Saturday, April 22, 2006

 

Linkin' Park

The Poison of Subjectivism, though not by C.S. Lewis.

Won't an obedient result, absent an acknowledgement of obedience, still in the end degenerate in to sin? I find what's linked here an effective apologetic - beauty = morality, but if we fail to find the attitude of obedience, haven't we really missed the point?

Reality is no fun.

Prepare to have your pocket picked.

Given the last two years of my life, this just honks me off. To borrow a phrase from the often irritating Michael Medved - I am not a victim.

A blogger in the making.

Good point!

Do not, I repeat DO NOT, screw this up.

So it's real? After all, two negatives makes a positive.

As the former Vice President of my homeowners association, I accept this post as proof of what I have known for years - they are the work of the devil.

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Comic Art

To my mind, there is no more visually stunning villain in the history of comics than Galactus. Much of that is due to the fact that he was born in the mind of the master - Jack Kirby. He is so indelibly Kirbyesque that no one can draw him with out making him look like Kirby drew him, which means he always looks really, really good.

He is one of the more interesting villains because he is somewhat morally ambiguous. He is the most heinous of actors in our universe - he eats whole planets - killing every living thing upon them.

But that said, he has no choice. He is galactic in scope and cast more as a force of nature than someone purposefully bad. He must eat planets to survive and he must survive, if he does not, the universe as we know it will cease to exist. Interesting concept, isn't it? Evil as necessary.

I could wax eloquent for hours about that idea, but this is supposed to be about fun. Anyway, they are beginning to show signs of messing with that basic concept, as the very concept of evil is vanishing from the collective consiousness, Galactus is becoming more a poor guy with an eating disorder than someone who is somehow heroically evil, but it is not so far over the edge yet.

His origin is also fascinating. It was untold for years, but when the theories of the oscillating universe began to show up in cosmology, they decided to come up with one. Galactus is the remnant of the universe that existed just before this one.

Most people are familiar with the idea that our universe is constantly expanding, but you may or may not know that if the total mass of the universe is found to be beyond a certain threshold, it is projected that it will stretch to a point then collapse back into a singularity and that it has been doing that for time eternal. In this legend, all life existing at the end of the last universe decided it would not go quietly and willed itself into a single being - a being of immense power - Galactus himself, the only thing ever to survive a universal collapse.



Cool origin, huh?

He is a fan fav - a very fav. That frankly is why he has moved form simply evil to soemwhat morally ambiguous. As is usually the case, when a baddie really catches on, he needs to become a little sympathetic to give the fans something to hang onto.

Why did he catch on so? Well, he is enigmatic which always seems to draw people - like Boba Fett. His immense power is another draw.

But I think it is his look that draws me. He is just darn good looking for a comic character, and like most of the really good looking characters in comics, he owes it all to Jack Kirby, the master of comic art.

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Friday, April 21, 2006

 

Link-o-licious

What ho? Drastic climatic shifts before man was pouring tons of stuff into the atomsphere. Say it isn't so. We might have to bring actual reason to the dicussion.

They don't make 'em like they used to. What is they say about those guns? - "A volkswagen 20 miles and hit a tennis court" -- Which is why I don't play tennis.

Hmmm... Training and education, definitely - but be careful elitism.

Places I am not likely to shop anytime soon.

Blogocide?

It's not showtime, it's God-time.

Those bastards! (please forgive my 'french' but it's the only phrase that fits.)

No really, IT'S ABOUT GOD!

Because we all need silly stuff for our blogs.

Who do you want to fit in with? There you go, it's all about GOD again.

Amen

The bad news - every man on the planet has thought about doing this at some point in his life. The good news - most of us have the common sense to figure out its a bad idea...I think?

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Friday Humor

This joke is offered in the spirit of making a bit of fun of ALL of us
Several centuries ago, the Pope decreed that all the Jews had to convert or leave Italy. There was a huge outcry from the Jewish community, so the Pope offered a deal. He would have a religious debate with the leader of the Jewish community. If the Jews won, they could stay in Italy, if the Pope won, they would have to leave.

The Jewish people met and picked an aged, but wise, Rabbi Moishe to represent them in the debate. However, as Rabbi Moishe spoke no Italian and the Pope spoke no Hebrew, they all agreed that it would be a "silent" debate.

On the chosen day, the Pope and Rabbi Moishe sat opposite each other for a full minute before the Pope raised his hand and showed three fingers.

Rabbi Moishe looked back and raised one finger.

