Saturday, October 08, 2005


Where to Look -- What To Seek

Speaking with the voice of an Old Testament prophet, Broken Messenger says the following
Our lack of effectiveness in society is one thing. Our lack of faith in preaching a complete Gospel to a seeking society is another. But it should trouble us deeply that a society that is quickly descending into the morass of sin that renders it blind to the only Savior that can free it from its bonds; is being ministered to by a church that seems far more focused on critiquing the descent of that society, instead of providing the Good News of Jesus Christ that leads it to freedom from its destructive course.
The church has a job and christians have many jobs. While many christians have the job, even the obligation, to be active citizens of our democracy, the church's job is singlefold -- preach the gospel. But comes the rejoinder -- "People come when I talk about society -- I can't reach them if they don't come." Two responses:

Yet again I am rejoined -- "But if people don't come the plate will be empty, we can't light the lights or pay the organist, or maybe even me." To this I respond:

Matt 6:25-33 - "For this reason I say to you, do not be anxious for your life, as to what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor for your body, as to what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body than clothing? "Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? "And which of you by being anxious can add a single cubit to his life's span? "And why are you anxious about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory did not clothe himself like one of these. "But if God so arrays the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more do so for you, O men of little faith?

"Do not be anxious then, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'With what shall we clothe ourselves?' "For all these things the Gentiles eagerly seek; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.
The world is as it is because we lack the necessary faith, because we have yet to truly capture the good news for ourselves. Be convicted and respond to that conviction not with external action, but with internal examination. Respond to that conviction by asking God for faith.



Sure, we stand up and share our testimony in Sunday School or church, even small group. But do you share it with your kids? This post from Dadmanly is a great example and a great testimony.


Irony or Absurdity?

When I was a young lad residing in the panhandle of Texas my father was an executive in the oil and gas business. From time-to-time on weekends, my dad would load me in the car and take me to the middle-of-nowhere Texas and show me crews of engineers and drillers making holes in the ground. The purpose of the holes was to find very large quantities, quantities measured in hundreds of gallons per day, of crude oil and or natural gas. If they found these very large quantities they would make very large sums of money. This is a business formula that still works today.

Yesterday I had a very busy and very long day being the engineer overseeing two crews of guys making holes. The purpose of these holes was to sample soil, water and gas to find very tiny amounts of material, which are but components of crude oil. Amounts so tiny that they are equivalent to a drop in an Olympic sized swimming pool. Amounts so tiny that highly sophisticated laboratories with very expensive instruments are required to even know if it is there. If I find these tiny amounts of these materials, that are a subset of crude oil, the people that own the land I was making holes in could go broke trying to get rid of them.

Is this ironic, absurd, silly, or just life.


Comic Art

Continuing with the Honorable Mentions today we are going to look at Gene Colan. Gene is another of those artists that have done a little of everything. His signature title is probabaly "Tomb of Dracula," but I honestly never liked it enough to want to show you some of it here.

Here you see a cover rendering he did of Daredevil for a fan book. Colan's Daredevil is the one I remember as a kid, and I really liked it. It is not quite of the quality to make it definitive, but it's really good - functional without saying "look at me, look at me!" You have to love what he did with the billy club line in this picture, it's a great visual element.

If Colan's signature title is Dracula, you can bet his best work is in the horror/mystic realm. Of course, Doctor Strange is the Marvel mystic title and Colan did his due there. I really liked him on that title.

If you know Doc Strange, you'll note that thiis picture is not "normal" -- the good doctor normally has his head exposed, the mask was an affectation that appeared for story reasons during Colan's run, and I have to be honest, I thought it was great.

Superheroes have costumes for a reason, they are readily identifiable and easily drawn. Drawing a distinctive face is very difficult, but not necessarily so for a distinctive mask. If you just look at faces, Reed Richards looks like Tony Stark, who looks like Peter Parker, who looks like Steven Strange. But in costume you have Mr. Fantastic, Iron Man, Spider-Man, and Doctor Strange. Without the mask he always looked like reed/tony/peter/steven in a funky cape. But with the mask he was quite distinctive.

But the place where I decided Colan was really good was the Swamp Thing. And it was the backgrounds more than the characters that really did it for me. If I showed you Colan's Drac stuff you'd see lots of mists and fogs -- that annoyed my on Drac, but it was great on a character called "Swamp Thing."

If you've ever been in a swamp you know the air is alwasy hazy and tick. Somehow Colan captured that just perfectly. Swamp Thing is not meant to be seen in stark detail, he just should be shrouded in mist, not entirely visible, with some details indistinct.

Gene Colan was one of the good ones.


Bruce Banner Cured

Gamma-Ray Mystery Solved


What's Better Than Wonder Woman's Bracelets?

Woman saved when bra stops bullet


Talk About Lowering The Bar

Inventor of Fake Dog Testicles Wins Award

Friday, October 07, 2005


Knowing God

What can we know of and about God? That is the essential Question in this post from Jollyblogger. Here's some highlights
But I think there is an important thing to notice here - whereas many philsophers want to distinguish between essence and existence or essence and accidence, Calvin is saying that we only know God's essence through His existence or accidence.

A simpler way of saying this is to say that philosophers want to distinguish between what a thing is and what a thing does. Calvin is saying that you can only know who God is by studying what He does.
Certainly we can see much further into God's essence, who He really is, through our study of the Scriptures. But Calvin's caution remains. Though God reveals more of who He is in the Scriptures, He does not reveal all of who He is. So, we must never attempt to go beyond the Scriptures in trying to figure out who God is.
Still, this reminds us that, in our zeal to know God, there is a point of proper reticence, where we must stop seeking where God has stopped revealing, all the while realizing that what He has revealed is more than enough to satisfy all our seeking.
Several really important points/comments/questions come out of this I think

The fact of the matter is, we can never truly know God. Even His fullest revelation - Christ Himself - is shrouded in history. God must, I believe want it this way. Else, He would have come in this age when we could record and replay each nuance of Christ, His every breath and syllable. For whatever reason, God demands of us faith -- full revelation would take away the need for faith.

But why is faith so hard? That is simple, because faith requires the sacrifice of control. Think about it, if God were fully revealed, granting control to Him would not be significant, for we would know with certainty that He was safe. We would in fact actually retain control on some level. That's not good enough -- we must give all control to God. He is, after all, Lord and Creator.


Miers Madness Continues

I remain aghast at the continuing rhetoric about the Miers SCOTUS nomination. Most of the punditry I heard on the radio yesterday seemed to think this intramural silliness will not hurt the Republicans and conservatism in general in 2006, but I am not so sure. Ally Hedgehog Blog said this yesterday
Does anyone agree with me that to see conservative Republicans strategically leaking, to the Washington Post, off-the-record meetings with the White House is both depressing and shameful?
I agree with him wholeheartedly. Now not only is there infighting, but there is dirty infighting. That really is the kind of stuff that will hurt us in 2006 and beyond. Mark Steyn put it this way
So the problem remains: how to slay Bush. And if this last week is anything to go by, it looks like Democrats are going to be denied that pleasure, and it will fall instead to conservatives to reduce the Bush presidency to rubble.
But let's move forward on this by continuing my discussion with Watchman's Words.

Bob's latest volley has four basic points. Let's look at each in turn. First Bob argues with my citation of Sun Tsu and states that it is not always preferable to when without a fight. As evidence, he first cites Iraq, stating
Can anyone seriously doubt that our situation in Iraq would be better had the Iraqi Army stood and fought and been defeated (and their numbers permanently reduced)?
This presumes facts not in evidence. My favorite US intelligence guy in Iraq said this just a few days ago
Austin Bay and Dan Darling capture exactly the nature of this struggle as essentially a fight driven by foreign forces and influences. Whatever Saddam and any hidden partners may have initially planned – and there is good reason to suspect he had co-conspirators and accomplices in Damascus and Tehran – Zarqawi and his ambitions have clearly overwhelmed whatever other military players still operate in Iraq. For all intents and purposes, the Baathist hold-outs have faded nearly out of existence.
In other words, in Iraq we currently fight Al Queda, not the remnants of the Iraqi army, we defeated it soundly, quite a while back, and at minimal cost in lives and material, certainly less than in a stand-up fight.

