Saturday, March 04, 2006


Through Anger To Repentance

Brad Hightower is talking about the process of sanctification and looks at real repentance as compared to the "therpeutic model for recovery." Frankly, the post is a bit psycho-babbly for my particular taste, but at its heart I think there are some great ideas.
We now are not only aware of our anger, but now we come to realize our actual character defects and heart sins that made us self-centered and was the actual cause of our frustration with life as it comes to us. For some of us, this frustration based in sin and fear created such unhappiness and resentment that we medicated our lack of peace with compulsive behaviors like TV watching or sex or alcohol. For some we are compulsive gossips or talkers in general because we cannot control our uneasiness about life. All of this is driven by our self-centeredness and our lack of care for our inner person.
The fact that self-denial is the road to contentment, is opposed to self-agrandizment, is the key difference between Christianity and worldly models. But that is old hat on this blog - good, but not news.

What I really like here is the idea of using anger as a guide to genuine self-discovery. When we are angry unjustly, which most anger is, it is a result of our own self-absorption and the perception that we have been wronged, when, in fact, we are in the wrong.

What a great confessional tool. Anger. Confession as the reponse to unjust anger. What a great idea.

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When Satire Hits Too Close

This is supposed to be satire

Are Your Cats Old Enough To Learn About Jesus?
People often ask me when they should teach the Good News to their housecats. I have but one answer: "What are you waiting for?"

A pet is a beloved part of your family, and as a Christian, you should do everything you can to guarantee that this valued member of your family receives the glorious eternal reward for which Christ gave His very life. Think of the alternative: your cat mired in darkness for eternity because you put off a 10-minute conversation.
Unfortunately, this did not make me laugh. There are things like this and this and this that point to the fact that people can be really misguded about stuff like this.

How does stuff like this happen? It happens when we ask God to adopt our agendas instead of us adopting His. Have you ever thought about the fact that God not only has the answers, but He pretty well dictates the questions too. Stuff like this seems silly because it is asking questions outside the bounds of the questions God would have us ask. But increasingly people are asking such questions in all seriousness.

I get sad because the satirical is too realistic these days. There is an old joke that says the word "foolproof" means only that some fool will prove you wrong. Anymore there is some fool that will decide to take the satirical as the serious.

Where will we be when there are no boundaries around serious?

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Comic Art

Sometimes you are looking through comic books and you see a character and you know nothing about him/her, but you instantly decide this may be the coolest yet. That was the experience I had when I first encountered - sometime in junior high - Hourman.

There is something remarkably intriguing about the design of the hood/cowl/mask that truly caught my imagination. He was about as dull as a superphero could get. A chemist (perhaps a personal inspriation, I don't know) Rex Tyler invented miraclo - a pill he could take but once day that made him faster, stronger and all that other cool superpower stuff. Which made him sort of like Batman that could turn into Superman for an hour. Unfortunately he did neither very well, but just because of that great look, I read everything I could get my hands on.

As with all the JSA, there is a generational element to the story. Rex soon retired from the superhero gig, but after a while the mantle was taken up by his son Rick - orginially in the extremely lame purple and red.

But in what may turn out to be one of the most inspired storytellings ever, Rick ended up addicted to miraclo and after much pathos had to hang it up. But like all great comic characters, Rick eventually conquered his addicition and returned, this time outfitted like his father, save for the yellow and black color reversal. Now we had a great character on our hands. Rick may be the best thing in the current JSA, though they need to give the addicton thing a break every now and then.

There is a third generation for the Hourman family - sort of. In overcoming his addiction, Rick gained the ability to, on occassion, see into the future. Inspried by this time-spanning capability, a third Hourman was built - he is a robot/android/artifical life form - in the distant future and he is a master of time. Given the generational nature of JSA stories. Hourman III is a very useful character indeed, making time travelling easy and convenient, and not quite the mystery it might otherwise be.

Unique for an android, he has also developed genuine affection for his human predecessors, which given that Rex is currently trapped in some time nexus, makes for some really interesting interpersonal stuff.

Hourman is a character that has always had the look, but it is only in recent time that they have developed a legend truly worth of the look. He is a classic and rapidly becoming a great.

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Usually Ruffage

Studies hint at what makes Titan gassy

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If They Are Sitting In The Wreckage...

Teens Allegedly Steal, Crash Land Plane

...could we not do without the "allegedly?"

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Dibs On Tee Shirt Sales

University-Parks sinkhole becomes odd attraction

Can't have an attraction without tee shirt sales. Somebody has to make a buck.

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Throws It Around A Bit, Then Attempts To Trash The Whole Town...

Giant squid grabs London audience

...oops, I sorry, this is reality, I thought it was a horror movie for a minute there and I got carried away.

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Friday, March 03, 2006


Of Churches And Government

Milt Stanley had a very interesting link the other day to this post at Tabletalk looking at government in God's Plan. Craig quotes Leslie Newbigin and adds some thoughts
Lesslie Newbigin writes in A Walk Through the Bible,
"And so we have set out for the first time a theme which will appear throughout the Bible: the ambivalence of the political order. If we were all obedient to God's law we would not need a king, we would do from our hearts what is right. If we need kings, law courts, police and prisons it is because we have forsaken God. And therefore God gives us a political order, and yet he reminds us that it is itself a source of profound corruption."
The political realm is God's accommodation to us, not his plan for us. All the talk of Christian nations, or manifest destiny, or the divine rights of kings, or theocracies, is completely human originated. God gives Israel a king not because it was his design, but because it wasnt'. If the people of God were to be the people of God, there would be no need for a human king. "We would do from our hearts what is right." This was God's point. He gives Israel a king, so they will understand this is not God's ways.
I love this idea, and from it I draw two thoughts.

The first is that this reinforces my idea that the church should not be involved in matters governmental for it is at best a distraction, and perhaps even a diversion, from the church's true calling and mission. Is it not wiser for the churcht o use its resources to convert the world to Christianity, in which case abortion will end, than to seek to overturn Roe v Wade in which case abortion will only become harder. Now that does not mean that individual Christians should not seek to work in politics if that is their call, but the church has a well defined mission.

