Saturday, June 01, 2002

Edifier du weekend-Luke 12:22-31.
Then Jesus said to his disciples: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? "Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.
I'm not too eloquent tonight, but I did take comfort in this today. I've got a lot of questions to answer as I start a new life here in Florida. I'd be much more frustrated if I didn't know God had all those needs taken care of all those things

Florida Musings- This must be blogger dedication, posting from a Gateway store in Lakeland. Got down to Lake Wales today, but my office won't be ready until Monday and the school's computer labs are closed for the weekend. I'll add links later-this beast's not multitasking too well. Another sign of overblogging- read a sign telling drivers to move over for stoopid public safety vehicles. No, try stopped. Started out at 4:45AM Friday, finishing the day an hour north of Atlanta. I tend to listen to the radio rather than my CDs, so I can get local news and traffic reports, but this was going straight through Country country. By the time I got to Florida, I must have gone fifteen rounds with Ten Rounds with Jose Cuervo. A small praise for globalization (or something close to it)-a nice Pizza Hunt in the middle-of-nowhere in southern Kentucky. The waitstaff had drawls so thick, you could cut them. There was a very nasty accident north of Knoxville that stopped traffic for almost an hour. It was the Albert Gore Sr. (That's the ex-VP's dad-everybody grab the barf bag) Highway, and there might have been quite a bit of gore there. A truck looked like it has skidded from the southbound line across the median to the northbound lane, totaling the cab. One oldie I heard this morning described the Red Wings-Avs game; the Brothers Johnson's Stomp. 7-0! The Avs almost brokeup the shutout, but the goal was ruled to be kicked in. While the play was being reviewed, the Joe Louis PA was playing the Police's Roxanne. I thought it was an oddly somber choice, but I caught the refrain-"you don't have to put on the red light" and LOLed. Minor upset-Senegal knocked off France in the World Cup yesterday. Do I feel any pity for the French? Yes, but it takes very well-calibrated sensors to detect it. The Nets are in the finals. Jason Kidd averaged a tripple-double for the Boston series. Good to see a team no one expected to do this well get to the finals. At least I have the Kings-Lakers game tomorrow night to keep me busy.

Thursday, May 30, 2002

Palestinian funnies-Don't have any links to the cartoons, but Dad shared a few howlers from Zola Levitt's newletter. (1) Yasser as a crying crocodile-"Thank you, Mr. Arafat, for that sincere expression of grief over these acts of terror." (2) Saudi Ed Bin Mahon visiting couple. "Hi, you're the lucky winners of the Palestinian Parents of Suicide Bombers Sweepstakes." (3) Young autoboomer at Pearly Gates-"What am I going to do with 72 virgins? I'm only 10 years old." (4) Saddam handing young autoboomer (plastique belt on) a check-" Here's $25K, kid. Go blow it all in one place." (5) Palestinian recruiting office-"You must be this tall to be a suicide bomber"- The bar's at about 2' 9". (6) "Mommy, Pleeeez!! I need the Suicide Bomber Maryr Barbie! She's got Glitter Blast Action." (7) Yasser at the grave of Israel-"Arafat's vision of a peaceful coexistence."

Moving Day- This might be the last post 'til Saturday. I'm just about to pack my computer for the trip to Florida tomorrow, although I might bum my Dad's for a post or two later (no guarantees). I'm slated to be down in Florida mid-afternoon Saturday and will likely resume posting then. However, until I get an apartment and a Internet connection, I'm likely blogging from whatever office I wind up using. They're in a mid-summer transition and I may wind up borrowing an office until things shake out. The weird part is that blogging and related reading has become my pastime when I'm not with Eileen. With Eileen still up in Michigan until we get married, I'm going to have a lot of free time the next four weeks when I'm not teaching or apartment hunting/furnishing .

Prime Musings-Kevin Holtsberry has a thoughtful ramble through the recent Ben/Bennett/Instapundit teen sex debate (did I ever get traffic from that, just by commenting in that rhubarb), net etiquette, trolling and unrequited blogging.

