Saturday, February 11, 2006


A Little More on Evangelicals And Global Warming

It's worse than I thought. I said that the recent signing of a statement on global warming by 86 evangelical leaders was going to be a problem, turns out I was optimisitic in the "going to be part." A few hours after I put up that post, I got a press release from something called the Institute for Religion and Democracy. Turns out the 86 signers were a splinter group.

The National Association of Evangelicals, which has gone farther on the issue than I am comfortable with, refused to sign the document in question. So while Warren did sign it, guys like Colson and Dobson had no part of it.

And so, the lines are being drawn even before the ink is dry. And somehow a dispute over something like this does not stirke me as what God intended for His church.

Evangelical Outpost had some interesting comments on the issue as well, and while I agree with everything Joe says, I think he misses the primary point.

This just is not stuff the church is supposed to be about - Christians yes, the church no.

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A Salute To Ronald

It went largely unnoticed, but last Monday was Ronald Reagan's birthday. It did not escape Shot In The Dark.
Reagan changed the world. "But into what?", some lefties will snark.

A much better place than I grew up in.

The wall is gone.

The missile silos that dotted the northern plains are largely gone - unneeded in a world with only one superpower:
Someday I hope that Ronald Reagan can be added to the list of President's birthday's worthy of a holiday. Presidents' Day is 2/20 -- while your reflecting on Washington and Lincoln, think about Ronnie too.

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Comic Art

During World War Two, pretty much anything costumed in Old Glory sold comics, so what could be better than a team costumed literally as the Stars and Stripes? Hence was born the Star-Spangled Kid and Stripsey. To my mind, as a team, one of the lamest ideas in the history of lame ideas in comics. I think they were based on the Grapes of Wrath because Stripsey was the big, strong, not-too-smart oaf, while it was the little kid that had all the moxie. But they did pretty good cause it was the war and patriotism sold. Far cry from today where uber-patriot Captain America is afraid to "sell out" to his country, standing now for the "Idea of America" not its reality.

Even solo, the Kid's costume is pretty lame, almost looks wrong without the stripes, but he quickly joined the All-Star Squadron which became the Justice Society of America which is why we are looking at him here as we continue our walk through the JSA.

The kid has been a part of the JSA for forever. Here you see him backing an '80's version of the Scoiety. I happen to own this particular issue, it is really more of an homage, he is an old man by the time this story happens, but he was an inspiration for them all.

Typical for today's JSA, there is a modern "equivalent" which is who you see below. Originally, she used the SSK moniker, but now she is known as "Stargirl." She is really an amalgam of two Golden Age characters - the SSK and Starman who was powered by his "cosmic rod." Starman is her uncle and she refashioned the rod into a staff but donned the SSK homage costume. Hey, why not? When a single character can't cut it, combine 'em and see what you get.

Stargirl is a bit annoying as she is really, really young. Fourteen or so. That has made for an interesting storyline as she knows Captain Marvel's secret (that he is really the 14-year-old Billy Batson) there is even a bit of a budding puppy love going there, but all-in-all in a title that crosses time and saves the multiverse every issue, a 14-y-o that acts like it can get a little annoying.

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Completely Understandable

Two passenger planes of Macedonia's national carrier MAT were stacked above Skopje airport until a pack of stray dogs could be cleared from the runway to let them land safely, officials said on Thursday.

You may recall, I have been to Macedonia. I took this picture of there Air Force when I was there. It should explain everything.

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For the record -- That really is a picture I took in Macedonia, it is; however, of a crop duster. I love my Macedonian friends!


This Had To Be Invented... Boar's Head Tavern.

A Beer Dispensing PC

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It'll Take More Than A Makeover

Ken gets a makeover, hopes to win back Barbie

Women tend to like "real" men.

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All The World's Problems In A Single Story

She spelled it right. The judge said it was wrong. And she's not getting a second chance. Eighth-grader Sara Beckman from Reno's O'Brien Middle School spelled "discernible" correctly during Tuesday's spelling bee at the University of Nevada, Reno. But the judge rang the bell anyway.
When those in charge cannot do it as well as those they oversee....

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Friday, February 10, 2006


Thinking About Small Groups

Tod Bolsinger has been looking at George Barna's latest book, Revolution. In his latest post on the subject, Tod looks at the distinction Barna draws between "Church" and "church" and starts to discuss what makes a church a church.
In my last post, we looked at the New Testament understanding of "church" and saw that for the earliest Christians, "church" was a very specific gathering of people out to accomplish the work of the "Church". Like the old song about "Love and Marriage" says, "You can't have one without the other."

But, the lingering question in this series of posts is what exactly makes a church a church? Is it just "where two or more are gathered" in Jesus' name? Or does it need to be affiliated, structured and institutionalized in some way? Could a family be rightly called a church? Or is there something beyond the family that is necessary? Is any gathering of Christians a church? or is "church" more than "fellowship"?

In Revolution, George Barna writes about "spiritual mini-movements" or what he considers "God-centered endeavors taking place beyond the congregation (p. 54)." And clearly indicates that he believes that these "spiritual mini-movements" are the latest manifestation of the Church today. No congregation necessary, just lots of affiliations of Christians all working together for the good of the Kingdom in any way that is beneficial to one's faith. That is attractive of course, but is it biblical? Is it even historically consistent with what past generations of Christians understood Jesus to be initiating when he told Peter, ?Upon this rock I will build my church???
Which raises an interesting question in my mind - where does a small group ministry fit into this?

There are a couple of trends in church that are a problem and I have mentioned them before. The first is that Sunday morning is for the non-believer, the seeker, not the company of the committed. The other is the question I keep asking - where does the mature Christian go for his/her sustenance and growth in the church?

The answer I always seem to get to both of these issues is "small group" ministry. - But it seems to me that small groups are not church in the sense that Tod is discussing it here. It seems to me that to punt the mature to a small group is to feed the beast that Tod seems to be fighting -- it feeds the trend Barna notes.

So, are small groups really good things after all? Or, are they the church abdicating its responsibility?

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How The Press Gets Science Wrong

I am pretty sick of reading this story everywhere:

Science team finds 'lost world'

What happened? Some people with notebooks and cameras and tools to record observations went someplace that people with notebooks and cameras and tools to record observations have never been before and they found things such people have never seen before. Why is this such a big deal?