Pastors, most of all are called not to do politics. The problems with this are rife. We have things like Falwell or Robertson putting thier feet in their mouths on repeated occassions to the absolute lunacy that is the Evangelical Climate Initiative. Every pastor will, of course, have his or her poltical convictions, but they should nto give those convictions the force of their sacred authority.

The other thought that springs from this has to do with church itself. The line between the necessary organization to operate a group of people and the church itself being a government is a very fine one. Just how much institution did Christ intend when he instituted the church?

I think the answer lies in the same places in scripture that Craig is looking, in how God intended to organize His people. It was a loose organization with limited leadership, such leadership being earned as result of personal character as opposed to the attainment of some office.

Minimal enforcement was necessary because of mutual accountability, becasue the community itself sought the same goals, goals ordained by God Himself.

How do we build a church that looks like that?

Cross-posted at How To Be A Christian And Still Go To Church

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Science Awry

I am learning to love the Prometheus blog - a blog out of the University of Colorado on science and public policy. Yesterday, they posted a review of one chapter of a book called "Rising Above The Gathering Storm" and had this most interesting quote
The focus is regrettably not on what S&T [ed: science and technology] can do for the U.S. public, but what the U.S. public can do for the S&T community.
This is, needless to say, a reference to the fact that so much science, particularly university science, is funded by the government. This has the effect of rendering the average professor as a grant writer more than actual researcher.

Now, let's contemplate that for just a second. I want tax dollars to pay for me to research something. Therefore, it is in my interest, and the interest of my collegues to have the general public interested in the aspect of science that I want to research. In this way, the public will apply pressure to elected officials and bureacrats to send the money my way.

So, the key question for many a researcher is how to get the public interested in what they are interested in. One way to do that is the gross romanitcization and overstatement of what is being researched, which is common on shows like NOVA. Another, is the oldest and most tried and true political strategy in the 20th Century and following - tilt up a potential disaster and sell yourself as the solution to the pending problem. Science has become an essentially political undertaking.

That is certainly the thought that came to my mind when I read this headline.

Consensus grows on climate change

'Consensus' is a word of politics, not science. Arriving at a consenus is a political process, not a scientific one. Of course, in a sense, there is a consenus of scientists that agree that f = ma (Newton) but they did not put there heads together an arrive at that consensus - the data demonstrated to them its truth and they were able to go generate more data to verify it.

But the consensus discussed in the linked article is a declaration by a body of some sort, a purely political action. No, in genuine science you do to "arrive" at a consensus, the data "drives you" to one.

My point - when considering headline, after headline, after headline on global warming, just remember, there is a lot of employment and a lot of money to be made by having it be "real." That is a force equally as powerful in arriving at a consensus as any other.

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The Thinklings link to Doug Wilson who quotes
"When a pastor retires or dies, the usual tendency is to scramble, form a pastoral search committee, and . . . you know the rest of the drill. An outsider, someone who is not in touch with the local and organic life of that particular congregation, is called, and he steps into the pastorate. His paper qualifications were impressive, and his pulpit delivery while he was 'candidating' was good, but the fact remains that churches that get a pastor this way are basically getting a mail-order bride"
What do you think the search committee does all that time? I don't know about your church, but in mine it takes at least a year to find a new pastor. The committee uses that time to first figure out what the congregation is looking for, and then to find someone who fits the bill, and to verify that person's representation that they fit the bill.

What, do you want every member of the congregation to conduct an interview? I think it's a good system.

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Spot The Idiot

McCARTHY: Sure. Otherwise you can't prove those 5,000 students of mine... we have had 5,000 less homicides in the world because they took the course. You can't prove a negative, but you do see results. It's only one course out of 16 years. I mean, it's crazy. Here we have the number one problem in America and on the planet?violence. Yet, how many schools are teaching in a systematic way alternatives to violence? Did you go to a high school where they taught you a course in peace studies?


McCARTHY: You did not. I did not. But you went to a high school...

DAVIDSON: ...although I had some teachers who'd probably would if they could.

McCARTHY: Yes, absolutely. But did you go to a high school where they required you to go into an algebra course? Did you take algebra in high school?

DAVIDSON: Certainly.

McCARTHY: Yes. How often do you go home and talk with your husband about the latest algebraic insight you have had? Do you do that?

DAVIDSON: (Laughter) I can't help my high-school-aged daughter with her algebra!

McCARTHY: Exactly. So here it is irrelevant to our adulthood, but they make us take this nonsense. And geometry. If you like algebra, fine... pi r² x bachazoids, crackazoids, lunazoids, hemorrhoids... Who cares!! You ever see a help wanted ad for an algebraist? I haven't. But the world is crying out for peacemakers. We are not teaching the kids how to be the essential thing. We have conflicts all our lives.
For the record, a day does not go by that I don't use algebra. Similarly, a day does not go by that I am not amazed that someone is paid actual hard currency to teach stuff like this. McCarthy is a "peace studies" professor at a university. Remember when a university was a place of higher learning?

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Poetry In Sarcasm

Check out this poem by Tom Graffagnino - "Shari'a Law of Darwin"

It's pretty funny.

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Some Headline Jokes Tell Themselves

Colon family in exploding toilet ordeal

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Friday Humor

Two little old ladies were attending a rather long church service. One leaned over and whispered, "My butt is going to sleep."

"I know," replied her companion, "I heard it snore three times.

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As God Is My Witness...

AOL Vows to Institute Fee-Based Service

Vows? Vows?

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Art Critic?

Boy, 12, Sticks Gum on $1.5M Painting

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No Duh!

You can't force cats to do anything...

However, mine can force me to do quite a bit.

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The Clog From You Know Where

Snake clogs septic lines

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Watched Way Too Much CSI

Leaders at Woman's Hospital say a man who works in Building Operations returned from several weeks off to find that someone had placed urine in his toolbox.