The Good Samaritan- We've all heard that phrase so much, we forget the significance of the Samaritan part. The parable in Luke 10 has a priest and a Levite (a member of the priestly clan) walk past the wounded man, but it took a Samaritan to help the man. Samaritan were looked upon as the scum of the earth by good Jews of the era, and yet it was a Samaritan who was doing the helping in Jesus' parable. The supposedly godly people of the Jewish world just walked on by, even going to the other side to avoid contact, but it was the "low-life" that stepped up and helped ABCD (Above and Beyond the Call of Duty). Samaritans weren't really low-lifes. They were proto-Jews, accepting the first five books of the Bible only, but were outcasts to the first-century Jews. The Samaritan woman in John 4 was surprised that Jesus would be willing to talk to her. Jesus came for the low-lifes, too. Give this a thought the next time you want to avoid the person that looks like a punker or a gang-banger. Yes, in a dark alley, you have my permission to give them a wide berth, but ....

Edifier du jour-Luke 10:38-42
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!" "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."
Being busy in the Lord's work is good, but we can focus on the work to the extent that we're igoring Him. Most of us don't have that problem, as we are lazy at church, as the standard line on church work is that 80% of the work's done by 20% of the people. However, we have quite a few Marthas who lose themselves in helping. I was reminded of the motto in the Westminster Confession -"The chief end of man is to worship God and to enjoy Him forever." Mary understood that, Martha didn't.

Wednesday, May 29, 2002

Microsoft and Monopoly- I'm belatedly answering a shout-out from Spudlet Marc Velazquez on the issue. Microsoft has earned its billions by providing us a good universal OS standard. It's not perfect, although I've heard good things about XP being an improvement over 98. Microsoft has a near-monopoly on the OS market. The Mac OS can only be bought on Apple machines (they did license it for a while but Jobs shot that down when he came back), Unix is useful only on the high-end workstation/server market and Linux is not-quite ready for consumer prime-time. Thus, if your company name isn't Apple and you're building mass-market computers, you're giving Gates and crew their pound of flesh. That is an earned "monopoly" and isn't something that the Justice department should be regulating. However, where M$ (as Marc puts it) goes astray is when it tries to tie a non-OS product to Windows. It cost Netscape billions by giving IE away free and forcing computer-makers to have IE as the default browser. That was, IMHO, a clear breach of anti-trust law. Microsoft has used its OS monopoly power to force other software into the market. Microsoft hasn't "controlled the Internet" to this point. The existence of Netscape and smaller browsers such as Opera will keep IE on its toes. If IE started to direct things too much in a Microsoft direction, people would start to defect to other browsers. Netscape may have lost users when it started to be too AOL-centric. At this point, I don't see stepping in to regulate IE in and of itself. Marc's worried about IE being compatible with other OSes, but the existence of Netscape and others will keep IE honest and force them to work with the other OSes. Having largely rendered Word Perfect and Lotus moot, MS Office needs some competition. I haven't seen Star Office yet, but if it is MSO-compatible in that you can read a Word document on Star Office and save a Star Office file in Word format, then Microsoft may have to lower their price to compete. I remember Lotus being the undisputed king of the spreadsheet in the mid-80s until Quatro started to eat at market share with a knockoff version of 1-2-3, copying the style of 1-2-3 but with different code. The Supremes ruled that you can copy functionality and look if you use different code. Once it was show that 1-2-3 could be challenged, MS moved in and took over. Larry Ellison's mission appears to be to preside over Microsoft's funeral, and StarOffice might be a small step in that direction. Ellison one of the few people that's more ruthless than Gates when it comes to getting what he wants. Ellison's push for national ID cards make Gates look saintly by comparison. A Sun-Microsoft tussle reminds me of the Iran-Iraq war of the 80s; we don't have a dog in the fight and if it weren't for our humanitarian instincts, we'd hope that they bomb each other into the ground.

Let's Make it a Two-Day Trip-I'm heading down to Florida first thing Friday; my teaching job starts Tuesday night and I'm planning to be down in Lake Wales by dinnertime Saturday. It's about 1300 miles from Midland to Lake Wales. Averaging 65MPH (I'm not a speed-demon) would make it a 20 hour drive. The part of me that's a gonzo cheapskate is saying "Twenty hours? Get up at six, be down there by 2AM. It's doable." I've done stoopider things before, like a 29-hour solo non-stop from Midland to San Antonio. The cheapskate part is being put to bed by college-professor salary awaiting; a hotel room tab isn't as painful as it was when I was making closer to minimum wage. The gonzo part is being tempered by maturity and an impending marriage. Gonzo just got put to bed just now; the Red Wings won game 6 tonight, 2-0. Game seven is at seven Friday night. Both NBA game sixes are on Friday night. Mature sanity and sports fandom combine to have me drive until 6:30 and find a motel with ESPN.