Because of one grossly mistaken idea, one poorly defined word, and a need to attract money to go back. The poorly defined word is "species." Nobody really knows what a species is, save for the guy that decides he's found a new one.

The grossly mistaken idea is that some part of the world that has never been seen by people with notebooks and cameras and tools to record observations is somehow better or more pure or prefereable to places that such people have seen. Who says? This idea presumes that man is some sort of plague upon the planet.

But, the "explorers" that found all this want to go back. That takes money, money they need to raise. So, it means the better picture they can paint of their discovery, the more money they will get. Thus they make literary references and make fantastical claims when they tell the press about the work.

And the press, which has the scientific perspective of your average 3rd grader, buys it all.

And that is how the press gets science wrong.

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Actual Common Sense In Italian Court

An Italian atheist lost his legal crusade against the Catholic Church on Thursday when a judge rejected his attempts to sue a priest for saying that Jesus existed 2,000 years ago, the priest's lawyer said.

Luigi Cascioli, 72, had argued his hometown priest and former schoolmate had effectively broken an Italian law meant to protect the public from being conned.

But instead of granting Cascioli his request to bring the case to court, the judge recommended magistrates investigate him for slandering priest Enrico Righi, Righi's lawyer, Bruno Severo said.
I sort of wish this case had gone forward. I don't think there is a more researched figure in history than Christ. It is my understanding that the New Testament documents are the most historically verified documents from that historical period.

Had this case gone forward the court would have been forced to eradicate all of history from that period, or rule in the church's favor. It might have been fun.

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Bring On The Beef!...

...and the pork (especially the pork.)

Study Finds Low-Fat Diet Won't Stop Cancer or Heart Disease

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We Call This Hoosier Common Sense

I've lived in California for a long time now, but I grew up in Indiana. Your average Hoosier (that's a person from Indiana) has his/her feet planted a little more firmly than you average Golden Stater. Hoosiers don't really follow fads unless they make sense. I had to smile when my friend Josh Clayborn posted this.
EPI said in a written analysis citing industry data." The article goes on to discuss the massive amount of energy used to bottle and ship the water, which ultimately takes its toll on the environment.

And all of these costs may be for nothing. "Bottled water is not guaranteed to be any healthier than tap water. In fact, roughly 40 percent of bottled water begins as tap water; often the only difference is added minerals that have no marked health benefit," EPI said.
Out here in CA, bottled water is a matter of faith, because EVERYBODY knows that if you drink from the tap - you will die. It's obvious that Josh's Hoosier status has not allowed him to be taken in by clear and deliberate propoganda.

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And You Thought Tobacco Advertising Was Bad

You know all those cries about how cartoon characters in cigarette advertising are designed to encourage young smokers? Well check out this from Cheat Seeking Missles.

Borrowing from the "Garbage Pail Kids" this is designed to keep kids from comsuming milk - brought to you by those moral midgets - PETA.

The cows are far more important that the kids - obviously.

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Friday Humor

This is whole hog theivery so please hit the link and give the author a hit. This is especially for Scotwise. He is gonna wish he thought of it.
This may come as a surprise to those of you not living in Las Vegas, but there are more Catholic churches there than casinos. Not surprisingly, some worshippers at Sunday services will give casino chips rather than cash when the basket is passed. Since they get chips from so many different casinos, the churches have devised a method to collect the offerings. The churches send all their collected chips to a nearby Franciscan Monastery for sorting and then the chips are taken to the casinos of origin and cashed in.

This is done by the chip monks.
Let the groaning begin.

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Nothing LIke The Personal Touch

All people need to do is call the number and leave a request on the answering machine for a prayer to be said in the church.

"I will pick up the message and take it to the church and we will pray it through," Pastor Jim Davis of Elim Pentecostal Church in the little town of Caldicot told Reuters by telephone on Wednesday.
Do you think that's how God listens to them?

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Disguised As A Puppy

Kitten Goes Undercover in Vet Scam Probe

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Geek Alert! This Is Not Drill. Geek Alert!

Man Goes Bankrupt Building Starship Voyager Home

I am the last one to talk about someone's choice in decor (someday I'll post pictures of my office) but going broke doing so? Definite a priority problem.

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I Need To Do The Physics On This

A New York City teenager fell out the window of a moving bus while using the restroom Tuesday and landed on the New York State Thruway.

State police said Jose Gonzales, 17, lost his balance when the chartered bus swerved to change lanes. It was unclear how fast the bus was going.
Think about this - windows start waist high and they generally aren't man-sized. For this to really happen he'd have to be using that restroom in a pretty unusual posture of some sort, even with losing his balance.
He had been at the Capitol on Tuesday to lobby with a group on the issue of AIDS
Do you think? Could he (and a "friend") have been...? Oh Yeah, I'm betting.

Next time guys, you need a better story.

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Really Tasteless Joke Alert

Exotic crabs in waterway invasion

Usually they invade slightly "north" of there.

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It Died Of Natural Causes

Husband eats 50-year-old chicken

I just hope he cooked it for a very, very long time.

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Thursday, February 09, 2006



Mark Roberts has been doing an interesting series on prayer, primarily public prayer and what is or is not appropriate for the Christian. His motive is the recent President's Prayer Breakfast and its interfaith nature. In the latest installment, Mark looks at closing prayer with the phrase "In Jesus' Name."
In the Gospel of John, Jesus teaches His disciples to pray "in his name": "And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it" (John 14:13-14). Yet Jesus doesn't mean that we must say "in Jesus's name" at the end of every prayer, though this is surely a fine thing to do as long as we don't think of "in Jesus's name" as magic words. To pray in Jesus's name is to pray under His authorization. It means to approach God through Jesus and to seek, not our own will, but the will of Jesus our Lord.

