Saturday, May 06, 2006


Linkin' For The Weekend

It's a bad thing, a very bad thing when politics and egos get in the way of defense and intelligence. It appears intelligence was broke and now it is broke more.

Ah to be young and in love with God. I wish all Christians could recapture the uncynical enthusiasm of youth both chronologically and spiritually.

Because attention spans are not yet short enough.

When marketing and the appearance of apple pie override reality. (First item) The problem with environmentalism is that doing something has become more important than doing the right thing.

Now this is an illegal immigration problem. Do you think the commies will be organizing the fish anytime soon?

Of egos and humility, God and creation.

It's a good thing scientists don't anthropomorphize their work. "Child" indeed!

The most appropriate blog post title I have yet to encounter.

Nothing silly. If Jesus wanted to direct movies, He would have come now instead of 2000 years ago when there were no movies. Think about it.

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Comic Art

This image is one of the best written comics I have ever enjoyed. It's not that the plot was different than the average comic (they all have remarkably the same story structure and plot points) or that I hadn't read a thousand Batman/Two-Face stories before. It's that it was a remarkably adult execution of one of the old childish gimmicks of comics.

Among other names, Batman is "The Darknight Detective." During the lighter periods of his run he was often reduced to little more than a costumed whodunnit. The enjoyment in the comic came from following the clues with Batman and then watching him use a gadget or two to capture the guy in the end. The Riddler was really popular during this time because of well, the riddles. The Joker lost his manical edge and started leaving joke clues much like the Riddler left riddles. And Two-Face came to the fore because all his crimes were based somehow on "two's" The idea was to read through the story looking for the two's.

That particular book, Batman Annual #14, 1990, contained more hidden two's than any I had ever read, but, unlike the books of old, you had to be an actual adult to find them, and they were set in a story that had some actual complexity and character development. I learned to like Two-Face from that book, that is until Tommy Lee Jones butchered the character in that movie-thing.

Batman is never so good as when his opponents are certifiable, because it emphasizes how close to the edge Batman plays it personally. Two-Face is as nuts and as homicidal as the Joker, but unlike the Joker who I really do wish Batman would just go ahead and kill, Two-Face is very sympathetic. His dual personality has a very, very good side that you want to win the day.

The idea behind Two-Face is straightforward. Star prosecutor gets attacked with acid, causig horrible disfiguration on one-half his body. Possessed with a bit two much ego, his horrible appearance makes him nuts. In response, he takes a coin and mars one side. When confronted with a decision, he flips the coin to decide whether his good or his bad aspects well make the decision. It's amazing how many times the marred side of that coin comes up, and startling when the clean one does.

This has the very interesting consequence of having this homocidal maniac occassionally helping Bats - sometimes even turning himself in. Two-Face has been an ally on more than one occassion to the Caped Crusader, as he was before his accident. Some times you just can't help liking the guy.

I really view Two-Face in juxtaposition to the Joker, who we will look at in a few weeks in this series on the villains. The Joker is the personification of irredeemable evil. So far gone, he delights in homocide, and relishes evil in all it's forms.

Two-Face, when his bad side prevails, has equal delight and relish, but then there is that good side. The difference, Two-Face is redeemable evil. Some how, you want Harvey Dent (Two-Face's real name) to be captured thrown into Arkham Asylum (Where all of Bat's nemisis' go) and to be treated and cured. Joker on the other hand makes you wish for the death penalty and the absence of an insanity plea.

It is his utter evil, yet redeemable character that makes Two-Face one of my favorite villians of all time. There is room to explore the themes of evil and redemption like no other character.

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Friday, May 05, 2006


Sin - I Think He Gets It

Adrain Warnock quotes Ligon Duncan on sin and comments
Sin ruins our lives and leaves us a shadow of what God intends us to be. Sin kills. Sin offends God to the point where He cannot bear to look upon it. Sin threatens the very moral fabric of the universe. The seriousness of sin meant that the most loving being in the universe sent His only Son to die a cruel death. That's how serious and ugly the smallest sin is!
We do sin such short shrift these days because we think people don't want to hear about it. I must admit that is a tendency I just don't understand.

Adrian is right about how very serious, dark and ugly the consequences of sin are, but what is truly astounding is that the more we understand that the better the gospel looks. Every time I learn a little more about how truly ugly I am, I learn a little more about how truly wonderful God is for loving me to begin with.

This, of course, does not mean we wallow in sin, but it does mean we need to be honest and straighforward about it. If we are not, we offer a very tepid gospel indeed.

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Frankly Sir, I Think It's A Cluster Link

Because he lacks a pair.

Smackdown? Jollyblogger -- iMonk Points of disagreement so fine you need a gnat's micrometer to tell the difference.

It'll take more than healed wounds - I'm thinking cybernetic replacements. He can start with his Chief of Staff.

Perhaps they should put it outside Kennedy's office? - Plenty of wind there.

Speaking of wind...

Speaking of Kennedy - Deja Vu al over again?