Bob also cites Peggy Noonan as support for his stand-up fight would be betterr argumennt.
If in the end President Bush lost, he'd lose while advancing a cause that is right and doing serious damage to the other side. Then he could come back to win with the next nominee.
Ms. Noonan is far smarter about these things than I, but whatever damage done to the enemy in the fight would be undone by their victory. The President would have had to come back with a weaker candidate, likely weaker than this one.

Bob's second point is that Mier's resume is weak. My father is an attorney and he explained this all to me long ago. Being a good judge on this level is more about being a good picker of clerks and a good manager of them than it is about being good at legality itself. Consider for example a pharmaceutical firm -- must the president of such a firm be the best pharmacist in the world for the firm to succeed? Now, he must know how to identify them and how to get the best from them. Miers can have at her disposal the absolute best legal minds we produce, she will not suffer. Her experience running a law firm will likely make her better at this than other justices.

But more importantly, this just smacks of elitism. The world is full of people who did not go to the right schools or kiss the right butts, which is where most "credentials" come from, that are a lot smarter than those that did. White House counsel is no mere job. She's plenty smart enough.

Bob's third argument is that there are "signs" she is not conservative enough
.It may not be established, but there are numerous disturbing signs that she is exactly that. From The Corner's Stanly Kurtz: "I note a worrisome report in today's Chronicle of Higher Education. It seems that Miers was a key figure behind the establishment of a lecture series in women's studies at SMU." From John Yoo: "She did not win a reputation as a forceful conservative on issues such as the administration's position on stem cell research or affirmative action." More Yoo: "She also apparently urged that the White House preserve the ABA's privileged role in reviewing the qualifications of judicial nominees."

Miers may be pro-life (but then so is Harry Reid, and I wouldn't want him on the court!), although I don't think we even know that for sure, but I have yet to see a single shred of evidence that she is a constitutional conservative in the mold of Scalia and Thomas.
This belies a serious misunderstanding of the key issue from a legal perspective. Let's dive in to the big one -- Roe v. Wade. I really hate to break this to the nation, but if Roe v. Wade were overturned tomorrow, abortion would not cease. Even before that ruling it was legal in about a third of the country, and if overturned most states would quickly pass laws to leaglize it in some form.

The biggest problem with Roe v Wade is not abortion -- the nation clearly wants it, even if I don't. The biggest problem is that it established the principle that there are "rights" contained in the Constitution not specifically spelled out. It is from this principle that all the other things that have flowed from the court that conservatives have trouble with has come. So, frankly, I don't care if she is a pro-choice lesbian who wants to marry her lover (SHE IS NOT) if she understands legally, and will rule in accordance with same, that there are not "hidden rights" in the Constitution. If she, and the rest of the Court, rule that way most of the other judicial activism we have seen in the last 40 years will tumble like a house of cards.

I had a very good conversation with Hugh Hewitt about this over the Roberts nomination on Hugh Cruise II this past summer. Hugh explained it and I agree, we cannot let the fight for the court be "issue" driven. If we do, then we are going against the very principles we as conservatives claim to uphold. We are all upset because the left has used the court to force issues down our throats. To make this an "issue" question is to do the same in reverse.

Bob ends his post this way
In closing for this round, let's talk for a second about the role of conservatives in the Republican party--specifically religious conservatives. I argued here that we have been used and abandoned over and over again, and that will not change until we stop saying, "Please sir may I have another." If we do not stand up and make sure we are heard, we'll continue to be taken for granted and have nothing to show for our blind loyalty.
Absolutely we have to make ourselves heard, but we have to be strategic in how and when we do so. The time to argue over who the President should nominate is while he is deciding. Send emails, write letters, make phone calls, blog, do all of that while he is deciding. But he is the leader of the party and once he decides, its time to:
(thanks Hedgehog)

If we cry and complain, argue and wrangle, pout and moan, we weaken our position. We cannot take our ball and go home.

One final note. The Noonan piece cited above mentions that she is gaining sympathy with some sort fo term limit for court appointment. This would, in my opinion be a disaster. The idea is to keep judical jobs as apolitical as possible. They are already far more political than they should be. If term limited, judicial appointments would be predictable and therefore they would become definitive, and opposed to the currently speculative, campaign issues. This would highly politicize appointments. I can easily firesee President being elected solely on who they promise to appoint. Nope, bad idea Peggy. It would have the affect opposite what you desire.


Platitudes Are Nice -- But The Devil Is In The Details

There are Christian environmental rumbles out there again -- it's been a while. SmartChristian links to a story on the push (ongoing for several months now) by the National Association of Evangelicals to start a Christian environmental movement. Andy also profiles the Evangelical Ecologist.

In all this discussion some scripture is cited. Lets look at them.

Ps 24:1 - The earth is the LORD'S, and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it.

Gen 2:15 - The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.

Rev 11:18 - "And the nations were enraged, and Thy wrath came, and the time {came} for the dead to be judged, and {the time} to give their reward to Thy bond-servants the prophets and to the saints and to those who fear Thy name, the small and the great, and to destroy those who destroy the earth."

Far be it from me to argue with Scripture, but perhaps a couple of questions are in order.

You see, in those questions lies the problem with a Christian environmental movement. What issues, precisely, will it address? Movements need to do things -- what will this movement do? How can we be assured that those actions are "working" and not "destroying?"

The history of environmentalism is chock full of actions aimed at conservation that have resulted in negative consequences. The killing of wolves in Yellowstone when it first became a park -- The DDT ban resulting in huge increases in mosquito born disease in the third world -- The introduction of kudzu in the American Southeast -- are just a few examples that come to mind. The sad fact of the matter that the state of our science is simply insufficient, at least in most of the common issues addressed by "environmentalism" these days, to say actually give a Christian environmental movement any place to get busy.

There is also something quite unChristian in assuming that our science is so sufficient. In some areas it places our understanding on a level with God's. Of course, the cry from environmentalists when the science is shown to be inconclusive is always, "But it might be true, and we dare not wait until the science is solid!" What a lack of faith is demonstrated by such an attitutde, paricularly in light of the fact that we have so many negative consequences from scientifically presumed positive actions.

God is in charge of the earth, we are not. When we presume to know enough to destroy the earth, or to save it, we are, in fact, usurping God's power, which is, I think, precisely against the Psalms passage cited above.

Are there real environmental concerns? Yes. Can Christians have a role in dealing with them? Sure. But what role? Most of the genuine concerns are already being dealt with rather well, so what is a "movement" to do? My advice, as an environmental professional, is if you are a Christian, and you are concerned, join me as an environmental professional, the water is warm and the pool is large. But please, don't go stirring up "issues," and charging up rhetorical hills on maybes, mights, and presumablies.


Now What?

The authorship of two great literary works seems constantly to be under fire. The Bible and Shakesphere. In the latest salvo, it seems the Bard was just a front man.
An Elizabethan diplomat named Sir Henry Neville was the real author of William Shakespeare's plays, a new book claims.

The Truth Will Out: Unmasking the Real Shakespeare says the courtier, nicknamed "Falstaff" by close friends, used Shakespeare as a "front man".

