Saturday, November 12, 2005


Restaurant Review - Mesa Grill - Las Vegas

I love the finer things in life, though true snobs find me way too pedestrian. For example, "foodies" think that Las Vegas, in the culinary sense, is over the top, garish, unrefined, and low-brow. However, as a guy that will take comic book art over Renoir any day, it is a delight.

The French established the marks for cooking excellence long ago, which is all the more reason to think outside the box as far as I am concerned.

The original Mesa Grill is in NYC, but as Master Chef Bobby Flay has become a big celebrity type, courtesy FoodTV, and he has opened one in Ceasars Palace here in Las Vegas. In a nutshell, I spent a bit of time in heaven last night. One warning if you come, be prepared to drop serious change. We spent several hundred dollars and had no wine.

Service. Marvelous. There was very expensive reservation mix up which the hosting staff resolved with amazing speed and class. This is no bistro, this is an enormous operation, and the bureacracy is immense, tying in with hotel reservations systems, etc. To keep me feeling like the center of attention, to make it obvious that giving me a great dinner was all that mattered under those circumstances is a miracle.

The wait staff was likewise great. This is designed to be a casual, but elegant, dining experience. This means great service, without the hovering bus boys and wine guys of the continental places. Always someone there when you need them, never someone intruding. They earned every dime of the 25% tip I gave.

Food. This is the true heaven part. French cooking is all about richness and subtlety. You have to have a clean palate between every course just to taste the difference. This place; however, is all about flavor - big, bold, delicious flavor.

Around our table we had a steak, lamb chops, pork tenderloin, and chicken. If there was a downside, there was nothing without a hint of "kick" to it, which is hard for the faint of tongue, but I am not one of those people. Each of these was uniquely seasoned and wonderful. The meats were well-aged, tender, and cooked to perfection. The sides were masterful.

Highlights are hard to come by because it was all grand, but here are a few. The blue corn pancake with duck barbeque appitizer. This is a house specialty and now I know why. The pancake, made with blue corn meal, was sweet and delicious. The duck, which is hard to do without drowning in grease, was tender and succulent, and greaseless. The sauce, a habanero based sauce added just the right touch.

The mango salsa which accompanied my lamb chops and my wife's chicken, superb. It was just the right touch of sweetness to go with the ancho chili heavy rubs used in the preparation of the meats.

The creamed corn side dish. This isn't your mother's creamed corn. The crema was based on cilantro and red pepper. It would light up your world, and was simply, delcious. I will spend hours in my kitchen until I get this one down just right. Then I will eat nothing else for weeks on end.

Apple carmel cheesecake. There are no words other than the perfect consistency, the perfect flavor, the perfect end to the perfect meal.

Now, if only they find this review and are so complimented they ask me back for free.

Friday, November 11, 2005


Can You Live Without Me This Weekend?

Of course you can! I'm off to Lost Wages, er, ah, Las Vegas. Mrs. Blogotional and I are taking some good friends to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary at one of the celebrity chef joints there and oh, by the way, IT'S MRS. BLOGTIONAL'S BIRTHDAY TOO!

Happy Birthday oh love of my life!

For all the finery of Las Vegas hotels, internet connections are not a big feature, keeps you out of the casinos (not that I will spend any appreciable time in them anyway, but they can dream) I'll have the trusty laptop and might post, but don't expect much before Monday, and that may be a very light load depending on when we get home.

Oh, and if any member of the SoCal Bloggers Alliance is in the running for Blog Of The Week - Like say Okie On The Lam you be sure and vote for them - and certainly not for a MOBster.


The Charismata Discussion - Coming To A Point

Miscellanies continues to be the place to go to get everything and all things on this discussion. There have been some great entires into the discussion by 21st Century Reformation and Unveiled Face.

As the discussion continues a great post to read is "Proverbs for Bloggers" compiled by Mike at Eternal Perspectives. Mike gives no context for his choices, but I'm thinking this is a pretty good one. In the same vein is this post from Allthings2all.

The greatest progress has been made in this post by Adrian Warnock, posted at Theologica and his own blog combined with this post at Jollyblogger. These two primary protagonists have arrived at more or less the same place in terms of how they view prophecy, even if they use different labels. David says
I once spoke to Dr. Bill Edgar from Westminster Seminary about this and his comment was that charismatics and cessationists agree (or should agree) that God is doing marvelous things in our world, it is just that we differ on how to interpret them.

We cessationists shoot ourselves in the foot when we only talk negatively about the charismatic gifts. This is similar to the way, when the subject of sex comes up, many Christians simply default to warnings against illicit sex and never talk about the beauties of sex. When the subject of charismatic gifts come up many of us automatically default to negativity without giving a corresponding positive explanation of the mighty works of the Holy Spirit today.
Adrian says
He goes on to ask Charismatics to "make a scriptural arguement for the continuance of revelatory authority" which I simply cannot help him with as I do NOT believe that there IS any continuance of revelatory authority.
Each has conceded the other's major point in the discussion to date -- David agrees that the Spirit, in fact, acts boldly today, and Adrian concedes that authoritative revelation has ceased. This puts the two of them very much in the same territory, the difference now being emphasis, vocabulary and interpretation, as opposed to basic principles. That's real progress.

A couple of things threaten to explode this hard earned meeting of the minds. The first is Pyromanics promised (at writing time, but likely up at post time) post on "Modern Prophecy." The other threat is the questions I am about to pose concerning the gift of healing. In my post deriding false prophets, I also lumped in false healers.

I am sure all of us have a story to tell of the "unexplained" healing. You know, the one that baffled the doctors. And most of us would, I think attribute that to God, and His Spirit. How are such things demonstrably different from the "faith healings" of tent revivalists and televangelists?

I would argue the difference is in the prior case there is no one claiming the "healing power." Does the gift of healing require an intermediary? Must the gift of healing be bestowed on a healer, or may it in fact be bestowed upon the healed? Is there ever a circumstance, in post-apostolic times, where it is bestowed on an intermediary? Does someone who prays for another to be healed, and sees that prayer answered have the "gift" of healing?

To my way of thinking the problem lies not in the healing, but in the intermediary. As with prophecy, someone who claims to be a healer, takes for themselves Godly authority. I think it quite possible that God grants that authority to some, thus the question about answered prayer, but I seriously doubt that anyone that "practices" the gift (distinct and separate from the role of physician, who may in fact be so gifted but accomplishes it not based on claims of Spirit interaction but of science) is genuinely endowed with that gift.

The problem with the "miraculous" gifts is that they imbue "the gifted" with a sense of power and specialness that is not real. The power and specialness belong to God, and we should never claim it as ours.

I look forward to hearing others comments on healing, then I think it may be time to turn our attention to the real bug-a-boo -- the one that we, well at least I, have been avoiding -- tongues.

As a tongue-in-cheek parting shot before my weekend away, I wish to turn your attention to this story
A court in Madagascar has refused to rule on the banning of the popular FPVM protestant charismatic church....

...The church was shut by police last month after the interior ministry declared it a threat to public order.
Wisdom from the unelect? We report -- you decide.


Military Salute

Yesterday was the birthday of the Marine Corps. Here's some birthday wishes from

Today, of course is Veteran's Day.

Remember those that served today, remember them well, and thank them. You owe them more than you know.



Holy Coast is wondering what makes a successful church.
In the paper was an article about a pastor and his wife who are celebrating 30 years of ministry at the same church (I'm not going to name the church). The paper described the pastor's faithfulness in the ministry, and I have no reason to doubt that it was true.

