Saturday, December 17, 2005
No Apology Necessary
Sorry if it makes you feel uncomfortable reading it...and sorry if it is offensive.Anybody who would codemn Rob for the situation he describes and the actions he took, really has a problem. Think about how completely selfish it is to have the best news in the world and to stay inside some little Christian community. More, I think it means you don't really believe the news is all that good -- If you really believed it was that good, you couldn't possibly not go out there and share it.
Oh, you say, I'll send tracts and preach on street corners, and maybe have a television show. Is that how we are supposed to do it? Then why did Jesus come 2000 years ago before we had all those capabilities like the printing press or electronics?
This is the time of year we celebrate the Incarnation -- God becoming a person. The Word became flesh. Think about that -- the Word, God's word, was not sufficient to bring God's grace to us - it was necessary that that Word take fleshly form for salvation to be complete. Fleshly form that could touch and feel, that loved and cried and laughed, was tempted, and HURT. Jesus was God - fully human.
How dare we think that if God could not accomplish His goals with merely a word that we possibly could. If God felt the need to "press the flesh," how can we do this any differently?
Oh, but you protest, "My church is 'seeker sensitve' we invite them in." Yeah, but what about those that aren't seeking? - Or who think they "found it" already" (Yes that is a purposeful allusion to one of the worst evangelistic schemes of all time) DO you think the gospel message is only for the seeker? IT'S FOR THE WORLD.
Why did the Apostle Paul travel all over the known world? Heck, he coulda just written letters.
OK, settle down, I'm going into full rant mode here.
The world is a dirty place, it's full of hurting people. Those hurting people do not have what it takes to get clean -- it simply does not exist for them. They will never get clean unless we are willing to walk around in the dirt pile a bit. We need to have the faith to know that God will keep us clean while we are there.
Senate Democrats Take Leave Of Senses
You see that? The headline is not about the act, it's about the politics and the politics are what's driving this, pure and simple. This filibuster comes, by the way, after the Senate/House conference to reconcile previously passed bills.
It cannot be put any more simply than this -- The Democrats are willing to place your security at risk for the sake of partisan politics.
So what do you do? Well, if they want to play partisan politics, let's bury them.
Light up the Phone and the Email.
Here's the phone list -- if you see a "D" after a name -- give them a jingle and an email. Bury 'em.
By the way, there were four Republicans (not for long) that voted with the Dems. Hugh Hewitt has the info on them here. They truly have taken leave of their senses, they lack even the political motivations of the Dems.
Here is the most important fact to remember. Do you recall in the wake of 9-11 all of the talk of "the wall?" That was the bureaucratic barrier between United States intelligence services and law enforcement services. Thus, say the NSA learned of a nuclear bomb planted in the country, they were not allowed to tell the FBI to go stop it from going off. Also remember American intelligence services are forbidden by law from doing any operations in the US. Thus the wall virtually guaranteed that the bomb would go off. The Patriot Act is the legislation that took that wall down. Now, as of December 31, that wall will go back up.
We cannot afford to let that happen. Get on the horn and let 'em know -- NOW!
For My Friends
Green Arrow was, in his original incarnation, sort of a Batman rip-off and his sidekick's costume had to reflect that. Have you ever noticed how bright Robin's costume is? I mean, the Batman is a creature of the night, and he has this kid hanging out with him all the time that looks like a glow-in-the-dark road sign. No night camoflague there. (Robin was fixed some years ago) Well, that explains Speedy's look - bright red and yellow
Speedy's been around for a while and this picture illustrates. I really love these older images of the heroes and their sidekicks. It's like the kid just sort of makes the picture "right."
Note also how Speedy is exactly paralleling GA. Can you think of a better way for a kid to put himself in the story. He sees a character his age, doing exactly what the hero is doing and man, there you are, transported into the story.
Speedy had another thing going for him that Robin did -- no superpowers. You want to be Speedy, all you have to do is practice. I wonder how many archery sets this kid sold. I know one for sure. Although I never got the costume.
Of course, all the sidekicks appeared in the title with their big guy, but only a blessed few made it into the great big leagues, like tagging along on adventures with the big guy on various teams. Speedy was one of those blessed few as you can see here.
Despite the fact that he is not all that well known, Speedy may be one of the most pivotal characters in all of comics. He changed the direction of comics hugely in the late '60's/early '70's run that combined Green Lantern and Green Arrow.
By the time, GL/GA came about, sidekicks were pretty well gone. The series brought him back in a whole new role -- as a junkie. In one fell swoop the comic got "socially relevant." Marvel was also doing some drug related stories about this time, and as such was the first publisher in forever to forego the "Comics Code Authority" seal. While that was huge, to my memory, this Speedy story, even though tamer and with the seal, was what made me go "Wow!"
Maybe it was because at the time, DC was kind of "stick in the mud" and this story was completely out of character for them. Marvel was liable to do anything at the time and drug stories seemed sort of par for the course under their banner, but not so DC.
Speedy's drug problem became great grist for the writing mill for a long time after, particularly in the Teen Titans where it caused all sorts of trust issues with his peers. Speedy is a character well worth getting to know.
And on a side note -- did you ever wonder who were the baddest of the bad and what it was they did? Well, somebody up and published a top ten list of most evil acts in comics. Joker rightfully makes the list twice for crippling Batgirl and killing Robin, but the modernity of the list leaves out some fun. Besides, how can you have a list of evil acts without Lex Luthor on it somehwere?
|You Are Dasher|
You're an independent minded reindeer who never plays by the rules.
Why You're Naughty: That little coup you tried to stage against Santa last year
Why You're Nice: You secretly give naughty children presents.
Thanks to Okie On The Lam for this ability to discover my true reindeer nature.
The Annoying Eat The Gross and The Scary
It's wintertime and the king penguins at a zoo in northern Japan are putting on weight. But the keepers there have a solution: exercise.You know they do that whole winter weight gain thing naturally -- it's about insulation. I think this is taking our weight management craze just a little too seriously.
It's No Mystery...
Although they may help with the dry skin scales.
There Is A Difference...