The book by Brenda James and Professor William Rubinstein contains a foreword by Mark Rylance, artistic director of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London.
Claims of someone else writing Shakesphere have been around for centuries, so I decided to check the veractiy of these claims with noted Shakesphere expert and friend David Allen White. David, by the way, blogs on matters spiritual at OneTrueGodBlog. David's comment was absolutely priceless
"Now the truth can be told. I wrote Shakespeare's plays." -- David Allen White

Full expose forthcoming in the book THE BARD'S A FRAUD, published by the University of Blahblah Press.
I immediately placed my pre-order on Amazon. Thank you David! -- I knew you were a good writer, but I had no idea! And to think how much time you spent writing that other book about him.


Plain and Simple

The mixture of religion and politics is a volatile one. There is a lot of talk about what is and is not acceptable political talk from a Christian blog. This post from Gadfly's Muse is one of the best and plainest explanations for the importance of Christian political activism I have come across. Recommended reading.


Oh Yeah, They Really Hate Us In Iraq

Chekc out this post from Iraq The Model. It's school kids paying tribute and saying thanks to soldiers and police. I really hate being hated this way.


Friday Humor

My wife told me this was funny, I'm not sure I get it

You Might Be An Engineer If...


Deveolps Sentience, Promotes World Peace By Eating Visitors

New breed of 'fish-bot' unveiled

Don't you just once wish reality and scifi really would merge?


I'm Thinking Dad Has A Bit Of A Problem With His Tonuge

Why is Jesus named after swearword: child


There's Something Fishy Here

Look! On the $10,000 bill...'s Salmon P. Chase.

And this is a plane I simply must fly in.


Just A Thought, But Maybe Bury It? Cremation?

Russia Weighs What to Do With Lenin's Body

Best Of The Web Today pointed me to this story and had the finest description of that which resides in the tomb on Red Square I have ever read
The hunk of meat formerly known as V.I. Lenin
Not very tasty though.


Easy! -- The 500-lb Couch Potato

Search begins for country's ugliest vegetable


I Don't Know What It Is, But It's Not "Church"

Church on the Web

Thursday, October 06, 2005


Context Matters

When we focus too single mindedly on anything, things fall out of balance and can get ugly. This post from Adrian Warnock made me think of that. Now, I know Adrian well enough to know that he personally has the correct context for his statements, but others can take words like these and run with them. Adrian says
Law says "thou shalt not". The spirit says "thou shalt". The Law tells us what not to do. The Spirit tells us what to do....

...I am more and more convinced that we need to rely more on the spirits work and less on the work of the law to change our lives and help us defeat sin.
Truly, the life transformation promised by Christ is the work of the Spirit and not an act of sheer will of obedience. But consider

As I said, we cannot achieve the true promise of Chirst absent His Holy Spirit, but it must be in the context of study and knowledge of His Law. The apostle Paul said

Rom 3:20 - because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.
From the knowledge of sin comes repentance and from repentance comes salvation. The law does in fact play a key role in our relationship with Christ. It is the filter through which we pass our "urgings" to determine those that are of the Spirit and those that are of our flesh.

Indeed we must rely utterly on the Spirit for our transformation, but the law is the yardstick by which we measure that transformation and knowledge of and reliance upon it is very necessary to know that we are indeed transforming. The law and the Spirit are not an either/or proposition. The Spirit give us the power and the will to obey and behave in the fashion that the law dictates. No, we do not rely on the law for our transformation, but more importantly we do not rely on our own ability to conform to it.

Herein is what Jesus meant when He said He came "not to abolish the law, but to fulfill it." His death and resurrection paved the way for the Spirit to enable us to live by the law, thus fulfilling it.


Miers: The Conservative Discussion

Win a radio, get a discussion partner -- Watchman's Words. Bob and I are trying to work through this whole debate on the conservative side of the aisle concerning the Miers nomination. Here's Bob's latest.

Bob makes three essential points in his latest entry in the conversation. For the first, he quotes Patrick Henry and says
I am not in favor of fighting for the sake of fighting (well, at least not most of the time), but if we're not willing to fight for a lifetime seat on the Supreme Court, what battle is ever going to be worth it?
But what is the goal here? The goal is to get a court that is strictly interpretive, not evolutionary. The goal, stated at its basest, is for a court that will rule as we think it should. To accomplish that we could have a nominee known to all as that kind of judge, which will result in a a huge debate. But, if we can win the war, that is to say achieve the goal, without the debate, is that not a wiser strategy? Sun Tsu said
Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.
NRO's Buzz had an interesting post yesterday linking to some opinion data
As you can see, the substantive split seems to be between conservative writers/pundits and elected Republicans.
One is forced to ask, in light of such data, who is receiving what benefits. Those elected are interested in getting the job done, the punditry is interested in have a story to tell. Thus it is in the punditry's best interest to have a fight, but the punditry's interest is secondary to reaching the goal.

Bob;s second point is that from a conservative point of view, Bush is not all that "trustworthy" and he cites several pertinent examples, from spending to immigration. I don;t have the time to challenge each of the examples Bob cites let's consider the essential point. Bush campaigned as a "compassionate conservative." I, for one, understood that to be more centrist than perhaps even my tastes would allow. I think he has been quite trustworthy in comparison to how he ran and how he was elected. I had reservation, based largely on his father's record, when he first came onto the scene. He is definitely to the right of his father, but more centrist than say, Limbaugh. Back to this in a minute.

We established in the previous point that the essential issue is will she judge as I would wish -- which is in a strict constructionist manner? Well, as this OpinionJournal piece illustrates, she certainly has the legal credentials. Her personal faith would indicate that she is conservative by nature, and may in fact be the biggest arguing point. Which brings up an interesting possibility to me.

There is nothing the Dems can attack this woman on save for 1) a lack of information, and 2) her faith. Now, might it not just be possible that part of the political strategy here is to put the Dems in a position where they have to reveal themselves for the faith haters that they are? They have no place else to get any traction against this nominee, as the lack of information angle proved to have no traction against Roberts. Sun Tsu also said
Hence to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting.
This remains a religious nation. Nothing would do the Dems more damage than to be forced to decry religion directly, on this nomination they cannot wrap it up in church/state separation -- they will have to attack her directly for her faith. If they do it, it will be political suicide -- we'll have won a big one without firing a shot.

Bob's final point is that he is a conservative first, a Republican second. To this I respond, how does a conservative get things done in this country? Through the Republican party, that's how. The fact of the matter is that getting things done in this country is a question of compromise, not principle. This goes a long way to explaining the gap on this issue between pundits and elected officials.

Now, we have yet to establish that this woman is a compromise on the essential issue -- which is getting a court that rules as we would like it. The only thing we do know is that she is a compromise in terms of getting the kind of debate about the role of the judiciary that many feel we need to have.

But the other thing that is important to remember is that those that are "conservative first, Republican second" do not represent the core of America -- it is largely centrist. The core of the country is in fact, "compassionate conservative," which means big government that is socially conservative -- Bush to a "T."

Face it conservatives, Bush is what he is, he was plainly stated about it when he ran, and he is who we voted out of the primaries in 2000. There were more conservative candidates on the ballot, but we elected Bush. Well, those primaries were five years ago. Our job is to back our man until we can have primaries again. We've lost some, but we are in a better position now than we were when Clinton was in office. The nation has definitively moved to the right, that's a good thing.

I would remind those disappointed that even the much worshipped "Ronaldo Maximus," to borrow a Rushism, ended up with a profligately spending government. Was Reagan "untrustworthy?"


Destined To Become Great

It is rare that you can see and participate in the writing of history. Usually it is done years after the events by those that were not present, relying on so-called primary sources that are generally anecdotal and incomplete.

Mil-Blogs, particuarly those written in the field, are such primary resources. And now, thanks to Blackfive, there is going to be an anthology of the best of the Milblogs published as a book. (HT: Dadmanly)

Such a compilation can rightly be called a "first draft of history." The best news is this draft will be written and edited by those that genuinely know what is and is not important. There is no doubt in my mind that historians will use this as a reference for a long time to come.

