Saturday, January 21, 2006


Are You A Pharisee?

Thanks to the BHT for this great link - There Must be Fifty Ways to be a Pharisee
Through my years of Bible study, however, I have gradually come to understand the essential problem with Phariseeism: It was not the Pharisees' attention to the Law and Law-keeping. For the unique people of God, serious obedience to their Law was a good thing, not a bad thing. Nor was the problem that they were seeking to show their love of God through what they did (works), rather than through faith. What a person does is crucial to proving his love of God. Indeed, actions are crucial to demonstrating faith. James tells us "faith without works is dead" [James 2:26]. Those who will stand justified before God one day will be justified in accordance with the deeds they have done "in the body" [2 Corinthians 5:10, Romans 2:5-10]. So a focus on "works" was not the fundamental problem with Phariseeism.

The problem with Phariseeism was that it was based on a completely false self-concept. The Pharisees did not grasp that they were morally unworthy, that they were shameful, blameworthy creatures. And they certainly did not understand that they could do nothing to make themselves morally worthy before God. They were clueless with respect to their own guilt and real shame; blind to the evil ingrained in their very beings; ignorant of their real motives, the real passions that drove their lives and choices. In short, they were desperately self-deceived. They were enemies of God who?out of a perverse sort of blind sincerity?promoted themselves as the friends of God.
We live in an age where no one likes to look at our essential unworthiness, and yet, that is our defining characteristic in the eyes of God. God's love makes us worthy, despite the fact we are not worthy of it. Our worth is not our own, but it is God's.
Ps 51:17 - The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.
Doesn't that verse take on an extra meaning when you consider how much Jesus did, in fact, despise the Pharisees?

If I had to put my finger on one thing, and one thing only, that the church has wrong today - this would be it. That we have lost touch with our essential unworthiness. You can tell we don't believe it about ourselves in how we act and we don't preach it for fear of driving them out of the pews. Instead we preach about a Jesus that fills in the lonely places, or some such nonesense - all of which is true (just as the law the Pharisees followed was true), but fails to convey the genuine power of the gospel.

The good news is God loves us inspite of ourselves.
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It's Not The Rules...'s the ruled.
Democrats are complaining that Republicans have "waited too long" to address the "culture of corruption" in the House and the Senate.

The complaint came on Tuesday, after Republican leaders called a news conference to propose new restrictions on privately funded travel and gifts to lawmakers.
I bet the Republicans have some good ideas in fact I am sure of it, but there will still be scummy lobbyists and Representatives that will play around the edges and do wrong things.

This is one of those things where politicians have to do something to look like they are trying to improve things. In reality, absent a legislator police and a non-political court, there is little that can be done here that will really make a difference.

This folks is why character matters in our elected officials. Get to know the guy you vote for. It matters.

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Comic Art

So, I know you're wondering - Who was the first really great team of superheroes? It wasn't the Justice League - It wasn't the Avengers -- It wasn't even the X-Men. You're looking at them -- It was the Justice Society of America.

This is their very first appearance and it is this image upon which a set of bookends in my office are based. What do you note about this original team? If you are observant, you note the absence of the big three - Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. The idea of team books really came about to give a boost to the "B" list characters. The idea took off like a shot and it wasn't long before the Big Three had to be included, as the team book was getting near them in sales.

There is something extraordinaly appealing about superheroes intereacting with each other. Lately, they are looking more and more like superhero group therapy, but breaking the idea of the hero as loner was startling.

This image just cracks me up, all that super power and they are just sitting there tied up. Puh-Leeze

There is something just fun about the older books, they seem so pedestrian, but they have a charm that the books just can't duplicate today.

As the original, the JSA is very important in the history of comics, but they are one of the better books that is being published today. Many of the Golden Age characters have modern counterparts -- children and grandchildren taking the mantle. So interesting do I find this title that we are going to spend the next several weeks looking at some of the more prominent characters

My bias for the JSA may in part be rooted in the fact that I think they are one of the most visually stunning groups ever. There will never be a JSA movie. I mean on paper, spandex looks great, but in the movies, let's just say there is a reason the X-Men are in leather. I honestly don't think this bunch would be much fun anymore if they weren't in these bright colors.

The JSA is also powerful in ways other teams can barely dream of -- I mean the Spectre is a part of the team and he alone is virtually omnipotent.

The Spectre with his Hood/Cape arrangement is really stunning - it's reflected in the look of Hourman -- the black-and-gold costume you see much smaller in this image -- it's a great look.

This, at last, is the modern JSA as published today. Some of the old-timers are still there - the Jay Garrick Flash, the original Green Lantern, they act as mentors for the new generation that you see all revamped and polished up here.

This is a great one right now. If you want to start reading comics, you would do very well to start with JSA.

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Tinkerbell Found!

Scientists open Stardust capsule

Just hold on to your happy thought!

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A Sacrifice To The Gods?

GREENPEACE activists hauled the cadaver of an endangered finback whale out of the Baltic yesterday, transported it to Berlin and laid it at the door of the Japanese Embassy.
All that time I spent on the Baltic last summer and I never ever saw a Japanese whaling vessel.

Of all the silly, stupid, pointless gestures....

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It's All America's Fault

Fuk King Kwok had to change his name. Which wasn't a problem except the law firm he hired was Dewey, Cheatam, and Howe.

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For Those That Love Beer A Little Too Much

Guinness ice cream

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Friday, January 20, 2006


Are We Without Hope?

When it comes to environmental policy we are ready to try and change the entire fabric of international relationships and human exisitence because we might be causing global warming. We assume the worst and we have no hope that things may be different than they seem.

Terri Shiavo was starved to death because no one dared hope that what they witnessed with their own eyes was a sign of life and no one dared hope that she would get better.

