kind of insight that defines the left today. That's all I can say.
If This Is True:
A type of cholesterol-lowering drug can prevent heart attacks and strokes in all at-risk patients, research suggests.How come every statin commerical I see on TV has that little footnote: Statin X has not been shown to prevent heart attacks?
Statins are widely used to minimise the risk of cardiovascular disease in people with high cholesterol.
The Best of Pravda
Actually, that's in character, the orcs and urukai thought pretty much the same thing.
There is nobody like the Russians for making lemonade with the lemons life has given them
Here's the thing -- hurricanes require warm water coasts. Russia has no warm water coasts, which is pretty much the reason that despite enormous natural resources, they have never been a true world player. But at least they will never have a hurricane.
This is sadly Russian
They always marvel and complain about how much everybody else has instead of making some of their own.
Well, There Goes A Century Of Quantum Mechanics
This is really funny, trust me.
This really isn't fair though -- I can't pick on girls!
Lawyer Flies Into The Phillipines
Oh Baby, Oh Baby -- BOOM!
'Billions and Billions' Will Not Watch
And The Cow Jumped Over The Moon
Actually, the whole cow/moon thing makes more sense.
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
How Much Are You Willing To Let Go?
For repentance is not about telling God of the iniquities that He already knows we have committed and of our sorrow over them that also He foreknew we would be penitent over. Repentance is for our acknowledgment and recognition. It is for our own epiphany and revelation in light of what God already knows - that without Him we are lost and without Him we will never be able to change and follow the example set by the Lord Jesus Christ.Consider the enoromous contrast between that presentation of the gospel and the presentation so much more common these days. This is not the gospel as "relgious self-improvment" -- this is the gospel for what it truly is, this is placing ourselves in the hands of the Almighty. This is not a gospel that seeks to round off the rough edges, this is a gospel that seeks to remake us utter and from the beginning. This is the gospel without compromise.
And what happens at this point of realization for this need to repent? It is the recognition that God?s wisdom is superior and His righteousness is far higher than that of our own. It is from this point that we yield to Him and allow Him to begin the turn within us from the direction we had embarked upon in our own power, to a new direction under the guidance of His wisdom and in the embrace of His righteousness. And such a turning is not without a reward:?...repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord" -Acts 3:19
But such a turning is also not without a price. And that price is the willing destruction of our former selves. It is what Paul meant when he spoke of his dying daily and of the crucifying our former lives. Our desires, dreams, habits and daily lives now come under the management of the Righteous Creator. It is the unconditional surrender of our will in exchange for allowing His to operate within us. It is simply a wholehearted commitment to the notion of one simple thing that is so easy to hear, more difficult to truly understand and impossible to put in action without His aid: Letting go.
The gospel is good news, but it is also terrifying news. There is an apropos analogy for this time. The good news is you are going to get a brand new house. But for that to happen you have to leave your home behind you and go to a destination not entirely known and leave your current house to the vagaries of a hurricane. Think about it -- in a few years most who have lost their homes to Katrina and Rita will be in new homes, so much better than the ones they left behind, but the journey to those homes is fraught with uncertainty and trust. They must trust theyw ill find a place to stay when they evacuate. They must trust that the insurance will pay off. They must trust that there will be jobs for them when they return. There is so much that they simply must trust in.
And now I ask you, who is more trustworthy? - Governments, insurance companies, contractors and employers or the Lord God. The same Lord God who saw fit to take on human form and to sacrifice Himself on our behalf. The same Lord God that saw the Israelites out of Egypt and promises to make lions lay down with lambs. If God is who He says He is, He is so much more trustworthy than any earthly institution!
Voters Prove They Are Not "Stuck On Stupid"
I'd like to give a special THANKS to Dadmanly and Hedgehog Blog both of whom put up posts specifically soliciting votes for me. The whole Southern California Bloggers Alliance was great in their support.