However, something caught my eye as I read the article. The story mentioned that the church had at one time grown to about 100, but was now running about 60...after thirty years. That to me, is not the sign of a successful ministry.
My quick, snappy, cynical answer is that Jesus only had a consistent congregation of 12. For a longer more thoughtful answer let me refer you to this this post at Reformation Theology.
With lists set for Christians with the goal toward growth, whether it be lists of purpose, or lists of achievement, what happens in a subtle manner is that we Christians begin focusing on ourselves, our success (or failures) with regard to the list or the program, and we can take our eyes off our only Savior.
Which brings me back to my snappy cynical answer. The tweleve created all that we know as the church today. Over the centuries there have been millions and billions of people touched for Christ. Who knows who is in that 60 and who knows what that person will do. If our pastor of 60 has raised up one Billy Graham, can he be called a failure?
Isa 55:8 - "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways," declares the LORD.
God measures success in ways we may never comprehend.


Super Thin -- Super Fast

Pardon me while I go all nerd on you for a minute. This teaser peice from Scientific American is way cool. It's about graphite. This link will take you to some stuff to help you visualize what I'm talking about here.

Think of graphite as a ream of paper with a lubricant between each sheet -- they slide over each other easily, but surface tension effects make it hard to actually separate them.

The lubricant between each sheet is a resonating cloud of electrons -- it would take me forever to explain what that is, and I doubt you'd still get it unless you can do quantum mechanics, but anyway, you can think of that lubricant as a wire -- ready to conduct electricity. However, when its all stacked up the wire doesn't work that well.

The article talks about someone finally figuring out how to get a single sheet of graphite and test it. The result is a material that could do computing at mono-atomic thicknesses, and much higher speeds than today's semi-conductors at room temperature. This could be the beginning of super-micro-computers. Now that would be cool.


NOW!? He's 'Troubled'

Chirac troubled by city violence

Little slow on the uptake there Jacques.


Friday Humor



A woman who took 33 years to pass her driving test got behind the wheel of her first car yesterday. Venida Crabtree, 50, of Cowley, Oxford, was granted her licence in July after failing approximately 40 previous driving exams and getting through seven instructors since the age of 17. Her second-hand 980cc Suzuki Alto was considerably cheaper than the estimated £27,000 spent on all her driving lessons.
I honestly do not know whether to admire the effort or run in panic if I see her on the road. Never, ever give this woman a cell phone. Questions -- if she moves to America and has to learn to drive on the other side, will it take another 33 years? -- How'd she get out of school? Or did she? -- Actually, can she walk and chew gum at the same time?



Chinese Try to Build Better Bra


Woman Arrested for Stuffing Bird Into Bra

I should have known.


The Death Of Blogging?

Punctuation cop turns ire on bad manners


Only In The Movies

The Thinklings link to a list of 40 Things That Only Happen In The Movies.

Blogotional fav:
A single match is usually sufficient to light up a room the size of a football stadium.
The Gad(d)about has made a few suggestions of his own. What are yours?


Can NASCAR Be Far Behind?

Tainted Moonshine Kills 33 in Russia

By the way, in Russian that would be


Who? Must Be From Some WB Show

NASA Telescope Gets Image of Young Stars

Thursday, November 10, 2005


Discussing The Charismata - Links and The Definition Of Prophecy

The Reformed/Charismatic split discussion continues apace. Miscellanies on the Gospel is the place to go to keep up on everything about it, including some great resource links. Speaking of Rob, he has quite graciously agreed with my post of yesterday taking issue with one of his posts. Although I must say it probably has nothing to do with the strength of my argument and more to do with the fact that I got seconded by Jollyblogger.

Believe it or not there as been some good stuff to read in the Godblogosphere that is not related to this discussion. Of course, after reading them I decided to tie them into it anyway. The first is from Tod Bolsinger in a post aptly named They'll Know We are Christians by Our FIGHTS. (We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord, we are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord...ah,er, excuse me, '70's flashback) Anyway, Tod said this
What do we do with those believers who aren't acting like believers? What do we do with Christians who are acting profoundly unchristian? What do we do when the church that is meant to be the Kingdom of heaven embodied on earth is so damnably disappointing?

In Matthew 7:1-12, we learn that we DON'T Judge, and we DON'T tolerate, we talk. We confront. Humbly and prayerfully, yes, but we do confront.

And this is, in my opinion, the gaping sin of omission of our time and both the world and the church suffer for it.
[emphasis added]
This greatly echoes David who said
There is such a thing as heresy out there and it needs to be called such.
Read what Tod has to say on Christian confrontation, it's a good message as this discussion moves forward.

The other interesting "unrelated" read is at Broken Messenger. Brad's writing about humility and confession.
Another day of godly sorrow is upon me. Today, I am again lamenting over the weeds of my heart. In turning to God's Word for comfort, I am drawing encouragement from Hebrews 12. Please permit me to share a few thoughts in response to this passage:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. - Hebrews 12:1-4

I lament, in spite of the encouragement of the author. Though I do doubt that anyone can know the full depth of their own depravity, I am beginning to see some of the depth of my own sin: the imperfect motivations, the constant rising of the old man within when I take my eyes off Christ and of my desperate need for a Savior when compared to God's perfect law.
Brad has, unwittingly I think, hit on precisely the problem that most frequently manifests itself with "untamed" charasmatism, one tends to become so drunk with the overwhelming feeling of the Spirit, that one loses their sense of depravity and imperfectness. The gifts must be rooted in an almost overwhelming sense of humility.

One word keeps coming to my mind as I read and think about all of this and that word is certainty. I have known charismatics who were certain they spoke for God, in tongues or in English, they knew they could heal. Such people scare me, and as I said yesterday, I think they profane God's name.

But I also know some people that have the gift of tongues, but I only know it because I asked them. And when I asked them they were quite hesitant to answer, feeling that what they experienced appeared to be tongues as described in scripture, but were never quite certain. Such people I often make common cause with.

Prophecy, and to some extent healing, are the gifts that I find most problematic. Let's talk about prophecy some more. Yesterday, Adrian Warnock said this about David's post
Jollyblogger seems stuck with the idea that prophecy is about perfect revelations we cant question. How this fits with the biblical notion of NT prophecy as fallible to be "tested" and which gives incomplete knowledge I simply don't get. Funnily enough, the charismatic will often say "God didn't say that to you" to a wacko just the same as a cessationist.
I'm not sure David is stuck on that idea. David and I were both not discussing prophecy in, what I at least, consider to be the biblical sense. We were discussing people that claim a certain and specific authority in making prophetic proclamations.

I touched on how I define prophecy in my original post on this discussion. Here's another definition from the international Standard Bible Encyclopedia
It is evident that the functions of the prophet must sometimes have crossed those of the apostle, and so we find Paul himself described as a prophet long after he had been called to the apostleship <Acts 13:1>. And yet there was a fundamental distinction. While the apostle, as we have seen, was one "sent forth" to the unbelieving world, the prophet was a minister to the believing church <1 Cor 14:4,22>. Ordinarily his message was one of "edification, and exhortation, and consolation" <1 Cor 14:3>.
The line between genuine prophecy, which really is just good preaching, and the kind of prophecy that David and I were both decrying is, as Adrian points out, the phrase "God told me," or worse "God told me to tell you." What Adrian fails to realize, I think, is how many people who proudly claim the title charismatic cross that line on a regular basis. Maybe they don't see it as much in the UK?

The first time I ever discussed this issue with Adrian, he defined "charismatic" simply as someone who believe the Holy Spirit still bestows gifts today -- in other words, not a cessasionist. That, frankly, is the first time I ever heard that definition. Until that discussion, charismatic was a word reserved precisely for the fire-breathing, God-profaning, convinced-of-their-own-status-as God's-exclusive-mouthpiece types that David and I were both skewering yesterday.

