Saturday, December 31, 2005


Remembering 2005

Seems appropriate this time of year to remember the year past. There are three momentous things that mark this year above all others, that and one person.

Let's start with the person -- my lovely wife. We've been married 10.5 years now, each of them the best year of my life. She has made my life richer, fuller, happier and better by every possible measure. I love you honey.

Thing 1 - this blog. I haven't exactly made huge waves in the blogosphere and I am not exactly drawing in readers like flies. But I have met - some physically and some only in cyber space - many wonderful people. That has made the effort worthwhile. Thanks to all my readers regular and irregular. Special thanks to all those of you that I now call friend.

Thing 2 - our 10th anniverssary Baltic Sea Cruise. I won't bore you with the details I already did that this year. It was a special time of discovery and wonder.

Thing 3 - The death of my friend Ken. The pain is largely gone these 8 months later, but I still feel like I am missing a limb. Life goes on, but it is never the same. We were gonna conquer the world together, just as soon as we got out of college, got his kids grown, had enough money put away to not have to worry about it....

On balance it was a good year, it was most definitely a memorable year.


In An Age...

...where guys highjack aircraft and fly them into buildings, is this a good idea? There is such a thing as too much information.


The List I Don't Need To Read

Sky News bring us the Top Ten Potential Disasters for 2006 -- complete with "possibility ratings." Are there no optimists in media?


Comic Art

Continuing our look at teen heroes, consider that you are a young man with extraordinary powers, perhaps the most powerful being to exist and you are virtually without peer. What do you do for fellowship? Well you could take the path of the wimpy TV show Smallville or you could go the the future (no big thing if you're Superboy) and find a whole bunch of kids, just like yourself, banded together to protect the galaxy. You'd become a part of the Legion of Super-Heroes.

In "acutality" the Legion came looking for Superboy first, but once they hooked up great things were in store. The idea is pretty good. All the Legion people are, for the most part, just like Superboy, aliens -- not the result of something freakish to give them power. The possibilitie are endless and the results have some times be downright comical. "Bouncing Boy" - a guy whose power was to blow up like a basketball and bounce around the room. Come on -- That's funny, I don't care who you are, that right there is funny, get 'er done. Excuse me, I went all stand-up there for a minute.

In recent years, absent Superboy, the title has become largely a soap opera, huge drama over who's the leader and who's dating who and who wishes they were dating who, with the conflict almost being a background. But that is the way of things these days. Regardless the title has had much to recommend it, above all the variety of characters it entailed.

Back to the comic aspects for a minute -- check out Cosmic boy in this cover -- Pink! He wore that outfit for years. Can you imagine a superhero, a prominent one at that IN PINK?! Think of the movie version.

Now, bear in mind, as a kid all I saw were bright colors, I mean he blended well with the rest of them, kind of like that great 64 color Crayola crayon box, you had to have pink in there somwhere. That's one of the things that I think is missing from great comics today. (The Legion is still in publication these days, but I can't find much to recoommend it) They work so hard to be "realistic" that they forget to be fun, and often they forget to be pretty.

The Legion was so huge that you ever could really tell all the players without a program, and several have been published over the years.

Here is the Legion in its '80's incarnation, which seemed to have a pretty good combination of the whimsical and the dramatic. They still look pretty much like a crayon box, but the writing improved and the characters actually gained a life and some personal interest.

The Legion is a very rich legend in the world of comics and I recommend it, but do so out of the older bins at your specialty store.


Malaria Is A Romulan Plot

From the Beeb
Scientists have discovered the genetic secret behind the ability of the malaria parasite to evade attack by the human immune system.

They have shown how it can turn on and off genes that manufacture a series of 'cloaking' proteins used as camouflage.
See what I mean?


What Passes For Entertainment In Japan...

...can be truly stupifying.


For Scotwise On Saturday


Not Exactly Sure Why...

...but I'm betting the word "slithery" is involved.

Boa constrictor theft baffles police

Friday, December 30, 2005


The Gospel

Miscellanies on The Gospel provided a link to a post by Mark Lauterbach on what precisely is the gospel, and how confused the American church seems to be. Lauterbach cites numerous examples for what people believe makes them a Christian.

you know, the usual tripe. But this unnerved me

My memory ran back to a message I heard at a major Southern Cal church, where the man ended with the "Gospel" -- "Here is the good news of Jesus. If you accept God, he will accept you."
Acceptance, not salvation, acceptance? I know this is what pop culture wants to hear, but there is something uniquely perverse about that particular formulation.

Lauterbach does a fine job with the necessary analysis here, there is little I can add, other than my utter astonsihment.