After hearing of the incident, hospital administrators sent a memo to 25 employees who also work there telling them that DNA testing would be done unless someone came forward admitting guilt. Since no one came forward, the hospital said the DNA testing will begin within the next few weeks.
It's a joke - No Harm, No Foul! No reason to go all Gil Grissom.

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I Did Not Know It Was A Crime To Pummel Cheese

Woman Pleads Guilty in Cheese Hit Man Plot

Or did they mean "cheesy hit man" - you know, a guy in a bad leisure suit?

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Thursday, March 02, 2006


An Excellent Question!

Over at Out Of Ur, the blogger du jour is asking
What if Jesus were the guest speaker at our church this Sunday? What would he say?
I love the way he describes the emotional state that spurs these questions
I feel like I have gotten lost in a system that has eaten me alive.
That feeling is a nice summation of my emotional state when the idea for How To Be A Christian And Still Go To Church (HTCSGC) emerged.

The author wonders if in his postulated circumstances Jesus might not speak to leadership instead of the congregation. It is an excellent question! In my original formulation for the book HTCSGC it was going to be a diatribe at church leadership. In the ensuing years I have softened that stance some coming to understand the limitations a church leader has as a person and in the office. We all have an opportunity to work things out for ourselves, we are in a sense responsible for our own walk with the Lord.

Having said that I think the issues raised in Ur post should be addressed not just to the leadership, but to the church in general. I want to look at just two of the points he makes
You do not evaluate your church the way I do. I am more concerned about you being my presence in this community rather than whether or not you may be happy with the way things are going.
We should not pick a faith community based on how popular it is. We should not pick a faith community becasue it "feels" right to us. We should pick a faith community because we encounter God there. And not just in the worship services either. Do we encounter God in the lives of those around us, the leadership and the pewsitter both? Do we see the church, s a community of faith, bearing the fruits of the Spirit? Or, do we see strife and turmoil? Do we sense efforts to hide strife and turmoil under a thin veneer of civility? Is there a place for us to make this community of faith one like these questions imply it should be?

The other great point he makes is.
You do not evaluate truth the way I do Sermon messages are not good if they seem to pass the popularity contest. There were times when I spoke and people walked away, wanting nothing more to do with me.
I want nothing to do with a church that does not hold truth in the highest regard. That does not mean that there is universal agreement on what a particular truth is, rather it means that all in the community seek the truth actively, persistently and civilly. It also means speaking the whole truth, not just the truth that is pleasant, not just the truth that is convenient, and not just the truth that "draws them in." It means speaking the truth not just theologically, but practically. That means not just speaking the truth but living it, and holding other accountable to living it as well.

What constitutes the "system that has eaten me alive?" A church that views itself as an entertainment medium. A church that is willing to trample the downtrodden for the sake of its success. A church that exists for its own sake instead of the sake of its members, and mostly the sake of our Lord.

Cross -posted at How To Be A Christian and Still Go To Church

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Are You Praying For Darfur?

Better yet, are you sending money? Mark Daniels is reporting it is worse than ever.
Already, more than 200,000 civilian people have been killed in the Darfur region by the murderous janjaweed, ill-disguised functionaries of the Sudanese government, in a campaign of genocide. Many thousands more have been displaced.
Mark also has a worthy list of action items.

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Did You Ever Wonder...

...what it was like to hear CS Lewis speak? Here's your chance - thanks to "Between Two Worlds." Some audio recordings of some of Jack's old BBC broadcasts.

And no, he doesn't sound like Aslan.

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Illuminated Scripture

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Virtual Parenting

What's wrong with this picture?
Divorce put David List and his 2-year-old daughter on opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean, and he worried that she would soon forget him.

She hasn't, though. List's divorce agreement guaranteed him "virtual visitation" - the chance to talk with his daughter through an Internet video connection - and he and Ruby Rose, now 5, usually connect at least twice a week. The chats sustain them in between their in-person visits, which come only a few times a year.
Not being a parent myself, I shouldn't speak, but if I were in his shoes, I'd be more worried about how she was raised than her image of me. Meaning maybe I'd need to stick around!

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Spoil Sports!

A massive middle school food fight left several students suspended and the eighth-grade class footing the cleaning bill that included the cost of scraping mashed potatoes off the ceiling.
That's from Chesterton, Indiana - Meanwhile in Riverside, California
School officials have put a chill on two students' plans to wage a "snow day" at their high school. Two Ramona High School students were suspended for bringing snow to school after officials declared snowballs dangerous.
So what can a student do with the urge throw at someone? No snowballs, no mashed potatoes? Wait, I know, combine the two and throw ice cream!

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Oh, Come On Honey - It'll Be Fun!

Court records say a woman who fell from the window of a 23rd-floor apartment may have been trying to touch the apartment window below with her feet when she slipped from the grasp of her boyfriend.

A Harrisburg police detective said Kevin Eckenrode told police that Rachel Kozlusky wanted to sit on the window ledge of his apartment shortly before she died on Saturday evening.

Eckenrode said she asked for his help in trying to touch her feet to the apartment window below, according to the detective's filing. Eckenrode said that's when she slipped from his hands and fell.
Oh, sure it will be!

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Beyond 'Stuck On Stupid' There's...

Russian stunt pilots to fly through cave in China

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Why Coaches Are Coaches

In a series of case studies, Romer found coaches to be overly conservative, opting for field goals in situations where, on average, choosing to go for a first down or a touchdown would up the odds of winning by 3 percent.
Problems in math class!

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Steve Irwin Out Of Work

An Australian grandmother who saved a friend from the jaws of a crocodile by jumping on the giant reptile's back
Apparently, it's not that big a deal.

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The Moral Of The Story...

Cat in Germany Has Bird Flu

...don't eat cats that eat birds that have the bird flu.

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Once It's 'Unearthed'... it still 'lost'?

Lost civilization unearthed in Indonesia

Call it one of life's little imponderables.

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I Have At Last Found My True Identity...

...thanks to the Thinklings and this post

You might be a Redneck Jedi if?

