Saturday, July 07, 2007


We Interrupt This Holiday Break...

...because I have been memed! It seems my buddy Matt over at Mere Orthodoxy wants to know eight things about me. Here are the rules:
  1. Let others know who tagged you.
  2. Players post 8 random facts about themselves.
  3. Those who are tagged should post these rules with their 8 facts.
  4. Players should tag 8 other people and notify them they have been tagged.

And now here are the things

Budding Chemist

My educational path was set for me at an early age, when at six years of age, and completely bored with the safety of commercially available chemistry sets, I looked up the formula for gunpowder and made some. Interestingly, if one does not count fermentation which is as much a biological as a chemical process, gunpowder is historicaly the first chemistry.

Navigational Wizard

I am blessed, and believe me it is a gift, with incredible directional abilities. Once, after not having been to a city for 20 years, I returned and drove directly and unerringly to the house where I had stayed that 20 years earlier - when I was 10! When I moved to LA years ago I would challenge myself on weekends by going somewhere on a planned route and then finding my way home via a different route and without map or other aid. We won't even talk about Scouts. The scoutmaster is still embarrassed.

National Monument

Outside Amarillo, Texas is the Alibates Flint National Monument. This is a flint quarry from which native peoples took flint for tools from all over the Great Plains and the eastern slopes of the Rockies about 1500-1000 years ago. My father was a big part of the effort to have the place designated a National Monument. Hanging on the wall in my living room, in a shadow box, is an original copy of the book of testimonial letters from academics across the nation that was presented to Congress to help achieve the designation. Also in that shadow box are some of the last stone tool fragments legally removed from the site, by yours truly.

John Wayne Rules

OK, this is entirely arbitrary for a list like this, but in my opinion John Wayne is the greatest movie cowboy ever, period, no debate, no competition. I like Clint Eastwood, Audie Murphy, Randolph Scott and the rest, but nobody, and I mean nobody comes close to the Duke.

I Love Ghost Towns

Don't know why, I just think they are cool. From Pripyat outside Chernobyl to Tombstone (which really isn't ghosted at all) to Bodie, CA they are fun and interesting places to visit.

Precocious Christian Reader

I read "The Cost of Discipleship" by Dietrich Bonhoeffer as a freshman in high school, 14 years old. Sadly, my Bible Study leader who had not even heard of it, let alone read it, told me to shut up in Bible Study because I was intimidating the other kids. Somehow with the retrospect of age I think I was embarrassing him.

I Suck At Puzzles

You would think that a guy that minored in mathematics would be good at puzzles, but I am not. I am not sure if the issue is ability or patience since I just tend to walk away from them. I see no point in wasting valuable mental energy on a problem that is created for its own sake. Too many "real" problems to worry about.

My Wife Makes Me A Much Better Person

OK, everybody that knows me knows that, but it bears repeating over and over again!

And now - tag, you are it:

Mark Daniels
Glenn Lucke
The Evangelical Ecologist
John Brown
This Guy
Mitt Romney, or any of the brothers for that matter.

Have fun!

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007


Hot Dogs, Fireworks and Independence!

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Tuesday, July 03, 2007


Sometimes You Have To Choose

Mark Daniels looks at The Maltese Falcon and finds a morality lesson. And Mark is right.
What's intriguing about this is how, from the mouth of a morally complicated character, a guy who routinely uses others and bends the rules to suit himself, Hammett presents the choices each of us must make between what's compelling and attractive on the one hand and what's distasteful and difficult on the other.

It's almost always easier, it really is the path of least resistance, to do the wrong thing. For Spade, it would have been easier and brought him quick gratification to throw in with O'Shaughnessy, who had already warmed his bed, who might soon have wealth beyond his imagining.

But Spade took a longer term view, something we always need to do in our moral reasoning. And by longer term, I'm not referring to the eternal perspective, though that shouldn't be irrelevant. It ought to matter to us that the God Who judges over the lives of us all cares about whether we do right and wrong. But here I'm really thinking of longer term in this life. While Brigid O'Shaughnessy might have provided Spade with momentary pleasures, satisfying the immediate cravings expressed in that haungry look he gave her, he knew that sooner or later, she would turn on him, just as she had Thursby and his partner Miles...and who knows how many others? He knew too that he would become a fugitive for as long as he lived.
The first thing I thought of whenI read that was this post by Joe Carter on how women that have had abortions feel in the aftermath. In it, Joe points out precisely how short a view the women take by their exclusive focus on themselves and the now.

As our culture continues to assail the walls of centuries-old morality, they do so under a claim that the standards are arbitrary. As Mark points out, they are anything but, and the case can be made that they are not arbitrary even outside the context of a religious underpinning. As religious people we fall short of what we are called to do if we rely solely on religious arguments to uphold our moral stances.

For example, genetic tinkering is as old as mankind, it's just that now we do it in the laboratory instead of the bedroom. And we should ask ourselves where has such thought lead us over and over again. Well, the Nazi breeding programs would be the most horrific example, but towards totalitarian domination is the inevitable trend.

That is just a single example of what I am talking about. We need to learn as a society how to lengthen the moral view of our young people. Problem is, those of us with some age aren't much better. We may be more devoted to duty, but our own moral views remain short term. It would therefore be inevitable that the duty would slip in following generations.

Rather than decry the trends, I suggest we start with ourselves. Where have we chosen the easy over the difficult? The feels good over the right? How can we avoid that mistake next time?

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Kitty Kartoons

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Monday, July 02, 2007



MMI recently posted "How to Spot Potential Leaders in Your Church." They list 5 questions that should be asked

I find this fascinating. While these questions do not really contrast this passge:

1 Tim 3:1-12 - It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do. An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, uncontentious, free from the love of money. He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?); and not a new convert, lest he become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. And he must have a good reputation with those outside {the church,} so that he may not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

Deacons likewise must be men of dignity, not double-tongued, or addicted to much wine or fond of sordid gain, but holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. And let these also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons if they are beyond reproach. Women must likewise be dignified, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things. Let deacons be husbands of only one wife, and good managers of their children and their own households.
I find that presenting such questions without even passing reference to this passage disturbing.

I believe the Timothy passage makes clear that the first thing we look for in church leaders is character and maturity. It's true, very true, that the church is in deparate need of leaders. But frankly one of the things that has most hurt the mainline denominations is using leaders that while excellent leaders, were not of the character that Paul tells Timothy should be evident in the leadership of the church at Ephesus.

The other thing fascinating about this approach to leadership is that it is about finding leaders instead of making them. As with any spiritual gift, leadership is somethig the church should be actively encouraging and shaping. And yet, we fail to do so not only in our congregations, but also in our seminaries and other training institutions. We do teach people to manage, but leadership is something quite different indeed.

What little I know about leadership I have had to learn from sources outside the church. I find that truly troubling. Under such circumstances, is it truly surpising that the church has been pulled in directions other than where it should be headed?

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Sunday, July 01, 2007


Sermons and Lessons

This week's sermon is by reference - Mark Daniels on the last words of scripture.

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