Saturday, October 22, 2005


Thoughts And Questions In The Center Of The City

Jury duty has me in what passes for the heart of Los Angeles -- the Civic Center. This is a huge complex of buildings housing large portions of both the city and the county governments. It is larger than the government centers for some states. It is a roughly half-mile walk from where I park to the courthouse. As one makes the walk the most noticable thing you see are those in need.

They come in every imaginable variety -- laid off in line for unemployment benefits -- injured and seeking redress in civil court -- bums sleeping it off on park benches -- just to name some of what I have seen.

Why are they all at that location? The question would not leave my mind as I made the walks to and fro yesterday. Why here?

The answer, of course, is because that is where the stuff is -- it is where you go to file all the various sorts of claims you might have, lawsuits, benefits and handouts.

And then I became immensely sad. The church should be where people in need go. Why the church is not that place is an extremely complex issue involving everything from Supreme Court decisions to evangelicalism itself. That is in part why Christians need to be involved in all aspects of life in our nation, because so many things need to change.

But yesterday I was just sad. I wished with all my heart that I could go get the church van and take all these people somewhere where they weren't just cogs in an aid machine -- somewhere where they were bearers of God's image and they could experience just a little of God's love.


Men And Women And Church

Seemed like everybody was talking about it somehow yesterday --

Boars Head Tavern was wondering about Christian dating - actually the lack thereof.

The Wall Street Journal and Common Grounds Online had unrelated pieces that sounded virtually the same. Both are talking about the predominance of females in churches, and what, if anything can be done about it.

Both issues are related in that both are based on the creeping influence of modern culture into the church. Dating is almost a lost art these days. I see this in the high school kids I work with, they just don't talk about dating, they don't even think in terms of couples. I'm going to be real interested in how this generation ends up marrying.

As the influence of psychology has grown, it has become a big deal in the church -- we no longer have a God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob, we have a God of "wholeness." I'm not surprised the men are staying away. Sorry ladies, but for the most part, we don't have a clue whether we are whole or not -- don't really want to know either.

In both cases, the biggest problem is that while gender stereotypes are supposedly disappearing,we are having a harder and harder time living together. We don't date, we don't do church together. Is it any wonder dating has been replaced with the "hook up" seems like there is nothing for the sexes to share but sex.

I think the more we start to define things in terms of gender, the greater this trend is going to be. I'll be the first to admit there are "guy" things and there are "girl" things -- I've been married too long not to have learned that lesson. But not everything has to be defined in those terms.

I took a class from a very prominent theologian one time -- I won't name names to protect the innocent. He was talking about penal substitution. One of the women in class started to challenge him, When she started losing the challenge her response was that his thinking was obviously influenced too much by his "maleness."

I leaped from my chair and started, uninvited, into an absolute diatribe. "How can there be male and female theology?" I asked, "do women have one God and men another? Truth is truth!" And so I went, the teacher had a huge grin on his face, until a female associate pastor (this was a Sunday School class) lead me by the arm from the class and told me I was being too "aggressive."

The woman's statement served only to divide the class. Now, instead of seeking together what we knew of God, we were divided into camps of aggressive uncompassionate males and sensitive caring females.

Some things are gender neutral and to be shared by us all -- if we don't figure that out soon, the "hook up" is all that will be left.


Comic Art

Last week you will recall we looked at one of the staples of the Marvel stable of artists from the so-called Silver Age - John Romita, Sr. in our continuing series on the Honorable Mentions. This week we are going to look at his son, John Romita, Jr. (amazing how that works, isn't it.) I'm going to call him Junior for the sake of clarity, but I have no idea if that is a legitimate nickname for the guy.

Junior has very much made his name the same way his dad did -- doing everyone at Marvel, but doing Spidey best of all. I really like this particular Hulk image becasue of how it emphsizes the creatures size, not just in bulk, but in height.

Junior's DD is one of my favs of all the current working Daredevil artists. DD has become so stylized that it really is kind of ugly. Junior manages to be edgy with his DD without going all the way into stylized.

Note all the shading on Daredevil, to the point that he really just looks like a gymnast, absent color you can barely tell he is a superhero. That is how DD should look, at least given his current working legend -- kind of a neighborhood punk gone good, dealing almost exclusively with street crime. Definitely better than a lot of the current stuff that looks like it is some sort of drug induced nightmarish dream instead of a story.

Note in this pencil sketch that the Spidey is just classic. His publication Spidey's are usually a little different than this - this really looks like he is trying to imitate dear-old-dad.

This is classic Junior -- Spidey doing his thing, upside down.

As you can see, this is a painting where Junior has it all over daddy. Of course, in Senior's day paintings could not be printed, so who is to say what he could have done with today's technology. For the most part, I like Juniors paintings. They are pretty much traditional comic images, improved byt he techniques and color blending available with a brush. Most guys who comic paint try to redefine the art somehow -- maybe that is cool for a poster, but not for a cover or a book.

The comic touch of the Rhino smelling the flowers is also cool. Rhino is about the dimmest bulb in the bad guy 4-pack, but generally belligerent as can be, so to see him sitting there like that is just pure funny.

And here, finally, is Junior doing gritty. Gritty is not Junior's forte but he's not bad. I don't love the Batman here -- he is too wide somehow. The Punisher; however, is just outstanding. I really like the beard on Franky-boy. It gives him just the right manical look, like he is just a bit too obsessed to bother to shave.