For Purdue basketball fans - "disposable" goes in the trash, "flushable" goes in the toilet.
Friday, December 16, 2005
Mere minutes after returning home and sharing the news [that he'd been laid off] with Aileen the phone rang once more and this time it was a friend calling to say that their company needed a new web site and someone who could contract with them to manage their network. And just like that my company was born.Given the extra years I have on Tim, I have moved from lack of want to actual abundance, and yet I still struggle with worry as Tim does. As we all know, the more we have the more we are afraid to lose it -- and the bigger the nut we have to crack every month. Tim says he overcomes worry by recognizing its uselessness
That was almost four years ago. I began the company without money and without loans. Since that time we have never lacked for anything important.
Worrying is a dead end. There is no benefit to worrying. Worrying does bring about various effects, but never the desired ones. Worrying brings physical and emotional infirmity, it damages interpersonal relationships and, for more seriously, separates us from the Lord. It brings about no benefit. I am thankful that God has helped me to see the wisdom of Job - the wisdom that opposes worry. "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." I have surrendered to God's control, to God's providence, and trust that there is nothing to worry about.To Tim's point I wish to add another -- worry, particularly about finances, is a symptom of ingratitude for what God has provided. The material abundance that God has provided me is stunning -- consider just the Baltic Sea cruise my wife and I enjoyed this past summer - those things, particularly as nice as that one was, do grow on trees. In such abundance, when I worry, I tell God that that abundance did not come from Him, but from me.
My story really is just like Tim's - client calls coming almost immediately on the heals of losing that which came before, words of assurance from friends and books coming at the moment most required -- things I cannot conceivably take any credit for. That stuff just has to be from God. And now I am worried I can't get all the work done! I am a weak soul.
I have attempted to train myself to respond to worry with gratitude - when worried to take account of the manifest blessings I enjoy.
Matt 6:25-34 - "For this reason I say to you, do not be anxious for your life, as to what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor for your body, as to what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body than clothing? "Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? "And which of you by being anxious can add a single cubit to his life's span? "And why are you anxious about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory did not clothe himself like one of these. "But if God so arrays the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more do so for you, O men of little faith? "Do not be anxious then, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'With what shall we clothe ourselves?' "For all these things the Gentiles eagerly seek; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you. "Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.That Jesus guy was pretty smart!
Welcome To The Club!
Here's some good reading:
Iraq The Model - Eyes on the ground.
Bill Roggio - also in the mix (HT: Hewitt)
Early reports from The Beeb and FOXNews.
The Hedgehog supplies the photos.
And Michelle Malkin links to the links to the moonbats.
A previously oppressed nation has exercised its democratic franchise. There are few better things in the world of politics and governments.
Can't Hold My Tongue On This One
Jim Wallis, editor of the liberal Christian journal Sojourners and an organizer of today's protest, was not buying it. Such conservative religious leaders "have agreed to support cutting food stamps for poor people if Republicans support them on judicial nominees," he said. "They are trading the lives of poor people for their agenda. They're being, and this is the worst insult, unbiblical."I tend to be very circumspect in what I say about Wallis, he is a Christian brother, but this is too insulting not to address quite sternly. The fact of the matter is that judicial action has increasingly limited the freedoms of religious practice we enjoy, which includes the church's ability to feed the poor. There is nothing in the deal he cites so spitefully that says anything unbiblical or about not taking care of the poor, it simply gets the government out of the middle and lets the church do what it is supposed to do. Late in the article they cite a conservative Christian making this point, but far past the point most people read.
What truly hacks me is with his organizational skills differently applied, how many poor people could Wallis get fed? The man is good if he was just aimed a little better.
Secondly, Wallis is focused domestically, when by comparison to the world no one in this nation is poor. I'd have a lot more sympathy for him if he was worried about sending aid to Dafur, or some of the other war-torn and poverty-stricken regions of the world than being worried, as I heard him discuss on the Michael Medved show a few months back, whether people in this nation could afford to buy the home they rented for 20 years. -- I mean a little perspective, please. Towards the end of the WaPo piece they even cite a liberal Christian that makes the same point - one with whom I am typically loathe to agree.
There is a difference between having your faith inform your politics and doing politics in light of that information and putting your politics in front of your faith.
Honor Is Due
When you live abroad long enough, you come to understand that governments that behave this way are not the exception, but the rule. They feel alien to us, but from the viewpoint of the world's population, we are the aliens, not them. That makes you think about protecting your country no matter who you are or what you're doing. What impresses you most, when you don't have them day to day, are the institutions that distinguish the U.S.: the separation of powers, a free press, the right to vote, and a culture that values civic duty and service, to name but a few.He laments such sentiment as cliche, but everytime I've ever been overseas, all I can saw is "Ditto!"
A year ago, I was at my sister's house using her husband's laptop when I came across a video of an American in Iraq being beheaded by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The details are beyond description here; let's just say it was obscene. At first I admit I felt a touch of the terror they wanted me to feel, but then I felt the anger they didn't. We often talk about how our policies are radicalizing young men in the Middle East to become our enemies, but rarely do we talk about how their actions are radicalizing us. In a brief moment of revulsion, sitting there in that living room, I became their blowback.I am so grateful that some in our nation still have the common sense to react to such scenes in this fashion as opposed to the timid "stop the cycle of violence" that we see so often.
Honor is due Mr. Pottinger and all those like him.
It Would Be So Much Easier If We Could Schedule These Things
Probably a tease anyway.
What Do You Make Of This?