Advancing the Kingdom-Just caught Jeffery Collins take on my political coalition post of yesterday. Collins makes the good point "Maybe instead of spending so much time worrying about politics, we should be focusing more of that energy on converting more Christians." The trick is to be able to strive for a healthy amount of political awareness in our walk. I'm biased in that I'm a bit of a political junkie and tend to talk about such things more than I probably should. An improved governmental climate can be useful in expanding the spiritual Kingdom, which is (remember) our first priority. Building a culture that doesn't look down its nose at faith chastity and fidelity should help bring more people to Christ by making the alternatives look less attractive. Changing laws that encourage single parenting and changing the moral climate of our schooling either by vouchers or by making the public schools a bit less PC will help as well. That fight may require that we make common political cause with people who share our moral values but not our spiritual values. A Mormon and I will have little agreement on spiritual matters, but may agree on abortion and school choice. I think if we're given the choice of spending an evening serving the poor at a homeless shelter or spending an evening at a Republican party meeting, the former would be more likely to be expanding the Kingdom. We need some godly people going into politics, but Jesus didn't say in Matthew 25 "I ran for office, and you passed out literature." It's easier and more fashionable among us intellectuals to talk rather than do, and I'm guilty as charged. Politics is more talk than action, and we can verge on being like the person James bashes here
If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
I'm not sure how God wants to use me when I get to Florida, but I'm feeling convicted (not guilty as much as moved) to do more than go to church and Bible studies, so I can talk the talk and do some walking as well.

The Name Game-Eve Tushnet has been on a name riff as of late, and was gutsy enough to mention the topic of black first names, which get very creative. Eve states "I know Latrease/Latrice/Latrysse and Shaniqua/Shineequea/Chanika are six kinds of pain in the neck to spell, they're really pretty." Working at an inner-city hospital until recently, I saw quite a few of those names. Sometimes you can see names that evoke an era. A girl name Kizzy is a lock to be in her early 20s, as someone's mom was inspired by Kunta Kinte's daughter in Roots. The young lady named Tenille was of course pushing thirty; oooh, she's just old enough to be an army captain. I'd often play the game of see the name, guess the age, and too often be disgustingly on-target. However, many of the baby names were truly creative. The boys' names weren't as fetching, often sounding like Narn extras from Babylon 5, but many of the girls' name fit that pretty-but-unspellable label. Type it in. Double check, since spelling is a stochastic creature in this realm. Think to oneself, "What was Momma on that day?" I use to tell the joke-"You know you've been here too long when the baby names start making sense."

The Check-Out Lane While I was grabbing a link to Alistair Cooke for the last post, I found a nice essay he did last week on the Cato Institute and late British libertarian Peter Bauer. Patrick Ruffini has a nice take on a Paul O'Neil dressing-down of Bono on their African tour. Chris Johnson gives the Eye-Ranians a whuppin' in this keeper. Dr. Woodlief comes to the defence of Veggie Tales gender inequity. This is a good in-depth think piece from Microcontent News on the News Media Ecosystem. If you haven't been checking Martin Roth's blog out lately, move it up on your bookmark list. The addition of Bene Diction has made this dynamic duo a good read- the last two links came from them. I'd enjoy it even if Mr. Diction wasn't linking to my stuff a lot lately.

Labour's New Darling-The British just got a new Transport Minister named Alistair Darling, replacing Stephen Byers, who is a case study of how not to do damage control. Bad pun alert-I'm picturing a PBS fundraiser of the 70s, where a liberal doyen gushes "Alistair, darling, I just love Masterpiece Theater."

Edifier du jour-Luke 9:49-50
"Master," said John, "we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us." "Do not stop him," Jesus said, "for whoever is not against you is for you."
There are two sides in our spiritual battle, the Devil’s side and the Lord’s side. There is no DMZ. There are no non-aligned nations. UN-sponsored cease-fire negotiations will not work. We don’t have uniforms or friend-or-foe transponders, so we need to look at people to see who their spiritual enemies are. If they are driving out demons, that is a sign that they are on our side, since that power comes from God alone. If they are preaching the Gospel and proclaim Christ as Lord and Savior, and are showing the fruit of the Spirit, there’s a good chance that they are our allies. A healthy discussion hashing out the fine points of theology amongst ourselves is good, but we need to remember who the real enemy is. I’m going to disagree with my Reformed brethren on the gifts of the Spirit and have a number of nit-picks with my Catholic friends. While we do so, let’s keep in mind Paul’s charge to the Ephesians
Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit--just as you were called to one hope when you were called-- one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
While iron does sharpen iron, we do need to remember to major on the majors and remember Who we serve and who we're against.