How many times have you uttered to yourself, "Better to have low expectations, that way I can't be disapponted" But in a case like Schiavo's those low expectations, that lack of hope, removed the opportunity for any hope to be realized.

Now Michelle Malkin tells the amazing and heart-wrenching story of a very young girl for whom no one had any hope, and yet she had hope for herself, and it has been realized. A young girl, beaten into a PVS by her stepfather, has fought her way back to self-sustenance on the verge of having her life support removed. As Michelle says
Next, look for The Professionals to tell us that despite her improvements, her "quality of life" will be worthless.
In the face of proof of the value of hope, hopelessness will rear it's ugly head, and possibly prevail.
Job 13:15 - "Though He slay me, I will hope in Him. Nevertheless I will argue my ways before Him.
We are called to hope in the midst of apparent hopelessness. Not because of the situation, but because of in whom our hope resides. the more I think about it, the more I think this may be the gravest consequence of the increasing secularization of societal discourse, the loss of hope.
Eccl 9:4 - For whoever is joined with all the living, there is hope; surely a live dog is better than a dead lion.
Such wisdom so easily ignored in debates over PVS and abortion. A lower quality of life is still a life!
Zech 9:12 - Return to the stronghold, O prisoners who have the hope; this very day I am declaring that I will restore double to you.
I refuse to be hopeless. I will read the story of Haleigh Poutre and I will see God's hand at work. I will have hope becasue I have a God that is worthy of that hope and that will, in the end, see to the realization of that hope.

Further, I resolve again to bring Jesus to my world - for only in Jesus can this hope be found. And only in such hope can we, as a society move forward.

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Earning The Right To Criticize

Dadmanly had a great post the other day. He is looking at a new marine's decision to join up and speech by Teddy Roosevelt, but I think this is the heart of the post
Beware those critics who stand back and abandon the fight
Criticism is a necessary part of a functioning society, but criticism demands understanding and understanding usually comes from experience.

This is especially true with endeavors like war. It's not like the movies, it's not like you imagine, it's probably not even like returning malcontents tell you it is. Until you have some experience, you are criticizing a phantom, a work of fiction.

The problem is, in large part that we do not have first hand information. Critics that don't have first hand experience, generally don't critize the firsthand experience either, they criticize the filtered, fumbled, and massaged information that comes out of someone that already has an axe to grind.

Sometimes it best to learn or to shut-up.

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The Good News

GospelDrivenLife reviews John Piper's latest book and says this
John is rightly concerned that Gospel centeredness can become a "me and my justification". It is all about my sins being forgiven, my acceptance with God, my daily need to live in the goodness of the Gospel, applying the Gospel to my idols and pride. That sort of Gospel centeredness is really at risk of being me-centered -- a form of narcissism with the Gospel helping.

This book is a major corrective. John simply notes that the goodness of the good news is ultimately more than my forgiveness and justification. It is that now, the God of heaven, through the sacrifrice of his Son, has invited me into his presence. The good news is that I may know and see and worship and delight in God through the sacrifice of the Son of God and the indwelling of the Spirit of God.
This is precisely the point I have been driving at in my posts on worship here and here.

We live in a narcissitic age. If the church chases "success" by "tuning" the gospel to that narcissism, what we will have accomplished will not be in line with the desires of our Lord.

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The Spirit Of Baghdad Bob Lives!

I could not help but think that when I read this:
Al-Jazeera on Thursday broadcast portions of an audiotape purportedly from Osama bin Laden, saying al-Qaida is making preparations for attacks in the United States but offering a possible truce to rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan.

The voice on the tape said heightened security in the United States is not the reason there have been no attacks there since the Sept. 11, 2001, suicide hijackings.

Instead, the reason is "because there are operations that need preparations," he said.

"The delay in similar operations happening in America has not been because of failure to break through your security measures. But the operations are happening in Baghdad and you will see them here at home the minute they are through (with preparations), with God's permission," he said.
Did you ever need a better sign that we have the bastard on the ropes? He is suing for peace and trying to maintain the illusion of a position of strength.

The sad thing is that is typical of fanatics everywhere. There will be no peace short of his death. This is good news in that he obviously feels cornered. The bad news is we still have to dig him out of the corner.

Also note his admission that our strategy has worked - pinning them down in Iraq, preventing action in the US.

Big, big kudos to the Presdient, SecDef, and our military!

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Your Life Flashing Before Your Eyes... least if you are a galaxy.

Exclusive: New X-ray Movie Shows 10 Years of Milky Way Activity

The movie is fairly cool.

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Measured More Than In Money

Marriage Brings Wealth, Divorce Steals It

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Friday Humor

Dedicated to Scotwise
A guy walks into a bar with a large chunk of asphalt under his arm. The bartender says, "Whatl'ya have?" The guy says,"I'll have a beer ...... and (pointing) one for the road."
Source: Prarie Home Companion "Pretty Good Jokes"


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Diabetes? Heart Disease?

Report: Inmate Loses Weight, Escapes

Isn't that what the doctor always insists? What else would he escape?

Wait...No...The people that design the jail couldn't be that dumb!?

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Mickey's Dog Can Screw Up Anything

Further delay for Pluto mission


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On The Wearer Or The Viewer?


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'Fake But Accurate' Affirmed

Fake Rembrandts turn out to be the real thing

Trust me, someone in the leftie blogosphere is going to claim this story as support.

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Not For Long...

Hamster, Snake Best Friends at Tokyo Zoo

...unless they keep that snake very well fed.

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And I Thought We Were Litigious!

A British court awarded a woman $3,518.90 because she hired a man to whack her and he failed, according to The Times of London.