Oh my God, It's going galactic!

Ugly picture. Not too late to turne it around just yet, but way too close to reality for my comfort.


Putin as the Sicilian in The Princess Bride. - Inconceivable!

It's just so hard...NOT!

Yet another ugly picture.

See - We're good and incredibly useful.

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I Lost My Office Assistant Yesterday

She was 20 years old and in renal failure, so we....

She belonged to my wife before we married and decided I was the guy for her owner on the first date (It took my wife a bit longer, wisely). Who knew she'd be with us this long? Who knew I'd miss her plunking her hairy butt down in the middle of my work?

I swore I would never cat blog, but some promises just need to be broken - she really was special.


Friday Humor

A Minneapolis couple decided to go to Florida to thaw out during a particularly icy winter. They planned to stay at the same hotel where they spent their honeymoon 20 years earlier. Because of hectic schedules, it was difficult to coordinate their travel schedules. So, the husband left Minnesota and flew to Florida on Thursday, with his wife flying down the following day.

The husband checked into the hotel. There was a computer in his room, so he decided to send an email to his wife. However, he accidentally left out one letter in her email address, and without realizing his error, sent the email.

Meanwhile, somewhere in Houston, a widow had just returned home from her husband's funeral. He was a minister who was called home to glory following a heart attack. The widow decided to check her email expecting messages from relatives and friends. After reading the first message, she screamed and fainted.

The widow's son rushed into the room, found his mother on the floor, and saw the computer screen which read:
To: My Loving Wife

Subject: I've Arrived

Date: October 16, 2004

I know you're surprised to hear from me. They have computers here now and you are allowed to send emails to your loved ones. I've just arrived and have been checked in. I see that everything has been prepared for your arrival tomorrow. Looking forward to seeing you then! Hope your journey is as uneventful as mine was.

P.S. Sure is freaking hot down here!
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Thursday, May 04, 2006



Last week's radio appearance has birthed a baby. In conjunction with the Hedgehog, we will be examining issues surrounding Mitt Romney's presidential campaign. Particularly issues that may arise from his Mormon faith.

Regular readers here know I am no Mormon, but then I am no Methodist either and I think Bush has worked out OK. My conviction is that Romney should be judged as a candidate on his character and stance on the issues, not his religious affiliation. I am not endorsing him yet by any means, I just want to see him get a fair shake and not be dismissed off-handedly.

The new blog, Article6blog, will be operate primarily off of question asked by the reader - please take a look and ask some questions!


The Myth Of Scarcity In The Church

How many times have you sat in a church meeting and heard, "We just don't have the resources for that"? How many times have you said it? When you hear it, or say it, are your troubled? I am. Consider:
Matt 6:30 - But if God so arrays the grass of the field, which is {alive} today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, {will He} not much more {do so for} you, O men of little faith?

Phil 4:13 - I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

Luke 11:9 - And I say to you, ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you.

John 15:16 - You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask of the Father in My name, He may give to you.
I bet a lot of you have warning flags going up right now, wondering if I am going to go all "name it, claim it." I'm not, more than once I have been down the path with a church that makes a "faith budget" and simply ends up in insurmountable debt. Nope, it's obvious that things are a little more complicated.

But it does seem apparent that if the church is operating in real conformity with the desires of the Lord that scarcity of resources will be the last of our problems So what is that desire of the Lord?
Rom 12:2 - And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
This leaves me with the impression that God's desire for us as individuals and for the church is less about which ministry or how we do ministry and more that we become who He created us to be, "good and acceptable and perfect."

Thus, if we experience scarcity of resources in the church, maybe it's not because we chose the wrong ministry program, maybe its because we chose a ministry program AT ALL instead of chosing to work harder to be God's people. We are not called, necessarily, to do anything, we are called to be transformed, nay recreated. When that is the process we engage in, then I believe we will find scarcity really is a myth.

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Defining Compassion

There are few things I can claim extreme expertise on in this world, but one of them is being fat. As I revealed a while back, it's a serious issue in my life. I was never more than somewhere between and third and a half of this guy but that's still pretty doggone large.

So what's that got to do with compassion? Well, consider my double-sized friend linked above.
Uribe made an impassioned plea for help earlier this year on Mexican television, saying he weighed a more normal 130 kg until aged 22 and did not know what happened to him.
On first review, the compassionate thing to do would appear to be to respond to his plea, give him money and assistance so that he can have bariatric surgery and drop the weight. But when I read that phrase "did not know what happened to him" I'm not so sure that really is the compassionate thing to do. I know exactly what happened to him - dinner happened to him. Lots and lots of dinner, repeatedly over the course of years. Been there, done that - and with God's infinite grace, I have overcome it.

Consider this sad case. Now I watched this show. This guy was in the hospital for care for his obesity and they busted him with a good 200 pounds of nasty groceries hidden around his room that people were bringing to him! He ended up dead.