Why Blogging Matters

On Wednesday, Hugh Hewitt interviewed Robert D. Kaplan on his book Imperial Grunts: The American military on the ground. Kaplan has spent years embedded with the American military around the world to write this book, and is one of the most knowledgable guys on the military I have ever heard, outside of the military. The interview transcript is here, it is worth the effort to read every letter and punctuation mark.

I; however, want to focus on one specific thing that Kaplan said:
HH: ...that really interested me in the civilian/military divide that he worried about. Do you see that growing or narrowing?

RK: I see it growing, because this is the first time in history where you have an intellectual media governmental elite, where people don't have anyone...where have very few people who've served in the military within their own social circle. One of the things you see in Iraq, you see all these soldiers, Marines, private contractors, and they're all from the South, the greater South, the Mid-West, the Great Plains. And they all e-mail their families every single night about what's going on. And so people in other parts of the country are far more cosmopolitan and sophisticated about what's going on in Iraq now, than people on the two coasts of California and New York.
There are two really important points to emphasize out of this exchange. The first is Kaplan's acknowledgement of a growing gap between the civilian and the military. I agree and this concerns me. Historically it is the stuff that military coups are made of. We are a long way from that so that is not an immediate concern. What is an immediate concern in the issue is that service to the nation is the best means of building citizen loyalty to the nation. As the gap grows, and I think we are already there to some extent, people will come to view themselves as living in and not necessarily being a part of their nation. That is problematic.

I reflect on the oft-quoted scene from the movie A Few Good Men - you know the one, Tom Cruise tricks Jack Nicholson into confessing to a crime on the stand. "YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH -- I provide you with a way of life by standing on a wall..." Now, of course, director Rob Reiner, being who he is, intends the scene to illustrate the contempt that many in the military have for the average citizenry, but in reality that's a two-way street. There is a great deal of truth in Nicholson's tirade, particularly in a nation with a growning militay/civilian gap.

Which leads me to the second thing I want to emphasize from the exchange. Kaplan ackowledges what a critical role email has played in keeping Americans informaed about what is going on in theater. That's a major reason I have reproduced emails I have received from soldiers on this blog whenever I could. I cannot help but think that this may be the most efficacious thing blogging can accomplish. Godblogging, my raison d'etre, is good, but it's effectivness is limited by a number of factors -- but nothing can make more of a difference in military effort than making sure as many people as possible know exactly what is happening from as close to the horse's mouth as we can get.

I will go so far as to say that email and milblogging are the reasons the current efforts at pre-mature withdrawal are failing, thankfully.

Blogging has been a large part of my personal effort to keep the gap small. Not so much because of what I have passed on, though I hope it has helped, but becasse of the relationships I have developed with those deployed and what I have read.

I hope you do something to close your gap today. Read a milblog, better, email someone you know in the military, best, adopt a soldier at Soldier's Angels. It matters as much to you as it does to the soldier.


Accusation and Response

The Waffling Anglican is looking at the upcoming NBC series "The Book of Daniel." The TV show is about a family of seriously messed up Christians. There are lots of issues with the show as the Anglican examines, but amongst all that it seems to scream - "Christianity is hypocritical, see they are as messed up as the rest of us."

Which brings me to this post at Reformation Theology from earlier this week looking at the frequently leveled charge of hypocrisy towards Christians. In general, it;s a good post and brings to the table a lot of usual material for what is sure to be an interesting discussion as this show moves forward. (The RT post does not mention the show at all, but it will be useful in that context) I must however, take a bit of exception with one point.
In general, an accusation of hypocrisy tends to stop all debate about any issue, forcing one off-topic to defend against a tangential charge. We all know, but seem to forget that, a speaker's moral character, while not unimportant, is irrelevant to the validity of their argument. For this reason, the historical reality of the person and work of Christ is not invalidated by the hypocritical actions of individual Christians. While despicable acts by those claiming to be Christians should be discussed and indeed faced up to, it is intellectually dishonest to use this as an argument against the truth of the Deity of Christ.
While this is strictly true on an wholly intellectual level, Christianity is all about a person and His followers. While actions by individuals Christians does not invalidate an arguement, it does take away from that arguements strength.

More importantly, genuine faith arises not from an argument, but from an encounter, and encounter with Jesus and/or His followers. We believe in the actions of the Holy Spirit and when we behave in a dispicable manner, we can prevent the Holy Spirit from doing his job. Thus, our characters and our actions matter greatly.

It is incumbent upon us to allow the tranformative work of the Holy Spirit to proceed in us at a maximal pace so that we can be effective tools for Him to do His work. the charge of hypocrisy is, I think, far more valid and forceful than this particular passage paints it to be.

For another more practical look at this topic, you might want to check out this post from The bluefish.