Jollyblogger has another post that seems to send the discussion in the right direction. He and I seem to be close to on the same wavelength here. He is taking the idea of "providence" and looking at its ramifications in terms of God's continuing efforts to "uphold, direct, dispose, and govern all creatures, actions, and things, from the greatest even to the least, by His most wise and holy providence, " - quoting the Westminster Confession, as distinct from revelation. David is here making, I believe, a distinction very similar to the one I made between "apostolic authority" and "signs and wonders."

In the meantime, Adrian keeps challenging cessasionists to come up with a scriptural arguement. I think before that can be done, we really need to settle the issue of what it is preceisely that ceased, which is, I think where David is going. I want to offer a challenge to the charismatics and that is to make a scriptural arguement for the continuance of revelatory authority.


Don't Make Me Angry - You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Angry

Sometimes I read the news and just want to kill something. Does that make me a barbarian? No doubt some will think so. Does that make me "unChristian?" Again, I am confident some will make that contention. But frankly, when people blow themselves up in the middle of weddings in Jordan I honestly wish I could bring them back to life long enough to kill them. Then I want to hunt down those that sent them and kill them too.

You cannot negotiate with people like this. They may consider themselves at war, but there are rules to war. Those rules have been carefully devised over centuries. When people are willing to jettison those rules they are more interested in destruction than they are in whatever it is they proport to be fighting for. Such people do not want a solution, they want you dead. Don't know what to do with those that want me dead other than make them dead first.

Here are my prayers for the Jordanian security services. And here are my prayers for our fighting men and women who are doing the necessary to prevent this from happening more.

After thought: Was studying the stoning of Stephen in Acts not long after I wrote this. The question crossed my mind, "Is this terrorism actually a form of persecution, and should we bear it nin the same fashion that Stephen bore his stoning?" Short answer: NO! We are not being persecuted because these are threatened by the strength and truth of our faith -- ah that we were - I know far to few Christians that radically committed to their faith. Rather, we are being terrorized simply becasue we are not them, and becasue they enjoy killing. Big difference.


The Science Of History

One of the great open questions of American history is what happened to Billy the Kid. The legend says Pat Garrett killed him. But in the 1930's a guy surfaced claiming to be "the Kid." Given that Garrett and Bonney were buddies before they are enemies, and the isolated circumstances of the final Garrett/Bonney showdown, the claim by the old guy has never quite gone away.

This picture, by the way is the jail/courthouse in Lincoln, NM where the Kid was held for a time and escaped by killing a couple of deputies. The wife and I visited a few years ago.

Now the great question may be answered by a DNA test. This has been a cause celeb for the Lincoln County Sheriff whose badge bears the image of Pat Garrett, as the preemminent lawman of New Mexico. Well, he got permission to exhume the body of the old guy and extract some DNA, and he is going to compare it to a blood stain off the table on which the body of the Kid was laid after his proported death.

This is gonna be fun. Call CSI.


Illuminated Scripture


Void Acres - Take Manhattan Just Give Me Outer Space

Gravity-Powered Asteroid Tractor Proposed to Thwart Impact

What do you think John Deere green will look like in orbit?


A Victory For Oppressed Ostriches Everywhere

Ostrich on loose tramples car in bid for freedom


Gotta Give Another 'SOS' Award

Yep folks, that's what the sign said, it said "NO TRUCKS". Bet you can guess what happened next.

That's right -- a trucker took the ramp and, surprise, surprise, he crashed. That's why our trucker friend is STUCK ON STUPID.


Finding Women The Hard Way

Europe Space Agency Launches Venus Probe

That is where they are from isn't it?


Is It Me...?

...or has avian flu become the next "Y2K?"

Flu-Wary Singapore Deploys Chicken Guards

There is a genuine issue here, as there was with Y2K, but there are also straightforward ways to handle it. Hyper-fear and panic are not among them.


The Headline I Didn't Need To Read... I thought I'd share

Diarrhoea affects quake victims


What? They're Noisy?

Guitars and Rockets: Surprising Similarity Between

Well, come to think of it, when I tried to play guitar as a kid, my dad did want to send the thing into orbit.


What's He Doing There?

Hewitt steps into cancer drug row

Doesn't he have enough on his mnd with the bird flu?


Not Surprising When Your Car Wears A Hat!

Couple driven nuts by car problem
A hoard of peanuts, hidden by squirrels, has been discovered under the bonnet of a car by mechanics who were investigating mechanical problems.
Maybe if it had a hood instead?

With love to all my "english" speaking readers...

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


Just When I Thought It Quieted Down, It Got Hot

Rob Wilkerson over at "Miscellanies On The Gospel" had a very provocative piece yesterday on the reformed/charasmatic debate. Rob decries the apparent simple, and "arrogant" disregard that the cessasionists have, to his mind, for the charasmatics.
It has happened on both sides of this debate, and almost entirely from the reformed cessationists. There is this crazy concept constantly being propounded that since charismatics do crazy things like proclaiming prophecies that do not come true, (1) they are crazy bozos, (2) they are acting in an evil fashion, purposefully I might add; (3) the rest of their ministries and labors for the kingdom are discredited; (4) they are tacitly written off.

Brothers and sisters, this is flat out wrong, unbiblical, and is perhaps one of the poorest reflections of the gospel of Jesus Christ. One of the effects the gospel of Christ has on us is that it causes us, even compels us to maintain a high regard for others, despite their mistakes, sins, and crazy actions. The fact that a human Christian errs does not discredit everything else he does, says, or writes. If there's one glaring error in behavior among my cessationists friends it sort of hovers above this very thing on this very issue. A charismatic is a Christian too, one saved by the cross, one loved by Christ, one prayed for by Christ, one chosen by Christ, one baptized into Christ, and one put into ministry of any kind by Christ. Their error(s) no more discredit them than our daily sinfulness discredits the rest of our lives. We are looking at this whole thing from the back end. Consider two ways this is occurring.
There is never a reason dismiss another human on personal grounds, and arrogance is a problem. I understand Rob's concern here. One should always treat the other with dignity and respect. But there is one thing Rob said with which I have to take exception.
Second, the sins, errors, and mistakes of charismatics and charismaniacs [sic] are as much covered by the blood as are the sins, errors, and mistakes of reformed cessationists. A false prophecy is erroneous. Yet that doesn't make it inherently sinful (but even if it were sinful it is still forgivable, not falling under the 'unforgivable' sin).
Deut 5:11 - 'You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.
Note that this commandment cannot be forgiven - "the Lord will not leave him unpunished." From The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
VAIN - The adjective of "vanity," and representing the same Heb and Greek words as does the latter, with a few additions (chiefly kenos, "empty," and its compounds in the New Testament). And "vain" can always be replaced by its synonym "empty," often with advantage in modern English (, etc.). The exception is the phrase "in vain," and even there the interchange can be made if some (understood) noun such as "ways" be added. So "to take God's name in vain" means simply to take it for an "empty" ("not good") purpose.
Is not prophecy, in the apostolic sense, capsulized by the phrase "Thus sayeth the Lord?" Is not a false or inaccurate prophecy thus taking God's name for an empty purpose? What about healing? Would not offerring false hopepf healing in God's name also be using God's name for an empty purpose? Would not urging someone to avoid medical care unto death, on hope of a "holy" healing qualify as taking God's name in vain? It would seem that God will not leave a false or inaccurate prophecy, or a false healing, unpunished. Sounds reasonably like an unforgivable sin to me.

