Saturday, February 18, 2006


Is Forgiveness Transactional?

Check this out. When you get there, click on and view the American Idol clip.

It's of a woman, following Christ's example as she verbally proclaims, and "forgiving" Simon Cowel one of his trademark insults. First of all, bravo to the woman for proclaiming her faith so openly.

But it raises a serious question for me. Simon never apologized, never withdrew his statement, never said he did anything wrong. In fact at the end of the clip you will discover that this gracious and lovely lady pretty much meets the description Simon made, even if he made it tastelessly and arrogantly.

Did she really forgive him? Or did she simply decide not to let the comment bother her?

You see I have always thought forgivness was transactional - that it involved the restoration of a relationship. In this case there never really was a relationship to restore, but I am talking in the more general theological sense.

Scripture seems clear to me
I Jn 1:9 - If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
This is a plainly conditional statement - confession is a necessary condition of forgivness.

And yet, I increasingly hear about unilateral and unconditional forgiveness. This is one of those places where I think modern psychological theory has crept into our theological thinking. You see, it really is not healthy to hold a grudge, to remain angry at someone that has wronged you - it will consume you if you do not let go of the anger. And so, we have come to say "You need to forgive him/her."

But see, I don't think letting go that way is forgiveness. I think that very healthy release of anger is a different event than forgiveness. In other words I do not think forgiveness is separable from reconiliation.

Let me end with this question. If God has forgiven everybody (not just the elect mind you) already and unconditionally how can there be any condemnation?

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What's This? Kindness From Our Military?

Forgive the sarcasm, please, but with so many telling us that our military is nothing more than an agent of evil, I just had to link to this story.
The U.S. Army said goodbye to its last MASH on Thursday, handing over the green tents, emergency room and surgical tables to Pakistani doctors and nurses who had never seen the hit TV show that made the field hospital a household name in America.

For the past four months, the 212th MASH ? or Mobile Army Surgical Hospital ? has been stationed in a mountain valley in northern Pakistan treating survivors of the Oct. 8 earthquake that killed more than 80,000 people.
Let's see - we dispatch an entire Army field hospital in the wake of a earthquake to the other side of the world, and when we are done, we leave it for the natives to continue to use.

That's an agent of evil if I ever heard of one, yeah, uh-huh.

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Comic Art

So, let's say you have an accident and are struck blind. If all your senses are enhanced you become Daredevil, but that is not what happened here. Sorry Stan, Hornhead wasn't the first blind superhero. No in this case, you develop the ability to see in complete darkenss, and with such an ability you have no choice but to don a costume and join the Justice Society as Doctor Midnite. And if your best friend is an owl, so much the better.

In a break with the classic pattern the JSA title has adopted, the modern version is virtually identical to the Golden Age version. They muted the colors and modified the boot and gloves some, but that's about it. Good idea, bad idea? To my mind not the best -- those goggles are just too goofy.

The legend of the modern version is interesting. He's a medical doctor with an underground network of clinics that would make an HMO envious. He's training junkies that he dries out to be his nurses. Noble intentions, but worrisome from my perspective. Have him rail against the medical care system absolutley, its so broke I'm not sure it can be fixed, but the things he are doing just make me wornder what he has done illegally to fund it.

On the plus side, for a super group to have a resident Doc is a first, and interesting. I kind like seeing my superheroes get injured and recover just like the rest of us.

The current Doc Midnite is a bit of an enigma to the rest of the JSA - I guess it goes with the territory of being a night-stalker and all that, but in the end it just leaves an unsatisfactory character. Of the current JSA, he is, I think, the weakest link. His image has been integral to the JSA forever, but the current character needs a rework.

Hey, there may be the seed for that comic book I want to write before I die!

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Where Bad Ideas Go To Get A New LIfe

Unworkable Devices as Fine Art

Proof that art does not always imitate life.

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Say "Cheese!" - Uh, Wait...

Japan's obsession with camera-equipped mobile phones has taken a bizarre twist, with mourners at funerals now using the devices to capture a final picture of the deceased.
Not how I want to remember, well, anybody.

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Why Not? - At That Age - No Facial Hair

Katy teacher accused of taping students' mouths

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If You Are Going To Con, Con Big - II

Eight People Duped in Fake $1M Bill Scam

So dumb, I have the only real one.

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Friday, February 17, 2006


Of Science And Faith

I have mentioned briefly that I am currently reading Total Truth by Nancy Pearcey. I am only halfway through it, but there is a passage which I must comment on, granting that she may address my concerns later in the book. From page 203:


Some even do it explicitly. Consider Christians who are theistic evolutionists: Though they would never agree with atheists that nature is all that exists (metaphysical naturalism), they do agree that science must be limited to natural causes (methodological naturalism). As philosopher Nancey Murphy of Fuller Theological Seminary writes: "Christians and atheists alike must pursue scientific questions in our era without invoking a Creator." Why? Well, because that's what atheists have decided: "For better or worse, we have inherited a view of science as methodologically atheistic."

But who says that we have to play by the rules set down by atheists? If Christianity is true, then it's not at all obvious that valid science can be done only by making the counterfactual assumption that atheism is true. Theistic evolutionists generally accept exactly the same scientific theories as atheists or naturalists; the only thing they ask is that they he allowed to propose a theological meaning behind it all - known only by faith, and not detectable by scientific means. In essence, they allow atheists to define scientific knowledge, so long as theology is allowed to put a religious spin on whatever science comes up with.

In that case, however, what does this theological meaning amount to? It is reduced to a subjective gloss on the story told by naturalistic science. God's existence doesn't make any difference scientifically because He does not act in ways that can be detected. As a result, theology is no longer regarded as an independent source of knowledge; it is merely an overlay of value on otherwise value-free facts.
Science is, in fact methodologically naturalist - it cannot be otherwise How can we possible measure objectively that which is supernature? The scientific method begins by defining the system being studied, it must be a system that is bounded and finite. God, and supernature are neither, thus they cannot be allowed for in the scientific method.