Therefore, all Christians should pray in Jesus's name and no other, whether they say "in Jesus's name" or not. When I, and thousands of other Christians at the Prayer Breakfast, agreed with Senator Joseph Lieberman, a Jewish man, in prayer, we were praying in Jesus's name, even though he was not and did not use the familiar Christian ending to his prayer. I was coming before God in the name of Jesus because that's the only way I pray.
This caused me to reflect on prayer. It's funny stuff. Mark Daniels had an interesting post on it the other day
So today, my prayers are shorter than they used to be. I also pray more often. In this way, I'm able to avoid the spiritual pitfall of praying for a long time just to say that I prayed a long time--meaning that I egotistically yammered rather than prayed-- and because I check in with God more often each day, also do as Paul recommends: Pray without ceasing.
It just seems to me like people get really hung up on the form of prayer instead of the content, and even more importantly, the attitude. Mark goes on to say this
Many regular readers here know that one of my favorite books is Prayer, written by the Norwegian theologian, Ole Hallesby. Hallesby says, with good Biblical and experiential warrant, I think, that for the things we offer to God to actually be prayer, two ingredients must be present:
  • Faith in God
  • Helplessness
Have you ever thought about the fact that there is nothing we can tell God? I mean really, if we actually had information that He did not, would He not be something less than God?

Prayer is not about what we say, or even really "think" - it is another way of placing ourselves in a proper attitude in front of God, prostrate, humble, reliant, submissive and in awe.

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The Islamic Cartoons - EXTRA

More posting than normal today because some of the most important words yet written on the cartoon kerfluffle appeared at Strategy Page, courtesy Austin Bay.
In May 2005, Newsweek ran its phony Guantanamo prison "Koran flushing" story -- a story designed to embarrass the Bush administration as well as sell copies of Newsweek. A good sales ploy? When riots began in Muslim countries, the world got a lesson in information warfare. Indian military analyst Bahukutumbi Raman claimed that in Afghanistan the riots were incited by "well-organized agents of the Hizb ut-Tahrir terror gang."


Four months after their publication, however, we witness waves of orchestrated, coordinated violence -- war and information war directed at the West but also designed to deflect domestic challenges to Middle Eastern dictatorships. Vicious anti-Muslim cartoons -- not published by the Danes -- now circulate with the originals (suggesting a calculated act of propaganda designed to further inflame). Syria's secular dictatorship made cynical use of the cartoons. Mobs burned the Danish and Norwegian embassies in Damascus. The attacks would not be possible without the tacit permission or connivance of the Syrian government. At the moment, Syria faces U.N. censure for its role in the murder of Lebanon's Rafik Harari.
Spontaneous and violent riots are rare, at least violence on this level and this targeted. That is suggestive of something.

I am reminded of how the Soviets used to control their populace. Those grand parades of seeming military might through Red Square. That too was information warfare. In that case they projected the image of a strong vibrant nation covering how rotten it was at its core. Here istead of disguise they use misdirection, "Don't look here, look there."

Don't be duped. Don't help them by publishing stupid stuff either.

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Distasteful And Disrespectful

I am probably a day late and a dollar short with this little bit of commentary, but so be it. Jimmy Carter, Joseph Lowrey, and Bill Clinton were contemptable at Coretta Scott King's funeral. (HT: Michelle Malkin for the links)

This status can be bestowed upon them not because they took shots at things I support - but because they took shots at all. What was accomplished by their remarks? They took the focus of the service from the recently deceased and put it onto themselves, the President, and his policies. They turned Mrs. King from the honorable and accomplished person that she was and reduced her to a soapbox upon which they could stand.

In the end, their actions were not merely political - they were entirely selfish. And this I must say, of the Clintons I expect no better, but of Jimmy Carter - SHAME - utter SHAME. I, mistakenly, voted for Carter in the the first Presidental election I ever voted in - the foolishness of youth combined with the brotherhood of faith. In the interveneing years I had come to view Carter as a loving, if misguided, Christian brother. But I must say, no Christian I know worthy of the label would so dishonor so distinguished an individual by using their memorial service for poltical and personal opportunism. SHAME on Jimmy Carter.

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This Is Not Going To Come Out Well

Evangelical Leaders Join Global Warming Initiative
Despite opposition from some of their colleagues, 86 evangelical Christian leaders have decided to back a major initiative to fight global warming, saying "millions of people could die in this century because of climate change, most of them our poorest global neighbors."

Among signers of the statement, which will be released in Washington on Wednesday, are the presidents of 39 evangelical colleges, leaders of aid groups and churches, like the Salvation Army, and pastors of megachurches, including Rick Warren, author of the best seller "The Purpose-Driven Life."
Holy Coast says it pretty well:

Pastors Taking Political Stands on Something About Which They Know Nothing

As I see it there are only a couple of ways this can go. One way is that churches will become deeply embroiled in endless and heavy debates over "hockey stick curves," "data reliablity," "correlation coeffficients," "sufficient sampling sets," "urban heating effects" and on the list goes. Important issues no doubt, but they aren't the gospel. Along this path the church will lose its way and its mission.

The other way this could go is that people concerned about precisely what I just described will shy from such debate in an effort to keep the church focused on what really matters - the gospel. However, the net result of that will be that the church will end up granting its moral authority to matters of questionable (at least) science captive to political motive. By granting that authority to such a specious issue, that authority will be lessened for matters where it is really needed. Like the boy who cried wolf, the church will sacrifice its credibility and not have it available when it is really needed.

Mostly this move shows a gross misunderstanding of the mission of the church. The church's job is to make disciples. Disciples of evey strip and color, every profession. In so doing those disciples will bring the gospel to bear in any given professional arena. Thus the church will have its participation without losing its mission and without sacrificing its credibility.

But, will come the rejoinder - this is about the poor! Indeed; however, what do we do about the poor? The same things we have always done, of course. If the church hides behind its call to feed the poor to justify its actions in this case what it does is say that the ends justifies the means -- the church says that it is willing to coerce, perhaps even blackmail, a transfer of wealth on bases that are at least overwrought if not genuinely false. Does that sound like following Christ's example?

Secondly, what this argument about the poor does is repeat the mistake of the American welfare state - it is the church trying to force the government, or in this case governments, to do its job, sacrificing in a very real sense its soul.

Today I weep for the church.

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Illuminated Scripture

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I'm Pretty Sure God Does Not Work This Way

A while back, I posted about how I thought the idea of something called "motivational" spiritual gifts was a bad idea.
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.
But let's buy the idea for a minute. Do you think God would reveal your gift to you through a short quiz in the Internet?