My point is this, arrogance is a sin. So to is treating another with less than adequate respect. But the sins of false prophet or healer, of those that would appropriate apostolic authority to themselves's, must be judged severely and decried loudly, they are an enormous danger to the church and they insult the name of God.
1 Cor 5:12 - For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within {the church}
We are in fact obligated to exercise judgment when it comes to those in the church. The Benny Hinns and Oral Roberts of the world have earned their condemnation. We are right to decry them for their misuse of God's name.

What I say here in no way subtracts from whatever good their ministries may have accomplished, but those same ministries have committed evil, and such must be named and such must be confronted. To do so arrogantly would be wrong, but to not do so at all would be far, far worse.


What's Making France Tick, er Blow Up?

That's The question that has preoccuopied Dawn's Early Light, who has corralled some of the SCBA into a discussion with him on the matter and collects it all here. Causes are hard to define here.

DEL argues that the causes are economic, and the Islamofascists are capitalizing on those conditions. I and others would argue that the root casues lie in Islam itself, that the economic conditions are in fact exacerbating the Islamic prejudice against others. It's a real chicken and egg question in the end.

I just thought I'd throw in some new quotes from Stratfor (subscription required). They are contending that the issue lies in the concept of nationhood prevalent in Europe and it's difference from the concept in America.
The notion of the European nation stands in opposition to the multinational empires that dominated Europe between the 17th and 20th centuries. These were not only anti-democratic, dynastic entities, but they were also transnational. The idea of national self-determination as the root of modern democracy depended first on the recognition of the nation as a morally significant category. Why should a nation be permitted to determine its own fate unless the nation was of fundamental importance? Thus, in Europe, the concept of democracy and the concept of the nation developed together.

The guiding principle was that every nation had a right to determine its own fate. All of the nations whose identities had been submerged within the great European empires were encouraged to reassert their historical identities through democratic institutions. As the empires collapsed, the submerged nations re-emerged -- from Ireland to Slovakia, from Macedonia to Estonia. This process of devolution was, in a certain sense, endless: It has encompassed, for instance, not only the restoration or establishment of sovereignty to the European powers' colonial holdings in places like Africa or Latin America, but pressure from groups within the territorial borders of those recognized powers -- such as the Basques in Spain -- that their national identity be recognized and their right to democratic self-determination be accepted.

Europe's definition of a nation was less than crisply clear. In general, it assumed a geographic and cultural base. It was a group of people living in a fairly defined area, sharing a language, a history, a set of values and, in the end, a self-concept: A Frenchman knew himself to be a Frenchman and was known by other Frenchmen to be French. If this appears to be a little circular, it is -- and it demonstrates the limits of logic, for this definition of nationhood worked well in practice. It also could wander off into the near-mysticism of romantic nationalism and, at times, into vicious xenophobia.
Later in the same piece
Contrast this with the United States, Canada or Australia -- three examples where alternative theories of nationhood have been pursued. If being French or German is rooted in birth, being an American, Canadian or Australian is rooted in choice. The nation can choose who it wants as a citizen, and the immigrant can choose to become a citizen. Citizenship connotes nationality. More important, all of these countries, which were founded on immigration, have created powerful engines designed to assimilate the immigrants over generations. It would not be unreasonable to say that these countries created their theory of nationhood around the practice of migration and assimilation. It is not that the process is not painful on all sides, but there is no theoretical bar to the idea of anyone becoming, for example, an American -- whereas there is a theoretical hurdle to the idea of elective nationalism in Europe.
Basically this is a careful description of the "assimilation" argument for the cause.

After reading all this material, I'm not sure I care about the cause anymore. Why are we asking about the cause? To find a solution; that's the only reason for this speculation. The real question is, "Where in this mess do we put our hand in to stop it from happening again or continuing?" All of these causes have validity, so I think it time to stop asking why and start saking how -- How are we going to fix this?

The place to start is to restore the peace. I'm not convinced this is going to get that job done:

France to Impose Curfews in Bid to Quell Escalating Violence

Unless it is backed by the will to use serious, and violent, enforcement - something I have not yet sensed from the French government.

As to solving the problem long-term? Generally in these circumstances a multi-pronged approach is the order of the day. When you have multiple potential casues, address all of them. But that really is an issue for tomorrow. Today, we must restore the peace.


California Special Election

Get the most up-to-the-minute results available right here at the Secratary of State's site. Yesterday Blogotional recommended a "yes" vote on 73-77 and a "no" on 78-80. At press time, with 99% reporting, it is pretty well "no's" accross the board. I guess we elected Schwarzenegger to look pretty in office, because he sure can't so anything.

It's now an odss-on bet the state will be in bankruptcy court in the next 5 years.

UPDATE: Hugh Hewitt writes an open letter to the Guvenator with hisprescription for recovery and making California right. They are good ideas and Arnold for sure has to turn more conservative now if he intends to accomplish anything, but I can't muster Hugh's optimism (of course, Hugh is always optimistic.) You also cannot govern contrary to the will of the people. This state is primarily liberal and/or ignorant about government, like it or not.


And You Thought Chemistry Was Boring

The Chemistry of Great Coffee

Dehydration, oxidation, extraction, these are the elements of good coffee. Folks that's chemistry.

This is a "soxhlet extractor" and if you worked in a lab you'd know it is probably the best way in the world to make coffee.

Quick, what was the first chemistry ever done by mankind? If you said "fermentation," you'd be right, in other words, wine-making.

And you thought we were nerds that did stuff that nobody really cared about.


What Is Wrong With Us?

When we identify with butterflies more than people.
As an expert hang glider and ultralight pilot from the mountains where the monarchs winter, he felt a strange kinship with them, and the notion of flying with them on their yearly migration from Canada to Mexico became first an itch, then an obsession, his family members said.

So when Mr. Gutiérrez wheeled his ultralight plane painted like a monarch over the butterfly sanctuary here at noon on Thursday and brought it swooping in to land on a stretch of mountain highway, it marked the rarest of human experiences, a dream come true.

He had traveled more than 4,375 miles from Montreal to Michoacán State, following the butterflies at low altitude. He logged more than 90 hours of flying over 72 days, averaging about 60 miles a day, stopping dozens of times to talk to scientists and butterfly fanatics, in a feat of aviation meant to call attention to the insect's precarious situation.
When I think about the time energy and effort that went into this stunt, and how it could have been used, like say perhaps to fly relief supplies to the Kashmir, the Gulf Coast, or the tsunami zone, I really have to wonder.


The Politics Of Fat

Fraters Libertas has a pretty funny post about the political manifesto of something called National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance They have produced a declaration of rights that's interesting reading
  1. To non-discrimination in the health care system due to weight size or illness category;
  2. To have quality medical care, social services, and adequate physical accommodations / equipment/testing facilities in the health care setting;
  3. To have full explanation of all health procedures; to help choose the modality of treatment; and to refuse treatment (including calorie-restrictive diets);
  4. To have an advocate, either an individual or organizational representative of our choice, to ask questions for us, to listen to what we cannot hear; and to be with us;
  5. To refuse participation in weight loss programs of all kinds, including diets, surgery, aversive psychological conditioning, and chemical regimes, without jeopardizing access to other treatment and care;
  6. To adequate and appropriate analgesia and anesthesia when necessary in the opinion of the patient;
    To freedom from ridicule, coercion, and harassment from all care givers in the health delivery system;
  7. To be treated by individuals who are accurately informed about the latest research in the areas of bariatrics, nutrition, metabolism, and genetics with regard to "obesity";
  8. To privacy and confidentiality of all medical records.

My feeling about this are very mixed. Obesity has health consequences, though I think they are exaggerated and overblown. If one choses to be obese, one must be willing to accept the consequences.