Now, none of this means that the problems Ms. Pearcey cites are not real - they are very real, but I think there a different and better way to deal with them.

The primary problem with the formulation that Ms. Pearcey grants here is that she to plays by the rules defined by others - in this case in what she defines as science. The fact of the matter is that the scientific method, with its naturalistic presumptions, has been incredibly successful in the hard sciences. A commenter on yesterday's post linked below said this
One of my professors used to say that the "hard" sciences had been so much more successful than the social sciences because they only deal with the easiest questions.
I am not sure if it was is intention, but I think he makes my point for me. The hard sciences have been so much more successful because they have tackled problems that can be solved using only naturalisitc methodology. There is a place for this methodology, but it is limited.

Ms. Pearcey's over arching goal is to do away with the mental construct of a dual reality. You can read the book if you want to understand that more. But the fact of the matter is that on some levels, God's creation is terribly clockwork and deterministic - not on all levels mind you, but in some areas, He really did choose to make it that way. The scientific method, with its naturalistic presumptions, works very, very well on those levels, and her arguments will, at least as I have read them to date, break down very seriously on those same levels.

No, the problem has come when people have attempted to apply the scientific method to other areas of study, areas where God has clearly created a non-deterministic reality. Ms. Pearcey plays by others rules by granting that all those other areas of study qualify as science, or at least hard science.

Ms. Pearcey is right to try to do away with a dualistic mindset, but, at least as far as I have read to date, the recombined world she seems to be headed for will not be as monolithic as I think she is implying it will be.

There really is not the spiritual and naturalistic realms, completely divided, but there is a continuim. Some things are almost purely naturalisitic and some are almost purely spiritual, but there is a whole lot in between. And that is an important understanding.

Even in the hard sciences, we do not know as much as we act like we know. I am not sure there is much to be gained by somehow expanding Christianity to encompass all that "science" has learned. I think the issue, rather, is to put science back in it's proper box and perspective.

Science is a naturalistic pursuit, but that definitionally limits it.

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Dump Cheney? - Not In A Million Years

Peggy Noonan quietly suggested it
But what are they thinking that they're not saying? Here's a hunch, based not on any inside knowledge but only on what I know of people who practice politics, and those who practice it within the Bush White House.

I suspect what they're thinking and not saying is, If Dick Cheney weren't vice president, who'd be a good vice president? They're thinking, At some time down the road we may wind up thinking about a new plan. And one night over drinks at a barbecue in McLean one top guy will turn to another top guy and say, "Under the never permeable and never porous Dome of Silence, tell me . . . wouldn't you like to replace Cheney?"
John McIntyre says "No Way"
Assuming Mr. Whittington doesn?t die and there are not contradictions in Cheney?s account of what happened, this story is over, and it will have no lasting impact on the Bush administration. Because once again the MSM and the left have massively overreacted to a story in an attempt to damage the Bush administration, and the backlash against their overreaction will counteract whatever political damage this story may have caused.
But Holy Coast puts his finger on why it'll never happen
But you can bet the Senate confirmation will be something to behold, because the Dems won't be wild about confirming the GOP frontrunner for '08.
BINGO! Such a move would be PURELY political and as such, the Dems would play hardball on levels they have not even threatened yet. Nope, such political theater is best reserved for elections where it belongs - to play with actual governance on such purely political issues would defy traditional Republican values, and it would open the door to shenanigans I do not want to comtemplate, nor I think does the President.

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Putting Jesus In A Box

Sheep's Crib has taken a very insightful look at this article. The article is by Rob Borsellino and begins this way
I remember when Jesus Christ was about religion.

That goes back to when he was caring and compassionate all the time, not just during the political campaign season.
John at the Crib responds with this
First, Christianity is not truly a "religion" in the strict sense. Believers in Christ should understand Jesus Himself gave us a definition of Christianity ...

Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." - John 14:6

This is a naked attempt to relegate faith to a small corner of the life of individual Christians and to the society in general - to put Jesus into a box and make sure he never leaves it. I cannot think of a sadder way to approach faith.

The power of the gospel, the power of faith, the power of the Church cannot be limited, to try to so limit it is to not truly taste of it at all. Christ did not come so that I could have a nice Sunday - He came so that I might have an abundant life. Life is all of me - my totality, not just some convenient box from which I can withdraw Him when needed.

Faith is not just another set of clothes, it's not a costume. It's not even a lifestyle or a worldview. It's a life - a life in Christ.

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Because Classic Comedy Is The Funniest

Watch this cartoon from the Sundance site. It is very funny!

While the animation technique may be new - this is the old, very wonderful Warner Bros. stuff. MORE - GIVE ME MORE OF THIS!

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Cool Science!...

...or why I like living on Earth.
Scientists are tracking the strongest lighting storm ever detected at Saturn. The storm is larger than the continental United States, with electrical activity 1,000 times stronger than the lightning on Earth.
I bet radio reception stinks under those circumstances.

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LIfe - It's So Confusing

The paper reported on the alleged misconduct by World Wrestling Entertainment Chairman Vince McMahon, who has been accused by a tanning salon employee of groping her and trying to kiss her late last month in Florida.

But the final line of the story claimed that McMahon was "reportedly" seeking a divorce from his wife, Linda McMahon, the CEO of WWE.

A Press search showed no recent reports about divorce proceedings. As it turns out, the explanation is that the paper mixed up real life and pro wrestling drama.
In the words of the immortal Stan Lee -- 'Nuff Said!

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Friday Humor

This first one is dedicated to Dick Cheney:

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I Have Had A Few Classes...

Classrooms used as toilet

...where that would have been an appropriate analogy. But apparently, this is literal, which makes me wish I had thought of it for some other classes.

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No, Honestly - I Only Had One

That's what ran through my mind when I read this excuse
LAZY line-painters couldn?t be bothered to clean up gutter dirt and fill potholes ? so they went around them.
Yeah, sure

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Not On "American Idol?"