A former British Airways stewardess who is pioneering free health care for Palestinian donkeys received an early Christmas present yesterday when a charity promised £281,000 in support.Initial reaction: that's a half-million dollars that could have been put to a lot better use. Later in the story:
"This is not a touchy-feely exercise, but a project based on common sense," she said. "If the farmer looks after his donkey well, it will work a lot longer and be of greater value in the long run. Some of the animals are in a bad way, with awful saddle sore and cuts from where the harness rubs away at the skin. But with a bit of education and care we are already seeing results."Now that makes some sense -- it's right out of the "give a fish, give a meal, teach how to fish, fed for life" school which, in the end, I think is a great way to go. But the end of the piece featured a quote from the funding agency and sort of spoiled it again
Bill Swann, the international director of the Brooke, praised Miss Fensom's vision. He said: "Lucy has recognised what is clearly a significant animal welfare need among animals belonging to poor communities and we hope that with our help her good start can be built on for even greater results."See, it's not an "animal welfare" issue, it's a people welfare issue in which the animals play a key role. In the end it sounds like the woman doing the work has her head and heart in the right place, even if those funding her don't. Fine for now, but isn't that often the way things get bollaxed up? - He who controls the money controls the agenda?
And You Think Movies Are Formulaic Now?!
Film Industry -- Please, no...resist the temptation.
I Prefer Using Keys -- Otherwise There Is An Element of Theft
And If My Top Is Cold?
You know, now that I reflect, there are some places technology just does not need to intrude.
They Can Only Tell From The Cosmic Belch
What other observation would only be suggestive in these circumstances?
The "Must Have" Gift For This Christmas Season
No man's life is complete without his very own plasma engine.
Way Too Much Time On Their Hands
And enormous beer bellies to match.
Thursday, December 15, 2005
Breaking The Bubble
But there is something very real and very debilitating about the Christian bubbles that I have seen and experienced in my life. They beckon their members withdraw from the world out of fear that they will be drawn in to the world too closely. For this reason, my first experience in the corporate world shocked me.First of all, God be praised that shock was Meghan's prevalent response. I've known far too many people to collapse under the stresses such an emergence brings. Meghan's response has been to try and find what it means to be God's person in a secular world. That's a good thing. But she has a couple of sentences that are really telling to me.
I think the guilt and shame came to a head after one friend went so far as to tell me that my work was Godless and that the reward for my work would be only on earth. The underlying message, of course, if I really wanted to do something meaningful with my life and for the Lord, I should go into "ministry" like him.There is a huge fallacy here -- that the world is somehow divided into the "Christian realm" and the "secular realm." What is this, the Middle Ages where the faith of a nation is defined by its leaders? People are divided into Christians and non-Christians, but do you think that if we lived in a fully sanctified world we would cease to have science, commerce, agriculture...? I grant we would do those things very differently, but I doubt seriously we would sit around in circles singing and waiting for God to deliver dinner. God has angels to keep the singing up.
The only difference between a Christian and a non-Christian activity is who's doing it. We do not have jobs to pay to do ministry in our spare time or, as Meghan found out, as an entree to share the gospel in our work setting. We have jobs to be the best Christian we can be at that job.
Joe Carter was fond of saying during our prep for GodBlogCon and at the conference that "God came to save the world." I agree, but the key question is "How?" The answer is by saving us. We bring salvation to the world.
All a mindset of separateness does is objectify the rest of the world. It makes it something we do ministry to, instead of a place that we love and with which we long to share the joy of our hearts.
People in such separately-minded communities generally lack, as Meghan also discovered, grace. Such places are the places that those antagonistic to Christianity so often react negatively to. You would think it would be easy to be a Christian in such a "bubble" but time after time I have seen such places fester and fetid, stewed in a faith that objectifies instead of embraces.
If God left His heaven to come here and save us, how can we but follow His example and learn how to be His people in whatever it is we do?
Truly, Truly Chilling
Well, the other day, the author Lynette Burrows went on a BBC Five Live show to talk about the government's new "civil partnerships" and expressed her opinion - politely, no intemperate words - that the adoption of children by homosexuals was "a risk". The following day, Fulham police contacted her to discuss the "homophobic incident".Steyn does his usual good job of pointing out the inherent problems with this story, but I think he is understated as to its horrors. He alludes to it
A Scotland Yard spokesperson told the Telegraph's Sally Pook that it's "standard policy" for "community safety units" to investigate "homophobic, racist and domestic incidents" because these are all "priority crimes" - even though, in the case of Mrs Burrows, there is (to be boringly legalistic about these things) no crime, as even the zealots of the Yard concede.
As it is, Lynette Burrows has been investigated by police merely for expressing an opinion. Which is the sort of thing we used to associate with police states.But I am not sure I am comfortable with hiding behind the veneer of civility that is this "no crime" police intimidation tactic.
As someone who has visited both the Soviet Union and The People's Republic Of China - there is nothing civil, regardless of context or precise legalities, in a police visit based upon non-threatening utterance. I have had friends describe to me in agonizing and horrifying detail visits by the KGB or the Red Army to investigate potential improper speech.
Imagine, I and some friends are walking in front of St. Issac's Cathedral in Leningrad as it was then known. It's the wee hours and the vodka has been flowing. We are having a blast. Feeling the vodka, I make a wisecrack about the KGB. I have never seen a party end so fast or people sober up so quickly. Laughter was replaced by horror in a matter of microseconds.
I find nothing civil in what Steyn describes -- I find no excuse for it acceptable. I also find it unbelievable that Steyn finds a lack of political will to address it.
I pray that this nation never sinks that low. I pray for my British cousins. Great Britian has been the shining light resisting the numerous police states that have attempted to gain control of Europe over the centuries - It would be a shame to have them join this one.
How Big Is Hell?
And having said this, there is another element to the scriptural narrative that many conservative believers really have missed. No, not the reality of hell, but I believe most evangelicals are wrong about the comparative size of it....I truly believe it is God's desire for all to be saved, and I truly believe that grace, and grace alone is the sole source of that salvation. But I am forced to comment that whether it is McLaren's lack of acknowledgement of hell, or this declaration of the poor odds of getting there, I am troubled.
...Jesus came to save the world, and when the thing is done, the world will in fact be saved. He didn't come to give saving the world the old college try; He came to save the world....
...When God is done with His gracious intervention, the number of the saved is going to far exceed the number of the lost. Why? Because the human race deserves to be saved? No, because God is piling grace upon grace in this sorry mess of a world....
Jesus tells us the way is narrow and few are chosen. Christ Himself did not want us to think the odds were in our favor.