If you have a favorite Milblog and/or Milblog post email Blackfive with your nomination. Be sure to include a link if you can.

Kudos to the milbloggers for this great accomplishment.


Illuminated Scripture


Stuff To Pray About

Prayer really does work, sometimes its the best thing to do.


See, Science And Religion Are Compatable

No-one knows exactly when the new Moon appears as it changes in different parts of the world - particularly important if you want to know when Ramadan starts. So this month, scientists are asking the public to help refine the lunar calendar.
But are they Islamic scientists?


And You Thought Poker Playing Dogs Was In Poor Taste

Ireland's largest bookmaker, Paddy Power PLC, withdrew a billboard campaign Wednesday that portrayed Jesus and his disciples at the Last Supper table - and playing poker and roulette alongside the slogan, "There's a place for fun and games."
Aye, and that's just a wee bit over-the-top.


There Are "Mama's Boys" And Then There Is...


Twenty years with mother's corpse

All together now -- "EWWWWWWWwwwwwwwww"


Space Agency Needs Reading Glasses

NASA's Lunar Vision: The Devil's in the Details


Was That A Waltz Or A Polka?

French, US chemists win Nobel for carbon "dance"

This may explain why I have never won a Nobel, I can't dance and I am not particularly fond of the French.


Gold Plate Your Waste Before You Flush

'Historic Toilet' to Cost $24,000

The DOD has got to be involved in this somewhere.


Man! - And I Thought I Had An Eating Problem

Python Bursts After Trying to Eat Gator

This is that SciFi Channel script I have been looking for!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005


What's This? A Discusssion Of Christian Ethics?

In this case, the discussion is based on a post by Abednego at Parableman. True to form, the comments are limited to the two authors atthat blog talking to each other. The question of Christian ethics is of vital importance, and little discussed.

Abednego posits an interesting discussion
Now, it's clear when we look at the rest of Scripture that this doesn't mean we aren't to judge anyone at all (for example, many other New Testament passages command believers to make judgments about people in certain situations, or command churches to cast out those engaging in certain kinds of immorality, etc.). So this passage is (I think rightly) understood to speak about what I would call disputable matters -- matters where individual Christians may have different convictions which are rightly left up to the conscience, because they are free to act in either way. Paul gives the only restriction by concluding the chapter with this statement: "Everything that does not come from faith is sin." The idea, then, is that in these cases of disputable matters, as long as people are acting in faith in accordance with their conscience, they are free to do as they see fit (and either eat meat, or not eat meat, to use Paul's example).

But where are the boundaries of these "disputable matters"? Is that, too, left to the believer's conscience? Or is it safe to say that when Scripture teaches something sufficiently clearly (for example, that murder and adultery are wrong) those are beyond dispute? That is, does the clear teaching on those issues mean that Christians can't commit such acts and then claim that they must not be judged on the basis of Romans 14? I'm interested in comments on this.
Great question, though an general answer can be difficult. Here's some thoughts.

With most ethical teachings in the NT, including Romans 14, I tend to think the point is more theological than ethical, relying as much as possible on the ethics of the OT. Thus in Romans 14, the genuine point Paul is trying to make is that our salvation is not of our behavior, but of our faith -- Thus his ending qualifier is also his summation. If people are operating out of genuine faith in Christ -- not some misguided and delusional conception of Christ, many a murderer has claimed divine guidance -- then we should seek to encourage that faith, and allow the Holy Spirit to convict them about behavior.


I Still Don't Get The Miers Kerfluffle

It's not just the disagreement, its the level of the rhetoric that gets to me. Consider this post from fellow Hewitt/Radioblogger Blog of the Week, Watchman's Words. He compares Bush to George McClellan
And now on the most crucial issue of change--the makeup of the Supreme Court--he keeps punting rather than joining battle with his outnumbered foes. In disgust, conservatives send him this message, "My dear Bush: If you don't want to use the Republican majority, we should like to borrow it for a while."
All the criticism of Bush assumes that the Republican majority will line up behind him, not just on the nomination, but also on the constitutional option. Given the compromise that was reached on the appellate court judges, I am not sure that the majority's full support can be relied upon.

Here's what I really don't quite get. The base of both parties are idealists, and in many cases idealogues. Now ask yourself, how have we gotten here? Because the idealists of the Dem party have been willing to compromise and take us in this direction incrementally. Yet we Republicans keep swinging for the fences, and losing as a result. Why can the whacko idealists of the left get the idea that a small victory is better than a loss, while the right just wants to sulk.

Consider this. The overwhelming conservative disappointment in this nomination results in a Republican split. She does not receive confirmation because of that split. Now what do you think the President will have to do? Do you honestly think he can come back with say a Luddig? Oh heck no. At that point, he'll really have to punt.

Good, bad, or indifferent, this is our President's nominee. It may not be what we wanted, but it sure is what we got. Turning on each other accomplishes nothing. And even if the McClellan comparison is apropos (which it is not) we do not have the ability to replace our general. We have got to knock this off pretty quick or its going to get worse, not better.

Let's start chillin' on this. Thanks Ruffini.


The Case Against Pacificism

I am sometimes amazed at the things Christianity morphs into. The idea that Jesus was a pacifist is one of the more amazing such transformations. Of course, Jesus said all the things the pacifists quote, but He also did a lot of violent stuff. Trees died from His anger. A whole lot of pigs died by his actions. And then of course, there are the tried and true actions in the temple. To claim Christ a pacifist is to simply ignore evidence.

Promaniac has written a pretty good arguement against pacifism. Put it on your reading list.


One Of The More Serious Problems Of Our Modern Age

From LiveScience
Women who have children out of wedlock are about 30 percent less likely to get married than childless single women, according to a new study.

When unwed mothers do marry, they are more likely to land husbands who are significantly older and less educated than those of women who don't have children.
Prior to meeting my wife, I had a very serious relationship with a woman that had a child conceived out of wedlock. I remain utterly heartbroken for that child. Her need for a father utterly apparent. Her desire for a father overwhelming. Ending that relationship tore me asunder in ways I never knew possible. The relationship with her mother was one thing, but that kid, on whom I had no claim, is in my prayers daily.

A child's need for a father, particularly a male child, is well documented. Children born out of wedlock have not even the part time dad that children of divorce do and it is so apparent in them.

What troubles me most of all is that you would think the mothering instinct of these women would drive them to desparately seek a father for thier child. But I know from terribly sad experience that the opposite is usually the case, and now this study confirms it.

This is a group of people that needs very serious prayer and maybe even deliberate mission.


Why Do We Accept This?

Here's a story about the possible separation of some conjoined twins.

The generally accepted wisdom is that even though one of the twins often dies, separation is preferable if at all possible. Interestingly, I could not find any statistics on single twin mortality in separation procedures. Everything I found talked around it, "75% survival of at least one twin" was the best statistic I saw. My presumption is one twin dies most of the time. The logic is that the surviving twin will have a better life and live longer than the two would conjoined. But I just cannot see it as that clear-cut a matter.

How is this really different than selective harvesting (read abortion) in IVF? If indeed most separation procedures effectively dooms one of the twins, shouldn't we at least wait until the twins are old enough to make this decision on their own?

I don't have any answers here, I am just pointing out that the conventional wisdom probably shouldn't be.


Be Careful Where You Give

Katrina Cash Could Create 'Slush Fund' For Left


The Best of Pravda

There is nothing like the certainty of being Russian

Single people feel absolutely happy about their solitary lives

They do love thier superlatives. In the "I Had No Idea" category, consider this headline

Russia and post-Soviet states to challenge USA's global dictatorship with a new economic block

We have a "global dictatorship?" If only I'd known, all that money I spent in Russia this summer when I could just have demanded the goods by fiat. And China -- we can just order them to stop buying so much oil and escalating the prices. Oh, it's good to be the dictator.