I am very much a libertarian when it comes to weight. When I was at my biggest I really, really hated people telling me about "my problem." I knew I was huge, ate to maintain that size - it was my decision. I willingly suffered the insurance and other costs associated with being that big. When the costs became too high, in my case becasue my knees hurt so bad ambulation was becoming an issue, I dealt with it. If an individual is willing to pay the price for their obesity then I am all for them, I was and still am - God forbid I should ever get that big again. By the way, all the medical care I have received related to my weight loss, I have paid cash for - thank you Lord!

I guess my real point is this - if this guy is clueless how he got this big, surgery won't help. All he'll do is rip his guts up eating way too much after the surgery. To me this is particularly true given this little goody from the story
Uribe's case puzzles doctors since his cholesterol and blood-sugar levels are normal, despite his extreme obesity.

"His heart works very well. He has some respiratory difficulty because of his obesity, but in strict terms, he's well," said Marco Anibal Rodriguez Vargas, the director of hospitals in the Mexican state of Nuevo Leon.
All of that was true for me too, by the way, it's not that mysterious, some people can handle obesity better than others, there is no equation "obesity=death" here. Another reason for my libertarian views on the issue.

If the man's life is not in imminent danger, it seems to me that compassion would dictate helping him come to terms with his genuine problems, not granting charity for surgery that merely masks them. Otherwise, he could wind up dead from surgical or post-surgical complications, or he could find himself in this same hole some years down the road.

This is true in so many areas of life - we exercise what we think is compassion, but our efforts are mostly designed to make ourselves feel better, they do not really help the person we claim to be helping. We do something because we think compassion dictates it, when nothing may be exactly what is needed, and most truly compassionate.

I really feel sorry for this guy. I'm pretty sure I understand what he is dealing with better than most people, and maybe even better than he does. I feel so sorry for him that I may just let him stew. When it gets bad enough, with God's help, he'll figure a way.

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Filibuster Foolishness. If nothing else, do the Dems not understand what they are brining on themselves when they have the majority at some hopefully extremely distant date? There concern on this shows how very much they have used the courts to rule against the will of the people.

Proposed?! - The Romulans have had it for years.

Well, I'll tell ya Pilgrim - That Jesus, He's a tough hombre.

And they'd be so very, very wrong. It occurs to me that while our faith should inform our politics, we should not let politicians caputre us as just another demographic.

What about 'Forbidden Planet"? -- Solaris - Feh!

Ugh! Speaking of which - fear first, develop later, which means we'll never get anything done.

Not to mention scientific reason.

It's not just a book you know.

Feel very old - at least if you're me.

Take that Canada. Mark Steyn unloads with both barrels.

I want Habbakuk!

Thus devaluing motherhood infinitiely.

Talk about straw men.

Or else we might end up with the Fantastic Four on our hands.

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Illuminated Scripture

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Wednesday, May 03, 2006


The Context Of History

Fred Sanders, writing at Middlebrow, took a look the other day at the Augustine view of history and begins his concluding paragraph this way
But if we take him on his own terms, he has nested human history within such vastly larger structures that he is not unduly impressed by the fall of Rome. Sure, it was an "excellent empire" with a lot of Pax Romana to spare for anybody it wasn?t crushing. But empires come and go, and they?re all the city of man in various guises.
Sanders ultimate point is about allegiance to nation or to the Kingdom of God, but I could not help but consider that point in relation to the "development" of the modern evangelical church. Are we building the city of man in various guises?

I would very much have to answer that it is likely. If the fall of the Roman Empire is just not that significant in the grand context of history, would not things like worship trends or demographic studies be equally, even more so?
John 18:36 - Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting, that I might not be delivered up to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm."

1 Cor 3:19 - For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God. For it is written, "He is the one who catches the wise in their craftiness";
If we are indeed to be in this world, but not of it, should not the church reflect something more rock solid, more unchanging than mere fashion? Should not the church reflect more God's nature as described by an Augustine commentator as "First, beyond all history, and indeed beyond time, is God, existing timelessly."?

Is it just me? I weary of looking for new paradigms and trying to find relevancy. Polls that tell me what people in my neighborhood want forma church cause my eyes to glaze over. I want to find the wonder of the God beyond time and timeless. And then I want to share that wonder with others.

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Continuing To Look Into The Future Of Politics

Monday I started asking questions about the increasing decentralization and deinstitutionalization in our society. The Internet has been a large driver of that.

But, like most things that "cannot be controlled" someone feels like they need to control it. Hedgehog Blog takes a look at efforts to try and rein in the Internet. So far, their efforts are failing, here's hoping it stays that way.

I have been wondering if power always accumulates. Don't you have to accumulate it to use it? Certainly that's been the theory a great deal of human history has been based on.

But generally that accumulation ends up corrupt. Want an example? Since blogging/journalism seems to be leading the way in this regard, consider the case of the NYTimes and leaks, and their utter defiance of law. Worse yet, their presumption that they are somehow above it. What's that old cliche'? - "Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely"

There are a lot ways people have tried to answer this problem. In the US we have done so by placing the power not in the hands of people, but in the hands of institutions. This has worked, but not always.