Maidstone Crown Court ordered Kevin Reeves, 40, to be jailed for 15 months and made him pay $3,518.90 compensation after he took $35,188.96 from a depressed friend, Christine Ryder, 53, who asked him to track down a hit man to help her end it all.
The ramifications of being able to sue over failure to fulfill a contract to perform illegal services are truly stunning. Talk about putting the Godfather out of business.

Wait a minute, there may be wisdom to this. The traditional "Godfather" really is nothing more than "a court" for wiseguys that makes his money by skimming for those services. Maybe this is better than sin taxes?

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Thursday, January 19, 2006


More Thoughts On Worship

My post from Tuesday on worship, and a specific praise chorus, has brought quite a bit of comment and linking. I feel like I should probably add a bit to it.

First, the observation that I made about the praise chorus was made in a specific context. Many, many things we do can be good things or bad things depending on context. Such is certainly true of a worship service. We can participate rightly or wrongly and which it is depends as much on what we bring to it as what actually happens in it. However, I think that means we should endeavor to create the correct context in worship.

One commenter pointed out that the etimology of the word "worship" lies in "worth-ship." I understand, but God's worthiness is not dependent on our praise. We do not make God worthy, He simply is worthy.

Pseudo-Polymath had a post about worship yesterday. (Mark by the way kindly linked to my Tuesday post at World Mag's Blogwatch.) In his posts he starts with some interesting questions
Why do we worship? God doesn?t get anything from it, what do we get out of it? Why go to church?
He's right in his supposition that God gets nothing out of it, and yet worship is all about God. Thus, what we get from worship is placing ourselves in right relationship to God. In acknowledging His worth, we must also consciously acknowledge our lack thereof.

The oft repeated "God is awesome" demand s further context - "We are not awesome." And that is what is missing so often from the modern praise chorus.

Another context that powered my observation was the fact that Time-Life has released another CD series of praise music, the commericals on TV are endless, and painful. The depict not worship services, but concerts, and feature people in the crowd looking all estatic. Worship is not about achieving an estatic state - such a state empowers us, it does not place God on His throne, and leave us in humble supplication before Him.

So how can we establish the correct context for worship? We can't always because it is so much up to the individual worshiper. But I do think some lyrical complexity would help a bit. I do think engaging both our minds and our spirits would help.

Humility, confession, brokeness these words are a huge part of Christian faith. They are missing from much that is modern worship music. Would for a modern worship song that extolled my wretchedness while acknowledging God's goodness. God's grace would not be nearly so precious were I not so utterly wretched.

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Skip The Meeting

They devised a pair of hypotheses, educatedly guessing that:

1. The more meetings one has to attend, the greater the negative effects; and

2. The more time one spends in meetings, the greater the negative effects.

Then they performed an experiment to test these two hypotheses. Thirty-seven volunteers each kept a diary for five working days, answering survey questions after every meeting they attended and also at the end of each day. That was the experiment.

The results speak volumes. "It is impressive," Luong and Rogelberg write in their summary, "that a general relationship between meeting load and the employee's level of fatigue and subjective workload was found". Their central insight, they say, is the concept of "the meeting as one more type of hassle or interruption that can occur for individuals".
First of all it is amazing that someone paid someone to "prove" that which anyone could have told them without the research.

But anyway, are metings necessary? Yes, but not so often as they are held and they can be done far better than they are. Communication is the key, a meeting is but the tool. Too often we confuse the tool with the job the tool is supposed to accomplish.

What is it Jack Ryan says just before he is lowered from a helicopter onto a submarine mid-ocean becasue he has to meet with the captain? -- "Next time, write a memo."

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Silly Arguments

So, first I ran across this article...
As scholars question the place of nudity in marriage, Islamic clerics are hotly debating exactly what sexual practices are acceptable, writes Brian Whitaker.

A curious religious debate is raging in Egypt. The question is: should you keep your clothes on when having sex?
...and I thought it was just silly. It reminded me of the old joke:
Q: Why don't Baptists have sex standing up?
A: It might lead to dancing.
Than I ran across this post at Reformation Theology and again thought "how silly," at least until I read it. The title of the post is about the Da Vinci Code book and upcoming movie. I have thought the discussion entirely silly - it's a ficticious novel for crying out loud, why are we battling it like it's holy writ. When I read the post, it quoted a speaker on the book that said something quite profound
Books like The Da Vinci Code thrive because we have become a society dependent upon external sources of information. We no longer learn things directly: we learn how to find out the data we need. Part of this is necessary: the body of human knowledge is now so much larger than it was in the past that there can no longer be a true "Renaissance man" who masters all fields of knowledge. While that is true, we have likewise become a people disconnected from history; we no longer are disciplined to learn, to memorize, to remember. And as we have ceased valuing honesty, integrity, accuracy, indeed, all aspects of truth, it is easy to understand how other values, like simple entertainment, have rushed in to fill the void. The result is not only sloppy thinking that cannot see two steps down a logical pathway (and hence identify errors in argumentation), but ignorance of history as well.
Now the author uses this as a set up to prepare the Christian to "do battle" with the forces the book and movie have an will unleash in society.

But I think that may be the perfect set up for a new understanding of the mission of the church in general. Can maturity in Christ be achieved only through the indirect assimilation of knowledge? Faith is deeper than knowledge, but knowledge plays a key role in its development. I think for faith to be genuine we need to have at least some direct knowledge - not to battle the forces of the world, but for our own maturity. How do we foster that in an age that seems to compete against it?

One thing I think of off the top of my head is that we stop seeking "new knowledge" about Christianity for its own sake. Maybe if we concentrate more on undertsanding and using the knowledge that exists as opposed to finding new knowledge we will foster the kind of thirst God intends for us.

Any other ideas?

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Illuminated Scripture

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Say It Ain't So!