All these years, if only I'd known that discerning the will of the Holy Spirit were so simple. My life would have been so much better.

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I'm Gonna Miss This

Artistic MilBlogger Fire and Ice is about to go home.
All good things must come to an end. This sojourn to Iraq is quickly drawing to a close and Friday night I'll start my return trip to the land of the big PX. For a final time an ASR number will be scrawled on the back of my left hand. In the darkness one last "seabag drag", weighted down with ALL my gear, into the back of a waiting helo. The dark expanse of Iraq will glide below us. Into memory will fade golden fragments of light spilling out from windows and doorways of Iraqi homes, and the strands of silvery headlights coiling across the landscape marking the midnight path of a coalition convoy.
His pictures and drawings and paintings have done a great deal to show Iraq for the beautiful place that it is. Beautiful because we have removed the ugliness and let the beauty shine through.

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She Shoulda Made Dinner Instead

Woman Does 'Mouth-To-Beak' to Save Chicken

There I go getting myself in trouble again.

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Way Too Much Time On Your Hands?

Build This!

Then get a life.

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I Know My Wife Finds Belching Romantic

'Banned' Aphrodisiac Soda To Be Sold In Stores

Besides, apparently they have just banned its sale from non-retail outlets.

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This Guy Needs A Direct And Permanent Line to a Suicide Help Line

Holocaust Museum Official To Head Sept. 11 Museum

He should get a years duty at Disneyland.

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In a project that could benefit human health, scientists forced the evolution of a common virus so that it can avoid the human immune system, making it potentially useful as a delivery vehicle for gene therapy.
...the disease from hell. Wasn't there a horror movie that started this way?

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Your Pipes Are Busted Lady!

I found worms in my tap water

Unless of course you prefer to believe the water company somehow singled you out for this mistreatment. If that is the case call the guys in the white coats and not the plumbers.

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How Conspiracy Theories Get Started

So the other day, I'm reading through my bloglines and these two headlines come up one after another on MSNBC:

Fires at four more Alabama churches

King mourners urged to 'carry the torch'

Coincidence or causation?

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Wednesday, February 08, 2006


How To Change

Gladmanly (a buddy that's milblogger Dadmanly out of uniform and in his religious suit) has responded, quite well I might add, to my post on Idols and Idolatry. He makes a couple of great points.
I want to make one other observation about change. A CORRECT or appropriate identification of what a person REALLY needs to change is not trivial or properly dismissed with a joke along the lines of ?Now what could I possibly need to change, I am so near perfect?? (As an aside, I think any time we say to ourselves, ?Ordinarily I don?t like negative [critical] teaching, but?? that should be a warning sign. Attacking anything or other alternative approaches is a weaker place to start than why a different approach is RIGHT.

In my experience, one reason (among many) some Christians from dysfunctional families have not been able to "change" is because they identify the wrong things to change, and the wrong things as sins. In an abusive or dysfunctional family, the pressure is overwhelmingly that the abused "get with the program" and stop making waves. Putting up with the abuse and putting it out of mind is the fix. "I am the problem" can be very destructive and counter-effective. I can think of several current circumstances that people remain in bondage by thinking it's all them, and they "conform" to what they think is right. Hitting someone over the head with the Bible may seem simple, but it can backfire (and represent the garbage bag candidate of a Legalistic approach by the way).
This is part of what I was driving at in my post On Confrontation yesterday. Sometimes we are in a bad place because someone else put us there and sometimes it is that someone else that needs to change so we can change -- either that or we have to extricate ourselves. This abuse of power is particularly prevalent in church and church leadership. Rather than deal with a problem in the church or the church leadership, they tell the person pointing to the problem that they have the problem. It takes a lot of courage to tell those in such authority that they are wrong. Which is why there is a lot of unscurpulous types taking advantage of that out in churches these days.

Gladmanly's other great point is that change, even personal change, is a group effort.
For me, I know I have to watch myself both ways. Because I still rebel at times, and need more sanctification. And I know I need to grow in tolerance for my brothers and sisters in Christ, because they struggle as I do too. And joining each other in that struggle is what God has called us to do.
And that means it's a two-way street. I cannot help but think that personal change approached in this manner will be good for both the individual and the church as the mutual accountability takes hold.

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Where Church And State MUST Interact

As I continue to follow the case of Haleigh Poutre, I grow increasingly stunned at how cavalierly the discussion is held. In this case the child in question is a ward of the state. There are no competing family ties. While the child's stepfather has taken legal action to preserve her life, that is likely motivated by his desire to avoid a murder charge. Thus the decisions about her life are entirely bureacratic - entirely.

This leads us in some appalling directions in the commentary. Consider this:
A third, and final, issue is the culpability of DSS in not recognizing the on-going abuse that Haleigh suffered before the near-fatal beating. This is obviously a problem, as poingnatly illustrated by the horrible death of 7-year-old Nixzmary Brown in New York last week. But for those conservatives who want to argue that this is just another example of how government cannot carry out social policy, let's keep one thing in mind: tax cuts at both the national and state level have gutted the ability of state agencies to carry out these sorts of responsibilities.
PLEASE! Money is not at issue for conservatives in a situation like this - it's who is an appropriate caretaker! The issue is about humanity not money and money cannot buy humanity.

Then there is the Boston Globe piece that appeared last week
With their cries of "medical terrorism" and their comparisons to Nazi Germany, these so-called champions of life created an atmosphere in which some of their supporters made death threats not only to Michael Schiavo but to judges and legislators who had been on the "wrong" side of the dispute.

This kind of support is the last thing Haleigh Poutre needs. Haleigh's cause should be championed -- by those who have the moral authority and the credibility to speak about it. This case raises many disturbing issues, from the efficacy of child protection to care for comatose patients. It deserves to be in the spotlight; it does not deserve to be turned into Terri Schiavo II.
Ah, so it's our fault?! And is the entire conservative movement to be held accountable for the lunatic fringe? The VAST majority of people that campaigned for the life of Terri Schiavo, and for Haliegh do so not out of hatred for the left or distrust of medicine, but out of a rock solid conviction of the value of life - under any circumstance.

Then there is this in the Globe piece:
Some caution that the high cost of caring for comatose patients may become a financial incentive to end life support.
SOME?! caution. Ask yourself this, on what other basis would an amoral, areligious bureacracy make such a decision? They are without any other cognitive framework on which to base their decision making.