The list is extensive and funny. The one that convinced me
If you hear . . . "Luke, I am your father ? and your uncle ."
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Wednesday, March 01, 2006


The Consequence Of Salvation

Yep, it's true, finding salvation in Jesus Christ has consequences - it's not a "Get Out Of Jail Free" card. Witness: The 800 COMMANDS found in the NEW Testament. (HT: Adrian Warnock) I am going to list just a few here: These are not commands that we sit around and wait for the Holy Spirit to brings us into alignment with, no these are commandments that we must seek to follow on a daily basis, praying earnestly to the Holy Spirit that He will provide us with that which we need to comply.

I reflect on yesterday's post about the problem of sin in the church, and particularly church leadership. I am struck as I read through the list how few of these are reviewed as qualifications for leadership in the church, whether it be in the pulpit, other ordained office, or lay leadership. That's why in my sampling above I left the one for last that I did.

When I discuss the quality of Christian leaders how often have I heard, "They are sinners just like us." Agreed, but they are sinners leading sinners into sinlessness; they blaze the trail. Do I expect Christian leaders, and as an ordained elder I consider myself one, to comply always with these commandments? Of course not, but I do expect us all to know them, to endeavor to follow them, to acknowledge our failure to meet them, to seek the Holy Spirit's guidance on them and power to follow them, and to do all these things demonstrably and publicly. In other words, I expect Christian leaders to be examples of living the Christian life.

Let's start with just the short list I have given here. Would you be willing to devote a year to getting better at these commands? During that year would be willing to put yourself in a position of accountability to another person or person(s) to give them permission to tell you when you are failing, to here your confessions of failure? Will you accept their encouragement?

If not, do you really think you should be a leader? Obedience is a consequence of our salvation. A lack of obedience calls that salvation into doubt. How can we lead the saved if our salvation is in doubt?

Cross-posted at How To Be A Christian And Still Go To Church

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Evangelicals And Global Warming...

...there are some smart people out there on this issue.

Townhall published an excellent piece by Jennifer Biddison on the issue. (HT: SmartChristian)
Do you remember the day you found out one of your role models was imperfect? Perhaps you saw your mom punish the wrong sibling for breaking a vase, or you heard your kindergarten teacher swear. I'm finding myself just as disillusioned right now with several of our nation's prominent Christians.
Jennifer cites many of the same studies and reports that others have like
In 2004, a group of leading economists from around the world gathered for the Copenhagen Consensus to prioritize world problems and to put together economic estimates of possible solutions. They ranked each of seventeen potential solutions according to a cost-benefit analysis of each one. The three proposed climate change solutions received the three worst rankings. The top-ranked solutions - in other words, the solutions that could do the most good at the best cost - included combating HIV/AIDS, providing micronutrients to those suffering from malnutrition, liberalizing trade, and controlling malaria.
and work by The National Center for Public Policy Research, but she also has some other resources that I was unfamiliar with.

One thing I did not know was that Jack Hayford was a signatory to the Evangelical Climate Initiative. I have presumed all along that the people that signed on to this thing were simply sincere but misguided, but there are some personal dealings with Hayford in the Blogotional background and I need to call that particular presumption into question.

Powerline has a message for our friends that signed this thing:
The moral of the story is that the leading scientific journals have been taken over by liberals who value politics over truth. So any time you see a news report on a "scientific" journal article that ostensibly has political implications, you should greet it with skepticism.
Yesterday I ranted about how this thing puts the gospel itself at stake. On further reflection, I am not surprized.

The gospel is about personal engagement - about God Almighty becoming a person to confront us directly. But that is terribly hard work, it can be terribly frustrating, and it is slow. But worst of all, if we seek to follow His example in ministry it demands so much of us, it demands that we be leading in our own personal and spiritual development. You see, when we engage people on that personal level, we must expose ourselves too. Those we minister to see us closely and can examine us, if our lives do not demostrate what we teach, our teaching is for naught

Ah, but organizing a movement, now that is easy. It's a fairly mechanical thing to do, and we can hide behind the organization itself. We are not exposed, we can hold fast to our weaknesses and the inconsistencies between our teaching and our practice remains shrouded.

Organizing a movement like this is effectively a distraction, not necessarily distractiing the public, but the leaders distracting themselves from the places they are being called to grow. They are misguided, but perhaps not simply in their understanding of the science and policy issues involved. Perhaps Wormwood, with guidance from his uncle Screwtape, is at work here, creating the illusion of good where it does not exist, convincing our friends of a holy mandate whilst diluting the message of Christ.

I am becoming increasingly convinced that we fight not just a policy or science battle here, but a spiritual one. Prayer is our strongest weapon in such a battle.

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Understanding the Spirit

GospelDrivenLife is summarizing his past Sunday sermon on the early parts of John 14-16 and the Holy Spirit. The whole post is excellent, but I want to pull just a couple of his points for further comment. One of the points he says the text says is
He [ed: The Holy Spirit] is sent with a focus -- the application of the achievements of the cross and empty tomb in forming a new people -- to make real to them the manifest presence of the exalted Christ with all the fruit that comes from that.
The Holy Spirit is sent not to attract attention to Himself, but to complete the transformative work of Christ. One of the reasons cessasionists seem afraid of the Holy Spirit (I can speak here being on the edge of this issue) is because so many charismatics focus on the Spirit to the exclusion of the redemptive work of Christ - they seek the gifts seemingly without the cross. Lauterbach describes the Holy Spirit as "modest" - I find that an apt description. As Christ was "humble, even to death on a cross," so the Holy Spirit is humble in giving all attention to Christ.

When looking at the implications of the text, Lauterbach says
The church is a work worthy of God and not humanly achievable. The temptation is for it to degenerate into a sociological institution.
I think the greatest challenge facing the church today is to learn how, in an institutional sense, to open itself up to the work of the Holy Spirit. How do we avoid the temptation that Lauterbach mentions?

There is a need for the insitutional trappings of the church, if for no other reason than the law of the land demands it to do everything from pay the staff to hold the real estate. How does a group of people prevent those things from crowding out the genuine work of the church?