New Kind of Star Found

The powers of reality television have been greatly reduced.

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A Potential Superhero Wasted

Sebunnya was abandoned in the wild at an early age, nurtured by monkeys, rescued four years later and slowly inducted into human life
I guess Edgar Rice Burrows didn't know so much after all.

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I Did Not Know Hotels Wore Fur

Hilton targeted in anti-fur demo

Easy? Yes, but somebody had to write it.

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Generally, With Little Tiny Computers...

How babies do maths at 7 months

...they left slide rules behind years ago.

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Thursday, February 16, 2006


Should I Be Overjoyed At Something So Trivial?


As if he read my post yesterday today's Indianapolis Star had this story this morning.

Mike Davis resigns
Mike Davis has resigned as the Indiana University basketball coach, a person in the IU athletic department team who asked not to be named confirmed Wednesday night.

Davis will meet with athletic director Rick Greenspan this morning, and a news conference is expected in the early afternoon.

A second person with the university confirmed that conversations had been taking place the past few days to put together the details of a buyout package.
That makes the story confirmed but not official and the Star, which is pretty much the IU b-ball paper of record in the post-Knight era (that is at least until recently when Davis has been limiting himself almost exclusively to the national press - which is where this story broke - Sports Illustrated), is running with it as absolute fact. They include an opinion piece by up-until-this-moment-outside-that-never-really-got-it Davis apologist Bob Kravitz.

A Dick Vitale has pointed out, the situation had become untenable. This is as much because of the administration's bungling off court as Davis' on court - this fact makes me worry about the process of selecteing a new coach - that's where this mess started anyway, they didn't select Davis, they just sort of fell into him.

Anyway, this is the best basketball news this blogger has had since Butler made the Sweet Sixteen. Dawn breaks in the basketball world for the first time in several years. A new day is upon is, and there is hope it will be a good one.

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Idolatry Of The New

Heb 13:7-9 - Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, yes and forever. Do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, through which those who were thus occupied were not benefited.
It seems like a day does not go by that we do not discover something "new and exciting" about our Lord and His church. Have you ever wondered how this could be? I certainly do.

There are two things I notice when I think about this. The first is that nothing really is new. Virtually any "new" idea I have encountered, if I look into it, has been "discovered" before. Oh, it may have been wrapped in different language, but its the same old whatever. We are a people largely ignorant of our histories and traditions. That may be fine when it comes to television programming, but when it comes to something that should be about the accumulation of wisdom, it seems like we need to bear in mind the wisdom that has been accumulated to date.

Secondly, it seems like such "new discoveries" are always couched in terms of relevance to "our" times. - Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, yes and forever - doesn't that mean that His relecvancy is the same too?

Have you ever considered the hubris that is evident in saying the gospel needs to be rendered relevant to our times? It's not about me, it's not about us, it's not about our times - IT'S ABOUT GOD!

God - Lord - Master - Creator - Ruler - King. With such titles how dare we do anything other than try and find a way to squeeze our way into His plans.

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The Limits Of Science

Yesterday, I said
Most people view science with a superstious awe historically reserved for religion, out of simple ignorance. They don't know how it works, it looks like miracles.
Upon reflection on that I thought it would be useful to talk about how little science really knows. This is a topic best looked at by example.

Let's consider Newtonian gravitation for a minute. Under Newton's laws, which I have previously described as the "hardest" of science, we learn that if I drop a feather and a bowling ball from the top of a building they will hit the ground at the same time. This is because acceleration due to gravity is a constant, not dependent on mass. But try, go ahead, I'll wait. Didn't work did it? Why?

This is a classic example, anybody who has studied science for a minute or two has been confronted with this problem. The answer lies not with a bad law of gravity, but with interfering forces, in this case the resistance of the feather to air, friction. In college I actually did this experiment in a vacuum, removing the air friction, and you know what? They did hit bottom at the same time.

This illustrates an important concept in traditional science - we define and study closed systems. That is to say, we try to strip away the interfering and competing forces to isolate the thing we want to study and understand precisely how it works. That is the real value of a laboratory, it is a place where the system can be carefully boundaried and controlled. We have pretty good, complete knowledge under those circumstances.

But doing science in the real world is a whole different story. Let's say we want to build a bridge. This is a realitivly straghtforward application of Newton. So, if we know so much how come things like the Tacoma Narrows Bridge happen? Because real world systems are not closed and carefully bounded like they are in the laboratory.

When we do real world science, like building a bridge, we are quickly reduced to doing things like "making allowances" and "padding tolerances." These terms are little more than making educated guesses about what we do not know. Thus in the Tacoma Narrows case, they neglected to make an educated guess about wind dynamics, and oops. There is a lot we do not know, even in the hardest of science.

Let's look for a moment a something a bit more obscure - Quantum Mechanics. This is the science that explains the behavior of things very tiny, electrons and protons and neutrons, and atoms and molecules. Again, we begin with the simplest system - a hydrogen atom, one proton and one electron. About this system, we know a lot, enormous amounts. We can tell you how such an atom will behave in a amazing and complex detail. Only one problem, try and find such a hydrogen atom in nature. It's almost impossible except in truly extraordinary places like the interior of a star! Nope, terrestrially, hydrogen really likes to hang around as a molecule consisting of two hydrogen atoms. How much do we know about that hydrogen molecule?

Well quite a bit, but not as much as you might think. Now, I will admit that it has been 20 years since I last checked, but when I did last check we could not calculate precise answers for the hydrogen molecule. See here is the problem, when we try, the equations get so complicated we cannot solve them. So, we resort to a technique called "numerical approximation." I would have to teach you a whole bunch of calculus to explain exactly what numerical approximation is, but let's put it this way - it is a mathematical technique by which we can come up with an answer to an equation that is not exact, but is usually good enough. Basically, it means lots and lots of computing power. It is a mathematical art known before the advent of the computer, but brought into its own when that device took away the need for highly educated armies, or a complete lack of a personal life, to actually do it

So, what am I saying here, in the much vaunted quantum mechanics we can only get the precise and absolutely correct answer for one system and one system only, and that is a system we do not typically encounter on a routine earthly basis.