Tuesday, May 28, 2002

Useful Idiots-Not!-I'll jump into the second part of the response to yesterday's David Heddle piece on whether evangelicals are being used by Secular Conservatives. While I was out having dinner with Rose and Eileen, Kevin Holtsberry springboarded off of my first post
William F. Buckley is a man of faith - not an evangelical for sure - and to cast him aside as a "secular conservative" is a bit strong.
Preach it, Brother Kev! Had Eileen not come in as I was finishing my first post, I'd have said something doggone close to that. Buckley's a faithful Catholic; he and a lot of excellent Catholic bloggers (and non-bloggers) are fellow travelers in our political fight. Buckley and I will part company on drug legalization, but it's a 60-40 argument, where I think the benefits of the drug war outweigh the costs, but not by much. If Buckley sees it 45-55, I'm not getting too hot and bothered over it. Other than that, Buckley is a fairly standard conservative. If Dr. Heddle can point out a few other positions where Buckley disagrees with a standard conservative evangelical political platform, he'd have a better case. Jonah Goldberg's someone who comes close to the definition of a Secular Conservative at first glance as a cheeky Reformed Jew who likes Star Trek and B movies with lots of cleavage. However, if you get past the Overaged Frat Boy persona, you'll see a fairly standard conservative as well. He's definitely not an evangelical, either, but has a healthy respect for us. As with WFB, I don't see Jonah and I having any significant policy differences. A quick search shows that I've criticized him as being overly interventionist and for frequently going for the easy caricature, but I can't remember any times offhand where I've disagreed with him on policy other than on this Ledeen Doctrine piece. I'm not the least bit comfortable with Dr. Heddle's use of "useful idiots." That was most famously used by Lenin to describe the clueless leftists in the West who supported him, not understanding what he was up to. The analogy of the National Review crew being some sort of Papist Bolsheviks doesn't quite add up, unless he's trying to equate the evangelical community supporting the non-evangelical conservatives as analogous to the Chompskite left cluelessly covering for socialism. That would also assume that our Papist Bolsheviks had an anti-evangelical platform that we are not seeing. We might not agree with Buckley and Goldberg on theological issues, but we seem to be on the same page with them on the vast majority of political issues. If we had a proportional-representation system, we would have at least one evangelical party running on a conservative platform, and we could elect people that agreed with us. However, the first-past-the-post system requires a plurality of voters, and such an evangelical party would be lucky to get 25% of the vote. We need conservative Catholics, Jews, Mormons and mainline Protestants to get us within striking distance of a plurality. We might not agree on theology, but if we agree on politics, we can be political allies. However, such a coalition of moral conservatives will only get us to about 35-40%. We need to add to that to get up to 50%. We need to convince libertarians that our prudish dynamism is better than the liberal's permissive statism. We need to educate the moderate swing voters that our philosophy is better than that of the liberals. We're not going to be too happy with these people in the coalition, but we need them to get over the top. Getting them on board without compromising key principals is the key. Is Secular Conservative a pseudonym for small-l libertarian? If not, what are a few examples of this breed?