'BIg Brother' - Not Just For Fiction Anymore

You know that Galilio satellite navigation system Europe is all excited about launching this week?
Powerful applications are expected on the roads; the Galileo network would allow a vehicle's exact movements to be tracked, presenting new possibilities for road-user charging and tolling.

The precision and availability of the Galileo signal would facilitate the application of charges according to the distance travelled by a vehicle, along with other parameters.

"For example, you might want to vary the charge according to speed, or whether someone is travelling through a city centre," Hans-Peter Marchlewski, general counsellor for the Galileo Joint Undertaking, told the BBC News website.
UH-huh - then what? And people in this country are worried about the Patriot Act?


Leave It To The Scots... do New Year's in style.
A river of fire and the burning of a Viking longship will kick off four days of New Year celebrations in Edinburgh.
Now that is a party!


Or Need To Know

The Top 10 Craziest Science Stuff you didn't know

I may be on the verge of doing the year-end meta-list - "the top ten stupidest lists" - "the top ten silliest lists" - "the top ten lists that shouldn't be lists." But that is an awful lot of effort for something so inane.


Friday Humor

A drunk stumbles along a Baptismal service on a Sunday afternoon down by the river. He proceeds to stumble down into the water and stands next to the Minister. The Minister turns, notices the old drunk and says, "Mister, are you ready to find Jesus?"

The drunk looks back and says, "Yes sir, I am."

The Minister then dunks the fellow under the water and pulls him right back up.

"Have you found Jesus?" the Minister asked.

"No, I didn't!" said the drunk.

The Minister then dunks him under for a quite a bit longer, brings him up and says, "Now brother, have you found Jesus?"

"No, I did not!" said the drunk again.

Disgusted, the Minister holds the man under for at least 30 seconds this time, brings him up and demands, "For the grace of God, have you found Jesus yet?!!!??"

The old drunk wipes his eyes and pleads, "Are you sure this is where he fell in?"


I Bet With Good Reason...

W.Va. woman locked out of car by cat


And They Are Anxious To Join The Axis Of Weasels

Count shows ferret population doing well


Miss Hotel Has Really Bad Luck

Miss. Hotel Has Two Fires in One Hour

If you are the insurance investigator, do you believe this is coincidence?


And When It Escapes...

Maine Ocean Floor Has Mud-Trapped Gas have a sea-fart on your hands. What are the global warming types going to do about this?


Well, There Really Was Nowhere To Go But Up

Meatloaf Popularity Grows Among Foodies


Just Becasue It Made Me Double-Take

Police: Meat Bandit Nabbed in Golf Cart

Thursday, December 29, 2005


Clashing Traditions?

Mark Ropberts is blogging about Christmas on Sunday. This paragraph really caught my eye.
But then, every few years, Christmas Day falls on a Sunday. What seems like a happy coincidence turns out, in fact, to be a problem for millions of Christians and for thousands of churches. We face a clash of traditions and priorities. On the one hand, Sunday is a day for worship. And it would seem even more important to worship on the day of Christ's birth, given that worship is for His pleasure and glory. On the other hand, being with family of Christmas morning is a high priority. Fitting in church seems like an easy thing to do, but it may require a significant reordering of beloved traditions.
I don't dispute Mark's statements, but I find the facts just sad. I refuse to accept that Sunday worship stands in the way of "being with family" - if anything it should enhance family closeness. Either there is something wrong with church that it does not do so, or we cherish that time at home just a little too much.

I think the problem twofold. For one, it does not get in the way of "being with family" - it gets in the way of "being with family" - in pajamas opening presents with a massive breakfast cooking and everybody sleeping in. I think that can be overcome readily enough, either sacrifice the sleeping in or move the worship service to later in the day. Better yet, have a slightly lower standard for the expectations of appearing at church - which is what my church and many others did.

But I don't think that's the real problem - the real problem is that we do church in such a way that it seems like an imposition instead of an enhancement. Church should be a place that we want to go. Not out of duty, not out of discipline, but because we love God, it is the place where we express that, and because it is a place where God feeds us.

Now, perhaps your hunger for the Lord is not what it should be, then you need to work on that. But I think most people hunger for the Lord, I just think they have a problem finding the sustenance they crave at the place where it is supposed to be most readily available.

I think this discussion which has erupted this year should be used as an opportunity for the church in general to examine what it does and how it does it.

There is one fact that I come back to in my mind over and over. Jesus was, as this season celebrates, God Incarnate. He should, by definition, then be the most attractive human ever to walk the planet. We as His disciples should be attractive as well. That is to say, people should want, quite naturally, what it is we have to offer. If they don't, especially those already firmly planted in our midst, then the question becomes why are we not properly displaying the attractiveness of Christ?

If the church could make a New Year's resolution - that's the one I think it ought to make.