The problem lies in how we present the story, not in the doctrine. We condemn when we should encourage. We declare people bound for hell when we should be reaching to pull them out. We tell people they are going to hell when we should simply be telling them there is one. The problem is not what we believe, but who we are.
If we spent as much time trying to become as God would have us be as we do trying to figure out our doctrine, hell would not be much of a concern.
Well? This Is A Problem Because...?
The US Department of Defense may be routinely spying on US anti-war organizations to determine whether their planned activities could endanger military bases or recruitment drives, according to a document.Let's see, if I was a terrorist and I wanted to get close to a military installation for a little mischief, how would I do that? Using a bunch of "peace activists" for a diversion might be a good way to go about it -- particularly since the "protesters" are not prone to cooperate with the military on security matters. Who knows, I might even be able to incite a few of the malcontents to assist me.
My job takes me into military installations from time-to-time -- do you know what they have in those places? You do not want the wrong element clandestinely approaching them, the consequences would not be pretty. And what's really sad is that the anti-war organizations would be the very first to suffer the consequences.
Just because you don't want to hurt them doesn't mean they don't want to hurt you.
Brevity Is The Soul Of Eloquence
A Defection From The Alliance?
What's this? - fellow SoCal Alliance member Dawn's Early Light accusing me of "selling out." We have rules about this! Is this anyway to treat an ally?
The Washington Post has a hard hitting editorial today on former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's new job working for the Russian Government titled "Gerhard Schroeder's Sellout". "What?" you say. "Yes", Gerhard Schroeder, champion of Russia, ignorer of Russian democratic suppression, France's tool in its Atlantic spat with America is going to work for Gazprom, the Russian state-owned oil firm.OH...Gerhard Schroeder. Never Mind!
Yes, In Roughly 16 Minutes
Which Is, I Suppose, Better Than The Pets Suing
Scientists Easily Shocked
Extraterristial Alien Invasion Pending
Why else would we need "Planetary Defense?"
News Of The Obvious
Gee, I Thought The Thrill Of Space Travel Sufficient Incentive!?
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Why Am I Pulled Up Short Here?
The material principle of the Reformation was Sola Fide, meaning "by Faith alone." This was the material or substance of the preaching of the Reformers. The formal principle "Scripture alone" was the principle that Scripture alone (and not Church tradition) is the sole infallible rule of faith for the Church. This was the principle by which "Faith Alone" is affirmed, as well as the other solas. That is because these doctrines are the doctrines of the Bible.For some reason I could not help but be struck when I read that with the question, "Have the Solas become tradtion and are therefore problematic?" Maybe it's because of the post about criticism I wrote yesterday - but with the huge wars that have been raging between the TR and the rest, I could not help but wonder if it is possible for even our reformed thought to become dogmatic and therefore to stand in the way. Again, I affirm the Solas but....
Which leads me to the next thought I had, as Samson discussed the Solas he spoke of salvation and justification, but what of sanctification? You see, therein I think lies the difference between the Solas as dogma and the Solas being the gracious ideas they are intended to be.
I am continually struck by how in the hands of a saint, most theology works, but in the hands of the unsaintly, theology becomes a cudgel, regardless of its "correctness."
None of this, by the way is to say that I disagree with anything Samson said. These are just thoughts that floated by as I read his post. But these thoughts raise an important question - what do I seek first? -- Understanding or Transformation? I must answer Transformation.
It's about gay cowboys - I mean, fine for them, but just the idea of a movie like this makes me want to go see Lion, Witch, and Wardrobe 12 more times.
I Don't Get This
Computer simulations show that a common nanoparticle called a buckyball has the potential to damage DNA. The simulations suggest that buckyballs bind strongly to the DNA strands, distorting the molecules and interfering with functions like self-repair.I've talked about buckyballs before. Would someone please explain to me the difference between a "nanoparticle" and a molecule? Secondly, buckyballs are darn hard to make -- it's not like they are just floating about loose in the environment waiting to put the kibosh on someone's DNA. I doubt there has been more than a few hundred pounds syntesized in all of hsitory.
Conclusion -- nanotech is where the venture capital money is right now. So, chemistry becomes "nanotech" work to get that funding and environmental dangers from nanotech are invented to get more funding. A guess, yes - likely, yes.
The "Best" Of Pravda
"Deposit" I thought, "They found oil - in London? and it's burning? Man that could change geopolitics in a big way." Of course, they meant "Depot," referring to the huge fire north of London this week, but it took me a second.
This story is so "old Pravda" that it just has to make you smile.
Analysis of historical facts and the history of the development of Iraq's capabilities in WMD, shows who in fact should be held responsible for allowing the danger to escalate without hindrance
Finally, we can only pray this story is true:
Let him be their problem for a while.
Letting Nature Take Its Course
I just hope the drivers are well insured.
Somehow I think I'd prefer prosthetic to partially digested.
Usually, I'm Just Grateful For The Work
Better Than 12 Miles
HA, HE...Look At What I Made This Behaviorist Do...Har, Har, Har
The Fat Made Me Do It!
If only, I could get away with murder.
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
How To Disagree?
I believe that we must find a way to address this behavior which has inexplicably become commonplace yet is explicitly condemned by Scripture. How do we hold our fellow Christian bloggers accountable? How do we respond to this "talk-radio"-style of debate in which no disagreement on even inessential matters (i.e., should churches be open on Christmas?) can be tolerated?Joe reposts something he wrote a few months ago:
Is there anything that Christians do that will not earn them criticism by other Christians? We complain about both church growth initiatives and stagnation in the pews. We whine about both the conformity of mainstream evangelicalism and the dangers of the emergent church movement. We warn against both the church being too involved in politics and against the church not doing enough prevent state-sanctioned injustice. We even have Calvinists being criticized by Hyper-Calvinists for not holding closely enough to the strictures of Calvinism ? while never having bothered to actually read the works of John Calvin!I have some random thoughts here
- I have commented before that the "big blogging successes" (Memogate, etc.) have been critical in nature -- blogging has developed as a culture of criticism.