So, you see, in the end, science knows with practical certainty very little. We are able to use what we do know as a basis for estimating and assuming and projecting to more practical problems, but that is something very different indeed for truly knowing and understanding something.

The next time someone tells you science proves there is no God, you might want to remind them of the genuine limits of science. Science knows very little with absolute certainty. "Science" as it is portrayed today has gotten awfully big for its britches. Maybe it is time we knocked it down a peg or two.

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Words Need Meanings

It seems to me that we have two trends in this culture that are diametrically opposed. The first is the trend towards moral relativism. You no, the bottom line statement "That's truth for me." The second is increasing bureacratization.

Why are these trends opposed? Well, in relativism, words have no meaning except what a person assigns to it. Thus you get statements like the enormously silly, "One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter." Bureaucracies on the other hand thrive based on precisely defining categories, meaning labels or words.

This is in stark view in the case of Haleigh Poutre. Her life and possible death literally hinges on the label attached to her, whether she is in a "persistent vegatative state" or she is "medically stable."
DSS said Haleigh was "medically stable" when she arrived at Franciscan on Jan. 26. Doctors at Franciscan have said patients receive three kinds of therapy daily.

DSS had said Haleigh was in a persistent vegetative state for months while she lay in a Springfield hospital bed.
The before and after difference is not in her symptomology, but in who is making the diagnosis and in impending court actions.

Is the futility of this situation not apparent? The bureacracy will kill her based on the label, but the label appears to have no objective meaning - that means that her death would be entirely arbitrary. Is it any wonder that spectacles like what surrounded the death of Terri Schiavo would happen.

The relativists would defend this state by saying it is "based on the science," but if the science cannot establish an objective definition, or alternately they define a category that defies objective definition, what they really do is garner power.

When human lives are literally at stake, can we afford such a chaotic state?

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Illuminated Scripture

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If Only It Had Been The Other Way Around!

PETA takes aim at Dick Cheney

If ever a group could use a butt full of birdshot...

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Keystone Terrorists?

Refinery allegedly slated for attack no longer exists

For those of you that wonder why this does not get a "Stuck on Stupid" - that would be an insult to stupid people.

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Boredom And Stupid - A Bad Combination

A German youth who tied himself to a foldaway bed because he was bored was rescued by police after becoming trapped in its mechanism, officials said on Tuesday.

Next time, maybe he should surf the 'Net.

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When You Are Going To Con, Con Big

A Serbian funeral director is facing legal action after organising the burial of a man who was still alive.

The mistake was noticed only as the coffin was being lowered into the ground, prompting angry scenes from grieving relatives.

The family from Novi Sad in Serbia had been told that the head of their family, Bogoljub Topalovic, 84, had died in hospital. But the body of another man who had died at the same hospital was in the coffin.

Mourners realised a mistake had been made when Bogoljub rang his daughter on her cellphone during the funeral service to ask why no one had been to visit him for a few days.
Chutzpah is the only word I can think of.

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Married, OK, I Just Pray They Don't Reproduce

Clad in a white wedding dress with 15 live scorpions attached to it, the 36-year-old Kanchana, who entered the Guinness Book of World Records in 2002 after spending 32 days in a glass cage with 3,400 scorpions, got married to her 29-year-old partner.

With a centipede in his mouth, Boontawee, who also entered the Guinness Book of World Records in 2003 for spending 28 days with 1,000 centipedes in a cage, showed up wearing ghost-like make-up and a tuxedo.
I am not at all sure the world would be ready for such offspring.

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No Wonder They Turned To Burglary...

Lt. Dean Sullivan, a Fort Worth police spokesman, said the burglars scrawled a message on a bulletin board: "Happy B-day From ur friendy rooftop booglar."
...they can't spell.

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So - How Will They Know When They Succeed?

Kane's Mental Health Court to aid 'invisible'

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A Dream Come True

It's raining beer

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I'm Impressed!

Ohio Bowler Rolls Perfect 900 Series

It may not be an "athletic" accomplishment, but it is an incredibly skillful one.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2006


The First Step

Writing at Together4theGospel, Mark Dever says
Let me make myself unpopular. One of the reasons we (Capitol Hill Baptist Church) are called a cult is because we limit responsibility for ministry (from leading Bible studies, to being responsible for refreshments after church) to members of our congregation.
"Unpopular?" - not at this blog. Dever goes on to say what it takes to become a member at his church
We figure that we best serve the individuals wanting to minister by requiring them to give us their testimony before we allow them to represent us for others. We first want to know what they agree with or disagree with in what we believe (statement of faith) and how we intend to live (church covenant). We also would like to see some commitment to us as a congregation.
I should think the presentation of a testimony as a minimum requirement. Too many maniline churches like mine make membership a matter of sitting through a presentation and a brief social meeting with the ruling board - "Session" as we Presbyterians call it.

First point - church membership has to have some meaning, and it often doesn't. I know in most Presbyterian churches, at least PCUSA, the only differeence between a member and non-member is the ability to vote on corporate matters, a difference that often goes unenforced. I make this point for the most practical of reasons, if there is no distinction to membership, the church ends up being like public television, I mean after all, what does it really mean to be "a member" of your local PBS outlet? Now the church really is reduced to entertainment medium.

Second point - Leading within a church has got to mean something more than you are simply willing. Otherwise, we throw away any sense that the church has a cohesive theology, mission, and outlook. I have run into enough borderline stuff in churches to throw the dorrs open to any Tom, Dick, or Harry with a desire.