And finally there is this reporting of some deviantly ingenious behavior

Teenagers dress as policemen to frisk women

I think this proves that the Russians are not quite over communism. That givernment was so overbearing that they had to have a certain disregard for authority just to survive. They are going to have to learn better if they want to play int he world with the rest of us.


Flying With The Snow Angels?

Delving into Dust Devils

There is a place in Utah where I saw at least 20 dust devils at one time -- way cool.


Why I Went To Russia

'We Aussies love scaring tourists'


I Doubt They'll Sit Still For It

Giant rats to be used to sniff out TB victims

There has got to be a better way to get a diagnosis.


Well Turn Up The Sound System For Crying Out Loud

Oktoberfest beer drinking dips as volume lowered

We can't have that at Oktoberfest.


Storm Naming Goes Porno

Typhoon Longwang Death Toll Hits 50

I wonder how far inland it penetrated?


So What Is It When It Is Not A Meteor?

Sporadic Meteor Lights Up South Florida Skies

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


Do You Repent?

Challies has a really interesting post about repentance. I have to be honest and say, I agree with the points that Tim is making, including the criticism of Rick Warren that is in the post; however, the truth of Tim's points should be sufficient without having to take a shot at Warren. I was reading and reading the post and loving it and then it turned into some sort of attack on Warren and I felt like it robbed the post of it's real power, turning it from a genuine declaration of God's truth into just another "bashing" post.

But, let's concentrate on the meat of the matter. Tim says (emphasis added)
Repentance is a concept that causes our human natures to rebel, for we hate to think that we are really sinful enough that we need to repent before God. We also hate to give up our autonomy and admit that God's ways our superior to ours. The idea of expressing faith seems wonderful and so does the idea of being followers of Jesus, but admitting our sinful natures and confessing our unworthiness before God flies in the face of what our society teaches us. We are taught that right and wrong are subjective and that what is good for me may be bad for you - and frankly that's just fine as long as you don't force your views on me. Repentance is an admission that our ways our wrong and God's are right. Repentance is admitting that we are willing to suppress our desires in favor of God's.

Because our society so hates the idea of repentance, many churches, out of a so-called "seeker-sensitivity," have stopped speaking about it, choosing instead to teach about sorrow and brokenness. Instead of portraying Jesus as the one who died to remove the stench of our sin from before God, Jesus is portrayed as one who died to meet our needs and to help us live a better life. Jesus died to give us purpose and to give us the power to change our minds. There need not be true, biblical repentance in this watered-down gospel. The true gospel, the gospel which has the power to transform lives, cannot be preached without repentance.
I have experienced this kind of "seeker-sensitive" watered down preaching quite a bit. Sometimes, it can be just amazing.

Have you ever remodelled a house? How do you start? With demolition, that's how. let's take a kitchen for example, I should know, I've done this in the last couple of years. The first step is to decide the current kitchen is ugly, that the job needs to be done -- that's confession. Then you have to the demolition, that is make room for the new stuff, which means you have to take everything out of the cabinets, take the applicanes out, then tear out the countertops and cabinets, only then are you free to build a new kitchen that is as wonderful as you would hope.

Now none of us as what it takes to demolish our lives that thoroughly, fortunately, we have the Holy Spirit to do the work for us. All we have to do is tell Him we are ready to get busy and get out of His way -- that's repentance.

It saddens me deeply that the good news of repentance is leaving the church so rapidly. WHOA Nellie, back up the truck, "Repentance? -- Good News!?" Oh yeah, there is none better. We cannot realize the real promise of God to us, the genuine depth of His grace without repentance, that makes it the best news of all.

Jollyblogger looked at the issue from a slightly different angle yesterday. David is talking about redemption and says this
You see, in His work of redemption, Jesus doesn't so much procure something for me, rather He procures me! The picture of redemption is not that there is some commodity sitting on the shelf of a warehouse somewhere that Jesus goes and gets and transfers ownership of to me. I am the thing that is on the shelf.
See the central issue here is taking ourselves out of the picture in any sort of self-determinative sense. In repentance, we deny ourselves, in redemption we are purchased -- either way we are wholly God's and not our own.

That's radical faith in Christ -- That's radical life in Christ.


Obligatory SCOTUS Nominee Post

The nomination of Harriet Miers seems to have caught all sorts of people unawares. Things seems kind of mixed up. Harry Reid likes her. On the other hand, Powerline is disappointed, as is Hedgehog Blog. Chuck Schumer just sounded silly wanting to know more. I don't understand all of the comment, I really don't.

I heard Bill Krystal quoted on the radio as saying the President "backed away from a fight." Who cares? - Iif this woman will be the kind of justice we want? If we can get a constitutional interpreter, not an activist, without a fight, then sounds like a win-win to me. I thought the idea was to get the rulings we liked, not stuff it to the Dems just because we can.

As best as I can tell, the biggest issue here is that people don't know what kind of judge she will really be in the end. How can we be drawing dividing lines over something we don't know? I just don't understand that. As to the fact that she has never sat on a bench -- great. She knows the law, and will not be strapped with a bunch of garbage that those that have had benches come with. My guess is she will bring some well needed fresh thought to the court, not being confined to streams of reasoning that have confined the court into a constantly liberalizing direction.

And here is the last thing I have to say on this. I worked pretty doggone hard to elect this President, and one of the reasons I did so was so he could nominate SCOTUS judges. Seems to me that in light of the LACK of information about this woman, the best thing to do is trust his judgement, not debate it. Sometimes I think it is the Republican tendency to eat our own that prevents us from ever really cementing power in the nation.

Let's not pout because its not the specific individual most wanted, let's get busy insuring we get the kind of court we want.


The Undiluted Truth

The press has made two pretty serious mistakes with recent reporting from Iraq. The first is that the press has failed once again to understand the classifications and jargon common in the military and assumed something that simply was not true. You'd think if someone used a term that obviously had a particular meaning you'd ask for a clarification, but then I keep forgetting most journalists are "masters of the language."

Secondly, the press has allowed "the best to become the enemy of the better" Not satisfied with progress, and excellent progress to boot, they seem to want the end point NOW.

Major K fixes both mistakes in a six paragraph post. You would think journalists could handle six measly paragrpahs.


Replacing Murphy's Law...

...The Basic Laws Of Human Stupidity.


Alphabet Soup

Let's see...where can the "C's" take us? Cairo? No -- never been there. Cancun? - boring! Wait, I know -- Carlsbad Caverns! This is a National Park, well known, but only moderately visited. Mostly because it is out in the middle of nowhere.

This used to be known as the largest underground "room" in the world. Not true anymore, bigger caves have been found, but it remains one of the most accessible and one of the most lovely.

It's the formations however that make this place truly spectacular. It sort of defies description. Stalagtites and stalagmites everywhere -- kind of like wandering through a rock forest.

These are called "the giants" and they very much dominate the entire main room, no matter where you go in there, you can see them. Needless to say, the dramatic lighting throughout the cavern adds tremendously to the experience, but what may be the coolest part of the whole cave happens not in it, but at the mouth, and it happens every night in the summer.

It's the nightly BAT FLIGHT! About halg tha bats in all of Mexico roost in this cave int eh summer and they all fly out of it, every evening, over the course of an hour of so. It is literally millions of bats. From the sidelines it looks very much like a bat tornado. It's way cool

And now, let's turn to one final picture. What does it look like in the cave if the lights are turned off? Well, like this:


What Church? What Message?

Bishop backs panty parties to spread Church message

I'll plead guilty to panty raids at summer camp, but I can't really claim they helped spread the gospel.