It seems to me that in matters such as this there must be a place for moral authority. The government cannot claim such, particularly when the prevailing society prevents religious input on the decision. Surely a mechanism can be devised by which such decisions can be made without the establishment of religion. A board of clerics for all religions that care to participate - something!

I just cannot stand to think of this child ground up in the gears of government, regardless of how compassionate individuals may be.

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A Word To The Godblogosphere

Is it just me or is our little world of Godblogging changing? I think we are getting coarser. I think because that seems to be where the traffic is.

When I started blogging the thing I liked most was that it was a community, a bunch of people really committed to God. There was a diversity of opinion to be sure, but there was grace in the expression of that opinion and a shared desire for the Word and for God's kingdom.

Lately I am seeing words like "apostate" and "unregenerant" a lot. Lately it seems like there is a lot of deciding who is a "real" Christian and who is a pretender. Lately it's striking me more like all the stuff I thought I could escape in blogging.

Maybe it is just me, but I'm not that sure. The thing that really bothers me is that its just blogging, its just words. Words matter, yes, but how can I declare someone's status in the community of faith based on just words. I'd much prefer a person of good character with bad theology over a sexually deviant, offering stealing preacher of golden tongue and seemingly amazing insight.

And it seems that making such condemning, or at least labelling, statements is attractive to bloggers, because people who make such statements seems to get lots of traffic. That would indicate that we are happier with defintive statements than we are with true ones - "I don't know" often being the truest statement possible. But as bloggers we are supposed to be the smart ones. We are supposed to know what we know, what we don't know and be comfortable with that.

And mostly I don't like the fact that "success" seems to breed attitude. The ones with all the traffic begin to sound like Moses coming off Sinai and everybody else begins to sound like a retriever panting for the next ball to chase coming down from that mountain.

When I started this enterprise I found brethren and sistern. They are still here and I still enjoy reading and interacting with them. But lately, we seem relegated to the corner somewhere, lost in a wave of controversy for hit's sake. Maybe we always were, I don't know.

Somehow, right now, the state of the Godblogosphere does not strike me as healthy.

Any comments?

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Don't Confuse Me With The Facts

Dadmanly looks at the fisking of Fisk and makes this marvelous comment
I am no longer surprised by the utter lack of professionalism and scholarly discipline among the fiercest defenders of a certain set of leftist beliefs. But I begin to think that a pure and undefiled ignorance lies at the heart of such as these. They really do seem to embrace the core of the new "fake but accurate" journalistic credo.

Someday perhaps a conservative psychiatrist or neuroscientist will uncover the precise mechanism that allows truth and facts to slip through the neural network untethered, leaving preconceptions and old dust-bunnies in their wake. Myself, I think every piece of intellectual flotsam that drifts by is scooped up and filtered through a "does this fit my perfect conception of the world" net, and if not, it flows out with the other trivia.
I am forced to comment that such is a common phenomena. We see it every day with people. The problem is not to my mind that people ignore fact to fit their own conceptions.

To me the problem is that such peole are given credence, that they are allowed to be journalists, that they can find publication somewhere other than the blogosphere.

When a person thinks that the guy that just bumped into them on the street is trying to kill them they are accused of having paranoid delusions because there is no reality to confirm their belief. But when a "journalist" finds four people in backcountry Iraq that preferred it under Saddam, he is considered brave and full of journalistic integrity for tell the tale of American oppression. That's about the same as telling our paranoid friend that he is correct to be paranoid because he was accidentally bruised when he was bumped into.

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OK! -

Let llamas kindle the spark of love - charity

It's a deal - click here. There, I feel more loving already.

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Have I Been Outdone?

In case you do not remember, I received a prize for designing this graphic in response to the coining of the phrase "Stuck on Stupid" by the general that was in charge of the military response to Hurricane Katrina. He did so in a marvelously funny press conference which Hugh Hewitt talked about for an entire program -- which is what got me named Hugh/Radioblogger's "Blog Of The Week."

But alas, I may have been outdone in the graphic representation of that phrase.

This landed in my inbox the other day. I am sure you recognize Jesse Jackson - but who is that with the idiot grin? - Cindy Sheehan!!!!!!!!! That's stupid stuck on stupid if ever it existed.

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The Best Of Pravda

When I went to do my reading for this regular feature this week the servers for the english version of Pravda were down. Which may make this the best "Best of Pravda" ever.

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And Into The Light?

Dark matter comes out of the cold

Uh, that possible?

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Always Knew Steve Irwin Would Get In Trouble Someday

Human Chain Pulls Hunter From Crocodile

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Or Really Wants To

Artist paints worlds no one has ever seen

Come on - this looks like a scene from attack of the mushroom people.

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I Had No Idea A Cockle Could Spit?!

Bid to smuggle out cockle spat foiled


Because It Was Easier Than Using The Tub

Father, son use toilet to fight off knife-wielding man

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Because The Real Ones...

Plastic Traffic Cop Slows Cars in Russia

...are too busy escorting tourists at high speed through city traffic. (No really, that's what happened when we were there last summer)

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Tuesday, February 07, 2006


On Confrontation

Matthew 18:15-17
"And if your brother sins, go and reprove him in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. And if he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax-gatherer."
Sometimes I think these are the most forgotten words that Christ ever uttered. Somehow they have been overridden but the oft-quoted
John 8:7 - But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, "He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her."
Once again it seems that people fail to make a distinction between those in the church and those outside of it. In the first quotation, Jesus is telling us how to deal with sin in our midst, while in the later he is making a statement about how God's grace deals with sin for those outside of the church.

The church is not a collection of sinners, that's the world. The church is a collection of those in the process of sanctification, and that process places expectations on us. Those expectations are different depending on the place in the process that each individual may be, but all have some expectations. And it is the responsibility of all to hold all others in the church accountable to those expectations.

But in this day and age we seem to be afraid to treat anyone, even paedophilic, predatory, homosexual priests "as a Gentile and a tax-gatherer." Why is this? - Especially in that specific instance where the world seemingly finds the sin more heinous than the church does?