Like it not, scripture differentiates between the mature and the immature, those within the fellowship and those without. There is a way to acknowledge those thresholds without being legalistic, we need to find that and not just do away with the ideas altogether.

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When Science Stops Being Science...

...and becomes politics. The Prometheus blog, the science policy blog of the University of Colorado has a great piece "Slouching Toward Scientific McCarthyism."
In the 20 February 2006 issue of The New Republic, John B. Judis has an article about how the issue of hurricanes and global warming has been handled by NOAA. Judis is engaging in scientific McCarthyism by arguing that certain perspectives on science are invalid because they are viewed as politically incorrect by some.

The transformation of this part of climate science into pure politics is fully embraced by those on the political left and the right, and most troubling is that this transformation is being encouraged by some leading scientists who have taken to criticizing the views of other scientists because they happen to work for the federal government. These scientists know full well how such accusations will be received. What ever happened to sticking to the science?
Science by concensus is not science at all, it is simply poltics. There is a difference between repeatability, that is to say other labs repeating experiments and achieving the same results, and simply agreeing. I know a number of "scientists" that agree with me that vanilla ice cream is the best ice cream in the world, but that does not make the assertion a scientific fact.

I am truly amazed at how this has happened. Some thoughts on this

Now, once you abandon that which garnered you power and authority to begin with the power and authority generally slips away, but usually a lot slower than it ought to. We can only hope that science loses its authority before it leads us too far over the brink.

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The Gulf Coast remains ravaged. The rebuilding will take years. We cannot afford to let familiarity build inattentiveness. Never forget that Katrina affected not just NOLA, but the coast of Mississippi as well, and then there was Rita.

Mostly Cajun brings pictures of the Rita ravaged area.

Have you sent money lately? My church just sent a mission team. (I really wish I could have gone...) What has your done?

Why don't you start there, why don't you get active to get something happening in your church. If you church is already active, I am certain there is more that can be done. Need ideas? Leave a comment, I have plenty.

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It's That Time Of Year Again...

Middle of February, March madness in the offing, and once again the once storied and even fabled basketball program at Indiana University finds itself fading into the oblivion of the NIT. Losing 5 of their last 6 games, sitting right at .500 in the conference, once again they appear to be full of promise and very short on delivery.

Which means it is time for the sports staff at the Indianapolis Star to print yet another story about poor Mike Davis. You see, the problem is not that a program that made the NCAA tounament for 20 straight years has not seen it in two and looking like a third is in the offing. You see, the problem is not that despite continued "great" recruiting years, the team keeps turning in mediocre performances.

No the problem is that Mike Davis is a really nice guy and the IU fans just don't seem to understand that.

I have never met Mike Davis, but I have no reason to think he is other than a really nice guy. So am I, but that is not a qualification as the head coach of one of the top five college basketball programs in history. For the sports reporter constantly belaguered and vilified by Bob Knight, it might even be refreshing, but to defend him as a basketball coach is just ridiculous.

It has become clear that there is something at play in Davis' continued employment as IU's head coach that has nothing to do with basketball. I have no idea what it is, but his continued employment cannot be justified on the basis of team performance. This is his best year since his first, when he was really coaching Knight's team, but it still does not stack up against where an Indiana team should be.

Meanwhile the team that now most personifies all that is good and pure and enjoyable about the game in Indiana - Butler University (my alma mater) finds themselves in second place in the mid-major Horizon League with a shot at the big dance.

GO 'DOGS! Please Davis - go!

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Well That's Good To Know

You scored as Chalcedon compliant. You are Chalcedon compliant. Congratulations, you're not a heretic. You believe that Jesus is truly God and truly man and like us in every respect, apart from sin. Officially approved in 451.

Chalcedon compliant




























Are you a heretic?
created with

Goodness knows, I've been worried.

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The Most Important Story Out Of The Winter Olympics...

Kazakhstan came to the Winter Olympics with few hopes of winning a medal but they have already scooped one of the highest accolades in Italy.

Top fashion designers Dolce & Gabbana voted the Kazakhs the most stylish team to parade at the Olympics opening ceremony and said they would happily cast them on their catwalk.

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The Best(?) Of Pravda

All Tabloid, All The Time

Terrible mutations may turn humans into plants or animals

Six-fingered cursed androgyne swills vodka

Scientists discover third eye - the center of telepathy and clairvoyance

Russian woman gives birth to Cyclops child

But it's nice to know they have a serious streak from time-to-time

Condoleezza Rice's anti-Russian stance based on sexual problems

Just another day in the "official" press of Mother Russia.

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Somebody Just Had To Cut The Cheese... that is.

115 jobs go as cheese plant shuts

Oh come on, you'd have thought of it too if you saw the headline first.

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I Don't Care How Sweet It Smells - It Should Not Be In A Bouquet

Huge, Lily-Scented Worm Found

That's just not right.

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I Bet That's Gonna Hurt

Senators: Cheney Should Be Probed in Leak

Probably worse than bird shot.

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But Mine Is So Far From The Target...

Why proffer roses or chocolate when you can serve up the perfect face for your sweetheart this Valentine's Day?
...I'd have to give her someone else, and frankly, doesn't that defeat the whole purpose?

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Today - I Plan To Poop!

Ministers to unveil waste plans

I know that is my plan!

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I'm Not Sure It Would Be Comfortable In There

Free sex test devices in pipeline

I never knew it involved an exam either.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2006


There Is More To It Than That

Cerulean Sanctum has tried to call a truce in what Dan describes as "the worship wars." Dan looks at five common arguements in the discussion and points out both sides of the issue as valid. I agree with Dan on the arguments he addresses, but there are others that I think important.

Contemporary worship music usually crowds out the liturgical. While it is not a hard and fast rule, most services featuring contemporary music lack liturgical depth. By that I do not mean liturgical style, responsive readings and so forth, I mean a definitive and thorough order of worship. The praise aspects of the service crowd out things like confession sometimes even thanskgiving.