The problem, to my mind, lies not in consequences being associated with obesity, but in third party payer healthcare system that does not make it possible for obese people to in fact bear that burden, by paying money. Instead our healthcare system tries to coerce them behaviorally.

Healthcare is rapidly becoming just another means to "tell people what to do." The only way to remove its ability to do so is by removing the third party payers, or at least having the system allow for one to opt out of third party payers and pay on their own.


The Best Of Pravda

There must be no news in Russia because the most recent perusal of Pravda was the most inane yet.

You want to talk about OLD news:

Mummies of Egyptian pharaohs mysteriously disappear from pyramids

Uh, yeah, several thousand years ago, and like we haven't known it for decades ourselves. What was it again that made king Tut's tomb so spectacular? (discovered 80 years ago) -- oh yeah -- there was something in it.

In our next item, why report when you can insult:

Little-brained big heads of the States

Well, my little brained big head of State has a bigger brain that yours oh home to Chernobyl...

And then, well, there is no comprehending this

Energy vampires do not need fangs to live

Are they talking about people that drive low mileage cars or what?

Finally, it's good to know racism is alive and well somewhere

Black babes lose their African spirit and attraction in Moscow

I used to think Pravda was no worse than American tabloids, now I am beginning to wonder....


Uh, Gee - Ya Think?

From yesterday morning:

Today's Voting Could Be Test for GOP

I'm betting for the Dems too!


Just A Guess -- They Lack A Sense Of Humor?

Why women don't laugh at the Three Stooges

Nyuk-Nyuk-Nyuk Oh come on ladies, what's not funny about trapping some guy's nose in a clam shell?


Another Out-Of-Control Lodge Meeting

Two Drunken Moose Invade Home for Elderly


I'll Take Mine With Butter And Salt

Corn-based socks to debut in Japan


No Surprise Here

Some Three Dozen Cats Found in Smelly Home

Haven't been anywhere yet with three dozen cats that wasn't "smelly."


Been There, Believe This

A Swedish postcard bearing a lottery number arrived 50 years after being sent to a retirement home on the Baltic island of Gotland.
It's not that it is a backwards place, it's just that it is so idyllic, you don't care.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


The Great Debate That Really Isn't

If my traffic yesterday is any indication, the "debate" on the charismata is the hottest topic on the internet. Here's my first entry into the fray. But despite the well-meaning concerns of Rob Wilkerson at "Miscellanies On The Gospel," after the latest round of posts, I for one have no argument left.

The chief protagonists on the cessasionist side are Pyromaniac and Jollyblogger. Yesterday Pyromaniac said in the first of his two posts in the matter
While I'm at it, let me say that if all charismatics were of the Mahaney/Piper/Grudem variety, I probably wouldn't pick a fight over our differences on the charismata. That's not to say I approve of any kind of charismatic mysticism, but if no one ever went any further than, say, the typical guy from Sovereign Grace Ministries, I don't think I would spend much energy arguing against them.

I grew up in Tulsa, however, and the true roots of the charismatic movement are there, not in Geneva. Despite what they want you to think, "Reformed" charismatics are a fairly new kind of hybrid, and they do not represent the mainstream of either the Reformed or charismatic movements. I like their zeal. I appreciate (and share) their desire for passionate (rather than cold and dry) orthodoxy. There's a lot about them I esteem highly, and I am certainly not merely looking for another group of people to make angry.

But in the context of what is going on today, there are so many dangers associated with "new revelation" that it's not an issue I'm willing to ignore.
Pyromaniac's other post is here and he is making the case the Spurgeon was a cessasionist, which is mostly a dig at Warnock, who had claimed otherwise earlier.

Jollyblogger pretty well echoes Phil, using the same pull quote and saying
I told someone recently that if there were no PCA or other like denomination I would be eager and happy to join one of the Sovereign Grace churches. I love those guys even though I don't share their charismatic views.
What's clear in both posts is that what my cessasionist friends are arguing is not the charismata per se, but "new revelation." Before I get too deep into this there are also some good thoughts on the topic at the Gad(d)about.

Hey, I got no beef with that at all. It is clear to me that in this discussion many have had presumptions about definitions that other held. I would never argue, or begin to argue that apostolic authority continued today, or that revelation on that level was a possibility. It honestly never crossed my mind that such was what people were concerned about. In my original post I called Roberts and Hinn idiots and in so doing I discarded, I thought, anybody that would claim direct revelation.

Direct revelation is the path to chaos as far as I am concerned. I recently read a book on Mormonism which is steeped in such revelatory nonsense, and it is not pretty. I commented at the time how much it resembled most pentecostalism. The only thing that can arise from direct revelation is conflict, or worse.

Such revelation is reserved, I do think, for the apostles. But Acts is full of stories about 'disciples' performing miracles
Acts 6:8 - And Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and signs among the people.
It seems to me that scripture seeks to create a division between revelation and "wonders and signs." Wonders and signs testify to God, but that are not necessarily revelation of God.

I will say this; however, I think that Paul is clearly saying in Corinthians that such "wonders and signs" are of limited, and often very personal, usefulness -- they are not something upon which to build God's church.

It seems in the end that the disagreements between the principle "antagonists" in the discussion are minor, they center basically on the question of what is and what is not direct revelation and can some of the charismata be exercised absent such revelation. That is a great place to have this discussion, for that lies at the heart of what I said in my Sunday post, that has been quoted several times
It's not if the gifts exist, but rather developing, using the great attributes of us hyper-rationalistic Calvinist types, good teaching about the gifts and their exercise. For it is only down that path that the church can tap all the power available to it without the great mischief potential inherent in the practices.
Warnock said this yesterday
Unlike forum arguments who's anonymous nature sometimes seem to breed a hit and run mentality , blogging, at least in the successful God bloggers a gradual moderation in tone over time.
I have to agree -- it really only took two rounds of posts for this thing to get to the place that I think it should be. But having said that, comments are far more "forum-like" and I have begun to see, at least in tone if not in words just yet, some ugliness creeping in there.

Let's go back to direct revelation for a moment. The problem with it is there is no argument. Jollyblogger alluded to that problem in his post yesterday. In fact, in my experience, most people that make such claims are people that want to avoid argument, or use it to end argument. Certainty is pretty much the same thing.

As this discussion (I think it has quickly settled there as opposed to a debate) continues those of you commenters out there that just know all the answers just bear in mind, that those of use discussing instead of commenting don't. Have pity on us please.

Adrian has some good ideas about where to go with this
Incidently, if any enterprising blogger wants to put a post together listing resources and/or blogs cited in the comments sections of the various posts on this subject that would be great- thanks everyone for some great suggestions. I guarantee a link from here to any such post. What would be great would be to tabulate a list of books and blogs to read from both sides of the fence.
Any takers? -- I don't have the time and those are great ideas.

UPDATE: 21st Century Reformation has chimed in on the discussion with some interesting comments as well.


Special Election In California - VOTE TODAY!

We are have a special propositions only election here in California today. This is vital stuff. The governor has put a number of proposition on the ballot as a means of circumventing a rather uncooperative legislature, one that simply fails to see the genuine problems in the state.

As with most propositions out here it is a bit like trying to swat a fly with a sledgehammer, but frankly, we have no choice. The best breif analysis of propositions and rcommendations on how to vote that I agree with is at Hedgehog Blog. Here's the Blogotional supershort version

To illustrate how important this election is, consider this from the NYTimes

A growing number of people are leaving California after a decade of soaring home prices, according to separate data from the Census Bureau, the Internal Revenue Service and the state's finance department.