- Because blogging is really all about links, the best way to get linked to is to disagree with someone. Blogging has a bit of a built-in incentive to be critical.
- Flame wars in general build traffic
- It's a lot easier to find a mistake in soemone else's writing than it is to write something original
- I think blogging has a natural draw for periennial malcontents. Those whose criticial nature results in them being marginalized in thier local congregation may find voice for that nature in the blogosphere.
I guess what I am saying here is that I think it is unsurprising that Christian blogging would end up where Joe laments that it is. I agree with Joe's lament incidentally -- I brought it up at GodBlogCon. Joe ends his post by pointing out that Christians are supposed to be different in this aspect of their lives:
Where does it end? When will we stop being "wife beaters" of Christ's bride? And when will we finally heed the exhortation of Titus to, "Avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless."Now, none of this is to imply that criticism is always inappropriate, but it does mean we need to be highly selective in what we criticize and very gentle when we do it.
So what to do? Well, I think one thing is to treat the malcontents in the same fashion that their local congregation has -- marginalize them. Certainly don't link, and if it is a continuing problem, don't read, not only don't send traffic their way, don't give them your personal traffic. I have missed a few flame wars altogether because I simply don't read a lot of the places where they happen.
Criticizing a critic is a mixed bag because it sends traffic their way -- it rewards them. There are cases where it has to be done, but cautiously and minimally.
Another thing I would suggest is to remember there is a person behind every blog. Do not write criticism you would not be willing to give that person over coffee to their face, and write the criticism in exactly the way you would phrase it in that circumstance. Never go personal.
It's OK not to post if you don't have anything original to say.
Remember the maxim, "When arguing with a fool, make sure he is not similarly occupied." I personally tend to extend it -- arguing with a fool is generally foolish. A fool generally does a better job of making him/herself look foolish than you can ever do.
Finally, remember it was Christ's example to allow his critics to crucify Him.
God Bless Iraq
Iraq's election for its first full-term parliament since Saddam Hussein's fall began on Monday with Iraqis in hospitals, barracks and prisons voting in a ballot Islamist militants branded as ungodly.As you can see form the quote, if you are Reuters, you are a glass half-empty sort. But it's not as bad as all that.
a recent survey by Oxford Research International for the BBC, ABC News and other media organizations that finds Iraqis generally optimistic about the current situation and the future. He quotes: "Interviewers found that 71% of those questioned said things were currently very or quite good in their personal lives,It looks to me like the majority of people in the country like what's happening. While it is true, the dissatisfied are louder and more violent than most places, this news is wonderful. And it seems to me that support for that majority of Iraqis that like what is happening is the order of the day.
Pray for this election, pray for security forces, most especially our own in harm's way.
Certainly the vociferous and violent nature of the malcontents is no reason to give into them. It should be obvious based on this data that what we do if we do not help this election go forward in the best fashion is to condemn that majority to oppression by that violent minority.
This is a wonderful thing and I thank God we have gotten this far.
What's In A Prayer Journal?
Prayer journals are a tool, they are a discipline to help one set aside a time to pray. They are a way to fill that void into which it often seems we send our prayers. And for this believer they are more hinderance than help.
I find that I become so slavishly devoted to one that it becomes a substitute for a genuine encounter with the Lord. The discipline as idol, if you will. Prayer, at its essence, is communicating with God. For me, I quit communicating with God and started communicating with that blank book.
So, what to do? Seek God's face, that is the only answer I have. I find the "trick" if you will is to be in tune with myself, to learn to sense when I am receptive to the presence of God and to then capitalize on those times when they arise. And unsurprizingly, they are daily and regular. I guess I would call it "pray in the moment." I seek to practice the ever-presence of God as opposed to keeping a list of stuff to talk to Him about later. By this, I do not mean the qucik "God that's yours" in the middle of a hectic schedule. No, I am talking about taking quality time when it presents itself.
For me, the essence of prayer is not in the speaking anyway, It is in the listening. When I need God, I rely on Him to know of that need, and focus instead on being quiet and letting Him tell me what to do.
I don't pretend to have all the answers here, but I know what works for me. And, I would suggest, that it might work for more than we realize. Talking, or journaling is about me, when it is really all about God. Prayer is not a means for me to communicate to God so much as it is a means for God to communicate to me. Most of the time, that just means settling down and suddenly things are clear -- no miracle, no voice, just "Oh -- I see."
I Have Met Scrooge And He Is Us
Children should be protected from "terrifying" Father Christmas, shielded from "alarming" pantomimes and encouraged not to send wasteful Christmas cards, a Government website has advised teachers.This pile of politically correct nonesense can be found on something called "Teachernet" which was developed by Britain's Department of Education.
When arranging Christmas parties in schools, teachers should also avoid arranging games of a competitive nature so that no child feels they have "underperformed", the website said.
Makes you long for a religiously ambiguous Christmas doesn't it? This is no "holiday" at all.
This puts me in mind of how joyous it is to be a Christian. There truly is so much wrong in the world. Whether its the nonesense they are worried about here, or something else, there is always something wrong and there is always a source of worry. But we, as beievers, are freed of that worry and concern.
He whose birth we celebrate this season has relieved us of those burdens. What freedom there is in that fact. What joy there is in knowing that He will prevail.
I wish for my PC friends the joy and freedom that comes with a true understanding of what we celebrate this Christmas.
Good Job Arnold!
First time I could say that unequivically in a while...
Here We Go Again
Christian nudists to build village in Florida
At least they are doing it somewhere warm, otherwise...
I have chosen before during and after pictures here, but they still fail to completely communicate the power and resultant destruction wrought by this mountain and its eruption. Though the primary eruptions occurred before I met my wife, this mountain is also very special to her. It can be seen from the front porch of her childhood home, though not near so well since it had its top shaved off.
My wife and I visited some thirteen years after the major eruptions and approached up the Tootle River valley which experienced the massive mud slides that formed in the wake of the eruption and the incredible snow and glacier melt. Even at great distances massive levels of destruction were obvious, houses buried eave deep in mud, there to be preserved as in Pompei.