Myths We Live By

John Stossel is doing a bit in 20/20 Friday night about common myths and he is previewing it at RealClearPolitics. He lists his Top 10 foolish myths, three of which are right up Blogotional's alley:

All this leads me to wonder, is it better to know nothing about a subject instead of too little? Might seem so. These myths are all based on facts, the myth arises not from the fact but from the spin. People are willing to buy the spin because it requires too much effort to truly understand. Is the answer to supply more information or just to shut up?


Unsurprising, And Yet, Disturbing

To be nice, they tell me I am wonderfully eccentric scoring a 52 out of a possible 100 on a "normalcy quiz." (HT: Hello Iraq) I guess that's better than "bizzaro" or "possibly alien," but still....


Illuminated Scripture


Military Humor

One Marine tells the story of his Christmas.
Operation TV patch up was underway. It was a Panasonic 24 inch and has a couple fuses in it-go figure. Replace the fuses plug in, put on ballistic glasses and stand back. As we plugged it in the devil shot out he back, small animals scurried away and a mattress caught on fire????.situation under control!
Tell me again about how miserable they are over there?


So What Would Happen...

...if I tried to join the African-American or Latino Caucus on a Cal State Campus?

Religious groups file suit against CSU
Organizations' representatives claim they have the right to exclude non-Christians

Just wondering.



Salon pointed me to a short film of a Saturday Night Live bit - "The Chronicles of Narnia Rap." I went prepared to get upset, but was pleasantly surprized -- it's funny. It makes more fun of rap than anything else. How nice to see the irreverance of that show pointed in the right direction.



Math professor solves decades-old problem
"Kato's Conjecture" applies to the theory of waves

Good Job!


Can It Truly Be Called 'Accidental'...

...when this level of stupidity is involved?

Fire officials say the 48-year-old woman was trying to light her home when the power was out and reached for what she thought was a candle. But once she lit it, fire officials say she blew off four fingers because it was a firecracker and not a candle.

I thought this only happened in old Warner Bros cartoons! Repeat after me: "Candles are made of wax, they feel smooth and slick, firecrackers are made of paper, they are scratchy and have texture." Say it again...


Doesn't It For All Of Us?

Fish Mating Preferences Change with Age

I mean past a certain age, things just don't....


Moral: Don't Eat Fish

Chicken dung used to feed fish may help spread bird flu

It's bad enough they take a dump and swim around in it -- but they eat it! EWWWWW-wwwwww.


By Tossing?

Dwarfs honoured in ancient Egypt, research reveals



Man Accused of Lobbing Urine Into Yards

Oh, wait...
A Nebraska man has been arrested in central Iowa for allegedly delivering some unwanted Christmas gifts. Reno Tobler, 54, was arrested Thursday in Clive after police caught him lobbing urine bottles into backyards.
He's using bottles -- that's no trick.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005


Observing Grief

Yeah, that's a pun on CS Lewis' book because Rebecca is writing about it, sort of. Rebecca has one of my favorite blogs, and this is the first time I have ever read anything there that I remotely disagreed with so I am going to tread as gently as I can. Additionally, the topic itself - grief and faith in crisis is very personal and very touchy, I wish to step on no one's toes here.

Rebecca's thesis, if I understand it correctly, is that a good, strong theological foundation is necessary to deal with grief well and to avoid a faith crisis. She is troubled by Lewis' faith crisis as discussed in A Grief Observed. Disclaimer: I have never lost a loved one as has Rebecca - that is a loss I cannot understand. I have; however, suffered a deep faith crisis in a time of personal betrayal, emotions and thoughts I believe somewhat akin to those of tragic loss.

Lewis' book is not to my mind a faith story, but an apologetics story. It's not about a crisis of faith, but about a crisis of apologetics and a finding of faith in that crisis. Let me restate that -- Up until the death of his wife, Lewis had his apologetics and an intellectual understanding of his Christianity. In the death of his wife he abandoned not his faith, but his reliance on his intellect, and discovered the personal God, and a genuine faith, a faith born not of reason but of the Holy Spirit.

I am grateful that Rebecca's story of grief does not involve a faith crisis, but I think that she mistates why. She initially quotes another blog to state her thesis
It is important to get your theology on track before disaster strikes. It won't spare you heartache. But it will spare you gratuitous heartache, and it will hasten the healing process.
But then she restates things out of personal experience -- note the shift in emphasis
In what I can only believe was God's providential preparation, in the years right before my husband's cancer diagnosis, we had together come to a much fuller understanding of a few things about God: that he was present and working in every bit of the universe all the time; that he always had right reasons for everything he did even though we might not (and probably wouldn't) understand them; and that suffering and death, filtered through his almighty hands, become chosen means by which he accomplishes good things.
In the end it was not her understanding that prevented the crisis, but "God's providential preparation."