Christine Fitzgerald, a confidante of Diana, Princess of Wales, claims that Diana told her that the Royal Family were Reptilian aliens, and that they could shapeshift.
That's just one of the

Top 10 Wackiest Conspiracy Theories

Most of which are old hat - but that one makes so much sense.

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Better Than Burying Him

Villagers Shun Man They Believe Is Dead

Unless, of course, he's a zombie, then I would recommend shooting him in the head.

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I'm Really Worried...

Shatner Sells Kidney Stone for Charity

...about whoever buys it.

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By Drinking It?

U.S., Mexico Resolve Tequila Differences

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They're Not Usually Very Talkative Anyway

High Court says no free speech for penis

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It Goes Through Them...

Goose Poop a Problem for Oakland Parkgoers, well, you know.

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Exterminate! Exterminate!

Dr Who's Cybermen take over street

Oh wait, that's the Daleks. It's hard to keep those Brit baddies straight.

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Which Simply Indicates Bad Planning

Russians spend millions to pull pranks on friends

The best pranks are free, but then if they are talking rubles, they still could be.

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It Helps To Have The Right Tool...

A 24-year-old man reported to police this morning that he heard gunshots, realized he had been shot in the chest, then tried to remove the bullet with the pointy end of a meat thermometer. know, like more than three or four brain cells.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2006


The Problem of Perfectionism

Miscellanies on the Gospel had an interesting post yesterdy about perfectionism. Rob talks about OCD orderliness and the fact that such perfection is not achievable in this world. I agree, but I not sure Rob distinguishes between the achievement of perfection and the striving for perfection.
James 1:4 - And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
It is, in fact God's desire and goal to perfect us. That is the promise of transformation that we have in Jesus, nothing less will do.

The problem that Rob describes in his post is not a problem of seeking the perfect, but a problem of thinking we can achieve perfection of ourselves.
In a way, when I am acting out of this tendency, I am practically denying my innate depravity and inherent sinfulness. Though I would acknowledge my depravity and sinfulness in one sense (else I would not be so obsessed with doing things perfectly), I deny it in another sense in that I actually believe I can possibly if not probably achieve perfection in certain areas.
And while I inderstand where Rob is coming from, this near concluding statement bothered me a little
Praise God for the gospel which preaches to me that I am not perfect, never have been, and never will be. I will never be able to do anything with any degree of perfection, if perfection had degrees at all. Every one of my best efforts will be contaminated in some way with the taint of sinfulness, though I may not be able to detect it.
I have a hard time thanking God for my imperfections. Oh yes, I need to let go of my attempts to fix them, but praise God for them? No, I can't find the desire or need to do that. I need to seek humility and compassion that can only be born of knowing I am not perfect, but more than anything I desire to be made perfect.

I do not want to lose that desire, I just need to know I can't get there on my own.

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I Had No Idea...

...that when you got old, somehow your crimes became less important. I have grown sick of this headline:

Calif. Executes Oldest Death Row Inmate

The guy was despicable, I don't care how old he is.

By the way, the crimes that gained him the death penalty were done in 1982 while he was in prison. If his sentence had been carried out in a reasonable time frame -- he would not be so old!

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Roger over at A-Team blog continues his look at justice, this time looking at "an eye-for-an-eye." Roger quotes Gregory Koukl
"In fact, Jesus never challenged the validity of the death penalty when He had perfect opportunity to do so. Even in John 8, with the woman caught in adultery, he never challenged the death penalty itself. He didn't enforce it under what seemed to be an unjust situation because all the witnesses fled. Remember, Jesus said, "Is there no one here to condemn you? Then neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more." The Law required witnesses to convict someone. Jesus did not speak against the death penalty here. It was required by law."
Of course the law required it! Jesus own death is testimony to the fact that justice requires a death penalty.

So comes the retort, "If Jesus paid the price, who are we to reassert it?" I think the answer is simple. As individuals we are required to appropriate the salvation from that justice that Christ gained for us. But we likewise can never truly know the salvation status of someone, as has been talked about quite a bit lately. As a society, we must do our best to administer justice not for the sake of the individual, but for the sake of the society.

Jesus did not abolish justice, He fulfilled it.

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Snatching Defeat From The Jaws Of Defeat

The Corner described it as the funniest story of the week:

Tom Daschle considers bid for president

Proof, Dems live in some sort of bubble where they have lost complete contact with the rest of the world.

Somehow I am envisioning "Kos Communities" where these people can live, work, and shop and never, ever have actual reality intrude.

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A Call For Christian Sophistication

Al Mohler looks at the impending creation of human/animal chimeras. In his post he quotes Nancy Jones
The Bible tells us that God designed procreation so that plants, animals, and humans always reproduce after their own kind or seed. (Gen 1:11-12, 21) In the biblical view, then, species integrity is defined by God, rather than by arbitrary or evolutionary forces.
O come on - inter-species breeding is quite common in nature apart from human intervention. The species differences are usually not quite as diverse as say man/rabbit, but we've seen lion-tiger.

My point is this, genetic manipulation confronts humanity in general and Christianity with some of the most important, most difficult, and of the largest consequence of any we have yet faced. We cannot afford to get simplistic about it. Like most things science does, there are potential beneficial uses for chimeras under certain very controlled and precisely defined conditions, uses that I think even Christians might be able get behind depending on the source of the genetic material and the extent of development permitted for the resultant organism. Although I will admit to finding human/animal chimeras highly problematic. As with most science, its what we do with it that is the issue, not the science itself. In the end we are discussing temptation.

But regardless of the specifics, we run the risk of being excluded from the conversation if we make demagogic and simplistic statements. This is gonna happen, for better or worse, for good or evil. Mankind and especially Christianity will be much better served by educating itself and entering the debate reasonably, as opposed to being simply dimissive.