Now THIS Is Important

Hey, You're the friendly neighborhood Spiderman!!!
You're cool cuz you're nice, you try to please
everyone, and above all, you are humble. Those
powers of yours are for good only. No messing

Which Superhero Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

The only remaining question is, "Is Mrs. Blogotional Mary Jane or Wonder Woman?"


But Increase It In Parents

Clowns ease anxiety in young patients -study


Thank Goodness Someone Can Stop Them

Schemes to Control the Weather Clouded by Failure

These villains are always scheming to take over -- imagine if they actually could control the weather? They could control the world.!

This is the arch nemesis of the Flash -- Weather Wizard.


Reed and Sure Richards Combine, Extinguish Human Torch

The fantastic disappearing plastic, just add water


Wouldn't It Be...

...drowned in cranberry sauce -- buried alive in turkey?

British teenager drowns in Turkey

Turkey is, after all, a solid.

Monday, October 03, 2005


There's A Meme In The Air...

...And it's about how to disagree and debate as Christians. Mark Roberts, writing at Theologica, posted some appropriate Scripture. Character and the Fruits of the Spirit are what really matter in a debate according to SmartChristian. All of this great and worthy posts, but I think my favorite was from Eternal Perspectives. Mike talks about how when the debate gets heavy, he usually ducks for cover
First, I just don?t have the time, and I don?t think I?m unique in this regard. I certainly enjoy theology - but not for the purpose of debating others of different convictions. I enjoy theology because it enables me to know God better: it gives me a glimpse not just into His attributes, but His character, His being. When I study theology, even as when I read and meditate upon Scripture, I feel closer to Him, as though I am seeing His heart a bit more clearly. For me, that is the highest good of theology.
Mike makes a similar, but finer point later in his post
Finally, I stay away from these fights because they are distractions and nuisances. These are not the battles we should be fighting: other believers who adhere to different nonessential doctrines are not the enemy. The time we spend fighting one another would be more wisely spent battling against truly dangerous doctrines and beliefs that are infiltrating our local churches. Or we could focus our energies on confronting our culture and endeavoring to demonstrate the viability - and necessity - of our common faith. Or even - perish the thought! - evangelize people instead of arguing with the redeemed.
I think this discussion has stepped into one of the great mudholes of blogging, and actually faith in general. That is what role the intellectual life in faith? Certainly, Christianity, salvation itself, is not available only to those capable of forming and grasping some personal theology? Blogging in particular, because it can really never be more than the conveyance of ideas, falls into this trap. Mike, who is a very good theologian, and one with whom I disagree rather routinely, has, I think the best possible perspective on theology -- it is an aid to personal faith and much of it is not worth fighting over.

Let me give you a little background. I am currently involved in a small group discussing how to move people, particularly people in the church, into genuine discipleship. We are using Willard's "Divine Conspiracy" as a starting point, but hope to draw on a lot of people in the process. The first bug-a-boo, of course, becomes the question of "What is genuine discipleship?" A first pass at that question usually results in a couple of answers -- depth of learning, or thinking theologically -- and exercising the "spiritual disciplines." And yet, any of us can readily name people steeped in either of those things that simply do not bear fruit.

I found this post from the Constructive Curmudgeon last week somewwhat interesting. He is responding to a NYTimes writers who has found Christianity intellectually vapid.
So, why should I write you, a stranger? I was moved by your article. I cringe over many of the same things that you cringe over (and describe so aptly): the Fred Phelps phenomenon, the errant enthusiasms of other ignoramuses (in the name of God), and most of mass-marketed evangelicalism. Yet I believe there is something better and truer at the heart of genuine biblical religion. Of course, there is no way I will attempt to make that argument here. Rather, I simply wanted to let you know that your story resonated with me.

I wonder if anyone ever asked you to read Francis Schaeffer when you were a young man. Thank God I read him not long after my conversion. I read The God Who is There (1968) and Schaeffer's convictions set me on a course to attempt to think and live well for God and before the watching world. Schaeffer was not a technical scholar (and I had to move far beyond him academically for my graduate degrees in philosophy), but his instincts were good, his basic theology was rich, and his heart was large.
He seems to imply that it was finding a decent level of intellectual activity in Chrsitianity that pushed him "over the edge" into a deep and abiding faith, but for others such simply is impossible, that lack the raw material to pursue intellectualism to that extent. This leads us to the other end of the spectrum, the wild-eyed charasmatics who somehow turn this corner in a miraculous experience commonly labeled "baptism in the Holy Spirit." I have dicussed on several occasions the very serious problems I have had with zealots of this later approach.

The problems arise when we hold our approach to God more important than God Himself. The problems arise when we choose to think about God rather than let HIm tranform us. The problems arise when we let our "experience" of God become more important than He who granted the experience.

That's why all the posts about theological debate were good, but why I liked Mike's best. Mike states it most plainly. As Christians we are not defined by our theology, we are defined by our Lord. Theology is but a means to knowing that Lord better. Many points of theology matter little, even nothing in comparison to the Lord Himself.

There is one place I come back to in all of this. God is, definitionally, incomprehensible. We can, and should, think about God. But I assure you of this -- none of us will get it right.

Think of someone you know really well, a spouse, a parent, a child. Do you really know them? Can you predict their behavior in every conceviable circumstance? Of course not! If we cannot have a complete understanding of someone we have lived our whole lives with, how can we possibly have a complete understanding of the Creator?

Theology is an aid, it is not our faith. Most importantly, reitereating Mike's final point, the great commission is not to make Arminians, or Calvinists, or...of the world -- it is to make DISCIPLES -- they are not made of theology. They are made of baptism and they are made of faith.


Press Rant

Mark Steyn unloaded on the press in his Sun Times column yesterday.
Er, no. The facts they put in front of us were wrong, and they didn't talk truth to power. They talked to goofs in power, like New Orleans' Mayor Nagin and Police Chief Compass, and uncritically fell for every nutso yarn they were peddled. The media swallowed more bilge than if they'd been lying down with their mouths open as the levee collapsed. Ten thousand dead! Widespread rape and murder! A 7-year-old gang-raped and then throat-slashed! It was great stuff -- and none of it happened. No gang-raped 7-year-olds. None.
I am reminded of 9-11. I came to that party very late in the events. By the time I found out, both buildings were down. Prior to that event my wife and I tried to preserve mornings for the Lord and each other. I cancelled my appointments for the day, stayed in the office, did what I could and had the TV on in the background -- FoxNews. For 24 hours they ran the same several minutes of tape loop over and over, and when I bothered to tune into the sound they were saying the same thing they had said a few hours before.

I do emergency planning for my clients, one of the things we emphasize, continuously, in the plannng and the training is no one but authorized individuals talks to the police, fire, government and most especially the press. The charge of censorship is always leveled. HOGWASH! Those parties need good information in a crisis, not rumor.

I usually illustrate this point with a simple drill. Pop a smoke cannister in one corner of a 25,000 square foot building employing about 100 people and call an evacuation. When you get to the evac point, start asking people what is going on. Invariably you will get a dozen or so wild stories -- someone's dead -- they spilled that chemical we don't know what it is -- so and so screwed up again. Heck, I've even heard people speculate mole people came up through the foundation of the building in these circumstances. That's when you're dealing with 100 people --imagine a city of half a million. Limiting who speaks to whom in these situations is not censorship, its insuring that the right information gets to the right people. It's insuring a true view of the situation, not an andecdotal one.

While the press should have known better in New Orleans, they should have had the common sense to double check the fantastical, much blame here belongs to, as Steyn calls them, "the goofs in power." While we rightly pillory the press, we need to also point out that elections and government are serious business.