Last year, a half million people left California for other parts of the United States, while fewer than 400,000 Americans moved there. The net outflow has risen fivefold, to more than 100,000, since 2001, an analysis by, a research company, shows, although immigration from other countries and births have kept the state's population growing.
Housing prices are, as the article contends, an issue, but consider what that says about the state. While I welcome legal immigrants they come looking for jobs - they don't make them. People that make jobs are leaving for more than just housing prices, they are leaving becasue they can cash out on housing and continue to make money at a similar pace elsewhere. Being productive in California has become as difficult as it has in much of Europe and we have seen what is happening there.

There was a time when California was the engine that drove this country. That role has recently been largely supplanted by Texas. We cannot let California waste away. Vote today and vote smart.


Congrats To Holy Coast - SCBA Reigns Supreme

In yet another lopsided competition in Radioblogger's "Blog of the Week," SCBA ally Holy Coast has prevailed.

Yet another blow has been struck at perpetual also-ran Peace Like A River, officially self-proclaiming as the Susan Lucci of the competition. PLAR, a MOBster, is a good blogger, but just has a problem with who he hangs out with. If they only had a good blogging alliance up there in Minne-so-cold. After watching the MOB's vain attempts to win this week, I could not help but wonder if the scientists in the study headlined below did not have a dating problem, and perhaps the phenomena they address is more contemporary than their results would indicate.

Gigantic Apes Coexisted with Early Humans, Study Finds

REMINDER: This is about fun! Had an actual insult been intended you would have been instructed to turn to the nearest liberal of your choice. This is only in fun.


Wish You Were Here To See It Ken

Colts 40 -- Patriots 21


This Begs The Question....

Archaeologists unveil ancient church in Israel

Did they sing hymns or praise choruses and were the words projected up front?


Surf's Up

In his general theory of relativity set out in 1916, Albert Einstein proposed that bodies such as stars cause distortions in the fabric of space, in a similar way to the effect of placing a heavy ball on a piece of elasticated material.
Elsewhere in the same article:
The team believes it is just months away from humanity's first detection of gravitational waves - shifts in space and time caused by the movement of massive astronomical bodies.
Well, how did you think he got around?


Alphabet Soup

We've made it to the "H's" and that takes us to Holbrook, Arizona. Holbrook isn't quite what she used to be, but she's pretty interesting. It was one of those town that grew up and existed pretty much as a way stop on Route 66 from Chicago to LA, and like so manyof those towns, it has sort of petered away with the advent of Interstate 40.

There has been a bit of a resurgence though as Holbrook has been active to reclaim some of i's roadside attraction kitsch which is pulling them in off the freeway -- it did us. See the dinosaurs?

This, well, this is pratically famous. That's a motel room. Part of the "true western experience" back in the '50's you pulled in and rented yourself your very own teepee - with air conditioning and indoor plumbing. Ignorant, of course, of that fact that most Indians in this region lived in mud huts of some variety. The motel has been repainted and externally restored and had these vintage cars parked in the lot. It's mostly an art project now, just there for you to take picture of, but it's cool.

Holbrook's real claim to fame; however, is as the gateway to the Petrified Forest. This national park is home to the greatest concentration of petrified wood anywhere it the world. Way cool. Outside of the park, there is still plenty of the stuff and there is the industry to capitalize on it, cutting, polishing and making object d'art from petrified wood is big business in Holbrook.

The roadside is not completely dead as long as there are great places like Holbrook Arizona to drop off the highway into.


'SOS' Award Winner!

Can't deny it folks, these guys are defintiely Stuck on Stupid!

Three die playing catch with grenade


Fun With Science

Go here and take a virtual journey to the black hole that is the core of our galaxy. Scroll down a bit, it's there.

Go here and see how RNA works

Go here and see stuff "everted."

(HT: The Corner) See, science really is fun!


Oh No -- Not On Me They Won't

Experts at Edinburgh University believe that tiny worms could hold the key to new treatments for conditions like asthma and hay fever.

They have found that the parasites, called helminths, could fool the body's immune system so that they were not attacked.
I've seen this movie. The supposedly beneficial parasite takes control, turning me into some sort of mutated thinga-ma-ugly-bob bent on world domination. Next thing you know, I'm on the SciFi channel.

I'll keep sneezing thank you very much.


A Bossie In Every Barn

Sri Lanka Candidate Offers Cows if Elected

You have to admit it's better than "a chicken in every pot."


Great Moments In Bureaucracy

A judge concerned about the potential for voter fraud in Tuesday's election has ordered the state to compile the names of all adult New Jersey residents who have died since 1985.

State Superior Court Judge Linda R. Feinberg made the ruling Friday after learning that the official responsible for tracking deaths had failed to do so because he didn't know it was his responsibility.
This may be the most impressive buck-passing, and bureaucratic ineptitude, story I have ever read.


Write Your Own STD Joke Here

Hong Kong Thief Pinches 70 Hairy Crabs

Monday, November 07, 2005


A Good Distinction?

21st Century Reformation picked up on my post on Jollyblogger's post concerning church, and he tries to draw a distinction between "the Church" and "doing Church."
The church is the institution. Such an institution has elders and government and authority and oversight. We are required to be in the church just like David Wayne is saying. "Doing church" is the charismatic experience of all coming with gifts and bringing them to the assembly.
I understand this distinction, it rolls around in my mind all the time, but I am not sure it is helpful.

In my case, I don't know about Brad, the distinction is born of frustration at the church, at its many failings, and in the personal hurts it has given me. Brad seems to imply in his post that he makes the distinction because the church fails to live up to the totality of its mission. I think Brad and I are saying the same things, though I on a more personal level. Essentially, the church is not all that we think it should be, so we try to find a way to make that reality true.

In my case, I feel like the very "elders and government and authority and oversight" that Brad refers to fosters corrpution, or is at least is a hothouse out of which it always arises. But if I remove the very personal perspective, the deep hurts I have suffered at the hands of such, all I am really saying is that the church is as sinful as the people in it. The church lives in the same "already, not yet" that I as an individual Christian do.

I guess what I am saying is this, I understand the distinction, but I don't find it helpful. I must be a part of the church, and I must find a way to "do church" there. I think that is the way to maturity. In trying to work that out, I learn how to be God's man in a fallen world, and in the process I help bring the church a little closer to what it is supposed to be. As one man sharpens another so I think the church and a man sharpen each other. When we create distinctions like this we create places where the church cannot hone us, and where we cannot hone the church. My sanctification lies in allowing all of myself to be honed into God's instrument.


It Really Is War

France is aflame. The BBC said yesterday France records most violent night, after more than a week -- not good progress. Instapundit has some interesting links and here is some interesting comment.

But this story from FOXNews is the one that I find really terrifying.
Worsening urban unrest reached central Paris for the first time early Sunday and youths set ablaze shops, businesses, schools and nearly 1,300 cars from France's Mediterranean resort towns to the German border.

Some 2,300 police poured into the Paris region to bolster security overnight while firefighters moved out around the city to douse blazing vehicles. Police reported nearly 200 arrests nationwide.

Police also found a gasoline bomb-making factory in a rundown building in Evry, a southern Paris suburb that contained 150 explosives, more than 100 bottles, gallons of fuel and hoods for hiding rioters' faces, Jean-Marie Huet, a senior Justice Ministry official, said Sunday.
How many riots do you know with organized weapons factories? It's official for me, this brings this whole think up to the level of an insurgency, or perhaps as many have been saying, intifada. Whatever you want to call it, it's war. It is time for the French to stop responding with arrests and start responding with bullets.

As usual, Mary Steyn cuts to the heart of matters in the Chicago Sun-Times.