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Music Appreciation

In The Agora looks at an article that contends that omnipresence of music these days, due to technology, has reduced appreciation. Zach concludes
Arguably, the decline in the majesty of music probably has more to do with the crap people are listening to rather than how they listen to it.
I disagree, I think the decline in music is technologically driven. Rock and Roll, with its few chords, loudness and heavy beat orientation was born in the age of the automotive AM radio with such poor sound reproduction, Rock and Roll was about all you could hear. Rock grew in sophistication as sound reproduction technology grew both in the automobile and in the home Hi-Fi.

The grossly bass heavy sounds of hip-hop have taken root in a age where bass has to be overdriven to be heard in ear buds, and automotive sub-woofers make it possible to bend the sheet metal of your car.

I cannot tolerate classical music save live, or with my hefty home hi-fi optimized, otherwise it sounds ugly.

Technology has definitely affected music, and not for the better.

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The Best Of Pravda

This week offers the usual assortment of the sublime and the ridiculous.

First, the purely propogandic:
Indeed, this is the idea the three Baltic States would have their populations, and the rest of the world, believe. Let us however delve into the history of those four years between 1941 and 1945, when these countries were liberated from the Fascist yolk of Hitler's forces by the Soviet Union (or would they prefer to claim they were invaded a second time and that they preferred Hitler's Nazis?)
The only possible response to that bit of tripe I can come up with is "pig poop or cow poop? - your choice?" Wonderful!

This made me laugh out loud -- seems Pravda wishes to refute Pat Robertson too, but from an entirely different angle.

Ariel Sharon's disease caused with ancient Kaballistic curse

This is a bit tasteless, but the grammatical misstep is just too funny not to pass on:

Women adore men tickling their scrotums

If I met a "woman" with one of those things, Im sorry, but tickling would not be on the agenda.

And finally, ulitmate truth from a newspapaer of the same name:

Brokeback Mountain is likely to be a box office flop for many people are not interested in gay problems

Just another week in the wacky world of Pravda.

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Well, Isn't That A Coincidence!

You scored as Chemistry. You should be a Chemistry major! As if that isnt clear enough, you are deeply passionate about Chemistry, and every single chemical reaction and concept fascinates you. Pursue that!





























What is your Perfect Major? (PLEASE RATE ME!!<3)
created with

Let's see, I actually did major in Chemistry and minor in math and work on the school paper. I'll be a monkey's uncle. Thanks to Scotwise for this little bit of personal insight.

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OK, But A Gas Chromatograph Doesn't Stink Back

Dogs Excel on Smell Test to Find Cancer

If I'm gonna find out I have cancer, I'd just as soon not have to deal with dog breath too.

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Sammy Hager Would Have Been Better

KISS Bassist Promoting Indy Racing League

I mean, Gene has the tongue and everything, but Sammy "Can't Drive 55."

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Uh?...Does That Come With Psychological Intervention?

A woman who has tried many times to kill herself has been given an Asbo banning her from much of her home town's seafront. [NOTE: "Asbo" is the relatively new UK Anti-Social Behavior" law]
Suicide as public nuisance...what a concept!

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OH!...In That Case Never Mind

I wanted to eat him, not kill him, court is told

Given such pure motives what choice does the court have?

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And He'll Likely Do A Better Job Than Most

Two-Year-Old Called for Jury Duty

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Tuesday, January 17, 2006


Sacrifice Or Submit

So, Sunday I am in church and we start singing this little ditty.
And I will give You all my worship
I will give You all my praise
You alone I long to worship
You alone are worthy of my praise

I will worship (I will worship)
With all of my heart (With all of my heart)
And I will praise You (I will praise You)
With all of my strength (All my strength)
I will seek You (I will seek You)
All of my days (All of my days)
And I will follow (I will follow)
Follow all of Your ways (All Your ways)

I will bow down (I will bow down)
And hail You as King (Hail You as King)
I will serve you (I will serve You)
Give You everything (Give You everything)
I will lift up (I will lift up)
My eyes to Your throne (My eyes to Your throne)
And I will trust You (I will trust You)
I will trust You alone(Trust in You alone)
You probably know it. I was struck, quite suddenly, by the absurdity of those lyrics, they read like I am somehow according to God His worthiness and His Kingship. We do not make God who He is. Praise is about God, not us. Note the words "I," and "my" and how they are repeated over and over. It seems to me that genuine praise might start there, but that those words would soon leave the lexicon of praise.

That set me to thinking about modern church music and mega-churches and so forth. I have been talking about how the church demands little of its attendees with a few friends lately and they are quick to respond with "This mega-church Y requires members to sacrifice X time a week" Fair emough, but God calls for more from us that sacrifice of time or talent.

God calls us to submit - EVERYTHING - to Him. Sacrifice is insufficient. Granted, the idea of submission has been grossly abused in some more authoritative church settings, but that does not deny its importance. When people can set a budget around their sacrifice, its not much of a sacrifce, really.

God calls us to utter self-denial, and until the church preaches that particular portion of the gospel, we are not doing what we should be.

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Separation Of Science And State

So, my wiofe leads me to this post at Sue Bob's Diary which cites this post lining to this article - The unholy lust of scientists - It may be time to curtail public financing of scientific research by David S. Oderberg. Oderberg's article is meaty stuff on the rise of scientism, but this is by far my favorite pull quote
I share the late philosopher of science Paul Feyerabend's demand for a separation of science and state...
"The separation of science and state" may become one of those catch phrases for the ages. It is pithy wisdom containing enormous truth. the necessity of it comes on two levels.

The first level has to do with scientific inquiry. Because most research is now done with government money - funding of science is now a largely political process, not a scientific one. Here is an example of what I mean. This means that what gets funded is not necessarily based on where the research is leading but on what is "hot" or what has "buzz." Those words were literally used when discussing my Masters thesis some 20 years or more ago. Matters have only grown worse. The fact of the matter is that industry provides far more useful science than academia, sucking at the government teet, does. That would be a fascinating study sometime.