Junior is a workhorse comic artist with the chops to be a star, that makes him the best kind. He is primarly a Marvel guy, but his particular strengths, I'd really like to see him do a Justice League series -- I think it would be a perfect match.


Cranberry Sauce Jiggles To The Floor

Strong Earthquake Shakes Turkey


How Much KP Do You Figure He'll See?

William to enter military academy

Ten-Hut! Well, except of course for you, your Highness, unless you really want to come to attention, but only if you want to -- Who am I to give orders to the future king, after all.


I Doubt He'll Join Batman Anytime Soon

Norwegian to Test Fish As Crime Fighter


They'll Still Double-Cross You

Pet Owners Seek Grooming for Their Rats

Friday, October 21, 2005


On Jury...Need Air...

Stultifying bureaucracy has taken control of my life. Soon Emperor Palpatine will arise and the Sith will attempt to take control. Help Me Obi-Wan.

And speaking of stultifying bureaucracy -- check this out.


We Have Got To Act -- What To Do?

Death Toll in Asian Quake Soars to 79,000

Take a minute and get your head around that number. That's tsunami like numbers. It's horrifying. It's giving Adrian Warnock nightmares. He is begging for a blog swarm. I have to agree with him.

We are, frankly, suffering from disaster fatigue. The tsunami, followed by the Gulf Coast hurricanes -- with another one bearing down on Florida. Seems like everytime we turn around people are dying in city sized quantities, or whole cities are simply disappearing under water. I almost cannot bear to think about another one.

This problem is complexed by being located in one of the most remote regions of the planet, a region that is pretty hostile towards us. Under the circumstances it is easy to not look too closely.

But we have to -- Christian charity demands it. We cannot discriminate about where we send our aid based on location or religious affiliation. Consider this, an influx of aid from Christians may be the best evangelizing possiblity we have in the region. I wonder if a huge influx of money, from Christian Americans, might not just kill the image of the Christian American as enemy? This is the region where Al Queda is believed to be hiding. What if it was our charitable response that really ended the war on terrorism?

Think about that, our charity builds a bridge that would enable the everyday people to like us enough to tell us where Al Queda is hiding. Would not take our people long to finish the job if they could find them.

Trust is hard in this situation, but I think we have little choice for genuine effectiveness. Here is a list of Islamic Relief organizations. Not all of them work in the region in question here, but its a place to start. Pick one, look into it a little, and write a check! I know you've written so many this year, but you have a little more.

Never forget that the Good Samaritan and the person he helped were enemies.


Don't Like The Doctrine of Penal Substitution?

Then don't read this post from Blogcorner Preacher. He quotes Jeremiah 30:11f-g
I will discipline you in just measure,
and I will by no means leave you unpunished."


Surveying The Reaction To GodBlogCon

For the most part, reaction to GodBlogCon, at least from those that bothered to show up, has been positive. There have been some pretty ugly negatives (which for some reason this story put me in mind of) but largely it has been well received.

I think my most favorite comments; howver, have come from Tod Bolsinger
What was reinforced for me at the conference and reiterated by suggestions like Bill Rice's is that genuine Christian community, discipleship and cultural transformation cannot be brought about through any technical medium if the commitment to Christian community, discipleship, and transformation are not the "hardware" that is at the core of all we do.
and Another Think (HT: Mere Orthodoxy)
To be effective evangelists, however, GodBloggers must to be welcoming, open and authentic, and committed to building relationships with those who drop by.
Blogging is by nature a solitary activity. Many of us, I fear, are drawn to it because it creates a sense of community without the risks of genuine intimacy. The anonymous, or near-anonymous, nature of it also allows us to pretend to be something other than we really are.

But strength lies not in isolation; it lies in numbers -- in genuine community. Consider, politically a blog swarm is what changes things. Not even Glenn Reynolds or Hugh Hewitt can really sway things on their own -- but if we all join in a chorus, then look out world.

God, it seems understands this. He metaphorically designed a plan for it. I Corintihians 12-14, Romans 12 - Ephesians 4, God has designed us to work together to make a whole, we are not designed to stand alone.

The power of the Christian blogosphere lies not in our individual efforts. It does not lie in "the best blogs getting the most traffic," It lies in us learning how, as body of bloggers, to function effectively together.

I firmly believe that Jesus and the apostles got the amazing responses they did becasue they were attractive. I don't mean good-looking, I mean there was something about them that attracted people. What was it?

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Can those things be demonstrated in a vacuum? NO! -- they are demonstrated in relationship. No blog can be attractive in this fashion, but blogs together can be.

It does not make any difference what you blog about (within reason) but it makes a huge difference how you blog, and with whom.

Form an alliance or community of bloggers today. Maybe you want to do one on topical lines -- great, but do one geographically too. Just so you can get togther with them periodically.

Everytime you sit down to blog, ask God to demonstrate that list of characteristics above in what you write. Link generously.

Let's be the people of God when we blog.

BTW -- Get your mp3's of various sessions here.


Friday Humor

I am stealing this directly from Scotwise. Please follow the link and grant him a hit for the generosity -- this is just too funny not to pass on.


With The Law On His Tail

Fugitive rat sets distance record



Are asthmatic cats allergic to humans?


He Might Win...

...but he'll never collect.
A Romanian prisoner serving 20 years for murder has sued God for failing to save him from the Devil. The inmate claims his Baptism was a contract with God to keep him out of trouble.
Obviously, this guy is not a calvinist.