I do not know the answer to these questions fully, but I am becoming increasingly convinced that the start is to ask more of our leaders, particularly our lay leaders. We have to place character and spiritual requirements on those that serve in the most mundane of positions - even at the expense of not having all the positions filled.
Cross-posted at How To Be A Christian And Still Go To Church

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Fight On Charlotte!

Thanks to the A-Team Blog for linking to this blog about Charlotte Wyatt, a now two-year-old, born disabled that
cannot keep off infections forever, especially in a hospital and in wintertime, and she caught a cold which quickly began to hamper her breathing. In a normal case when your baby is ill the hospital will step up efforts to help. But Charlotte is special, and instead doctors submitted an emergency application to the judge to get permission not to treat her. Yesturday Justice Hedley concurred with them, reversing his previous order. Apparently the baby was on a "downward rather than an upward trend" and therefore not worth saving.

Never mind the vast improvements she had made, the way she had always made stunning recoveries after each of her illnesses, how she had proven the doctors wrong each time. Never mind that she had shown herself a fighter, and with all the strength in her little body was battling for her chance at life.

After all, she was Charlotte, and Charlotte... Charlotte might always be disabled child. She might never be quite normal, and her joys might never be quite the same as ours. Disabled people aren't like the rest of us, and when they are sick...they have to be allowed to die.
Now this is a child that has active parents deeply involved inner care.


Of course, it's England, where the government is in charge of paying for health care and therefore gets to make decisions like this.

Now, all y'all that want socialized medicine in this country - do you really? Do you really want someone other than yourself to make decisions about the medical care your child will receive - against your will? Something to think about, isn't it.

Oh yeah, you can go here and join a prayer chain for this child. I'll be praying!

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Get The Hankies...

...before you view this incredibly moving sports story. This really is a must see, and I don't want to spoil it for you. Let's just say as the team manager and trainer in high school myself, this was fantastic.

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Oh, Those Grand Claims Of Science

Scientists at the European Southern Observatory in Cerro Paranal, Chile, say they have created the first artificial star in the Southern Hemisphere.


On Jan. 28 at 11:07 p.m. local time the researchers launched a laser beam of several watts from the site of ESO's Very Large Telescope array, producing an artificial star about 55 miles into the atmosphere. Despite this star being about 20 times fainter than the faintest star that can be seen with the unaided eye, the scientists said it is bright enough for adaptive optics to measure and correct the atmosphere's blurring effect.
"Artificial Star," my eye! Oh no, it's not good enough that they came up with a way to correct for atmospheric blurring, a major accomplishment for earthbound astronomy - NO! - they have to claim they made a star. When I first saw the article, I thought someone had final gotten a fusion reaction to sustain - now that would be an artifical star!

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The Best Of Pravda

From the no hyperbole here department

The world may celebrate the end of the Western civilization

From the you have got to be kidding me department

Humans to decipher the DNA of God and clone another Christ

From the whatever happened to the good old fashioned religious way department

Freezing living bodies may help humans reach immortality
Modern scientists succeed in the quest for immortality

And finally, from the doomsday department

Impenetrable darkness to envelop Earth on March 29

Just another week at the news outlet that dares to call itself "Truth."

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Apparently, I Have Something In Common With A Dog

You Passed 8th Grade Math

Congratulations, you got 10/10 correct!
Could You Pass 8th Grade Math?

(HT: Psuedo-Polymath)
In 2003, mathematician Tim Pennings of Hope College in Holland, Mich., revealed to the world that his Welsh corgi, Elvis, appears to be solving a calculus problem when finding the optimal path to fetch a ball.
Why am I not enthused? I mean the dog is obviously doing a numerical approximation and not solving the problem symbolically.

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If I Were A Pig, I'd Protest Too!

School Pig Castration Sparks Protests

And yes, for the slow-of-wit, that is a direct shot at PETA.

Al Mohler as a bit less acerbic a look at the a related issue, if you are interested

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How Did We Ever Do It Before?

Kimberly-Clark Corporation (NYSE: KMB) today announced the introduction of the Cottonelle for Kids product line, the first-ever combined dry bath tissue and moist wipes system designed to help parents teach their kids ages 4-to-9 good bathroom and hygiene habits.
Thank goodness they are here to help. For centuries man has struggled with bad "bathroom and hyiene habits." It's amazing the human race has made it this far.

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Mixing Shari'a And Animal Rights...

A Sudanese man has been forced to take a goat as his "wife", after he was caught having sex with the animal.
...and you get a mess no one will want to clean up. It just doesn't pay to call a guy's bluff if he is doing something he enjoys.

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I Knew They Had Some Shady History With Polygamy, But...

Cannibalism rife among Mormon crickets

It's probably because this bunch does not play baseball like the rest of us. (Get it? cricket - baseball...)

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How Are These Stories Related?

Distillery to Revive 184-Proof Whisky

150 Vie for Wild Turkey Calling Title

I have to tell you, I'm not sure because at 184 proof (92% alcohol!) it ought to find you by itself!

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Tuesday, February 28, 2006


Integrating Evangelism and Apologetics

SmartChristian is looking at Francis Schaeffer and quotes a responder
Apologetics is seen as heady and unspiritual since it is allegedly disconnected from the realities of reaching out to culture. People don?t like to be hit over the head with the truth, we are told, they need to be loved into the Kingdom. These ideas serve to hamper those in the church who, with the gifting of evangelism, have pursued apologetics to improve their witness to the world. The reality is that Christians typically do not study apologetics as a dry exercise in intellectual superiority, or so that they can win debates and look good. Christians who study apologetics do so to be better able to respond to the real life opportunities for evangelism that do arise. Apologetics is the handmaiden of evangelism, yet it is looked down upon as a hindrance to evangelism.
Now, First of all, I would never propose to question the motives of anyone studying apologetics, I am sure they do it through the purest of motives. Secondly, my concerns about the role of apologetics arise out of my own personal experience. This I will say, apologetics is necessary, but insufficient, that's the rub I have.

At times in my own life I have gotten so wrapped up in apologetics that I forgot to develop the other parts of my walk with the Lord, much to my detriment, and much to the detriment of the message I shared. I find the study of apologetics almost hypnotic in its pull.