The other level is the philosophical/religious one. The rise of scientism makes government funding of science the functional equivalent of the establishment of religion, or at least the funding of it. Maybe I ought to pass that on to a few of my constituional lawyer type friends.

One thing is for sure, our society has an irrational faith in science, as irrational as any religious faith. If that does not change, we must adapt our society to acknowledge the reality of it.

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Jollyblogger is reading again. He is reading a book that made him think about another book that made him think about another book thatr got his to say this
I also think of a book I started a few years ago (I don't think I finished it) called The Way of the Modern World by Craig Gay. Gay's thesis is that we moderns have constructed a world that that basically renders belief in God irrelevant. Again, this dovetails with Schaeffer and Borgmann.
I read through David's post and agreed with it, but when I pull that quote out of context, the questions occurs to me, "How can God ever be irrelevant?" David concludes his post this way
Similar things happen in evangelism and apologetics and it's a good reminder that our calling as Christians is to engage people and cultures on deeper levels than just those of arguments. This does not mean that we quit offering arguments, but in our attempts at persuasion in any matter we need to look deeper to what values and plausibility structures (presuppositions, in Cornelius Van Til's thought) need to be engaged with the gospel.
Ah, so the idea then, is that our modern world has made God intellectually irrelevant, but not generally so. This begs a question for me as well, "Was God ever really intellectually relevant?"

Time after time when I read about people's faith journey's I see the intellect as obstacle to faith, and in some cases the path to faith, but it is never ever enough.

God is real in every possible sense. He is not an idea, and He is not remote. One need not understand quantum mechanics to experience an atomic explosion. David is absolutely correct, we do need to learn how to engage on "deeper levels" than arguement which has, I think, one very important ramifications.

We must find those levels for ourselves. How do we do that is the important question. From mysticism to pentecostalism to "the disciplines" they are all efforts to seek those deeper levels. Personally, I think each path works to some extent but is also fraught with possible missteps. Thus I explore all of them in hopes they balance each other out.

What about you?

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How Does This Thing Fly?

Images of the UK's first prototype stealth surveillance aircraft have been unveiled.

The unmanned vehicle, which has been built by BAE Systems, is known as the Corax, or as the Raven.

There is nothing even vaguely resembling a tail on that craft. Even the B-2 has a few little surfaces to provide some sort of lateral stability.

I would really love to know the performance envelope for this puppy - but then you usually never find out for survellance aircraft. We still don't really know for the SR-71. You have to admit, this is cool looking.

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With Great Vision...

...comes moral failing? I don't know, but I was struck by the question thinking about Martin Luther King yesterday. I have a lot of respect for his accomplishments and writings, but his failings are also well known.

Another man of vision that I admire, Jim Rayburn, the guy that started Young Life, had problems with booze and the ladies.

Nixon went to China, and well....

Is there something endemic in being a person of great vision that creates such great failings? What do you think?


Dust In The Wind...

...all we are is dust in the wind. So goes the old Kansas tune. And now we have captured space dust - is it the stuff we are made of? I don't know, but I sure am enjoying following the NASA Stardust landing at the preceding link.

Does anybody remember the movie the Andromeda Strain? I am struck by how much the landing of the craft resembles the similar event that started the disaster that drove that film. Remember the Apollo 11 landing? We felt honor bound to lock up the astronauts in an enclosed environment for a month or so just in case. Now, we drop stuff on the desert floor and carry it way. I don't know whether to be afraid or impressed.


Alphabet Soup

One of the more fascinating trips the wife and I have ever taken in the US was to follow the route of the Transcontental Railroad from Sacramento going east. It is a trip to almost nowhere that is amazingly rich in history. Now that we have reached the "r's" in Alphabet Soup I thought we'd look at such a place - Rawlins, Wyoming

Rawlins exists now almost solely as a railroad town. The route taken by the railroad and the Oregon trail before it across southern Wyoming is the only place you can get across the Rocky Mountains with but one up grade and one down grade - through the entire rest of the range there are back-to-back ranges, but here you climb to a very high plateau and drive across the desolation for most of the state. The area is extremely rich in natural gas and coal so the need of rail transport to get it in and out is huge. The town has always been a major port on the trail and before the railroad was a fort on the Oregon trail.

Rawlins really is a bit of the Old West - even today. Much that is fun, well, interesting, survives. The old jailhouse (pictured in the postcard above) is somewhat infamous. In the territorial, pre-law days it was home to a bit of a butcher who did some things to condemned prisoners best not discussed in public.

Rawlins is also a hop, skip and jump from one of the most famous towns of the old west - the birthplace of the western novel - Medicine Bow, Wyoming.

Medicine Bow played host for a period of time to eastern writer Owen Wister who penned "The Virginian" in the log house you see here and the rest is, as they say, history. During the Victorian Age, Wister set the mold for the story and the character of the rough tumble, but with a heart-of-gold, cowboy that the world has learned to love over and over again.

Wister's novel caught like wildfire and the people of Medicine Bow were not stupid. The railroad passed through there so they built The Virginian Hotel (pictured below) and started separating foolish easterners from their money at a rapid pace. The hotel was as lush as they come when it was built, but that is a while ago. People still live in Medicine Bow, but it is a near ghost these days.

Just about 15 miles out of twon are two other really interesting things -- one of the largest deposits of dinosaur bones in the world -- so many that one old coot used 'em to build his house back before people really had a handle on what they were -- the house still stands. Just a little past that is the spot where Butch and Sundance used a tad too much dynamite to open the railroad safe. There is a small museum with the wreckage of the safe there for your inspection.

For the middle of nowhere, this is a pretty fun place to visit.