I googled "accumulation of poltiical power" and interestingly got almost entirely pro-marxists sites. Example
Marx never used the term imperialism, but it remains a key part of any analysis of contemporary global capitalism. The sinews of political power and accumulation that are derivative of capitalism?s birth as a global creature might have twisted and turned, but they continue to connect African societies to a complex, combined, and uneven global political economy which has hardly served the people of Africa favorably.
The irony here is absolutely amazing. Marxism, which empowers the institution of state far more than democracy ever dreamed of, ended up historically completely corrupt - see the USSR - and yet it is supposed to be the answer to the Corruption that accompanies the accumulation of power?

Blogging, with it's myriad checks and balances (other bloggers), has proven to be the best answer to the institutional corruption that is the legacy media. The answer it would appear is not to futher empower some watchdog institution, but to empower everybody. To in fact decentralize power.

But is it really complete decentralization, or is it temporary centralization that automatically disperses once the situation is resolved? At the height of Rathergate, Power Line became the uber-blog. Now, while they are still big, they stand more as a part of the big crowd.

I'm still not sure what all of this says about the future of political parties and politics in this country, but I sure do find it interesting.

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One Link Short Of A Full Load

When I was on Hugh Hewitt's radio show last week we discussed his interview with the head of planning for the JCS. Both John Taylor in an earlier interview and I commented that the guy sounded like he was stuck in a Vietnam mindset. IT'S NOT VIETNAM anymore.

Good, better, best

Not hardly.

Naked play for judicial power. Can you imagine a human being wanting and arguing for the right to make life-or-death decisions? - Not having to, but begging to. Scary, very scary.

Which was likily the idea to begin with - I know it would have been for me.

Art - from the military. Take that all you that think they are brainless killers.

Leading where he has never been before. But then he had a habit of that.

Invite a third world Catholic for breakfast and enjoy the fun.

We need a study for this? I figure it out anew everytime I take a road trip.

They're blowing it - the mere hint of sugestion blows it.

You would think this would prevent this. But then, "healthier" does not necessarily translate in to dental care.

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Tuesday, May 02, 2006


Reformation, Not Revolution

There is so much wrong in Christianity today. Too liberal, too conservative, too political, too big, too small.... This, for example, is just a little too illustrative. (HT: CGO) And Mark Steyn asks one heck of a question when he looks at the state of Europe.
Where is Christianity in all this?
And these are just the most egregious examples of problems I could find in one day.

It is in no way surprising to me that the tag line on George Barna's latest book Revolution is
Worn Out On Church?
This book has been rightly and roundlycriticizedd by two very good bloggers - Jollyblogger and in a whole series of posts by Tod Bolsinger. Both critics; however fail, in my opinion to give due credence to the intensity of conviction and feeling that many, many Christians have when it comes to Barna's diagnosis - if not his cure.

The problem with Barna's book is not in the problems he identifies with the church - it's with the "churchless" solution he attempts to offer. He falls into the great trap of assuming that the last 2000 of history was just wrong - that God has not really acted in history, that His providence has not acted in getting us to this point.

He misses the gospel's grandest theme. Christ suffered physically so that we do not have to. Christ was destroyed in our stead, so that we could be merely remodelled. The church is in oh-so-desperate need of remodelling, nay transformation, but not abandonment. Sure, demolition will be involved, but it will not be wholesale and it will not be foundational, nor fundamental.

What we need is reformation, but not revolution.

This, frankly, is the single key idea when it comes to How To Be A Christian And Still Go To Church. We have a ministry not just out of the church, but to it. We must seek to give the church the grace we do the sinner and seek its transformation asactivelyy as we do the individual's.

Barna's book has really set me to thinking about a lot of topics that Christians who are really committed to God's calling to people and His desire to use the church as a means to achieve that calling. I plan to seriously address some of these in the days, weeks and months to come. Here are just a few of the ideas and topics

And that's just off the top of my head.

I don't think we can afford to be dismissive of Barna's book. It hit a nerve with me - it touched a temptation I fight constantly. I have argued for what he argues at times in my life. The church is broken, we have to fix it.

Cross Posted at How To Be A Christian And Still Go To Church.

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From The Linky Depths

Coverage of Yesterday's Seemingly Communist Inspired Day Of The Ungrateful

Beauty - reflections of the Almighty in our sight.

They don't want to redefine 'marriage' - they want to redefine 'monogamy.'

Hey, look, it's me!

And here I thought "Too Stupid To Live" was just an expression.

I've seen the previews - nothing worse than warped values wrapped up in kiddie cuteness.

The Formula for the one-finger salute.

What I wrote in the post above by somebody smarter.