Also in my life, I studied apologetics in huge depth, but never personally experienced the transforming life that was possible in Christ until I moved on. I kept God pinned in my mind by trying to figure Him out instead of letting him rule me. (Bear in mind, that despite Adrian Warnock's contention that I am a charismatice and my belief in the gifts I have never experienced them personally - I'm talking about a different level of experience.)

Beign primarily a mathematician, I also find argument frustrating. When it comes to this kind of argument, at the end of the day, there is no proof in the mathmatical sense, there is but convincing and unconvincing. And in my experience, if someone does not wish to encounter Jesus, they will refused to be convinced, no matter how eloquent the apolgist may be. Eccelciastes comes to mind
Eccl 12:12-13 - But beyond this, my son, be warned: the writing of many books is endless, and excessive devotion to books is wearying to the body. The conclusion, when all has been heard, fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person
As with all things, the danger is relying too much on ourselves and not enough on God. I find this most dangerous place in apologetics when I do it, and I have other friends who have as well.

Besides, with the state of the church right now, I think apologetics is more necessary in the church than for evangelism. Consider the post immediately below - we need to develop "internal" apologetics for issues such as this.

Do away with apologetics - never, but I do think it needs to be properly contained and understood in the correct context, and I think it more useful for us than for evangelism.

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Evangelicals And Global Warming - It's Disturbing

What's a Christian Environmental Professional to do when he reads polling data like this? I have posted and posted and posted and posted on this issue and now that they have organized it keeps coming like a bad nightmare. The only good news in there is the pretty close to break even number for "take action."

Forget the gross misconceptions of the climatology involved and consider just what this says about the state of evangelicalism. The organized political activity of evangelicals to date has been largely limited to matters that were scripturally. morally, and practically mandated - abortion, same-sex marriage, and to some extent teachings about the origins of life. But this?!

This is the creation from whole cloth of a Christian issue based on limited data and a rightly conceived if wrongly aimed need "to do something." This belies a focus on fixing the other guy instead of fixing yourself, I think I am supposed to work out my salvation with fear and trembling and let God worry about the worlds.

And the real problem is that there is no way to address this other than through coercive means. Think for just one minute, PLEASE! Western economies can perhaps bear the cost of what is necessary to "prevent" global warming, it's an unnecesarry expense, but we can. But we got here through a whole boat load of greenhouse gas emissions. Alterntive technologies will raise the capital barriers to entering the world economy enormously. Thus the developing world -- the places where poverty is at its worse will never be able to join the world economy under such circumstances. We will condemn them to poverty!

The only possible ways out of that are enormous wealth transfers or they will develop grossly polluting underground economies. When it comes to wealth transfer - socialism has been tried and found wanting - despite this person. Unfortunately sin prevents it from functioning. When it comes to an underground economy, if they are going to ignore the specious greenhouse standards, don't you think they'll ignore the actually important stuff like nuclear waste or huge oil spills? It's a nightmarish scenario.

So what are we to do? Do we have to start to travel from church to church and teach people the truth behind global warming? It makes me shudder. I want to visit churches and talk about JESUS, not about hockey stick curves, statistically significant sampling sizes and urban heating effects.

The church has so lost its way here. Greenie Watch has an interesting look at some of the exegetical extremes that have been necessary to get us to this point.

If you want a bit more scholarly look at the issue, consider this, written in 1998.
As it was said in the beginning, Christian environmentalists have turned the world on its head. In using language reserved for God to show their concern for the Earth, they have only bred contempt for man and made a mockery of real religion. What they have not done is to make the Earth a proper object of worship. It can't be. But more to the point, theirs is not a genuine religious concern. They have simply invoked religious rhetoric to give new urgency to their worldly agenda. Sadly, for those who don't discern this agenda, this manner of speaking will make an idol of the Earth.
Consider this point just from the "initiative's" home web site
The same love for God and neighbor that compels us to preach salvation through Jesus Christ, protect the unborn, preserve the family and the sanctity of marriage, and take the whole Gospel to a hurting world, also compels us to recognize that human-induced climate change is a serious Christian issue requiring action now.
I cannot and do not argue about the necessity to use good judgement and stewardship when it comes to matters environmental, but to link the salvation message of Christ's crucifixion and resurrection to this issue is idolatry in its worst form. Not satisfied with merely distracting the faithful this initiative seems to want to water down the gospel to mere social action.

As I said when the initiative was announced, I weep for the church. In the ensuing couple of weeks things are much worse than I had anticipated. I must spend much time on my knees about this, seeking guidance and wisdom on how to proceed. I hope you will join me, it appears the gospel itself stands in the balance.

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Military Justice Comes Home

We have followed closely here at Blogotional the case brought against Staff Sgt. Alberto B. Martinez for murdering his commanding officer in Iraq. He is back in teh news becasue there have been additional charges brought against him
The additional charges against Staff Sgt. Alberto B. Martinez, 37, - three counts of failure to obey orders against possession of a private firearm, alcohol and explosives and one count of giving military printers and copiers to an Iraqi - were brought last week, according to a statement from the 18th Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg.
and because he has arrived at Fort Bragg where he will stand trial.

There is a paucity of news on this situation, and I think that is a good thing. The reason Blogotional started to coer this so hard was because the press and the left were trying to use it as a lever to demonstrate that Iraq was "just like Vietnam" because the enlisted men were killing the officers, "just like Vietnam."

Several Iraqi elections have come and gone since then and the "quagmire" cries have largely died down. We showed here at Blogotional way back when that it was likely this was a simply case of murder for profit.

In other words this is no more news than any other murder, and frankly that's a good thing from my perspective.

Congratulations to the Military Justice System which seems to be handling this just fine.

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A New Blogotional Project

A long time ago, I was in the middle of a church switch. It was not a good thing. It was also not the first time I had run afoul of a Christian organization. Out of my frustration a book idea was born. It never got farther than a few pages of notes as I got swept up in other things.