9/11-Judgement or Persecution?-David Heddle had an interesting post yesterday. He started by printing a prayer of national repentance that Lincoln gave during the Civil War. Later on, Heddle harkened back to a post he had made two weeks ago, where he blasted William Buckley for blasting Falwell and Robertson for their statements on 9/11 being due to God's judgement on the US. Here's the second part of yesterday's piece
It also reminds me of something I wrote about in an earlier post. Secular conservatives (and the Republican Party) enjoy our support for their causes, yet they not only denied Lincoln’s arguments, when applied to 9/11, they treated such views with contempt. Since 9/11 I now read Buckley, Goldberg and their minions with a great deal of suspicion. I personally believe that they look at evangelicals as “useful idiots.”
There are two related topics here, whether the National Review is a home of Secular Conservatives and their attitudes towards evangelicals and whether God was judging America on 9/11. I'm going to tackle the second question here, and address William and Jonah later. I think we were attacked in roughly equal parts for the things we were doing right and the things we were doing wrong. Would Osama like us better if the US were run on an evangelical platform? I don't think so. It's true that devout Muslims dislike American decadence, our free sexuality, our tolerance of drugs and alcohol and our general lack of respect for authority. To sum up, they hate the west's libertine/libertarian nature, and they're right in doing so. However, that isn't the only beef they have with us. They have a geopolitical beef, as we've helped prop up some lame monarchies in the Middle East as long as they kept the oil flowing and treated the oil companies OK. The don't like us for supporting Israel. However, that isn't all of our beef. If Jews were eradicated from the face of the earth and the Caliphate was restored, would al Qaeda stop hating us? No, they would not. They don't like Western democracy, because it isn't Islamic. Until every knee bows to their version of Allah, their job isn't done. Our immorality and support of the Saudi royalty and of Israel may give them more ammunition, but they hate us for supporting democracy, free speech, free markets and freedom of religion that run counter to their vision of a centralized theocracy. I think that those goals listed above are what American foreign policy, in a flawed fashion, is trying to maximize and what Islamists want to stop. We are better targets due to our sinful decadence, but we would only be buying a small amount of time before they would be attacking us for what we are doing right. Sometimes the just are attacked because they are doing the right thing. Not all affliction is due to God's judgement. I think that 9/11 was equal parts persecution and judgement. [Rephrase- Equal parts being attacked for doing the right things and for doing the wrong things] An issue that lurks just beneath the surface here is collective guilt, that we are being judged as a nation, not just as individuals. It runs counter to our modern individualist nature that we are collectively responsible for things; we recoil when genocidal thoughts creep up, wanting to punish whole countries for the sins of their leaders. I think Buckley was right to question some of the supercharged rhetoric of Robertson over the years, as he chalks up any tragedy befalling a less-than-godly entity as being a judgement from God. Robertson seems to overdo the "See, God got 'em for that" rhetoric, but Buckley and others may tend to discount the possibility that God will be less likely to intervene to stop tragedy if we are ungodly. [Update 9:30- Kevin Holtsberry's chimed in. I agree with Kevin and WFB that it's presumptuous to say what things God caused and what things He simple allowed to happen; it plays back into the free-will debate and has no clean answer. I'm struggling to figure out what God had in mind when 9/11 happened, and I'm closer to the Kevin-WFB response than I am the Robertson-Falwell school. However, I don't want to blow off the possibility that God can actively judge peoples.]

God Loves Spotty Herberts, Too-.If we hadn’t covered Matthew 25 in the sermon Sunday, I might of let this one slide. War Now! lets loose with this fundi-bashing broadside before complementing a evangelical writer
Now a while back I remember making fun of street preachers. That's because there's a certain type of spotty Herbert who insists on shouting "Jesus loves you!" in the street, when in fact you know with one glance that Jesus wouldn't be seen dead with [a-holes] like that.
As best I can tell, "spotty Herbert" is a Britishism for loser/doofus. OK, boys and girls, lets go grab Matthew 25:31-46
"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.' "Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.' "They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?' "He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.' "Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."
Jesus came for exactly those spotty Herberts. Our human nature wants to shun the low-life and the clueless, but Jesus sought out the losers of his day, the lepers and sinners. Not helping out the poor and imprisoned is a sign of lacking godly compassion. I was moved yesterday when I read through Jesus' message to John the Baptist in Luke 7:22-23.
Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me."
Preaching to the poor, to the loser, was a sign of the Messiah's arrival that shared the same rhetorical stage as healing miracles. God loves even the a-holes of the world, sir.

That Was Fast, Jean-The story of Canadian defence minister Art Eggleton giving a former girlfreind a consulting contract hit the papers on Saturday and he was shown the door the next day.

How to Ban Intimidation-The Supreme Court's getting to hear a Virginia case on whether the state can outlaw burning a cross to intimidate someone. This will be an interesting case. The Supreme Court may have to shoot it down for drawing it too narrowly to include a particular symbol (burning a cross) that applies to Klan types while leaving other threatening actions untouched. Threatening speech and actions is criminally actionable. It's the implied threat of harm to the people viewing the message that is the criminal act, not the "speech" itself. The state may have to broaden the statute to make it a broader anti-intimidation law that would cover other terrorizing groups. Broadening the law could also lead to abuses of the law to silence political protest, as one side could label rough political discourse intimidation, as a lot of campus speech codes have essentially tried to do. It's easy to ban cross burning. It's hard to craft a law that will cover cross burning and cover other terroristic intimidation without being so vague as to stifle all vigorous discourse. We may be forced to do it the hard way.