Offensive perhaps, but 'shocking'? That kind of stuff happens to everybody from time-to-time. (in case you're slow this morning - that's a fart joke)

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The Terrorbuster Saga


Read this story from the beginning at The Terrorbuster Saga Blog

Aeroflot is entirely unremarkable as an airline. Inside the former Soviet Union it's wretched, but internationally it's simply serviceable. Such was this flight on which Carter and Amy found themselves. And as is typical, even in these post-Soviet days, the plane was huge and mostly empty.

The braggadocio that so marked the Soviet Union continues in Russia to this day. They convert large military transports to commercial use, seating 400 when they have 70 passengers. Hey, the state underwrites the fuel so why not?

"We will show the Americans really beeg planes," Carter imagined in an awful fake Russian accent as he and Amy walked around the cavernous interior of the IL-76.

They soon found the completely empty "first-class" compartment. Amy looked around and stared at Carter with a gleam in her eye. Carter had wanted to get her alone to discuss his mission, but Amy obviously had other ideas. He cut her off before the engines got warmed up too much.

"We need to talk about my cover," he said flatly.

"Oh, David," she said in a pout. Then she reached into her back pocket and handed Carter a letter. It was handwritten on White House letter head.

As Carter read, Amy sat down in one of the "comfortable" first class seats and fiddled with her fingernails. The letter was from the President to Amy, and it was written in a familiar tone that suggested an uncle talking to a niece. In the letter, The President told her that Carter worked directly for him, and she must cooperate with him unquestioningly. Cater looked at Amy dumbfounded.

"Remember when I told you I was adopted?" asked Amy


"Well, he's my biological uncle. We just haven't told the world - it's a long story," Then she got up, put her arms around Carter and kissed him, hard.

At that instant all of Carter's questions -- Who were her biological parents? -- Why hadn't they told the world?-- just seemed to disappear. Her kiss, knowing that she knew most everything, allowed him to relax with her for the first time ever. Did he love her after all?

One thing was for sure, this was going to be a whole lot more interesting than he had imagined. He started feeling like James Bond, like he always wanted to feel -- on a clandestine mission, with an attractive woman at his side.

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Monday, May 01, 2006


So Right, And Yet So Wrong

There is no doubt in my mind that one of the greatest problems in Christianity is when we place our religion in front of our faith. That is to say, when we worship the church instead of God. It is all around us. That phenomena is in some sense the genesis for my embryonic book project.

But there is a real danger in holding that observation too tightly - we begin to worship the absence of religion, and forget God as well. Never has that been more apparent to me than when I followed the links here to this post, "Straight, Not Narrow: The Warning Signs of Toxic Religion" which takes he material from this forum. I must admit to be almost completely bumfuzzled when I agree with the spirit of something so much and yet find it headed in such a wrong-headed direction.

They present 8 "warning signs" - I'm just going to pick a few for comment.
A religious spirit places emphasis on doing outward things to show others that God accepts him. We deceive ourselves into believing that we can win God?s approval through a religious dress code, certain spiritual disciplines, particular music styles or even doctrinal positions.
This one isn't too bad, I agree that God's acceptance is of God and not performance based, but consider the boldface emphasis for a minute. The way this is phrased gives the appearance that Christianity is purely about internal things, "feelings and emotions." To the contrary, Christianity will be excessively outwardly expressed, but as a result of internal transformation - if we stop with the internal, we are still do not have all the gospel.
A religious spirit develops traditions and formulas to accomplish spiritual goals. We trust in our liturgies, denominational policies or man-made programs to obtain results that only God alone can give.
Here we find the baby thrown out with the bathwater. Formulas are indeed problematic, but traditions are of extreme value. Wisdom can only be accumulated with age and time, tradition is merely a way to preserve such hard-earned wisdom. It is the height of hubris to think we can know better today than the accumulated wisdom of the ages, whatever we can know today is built on that accumulation, which has come to us as tradition.
A religious spirit rejects progressive revelation and refuses to embrace change. This is why many churches become irrelevant to society. They become so focused on what God did 50 years ago that they become stuck in a time warp - and cannot move forward when the Holy Spirit begins to speak in new ways. When religious groups refuse to shift with God?s new directives, they become "old wineskins" and God must find more flexible vessels that are willing to implement His changes.
There is one heck of a difference between "change" and "progressive revelation." Change can talk about anything from music styles to the color of robes the pastor wears, or does not wear. But revelation - that's the word and will of God. God does not alter His character on a dime - whimsically deciding what was bad yesterday is good today. God is indeed a God of process, but process implies direction, foundation, and an unwavering goal. The idea of "progressive revelation" carries with it the possibility of a moving target and a capricious God - a God more akin to Greek mythology than Abraham, Moses, and Christ.

What is so sad in this, is that my spirit wants to consider those that put this forth as brethren. We share the sense of brokenheartedness at God's church standing so in the way of God Himself. But based on what I have read here, I see them in a place it has taken me a while to work my way out of - the answer lies not in the rejection of the tools God has given us - down that path we simply substitute the new tools and finds ourselves in the same sin. No, the answer lies in the reformation and restoration of the tools time and the Holy Spirit have given us.