This competition carries with it much honor and glory, but it also comes with an actual prize. In this case it is a Crosley Solo Radio. Crosley is a regular sponsor of Hugh Hewitt's radio show and are most kind to offer one of these:
The Solo is a little different than anything that you have ever seen, or heard, before. Start with the clean, "new-stalgic" look. Taking design cues from modern art, the corners are gently rounded to create the Solo effect. This "today" look is nicely complemented by the airplane tuning dial. The true magic of this little wonder lies in its ability to produce the cleanest, most consistent sound of any radio on the market. Crosley accomplishes this with AroundSound!, a proprietary design philosophy that eliminates "hot spots" in sound reproduction. Regardless of its placement in a room, the Solo delivers a measurable difference in acoustic consistency ? more than three times as its nearest competitor.I am looking forward to hearing that great sound -- it's indeed a great looking radio. Thanks Crosley! What a great ride this past weekend was. Thanks to all who voted for me.
Are We Really That Bad?
"A Web Of Faith" -- makes us sound kind of like some Cold War era spy ring, or worse Al Queda cells, doesn't it.
I am getting really sick and tired of people that view all religion and religious practioners the same, and as sinister. The way some of these people write, you'd think there was no difference between a terrorist cell and a small group. It's enough to make one want to resort to the "subversive" label thrown around about student groups in the '60's when referring to those that oppose us. This whole discussion would be so much easier if we just controlled our rhetoric a little.
And before you go tell me to take the plank out of my own eye, there is a world of difference between sarcasm and labelling, just remember that.
Learning About My Father
His ticket out of the very small town in Minnesota where he grew up was the US Army, and the GI Bill that came after and paid for his education. Among his other accomplishments was the completion of undergraduate AND law school in 5.5 years!
Dad readily credits the Army with his adult success, and after reading this post from Dadmanly on Supply Sargeants, I think I see where so much of my dad came from. See, Dad was a Supply Sargeant.
Some Supply specialists make the mistake of placing "customer service" and helping the Joe's ahead of watching the CO's back on Property Book.One of the great lessons my dad has taught me is "get the papaerwork right - it keeps them from looking for the real problems - at least until you can straighten them out."
Yet when the mission's urgent, or the Soldier is out some essential piece of equipment, Supply somehow manages to get the right resource to the right person at the right time, paperwork to follow."You know John, in the end the executives don't make a thing, you have to take care of that workforce."
When I read Dadmanly's description of the duties of a supply sargeant it becomes so apparent why my dad came out of the military and chose the education and career path he did. I know it was not Dadmanly's intent, but this very informative post really touched me. Funny how you learn about the people you know best from people you've never met.
BIg Big Big Terrorism News
Al-Jazeera's reporter in Spain, Tayseer Alluni has just been sentenced to seven years in jail after a Madrid court found him guilty of joining a terror cell and facilitating money laundry.And people think Voice of America is propogandist? As the Model says
but the question that we must think about is; was Alluni working on his own using his media credentials as a cover or could it be that Al-jazeera itself is involved?But then we all know the rest of CBS had nothing to do with Memogate either -- Right? Right? Anybody? Right?
It seems that twisting facts, biased coverage and supporting the terrorists morally aren't giving some media networks enough satisfaction so they began to give the terrorists a hand, practically I mean.
WSJ Catches Up To Blogotional
However, Louisiana has a very long and very storied history of corrupt local government on the state and municipal level. It will be a while before we know what, if any, role that may or may not have played in the mess, but I won't be surprized. There is an old Louisiana joke about it being every governor's right to plead guilty in a court house named for him.John Fund, OpinionJournal 9/26/05
In Katrina's wake, Louisiana's political culture needs a cleanup too.
Now all I need is John Fund's readership and credibility and I'll be all set!
But when it comes to sheer beauty, I am not sure there is any B better than Bryce Canyon National Park. Unlike other national parks on the Colorado plateau Bryce is comphrehensible. You are able to take it in with a sweep of your head, but this accessibility does nothing to take away from it's wonder, beauty, or granduer.
I've been to Bryce three times in my life. Twice in summer and once in the glorious fall of the first snowfall. Summer in Bryce is hot, as it is accross the whole plateau, and because it is one of the most visited national parks in the country, it is crowded. In summer, one must park outside the park and bus your way in because of a lack of parking and to control the crowds.