We have to have good government in a crisis. Goofy government is OK when things are gong fine, but New Orleans illustrates as much about the failure of goofy government as it does the press. The problem is, we don't know when the crisis will happen - so, we cannot afford goofy government anytime. I still shudder to consider a Gore presidency on 9-11. Gore would have been goofy government at its goofiest, likely more worried about environmental impact than the fact we were attacked.

This is, to my mind, the greatest lesson of New Orleans. We need to elect genuine leadership, not pretty boy posturing.


For The Record...

...the Bill Bennett kerfluffle is the biggest pile of hooey I have ever witnessed. Anyone that paid any attention to what Bennett actually said knows there was nothing whatsoever racist involved. I am ashamed of those that have passed the out-of-context quotation around like a hot potato and I am ashamed of the President for insufficiently investigating the circumstances before he opened his mouth.

Things like this help nothing. They discredit those that fight racisim when genuine racism arise.


Scared Sober

This story is actually a little scary. It's about a former Soviet, now Russian technique to recover from alcoholism.
Three months earlier, Svetlana had been "coded" -- a catchall term for a Russian method of treating alcoholism that essentially involves scaring the living daylights out of the alcoholic. Dating to the former Soviet Union, it involves the manipulation of the alcoholic's psyche to create the belief that alcohol equals death.

Alcoholics get 'coded'
In Svetlana's case, that was induced by mild hypnosis followed by injection of a temporary but powerful drug that could attack her respiratory system. Before the drug kicked in, the doctor gave her a little vodka to taste. She became dizzy and had difficulty breathing before the doctor stepped in with some oxygen to revive her.
The line between therapy and brainwashing is a fine one indeed and I am afraid this might cross it. I wonder how much other therapy, even therapy in this country, crosses the line?



In the category of let nature take its course....

Venice 'will get protection dam'

It's about time, they have been debating this for decades while one of the greatest cities in the world was disappearing. This just cracks me up
The Italian section of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) says shutting the city's cargo port and preventing cruise liners from approaching the city would be a more effective way of preventing the damage.
Could anyone explain to me how stopping sea traffic prevents flooding? I don't care how many vessels you are discussing -- they don't displace that much water.

And where are the environmentalists on this

Action needed on deadly lakes

I mean here we are doing all this engineering and intervention to stop a perfectly natural process, just for the sake of a few human lives. But wait, this is in Africa. That explains it -- it's wrong for white people to mess with the environment, but not people of color. Of course, I forgot the inherent racism of the left-wing movements, including environmentalism.

In the category of sheer hubris is this story
The North Sea needs to be managed as a complete ecosystem if fish stocks and fishing livelihoods are to be maintained for the future.
You know, most people can't keep their homes straight nor know how everything works in it -- but we can manage an entire sea? Yeah.

I am so confused about amphibians. Here in America they are being removed from the endangered species list, but in the UK special centers are being built to preserve them. I wonder if this has anything to do with the fact that the UK can raise the money? Nah, that couldn't be it.

Is this the best way for a man called to the ministry of Christ to spend his time?
A Roman Catholic bishop in Brazil has gone on hunger strike and says he is prepared to die unless a controversial environmental project is cancelled.

Luiz Flavio Cappio, 59, is protesting against plans to divert some of the water from the Sao Francisco river.
I'm really confused about how this falls into the whole great commission thing.


Oh, Get Over Yourself

Kan. Mayor Calls Birthday Card 'Offensive'
The birthday card produced by Hallmark bears the title "CSI: Topeka" and features a cartoon of two people standing over a corpse, with one saying, "Looks like he was bored to death."
Tell me mayor, have you ever been to Topeka? Well, I have...I's kind of hard to remember....


Can An Asteroid Have A Moon?

Sure, all it has to do is drop its pants and press up against the window. (OK, I admit, that joke was juvenile, even for me)

When last we visited the newly discovered tenth planet, we were in the midst of a debate about it whether it really was a planet. Well, now, we have found that this celestial body has a moon. The biggest problem is we really have to get our scientists with slightly better cultural interests. Consider the subhead

Planet nicknamed "Xena," so moon informally dubbed "Gabrielle"

I mean, at least when we named the properties of sub-sub-atomic parciles (quarks) we referred to good, if drug-induced, literature (Alice in Wonderland), but mediocre-at-best syndicated TV? Come on! Mostly I think this proves that the astronomers involved don't have much of a dating life.

Besides, "Batman" and "Robin" would have been much better.


Ice Cream Beknighted

Queen gives royal scoop to American TV network


Avoiding Lightening Strikes On Televisions Everywhere

Sony pulls "Jesus" advert for PlayStation


Calling Dirk Pitt

Scientists Send Submersibles to Lost City


If Only They Could Find A Virgin To Sacrifice

Rare Eclipse to Appear Over Europe, Africa

Sunday, October 02, 2005


Doctrine Under Fire

There are few ideas in Christianity more under fire than the one best summarized in Romans 3:23
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
The attacks on this idea -- that we are born into this world in a state of sin, unworthy of God's grace and compassion, comes in a variety of forms. From new theories of the atonement that imply that we really aren't so bad to direct attacks, the concept is in deep intellectual trouble.

It is also a vitally important concept, without which the entire dynamic of the Christian life changes radically. I've written about it a lot, as have many others in many ways and in many discussions.

This post from Allthings2all looks at it from the aspect of one particular ministry and its claims on that particular bit of doctirne.

To be completely honest, I have no experience with nor understanding of the particular ministry which Catez does such a great job of answering. However, her post is so thorough, and so accessible, that anyone that has thought about the question in even the slighest should read it.

Here is the question that I have -- it flows out of the entire discussion, not just Catez' post. Why has this attack had so much traction in the church? I understand hy these ideas are adsorbed by the world, they have a great deal of appeal -- but in the church, I can't get my head around it. It's heart lies, I think, in the psychological concept of self-image that has taken over pop-psychological thought in the last decades, but why, again, was the church so willing to grasp these ideas?

Is it the misguided notion that psychology is science to that same level and extent that physics is? That the church feared the embarassment of a modern, psychological Galelio? I hope not, people in the church should understand science better than that.

I think it has more to do with needing to keep people in the pews and pay the bills, but that is just one man's opinion.

Regardless, we clearly need to fight this trend at every turn. Catez did a great job at this particular juncture of the debate -- where else should we be looking and discussing?


Pretty Smart, I Think

Dadmanly has a bit on analysis about who we are fighting in Iraq.
Austin Bay and Dan Darling capture exactly the nature of this struggle as essentially a fight driven by foreign forces and influences. Whatever Saddam and any hidden partners may have initially planned ? and there is good reason to suspect he had co-conspirators and accomplices in Damascus and Tehran ? Zarqawi and his ambitions have clearly overwhelmed whatever other military players still operate in Iraq. For all intents and purposes, the Baathist hold-outs have faded nearly out of existence.
In other words, in Iraq we are at war with Al-Queda -- pure and simple.

Now think about this for a minute, that means we have, in a very real sense, managed to call out our enemy into a fight on a battleground of our choosing. That is how you win wars! They continue to play dirty with IED's and other terrorists tactics, instead of war tactics, but that is why it is so important that we have defined the battleground. That fact and the battleground we have constructed, it is smaller and more tightly controlled that possible here, gives us the tools we need to win the fight against an opponent that fights the way Al-Queda does.

What I find most interesting is the press' inability to see this for what it is. Much as they got caught up in the rumor and panic that was post-Katrina New Orleans, they are caught up in the andecdotal in Iraq and missing the big picture altogether.

Thank goodness for bloggers like Dadmanly and those he quotes to give us this perspective.