There is much talk here in the Godblogosphere about how the church is not really distinguishable from the world. It seems to me that if we dealt with our own in accordance with Matthew 18 and dealt with the world in accordance with John 8 we might go a long way towards rectifying that problem. Paul seemed to say the same thing
1 Cor 5:9-13 - I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters; for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he should be an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler-- not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.
We need to be far more careful about who we call our brethren.

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The Key Difference

As the Danish/Islamic cartoon debacle continues, one of the better things I have read was from Evangelical Outpost on Monday.
The West is at war with terrorism, not with Islam. But is has become increasingly difficult determining which side of the Islam/Islamicists divide many Muslims are on. Perhaps its simply a matter of moderate Muslim voice being drowned out by the jihadists. If so, then I recommend that they speak louder.

When I joined the Marines I swore an oath to protect and defend the Constitution, including the rights to free speech and a free press. For fifteen years I stood ready to take up arms or, if necessary, to lay down my life in the defense of these foundations of liberty. I believe in protecting the freedom of speech, whether it comes from terrorist-wannabes like Ted Rall, know-nothing pundits like Joel Stein, or religious-bashing Danish cartoonists. I believe that, like religious liberty, this is a divinely permitted freedom that demands due vigilance.

But just once I'd like to be called upon to champion speech that is true, honorable, just, and pure. Just once I?d like to defend a freedom that wasn?t vulgar, degraded, and profane. Just once I?d like to defend freedom that aspired to the ideals of Thomas Jefferson rather than to the inclinations of Larry Flynt.
Boy that says a mouthful. Earlier in the piece, Joe had made the point that the cartoons themselves were part of an increasing lowering of the bar for what may be protected as free speech, but remains outside the bounds of taste.

Joe's piece got me thinking about what I said on the subject on Monday, that while the Muslims behavior was reprehensible, I wished Christians were similarly passionate about their faith.

There is a key difference though, and that is where the passion should be aimed. The Muslims take the passion and aim it outward - they attack those that they feel blashpheme. Christians would never and should never do that. No, our passion should be aimed inward. Christians that bother at all, ask the right question in the wake of such blashphemy - "What are we doing wrong?"

That may be one of the key reasons Christianity will win in the end. We do not seek to kill the non-believer, we seek to convert them. More, we seek to bring genuine conversion and not simply acknowledgement of religion at the point of a sword.

The "free speech" reponse to the riots, that is to say the secular response, is no different than the Muslim response -- it seeks to draw a line and make an enemy where a convert could be won.

We are at war with terrorists, but there is a parallel effort that must be made. We must seek to alculturate the general Muslim population. We must kill the killers, but we must convert the believers - and as Joe points out, we need to convert a number of our own as well.

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BOOK REVIEW: "Until I Find You" by John Irving

Like a lot of people, I "discovered" John Irving back in the early '80's with the papaerback edition of "The World According To Garp." Also like a lot of people, I have gone on to read every novel he has ever written, including those we wrote before Garp. I have read some of his short stories, but cannot lay claim to all of them.

Until I Find You is at once his best and worst novel ever.

Irving has always written about the odd and the quirky, usually with an obvious love in his voice and with a strong sense of humor. I have also often felt that he did so at the expense of his characters. They lacked sufficient humanity often because they were too quirky and too funny. Such is not the case in this lastest book, the central character is a character of great humanity and for whom I have a great deal of sympathy and affection. That is the sense in which this is is greatest novel ever.

Having said that; however, the odd and quirky is there in this book, but it is more repulsive than humorous, which is the problem.

The book is the life story of a male that is born out of wedlock, raised by a mother that tells him his father is the worst of the worst and has rejected him completely, only to grow up and find out that his mother had manipulated him and his father, purposely keeping his father away. The book ends with the now adult character meeting his father, after the death of his mother, and finding happiness for the first time in his life. That simple plot is moving and compelling and vital.

But all the stuff that Irving hangs off that plot makes it very difficult to get through it to the heart of things. Our protagonist is sexually molested at a very young age, which is described in graphic detail which almost made me stop the book about a third of the way through. Irving has always written graphically about unusual and even very illicit sex - including a brother-sister incestuous relationship in "Hotel New Hampshire" but previously he always managed to titillate. Not so here, this was simply repulsive. That is just the most egregious example of a trend that seems to fit throughout the book.

Somehow, I wish this book could be re-written. That the marvelous plot and the sympathetic character could be cast in something a bit more mundane - more accessible.

In the end, I do not know if my reaction to the book was a difference in Irvinig's writing or in my maturity creating a different reaction to the same 'ole Irving. Probably need to go reread some of his old books to make sure.

I very much wish I could recommend this book unabashedly, but alas, I cannot. This is a fine, fine novel, but it is not for everyone.

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On "Christian" Movies

I am not in the movie business per se, but I do live in "Hollywood" and I have several media companies for clients and lots of friends in "the business."

Fact 1: Movies are collaborative in nature, they take scores, if not hundreds, and in some cases even thousands of people to make. Heck just the "leadership" team on most movies, producers, director(s), writer(s), marketers, financiers, can run into as many as 50 voices. Have you ever tried to get say 20 people together to agree exactly on everything? Of course not!

A movie is a collaborative effort, and therefore, it will, except for student and "arthouse" films made for budgets that can be managed on a credit card, be a compromise in many, many senses.

Fact 2: "The business," taken as a whole, does not view Christianity as a belief system it is out to somehow promote -- it is a recently uncovered demographic to which it seeks to market. But you should bear in mind that to date, that demographic has not proven to be sufficiently large to support a major movie on its own.

There is a huge point here folks.

Fact 3: Movies are not the gospel, I am not even sure they are a very good way to communicate the gospel. They are a medium, that's all!

So, what am I driving at? When it comes to "Christian" movies there is always going to be something somewhere that someone, even a lot of someones, is going to think is "wrong." I mean it happens with straightforward comic book adaptations (my regular readers know I could go about that for hours), certainly it is going to happen with something as deep and complex and multi-faceted as Christianity.

So, if you are worried that Aslan was too wimpy in LWW, or that a gay man was cast in End of The Spear - KNOCK IT OFF! As far as I am concerned what that makes you is lazy. It means you want someone else to do the job you are supposed to be doing - which is share the truth of the gospel with the world.