Just A Little Slice Of Heaven

Christian Wrestling Entertainment I didn't find this -- SmartChristian did and it's the find of the century.
Let me tell you something Mean Gene, the prayers, the vitamins, the little Christomaniacs, they are all pumping me up to pound that Pilate guy to a little quivering puddle. And after that I'm coming for you Judas!

What 'cha gonna do when Christomania runs wild on you?
That's entertainment!


Movie Quote Game

Title to Fraters Libertas post:

The Pond Would Be Good For You

Name the movie, the scene, the actors -- it's a classic.


I Have Only One Question

Shatner Taken to Hospital With Back Pain

After the exam, did the doctor look at him and say, "Dammit Jim, I'm a doctor, not a chiroprator"? I know I would have.

Thursday, October 20, 2005


Must Return...Losing Strength

Back to the court I go, Oh Happy Day! Little I can say, gagged. Read that however you want.


Once More Into The Breach....

This Jury Duty thing is playing havoc with my blogging capabilities, but this is too important not to make time to get up -- forgive me any incoherence that may result from the excessive hours involved.

It seems that in the US, everyone is presumed innocent save for the US Military. The latest accusations surround the descration of Taliban bodies in Afghanistan.

Before we look at anything else, I have to say this. The military is not some monolithic entitiy with complete control over every movement of its every member. This is American, remember? -- we don't do that. So, it is possible that these things could happen, but if they did, does it reflect poorly on the US military in general? NO! Not unless the military ordered or condoned such actions.

The military most emphatically DID NOT order, nor does it condone such actions. Don't ask me, ask them. From one CENTCOM press release from yesterday
Under no circumstances does U.S. Central Command condone the desecration, abuse or inappropriate treatment of enemy combatants. Such actions are contrary to U.S. policy as well as the Geneva Convention.
In another press release they announce an immediate investigation, and if necessary there will doubtlessly be a prosecution.
"This command takes all allegations of misconduct or inappropriate behavior seriously and has directed an investigation into circumstances surrounding this allegation," said Maj. Gen. Jason Kamiya, Combined Joint Task Force-76 Commander. "If the allegation is substantiated, the appropriate course of action under the Uniform Code of Military Justice and corrective action will be taken."
For more coverage see Blackfive and the Times of London.

Stories like this are generally met with indifference (in this case a little justified since its not like we care much what happens to the Taliban) or "See I told you so, bunch of killers." I am not sure there is much we can do about the military hating wack-jobs, they are past reason, but the indifference is a different story.

The military is a professional organization (I am currently reading a book on Patton and Rommel which contains a discussion of the relative merits of a mass-conscript vs. a volunteer professional force -- fascinating stuff, but I digress). Part of that professionalism concerns the conduct of all in the organization. When indiviuals in that organization do not behave in the manner demanded by the organization, morale suffers. People take pride in being in the military, as well they should, and they do not want their good efforts besmirched by the heinous actions of a few. The best solution is to disprove the accusation of weed out the malefactors.

And we can help. Tell a soldier you know, that you know they would never do such a thing. Write CENTCOM (button in sidebar) and support their investigative efforts. If you see a "See I told you so" piece somewhere, write the editor and tell him they are jumping to conclusions. Don't let these allegations do the damage they could do -- that's part of supporting our troops too.


Illuminated Scripture

Inspired by GodBlogCon...

Wednesday, October 19, 2005



...boredom...mind numbed...fingers stiff...unable to think...hel-------------


On-Call Has Become Called

I'm reporting for jury duty this morning. Who knows what I will be able to accomplish in terms of life, work and blogging in the next few days. At least one day of unparalleled boredom awaits me.


Mere Christianity Not So Mere

Jollyblogger's quoting C.S. Lewis -- imagine that! David is borrowing whole hog from Lewis and Pyromanic, Lewis' piece on the value of old books. I want to look at the money quote from Lewis.
I myself was first led into reading the Christian classics, almost accidentally, as a result of my English studies. Some, such as Hooker, Herbert, Traherne, Taylor and Bunyan, I read because they are themselves great English writers; others, such as Boethius, St. Augustine, Thomas Aquinas and Dante, because they were "influences." George Macdonald I had found for myself at the age of sixteen and never wavered in my allegiance, though I tried for a long time to ignore his Christianity. They are, you will note, a mixed bag, representative of many Churches, climates and ages. And that brings me to yet another reason for reading them. The divisions of Christendom are undeniable and are by some of these writers most fiercely expressed. But if any man is tempted to think?as one might be tempted who read only con- temporaries?that "Christianity" is a word of so many meanings that it means nothing at all, he can learn beyond all doubt, by stepping out of his own century, that this is not so. Measured against the ages "mere Christianity" turns out to be no insipid interdenominational transparency, but something positive, self-consistent, and inexhaustible. I know it, indeed, to my cost. In the days when I still hated Christianity, I learned to recognise, like some all too familiar smell, that almost unvarying something which met me, now in Puritan Bunyan, now in Anglican Hooker, now in Thomist Dante. It was there (honeyed and floral) in Francois de Sales; it was there (grave and homely) in Spenser and Walton; it was there (grim but manful) in Pascal and Johnson; there again, with a mild, frightening, Paradisial flavour, in Vaughan and Boehme and Traherne. In the urban sobriety of the eighteenth century one was not safe?Law and Butler were two lions in the path. The supposed "Paganism" of the Elizabethans could not keep it out; it lay in wait where a man might have supposed himself safest, in the very centre of The Faerie Queene and the Arcadia. It was, of course, varied; and yet?after all?so unmistakably the same; recognisable,....
Reading this (this time) I have a new definition for "Mere Christianity." "Mere Christianity" is, I think, the Holy Spirit. We are divided by our thoughts and ideas, by our politics and institutions, by our practices and styles, but we are united by the presence of God Almighty.