Next, the Pope waved his finger around his head.

Rabbi Moishe pointed to the ground where he sat.

The Pope then brought out a communion wafer and a chalice of wine.

Rabbi Moishe pulled out an apple.

With that, the Pope stood up and declared that he was beaten, that Rabbi
Moishe was too clever, and that the Jews could stay.

Later, the Cardinals met with the Pope, asking what had happened.

The Pope said, "First, I held up three fingers to represent the Trinity. He responded by holding up one finger to remind me that there is still only one God common to both our beliefs. Then, I waved my finger to show him that God was all around us. He responded by pointing to the ground to show that God was also right here with us. I pulled out the wine and wafer to show that God absolves us of all our sins. He pulled out an apple to remind me of the original sin. He had me beaten and I could not continue."

Meanwhile the Jewish community were gathered around Rabbi Moishe. "How did you win the debate?" they asked.

"I haven't a clue," said Rabbi Moishe. "First he said to me that we had three days to get out of Italy, so I gave him the finger. Then he tells me that the whole country would be cleared of Jews and I said to him, we're staying right here."

"And then what?" asked a woman.

"Who knows?" said Moishe, "He took out his lunch, so I took out mine."
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Thursday, April 20, 2006

 

Link 'Em If You Got "Em

Who said CS Lewis was dead?

Very smart people doing a very smart thing they should not have to do, becasue Christians should be smarter than other people.

Because people still want to raise money rather thn work.

Where is the SEC when you need them? This really sucks! Honestly, that's a very funny gravity joke, no really, trust me.

Underwear eveywhere is afraid.

Yes, most Amerians are incredibly short-sighted.

No, Duh!

I wish more Presbyterian elders knew this stuff.

Can you imagine - the NYTimes corrects an error in the press instead of makes one?!

If not, I've wasted a lot of years. Consider for a moment that bureacracy is useful - try and run an army without it.

Because it is absolutely the best form of communication evey devised, and I am absolutely without bias on this.

Your eyes will glaze, your faith will be questioned, but you need to think about this stuff.

Really, genuinely bad idea - demi-gods, or so they will think, in the making.

Bonhoeffer on why denominations should be renewed.

How I got into the mess I currently find myself in, and yet, I salivate.

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Illuminated Scripture


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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

 

Linkin' Logs

I am old enough to remember when CalEPA ate the state health department like a whale eating plankton. Now they want to separate it out again. Wrong, wrong, wrong - just decrease the size of the rest of CalEPA by about 60% - it'll be fine. There is no more bloated, autocratic bureacracy on the planet.

Someone is going to try and make reality TV out of this. The problem there may be more personality involved than some of the current shows.

Sushi Revenge

Oxymoronic Headline Now, if you don't get it, just remember that talking involves the emission of greehouse gasses.

I hope not.

If it wasn't for the fact that we need to be supporting actual California Republicans, I'm fairly certain the SCBA could rise to Hugh's challenge and beat the MOB silly - even from all the way out here.

The reality of Christian faith.

And, of course, this will be our fault for not signing Kyoto.

The Evangelical CLimate Initiative takes another broadside.

So is stupidity.

Who you gonna believe? Hint: NOT Greenpeace

Uh, YEAH! Although with me, it has been a dismal failure.

Obscure quiz of the day.

Why do I think this will be really messy?

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A Word On My Recovery

Went to see the surgeon yesterday - one of those good news/bad news deals.

The good news is that in general I am healing quite nicely, perhaps even better than expected.

The bad news is that I am a bit of an "oozer." Since my surgery I have had attached to me devices intended to prevent the build up of fluids and therefore the possibility of sepsis, and they have functioned well, too well. They were supposed to come out yesterday, but alas only some did, some remaining for another week.

This is a disappointment in that they are a bit like a leash - they keep me wearing only oversized sweat pants and make bathing an extraordinary chore, thus minimizing my availability for public appearance.

It's not like I am anywhere near ready for a full schedule yet, but this prevents any but the very smallest forays into the light of day and cabin fever is...well, a huge factor in my life at the moment.

I still find that after I work 5-7 hours a day I have not the concentration left for serious blogging, but a walk down the block looking like something other than a homeless person sure would be nice.

Your prayers are appreciated.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

 

Land O' Links

Good business does charity too - or it should.

QUIZZES:

Find out how much you're helping destroy the earth like a good American.

Find out how someone is next going to tell you you are wrong.