Many years later, I am no longer awash in the emotion that generated the idea, but I find the basic premise of the book still worth exploration. As I look back at much of what I have written on this blog, it is bits and pieces that could fit into that book. And so a new blogging project has been born.

I have started a new blog. It exists mostly as a place to collect posts I write here and organize them into something that may someday be that book.

The thesis is simple - the church and christians are our own worst enemy. We do more harm to the gospel and drive away potential converts than anybody or anything else. We do this mostly by harming our own, in so many ways.

I have not read Barna's lastest yet, but everything I have read about it, the fact that people are leaving the church to be Christians, makes me wonder if he is not touching on some of the same things. I have been sorely tempted at points in my life to seek an individualistic path. Why haven't I? That is what I hope to explore at

How To Be A Christian And Still Go To Church

Cross-posted at How To Be A Christian And Still Go To Church

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Dealing With Sin- A Problem For The Church

One of the things that I find most problematic in the church today is our unwillingness to look sin in the eye, declare it as such, and then deal with it. The gang at Together for the Gospel has been talking about the issue a bit with regards to baptism and membership at Saddleback.

But the post that really got me thinking about this was this one at Sheep's Crib wherein John does exactly what I wish I saw more of - a bit by bit analysis and refutation of sin in the midst of church leadership. John is finishing he 3-part examination of the horrible sins of the brothers Paulk in a charismatic church in Georgia.
The entire cost of infidelity in ministry leadership is known by God alone ... remember, He's infinite. But the devastation to families, churches, friends, and our witness is enormous at best but beyond measure at worst. There are so many others damaged by the abuses of these servants of the flesh and their minions from hell that one doesn't know where to begin when speaking of the cost.
I especially like John's take on how inexcusable the Pastor's behavior is and how disingenuous it is to attempt to discredit the women involved.

How do we get to places like this? Several reasons:

I could go on. Jollyblogger looked last week at the necessity of theological training among the clergy. He concluded

My take is that theological education is essential to ministry, but it is only one of many things that are essential to ministry, and that academic credentials do not necessarily qualify one for ministry.
David's right and if you ask me what one of the core problems facing the church today is, it's our reliance on academic standards and our failure to develop training programs that grow the person, not the scholar.

Cross-posted at How To Be A Christian And Still Go To Church

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What Was Buckley Thinking?

But more importantly - Why are Dadmanly and Blackfive both so deferential to him? Both have written excellent refutions to Buckley's declaration of failure in Iraq in National Review, but they write with a timidity and apology unworthy of their excellent blogging history. My opinion, when you're wrong, you're wrong, even if you're a conservative icon. Maybe even because you are a conservative icon.

I think Buckley's oppostion to our actions in Iraq are rooted more in his opposition to "compassionate conservatism" than anything having to do with Iraq itself. There is an ever-growing strain of displeasure with the domestic policy of George W. Bush amongst hardcore conservatives. It surfaced loudly in the nomination of Harriet Miers for SCOTUS, and it rears its head routinely in pieces we see on the growing deficit and other "financial woes" of the government. It was only a matter of time before it leaked over into the prosecution of the GWOT and Iraq in particular. After all, that is the lynchpin of Bush's political power, if you want to rob him of that power for the domestic agenda, you are going to have to tackle the lynchpin.

The reason the Democrats keep coming back, despite their continued drift into lunacy, is because we keep in-fighting and letting them in instead of guarding the gates. Will we ever learn?

More importantly, the pork-laden government we are experiencing is the government people want. I learned that lesson under the worshipped-more-than-even-Buckley Ronald Reagan, whose deficits were astronomical. There are limits to how much anyone can govern contrary to the will of the people and the mark of a good President is knowing where that line is. This current one seems to know that line pretty well.

Do I agree with everything Bush has done? Oh no, of course not. But he is a whole lot better than the alternatives, and I don't think a truly hardcore conservative is electable.

Mr. Buckley would be better served figuriong out how to make things work right instead of telling us where thay are wrong.

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Alphabet Soup

So, you are standing at the gates of Edinburgh castle and you look down the street. Marvelous view. isn't it? Immediately on your right, that yellowish wall in the foreground there is the "Scots Whiskey Heritage Center" -- a grand and glorious place to visit, tour, and have a tasting, but I digress. You see this week we are at "X" here in Alphabet Soup. Tough letter. That large crown steeple you see that's a hint to our destination.

You proceed down the "Royal Mile," leaving behind the castle, headed toward Holyrood Palace. You walk past St. Gile's Cathedral - that large crown steeple, then you walk past Tron Church, the more conventional steeple you see in the photo above. Before long, the site you see here on your right greets your eye. This is our destination this week. This is the John KnoX House. (OK, so sue me, it doesn't start with X, but it's the best I could do)

Knox, of course, is that most famous of Calvin's disciples, bringing Calvin's point of view back to England and Scotland where he became pastor of St Gile's and the Reformation came to Scotland complete with Knox's debates with the very Catholic Mary, Queen of Scots and all the intrigue and the eventual union of Scotland and England that followed. For here was born my specific flavor of faith - Prebyterianism.

Knox resided in this particular house for a while, but it is not especially historic other than it still stands and has been used to house a museum dedicated to this faithful servant of the Lord. It's a great place to learn some important church history.

Of all the displays and things in the house, this window was part of my favorite. The room that features this window is empty save for a couple of pews. The pews are complete with bibles and hymnals, and one other very important thing - speakers.

Speaker that play, in rich Scottish brogue, someone reading, quite well, the text of some of Knox's better sermons. While not as grand as hearing them in St. Giles, it is a lovely setting and the sermons sing to this Calvinist heart. The experience in enhanced by the fact that the Royal Mile is, in season, a very crowded place, but this particular attraction is not so crowded. (Gee I wonder why?) I have to say I was pleasantly pleased that I could sit for an extended period undisturbed and listen. Such solitude is not easy to come by in so crowded a tourist locale.

The Knox house is a must for any serious student of Christianity if you find yourself in Edinburgh.