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

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This Post In Which I Try To Look Into The Future Of Politics

The world around us is changing rapidly, generally moving towards apparent chaos. (Ah, the Second Law of Thermodynamics may apply to human behavior as well.)

We are in an age of deinstitutionalization and decentralization. Consider blogging. The traditional institutions of information are getting very weak-kneed these days, they will start falling soon. Hugh Hewitt has been the most visible and leading prophet of this trend. But there are a lot of others now too.

George Barna's latest book, Revolution, takes the emerging/home church trend a step further, boldly declaring "millions of believers have moved beyond the established church...and chosen to be the church instead." While this is problematic from a theological standpoint (I'll be blogging extensively about that between this blog and How To Be a Christian And Still Go To Church in the coming weeks and months.) I do think Barna has put his finger on a trend.

Consider the trend to home business and the increase in contract employment and consulting. No longer are we confronted with monolithic businesses, but rather loosely organized networks of individuals and capabilities that make business happen. My own consulting business, originally conceived to provide top-notch environmental health and safety talent on an as-needed basis to businesses that could not afford employees in that area is increasingly getting inquiries from very large publicly-traded corporations that would rather work in this networked fashion.

Which brings me to politics. I attended a lecture by Hugh Hewitt last Thursday. In his presentation Hugh opined that the leading GOP presidential hopefuls and not "party men" in the traditional sense of that word. I wondered if this is reflective of the decentralization of the political party and how that would work.

What is a political party? In a nutshell, it is an organization designed precisely to centralize political will on an issue, or even in general. A bit of pedagogy. Let's say there are a bunch of people in the country that want to see a law passed to turn the sky green. As individuals, they are not going to get very far. But, if they form a political party, now their individual political wills becomes centralized and they can exert far more political force on government.

Then there are the more generalized parties like the GOP or the Dems, while they are issue driven, their real power lies in managing the electoral process that is necessary to bring issues to the fore. But again it is about centralization, about gathering electoral resources. The availability of these resources builds party loyalty which in turn achieves goals in areas a particular candidate might not care about because the party does.

There is real value in this centralization. It is really how candidates and elected official come to be informed about issues that they have no direct interest in. It also provides us, the public with a place to go to raise our specific issues.

But in an age of increasing decentralization will this system survive? Will we find ourselves to begin to look more like a parliamentary government with its many fringe parties and temporary coalitions and alliances? Of course, the constitution prevents some of that, but we could move that way. What role the GOP and the Dem parties in this new world? Will they find themselves more in the role of alliance builder than stance dictator? Will they be reduced to a purely financial role? If so, on what basis will the distribution of resources be decided? WHERE WILL THE POWER END UP? Or will it ever be able to be so centralized again? Without that centralization of power will true chaos emerge?

So many other questions. There is a chicken-and-egg question when it comes to whether philosophy creates the party or the party creates the philosophy. How will unifying political philosophies arise in the future?

And then, for effective representation, decentralization of the political process will demand much higher level of individual participation, or else the perception of class division will be reinforced, with all sorts of potentially problematic results. How to increase this individual participation? Will the decentralization of the information industry aid that?

I find these fascinating questions and I intend to explore them in the future on this blog as time allows. In the meantime, your thoughts and comments?

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Links Get In Your Eyes


Real pollution - crying shame, should be handled much better, but note, the world has not ended.

I should hope so; otherwise and it would have been 'ritualistic assault.'

How about helping the poor stop being the poor?

Honor is due. Then it is due again.

Preach it brother!

I've been wondering who was behind today's nonsense - stuff like this doesn't happen spontaneously. I'm not surprised.

Just ask the X Men.

The Good News

We're devoted, not stupid.

You know Howard, it just depends on the blog. And that, by the way, IS THE POINT!

Conclusion: They're still dead. This joke is brought to you by Chevy Chase and Weekend Update - back when I could still get the jokes.

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Regular readers of this blog know of my fondness for heroes. In comic books they have their heroism thrust upon them by circumstance and they find their bravery somewhat relunctantly - always compelling. But they also are bitten by radioactive spiders or are wealthy beyond comprehension so that in the end, it all works out OK.

Most real life heroes are military or paramilitary, they train and they work until heroism becomes just a job to them. Their stories too are compelling, not so much because of their response to circumstance, but because of their very real sacrifice. Such people deserve much honor, much respect and many thanks.

It is rare, very rare, that we find compelling, real-life stories of heroism where the need for it is thrust upon the heroes and the heroes actions are wholly sacrificial. The stories are not neat, the heroes actions are not pretty, but the heroism itself is of the extreme. For such people there simply is not enough honor, respect, or gratitude.

UNITED 93 is the true story of such people. The bizarre and dare I say cowardly self-censorship our media has participated in regarding the events of that day has prevented these heroes from recieving what honor, respect, and gratitude we can give them - it is an injustice. The movie begins to balance justice's scales once again in that regard.