Wake up, Europe, you've a war on your hands
Ever since 9/11, I've been gloomily predicting the European powder keg's about to go up. "By 2010 we'll be watching burning buildings, street riots and assassinations on the news every night," I wrote in Canada's Western Standard back in February.

Silly me. The Eurabian civil war appears to have started some years ahead of my optimistic schedule. As Thursday's edition of the Guardian reported in London: "French youths fired at police and burned over 300 cars last night as towns around Paris experienced their worst night of violence in a week of urban unrest."
But it is his conclusion that really strikes home
If Chirac isn't exactly Charles Martel, the rioters aren't doing a bad impression of the Muslim armies of 13 centuries ago: They're seizing their opportunities, testing their foe, probing his weak spots. If burning the 'burbs gets you more "respect" from Chirac, they'll burn 'em again, and again. In the current issue of City Journal, Theodore Dalrymple concludes a piece on British suicide bombers with this grim summation of the new Europe: "The sweet dream of universal cultural compatibility has been replaced by the nightmare of permanent conflict." Which sounds an awful lot like a new Dark Ages.
My question is this, if the French government continues to play Nero, fiddling while Paris burns, do we or the Brits need to respond? Can we afford an Islamic state in Western Europe? In the EU? Of course, I don't think France is going to end up looking like Saudia Arabia, not right now, but absent definitive action by the French, the Islamic forces will end up with far more political power than they had, power they will continue to leverage.

It's not like it would be the first time we have pulled the French's fat out of the fire. Last time we let them be conquered before we acted, do we want to do so again?

Where are the stories on the British and American diplomatic efforts to convince France of what must be done? Given that this has advanced far beyond mere rioting, we cannot afford to view this as purely an internal matter for the French. The stakes here are enormous.



You have until noon to GO HERE

Vote for HOLY COAST. Do not vote for anyone else, and especially don't vote for Peace Like A River or Perspective and Soda -- They're MOBsters. well actually they were that , now we call them simply TOA, "That Other Alliance" -- If they win Jesse Ventura could be your next president.


Can You Be Too Smart?

Keith over at Mere Orthodoxy wonders
Do you want to be a person with knowledge, without the knowledge of where to put it?

Perhaps second-order knowledge, knowing what to do with knowledge, is more important than knowledge itself? If not more important, at least primary.

It is a great thing to know how to build a skyscraper. It is a greater thing to know when to build a skyscraper and why.
Which made me think about this post from Evangelical Outpost. Joe is wondering about the meaning of 1+1=2. Early in the post Joe says
The reason this idea seems so foreign (if not downright absurd) is that most views have a minimal pragmatic affect on how we actually live our lives. Both my neighbor and I, for example, may get sunburned even if we different beliefs about the sun. The fact that I think it is a ball of nuclear plasma while he believes that it is pulled across the sky in a chariot driven by the Greek god Helios doesn't change the fact that we both have to use sunscreen.
Later on he says
For each of these four philosophers what was considered to be divine (?just there?) had a significant impact on how they answered the questions about the nature of the simple equation. For Leibnitz it was mathematical abstractions; for Russell it was logic; for Mill is was sensations; and for Dewey it was the physical/biological world. On the surface we might be able to claim that all four men understood the equation in the same way. But as we moved deeper we found their religious beliefs radically altered the conceptual understanding of 1 + 1 = 2.
It's obvious that Joe is trying to build an argument opposed to reductionist views and is going to finish it in another post, and he has a point, but I have to agree with him when he says "if not downright absurd."

Go back to Keith's point, poorly applied, or inapplicable knowledge is a waste if not wrongheaded. Besides, the "theories" Joe mentions of Leibnitz, Russell, Mill, and Dewey and not so much "understandings" of the equation as they are impositions upon it. Where I come from, asking a question, even if you have an answer for it, does not rise to the level of "knowledge." 1+1=2 has no "meaning," its a statement of counting. Anything else said concerning it does not alter it, it is simply an expression of the prejudices and beliefs of the people making the utterances. Their beliefs are important, but not because of what they say about 1+1=2.

None of the people Joe cites are going to do mathematics any differently because of their "understanding" of 1+1=2. They just have different beliefs.

Another way to express what I am saying here is that belief may affect how one interprets data, but it does not change the data itself. The key to math and science is to listen to the data, and not stray into areas that the data cannot speak to. So, in Joe's original issue, how to have a Christian viewpoint in math and science -- there really isn't one, if one restricts oneself to the data, and only those things which the data addresses.

The problems with science today, and they are many, have nothing to do with science, they have to do with scientists not doing science, but doing something else. As someone trained in science, I think the ideal is to separate viewpoint from data and listen only to data when doing science. This limits science pretty severely because to limit ourselves to data means limiting ourselves to closed systems and there are a limited number of those.

Joe is exploring human nature, but ideally in science, we set that aside to search for what answers we can get. When we wander afield, we take off our scientist hat and we lose our scientific authority. The imposition of a worldview on science simply compromises that authority where it should not be compromised.


Reality Check

Last month, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed funds for the California Seismic Safety Commission, an independent panel charged with reviewing and recommending legislation and policy on earthquake safety. State employees were doing similar work, he said.
In spite of the massive property damage, we came through the Northridge Quake pretty well in human terms, and particularly when compared to the recent Kashmir quake. And there are a lot of agencies doing a lot of things to help California improve its quake preparedness.

This piece amounts to little more than a Schwarzenegger hit piece ont he part of the LA Times, just prior to an election. Imagine that.

We have to exercise some fiscal responsibility in this state. We have to look at some cost benefit and we have to learn that tax dollars are not a bottomless pit of money.

We have got to get serious in California, or we are not going to be at all.


Only In California

Sometimes I really hate living here. The line between reality and the movies is a little too thin out here. Never more so, to my mind, than in this story.

Beatty, Bening try to crash Arnold's event
Actors Warren Beatty and wife Annette Bening tried to crash a campaign appearance Saturday by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger as the governor sought to drum up last-minute support for a group of statewide ballot measures.

The Hollywood couple strode side-by-side to the entrance of an airport hangar where several hundred of the governor?s supporters had gathered.

A Schwarzenegger aide told the "Bulworth" star he was not on the guest list and did not have the appropriate wristband to get inside.
California has some very serious problems. Schwarzenegger has done the right thing in trying to solve them. He has come into the system, run for office and done his darnedest to fix things. Beatty, who has made no secret of his opposition to the Guvenator's policies, responds with stunts and "threats" to run for Governor.

Warren, get serious, or get out! The situation is far too grave out here for stunts. I would probably disagree with every policy you had, but in the shape we're in, serious governance is the order of the day. Serious governance would accept all voices that played reasonably and you would be welcome, even if you would be wrong, but this crap does nothing to solve the problem at all.



The first theme I want to look at in today's pollution is change. Let me introduce to you the concept of equilibrium. In chemistry, almost all reaction are an equilibrium. What that means is there is a balance between how much stuff is ont he left hand side of the equation, and how much on the right. One then introduces factors tot he circumstance to shift the equilibrium towards on side of the equation or the other to get the desired result.

And "ecosystem" is nothing more than and equilbrium between flora, fauna, and resources. It is not nearly so well defined as a chemical reaction for a couple of reasons. For one thing, no ecosystem is truly "closed." That is to say you cannot draw a boundary around it, thus you cannot always identify what factors shift it. Second of all, it is so comlex in comparison to a chemical reaction that you may not be able to identify all the factors inside the arbitrary boundary you draw.