END OF QUIZZES

I know lots of people from "broken homes" - none of them want to kill thousands of Americans. Moussaoui can bite me and then I'll push the plunger on his lethal injection.

Joe Carter on gnoshing gnostics.

Cool new Milblogness.

Stack Harp gets it right.

Mixed metaphor alert

Lowell does immigration right.

No, no, no - our mission sets lifestyle - lifstyle cannot affect our mission. Remember - WE HAVE GOD ON OUR SIDE!

Laugh or cry - you decide.

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The Terrorbuster Saga

INSTALLMENT #5

Read this story from the beginning at The Terrorbuster Saga Blog

Carter took a breather and checked his personal email. There was a note from his "girlfriend", Amy. He didn't really know if they were together anymore. After he went back into the civil service they found themselves living about 200 miles apart. They went through the motions as best they could, but the distance, and the fact that, at least for him, the relationship had been more about convenience than any deep abiding affection, had caused them to move apart.

They grabbed weekends together when they could, and they had one planned for this upcoming weekend - that is, until he read the email. It seemed Amy was going overseas - she was very non-specific - to help some unit get up to speed on a new system she'd helped develop.

So Carter went back to work. He set up an extremely sophisticated data mining program that went through every fissionable materials-tracking database in the world, official and unofficial. Every now and them, when the program could not hack into a database, it would signal him and he would do the hack himself and send the program on its merry way. This did not happen very often. It was just too easy in most of these countries.

But while the program was going on auto-pilot, he tackled the really hard job personally. He hacked into the US satellite system in an effort to see if he could track the radioactivity readings from Mobile back to their source. This was not as easy as it might sound. Satellite coverage was not complete. Some birds had better sensors than others. Some places had background levels of radiation that made it hard to tell whether there was anything there or not.

This was when it got hard for Carter. He could really use some expertise, but if he asked for it, he would blow his cover, and more importantly the President's. He did see, intermittently, high readings coming out of the Black Sea, through the Med, and across the Atlantic. This was unsurprising. The former Soviet Union had used the steppes of southern Asia as a nuclear development zone since WWII. Further, they were awful at record keeping, making this area the most likely source for fissionable material for any bad guy. The Black Sea was the way out of there, so again, nothing he couldn?t have guessed.

What was interesting was a report he found at the DOE: something about the radiation levels at the remains of the Sophiaskia, the weapons fuel reactor in Ukraine that went "china syndrome" years before the world heard of Chernobyl, pile dropping dramatically without explanation. That pile of steaming radioactive goo was supposed to stay hot and nasty for millennia. A joint Russian/Ukrainian task force routinely sent robots in to examine the pile. That's how the radiation levels were known to be changing, but there was no other observable change in the pile.

Normally, the radiation inside the Sophiaskia sarcophagus was so high that the robots would cease to function after a few minutes. The inside was littered with "dead" machines, but in the last few months, they might have been retrieved and reused, save for the fact that they were themselves so dangerously radioactive.

The stuff in that pile was useless as bomb fuel; it would take as much processing as raw ore - but it could make a hell of a dirty bomb. It was a shame the satellites could not get enough of a spectrum to identify the source Carter was tracking ? Sophiaskia?s spectral signature was quite distinctive.

Lacking anything better to do, Carter started looking through the records of the uncountable foundations and charitable institutions that collected money for the benefit of Sophiaskia and its victims. They sprang up virtually overnight when the Iron Curtain fell and the world learned of this disaster. Nothing unusual there, that is until he started reading the email that flowed between the heads of these various organizations. In the last two years, they were all complaining to each other about how some local Ukrainian upstarts seemed to have unlimited funds and were simply getting to every project before any other organization. Their lack of results was hurting their fund-raising. They were beginning to discuss mergers of their organizations.

These local agencies were completely off the Internet. He could not find a trace of them anywhere, other than by indirect reference. There were a few old Soviet networks that were never tied into the Internet and were supposed to be out of use. Nobody looked at them any more, but it was no big thing for him to have one of the NSA birds take a quick peek. Sure enough, one of the nets was active, but impenetrable. The old bird that could look at the system could not hack through the new and highly sophisticated security measures. He was going to need physical access to that network to see what was happening.

Now he had to figure a way to get to the Ukraine.