The Perfect Commentary

Sometimes it's hard to find the perfect way to comment on the drivel that passes for TV Christianity. SmartChristian has found it. This video of Robert Tilden does it. Tasteless?, yes! Sacriligious?, possibly. Funny?, undeniably. Regardless, the perfect commentary.

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No Matter How Smart We Get, We Are Still...

A FAULTY digital television receiver has sparked a helicopter rescue mission after sending out a rogue distress signal, Britain's Royal Air Force said yesterday.

The "freeview" box - which normally allows television viewers access to dozens of digital TV and radio channels via a standard, rooftop aerial - sent out a signal identical to that for emergency beacons at sea.

Billions of dollars of hi-tech equipment and this is what we get?

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Quick! Before Everybody Explodes

Lawmaker Aims to Lower Urination Penalties

Bringing to mind that little ditty from bathrooms everywhere - "We aim to please, you aim too, please."

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In Other Words, "You Have To Be Crazy To Go On A Diet"

Mental health link to diet change

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Somethings Just Shouldn't Be A Problem In Hockey

An assistant referee was sent off from a Swedish third division ice hockey game over the weekend after the players began to suspect he was drunk.
I don't think drunk was the problem, it was probably the beer run that took too long between the first and second period, or peeing on the ice. But I thought it was necessary to be drinking to engage in hockey.

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What's Wrong With This Picture?

Thousands dial up hearing test

I'm sorry, What was that?

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Monday, January 16, 2006


You're Welcome

Last week, I posted about The Call To Hospitality. In that post we looked at hospitality as differenitated from the mega-church mentality, and what it might mean to be hospitable in the Godblogosphere. So I was intrigued yesterday when Mark Roberts posted his sermon - The Welcome of Jesus.

In some ways Mark sounds remarkably like me
In truth, it's not people I don't like, but whole lots of them jammed together. So you'll rarely find me, for example, down at the Irvine Spectrum on the day a hit movie is released. Too many people, standing in line, packed into the theatre. Ugh!
I agree, I hate crowds -- with a passion, much of what I do is built around avoiding them. But Mark reflects on scripture this way
When I read the story in Luke 9 of Jesus in Bethsaida, I feel for Him. Jesus had just sent His disciples off on a mission trip. When they returned, He took them to a small city called Bethsaida. It was about seven miles away from Jesus's home base at Capernaum. The text of Luke suggests that Jesus wanted some alone time with the Twelve, no doubt so they could rest and debrief their recent mission trip.

But things didn't work out as Jesus had planned. As Luke writes, "When the crowds found out about it, they followed him" (9:11). Jesus's hopes for some quiet time with His disciples were dashed by the presence of the crowds who just wouldn't leave Him alone.

How did Jesus respond to them? As Luke tells the story, Jesus "welcomed them, and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed to be cured" (9:11).
Mark goes on to talk about Jesus' compassion for the crowd, but Jesus did more than have compassion and "manage" the crowd. Jesus turned the crowd intimate.

Have you ever experienced that. You're in a crowd and suddenly someone speaks up loud enough for most or all to hear and the situation moves from crowd to group, maybe even to acquaintances and friends. In a place long ago and far away I wrote about intimacy as a part of the Chrisian experience.
Relational intimacy is the same. The more intimate we become with someone socially, the more we risk their discovery that we are not quite all that we are cracked up to be. The reason that intimacy is in short supply today is not because technology is in the way; it is because people are no longer willing to risk the exposure that intimacy requires.

Why is that? Everybody is imperfect; we all have foibles and problems, why should it be so hard to let others see them? I think it is because when we expose those imperfections to others we expose them to ourselves. The image that is REALLY at risk in intimacy is not the image the other has of us, but the image we have of ourselves. The risk is not that they will reject us, but that we will reject ourselves, or more aptly, we will be forced to confront the issue and try to fix it.
Intimacy lies at the heart of what the church should be all about, and we have gotten very bad at it.

In my post last week, I differentiated between "welcome" and "hospitality," and Mark is using the word "welcome" in his sermon, but it is clear he means that word in the sense that I mean "hospitality," so I don't want to get into a word quibble.

Intimacy is the key. When people come to church, when they encounter us, they should feel a bond of intimacy. Whenever I think about these thing, I cannot help but reflect on John 4 - Jesus' encounter with the woman at the well. The thing that strikes me most about that encounter is that Jesus is almost instantly very intimate with that woman. They are bonded at the first words.

That, I think, is the thing we as Christians are called to do that we are so bad at doing. Intimacy, and farily immediate intimacy. Hospitality, welcome - these are how intimacy begins and early expressions of it, but we cannot stop there, we must learn genuine intimacy, for that is where we become more like Him.

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Comparing Courts

I think most of us were struck by the mean absurdity if the Alito hearings last week. Any time Mark Steyn can make this much fun of the opposition, you know things we poorly.
Even smear tactics require a certain plausibility. When you damn someone as a big scary mega-troubling racist misogynist homophobe and he seems to any rational observer perfectly non-scary and non-troubling, eventually you make yourself ridiculous. The boy who cried "Wolf!" at least took the precaution of doing so when there was no alleged predator in view. If he'd stood there crying "Wolf!" while pointing at a hamster, he'd have been led away for counseling. That's the stage the Senate Democrats are at.
One must; however, be grateful that Samuel Alito is a genuine "hamster." Never has the need for serious jurisprudence been more apparent.

Consider the continuing soap opera that is the trial of Saddam Hussein.
The trial of Saddam Hussein was thrown into disarray last night after the resignation of its chief judge in protest at government criticism of the way he has run the court.