Eventually the valley opens up and you are permitted a full view of the mountain, which then leads to a full view of the blast zone, and you are left breathless - destruction on an incomprehendible scale, even if you have studied the maps and seen the pictures.
As you come up the Tootle valley there are a series of vistors centers, each constructed closer to the mountain as it settled down and closer approaches became safer. They are quite informative. There is one display that will never leave my head, in 3-D relief it compares various widely known volcanic eruptions, and just for fun it includes the largest nuclear explosion known (a runaway hydrogen bomb detonated by the Soviets) The first thing that strikes you is surrounded by destruction as far as you can see, The eruption you are standing in the midst of is way on the small end of the scale -- and then you look smaller and find that hydrogen bomb, and you are humbled by the power of God's creation in comparison to our mightiest achievement.
The planet can destoy me so much easier than I can destroy it.
The mountain is now quiet, but it is not still. Vapor can often be seen coming from it and the NYTimes recently ran a story on the building of the lava dome.
Each second, about a cubic yard of new mountain - roughly a pickup truck's worth - is pushed to the surface, adding to a dome growing inside the crater.At that rate, it won't be long and the mountain will once again be plainly visible from my wife's old home.
And You Thought It Was Just A Cartoon
If that doesn't say Pinky and The Brain, I don't know what does.
Who? What? Why Is This News?
Although, I am awaiting my "Best Blogging Cat Owner" award.
Because I Must
Best Viewed From A Distance
Honey...you know that sweater I always get you for Christmas -- Well this year it has a new feature, after two weeks under the tree, you can now use it as a method of personal defense. No mugger in his right mind will get near you.
Calling James Bond...
Only the French could make the unbelievable in film an actual reality.
So That's Why It Didn't Work!
I knew there was a reason I hit the ground so hard.
Monday, December 12, 2005
Do Words Matter?
"What's in a name? That which we call a rose By any other word would smell as sweet."As a mathematician/scientist those are words that I often live by. I remember well my high school chemistry teacher, Merle Schulenberg, absolutely chewing me a new one when he asked me what the Pythagorean Therom was and I said quite proudly,
--From Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)
x-squared plus y-squared equals z-squared."NO it's not," he bellowed, "'x' could mean anything, as could 'y' -- what the hell are you talking about?" yes, he said 'hell' in front of a class of high school juniors in 1973, Merle was like that. Needless to say I was quick to respond with, "the square of the length of the hypotenuse of a right triangle is equal to the sum of the squares of the length of two sides." Do you see the point? 'x,' 'y,' and 'z' are arbitrary labels assigned to the lengths of segements in a right trangle, but they could just as easily be greek letters -- in fact they were when Pythagorous write the thing - they are meaningless without definition.
This is something you deal with in math/science all the time. You are going to write an equation to describe something so you start with the defintions. I am fairly used to symbols being arbitrary for a specific definition.
But this also makes foreign languages incredibly difficult for me. You see words and grammer convey levels of meaning and nuance that cannot be so precisely defined and that are far less arbitrary. Translating from English to Russian is not as simple as substituting 'c' for 'x' in a shorthand rendering of the Pythagorean Theorem.
These thoughts came to me as I consider this post from Adrian Warnock.
If this article is cessationism then I am a cessationist. To me though it seems to be firmly on the charismatic side of the fence since the article argued for a continuation of gifts of the Holy Spirit.This whole discussion, excluding the lunatic fringe of both sides, is really a battle over defintions -- and it's fairly important because the words bring so much context with them. Adrain confessed in another post that he had never experienced anyone coaching someone in tongues -- something that I absolutely took for granted as a part of pentecostal/charasmatic movements. The word "charasmatic" carried for me many undertones of fakery and charletonism that Adrian simply had no experience with - quite refreshing actually, even if it does strike me as a bit naive.
In the end this discussion will never resolve for this very reason. The words involved carry way too much context for each individual using them. For some of us the word charismatic will ALWAYS invoke that context, even when offered innocently, as it is by Adrian.
In the end, I find assurance in this sad state of affairs. Behind our words and contexts is the same Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We change - He does not. I find comfort in the fact that His mysteries are greater than my language. We will never truly figure this out because He is God, and we simply are not - we are but creation.
So often we let our ideas get in the way of our God. Last week I wrote a couple of times (here and here) about the soul's dark night. That is the point where our emotions and thoughts fail us -- that's the point where all we can do is relinquish control and rely on God. Smart as I am, this is the point where I always end up in big theological debates. I know I'll never understand, and I know I want to know God, so I relinquish and I rely.
Our words, no matter how good, are insufficient to contain His glory.
Join The Fight
In response, Citizen Smash is issuing orders
- Call You Congressman
- Call TalkRadio
- Write Letters To The Editor
- Write Congress
- Research and submit to those on our side for further effort.
It's pretty easy to write off MoveOn as fringy, but we do so at our peril. Join this effort and follow the orders.
Confession and Repentance - Or Why Tookie Williams Should Die
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.There's a conditional statement if ever I read one. It's a little probematic for a calivinist like myself, but I don't really want to talk theology per se, I want to talk death penalty - specifically Tookie Williams and the death penalty.
First of all, the case for or against the death penalty as Christians is largely the same as the case for or against pacificsm as far as I am concerned. It's pretty difficult to make a case against either from a Christian viewpoint. Last resort, yeah, with great caution, yeah, but not abolishment. The are some practical arguments against the death penalty, for example the difficulty of courtroom proof and the almost near arbitrary nature of juries, but given the benefit the penalty gives to society, I think those are outweighed.
But again, I don't really want to talk about this in the general, I want to in the specific. Tookie Williams is convicted of some extraordinarily heinous murders. Thanks to TenNapel.com, I can link you to pictures of his victims, post-mortem. These are not for the faint of heart, do not go here unprepared.
This is a political issue, but hardly a criminal one. Michelle Malkin has her usual great roundup of links and info, on all that is being said. But despite the threats of riots and other politcal actions, this is about a crime and a suitable punishment. If the suitable punishment is not meted out, based on political considerations, then justice has been denied. It's as simple as that.