Please go see it. Despite the horror, your heart will be lifted that such people still live amongst us. TO THEIR FAMILIES AND LOVED ONES - THANK YOU AND GOD BLESS!

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Sunday, April 30, 2006


Thoughts Worth Remembering!

I am preparing to teach Sunday School this morning - The Screwtape Letters, Letters 4-7. Ran across the following quotation from letter 7 which put me in mind of this piece I wrote earlier in the week.
Any small coteries, bound together by some interest which other men dislike or ignore, tends to develop inside itself a hothouse mutual admiration, and towards the outer worlds, a great deal of pride and hatred which is entertained without shame because the 'Cause' is its sponsor and it is thought to be impersonal. Even when the little group exists originally for the enemy?s own purposes, this remains true?.but subordinate factions within her [the church] have often produced admirable results, from the parties of Paul and of Apollos at Corinth down to the High and Low parties in the Church of England.
When we hold some part of Christianity more important that Christ Himself, we do the work of Wormwood and Screwtape.

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Sermons and Lessons


Born and educated in Cambridge, England, Jeremy Taylor soon became famous for his scholarly abilities. He was ordained in 1633 and later became the chaplain to Charles I. This relationship led to his subsequent imprisonment by the Parliamentarians in 1645. He moved to Ireland in 1658 and, after the Restoration, was consecrated bishop of Down and Connor.

He was a vivid, illustrative, prolific writer who left behind enough works to fill fifteen octavo volumes. He wrote the first English narrative of Christ's life as well as a number of devotional and scholarly books. He is best known for his Holy Living and Holy Dying, two practical manuals that guide the reader into a deeper life of sacrifice and humility by drawing on classical as well as Christian writers.

The following selection reveals Taylor's extensive insight into human behavior. He sees with great clarity our inner struggles for recognition, and the many stratagems we employ to get it. His "rules" may sound foreign or offensive to some modern readers who are more at ease with the language of self-esteem, but Taylor's understanding of the importance of humility is a much needed word for us today.


1. A Realistic Opinion of Yourself

The grace of humility is exercised in the following rules.

First, Do not think better of yourself because of any outward circumstance that happens to you. Although you may - because of the gifts that have been bestowed upon you - be better at something than someone else (as one horse runs faster than another), know that it is for the benefit of others, not for yourself.
Remember that you are merely human and that you have nothing in yourself that merits worth except your right choices.

Second, Humility does not consist in criticizing yourself, or wearing ragged clothes, or walking around submissively wherever you go. Humility consists in a realistic opinion of yourself, namely, that you are an unworthy person. Believe this about yourself with the same certainty you believe that you are hungry when you have gone without food.

2. Do Good Things in Secret

Third, When you hold this opinion of yourself, be content that others think the same of you. If you realize that you are not wise, do not be angry if someone else should agree! if you truly hold this opinion of yourself, you should also desire that others hold this opinion as well. You would be a hypocrite to think lowly of yourself, but then expect others to think highly of you.

Fourth, Nurture a love to do good things in secret, concealed from the eyes of others, and therefore not highly esteemed because of them. Be content to go without praise, never being troubled when someone has slighted or undervalued you. Remember, no one can undervalue you if you know that you are unworthy. Once you know that, no amount of contempt from another person will be able to hurt you.

3. Never Be Ashamed

Fifth, Never be ashamed of your birth, of your parents, your occupation, or your present employment, or the lowly status of any of them. When there is an occasion to speak about them to others, do not be shy, but speak readily, with an indifference to how others will regard you. It is said of Primislaus, the first king of Bohemia, that he kept his old work shoes by his side so that he would always remember his humble upbringing.

Sixth, Never say anything, directly or indirectly, that will provoke praise or elicit compliments from others. Do not let your praise be the intended end of what you say. If it so happens that someone speaks well of you in the midst of a conversation, you are not to stop the conversation. Only remember this: do not let praise for yourself be the design of your conversations.

4. Reflect It Back to God

Seventh, When you do receive praise for something you have done, take it indifferently and return it to God. Reflect it back to God, the giver of the gift, the blesser of the action, the aid of the project. Always give God thanks for making you an instrument of his glory for the benefit of others.

Eighth, Make a good name for yourself by being a person of virtue and humility. It is a benefit for others who hear of you to hear good things about you. As a model, they can use your humility to their advantage. But be careful among your own circle of friends, and do not let your good reputation be the object of your gaze. Use it as an instrument to help your neighbor, but do not use it for your own gain. Be like Moses, whose face shined brightly for others to see but did not make it a looking-glass for himself.

5. The Waters of Vanity

Ninth, Do not take pride in any praise given to you. Rejoice in God who gives gifts others can see in you, but let it be mixed with a holy respect, so that this good does not turn into evil. If praise comes, put it to work by letting it serve other ends than yourself. But be cautious and on guard that pride never enters in, thereby rendering your praise a loss.