I draw this seemingly fine distinction out of my own experience of faith crisis. Long before my crisis I well understood that "all things for for the good," but understanding and reality are two very different things. I've never met Rebecca nor discussed this with her, but based on my personal experience, I'm willing to bet that "God's providential preparation" involved far more than some bible study, book reading and idea formation. Somehow, I bet it involved a series of smaller, more manageable crises in which God's providence moved from idea to reality to solid sturdy thing upon which to lean.

I would argue that Lewis' experience recorded in A Grief Observed is not in contrast to Rebecca's experience, but in parallel to it, the difference being only in suddenness and severity. God, in His wisdom chose to deal with Lewis by a large, devesatating "blow." Rebecca on the other hand He chose to deal with through a series of small, perhaps forgettable, little "spankings" and corrections.

I am being very presumptuous with other people's experiences here and I am filtering them through my own, I apologize if any find that offense, but the point I wish to make is, in the end, a simple one. Our faith comes not from our understanding but as a gift from God. He knows us better than we know ourselves and He chooses to develop and grow that faith in the manners that He perceives are best for each of us individually.

God alone is sufficient.


Sometimes I Wish We Spoke This Plainly

Another great op-ed in the Telegraph of London. This one is a bit of a book review and is very British, but at its core it says some really interesting things:
Can an intelligent person be patriotic? Or is national loyalty a base emotion, fit only for the tabloid-reading masses? In the 1940s, George Orwell remarked that Colonel Blimps and highbrow intellectuals both accepted as a law of nature that patriotism and intelligence were divorced.
Here in America such words would be greeted with howls of protest, and yet can it really be argued that most liberal intellectuals in this country feel that they are somehow too smart for the room and that intellect raises them above the patriotic fray?

The editorial contends that this fashion in intellect is changing in Britain -- would that it does here too.


Health And Spirtuality

Regular readers know that I think the church in general is pretty mixed up when it comes to spirtual and emotional, and to some extent mental health. We're pretty confused about what's what, which I think is a significant reason the church has lost its way in recent decades.

I can't think of anyone better qualified to discuss that issue than Adrian Warnock and David Wayne. I've had the priviledge of meeting both of them. David is a great pastor and Adrian is a great psychiatrist (and sometimes preacher). Turns out that before I got into blogging seriously, they had a lengthy cross-blog discussion on the topic. Adrian, with a little help from some friends has resurrected much of that discussion. I haven't made it through all of it yet, but enough to recommend it.

I think it hits at the core of one of the most important issues facing Christianity today.


Time To Put Some Fingers In The Levy

Michelle Malkin, with a lot of help, was advocating on Monday an aggressive stance towards the recent spate of leaks of classified information from the government. I'm thinking two things:
  1. This is a two-edged sword. The bell has rung and the administration is being made to look bad, even if I don't think it really is. Too aggressive a response will smell of cover-up. The administration has to get well in front of the information curve here before they can get seriously aggressive.
  2. We don't know the source of the leaks, yet. If they are in appointed positions, this doesn't really apply, but the regulations that govern civil service, designed to protect government employees from discrimination on the basis of party affiliation also create a heck of an opportunity for precisely this kind of mischief. They make it extremely difficult for the top management to build in loyalty.

There is a huge problem here. I just hope we can approach it broadly and look at the underlying issues, not just the immediate problems.


It's Nice To Be Validated

James Q. Wilson had a piece in the WSJ Monday of Intelligent Design. He makes some of the same points I have made here in recent weeks:

Wilson, in general has too much faith in evolution and is too demeaning of the ID proponents, but his essential thoughts on the matter I find quite agreeable and validating since I was there a week or two earlier. (Yes, I am bragging).

The issue here is not one of science -- it is one of too much faith in science and of courts that have gone too far in limiting public discourse regarding religion. The solutions, if such are possible, do not lie on the classroom (Well, save for teaching evolution's weaknesses) but in returning our society to a more balanced view of the roles of both science and religion.


We Aren't The Only Ones That Go Easy On Crime

Russian Cannibal Sentenced to 14 Years in Prison for Cooking Friend

Seems a little short to me.


The Best Of Pravda

This paper is amazing -- right above the story on Monday's gassing in St. Peteresburg we find:

Chupacabra: A flying, blood-sucking kangaroo?

I don't know what's worse, the tabloid nature of the headline, or the fact that any regular viewer of the SciFi Channel has known about this for several years -- It's hardly news.