Which takes me back to the scripture where I started all this. One of the bigger arguments for clemency is all the "good" that Williams has done, something claimed, but not demonstrably proven -- He's written books, which is great, but one would kind of like to see some evidence of the results of those writings. But let's grant for a moment that he has done all this "good" - how can it be claimed to atone for a crime which he has yet to admit to committing?
Logically, without confession, there is no atonement, because there is nothing to atone for. If Williams does not think he is guilty of anything, his action cannot be viewed as atoning; his reasons for his actions are simple altruism. Admirable to be sure, but not atoning. Thus, the law which has sentenced him to death must still be carried out.
There is a lesson here in our personal faith too. The journey begins with confession, for it is the method by which we access all the wonders that Christ has to offer. Acknowledgement of our need for Jesus is all the opportunity He needs to fix everything right up.
A Common Misconception
A lot of people that don't think things through thing this way. They think that socialism or something like it can do away with market forces somehow and thus eliminate the "problems" of capitalism. The problem is that market forces are a result not of the marketplace or the economy, but of the human condition.
Simply declaring something as having no market value will not eleminate the perception of value, and as long as there is a perceived value, whether that is based on currency, or some other means of exchange - status for example, those market forces will come into play.
Yes, agreed, this is an expression of greed. Greed is one of the seven deadlies, but it is also a matter of degree. Greed is also an expression of our righteous need to feed ourselves and pay for our basic material needs. Greed is a matter of degree, not object or value.
You see the "beauty" of capitalism is that it attempts to harness market forces instead of compete with them. True, it may be harnessing our baser natures, but given that the expression of same is an inevitability, it makes far more sense than anything else.
If you want to overcome that baser nature, which necessitates market forces, and thus makes capitalism the best of all possible economic system, then one must in fact change human nature.
Only the Holy Spirit has the power to do that.
As Long As 'He' Pays The Taxes!
The End Does Not Justify The Means
If only I'd thought of this:
All those treatment systems I've built, remediations I've done, spills I've cleaned up, when I could have been making a movie, which really would have helped.
Let's see, in 1969, The Cuyahoga River, where it feeds into Lake Eire caught on fire -- now it doesn't. And yet:
Maybe we need to rethink the meaning of "breakdown." If burning water doesn't qualify, I don't know what does.
In the truth behind the facade department we find that global warming is really just men's fault or alternately it's really all about wealth transfer.
Turns out animals aren't quite the friends we want to think they are.
Finally, Mark Steyn picks it all apart in his own remarkable way. He coins the term "eco-cultist." Most appropos. Maybe we can start kidnapping them and deprogramming them one-by-one?
Proof - MacGuyver Was An Engineer
Not So Noble Any More
Now, so help us, the aristocracy will have to push their wheelie bins to the end of their sometimes lengthy drives.Shouldn't be a problem, don't they have servants for that sort of thing anyway?
Scottish Borders Council has discovered to its dismay that its dustbin lorries have been travelling an extra 14,000 miles a year to collect the rubbish of lairds whose back doors are often far from the road.
Ordinary Borderers always had to haul their rubbish to the gate, but for years the council has emptied the bins at the doors of private estates. The service will end in April.
Great Moments In Bureacracy
Cartons of whole milk would be considered junk food, but baked Cheetos would not, under new rules proposed Friday by Illinois education officials.Why exercise common sense when there is a power vacuum to fill?
How Can They Tell?
That's a joke very much at Kentucky's expense -- as someone who grew up in Indiana I have to tell at least 10 a year or I lose my official "Hoosier" designation.
You Shouldn't Put 'Em In A Truck...
...they get greasy that way and everybody knows how hard it is to hold a greased pig.
Shouldn't They Give Him Something To Wear Before Arraignment?
Sunday, December 11, 2005
On Advent, Or Why Waiting Is A Good Thing
For instance, when my sister and I were small, we waited impatiently for the Christmas television specials as an indication that the season had truly arrived. For us, Christmas season began with "A Charlie Brown Christmas", or "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer" and "Frosty The Snowman". Even when we got a little older and I tried to act as though I was a bit too cool for the baby stuff, "The Grinch That Stole Christmas", featuring Boris Karloff's baritone narration never failed to draw me back in.There is some serious truth in that. When I was a kid The "Wizard of Oz" was amazing! I starting shaking weeks before Thanksgiving, waiting for that once a year showing. I just experienced something of the same reaction in anticipation of the Narnia movie. Now, I can watch "Wizard of Oz" anytime I want, and for some reason it's just not as special as it used to be.
Now, of course, we can watch these whenever we want, thanks to the advances of technology -- but in doing so, they lost a bit of their charm.
Anticipation helps make something special. Anticipation has a way of making the ordinary extraordinary. What, I wonder, can anticipation do for the extraordinary? Certainly it can build an appreciation for it.
What could be more extraordinary than the virgin birth of a Savior? And yet, it passes us by each year accepted as simply a part of life. The Incarnation is more than just the first step on the journey to the cross and resurrection -- it is a miracle of equal magnitude. More it is God in flesh.
Phil 2:5-8 - 5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.Incarnation is a most necessary part of the salvation story. Too often we treat it as a nice story that Charlie Brown reads on TV. Too often it is the "reason for the season" but it's still about the season and not about the Gospel. Incarnation is a sacrifice on God's part on a par with crucifixion. I think we so often fail to appreciate that.
What are you anticipating this Advent season? I am antcipating incarnation. I am anticipating my Lord joining me at table, in the flesh - leaving His palace and sitting in my humble home and talking to and caring about me - something He has absolutely no obligation to do. I am anticipating an incredible miracle, God grant me the wisdom to fully appreciate it.
Arnold's Missing The Big Picture
Not gonna work in this guy's mind. Arnold thinks he is being moderate when all he is being is foolish. Such divides in his team will only mean his team will fight with each other.
The strength of our republic is that it is supposed to bring about compromise, but we are not compromising on ideas anymore, we are just trying to work out power-sharing arrangments. I commented on this earlier over some recent Congressional deals. That's a big problem and Arnold is playing right into it.