What else could it be that Lewis encountered in all those places and in all those ways. What else could so have convincingly convinced him of the truth?

You see, God simply cannot be contained by our thoughts, ideas, policies, institutions, practices and styles. Reading all that stuff matters, less about the ideas, but because in so doing we find just a little more of God.

That, frankly, is what I took from GodBlogCon. I saw little bit more and a little bit different piece of God in so many of the people I encountered there. People I disagreed with, people that insulted me, people that praised me, God resided in all of them, and from each of them I got new insight into the Lord of the universe.

This does not mean I believe everything, to the contrary, I remain the old-fahsioned, politically conservative calvinist I have always been, but those things are not God. I know God just a little bit better than I did, and that is the best possible thing I can think of.


Such Nice People

From the Beeb
Islamist gunmen in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, have raided a studio that dubs Bollywood films into Somali.

The militiamen from the Union of the Islamic Courts confiscated equipment and apprehended five people.

With Somalia's new government split between Mogadishu and the alternative capital, Jowhar, the courts are flexing their muscles in the power vacuum.

They say under Islamic law most entertainment such as music, dancing, and movies are unlawful.
Note its not even specific kinds of music, dancing or movies, just entertainment in general. I don't even no where to begin to reason with such people.

Make no mistake, there is a clash of civilizations afoot and this is the enemy.


Just In Time For Halloween -- A Horror Story

Al Mohler writes
Patricia E. Bauer, a former reporter and bureau chief for The Washington Post, warns that prenatal testing techniques have shifted the medical question from an ability to abort babies judged to be defective to a duty to abort. She's right of course, and the shift in this logic is inevitable. Once human dignity is redefined in terms of "acceptable" and 'unacceptable" babies, it is only a short jump to the argument that no one should be allowed to impose a "defective" baby on the society.
What do we call this? -- "abilityism?" It is acceptable to discriminate on genetic defect lines, but not on racial ones? But isn't race determined by genetics, so how long before we start defining "defective" on race lines. Yeah, I know, some bigots already do, that's my point.

There is a sense in this that is comforting. Any parent that would elect to abort a child based on birth defects, particularly defects as innocuous as Down Syndrome, cited most heavily in Mohler's piece, would be really bad parents. But the narcissim and devaluing of human life here is so heart-rending that the comfort lasts for only nano-seconds. It's as if God's image resides only in the completely healthy.

I'm emoting here when I should be arguing. What is truly, truly troublng is that the medical system promotes these things largely out of financial concerns. Birth defects are a drain on medical care resources, so they don't really want them. They have literally put a value on life.

Never make Nazi comparisons is a good rule of arguement, but the line between this practice and the eugenics of the Nazi's is pretty doggone thin.



To Warnie Winners Questions and Answers and Between Two Worlds.

And a hearty congratulatory shout-out to Allthings2all that was recently quoted in a Slate piece.


Comics In The News

The October 24 issue of Time magazine features a list of the top 100 novels since 1923. The only graphic novel to make the list is Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' Watchmen.

Book critics Lev Grossman and Richard Lacayo created the list, which includes J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye and Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird.
Now, are you sure it's just kid stuff?


The Best Of Pravda

It is good to know that America does not have a monopoly on junk science. Seems the Russians also believe there are going to be some sea level problems in the future. They; however, are far more creative than global warming.
The main spherical objects that are rolling on the Earth's surface are water molecules. They spread around the Earth long time ago and formed the level of the World Ocean, i.e. the surface where the water molecule itself does not roll in any direction as the sum of the forces involved equals zero. The points of the World Ocean at the equator are located 6378,245 kilometers from the center of the Earth while the points of the pole are located 6356,863 kilometers making the difference of 21,382 kilometers.

In other words, transferring a glass of water from the pole to the equator is similar to lifting it to the height of 21 kilometers and 382 meters. The World Ocean's level is a surface where the water molecules maintain equilibrium. However, if we place a spherical object that is larger then water molecule in diameter it will start rolling because its centre of gravity is farther from the Earth's centre as well as from the Earth's rotation axis.

Therefore, gravitation that affects each of its molecules decreases, whereas by contrast centrifugal force increases. This means that in the end this spherical object will gain the mentioned speed of 463 meters per second! Imagine, what kind of danger is hiding in the mountain glaciers of Greenland and Antarctica!
By that bit of nearly incomprehensible reasoning, I think it's good the glaciers are supposed to be melting.

This might explain that thing on his head.

Young man splashes water in Mikhail Gorbachev's face for break-up of the USSR

I'm betting it was grape juice. Jokes aside, it is really sad people miss the USSR.

What do you think this man is stealing?

Man undresses in Moscow parks to rob women

Creativity points are due on this one.


First, Women's Boxing -- Now, the Geriatrics Want In The Game

Yo, Adrian! Stallone Makes New 'Rocky'

Who's he gonna fight? Wilfred Brimley?