Only Russians would delight in bureacracy - sometimes I think it is the one thing definitionally Russian, so pervasive that it makes corruption necessary:

Russian woman born on non-existent day

Finally and amazingly, Pravda gets it right once in a while, well almost.
Can you tell me why we are still so keen to prove to the whole world that a Russian cucumber is thicker and longer than a French gherkin? Do we have a special "Russian standard" that makes Russians stand out in the crowd? Where is it coming from? Is it the poverty and inability to stand up for our rights in the guise of pride and bravado? Who are we to the authorities? Cheap labor, a bunch of voters who will get another round of promises and cajolery a month before another election.

We should be really proud of our "unique inimitable Russian way" only when our children are able to get good education, when we see our children become decent husbands and wives, when our soldiers stop asking passers-by for cigarettes or change, and when millions of our homeless children stop filling orphanages and reform schools. We should feel really proud of being Russian when half the Russian population stops playing hangover blues each Monday morning, and when our workers and employees learn how to unite and stand up for their rights.
[emphasis added]
I'm with him right up to that last sentence -- it's a little too reminescent of the bad old days of communism for complete comfort. He is right that there is a exploitive nature to life in Russia right now, but there has to be a better way to overcome it than resort to the language of the worse old days.


Fun With Math And Physics

Every wonder if you could run really fast, could you avoid gettng wet in the rain -- you know "run between the drops?" The BBC figured it out. Answer: You can't run between the drops, but running does keep you drier if you run for shelter -- it's all proven mathematically. Cool, huh?


What's The Name Of The Guy On Second?

Millions tune in to new Dr Who

I am happy the revivial of one of the great science fiction television series of all time is going well - now if they would just bring it to the US!!!!!!


Now Wait A Minute

Developers looking to maximize the marketability of their homes are complaining about the city's street address rules, which they claim can scare off buyers who practice the ancient Chinese art of feng shui.
If they start changing addresses to suit feng shui, won't that violate church/state somehow? I hope they do it, I'll petition to change my street to "Blessed by Yahweh Blvd."


The Problem Is...

Man arrested after bowling 11 hours without paying

...less about payment and more about 11 hours! Anyone that would bowl for 11 hours will likely get off on diminished capacity.


It's All Good

One of the greatest female sartorial dilemmas - 'does my bum look big in this?' - is to be answered by a team of researchers.

Experts are launching what is thought to be the world's first scientific study into how clothing can affect the appearance of the female rear.
Yet another in the seemingly endless series of grants I wish I'd applied for.


Danger Will Robinson!

Beware of horny goat weed

Tuesday, December 27, 2005


Trust The Gifts, But Never The Gifted

My wife and I met in a lovely church. At the time it was thriving, happy and full of good things. Now it lies in a shambles. Sunday attendance in the thousands has dwindled to the tens, they are in severe and enormous operating debt. Need I go on?

We left some seven years ago when things were still "good." Why? The current state of the church was utterly foreseeable. I was on the ruling board; beat my head against a brick wall for a year or so explaining to deaf ears at every opportunity that things were going wrong, gave up and left. Some have tried to tell me I was a prophet -- a title I refuse, if for no other reason than prophets generally end up martyred.

I started thinking about this after Jollyblogger called this quote from a post I did last week "brilliant." (Thanks David, brilliance and I do not often find ourselves in the same room.)
This is a tremendous example of precisely the kind of thing that scares cessassionists to death. The problem with prophets is that they usually don't know where they end and God starts.
At the time, I was discussing Bruce Wilkinson abandoning his extensive African missions. Why would anybody claim the role of prophet? It's not really a happy place.

Years ago I heard someone preach about the difference between the "motivational" gifts of Romans 12 and the "specific" gifts of I Corinthians. The basic idea was that we are all pre-wired somehow to fill certain roles in the life of the church - those are the "motivational" gifts - but that we are granted "specific" gifts from time-to-time to accomplish a given task.

When I heard the sermon, it made me tilt my head kind of like a dog when it looks at you and you are talking to it as if saying, "I know you're talking, I'm really interested, but this makes no sense."

My suspicions about this idea were confirmed a bit later when I was talking to someone that had been around the horn with the idea a few times. Their comment was that in practice the motivational gifts ended up being like "zodiac signs" - people dividing themselves into clubs by motivation, and then excluding themselves from some things because it wasn't their motivation. So for example, those motivated to prophesy didn't need to help clean-up after the potluck, because that was for those motivated to service. Funny thing was there were always a whole lot more prohets than there was servants.

As someone who has decalred himself in the middle of the charismatic/cessasionist debate there is one idea that is paramount to me to stand in the middle. The gifts are not ours, we are not assigned a role and then left to it. We are not granted a single priviledge, office, or right based on any gift that we may or may not be exercising at a given time.

So, was I prophetic about my former church? That is for others to decide and a question I refuse to consider in any seriousness. I had no visions, no great revelations. Frankly, as far as I was concerned, it was just commonsense.