Contemporary worship music often does not set the stage for The Word. A sermon, when properly done is not a lesson, not a speech, it is the pronouncement of God's Word. I, for one, really like it when the rest of the service reinforces that Word. While some modern worship music can do that, it's rare.

It usually does not stop with contemporary worship music. In my experience, the implementation of contemporary worship music is part of a larger package to try and change the focus of the particular institution to a different direction - towards "the seeker" is the usual direction. I have discussed my problem with this before.

Frankly, to debate music is to look in the wrong place, it's the symptom, not the illness. If the issue was simply a matter of dropping "Rock of Ages" from the rotation in the order of worship and substituting "My God Is An Awesome God," I doubt there would be much to talk about.

Where I finally have a problem is the consumeristic mindset that typically is what is behind a move to insert contemporary worship music. The church is not to be consumed - it presents an all-consuming gospel. It's where we forget that that I have a problem

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Oh No, It's Not My Problem

One should probably not laugh at the NYTimes, they are, after all, "the paper of record" for the entire nation, but this story just cracked me up.
But the editors of Science were not alone in telling the world of Dr. Hwang's research. Newspapers, wire services and television networks had initially trumpeted the news, as they often do with information served up by the leading scientific journals.

Now news organizations say they are starting to look at the science journals a bit more skeptically.
That's good, the essence of good science is skepticism. But it was a couple of paragraphs later that things got interesting
There are limits to the vetting that science reporters, who are generally not scientists themselves, can do. Most journal articles have embargoes attached, giving reporters several days to call specialists in the field, check footnotes on an article and scrutinize the results.

"Scientific discoveries are more difficult because they often require in the generalist reporter a good deal of study, follow-up interviews and some guidance on how to make sense of technical matters," said Roy Peter Clark, a senior scholar at the Poynter Institute, which studies journalism. "But I think the scandals do require both a new level of skepticism on the part of the reporter and also maybe some new protocols between scientists and journalists."
Is it too much to ask that people who report on a subject as complex as science actually know something about it? Does this answer the botttom line question of where 'spin' comes from? I think so. If you are trying to tell someone something and they have insufficient background on the subject, spin is pretty easy.

Here's an idea - why don't the news outlets put a few scientists on retainer. You know, someone who would have a clue when they read a journal. Someone that could maybe help the helpless reporter understand? Just an idea.

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If The VP Shot Someone In The Woods...

...and the press was not there to witness it, did it really happen?

I wonder if anyone in the press corp has figured out why some high administration officials do things like go hunting, far, far away from civilization? Is it just possible because they would like a moment or two to be a human being instead of a photo op? Might it be possible that Dick Cheney felt the human relationship angle of this incident outweighed the press' voracious apetite?

Oh jeez, what am I saying? If the press doesn't have the story the world will stop turning on it axis and the gravity itself will cease to function. I forgot, it's temporary insanity. Forgive me.

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The Interface: Science, Faith, and Society

Given last week's dive by Rick Warren into global warming (Here is Cheat Seeking Missiles' coverage of same), and last Sunday's designation as "Evolution Sunday" (Al Mohler comments here), the interface called out in the title is getting a lot of press this week.

When you couple that with the fact that I am currently reading Total Truth by Nancy Pearcey (I know, I'm a little behind the curve - so sue me), my mind is a a bit of a seething cauldron on the topic. How did we get here? The sloppy thinking, the charge without basis, the majoring in the minors as Mark Daniels put it, on all sides of this discussion is so pervasive and so complete that it has become a Gordian Knot from which I fear there is no escape.

Just some thoughts in no order

That last comment is to my way of thinking the meat of the matter. For Christians the "battle" here is not a battle of ideas, nor is it a battle of laws and governments. It is the struggle that God has fought with us, and on our behalf, since not long after he created us, it's the spiritual war - The war for our souls and the souls of all that we love.

That war is fought on many fronts - apologetics and public policy included - but in the end winning the war is all that matters. If I lose the apologetics battle but win the war, so be it. If I lose the public policy battle but win the war, all the better. I think all Christians need to bear that in mind. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our individual battle that forget the war. We do so at out peril. When we lose that perspective,we make our particular battle an idol, and then we have lost the war for our own souls.

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Credit Where Credit is Due

This post was written by my friend and very occassional guest blogger, Eric Jacobson. (This page has a picture of him getting an award from The Writer's Guild) Here's his post:

On Saturdays, I like to listen to the radio while I clean the pool. I love sampling the extremes: radio in languages I don't understand, chat shows aimed at narrowly obscure audiences, emanations from as far beyond the legacy media as possible. To that end my solar/wind-up radio does yeoman service.

One of my favorites is right here in my neighborhood: KPFK, an affiliate of Pacifica Radio. The LEFT-ness of this broadcast outlet would be difficult to exaggerate. This weekend their Deadline L.A. program discussed international reactions to the anti-Arab cartoons. So I was very curious to hear what they would say. How would they choose which one to hate more -- Western societies or religion?

I was shocked and delighted by the discussion. It featured Rob Eshman, editor of The Jewish Journal. He had three trenchant observations:

  1. The Danish cartoons were offensive and should not have been published. Political cartoons are not inconsequential. This kind of stereotyping and ridicule in political cartoons helped pave the way for the rise of Nazi fascism.
  2. The cartoons did not cause the rioting. The Arab press (mostly state controlled) is shot-through with anti-Christian, anti-Buddhist, and of course anti-Semitic hate-mongering. Want to see some? The Arab press has been telling its readers for DECADES that the world and all its religions hate them and want to kill them. That's what caused the outcry.
  3. As tempting as it might be, there is no way to blame Bush for any of this.

Yes, they actually said that.

The show was followed by some very tasty West African jazz fusion.

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Almost Beyond Comprehension...

...but not really.