God's Not a Conservative -I was supposed to be reading Luke 8 today in my devotional and would up clicking on Mark 8 by mistake and got a good message anyway. Looking at Luke 8 finds Jesus driving the demons out of Legion and sending them into the pigs, who then jumped off a cliff in the first reported case of soo-eee-cide. Verses 34-37 are interesting, as the locals deal with the magnitude of what had just happened.
When those tending the pigs saw what had happened, they ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus' feet, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people how the demon-possessed man had been cured. Then all the people of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were overcome with fear. So he got into the boat and left.
When God does make a move, it isn't always going to be in the best interest of the powers that be. He isn't always going to be in favor of the status quo. He will tip apple-carts. He will question the Pharisees who are more interested in the letter of the law than the spirit of the law. He will clean the money-changers out of the temple. He may require people to rethink they way they live their lives. His actions aren't always pretty. When God wants to change things, the people who like the status quo may not be happy. They often aren't interested in change, and will fight it. Traditionalists will have to look at whether their structures they have created are of God or of man and to be open to changing those that are not of God and can be improved. We also have to be willing to change how we do things if God desires a change. This isn't a blanket indictment of tradition, for much of what the church does is good and biblically sound, but we need to look at how we do things and to critically ask whether this is the way God wants us to do things. [Update 11:30PM-Louder's chimed in-go thou and readeth. "God's not a Status-Quoian" would be more accurate but a lot less catchy. Yes, the trick is to figure out what to keep and what not to keep. The Roman Centurion's en fuego in his closer-
In all the ways that count, God is a conservative: Though He is ready and willing, when necessary, to overturn things, He is steady in His principles. He is unchanging Love and Justice and Right. His Rules are never altered. Goodness is always conserved. That is the goal of any true conservatism, even if such conservation of the good may in fact require undoing the status quo.

Edifier du jour-Mark 8:31-38
He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. "Get behind me, Satan!" he said. "You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men." Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels."
Peter just got done proclaiming Jesus as the Messiah in verse 29 and yet proceeds to second-guess Jesus. This is the guy who would lead the disciples, the rock He'd build His church on, but he got it wrong here. Jesus let it be know where that Monday-morning quarterbacking of God comes from. Not everything in the Bible makes sence to me. I'm still getting a handle on how the the first few chapters of Genesis meshes with what modern science is saying. My egalitarian streak bristles against some of Paul's teaching against women. However, I know that people who take the Bible at face value look to be closer to God and are showing more of the fruit of the Spirit than those who take the Bible on an a-la-carte basis. We're supposed to have faith that God knows more that we do and to take Him at His word. Jesus asks us to take pride (the antithesis of shame) in Him and His words. It looks like a good percentage play to me.

One More Euroweenie Centralization- Earlier today, the European Court of Human Rights shot down the ability of the British Home Secretary to overrule a parole board decision. One more example of the lack of federalism in the EU. The ECHR isn't part of the EU but EU members are required to be members. The blogfire's been light from our British blog buddies on this one. Airstrip One chimed in "For those of us who believe in the death penalty this will be good news (life can't mean life)." I'm not sure I like where that is going. I'm hearing "Kill the [bleep] before some stoopid judge can spring him." As much as I don't like uppity liberal judges, we do need some sort of appellate process to provide safeguards from miscarriages of justices at the trial level. I did read up on the Myra Hindley that Airstrip One mentioned as one possible beneficiary of the ruling; she was a part of a British mass-murder duo from the mid 60s. Having her paroled would be like paroling one of the Manson Family.

Monday, May 27, 2002

Picnic musings-Eileen and I got together with some old friends of mine for a picnic this afternoon. It's an eclectic bunch with Libertarians outnumbering Democrats. Our hostess Lis is actually a capital-L Libertarian, being the party's Midland County Secretary. My reading of a bunch of good Catholic blogs came in handy, as Lis' sister Kate is a faithful Catholic. Like Mark Shea, she's got the spunk of the convert, being raised High-Church Episcopal before marrying a Catholic. After reading multiple horror stories of leftward drift from Catholic bloggers, I wasn't surprised to hear that the churches in the area were primarily liberal. Kate found herself mildly shocked to see the Catholic elementary school near Auburn just east of here not requiring uniforms. "Even Blessed Sacrament [arguably the most liberal of the Midland parishes] has uniforms." I even got to hear the word Tridentine in conversation and was able to explain it to the other non-Catholics [it's the traditional pre-Vatican II Latin Mass]. My friend Alan plugged for a change in the insurance and tax laws to allow for health care purchasing co-ops so that individuals could band together to get better group health insurance rates. Why not allow people to set up the health insurance equivalent of credit unions? Sounds like an essay.