Such concerns also mean, as far as I am concerned, that you lack faith in God. Alternative media concerning Jesus has existed since the end of the first century, think about some of the extra-cannonical "gospels" and letters. This is not a new phenomena. And yet the gospel survives - because God is real and powerful and omnipotent.

Rely on Him, and stop worrying about a movie for crying out loud.

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Holy Coast looks at a NYPost piece on records. It seems most appropriate given Kobe Bryant's performances of recent weeks. It's about the high school sports record book.
While the book currently notes that Cheryl Miller is the record-holder, having scored 105 points against Riverside Norte Vista HS in 1982, it does not provide the final score. It was 179-15.


Back to the record book: The most TD passes in one football game is 10. Clifton Davis did it for Mississippi's Sardis North Panola, in 1990, against Coldwater High. The final score does not appear. It was 95-0. Seriously.
Rick says
This kind of self-centered pummeling of a weaker opponent has no place in high school sports, and the coaches involved should be ashamed...though they likely won't be.
No, they won't be, and for very "good" reason. High school and pony league, and junior sports are now not for their own sake. They are factories designed to produce the next Michael Jordan or Peyton Manning (By the way, I know Peyton a little, he's a great guy, I do not disparage him here.) The coaches, AD's, and everyone else in the program is rewarded when they produce people that advance to the next level. Everything from a new pair of shoes to cash is involved. Remember, only the atheletes have to maintain the illusion of amateur status. From shoe companies to college alums, the rewards have all sorts of sources.

The worse part is all the kids that don't advance that get left in the wake. Not just the losers, but the other people on the same team. My senior year in high school we had a kid on the b-ball team that went on to play for an NCAA champion team. He was a sohpomore when I was a senior. He was better than the rest of us put together. We spent most of the season keeping his head small, as only high school atheletes can do.

Today, we'd be kicked off the team for the stuff we did to "the star." And he would not be nearly as well rounded an individual as he is today.

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Oh, Make Up Your Mind!

Obesity... it's an illness...
The ability of a cell to sense its position within a tissue may help explain why some people become obese, scientists believe.
It's a behavioral problem...
Forty percent of doctors agree obese patients should be refused joint surgery if resources are limited, a survey suggests.
No, it's a money problem! That last "if" says it all.

Am I wrong here or is this discriminatory?

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Alphabet Soup

It was the first subway in the world; it likely remains the most famous and it is the "u" here in Alphabet Soup -- it's the London Undergound.

OK, maybe we are reaching a little here, but hey, U is not an easy letter.

I have travelled quite a bit in the this world and have found few cities easier to get around in than London, and this mass transit system is one of the major reasons. This is remarkable given that on the surface navigating London is just a mess. The map you see above is one of the reasons this system works so well, cities the world over imitate the map now, but this is the original.

As someone used to mass transit here in the US, aside form its convenience, the most notable things about the London Underground are its cleanliness and the fact that it seems to be used by almost everybody. When you contrast that with the graffitti infested, lower-class only ways of the US mass transit system, you end up with a really pleasant experience.

In an otherwise very expensive city to visit, the Underground makes getting around very affordable. If you have a London visit in your future, get to know the Underground -- it can't be beat.

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Well, They Shouldn't Be Driving

Frozen Squirrels and Flying Kebabs Behind Strangest Motor Claims

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They Used It To Test If The Fire Was Hot

A guinea pig saved the day in the Sandstone Apartments Friday morning, when a fire started in a lower-level apartment.
I'm gonna get in trouble for that one -- I just know it.

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Probably By His Leash

Dog Believed Tied to Bear Head's Discovery
That's one tough dog, taking the head off a bear like that!

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Wouldn't A Shot Gun Be Easier?

Karate Experts Hired to Control Parrots

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Then Flies Away

Man Downs 173 Chicken Wings to Win Contest

After that many, you must grow your own!

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Caught By Surprise...

Gay flamingos are both family men

...that that is news. I mean they are pink for crying outloud - I figured gay was a given, yet they managed to reproduce.

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Monday, February 06, 2006


Abandonment Of Self

Last Thursday,over at Broken Messenger, I think somethng got Brad's goat, cause he put up one of the most insightful spirit-filled rants I have ever read. It's difficult to pull a money quote, I strongly urge you to read the whole thing, but I'll try.
This invasion of doctrine concerning self-forgiveness, that comes in more flavors than a Baskin & Robbins, has been growing over the last century and is now taking its toll. It is the perfect example of the marriage between narcissism and faith. How am I feeling? How am I doing? Is this faith in Jesus really taking hold within me? Do I have the strength to obey? The mantra is I, I, I, not Christ, Christ, Christ, and it?s nothing less than a cover for self-exultation. Worse, we are asking advice from the very thing that is central to the problem at hand.


But isn?t there room for self-loathing of that part that is not of God? Hating that part of us that is intrinsically wired into our very consciences and hearts, is that not a good thing for us to do? Why would I want love that part, whose very nature is to deceive me into thinking that I am loving God, when I am really just screaming blasphemy at him via my own blindness - yet to my heart?s primal delight. There certainly isn?t much of that kind of talk (let alone action from it) going on around Christendom today. For the most part, we hang our doctrines not on the fruits of true repentance, but on doctrines that tolerate, allow or fully support self-love. But coming to hate wickedness while living for the promise of righteousness, in Christ and by faith, is the Gospel. At the very least, that is a significant element of faith and so please pardon me if I can?t bring myself to forgive myself.

Self-loathing is ever the companion of true repentance. The Lord will bring those whom he loveth, to adore him in self-abasement; while true grace will always lead them to confess their sins without self-justifying. -Matthew Henry, Commentary on Job 42
If we forgive ourselves, what need have we for God at all? If the gospel is about grace, and we can grant ourselves grace, what need is there of the gospel?

This has me reflecting on "wholeness" ministries that were all the rage some years ago. What a limited vision "wholeness" is. Chrsit did not die to make us "whole." He was not resurrected so that we can be made "complete." NO! - these things happened so that we could be re-made.

We are not an unfinsihed house in need of a carpenter. We are a shack in need of demolition and redevelopment. Self-forgiveness just gives us permission to paint the shack, and with bad paint and poor prep to boot.