Justin Taylor points to this church website and asks
Anyone see a problem with the Scripture quote in the banner of this website for a United Church of Christ Church?
The scripture in question? Luke 4:7 - King James version
If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine.
No doubt, this church emphasizes its worship. The web sight designer did a word search using Bible software to come up with this magic formula, and did not bother with the context, then it went through the "approval" stage with everyone excited about what the quote said and no one with enough biblical cognition to recognize the context - which, of course, dozens of comments at Justin's blog have noted.

This quote is, as I hope all my regular readers know, what Satan says to tempt Christ during his 40-day fast in the desert. So not only is this bad proof-texting, it's the word of the Evil One himself.

This is making the rounds, needless to say. Most people are bemused. I am horrified. This not just a "cute mistake." To pass this off that way is to deny the reality of real evil.

We don't talk about it much, but the devil is real and the tempter is oh so active. It is rare that he shows his hand this blatantly. But I can't blame him, think of the opportunity to pass off his words as the declaration of the church. Oh the giddy excitment he must feel at the thought of so many thinking they are accessing the Lord when in reality they are accessing him.

There are so many points that could be made in a situation like this, but there is only one I want to make. The devil is most real - we ignore that at our peril.

UPDATE 8:45AM: The verse has been removed from the website in question, without comment. (thanks Rebecca for the comment!) I am glad it is gone, but I think my point stands.

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GWOT: The End Is In Sight!

During his WonderCon panel, Frank Miller discussed his next graphic novel. Once again, Miller returns to the world of the Batman, this time with Holy Terror, Batman!. Though the title plays with Robin's classic catchphrase, the book deals with a serious subject. Gotham has been attacked by Al Qaeda and Batman sets out to defend the city he loves. The book, which Miller has inked through 120 pages, is expected to run roughly 200 pages total.
Once Bats is on the case - especially as Miller writes him, the bad guys are in for it, big time.

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Alphabet Soup

As regular readers know, I have been to some pretty amazing places, but the place we visit this week in Alphabet Soup, in the "v's" is the only place, including great cathedrals, they involuntarily hushed me. It's the Civil War battleground in Vicksburg, Mississippi.

Upon entry, one simply senses that you are entering a place of great suffering and sacrifice, a place of honor and a place of sorrow.

The thing that stunned me most, I think, was the physical proximity of enemies. The current monument/battleground is almost littered with markers of all sizes, shapes and adornment, marking the location of various units on both sides of the seige and battle. Here you look from marker to marker for artillery units. THESE ARE FAIRLY FAR APART! Infantry placements were terrifyingly close, you really could "see the whites of their eyes."

Suddenly all those phrases about "brothers killing brothers" took on a horrifying aspect I had never before considered. It was literally possible to have to look your brother or cousin recognizably in the eye and pull the trigger. There was no "covering fire" or "over the horizon" you were shooting a man, often a man you knew, as sure as if he was standing in a room with you. Small ravines, just yards wide, defined battle lines in some places.

Silence was the only possible response. I thought of my northern upbringing, but my beloved southern family and wondered, "Could I have pulled the trigger if I saw cousin XXX over there?"

Amidst the awe and solemnity, there was one thing that grabbed the engineer in me and excited him in so many ways. That is what you see here -- the carcass of the ironclad "Cairo." I thought of the picture of the battle between the Merrimac and the Monitor that was in probably a half-dozen history books I had studied in school and never dreamed I would see one of them. The Cairo was the first ship ever sunk by an electriclly activated mine, sunk not far from this battleground in the Yazoo river. It was raised after 100 years and what they could get now rests here.

The historical wonder is soon replaced again with awe as one walks the decks of this ancient warrior. So cramped, so claustrophobic, it was amazing anyone could serve aboard them. Protection from guns and boilers and other machinery was virtually non-existant. This was not the glamourous duty I imagined from the pictures in my history books. I could not help but think it was almost as easy to get killed by the duty as the enemy.

But my engineer's excitment was easily muted. All one had to do was turn his head to catch this sight. The cemetary may be the most sobering sight of all. You see here but a small, small portion of it -- it seems to go on forever. So many dead.

You cannot help but be silent...respect demands it.

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Where Was This Quiz...

....30 years ago when that is what I actally did? (well, not the PhD, but close)

You Should Get a PhD in Science (like chemistry, math, or engineering)

You're both smart and innovative when it comes to ideas.
Maybe you'll find a cure for cancer - or develop the latest underground drug.
What Advanced Degree Should You Get?

(HT: Rebecca)


Because Time Is Too Precious Not To Waste Some

I give you this game. It'd ain't as easy as it seems at first.

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But If I Put Them In My Tank...

Bugs the missing link to ending oil addiction?

...they really foul the injectors.

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Filthy Perhaps, But...

In an interview, the General Manger, Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA), Ola Oresanya, described the demolition as ungodly and wicked, assuring that perpetrators would be brought to book.
Isn't that just a tad bit hyperbolic?

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You Figure It Out.

It's art, but what has it got to do with "Revenge Of The Pink Panther?" Well, it's the Polish movie poster for that film. There's more. Like I said, you figure it out.

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Because I Am James Bond...

...I need to call these guys.
Creative Home engineering is a registered contracting company that adds value to homes by integrating silent, automated, hidden passageways.
To the Batcave!

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Monday, February 13, 2006


The Character Of God

On Saturday, The Blogcorner Preacher looks at Deuteronomy 20 wherein God commends the Isrealites to "not leave alive anything that breathes" when they conquer a city, and opines
God also includes the "why": so that the Isaelites won't be taught those "abominable practices."

A modern term for one people killing all of another so that there will be no intermingling of ideas is ethnic cleansing. And yet it is God who is the author, in the plainest of terms. This isn't a quirk of translation. The essential meaning did not change from the original Hebrew.
I am struck by how complex the character of God truly is, and how little we can understand it. God is love, and yet He orders His people to do something that to our eyes seems utterly evil.

Is God; therefore, evil? Of course not! But we certainly are not smart enough to figure out why not.