In something as dynamic as this planet, the fact of the matter is there are always factors being introduced into an ecosystem, thus the equilibrium is always shifting. Thus things always change. So, when you read all these breathless stories about how things are changing, all you know is that someone has observed and described a specific process that is on-going. Consider

Which makes stories like these somewhat irresponsible

The key question when reading about change is not the change itself, but Why the change? and Is the change bad? That second question is really loaded. If change is constant, if it has always been a part of the mechanism of the planet, how do we know if it is good or bad? Just because it's based on human action? But are we not part of the planet as well? Get's a little tough, doesn't it?

Speaking of those questions, what about when one part of nature just does it to another part. Consider

Finally, let's close today with some genuine news -- Here's one about real pollution handled well and here is a story about justice realized.


New Word Alert

I detect in this a certain amount of scheissenbedauern, a German word I've only recently discovered, meaning disappointment over things turning out better than expected.
Only we krauts would have a word for that kind of disappointment. There is but one answer for a person of german origin suffering under scheissenbedauern - here it is.



Okla. High School Hoops Team Loses 112-2


Pun Pain

In an effort to be encouraging, Scotwise said
Did you hear about the man who refused his dentist's Novocain during root canal work? He wanted to transcend dental medication.
I may need a healing after a pun that bad!


Better Than V2 Tests!

Fireballs seen over Germany spark UFO speculation

Being of german descent myself, the question I have is, "If it was UFO's, how would you recognize the aliens?"


Those Darn Americans

A mysterious and powerful radio signal is interfering with electronic garage door openers around Canada's capital.

J.P. Cleroux of Ram Overhead Door Systems told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. the problem began last weekend.

"It affects a 25-mile radius. That's huge," said Cleroux.

Cleroux believes the culprit may be the U.S. Embassy.
They're on to us. It's all part of a plot on the part of our military to egg all the consumer vehicles Ottowa because Lord knows they have nothing better to do.

The motivation behnd this plot is to increase the need for car wash workers in the Great White North, helping to ease American problems with illegal immigration.


Thank Goodness It's Not The Men!

North Korea Urges Women to Wear Dresses

Sunday, November 06, 2005


Big Debate Brewing - It's As Old As The Church

In this corner we have Phil Johnson (Pyromaniac) and Tim Challies (blogging under his own name) and in the other corner we have Adrian Warnock challenging Phil here and Tim here. What are we debating, why the charismata, the gifting of the Holy Spirit.

I understand that there are important, very important issues surrounding the gifts, but I for the life of me do not understand cessasionism. It seems to me that cessasionism is completely antithetical to scripture. Why would Paul spend so much writing on how to manage the charismata in I Corintians 12-14 if he knew the phenomena was going to die with him and the other apostles? Clearly Paul is instructing for the future.

There is another thing I do not fully understand in this present debate. Both Phil and Tim are discussing the gift of prophecy as "future-telling." This is not at all how I understand this particular gift. Unger's Bible Dictionary says this:
The Nature of Prophecy. The predictive element was a frequent part of the content of the prophet's message. But this is not the only element. The prophets frequently appeared in the role of social and political reformers, stirring preachers of righteousness and religious revivalists in addition to being predictors of judgment or blessing, as the occasion demanded. The prophet's message was ever religious and spiritual, announcing the will of God to men and calling for complete obedience. Often the prophetic element shone out in the prophet's preaching and writing. This element cannot be dispensed with as some modern critics would think. Neither can the opposite extreme of regarding the prophet's message as solely predictive be defended as tenable. Prophetic prognostication was not mere foretelling to appeal to idle curiosity nor even to maintain the integrity of the prophet, although that was occasionally the case (cf. ). The genius of prophecy was rather a prediction of the future arising from the conditions of the present and was inseparably connected with the profoundly religious and spiritual message the prophet was called to proclaim to his own generation.
The Oral Roberts, Benny Hinn "prophecies" that Tim and Phil assert don't rise to the level of prophecy in the true biblical sense, they are manipulative utterances designed to motivate a gullible audience.

Now having said these things, I have also said on numerous occassions on this blog that playing with the charismata is playing "with fire." (Yes, that's a Pentacost pun!) The false exhibition of the gifts, like those discussed in the preceding paragraph, is evil -- I have no other word for it. I have seen lives ruined, or ended and other great mischief done in the proported exercise of the gifts. There are many that I am convinced God will ban to the nether regions for eternity based on their malpractice regarding the charismata. But that is no reason to discard the concept.

There is one other point I need to make here. Those of us inclined to calvinism are not likely to ever be granted the more spectacular gifts -- Not because of our theologiical bent, but because the gifting that makes us Calvinists is somewhat antithetical to those other gifts. But the fact that I do not have a prayer language does not remove the possibility from existence.

I am not happy with this debate. To my mind it evades the central issue. It's not if the gifts exist, but rather developing, using the great attributes of us hyper-rationalistic Calvinist types, good teaching about the gifts and their exercise. For it is only down that path that the church can tap all the power available to it without the great mischeif potential inherent in the practices.




Vote for HOLY COAST. Do not vote for anyone else, and especially don't vote for Peace Like A River or Perspective and Soda -- They're MOBsters -- If they wins ice will cover the nation and we'll all have to be "nice," except, of course for them. Consider this email I got from Chad The Elder over at Fraters Libertas
SCBA? Never heard of 'em. Sounds like Duane is giving away radios to some of his softball buddies again. Let me know when you come up with a real alliance.
Now in the first place, I, and the rest of my SCBA allies, are in far too good a shape to play softball for Duane (well, except for Duane himself). But more importantly, I get this insult from an organization that is more drinking club than anything else?

We'll see who's laughing come Monday beer-boy!


Does Christianity Specify A Societal Organization?

Mere-Orthodoxy picks up on an old post from their mentor - John Mark Reynolds and argues
Just as free market economics stems from a Christian world view, so socialism is fundamentally at war with Christianity.
I agree with the arguments made, but this post worries me. First of all, note the very careful wording of that these statement, notably the phrase "a Christian world view." Christianity and scripture does not, I think, argue for one economic system or another.

One of the more troubling aspects of the very good arguments made in this post is that it fails to address the obviously socialistic communities described in Acts. Such socialism supported even to the point of apparent coercion, in direct contrast to one of the more powerful arguements in the post.
Socialist nations are often abusive in terms of power even when they start off with so-called noble intentions.
This statement forces one to ask if Ananias and Sapharia experienced abusive power.

I am playing devil's advocate here. I am a free-market guy, and I would make many of the same arguments in support of it that this post does. And given that this is in the name of a "Christian world view" I suppose it hasn't crossed the line totally into unsafe waters. But as I said on Thursday
Consider the question of caring for the poor. Socialism seems like a good answer, and the idea presented in Acts. But we have seen in communism that it is as corrupt and vile as capitalism -- its not about the system, its about the people. Will transformed people automatically order themselves in a socialistic manner? I'm not sure, you see transformed people would be sufficiently generous in a capitalistic setting that it might not matter.

But the point here is the gospel is not about politics, its about transformation, politics simply follow in the wake of that transformation.
I think we have to be very careful what we attach Christ's name to, even in the highly conditional form it was done here.


Sermons and Lessons

Been a while since I called on a Charles Spurgeon sermon for this space -- but here is a goody:

Beauty For Ashes

Using a text of Isa 61:3 here's a little taste
I would draw particular attention to the words here, "To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes." Come, mourning souls, who mourn in the way described, come ye gladly hither: there is comfort appointed for you, and there is also comfort given to you. It is the prerogative of King Jesus both to appoint and to give. How cheering is the thought that as our griefs are appointed, so also are our consolations. God has allotted a portion to every one of his mourners, even as Joseph allotted a mess to each of his brethren at the feast. You shall have your due share at the table of grace, and if you are a little one, and have double sorrows, you shall have a double portion of comfort.
Read the whole thing.

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