In the end it's about the ideas, it's not about the parties or the power, at least as far as the vast majority of voters are concerned. Arnold does not need to find ways to get along -- he needs to find ways to implement his agenda, or at least the agenda he promised us when we voted for him.
See, power sharing is about those with the power. But in this nation the power is about those of us in the nation -- those that have the power are elected to use it for out benefit, or they will find themselves without it. That's what Arnold needs to be thinking about.
Stuck On Stupid
Oh, by the way, members of the group posed for the pictures! - 'Nuff Said.
Sermons and Lessons
"I won't tell you how I became a-a dragon till I can tell the others and get it all over," said Eustace. "By the way, I didn't even know it was a dragon till I heard you all using the word when I turned up here the other morning. I want to tell you how I stopped being one.
"Fire ahead," said Edmund.
"Well, last night I was more miserable than ever. And that beastly arm-ring was hurting like anything"
"Is that all right now?"
Eustace laughed-a different laugh from any Edmund had heard him give before-and slipped the bracelet easily off his arm. "There it is," he said, "and anyone who likes can have it as far as I'm concerned. Well, as I say, I was lying awake and wondering what on earth would become of me. And then-but, mind you, it may have been all a dream. I don't know."
"Go on, said Edmund, with considerable patience.
"Well, anyway, I looked up and saw the very last thing I expected: a huge lion coming slowly toward me. And one queer thing was that there was no moon last night, but there was moonlight where the lion was. So it came nearer and nearer. I was terribly afraid of it. You may think that, being a dragon, I could have knocked any lion out easily enough. But it wasn't that kind of fear. I wasn't afraid of it eating me, I was just afraid of if-if you can understand. Well, it came close up to me and looked straight into my eyes. And I shut my eyes tight. But that wasn't any good because it told me to follow it."
"You mean it spoke?"
"I don't know. Now that you mention it, I don't think it did. But it told me all the same. And I knew I'd have to do what it told me, so I got up and followed it. And it led me a long way into the mountains. And there was always this moonlight over and round the lion wherever we went. So at last we came to the top of a mountain I'd never seen before and on the top of this mountain there was a garden-trees and fruit and everything. In the middle of it there was a well.
"I knew it was a well because you could see the water bubbling up from the bottom of it: but it was a lot bigger than most wells-like a very big, round bath with marble steps going down into it. The water was as clear as anything and I thought if I could get in there and bathe it would ease the pain in my leg. But the lion told me I must undress first. Mind you, I don't know if he said any words out loud or not.
"I was just going to say that I couldn't undress because I hadn't any clothes on when I suddenly thought that dragons are snaky sort of things and snakes can cast their skins. Oh, of course, thought I, that's what the lion means. So I started scratching myself and my scales began coming off all over the place. And then I scratched a little deeper and, instead of just scales coming off here and there, my whole skin started peeling off beautifully, like it does after an illness, or as if I was a banana. In a minute or two I just stepped out of it. I could see it lying there beside me, looking rather nasty. It was a most lovely feeling. So I started to go down into the well for my bathe.
"But just as I was going to put my feet into the water I looked down and saw that they were all hard and rough and wrinkled and scaly just as they had been before. Oh, that's all right, said I, it only means I had another smaller suit on underneath the first one, and I'll have to get out of it too. So I scratched and tore again and this under-skin peeled off beautifully and out I stepped and left it lying beside the other one and went down to the well for my bathe.
"Well, exactly the same thing happened again. And I thought to myself, oh dear, how ever many skins have I got to take off? For I was longing to bathe my leg. So I scratched away for the third time and got off a third skin, just like the two others, and stepped out of it. But as soon as I looked at myself in the water I knew it had been no good.
"Then the lion said-but I don't know if it spoke, "You will have to let me undress you.' I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it.
"The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off it hurt worse than anything I've ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off. You know-if you've ever picked the scab of a sore place. It hurts like billy-oh but it was such fun to see it coming away.
"I know exactly what you mean," said Edmund.
"Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off-just as I thought I'd done it myself the other three times, only they hadn't hurt-and there it was lying on the grass: only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly looking than the others had been. And there was I as smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been. Then he caught hold of me, I didn't like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I'd no skin on-and threw me into the water. It smarted like anything but only for a moment. After that it became perfectly delicious and as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found that all the pain had gone from my arm. And then I saw why. I'd turned into a boy again. You'd think me simply phony if I told you how I felt about my own arms. I know they've no muscle and are pretty mouldy compared with Caspian's, but I was so glad to see them.
"After a bit the lion took me out and dressed...
"Dressed you. With his paws?"
"Well, I don't exactly remember that bit. But he did somehow or other: in new clothes-the same I've got on now, as a matter of fact. And then suddenly I was back here. Which is what makes me think it must have been a dream."
"No. It wasn't a dream," said Edmund.
"Well, there are the clothes, for one thing. And you have been-well, un-dragoned, for another."
"What do you think it was, then?" asked Eustace.
"I think you've seen Aslan," said Edmund.
'Aslan!" said Eustace. "I've heard that name mentioned several times since we joined the Dawn Treader. And I felt-I don't know what-I hated it. But I was hating everything then. And by the way, I'd like to apologize. I'm afraid I've been pretty beastly."
"That's all right," said Edmund. "Between ourselves, you haven't been as bad as I was on my first trip to Narnia. You were only an ass, but I was a traitor."
"Well, don't tell me about it, then," said Eustace. "But who is Aslan? Do you know him?"
"Well-he knows me," said Edmund.
Well Squash It!
I didn't even know insects could projectile puke! And that machine gun effect...I'm impressed.
Christmas At Hyper Speed
"It's A Wonderful Life" in 30 seconds (as renacted by bunnies.)
Santa Finds Himself In The Gulag
I always knew the KGB was mean -- but SANTA?!
Well, I'll Surely Hang Around To See This!
We could talk about many more interesting phenomena, but perhaps the most spectacular will be the merging of the Andromeda spiral galaxy with the Milky Way in about six billion years.I can't wait -- How about you?