Hopefully, They Can't Wear Them

NBA Introduces New Dress Code for Players

That's a Dennis Rodman joke.


What About Customers?

Jobs abound in New Orleans, housing is obstacle


Mix It WIth Coca-Cola And You Get An Atom Bomb

Exploding Rocks Dredged from Seafloor

Urban legends started here free of charge.


Write Your Own Autoerotic Joke Here

Group Condemns Chicken Choking Toy


Not Quite "Bull In A China Shop" But Close

130-Pound Buck Runs Amok in Supermarket

Tuesday, October 18, 2005


What's Your Ministry?

Miscellanies on the Gospel has an excellent look at the term ministry and role of all believers in the life of the church and God's work.
What we find then amid our observations of almost every usage of the Greek noun and verb for "minister" is a much-needed balance to the pendulum swing. It is wrong to see only pastors as ministers, and it is equally wrong to view only believers as ministers. The Bible teaches that both are ministers, yet in different ways and for different purposes....

...Another observation is that while there is this special role of one who ministers or serves, just as plain in the Scriptures is the truth that this special minister, the pastor or church leader, is to be marked by his service. Jesus could not have been any clearer about this than in Luke 22:26 where He rebuked His disciples in the midst of their selfish argument about who was going to be the greatest in the kingdom of God. "But among you, those who are the greatest should take the lowest rank, and the leaders should be like a servant" (NLT). So this last observation, while affirming that there is a special role or task or position of "minister" who performs a special work of "the ministry," that work in and of itself is to mirror the Master who came not to be served but to serve others by working to the death to preach and teach the message of the cross to the world.
The unbalance Rob discusses in his post is especially difficult to address because two sides of the coin feed each other. The prevalent consumer Christianity of today encourages the consumption of things labelled Christian. This asks little in the way of service from the "saints" and is therefore quite appealing. Supplying these Christian consumables then becomes the job of the "minister," who also finds this approach appealing because it can be quite financially lucrative, quite ego building, and sadly, success becomes readily measurable.

Rob's scriptural analysis of the term minister and the balance he calls for is greatly appreciated, but my question is a more practical one -- how do we break the cycle I just described and return to the balance Rob calls for? Scriptural appeal is a beginning, but how to we bring that scripture to bear? Seminaries now teach the consumer model of church operation. Consumer churches "succeed" far beyond anything imaginable in churches that have a truly balanced approach. Where do we start?

I tend to think the answer is with pastors and their training, but I remain uncertain how to get that job done. It is certainly a job that has to be done.


Finally, A Little Honesty In The Miers Debate.

Ramesh Ponnuru's Op-ed in the Monday NYTimes is a refreshing bit of honesty in the contentious conservtive battle over Bush's nomination of Harriet Miers.
But five years into Mr. Bush's presidency, conservatives have cause to re-evaluate their compromises. While most conservatives supported the invasion of Iraq, many have grave doubts about the conduct of the war. Medicare has been expanded more than it has been reformed. Social Security reform appears to be dead for now. Tax cuts may have inhibited spending - perhaps Medicare would have been expanded even more without them - but they have hardly imposed anything that could fairly be called "restraint."
At least he is being honest - it's not just about Miers, it's about the general feeling that Bush is not a "real" conservative and Miers has become the focal point of frustration at that presupposed "fact."

For the record, I am a conservative and no, I do not love everything the President has done. But the sad fact of the matter is not that the President is not a "real" conservative, but that the country is not.

Unbelievable as it may seem, even with a fully Republican government, that government is constrained by the will of the nation. It's a democracy, remember? We don't hold elections for absolute ruler. The President must work within what he thinks he can get done.

Bottom line, the nation is more conservative than it was when he took office. Not as conservative as I would like, but more so. That's a win. It dawned on me the other day. If Miers makes one more decision that I agree with than O'Conner would have, then Miers is a step in the right direction. If, in the President's judgement, that single step is all we can achieve right now, then my job is to help him achieve it, not tell him to go for 5 steps. When the day comes that I think I am better than him at such judgements, I will run for President, and stop sitting around sniping at politics on a blog.


Sneak Attack

I am not one that tends to think a movie, any movie, even a "Christian" movie will, in the end have that big an impact on the Kingdom of God. In then end, it's just a movie and God is, after all, about people.

However, after seeing a church/state attack on the upcoming Narnia movie last week - now comes a rather vicious attack from the Christian left.
But Pullman said the Narnia books contained "a peevish blend of racist, misogynistic and reactionary prejudice" and "not a trace" of Christian charity.

"It's not the presence of Christian doctrine I object to so much as the absence of Christian virtue," he added.

"The highest virtue - we have on the authority of the New Testament itself - is love, and yet you find not a trace of that in the books."
Oh, where to begin. Let's see -- No Christian charity? Of course not, Aslan only has himself killed in order to save the life of the wretched Edmund, no charity at all there.

No Love? How silly of me, self-sacrifice unto death cannot possibly be motivated by love, it is obviously some viciously narcissitic form of self-agrandisment.

Given the attacks that are being leveled at a movie not yet even seen, I have to wonder if God doesn't have mighty things in store for this film? Why else would the enemy kick and scream so hard?