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Monday, April 17, 2006

 

Boredom

Young Life's founder once said "It's a sin to bore a kid with the gospel." Young Life's official history book is entitled It's A Sin To Bore A Kid. So when Ligon Duncan writing at the T4G blog said this talking about consumerism and the local church, my ears perked up.
There are a number of positive things about the congregation's emphasis noted in the article: high view of the importance of the local church, desire for evangelism, desire to serve others. But the very name of the event facility, coupled with their advertising mailer, which emphasizes that those who attend Easter Services "won't be bored" are parabolic of the continuity of our situation with the nineteenth century, aren't they?
I so love the mission of Young Life and I honestly do believe it is a sin to bore anyone with the gospel, but there is something vitally important to remember - there is nothing boring about the gospel. If the gospel appears boring it is because we don't get it. That's where the sin part comes in - our sinfulness makes it boring, not the presentation, the theology, or the charisma, or lack thereof, on the part of the presenter.

Jim Rayburn's (Young Life's founder) real wisdom lay in his understanding of that fact, and thus that wonderful and pithy statement was born. If you find people being bored with the gospel you present, may I suggest that instead of looking at multi-media, or music, or drama, or architecture, or programs, or plans, you look at yourself and find your knees and ask God to forgive you of your sin. The gospel you present will not stay boring for long.

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Links O' Plenty

I tend to think about the only thing you get when you mix environmentalism and politics is problems, but I have never denied there are real environmental problems that need real solutions. Could this be a step in the right direction?

Dadmanly wonders what's really behind the recent attacks on Runsfeld.

Mike quotes Faramir on the fear of the Lord.

Nature heals itself - funny how that happens. Is it possible God had a pretty good idea what He was doing when He created it?

When a Christian takes the "battle against science" a little too far. Mostly meaning they are clueless what the discussion is really about

Must know information.

Two great posts from GospelDrivenLife on Christian mid-life crisis - here and here.

Please pray for this guy. The Lord and wisdom are in his struggle - I hope he discovers it.

Dadmanly on media, military, and morale.

Schism? I wish someone would convince me its a bad thing.

Rick makes me laugh.

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Sunday, April 16, 2006

 

He Is Risen!


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Sermons and Lessons

INTRODUCTION TO THE AUTHOR

C.S. Lewis will be remembered as one of the most important Christian thinkers of the twentieth century. He was born in Ireland in 1900, and the major part of his adult years was spent as a Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, where he taught medieval literature. It was in 1931 that he was "Surprised by Joy," Lewis's own description of his conversion to Christianity. A brilliant scholar and writer, Lewis used his talents to reach thousands through the printed and spoken word.

He and a group of friends (including J. R. R. Tolkien, author of Lord of the Rings) gathered once a week to share their writings. During those years Lewis produced his famous work The Screwtape Letters. In the early 1940's he delivered talks on various Christian topics over British radio. His fame grew throughout Great Britain and spread to the United States. Out of those talks came the book Mere Christianity, a penetrating work on Christian apologetics. Countless Christians point to this book as an essential part of their faith journey. If sales are an indication of popularity, then C. S. Lewis=even thirty years after his death=is one of the most popular Christian thinkers of the twentieth century. In the following passage Lewis discusses the question, Is Christianity hard or easy?

EXCERPTS FROM MERE CHRISTIANITY

1. How Much of Myself Must I Give?


The ordinary idea which we all have before we become Christians is this. We take as the starting point our ordinary self with its various desires and interests. We then admit that something else-call it "morality" or "decent behavior," or "the good of society"-has claims on this self: claims which interfere with its own desires. What we mean by "being good" is giving in to those claims. Some of the things the ordinary self wanted to do turn out to be what we call "wrong": well, we must give them up. Other things turn out to be what we call "right": well, we shall have to do them.

But we are hoping all the time that when all the demands have been met, the poor natural self will still have some chance, and some time, to get on with its own life and do what it likes. In fact, we are very like an honest man paying his taxes. He pays them all right, but he does hope that there will be enough left overfor him to live on. Because we are still taking our natural self as the starting point.

2. Two Results

As long as we are thinking that way, one or the other of two results is likely to follow. Either we give up trying to be good, or else we become very unhappy indeed. For, make no mistake: if you are really going to try to meet all the demands made on the natural self, it will not have enough left over to live on. The more you obey your conscience, the more your conscience will demand of you. And your natural self, which is thus being starved and hampered and worried at every turn, will get angrier and angrier.

In the end, you will either give up trying to be good, or else become one of those people who, as they say, "live for others" but always in a discontented, grumbling way-always wondering why the others do not notice it more and always making a martyr of yourself. And once you have become that you will be a far greater pest to anyone who has to live with you than you would have been if you had remained frankly selfish.