At the risk of blowing my own horn, I think that is how it should be with the gifts - they will be utterly ordinary to the person gifted. The gifts are to glorify God. If they are important to the gifted, if the gifted take identity from them, then someone besides God is being glorified.


Compare And Contrast


Christmas is just like any other day in Iraq

From Fire and Ice (a marine actually in Iraq):

Santa Slips Into Iraq Unannounced
Santa Claus slipped secretly into Iraq today to spend time with the Marines at Camp Fallujah, most of whom he happily reported fell into the "nice" category this year. Claus, a former Marine Sergeant Major, remarked that standing in a chow line with jarheads again was his special present to himself. He explained, somewhat apologetically, that his current civilian career required long hair, a beard, and a extra 200 pounds. He assured the gathered Marines that in his day he always wore a high and tight haircut, and consistently scored a first class on the physical fitness test. When asked whether his secret unannounced arrival was any indication that the war was going badly, as the main stream press had alluded to regarding both the Vice President Cheney and Secretary Rumsfeld visits, the jolly old elf simply stated that coming and going covertly has always been his trademark.
When will the press figure out that most of our soldiers are doing what they love and that if the price of that is a Christmas away from home then so be it and they will make the best of it they can?

Life, it occurs to me, is full of sacrifices. We all make them, we make them based on what we enjoy and what we feel is important. The legacy media would be much better served if they figured out that our all volunteer military values greatly their nation and their service - as do their families and loved ones. In light of that realization, wouldn't it seem appropriate just to thank them for that service, send them a card or gift, and be grateful that such men and women exist and afford us the freedom, both in the form of civil liberties and from fear of terrorist attack.


A Case Of Unfortunate Timing

Reformation Theology put up this post defending the doctrine of hell last Friday. I agree with every word written and find the debate close to my heart as I have had it a few times here recently -- but I have to tell you, on the penultimate day of the advent season it was awful reading.

When we are celebrating glad tidings of great joy, hell strikes me as a topic for another time. I have debated how long to wait before writing this myself, I wanted to put it off to next week, but decided it would be stale by then. I apologize if I have ruined anyone else's holiday.


This Is A Fine "Kettle Of Fish'

There was an attack in St. Petersburg Russia with several weapons of mass destruction. Apparently, timed "stink bombs" of methyl mercaptan (the smell in natural gas) went off in stores and others were found prior to detonation.
The FSB is describing this as a criminal attack rather than some kind of terrorist attack. It looks like an attempt to discredit this particular chain of shops.

A St Petersburg police spokesman told the Interfax news agency: "The likely explanation for what happened is that it was malicious competition."

"Not long before the incident, the managers of Maksidom appealed to the police because they had begun to get letters with threats to disrupt pre-New Year trade. Now we can definitely say that the possibility of a terrorist act is ruled out."
Some things to think about:

Captain Ed is not having any of this "criminal activity" stuff.

This explanation reflects a ludicrous level of denial. Of course these attacks constitute terrorism; they're designed to inflict fear on civilians for a specific effect, even if the Russians have correctly identified the perpetrators and their motivations, which sounds doubtful in the extreme to me. If the Russians have reached the correct conclusion, the shoppers won't simply switch to Makisdom's rivals -- they will shop far away or not at all in the future.

This operation looks pretty darned expensive in materials, time, and expertise. If Russian shopkeepers have this kind of access to terrorist technology, just think what the political and Islamist terrorists can access there.
I'm not willing to go that far - crime and terroism have extremely important legal meanings and it is important that such acts be properly designated -- it's the possibility of cross-pollenation that scares the pants off of me.


Iraq - The Year That Was - One Soldier's Perspective

Check out Ma Duece Gunner's photo montage of his year of deployment. Looks like they had a pretty good time to me.


Why This Story At This Time?

Well, the this time part is because the "holiday" of Kwansaa started yesterday, but the this story part? A shot at Narnia-loving evangelicals? We report, you decide.

Kwanzaa the Lion Celebrates Birthday

Bear in mind, Lewis wrote LWW a long time before anybody thought of Kwansaa.


Alphabet Soup

Well, we've made it to the "O's" and what better place is there that Oxford, England? Perhaps the ultimate college town - what better way to begin our examination of the bastion of higher leaning than a picture of a building with a shark through the roof. Nothing says "college town" like something this silly. If only I could have gotten my hands on something like this when I was in college.

This is probably the most famous view in Oxford -- "The Bridge of Sighs." It's named for the bridge of the same name in Venice, but has almost nothing in common with it. It's photogenic as can be and makes a great landmark for navigating the scholarly sections of town, but there doesn't seem to be much reason for the name. It was built in 1913 for reasons of convenience. It's mostly a part of physics operations there.