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Please - Don't Tell Me Why

Police: Homeless Man Tries to Steal Sheep

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And They Won't Need The St Lawrence Seaway

Scientists fear leaping carp to invade US Great Lakes

That's the advantage of leaping that way.

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I Thought Squid Was Caught With Traps Not Nets?

Stolen squid nets charges

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Serious Devotion To Wannabe Status

A teenage guitarist got so carried away while bouncing up and down on his bed mimicking a rock star that he flew out of a third floor window to his death, a Singapore newspaper reported Wednesday.

Somethings just aren't worth it.

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How Does This Guy Get Anything Done?

Mr. Kazutoshi Takenoshita

He always seems to be indisposed?

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999,999,999,999...1,000,000,000,000 -- Ready Or Not, Here I Come

A billion stars could be hiding in Milky Way

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Monday, February 27, 2006


Battling Alternative Spiritualities

Jollyblooger had an interesting post last week reviewing a book about Wicca. David concluded the post this way
But I thought it was helpful to point out just how pervasive these alternative spiritualities are. Here I am sitting by a seemingly random person on an airplane (although there is no such thing as randomness in God's universe) who believes just what this book on Wicca was talking about and who has even swallowed some of the Da Vinci Code stuff. This is just one more illustration of why we need to be on top of these things.
For some reason that conclusion brought up some random thoughts on my part.

For one, if alternative spiritualites are as or more attractive than Christianity, we aren't doing Christianity right. Seriously, if a high school football team can stay in the game against an NFL club, the NFL club just ain't trying. The attractiveness of alternative spiritualities says a lot more about us than it does about them.

Secondly, I don't recall Christ spending a lot of time arguing with practioners of alternative spirtualities, and they were present when He was here. Christ pretty much just cast out the demons. Paul obviously preached far more apologetically in Athens than in Jerusalem, but when I read those sermons, I don't think it was the depth of Paul's knowledge of greco-roman mythology that made his case for him.

Most alternative spirtualities make consiracy theories look rational. David's post says this about Wicca
As to exactly what Wicca is, Sanders says it is a religion that defies description. Any practitioner can add or subtract to his or her beliefs. One practitioner told an interviewer "if you ask three witches to describe their beliefs, you'll probably get about four answers."
Can rational discussion be made with the wholly irrational?

I don't really disagree with David on this in general, but particularly in the case of Wicca, the appeal, I think, is almost completely emotional. I'm not sure study is the right reaction.

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Mob Mentality and The Ports Controversy

I am writing this way in advance so events may have overtaken this post by the time it goes up (my weekend travels are the root of this) but I really liked Joe Carter's post last Thursday on the UAE/ports issue. Joe discusses the "foolishness of crowds"
Hugh Hewitt believes that it is based on the "intuition" that the deal would make America more vulnerable to terrorist attack: "The widespread negative reaction suggests a 'Wisdom of Crowds' moment that the Administration should study closely," says Hugh, referencing a book written by James Surowiecki.

While I generally respect and agree with Hugh's analysis on political matters, I believe that he not only is wrong on this point but that it provides an example of the "foolishness of crowds."
I think what we have here is a classic battle between good policy and good politics.

That the American public would find this deal troublesome is completely understandable. And while America is America, what the public wants, particularly when alot of it wants it, is usually what should happen - that's good politics.

But I have yet to hear an arguement against the deal other than "we can't trust 'em completely." This deal makes so much sense in terms of our stated policy for the region. The policy is that democracy and capitalism will win the day - giving them the opportunity to play in the business of the world is directly in line with that policy. When you couple that with all the other facts about the limited nature of the contract, the details of the transaction and so forth, this deal is just good policy.

Bottom line. This happens, Bush severly harms the Republican party. This gets stopped, we undermine our stated policy. It's shaping up like a lose-lose.

(Note: it appears over the weekend that things are shaping up as I suggest here) Transparency is the key in a situation like this. I think a Congressional look at the deal, very public, is the way to go. I'm willing to bet that after such an event the public will become convinced. Such an investigation create an opportuniyt for the Administration to make its case plainly.

One other comment - to oppose this deal is to reveal a lack of confidence in both the Customs Service and The Coast Guard. I think that means we need to fix them, not stop this deal.

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How To Be A Superhero

Last week, Rebecca looked at boys becoming men and the role superheroes play in that, and me, being me, must comment on it.
Youngest daughter is twenty-one and works at a gym. A week or so ago she came home and told us about her day. A young man, a customer at the gym who is the same age as youngest son and still in high school, had been hassling her to "hang out" with him.

"We should hang out sometime," he said. He was nothing, if not persistent, even though she thought she was obvious in her refusal.

Oldest son's response? "What's his name? I should have a talk with him." Youngest son? "I'll beat him up!"


Yes, youngest son needs to learn a better approach to fixing these sorts of problems--a better phase one, anyway! And I expect that to come with time. A year ago, however, it would never have crossed his mind that this situation might require something of him.

He's one step closer to becoming a hero, and that, really, is what the briefs pulled up over the long johns when he was five were all about. Boys will be boys, and that's a good thing, because it's working to turn them into men.
I'm understand the pride a mother has when her son shows such signs of maturity. I am glad she has it. I also understand that youngest son's response was not yet the appropriate one for a first response, but I wonder, is there a time a man must get physical, or at least threaten to do so?

Much like rutting males in the animal kingdom, physical confrontation between men is often more posturing than actual harm. Many, many times things defuse before actual blows happen because most of the time you can tell who is going to win before the fight ever happens. Since high school the only physical fights I have ever seen (I haven't had one personally) happened in cases of severly imparied judgement - usually by alcohol.

But I wonder, maybe we could solve problems much more directly and much more quickly and easily by dancing the dance, by intimidation and threat? Threats do require a willingness to carry them out to work, but men usually are.

Even Christ, in the end, resorted to violence to make a point. I wonder if we rob men of some essential maleness by teaching them that violence is never the way to solve a problem?

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J Jonah Jameson Was Right All Along!

Spiderman IS a menace. We have the video! Although I have to say the Wallcrawler is not looking good at all.

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