Ah, but that fall visit, the place was nearly abandoned. We could stand and stare for as long as we wanted without fear of being jostled, shoved, or otherwise prodded. It was glorious.
What make Bryce so unique are the "hoodoos." Those are columns of rock formed by the forces of weather and erosion on rock formations of this certain compositon, they are strange and wonderful.
Hoodoos are actually fairly common -- I've seen them all over the mountain west from the Canadian Rockies to the Mexican border, but nowhere are they as heavily concentrated or as colorful as Bryce.
In the summer they are great, but the glare and intense sun hides much of the detail. In the dull gray light of a storm, when capped by a dusting of snow, they are just outstanding.
If you are ever anywhere near southern Utah -- Bryce Canyon National Park is a must see.
It Just Doesn't Add Up
Advertisers were equally enthusiastic. "This will allow us to offer consumers 1500 free hours of service during their first month of membership," said AOL marketer Ted Rawlins.don't bother to follow the link; otherwise, enjoy!
Our Military Might In Action
And People Complain About AUTOMOBILE Exhaust?!
Now that's an "exhaust" problem!
Why Older Couples Shouldn't Have Children
Too slow to get out of the way of a crawling baby!
World' Most Expensive Pawn Shop
No Really, Your S*&^ Doesn't Stink
Monday, September 26, 2005
Who's Your Daddy?
Who is the true follower of Christ? Because of my reading of the Gospels and events in my spiritual journey over the last year or so, I am becoming convinced that a true disciple of Christ is one who imitates Jesus' relationship with Abba - Father.I think Andy has a great point here. Our theology is Christo-centric, but our lives are Father-centric.
In the first place, the doctrine of the Trinity makes the discussion a little silly -- they are the same, but let's go with it for a minute. Christ is the hinge of Christianity. It rests on Him -- He is our salvation and our example. What did His ministry accomplish -- it made it so that the Holy Spirit could indwell us and make us into the image of Christ. Part of that image, though is Christ's relationship with the Father. Jesus did not pray to Himself. Jesus did not place HImself under His own authority -- to the contrary He placed Himself under His Father's authority.
A Christ centered theology demands a Father centered life. To do less would not fulfill the ultimate aims of Christ's ministry. To do less would be to fail to reach maturity.
Get Out The Vote! -- Polls Close At Noon Pacific
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Crowds opposed to the war in Iraq surged past the White House on Saturday, shouting "Peace now" in the largest anti-war protest in the nation's capital since the U.S. invasion.And here (HT: Holy Coast) is Little Green Footballs:
The rally stretched through the day and into the night, a marathon of music, speechmaking and dissent on the National Mall.
Somebody has got to be dead wrong here, and given recent history my money is on the legacy media -- seems the blogs get it right a lot more than people sitting in newsrooms working the phones.
Only Christians can long for justice and even cry out for it, as did David in the Psalms, depending upon the righteousness of their standing before God, and yet know, deep in their heart that though perfect Justice has been attained, that every sin has and must have been cruelly avenged, yet there is personal room for mercy and escape. The perfection of the plan is too wonderful to ignore for it meets the deepest longing of every human heart.That phrase, every sin has and must have been cruelly avenged, may stick with me for a very long time.
He bases his post on the satisfaction we feel when the bad guy gets killed in the western. All those that would do away with the concept of penal substitution deny of us any sense of justice. To deny penal substitution says that we have absolutely no way of ever knowing what God is thinking. The lack of justice involved is so unlike anything we can comprehend that it defies us to the core. Such people would respond that other systematic thought on salvation also contains unexplainable mysteries. True enough.
But those mysteries are rooted in a very different place, and while mysterious, they do not strike one as a violation of "rightness," that is unless one's sense of rightness is utterly narcissitic.
Justice is found on the cross, of that I have no doubt.
Mudville Gazette links to Chapomatic (best view) which reprints a picture from the Omaha World Herald of just such eloquence. Only shooting the enemy could communicate the necessary message more clearly.