Only God's forgiveness can make us as we should be.

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About That Ferry Disaster

I am writing this a couple of days before I will post it, so if the news is a bit stale, forgive me, I don't think what I want to talk about will grow stale, however.

Hugh Hewitt spent a lot of time on his Friday show (the day of the disaster) trying to warn people off of comdemning Islam in general and the Middle East even more generally, trying to remind them that we fight a fascist sect in Islam. Fair enough, that is until I got up Saturday morning and read these stories:

Anger grows over ferry disaster
Unrest broke out in the Egyptian port of Safaga as relatives desperate for news clashed with riot police.
Red Sea ferry survivors say captain fled ship

Point 1: This is a human disaster and much sympathy goes to those dead, missng, and to their families, but...

Point 2: It should be clear that Middle Eastern culture, Islamic or otherwise has problems. I mean captains that abandon their vessels and people that riot in the wake of a disaster -- come on, that is simply uncivilized behavior.

Disaster is endemic to every culture, but it is the response to disaster in which the quality of that culture is measured.

We really are engaged in more than a war against terrorist organizations and the nations that support them. We are enagaged in civilizing a region. Therein is where democratization matters. Nothing has a more civilizing effect than being made a responsible part of your civilization.

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Making Lemonade

Mark Daniels posted an old sermon over the weekend.
Peace is not the absence of trouble. Peace is having Jesus at the center of your life, fortifying you to face life?s troubles and to share Jesus? love with others even in the midst of trouble.
Which put me in mind of something I wrote last week:
I am struck by the fact that healed is not the same as perfected. Ultimately we will be perfected, but for now, we can only be healed, scars and all. Sometimes those scars will hurt. How I long for the day God not only heals, but perfects me. How I long for the day the scars won't hurt anymore.
You ever build something - like a house? The process is almost as much destructive as it is constructive. You have to tear things down to make room for the new. You must destroy in order to recreate.

We don't notice it so much when we have made up our minds. You remodel your kitchen, all you think about is the new cabinets. You barely notice the destruction of the old ones. I think that is what Mark is talking about when he talks about trouble and peace.

Jesus is in the process of perfecting us. To do that he has to tear some of us down. Peace means focusing on the result not the process.

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On The Whole Islamic Cartoon Thing

Let's start here - no cartoon, no work of art, is a reason to riot, hurt, or even threaten death.

However, in a nation where the placement of a crucifix in human urine in the name of art is met mostly with a yawn, I have to say that I admire the European Muslim's passion for their faith, if not the expression of that passion. I can only pray that Christians were as passionate about their faith.

The best thing I have seen written on this is at
Of course, as a Muslim, I find the images offensive and despicable, furthermore, as a reader, I find the cartoons tactless and sensationalist. They are idiotic and merely highlight the unbridled ignorance of the cartoonists about Islam and the Prophet Muhammad. However, their outrageous trash does not provide me enough of an impetus to start threatening people with death. If I want to prove the cartoonists wrong, I have to act calmly and peacefully, all the while making clear my disgust and outrage at the cartoons and the newspaper?s decision to print them.
For a Muslim such as this I am grateful and for Christians I wish such reason and such faith.

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This Is America Gone About As Awry As It Can

Yates Released From Jail, Heads to Hospital

We have a monster, who is undoubtedly crazy (Don't you have to be to be this monstrous?) out of jail, and potentially on the streets, because of legal manuvering that makes Johnnie Cochran look amatuerish. And don't tell me she's not a danger to anyone else, any mother that would kill her own children is capable of anything at anytime.

This is just wrong, there ought to be a better way. Our legal system just is not equipped to deal with human frailty or depravity that runs this deep. I don't know what saddens me more, that our system can't handle it, or that it needs to.

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A Soldier Speaks

This video says so much more than I ever can. These guys fight their battles in every way.

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Let's start our look at the lunacy this week with this story
That finding contradicts research touted by Interior Secretary Gale Norton last February when she proposed removing the mouse from the government's endangered species list. Critics say it also undercuts the administration's claim that it uses the best science available in promoting fewer protections for imperiled wildlife.

The previous study, which was done by a biologist since hired by Norton's department, concluded there was no genetic difference between the Preble's meadow jumping mouse and the much more common Bear Lodge meadow jumping mouse.
This illustrates better than a lot of stories what so much environmentalism is really about - enriching lawyers and empowering bureacrats. Most people think this stuff is about science, but here you have two very reputable scientists that cannot agree - which is in fact the case with lots of this stuff.

Wants to make you question your "faith" in science, doesn't it?

Real Environmental Problem - they exist, and here is a classic example
Near midnight, tenant Andrew Meyers reported a pungent chemical odor in his 298 East 8th St. home to the Boston Fire Department. BFD spokesman Scott Salman said firefighters found between 40 and 80 gallons of heating oil in the basement after laborers hired by landlord Sergio Jean attempted to cut an oil tank in half and remove it without notifying proper waste disposal authorities.
This is definitely a botched tank removal with potential huge consequences - but what's wrong with this picture? The problem wasn't that the idiots used a sparking saw to cut a vessel containing a combustible material spilling a huge amount in an exclosed space -- no the problem was they forgot to call "authorities?"

Yet another example of misplaced faith.

Remember the SOTU this past week and the President's pledge about wind power? - OOPS!
Wind farm production could be placing Scotland's white-tailed eagle population under threat, a wildlife charity has warned.

RSPB Scotland said the discovery of four dead white-tailed eagles near a wind farm area off the Norwegian coast gave cause for concern.

It fears that the eagles may have been killed in turbine collisions.
Finally, this story may be truly evil.
Asthma sufferers may not be able to buy nonprescription inhalers much longer because the devices contain propellants that harm the ozone layer.
Look, the medicines are incompatible with other propellants. Now, while OTC asthma inhalers are of limited value, they do help, I know from personal experience. They provide relief for people who might not otherwise get it, due to a lack of finanacial resources to see a physician (as when I was young), a fear to doing same, or other complicated reasons.

The market for these is relatively small and the amount of CFC's involved minute on a global scale - this is sheer pettiness, and worse it is backed by the medical community because it will fatten their wallets.

Environmental action is supposed to make life better for people - this will have precisely the opposite affect.

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