3. Harder and Easier

The Christian way is different: harder, and easier. Christ says, "Give me All. I don't want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want You. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. I don?t want to cut off a branch here and a branch there, I want to have the whole tree down. Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked?the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you Myself: my own will shall become yours.

Both harder and easier than what we are all trying to do. You have noticed, I expect, that Christ Himself sometimes describes the Christian way as very hard, sometimes as very easy. He says, "Take up your Cross"-in other words, it is like going to be beaten to death in a concentration camp. Next minute he says, "My yoke is easy and my burden light." He means both. And one can just see why both are true.

4. The Most Dangerous Thing

Teachers will tell you that the laziest boy in the class is the one who works the hardest in the end. They mean this. If you give two boys, say, a proposition in geometry to do, the one who is prepared to take trouble will try to understand it. The lazy boy will learn it by heart because, for the moment, that needs less effort. But six months later, when they are preparing for the exam, that lazy boy is doing hours and hours of miserable drudgery over things the other boy understands, and positively enjoys, in a few minutes.

Laziness means more work in the long run. Or look at it this way. In a battle, or in mountain climbing, there is often one thing which it takes a lot of pluck to do; but it is also, in the long run, the safest thing to do. If you funk it, you will find yourself, hours later, in far worse danger. The cowardly thing is also the most dangerous thing.

5. The Almost Impossible Thing

It is like that here. The terrible thing, the almost impossible thing, is to hand over your whole self-all your wishes and precautions-to Christ. But it is far easier than what we are trying to do instead. For what we are trying to do is to remain what we call "ourselves," to keep personal happiness as our great aim in life, and yet at the same time be "good." We are all trying to let our mind and heart go their own way-centered on money or pleasure or ambition-and hoping, in spite of this, to behave honestly and chastely and humbly.

And that is exactly what Christ warned us you could not do. As He said, a thistle cannot produce figs. If I am a field that contains nothing but grass-seed, I cannot produce wheat. Cutting the grass may keep it short: but I shall still produce grass and no wheat. If I want to produce wheat, the change must go deeper than the surface. I must be ploughed up and resown.

6. Listening to That Other Voice

That is why the real problem of the Christian life comes where people do not usually look for it. It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in. And so on, all day. Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings; coming in out of the wind.

We can only do it for moments at first. But from those moments the new sort of life will be spreading through our system: because now we are letting Him work at the right part of us. It is the difference between paint, which is merely laid on the surface, and a dye or stain which soaks right through.

He never talked vague, idealistic gas. When He said, "Be perfect," He meant it. He meant that we must go in for the full treatment. It is hard; but the sort of compromise we are all hankering after is harder-in fact, it is impossible. It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.

7. The Reason the Church Exists

May I come back to what I said before? This is the whole of Christianity. There is nothing else. It is so easy to get muddled about that. It is easy to think that the Church has a lot of different objects-education, building, missions, holding services. Just as it is easy to think the State has a lot of different objects-military, political, economic, and what not.

But in a way things are much simpler than that. The State exists simply to promote and to protect the ordinary happiness of human beings in this life. A husband and wife chatting over a fire, a couple of friends having a game of darts in a pub, a man reading a book in his own room or digging in his own garden-that is what the State is there for. And unless they are helping to increase and prolong and protect such moments, all the laws, parliaments, armies, courts, police, economics, etc., are simply a waste of time.

In the same way the Church exists for nothing else but to draw men into Christ, to make them little Christs. If they are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself, are simply a waste of time. God became Man for no other purpose. It is even doubtful, you know, whether the whole universe was created for any other purĀ¬pose. It says in the Bible that the whole universe was made for Christ and that everything is to be gathered together in Him.

8. Becoming a Part of the Plan

I do not suppose any of us can understand how this will happen as regards the whole universe. We do not know what (if anything) lives in the parts of it that are millions of miles from this Earth. Even on this Earth we do not know how it applies to things other than men. After all, that is what you would expect. We have been shown the plan only in so far as it concerns ourselves.

What we have been told is how we can be drawn into Christ-can become part of that wonderful present which the young Prince of the universe wants to offer his Father-that present which is Himself and therefore us in Him. It is the only thing we were made for. And there are strange, exciting hints in the Bible that when we are drawn in, a great many other things in Nature will begin to come right. The bad dream will be over: it will be morning.

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