"The First Step In A Journey Of A Thousand Miles"
Pro-democracy members of Hong Kong's legislature have begun an unprecedented visit to China after being banned from crossing the border for years.Here's hoping.
The Chinese authorities had previously snubbed the legislators who wanted full democracy for Hong Kong.
Air pollution may be a bigger health threat than previously believed, a 20-year study of residents of Los Angeles indicates. Researchers report that the contribution of particulate matter to chronic health problems may be as much as two to three times greater than current estimates.Something is not quite adding up in that picture.
From the BBC we learn
The Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution report said more research was needed into a possible link between pesticides and ill health.OK, I guess I have to spell it out. No pesticides, crops damaged, can't feed large populations, people starve. There is an ill health link. No pesticides, more mosquitoes -- mosquito born illness increases drastically. There is an ill health link. Die very old and well fed or die young, underfed, with yellow fever. I know which I would choose.
Ah, those difficult environmental choices again.
UP TO 10,000 elephants are facing slaughter as South Africa prepares to end its ten-year ban on culling the beasts.What I wantto know is who is the good guy environmentalist in this story -- those saving the trees or the elephants?
The Government is expecting a global outcry from animal welfare groups, so there will be an 18-month ?consultation period? before the cull ? which would involve rounding up and shooting entire family groups ? begins.
But officials said that action was vital to reduce the elephant population in the Kruger national park to protect trees ? some of them 4,000 years old ? vegetation and water supplies on which other, rarer, species depend. An adult elephant consumes about 170kg (375lb) of vegetation a day.
With all the hurricanes, the global warming discussion just gets frothy. A Brit official says the hurricanes are "the smoking gun." Because, of course, there were never any large storms before global warming. And just in case we aren't scared enough, a new study says its a no-win scenario. Will someone, anyone, tell me why this woman's opinion matters one whit on the subject. Finally, the NYTimes wonders what is really going on and hides the anything resembling a reasonable conclusion in the last paragraph
Kerry Emanuel, the author of one of the recent studies showing rising intensity, echoed many colleagues in saying that the impact of global warming was unlikely ever to be manifested in a black and white way that could serve as a call to arms for those seeking curbs on emissions.I see, we'll never really be able to prove it, but we'll still try and scare you to death about it. Makes sense to me -- NOT!
Lefty Sneak Attack
Posters across the capital showed Adolf Hitler, Nicolae Ceausescu ? Romania?s former dictator ? and GeorgeW Bush, over the slogan: 'A dog loves you just the way you are.?...There it is folks -- George W Bush is one of "the most hated dictators on this planet." Of course, he was freely elected, cannot serve more than 8 years, must struggle to achieve his agenda with both Congress and the courts, and is constrained by the consitution from rendering even humanitarian aid in the nation he rules unless invited by local officials, but sure, he's a dictator.
...The Romanian National Committee for the Protection of Animals had at first said that its campaign would show that 'even the most hated dictators on this planet received love from their dogs?.
I've run into instances, in nations unused to democracy, where they failed to understand the true limitation of power the President operates under, and given that this is Romania that misunderstanding could explain this, but somehow I don't think so....
The Ruin Is Runied!
Not Your Father's Ronald McDonald
"In the Japanese TV commercial," notes Britain's Guardian newspaper, "the foxy female version, with shoulder-length straight auburn hair in place of Ronald's frizzy mop, smolders at the camera in a flowing yellow dress, and later a red and white striped bikini with thigh-length leggings and red high heels."Not many women that look good in a bikini eat at McDonald's. Could there be a false advertising lawsuit in this?
I Wonder What My Underwear Will Go For After I Die?
No Secret -- He Eats Too Much
Taking Golf To A Whole New Level
Now that is a sand trap!
Sunday, September 25, 2005
A Really Interesting Eternal Perspective
Mike's point is well taken. Those of us that grew up in the church missed out on a lot of pain that others had the "pleasure" to enjoy.