Answering A Question I Haven't Been Asked

Hugh Hewitt has assembled a great team of people to answer the layman's questions he asks on OneTrueGodBlog, and I am not one of them. Regardless, I love the latest question and want to take a shot.
Please recommend the five books you would have a Christian college student read who was interested in deepening his or her faith but who also had all the time constraints and background education of most college kids today. (In other words, no Summa Theologica or Institutes.)
Constraint I have set for myself -- no textbooks.

Well, what do you think of my list? Have you read them?


Hangover I - GodBlogCon

The posts keep coming on GBC. I really liked this one from A-Team. It responds very well to one of the more negative comments that floated out of the conference.

Then there is this one from Pastor Mark, wherein he asks a few follow up questions from the conference and emailed me, asking me to address them.
Is blogging really going to be "the next big thing"? Are comparisons to Guttenberg or television valid? Or is it a temporary blip that will be surpassed by new technologies before it ever really takes off?
The technology will undoubtedly improve and change. What is here to stay is the concept of inexpensive, vastly distributable self-publication. That's the essence of blogging and that is what matters. Technological innovation may change what that looks like, but the essence will not.

Two of his questions are closely related so, I will address them together
Even if blogging becomes a mighty force, will it ever prove to be a significant force for the kingdom of God? Will all these blogs really have much effect on the fulfillment of the Great Commission? Is this a medium suitable to the task or will it turn out to be a diabolical (literally) distraction; thousands of Christians pouring time and effort into something that ultimately has little impact on God's work, but which meanwhile keeps all those gifted people and their time and energy away from more effective ministry?

Can blogging be an effective tool for evangelism and why is this being treated as a minor side-issue of little importance?
Blogging is a communication tool -- period, no more, no less. Communication is VITAL to the ministry of the Church, to the fulfillment of the Great Comission and to evangelism. So, in that since, yes blogging is effective for all of those things.

Will it replace them? Of course not! Can a book do those things? No - people do those things, but books help them do it. Blogging is the same. As a form of communication it will help people do those things. The purpose of the conference was to try and figure out how.

Evangelism was treated as a minor side issue primarily because no one stepped forward to offer a break out session on the topic. The confrence did not come together as a part of some master plan that the planners then went out to find people to fill slots. Rather, people came forward and volunteered what they wanted to talk about. Based on conversation at the conference, Pastor Mark is obviously very concerned about this particular issue. My suggestion -- put together a seminar for next time.
Will the close relationship between Christian blogging and politically conservative blogging end up doing more harm than good? Have we looked at the unintended consequences?
Depends on how we do it! As I said in my reflections post the "how" question is the essential question left from the conference. The answer, I know, lies in the actions of the Holy Spirit and the presence of His fruit.

Folks -- blogging is radically new stuff. We have a lot more questions that we have answers. Gonna be that way for a while. That's what makes the conference so important -- working these things out. This was a first, it won't be the last. Next year, work on these questions yourself, and bring the answers you find to the conference. There will be opportunity for you to present them.


Hangover II - Racing

Towards the end of Sunday's IRL race Danica Patrick and Jaques Lazier tangled. In the old days fisticuffs after such an accident would have been commonplace, but this involved a woman. Lazier drives for Ganassi who, as I reported yesterday, had his cars painted pink.
Running a pink paint scheme in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness didn't change Target/Ganassi Racing's luck because Lazier's crash was unofficially the 28th of the season for the team.
Oh, I beg to differ
The Indy-car season came to an end Sunday at California Speedway with a bang. Or was it a punch, or a poke?

What's indisputable is that series rookie Danica Patrick made some kind of physical contact with fellow Indy Racing League driver Jaques Lazier in the rescue vehicle after they crashed together near the end of the Toyota Indy 400.
Let me get this striaght -- a guy - driving a pink car gets in a wreck and the other driver involved, a girl, gets physical over it. Yeah, I'd say their luck changed -- FOR THE WORSE.

It had to be the pink car - I'm tellin' ya - made him wreck and made a girl think she could beat him up.


Alphabet Soup

We've made it to the "E's"! Our "E" visit is to one of those places you just stumble upon and find you really, really enjoy.

Imagine you live in a small community out in the middle of nowhere, beautiful, but still the middle of nowhere. It's just a bedroom community now, but in it's day.... That sounds like the description of the classic populated ghost town of today, someplace like Tombstone, Arizona -- tourist trap extraordinaire.

Now imagine such a place without the tourist trappings. Proud of their heritage, it has been preserved, but respectfully and interestingly, without the T-shirt shops and the touristy commercialism. A place where you can get a feel for an old mining town without being sold too much stuff or having to struggle in the utter wilderness. If you have that picture, you have Encampment, Wyoming.

Located in the south central part of the state, Encampment is somewhat unique for an old mining town. First of all it has never completed ghosted, it remains a nice community where people maintain nice modern homes. It's out of the way, but not so much so for many rural areas where the towns are 20-30 miles apart and there is a big town somewhere reasonably close for getting supplies.

But this picture shows you the real reason the town never totally ghosted -- it was a good distance from the mine and this overhead tram was used to move ore into town where is was processed. Thus the town is located in a nice tree laden valley instead of the usual stark mining landscape so many similar places find themselves in.

The people that live there can often trace their ancestry back to the founding of the town, and they are proud of it. They have a small community maintained history museum of which this bathtub pictured is the prize of the collection. Note the nice wood work on the end. The whole tub tilts up into the wood panel you see against the wall with the towels and takes on the appearance of a more typical wardrobe. As you can see -- it even has provisions for plumbing. It is in marvelous shape, even if made for people a tad smaller than average these days.