Sermons and Lessons


Although as a young man Lancelot Andrews was a member of the Puritans, he is now remembered as one of the outstanding figures in the history of the Anglican church. Andrews became the bishop of Ely, Winchester, and Chichester, then the chaplain to Queen Elizabeth, and later, served as an apologist for King James Tin his debates with Cardinal Bellarmine. He was a Fellow of Pembroke Hall, Cambridge, and one of the scholars who was appointed in 1607 to prepare the King James Version of the Bible.

Andrews was widely known as an eloquent preacher because of his wordplays and sense of humor, which contrasted starkly with the popular Puritan style of plainness.

Andrews greatly influenced author and poet T. S. Eliot, who was inspired to write a book about him. Eliot's poem "Journey of the Magi" begins with a quotation from one of Andrews?s sermons.

It has been said that Andrews's great genius was his ability to compose prayers that "lift the mind up to God." The following selection is taken from a book that Andrews wrote for his own "private devotions" and never intended to publish. It consists of written prayers that Andrews used as daily devotional aids. We suggest that you use this selection as Andrews intended it, namely, as your personal prayer.


1. A Light That Never Sets

Through the tender mercy of our God, the dayspring from on high has visited us. Glory be to Thee, 0 Lord; glory to you, Creator of the light, Enlightener of the world. God is the Lord who has shown us the light.

Glory be to you for the visible light: the sun's radiance, the flame of fire; day and night, evening and morning. For the light invisible and intellectual: that which may be known of God, that which is written in the law, oracles of prophets, melody of psalms, instruction of proverbs, experience of history's light which never sets.

By your resurrection raise us up into newness of life, supplying to us frames of repentance. The God of peace that brought againfrom the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make us perfect in every good work to do his will. Work in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever.

You who sent down on your disciples your Thrice-Holy Spirit, do not take the gift from us, but renew it, day by day, in us who ask you for it.

2. I Have Sinned, Lord

Merciful and pitiful Lord, long-suffering and full of compassion: I have sinned, Lord, I have sinned against Thee. 0 wretched man that I am, I have sinned, Lord, against you grievously, as I have participated in false vanities.

I conceal nothing from you, Lord. I make no excuses. I denounce against myself my sins. Indeed, I have sinned against the Lord in the following ways, and call to mind those particular sins I wish to confess.

I have sinned and perverted that which was right, and it profited me nothing. And what shall I say now? Without plea, without excuse, I am self-condemned. I have destroyed my own self.

0 Lord, righteousness belongs to you, but in me there is only confusion. You are just in bringing sentence upon me. And now, Lord, what is my hope? Is it not you, Lord? Truly my hope is in you, if I have hope left, if your loving-kindness will abound in the face of all my sins.

0 Lord, remember what I am made of and who made me, for I am the work of your hands. I was made in your image, I am the re¬ward of your blood, a name from your Name, a sheep of your pasture, a son of your Covenant. Do not forsake the work of your own hands. Have mercy upon me, 0 God, according to your loving-kindness, according to the multitude of your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions.

3. Incline My Heart

I will lift up my hands into your command¬ments which I have loved. Open my eyes and I shall see, incline my heart and I shall desire, order my steps and I shall walk in the way of your commandments.

O Lord, be my God, and let there be no other before you. Grant me to worship you and serve you according to your commandments: with truth in my spirit, with reverence in my body, with the blessing upon my lips - both in private and in public.

Help me to show honor and submission to those who have been put over me. Help me to show affection for and care for those who have been put in my charge. Help me to overcome evil with good, to be free from the love of money, and to be content with what I have. Help me to speak the truth in love, to be desirous not to lust, or to walk after the lusts of my flesh.

O Lord, help me: To bruise the serpent?s head. To consider the end of my days. To cut off occasions to sin. To be sober. Not to sit idle. To shun the company of the wicked. To make a covenant with my eyes. To bring my body into subjection. To give myself to prayer. To come to repentance.

Hedge up my way, 0 Lord, with thorns that I may avoid the false path of vanity. Hold me steady with the bit and the bridle so that I do not pull away from you. 0 Lord, compel me to come in to you.

4. This Most Holy Faith

I believe in you, 0 God, Father, Word, Spirit - one God. I believe that by your Fatherly love all things were created; that by your goodness and love all things have been gathered into one in your Word, who for us and for our salvation became flesh, was conceived, born, suffered, was crucified and was buried, descended, rose again, ascended, sat down, and will return and judge.

I believe that by the operation of your Holy Spirit you have called the whole world into a commonwealth of faith and holiness. I believe in the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins in this world, and the resurrection of the flesh and life everlasting in the world to come. I believe this most holy faith, once delivered to the saints. 0 Lord, help me in my unbelief.

Help me to receive faith from his miraculous conception, humility from his lowly birth, patience from his suffering, power to crucify the sin in my life from his Cross, burial of all my evil thoughts in good works from his burial. Grant that I might be able to meditate on hell from his descent, to find newness of life in his resurrection, to set my mind on things above from his ascension, to judge myself in preparation of his returning judgment.

5. One Heart and One Soul

O God of truth, establish all who stand in truth, and restore all who are sick with sin and false beliefs. Remember your congregation which you purchased and redeemed long ago. Grant to all who believe that we may be of one heart and one soul.

0 Lord of the harvest, send forth laborers into the field. Grant unto our clergy the ability to proclaim your word of truth and to live their lives according to those truths. Grant that these ministers who love you would obey and submit to your word of truth.

6. Profound and Perpetual Peace

O Lord, King of all nations, strengthen all the states and the leaders of the inhabited world who have been given authority from you. Scatter all the people who delight in war. Make all war cease unto the ends of the earth.

And remember especially our divinely guarded king, and work with him more and more. Prosper his ways in all things; speak good things to his heart for your Church and your people. Grant to him profound and perpetual peace, that in his tranquility we, too, may lead a quiet and peaceable life.

Grant unto farmers good seasons. Grant unto the fishermen good weather. Grant unto the tradesmen a desire not to compete with one another. Grant unto all merchants to pursue their business with lawful integrity.

0 Lord, you have called us to overcome evil with good and to pray for our enemies. I ask, Lord, that you have pity on my enemies, just as you have pity on me. Lead them, together with me, into your heavenly kingdom.

7. Remember My Family and My Kin

O God, not of us only, but also of our seed, bless our children that they may grow in wisdom as in stature, in favor with you and with all people. You have called us to provide for our families, and you despise those who do not care for their households. Remember my family and my kin according to the flesh. Grant me to do all I can for their good.

Bless all who have blessed me, Lord; bless all from whom I have received blessing. Grant me, Lord, to love those who love me: my friends and my family?s friends, and all of the children of my friends. Never forsake them.

8. Remember the Lonely

Remember, Lord, all the infants, the children, the youth, the young, the middle-aged, and the elderly who are hungry, sick, thirsty, naked, captive, or friendless in this world. Be with those who are tempted with suicide, those who are sick in soul, those who are in despair.

Remember those who are in prison, all those who are under sentence of death. Remember the widows and widowers, the orphans, and those who travel in a foreign land. Remember all who this day will work under oppressive conditions. Remember the lonely.

9. You Are the Fountain of Life

It is right and good that we, for all things, at all times, and in all places, give thanks and praise to you, 0 God. We worship you, we confess to you, we praise you, we bless you, we sing to you, and we give thanks to you: Maker, Nourisher, Guardian, Healer, Lord, and Father of all.

You are the Fountain of Life, the Treasure of everlasting goods to whom the heavens sing praise - all the angels and heavenly powers, crying out to one another - while we, the weak and unworthy join with them singing:

"Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Hosts, the whole earth is full of the majesty of your glory"

Blessed be the glory of the Lord for his Godhead, his mysteriousness, his sovereignty, his almightiness, his eternity, and his providence.

The Lord is my strength, my strong rock, my defense, my deliverer, the horn of my salvation, and my refuge. Amen.


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