The church restricted these people from engaging in many of the behaviors that I plunged into without restraint. As a result, these people didn't get to have the experiences that I had or the memories that I still reflect on. Things like being arrested for underage drinking, almost getting busted numerous times for drugs, being watched by the police, known as a bully by classmates. They have been denied the privilege of having memories of immoral relationships and one-night stands; they don't get to look back on a dark history of breaking the law, lying to parents, stealing money, malicious trespassing, drunk driving; they don't get to wonder about blocks of time for which they have no memories due to taking a few too many sopers at once.Personally, I think the Christian griping Mike is complaining about is a phase most life-long Christians go through. At some point, temptation overwhelms us, we do something stupid, and then rationalizeize it by complaining about how restrictive our Christian upbringing was; how Christ's love is not really that restrictive.
Sometimes, I wonder if that phase is not necessary? Not the whining part, the doing something stupid part. One day everyone in that phase wakes up and figures out its not about restriction, it's about grace and goodnessess and they experience God in ways not possible previously. I'm not talking about a "shall we sin so that grace may abound" thing here, I'm just saying that for many, we don't understand what we have until we don't.
But there is something deeper that I'm not sure someone in Mike's situation fully understands. When you come to the church out of the depths of sin, sin in the church is not all that surprising. But when you grow up steeped in the church and believe it to be a bit of God on earth - and the reality that it is just another bunch of sinners trying a little harder than others comes in on you -- usually by that institution of God defecating on you somehow -- your faith can be tested in the deepest of ways.
Most children struggle when they come to the realization that their parents are not omnipotent and perfect. Children of the church all, at some point, come to the same realization about it, and it can be life shattering, and bone jarring.
Few things pain me more than how cavalierly the church deals with those it hurts. "Well, they have to learn." "It's part of the maturing process." "The well-being of the church is more important than the well-being of a single individual." "They have unreasonable expectations."
There is an old cliche -- The church is the only army that does not tend to its wounded.
The power of the gospel is most evident in the lives of the people that have claimed it. The Holy Spirit uses us as the grand illustration of good news. The pain of discovery that the illustration is seriously flawed may be unavoidable. But one of the best ways to improve the flaws can be found in how we aid those experiencing that pain.
The Bible Matters....
If you didn't know what "the powers that be" originally referred to, or where "the writing on the wall" was first seen, or what was meant by "the patience of Job," "Jacob's ladder" or "the salt of the earth"--if you didn't know what an exodus was or a genesis, a fatted or a golden calf--you would have been excluded from the culture. It might be said that a civilization consists, at its core, of these easily transmitted packages of implication.I'd never really thought about it that it way, but it makes sense. Biblical allusion is a huge part of our communication. The conclusion of the piece is not hopeful.
"The Bible and Its Influence" could not have been better made, but its publication is like putting a fence of palings in a river. Change, made up of all sorts of powerful modern forces, will continue to flow whatever high-minded educators do to deflect it. Maybe a few people will be caught and held back from the swift motion of the current by that fence.I; however, have hope. Not in the literary status of the Bible, but in its author. God has a way of standing firm in swift current.
Have You Voted?
My Skin Is Crawling!
Words fail me....Of all the tasteless, boorish, ugly things I have ever seen. This is smacks of dancing on her grave.
Sermons and Lessons
So the kind of thing he means by doing good and sharing would be hospitality (having people - even people you don't know - over to your house after Sunday service); visiting people in prison; caring for any who are afflicted. But of course there are hundreds of ways to do good for people and to share your life with people. The point is that people who get their strength and their wisdom from the altar of the cross, from Jesus Christ, are people who live for others. They get up in the morning and think about how they can do the most good for other people today. This is the sacrifice that they offer to the Lord day after day.So did you wake up this morning thinking about hurricane victims? Read all of this excellent sermon here.
Speaking Of John Piper....
Defined in this fashion, I have no beef with the concept, but this is radically different than the classical presentation of the pehnomena. I would be happier if we could find a different term for what Piper describes, so as to avoid confusion with the more widespread defintion of "Holy Spirit Baptism" which carries with it the overwhelming implication of the miraculous signs.