Encampment was a fun little detour we took while exploring I-80 which is essentially the route of the original transcontinental railroad and it proved well worth the detour.


Begging The Question

Two stories from the Beeb, when viewed together led to question that must be asked.

Consider first

Making donkeys glow in the dark
A British-based donkey welfare group has started a campaign to put reflective tags on Namibia's donkeys.

The idea is to make the animals easier to see at night, and thus to avoid collisions on main roads.
Then consider
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has drawn applause and anger for a speech denouncing the UK's Tony Blair and US President George Bush at a UN event.
Which begs the question: Don't you think it would be a good idea to make Robert Mugabe glow in the dark?


Just A Few, Or The Entire Lodge?

Moose Wandering Across South Dakota

If I know my Moose Lodge, there was alcohol involved, never a pretty sight.


Sadly, Probably Better Than Being Alive In The Same Place

Toddler found dead in sheep dip


What's Dairy Queen Got To Do With It?

Wie DQ'ed From 1st Tournament


What About The Uncommon Ones? Don't They Count?

Brits asked to count common frogs


Alfred Hitchock v Porn

Birds battle buttocks for top art prize

Monday, October 17, 2005


Taming Emotions

Broken Messenger is writing about to role of emotions and emotional response in our faith walk. Brad offers several passages to point out that emotions play an important role, that we are not purely intellectual creatures.

The problem, I believe is that we know how to train our intellects, but we do not really know how to tame our emotions. As we are fallen and must have our minds transformed, so too are our emotions fallen and they too must be tranformed.

Yet, because we feel we do not control our emotions, we tend to treat them as something "other" than ourselves, and therefore not really of our spiritual journey.

Firstly, I do think we can control our emotions to some extent, but much as we can never truly tame our minds absence the action of the Holy Spirit, our emotional responses must also be transformed not by our control, but indeed by the Holy Spirit.

Do you pray about your emotions? I don't mean just tell God about them, I mean really and truly ask him to change them. "God next time someone cuts me off in traffic, please restrain my anger." Try it -- you'll be amazed at the results.


Here's A Little More Ground Truth For You

The vote on the Iraqi constitution is concluded, results pending as I write this. In a sense I don't care about results. Dadmanly said it best
The Iraqi People have won, no matter what they have decided about this draft Constitution of theirs. Because they have experienced something dramatic, something new in their history, and as easily as they vote today, they can vote again the next time. They have vanquished those who truly sought to oppress them and keep them in bondage: if not Saddam's, then the captivity of low expectations and cynicism.
Remember that as you read and hear about the vote over these days. It will be dissected, discussed and talked about almost until it will be without meaning. In all that discussion, with all those opinions and facts and findings, please remember this essential truth that Dadmanly presents -- it's the only one that really matters.


GodBlogCon In The News And On People's Minds

Read All About It. FOXNews before - MSNBC after. Why does the MSNBC headline make it sound trite and jingoistic? Oh, I don't know...

Here are some great round-ups of posts from and about the conference. This one from the conference blog and this one from SmartChristian.

Mark Daniels lists two bloggers he wishes had been there, which I think is a great idea because I had a couple too -- Rebecca and Catez. Next August ladies? -- you would be marvelous additions.

Finally, here are the final reflections of event planner Matt Anderson.


Racing Without Rednecks

Every NASCAR fan in the country will now pelt me to within an inch of my life. Had a grand time at the Toyota 400 at the California Speedway with Holy Coast.

Rick does a great job reporting on the race itself at the link just presented, no need to repeat here. This is the Speed TV story which covers the issue of whether Kanaan lifted or not pretty thoroughly.
Franchitti beat AGR teammate Tony Kanaan to the finish line by 0.1117 seconds, but Kanaan's car slowed dramatically just before he reached the line, leaving Franchitti to wonder if his teammate intentionally lifted. Kanaan claimed he accidentally pressed the pit-speed button instead of the overtake button, but few were buying his explanation.
I listened to those pit limiters engage all afternoon -- they produce a very distinct engine noise. I dodn;t hear it....

I have to praise the track. I grew up in Indianapolis, seen the 500 dozens of times. This was nothing like it. The shape, lack of banking and narrowness of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway makes it a race where cars pretty much stay single file and wait for the perfect opportunity to pass.

Not here, these guys, inclusive of Danica, routinely came around the turns 2,3 and even 4 abreast. This reminded me of seeing small track sprint racing more than Indy, except it was a whole lot faster -- top laps were around 215.

Typically, Rick had to tell me that when Danica Patrick hooked up with one of Gannassi's pink montrosities (I'm all for supporting breast cancer research, but a pink race car? -- Please!) "a fender might have helped." Oh sure, about 7 laps under yellow followed, but the average race speed was still a lot faster than anything NASCAR can muster, and given that the skill of racing is to AVOID collisions, not survive them, I can tell that Rick still needs a bit of educating.

Ah well, I'll be going to a NASCAR event with him in February, perhaps then he can teach me how to time using a sundial and a rock abacus.


This Week I Am An American In A Very Substanitive Sense...

...for I spend this week "On-call" for jury duty. This, like voting, should be something I do with relish and abandonment, alas it is not. I avoided it for years, but post-OJ the LA court system makes it pretty hard to get out, which makes it pretty expensive for someone like me, self-employed and paid by the hour.