We cannot hold God to our standrds, in fact only the opposite can happen - we must he held to His. Clearly He understands love in ways that we cannot begin to get our heads around. I can offer many things here - that the good of the Isrealites mandated this action and that preserving them for the coming of Christ is the most loving act possible, but you would think God could find a better way. Or could He?

But somehow I think the real answer is to learn how to live in the mystery. Somehow I think our response to this question should be simply - He is God, I am not. The character of God is most complex indeed - I think we need to learn to like it that way.

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Evil In The Sheep's Pen

Sheep's Crib continued Friday night with his look at sexual immorality in the pulpit, and specifically how little consequence clergy generally suffers because of it. John continues with the story of the Paulk's as his example, but the problem is much farther spread.
We must remind ourselves the Paulks are only two of many whose pride allowed them to thumb their noses at Christ, the Scriptures, and their flocks. I can quickly think of Gordon MacDonald, Jim Bakker, Lonnie Latham, Jesse Jackson, David Hocking, Randall Terry, a multitude of perverted Catholic priests, Jimmy Swaggart, and a dozen lesser known clergy ... shall I continue?
John goes on to cite a study that 30% of Protestant clergy have had sex outside of the bonds of marriage.

We must ask ourselves why this happens as much as it does. I think the answer really is in the lack of consequence. They do it because they can get away with it. Why can they get away with it? Several reasons I think

  1. A misunderstanding of confession, repentance, and grace, and the relationship of those ideas to the management of the the church's affairs. As I said last week, scripture is plain, "I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he should be an immoral person" (I Cor 5)
  2. A grossly misguided desire to protect the image of the church/organization. "Well, if that gets out people will stop coming to XXX Church." It seems to me the image can only be enhanced by the open and honest dealing with the problem. The Catholic church is suffering much more from the cover-up than the sin itself.
  3. "He said/she said" - a lot of these cases come down to that. So, things get ignored for a "lack of evidence" even though everyone knows it happened. These are not courts of law, nobody's going to jail. This is about someone losing their job, that's all; I don't think courtroom standards need apply. Further is not the church blessed with a Spirit of Discernment for precisely such situations?

A failure to deal with these situations in a straight-up and honest manner belies a focus on the things of this world and not the things of God.

John cites some "famous" examples. How many are known to only a close circle of a few? I can name 3 such situations off the top of my head. The worst part is none of them were "affairs" - they were the clergy using thier authority in some coercive, if not forceful, manner. The non-clergy member of the problem was more victim than participant. And that is really ugly.

Again, I salute John for this brave look he is taking at this very important issue.

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Direct And To The Point

Matt the Gad(d)about got a little fed up with "worship music" last Friday.
For the last time, worship does not begin and end with an acoustic guitar or cool melody hook or goose bumps and raised hands.

Worship is about a life of service. It's a defended position of the heart. Like Gatorade, it's what inside of you -- and, as the Bible says, what produces what comes out of you.

While you're singing words like "we praise You" and "we exalt You" and "we adore You" consider how often you actually have fallen on your face and done those things. At least outside of church service.

The point of worship is to live a life of worship, not just a life of uptempo songs, because God doesn't want our tools of worship, he wants our hearts of worship. God should be the object of our worship, because he is deserving of our adoration, and we must worship him in spirit and truth.
That's quite a rant. He must have seen the commercial for this. Everytime I see it I wince.

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There is Faith...

...and there is ascent to some intellectual ideas that people call faith. That was the though that ran through my head as I read this op-ed from last Friday's LATimes. (HT: Lameworldview) It's by Anne Lamont, described as "a novelist and essayist. Her most recent book is "Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith" (Riverhead, 2005)." She relates her appearance on a panel discussing politics and faith, describing herself as a Christian and then the issue of abortion came up.
Then, when I was asked to answer the next question, I paused, and returned to the topic of abortion. There was a loud buzzing in my head, the voice of reason that says, "You have the right to remain silent," but the voice of my conscience was insistent. I wanted to express calmly, eloquently, that pro-choice people understand that there are two lives involved in an abortion - one born (the pregnant woman) and one not (the fetus) - but that the born person must be allowed to decide what is right.
It seems to me God decides what is right.

Exod 15:26 - And He said, "If you will give earnest heed to the voice of the LORD your God, and do what is right in His sight, and give ear to His commandments, and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have put on the Egyptians; for I, the LORD, am your healer."
But then I announced that I needed to speak out on behalf of the many women present in the crowd, including myself, who had had abortions, and the women whose daughters might need one in the not-too-distant future - people who must know that teenage girls will have abortions, whether in clinics or dirty backrooms. Women whose lives had been righted and redeemed by Roe vs. Wade. My answer was met with some applause but mostly a shocked silence.
It seems to me that God redeems us, thorough His Son Jesus, not some decision of the Supreme Court of the United States.

Gal 4:4-5 - But when the fulness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, in order that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.
Maybe I could have presented my position in a less strident, divisive manner. But the questioner's use of the words "murder" and "babies" had put me on the defensive. Plus I am so confused about why we are still having to argue with patriarchal sentimentality about teeny weenie so-called babies - some microscopic, some no bigger than the sea monkeys we used to send away for - when real, live, already born women, many of them desperately poor, get such short shrift from the current administration.
It seems to me that God values that microscopic life.

Eccl 9:4 - For whoever is joined with all the living, there is hope; surely a live dog is better than a dead lion.
But as a Christian and a feminist, the most important message I can carry and fight for is the sacredness of each human life, and reproductive rights for all women is a crucial part of that: It is a moral necessity that we not be forced to bring children into the world for whom we cannot be responsible and adoring and present. We must not inflict life on children who will be resented; we must not inflict unwanted children on society.
It seems to me, God has a higher moral standard.

John 15:13 - "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.

I am sorry Ms. Lamont, but as much as I wish to fellowship with you as my Christian sister, you could not be more wrong.

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