Tenth, as in the Sixth rule, Do not ask others your faults with the intent or purpose being to have others tell you of your good qualities. Some will speak lowly of themselves in order to make others give an account of their goodness. They are merely fishing for compliments, and yet, it is they who end up swallowing the hook, until by drinking the waters of vanity they swell up and burst.

6. The Devil?s Whispers

Eleventh, When you are slighted by someone, or feel undervalued, do not harbor any secret anger, supposing that you actually deserved praise and that they overlooked your value, or that they neglected to praise you because of their own envy. Do not try to seek out a group of flatterers who will take your side, in whose vain noises and empty praises you may try to keep up your high opinion of yourself.

Twelfth, Do not entertain any of the devil's whispers of pride, such as that of Nebuchadnezzar: "Is not this great Babylon, which I have built for the honor of my name, and the might of my majesty, and the power of my kingdom?"

Some people spend their time dreaming of greatness, envisioning theaters full of people applauding them, imagining themselves giving engaging speeches, fantasizing about having great wealth. All of this is nothing but the fumes of pride, exposing their heart's true wishes. Although there is nothing directly evil in this, it is the offspring of an inner evil and has nothing whatsoever to do with the obtaining of humility.

7. The Desire to Disparage

Thirteenth, Take an active part in the praising of others, entertaining their good with delight. In no way should you give in to the desire to disparage them, or lessen their praise, or make any objection. You should never think that hearing the good report of another in any way lessens your worth.

Fourteenth, Be content when you see or hear that others are doing well in their jobs and with their income, even when you are not. In the same manner, be content when someone else's work is approved and yours is rejected.

8. Focus on the Strengths

Fifteenth, Never compare yourself with others unless it be to advance your impression of them and lower your impression of yourself. St. Paul encouraged us to think more highly of others than we do of ourselves. Thus, it is beneficial to focus on the strengths of those around us in order to see our weaknesses more clearly.

When I look around, I see that one person is more learned than I, another person more frugal, another person more chaste, and yet another person who is more charitable, or perhaps less proud. 1f I am to be humble, I will not overlook their good virtues, or dismiss it, but rather, I will reflect upon them.

The truly humble person will not only look admirably at the strengths of others, but will also look with great forgiveness upon the weaknesses of others. The truly humble person will try to see how the sinful deeds done by others were committed because the person was unenlightened or misled, concluding that if the person had the same benefits and helps that he had, they would not have committed any such evil, but rather, would have done much good.

St. Paul said of himself, "I am the chief of all sinners." This is how we should all view ourselves. But this rule is to be used with caution: do not say it to others, but keep it to yourself. Why? Because the reasons you have for feeling this way (the knowledge of your sins) is not known to others the way it is known to you, and it may make them doubt the praise you give to God for all he has done for you. If you keep these thoughts to yourself, you will be much more able to give God praise and thanks publicly.

9. Virtue Scorns a Lie for Its Cover

Sixteenth, Do not constantly try to excuse all of your mistakes. If you have made a mistake, or an oversight, or an indiscretion, confess it plainly, for virtue scorns a lie for its cover. If you are not guilty (unless it be scandalous), do not be overly concerned to change everyone's opinion about the matter. Learn to bear criticism patiently, knowing the harsh words of an enemy can be a greater motivator than the kind words of a friend.

Seventeenth, Give God thanks for every weakness, fault, and imperfection you have. Accept it as a favor of God, an instrument to resist pride and nurse humility. Remember, if God has chosen to shrink your swelling pride, he has made it that much easier for you to enter in through the narrow way!

10. What Is Most Important to God

Eighteenth, Do not expose others' weaknesses in order to make them feel less able than you. Neither should you think on your superior skill with any delight, or use it to set yourself above another person.

It is told of Cyrus that he would never compete in any sport with his friends in which he knew himself to be superior to them. Instead, he would always compete in sports in which he was less skillful than his opponents. He did not want to prove his superiority by winning, but rather, placed more importance on learning from those who were more skilled while at the same time sharing in the joy of their success.

Nineteenth, Remember that what is most - important to God is that we submit ourselves and all that we have to him. This requires that. We be willing to endure whatever his will brings us, to be content in whatever state we are in, and to be ready for every change.

11. Increased by Exercising

Humility begins as a gift from God, but it is increased as a habit we develop. That is, humility is increased by exercising it. Taken all together, these rules are good helps and instruments for the establishing and increasing of the grace of humility and the decreasing of pride.

12. An Exercise for Increasing the Grace of Humility

Confess your sins often to God and don't think of them as scattered offenses in the course of a long life; a burst of anger here, an act of impatience there. Instead, unite them into one continuous representation of your life. Remember that a person may seem rather good if his faults are scattered over large distances throughout his lifetime; but if his errors and follies are placed next to one another, he will appear to be a vicious and miserable person. Hopefully this exercise, when really applied to your soul, will be useful to you for increasing the grace of humility.

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