Why is it such a pain?
  1. The enormous amounts of wasted time for jurors. Some of it is bureacratic, but much of it is for the convenience of lawyers and judges. They are asking me to provide them a service, virtually uncompensated, the least they can do is treat me with humanity and conform themselves to my time constraints, as they are getting paid anyway.
  2. The banal nature of so much of it. I usually get called to civil court, not criminal. 99% of civil cases are people being jerks towards each other and all I ever want to do is tell them to go settle it like men.
  3. The fact that I never actually get seated. I have been involved in too much litigation, have a lawyer for a father, and am just smart enough that lawyers hate me. I cannot be manipulated. In other words, I'm a blogger. Which just increases the time waste factor.

LA County made it much easier when they tightened down post OJ by going to the "on-call" system, no longer does it cost a week, it only costs a day, unless you get seated on a jury, then it costs the trial.

Given the passive nature of jury duty during the trial, I think there should be heavy investment in technology to ease the juror burden. View the trial on the internet from home or office. Skip the trial and work purely from transcripts during deliberation, with video avilable when the veracity of a witness is in question. Certainly they should do something to guarantee me actually serving if they are going to waste a day of my time.

Bottom line is this -- jury duty is part of the citizen franchise, government should work as hard to make it a good experience as they do voting.



Greenpeace has actually brought a legal case trying to save dolphins. This cracks me up.
Greenpeace had claimed in court that the ban was introduced to give "the impression" that action was being taken and it was "improperly political".
NO, there's no pot/kettle/black thing here. Besides they are taking away from the most important efforts to save this beleaguered creature.

This story about a recent fog in Lagos is really eeire to me. It reads more like kids in a spook house than a legitimate story on an environmental circumstances.

What's This?!
The contractor cleaning up the former Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant declared the $7 billion, 10-year project completed Thursday, a milestone in the conversion of the site to a wildlife refuge.
You mean to tell me engineers doing their job actually fix the environment when it needs fixing? No protests, or movements necessary? Whooda Thunk it.


Here's another on of those correlation = panic stories. It's about PCB's and genetic damage in the Baltic region. I'll hold the panic thank you.

Finally this is one of the transparent efforts to gin up an "environmental disaster" to justify transfer of wealth I have ever seen.


Serious Science

The NYTimes had a great piece about precisely defining the kilogram on Sunday. My speciality in school was analytical chemistry - measuring things. I love this stuff. You'll probabaly be bored to tears, but I love this stuff.
It's a two-story-tall contraption that looks one part Star Trek, one part Wallace and Gromit. Briefly put, it measures the power needed to generate an electromagnetic force that balances the gravitational pull on a kilogram of mass.
Bottom line is this, physical stuff, water, metals, gases are always subject to what we geeks call "perturbations" - vagaries that mean they are never aboslutly pure and exact.

Ah but energy, not that's pure, inalterable, readily and precisely measurable stuff. But think about this. Using energy to define a measure of mass may be the ultimate expression of Einstien's famous equation. Cool, huh?


14EEE Or Better Required for Admission

Bigfoot Conference in Texas Draws Hundreds


How Do You "Aim" To Get Abducted?

Researcher Takes Aim at Alien Abductions


It's Good To Have Servants

Thousands Attend Millions More Movement

Although I am baffled bt how only thousands can help millions move more.


What If I Give A Child To A Goldfish?

Giving a child a goldfish can land you in jail

Sunday, October 16, 2005


Is Faith Trendy?

I found the blog Lame Worldview a while back when they were on a mission trip in Russia, given that I love all things russian. They're back now, but here is a post I enjoyed.
I have observed this problem among those who are more "movement-oriented." I have no doubt that many of them care and feel deeply about the church. However, I do question if they are really asking any new questions that have not been answered many times over, ad infinitum, by others before them.
There is an almost obsessive drive in our society for the new and the latest, often at the expense of the best. That drive fuels our economy and that is fine, but when it comes to matters spiritual, shouldn't it be about quality?

God has not changed over lo, these many millenia. That is one of the more important facts I try to bear in mind when I think about my faith.


Here's A Little Ground Truth For You

We will read word-after-word-after-word about the Iraq elections this weekend. I am sure the perspective on much of it will be skewed. So as you read all this coverage, please read and remember this perspective from Major K.
Tim looks forward to the referendum, and as mentioned, expects it to pass. He doesn't, however, expect voter turnout to be quite as high as the first election. He does not think that it will be due to fear nearly as much as it will be because there are no favorite candidates to vote for and the novelty of elections has worn off a bit. He expects a better turnout for the December elections, when the people have actual candidates to throw their support behind.
This is a great weekend for Iraq, and I think history will show for the world. And I'm betting when history is done it will be the mil-bloggers that write "the first draft of history" this time.


Sermons and Lessons

Thanks to Transforming Sermons for the link to this article that I think is most appropriate as this week's Sunday lesson. It's by Robert Spinney and its on the value of preaching and its worshipful aspects. Great stuff! Read It All.


Off To The Races

I am off today to the Toyota Indy 400 race at California Speedway. I am going with this guy, who is a genuinely nice guy and whose company I enjoy, and who is up for Blog of the Week this weekend. Unfortunately he thinks NASCAR is real racing, when all it really is is just bumper cars. Maybe today I can help educate him a little.


As Well They Should Be

Scots 'ignorant' about Trafalgar

Now, let's talk about The Battle Of Stirling Bridge.

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