Here we are looking out of the courtyard at Brazenose College. Oxford is organized quite differently than an American university. What we would call, architecturally, a "quad" is a college over there and is far more than a dormitory, it's pretty much a self contained little world with meal service, tudors, etc.

Brazenose is one of the few colleges open to public inspection and it is an interesting look into the world of English academia, though quite cursory. Most colleges are centered on a chapel -- imagine that -- though used more for music concerts now than worship in many cases, it's still nice to note that the roots of academic excellence lie not in opposition to faith, but in faith itself.

Oxford, in addition ot being the center of education in England for centuries has played an important role governmentally as well. Often serving as the meeting place for Parliment historically it may be one of the historically richest cities in England, with London and Cantebury.

And here is the best reason to visit Oxford - The "Eagle and Child" pub, commonly called the "Bird and Babe" it was home to the Inklings. For those precious few not in the know, the Inkings was an informal group of Oxford writers, centered on two relative lightweights - CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien - which met Tuesdays in this pub for lunch and a pint and to talk stories. Here Lewis and Tolkien read Narnia and Middle-Earth to each other and helped each other develop their tales.

The Inklings picture sits in their regular booth. It was perhaps the greatest thrill of my first trip to the UK to sit in that booth and drink a pint. One tried to hear the conversation that had passed that table and could dream such grand dreams....


A Reason To Go To Melbourne

Giant Squid On Ice. Now that's a plate of calamari!


Making Spam Look Good

Mobile phones to announce 'you've been indicted'


How Many Dead?

Killer jellyfish jackpot

Turns out, despite the headline, it's not about the jellyfish hitting the jackpot, but scientists looking for them. However, not satisfied with bad headlines, this story contains the worst metaphor in the history of science
"This is huge - it's like finding the Titanic from a jellyfish researcher's point of view," Dr Seymour said today.
This my friends, is why the average scientist doesn't write much.


I Am...

Mean lil fellow, arn't you?

What Monty Python Character are you?
brought to you by Quizilla


I've Wanted To Break A Few In My Day, But...

Woman Swallows Cell Phone After Argument

...that's total commitment to your anger!


New Effort At University Fund Raising?

Duke buys flea markets in Paris

Monday, December 26, 2005


Peace On Earth, Goodwill Towards Men... NOT the Christmas message. Jesus is! He is the only way we have any hope at all of achieving the other.


"The War On Christmas"

Heard over the weekend - "Jesus has always been controversial and He hardly needs our defense." Agreed.

Problem is, "the War on Christmas" is not about defending Christ. It's about defending a way of life in which I am entitled to freedom of religious expression, including saying "Merry Christmas" to those I meet. Those who may in turn say "Happy Kwansa" which is fine by me.

This is not a religious war, it's culture war. Keep that in mind.


A Reason To Move To The UK

More than half the secondary schools in Wales inspected in the past four years break the law by failing to pray every day, a BBC survey has revealed.
CUMPULSORY School Prayer!? You go Queen Beth!



Judge Lets Man Change Name to Jesus Christ

Let the comments begin, but only from guys with the Spanish language name written phonetically as "Hey-Zeus."


I Read This While I Was...

...turning a TV box into a tank.

Code Pink Protests 'Pro-War Propaganda' Toys

People, people, when I was a mere boy I found even my sister's Barbies useful as a play gun -- to a boy, all toys are war toys.



There is no pollution this close to Christmas. Come back next week.


Who Knew?...

...stupidity could be a treasure

Scientists find treasure trove of Dodo bones


Who Gave This Grant?

Beyond string theory ... spoon theory?
Scientists conduct some silly research on disappearing teaspoons

I need to know -- I need some money to find where socks go in the dryer.


An Irresistably Tastless Pun

Well if you wiped better...

Two more rings discovered around Uranus


That They're Crazy?!

Scientists predict what you'll think of next


You Have To Fight For Your Right To Be SCOTS!

Nathan Warmack wanted to honor his heritage by wearing a Scottish kilt to his high school dance. Then a principal told him to change into a pair of pants.



Just For Scotwise

Sunday, December 25, 2005


For Unto Us...


Sermons and Lessons

Luke 2:1-21

Now it came about in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all were proceeding to register for the census, everyone to his own city.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register, along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child.

And it came about that while they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her first-born son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

And in the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields, and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. And the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. "And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths, and lying in a manger."

And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased."

And it came about when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds began saying to one another, "Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us." And they came in haste and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. And when they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds.

But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.

And the shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them. And when eight days were completed before His circumcision, His name was then called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.


Very Special Christmas Salute

Questions and Answers has a poetic salute to our men and women in uniform for this holiday.

Blogotional sends out a heartfelt "THANK YOU" to every member of our Armed Forces this Christmas day.

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