Rizgar Mohammed Amin, who chairs the five-strong panel trying Saddam and seven co-defendants for war crimes, handed in his notice after repeated accusations that he had failed to keep those in the dock under proper control.
Even having a trial for someone like Saddam Hussein is a questionable effort. It sure would have helped if he had taken his own final solution, ala Hilter, or if he had been shot trying to run away when he was captured, but alas here we are.

My recent jury experience tells me that nothing could be more important in any court today than a strong and able judge. They need to be able to make sure the inmates are not running the asylum. Too many times now I have seen the smart ones in the counsel's chairs and the one that could not hack practicing law, judging it. Kinda like teachers. (You know, "those that can do, those that can't teach.")

I figure if Alito can handle the Dems this well, he'll be fantastic on the bench. That's more important than you might think at first.

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One Of Our Own

The IMonk, writing at Boar's Head Tavern reflects on a Challies post, comments on Phillip Yancey and Tony Campolo and wonders
Can we point to people who are not theologically identical to our own team as examples of how to play the game?
For me that answer is simple -- of course.

There is a reason I think the answer simple. I lack the conviction of the absolute truth of my theology. My theology is the best that I can derive, but I refuse to believe that I have it absolutely "right." My reasons for that are two-fold.

Firstly, the subject matter. There is no way I can master the subject of God. Can't be done. If I could He would be less than God.

Secondly. I have seen too much good come out of other traditions to refuse to believe that God is at work in them.

That said; however, I would point to those other camps with conditions. I have a personal distaste for Yancey, but I have recommended him to some people in some specific situations, commenting that I would not take him too far.

Campolo was, in my youth, a hero. While I have vehement disagreements with his politics, and in later years some of his theology, I still retain some of the youthful adoration. I have likewise recommended him with conditions.

Is there a fellow Christian I might not recommend? Oh sure - pretty much anybody on TV, and I am not yet recommending Jim Wallis, I really need to look into him more to decide. Everything I have read of Wallis to date does not recommend him.

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How Come...

...this story was in the NYTimes? It's an expose of Cerflo Dollar and the prosperity gospel, and rightly cites how such takes particular advantage of the poor.
Inside the envelope is 10 percent of the weekly pay Mr. Anderson takes home as an electrician's apprentice - he earns about $30,000 a year - and a little more for the church's building fund.

The Andersons, who live in the Bronx, are struggling financially. A few weeks ago, the couple, who have two young children, had no money to buy groceries. But they believe what their pastor, the Rev. Cerflo A. Dollar Jr., said on this recent Saturday night about the offering time: "It's opportunity for prosperity."
Now, of course, being the NYTimes, they side swipe at religion in general and tithing as a practice, but in large part the article is balanced in its treatment of the prosperity gospel movement apart from mainstream Christianity.

But here is what really got my goat
"There's no question that almost every Christian leader - reformed, Pentecostal, however you want to call it - sees it as a blight on the face of Christianity," said Timothy C. Morgan, deputy managing editor at Christianity Today, an evangelical magazine. "Yet it's so seductive."
I went to the CT site and first did a search for "Cerflo Dollar" and it came up goose eggs. A search on "prosperity gospel" did turn up a lot of stuff.

So here is my question, Why is the leading magazine of Protestantism and evangelicalism so unwilling to name names in a situation like this? Look I understand that decent rules of debate demand condemnation of ideas, not people, but I am not talking about condemnation here, I am talking about correction. We can't write "Cerflo Dollar will burn in perditions flames for the prosperity gospel," but we can write "Brother Dollar is wrong, he needs correction, and we need to reach out to him and his congregants to help them to understand the error that they are engaged in."

Will such build enmity? Perhaps, but all we can do is guard against carrying that enmity ourselves, and answer it when it comes from other parties with love. The sad fact of the matter is not every person will respond to ideas, sometimes it has to get personal. We need to learn how to be lovingly corrective and personal.

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Remembering KELO

YOu remember that very controversial Supreme Corut Decision last year - KELO et al. v. CITY OF NEW LONDON et al. In it the powers of eminent domain and the government's right to do "takings" was greatly explanded. Well, it did not take long for that envelope to get puhed a bit more
A year after Los Angeles seized three acres from a private company to construct a public building, a city councilman wants to sell the land to another private firm for a commercial development.

Both companies are furniture manufacturers. But executives with the company that would buy the land have political connections and have made $17,600 in campaign contributions to key city leaders.
Now, decisions have not be made yet, and enough time has lapsed between the taking and the possible resale for all involved to claim they are not connected, this is all just a coincidence. - Yeah.

Bad ideas never stop where we think they are going to. Even if you agree with KELO, you cannot possibly agree with this bit or corruption, can you? And yet here we are. Do you wonder if the SCOTUS ever looks farther that the next week when it makes a decision? That's why appointments like Roberts and Alito matter so much.

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Pretty Much Any Dinner...

...brings out the most well-known Arkansas politician.

Raccoon Dinner Brings Out Ark. Politicians

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The past week seems to have been earmarked by actual common sense entering the world of what was published about the environment.

The Wall Street Journal looks at the silliness of "Green" home-building.

Mark Steyn skewers global warming - again.

The Herald points out the actual value of fertilizers.

Cheat Seeking MIssles points out some important global warming facts.

Holy Coast links to a story about one of the founders of Greenpeace repudiating much that organization has done.

But the story of the week has got to be:

Plants revealed as methane source

That's right folks - plants - which are supposed to cleanse our atmosphere of the much malaigned "greenhouse gases" - actually produces them!

The moral of the story? Simple. We are not that smart, we do not have nearly as much knowledge about how the world works as we think we do. I need to wax philsophic for a minute.

The bugeoning Christian environmental movement is based in large part, as are all environmental movements, on the presumption that we really know how things work. That presumption is egregious, wrongheaded, and for Christians, sinful. Such presumptions seek to make us God-like. We are not - and we never will be.

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