Defecting Blue Dogs?-Found this piece in the Lakeland Ledger looking at voter registration stats in my soon-to-be home of Polk County. It's 45.4% Democratic versus 39.2% Republicans, but I found this tidbit interesting.
During April, 85 Democrats left their party and 53 Republicans left theirs. Of the Democrats, six joined a third party, 23 became independents and 56 became Republicans. Among the Republicans leaving their party, 11 went to third parties, 14 became independents and 28 became Democrats.
That's not a huge number out of a quarter-million registered voters, only moving the party percentages by 0.01%, but it looks like microcosm of the Southern trend of conservative populist Democrats drifting into the GOP.

Pinning the Claudometer-"Pro-Israeli Lobby a Force to Be Reckoned With."

Who, Us?-Musharraf is shocked, shocked that India is accusing Pakastan of helping Kashmiri militants. "I want to tell the world and give the assurance that no infiltration is taking place across the Line of Control" sayeth Pervy. Wait a minute, let's assume for the moment that this is William Jefferson Musharraf and take a second look at that statement. He wants to tell the world they aren't sneaking gunnies across, but that wouldn't be true. If he continues to be in public denial, he may be leading his country into its demise, because neither side seems willing to back down. The fungometer (measuring the likelihood of mushroom clouds) has gone up to 25%. "Let's play subcontinental thermonuclear chicken." "Wouldn't you rather play a nice game of cricket?" "No. Subcontinental thermonuclear chicken." "OK."

Memorial Day-I'm not typically not a big flag-waver, but I'm seeing Memorial Day in a differnt light this year. This is the first Memorial Day since 9/11, so we'll see the firefighters and policemen of New York getting another round of props as well as the standard remembrances of our military dead. I don't remember this heighten a sense of the memorial part of Memorial Day in my lifetime. I'm not that callous a person, but Memorial Day typically meant the unofficial start to summer, cookouts and the Indy 500 more than remembering the dead. I don't have quite that loose a feeling this year President Bush is spending Memorial Day at Normandy. In an era of conflict, where the average American has a more of a sense of being in a state of conflict than any time since World War II, remembering the fallen of D-Day makes a much more fitting photo op than the standard presidential trip to Arlington. I was thinking of Ground Zero today before bopping over to the newspaper sites. I don't have a good idea of what to do with that site. One funny but tacky idea was to build five towers in a row, with the middle one being bigger than the rest, symbolically giving Osama the finger. Given the less-that great economics of such big skyscrapers, I don't think rebuilding the WTC would make economic sense. The defiant emotion of the age says "We'll show them! We'll build an even bigger one!" However, there would be a multi-billion dollar governmental price tag for such wound-salving. Some sort of memorial would be fitting, and it looks like the Noo Yawkers are squabbling over it already.

World Cup Mania-Part III- Who's playing whom? The World Cup grouping announcement show is like the NCAA March Madness bracket announcement (except all 32 teams are know-there are no bubble teams) on steroids, where soccer buffs will see who their country will play and whether they got stuck in the Group of Death. Inevitably there will be one or two of the groups with three good teams in it, and thus one of them will be going home early, given that only two teams will advance. Let's look at who's playing who. My picks to advance are in parentheses.
A (Denmark) (France) Senegal Uruguay
B Paraguay Slovenia (South Africa) (Spain)
C (Brazil) China (Costa Rica) Turkey
D Poland (Portugal) South Korea (USA)
E (Cameroon) (Germany) Ireland "Saudi" Arabia
F (Argentina) England (Nigeria) Sweeden
G (Croatia) Equador (Italy) Mexico
H (Belgium) Japan Russia (Tunisia)
The US has a fairly weak group, and should make it through to the round of 16. England got dumped into group F, this year's Group of Death, with Nigeria's Super Eagles likely knocking England out early. Irish fans may be out of luck, as they'll likely lose out to the Indomitable Lions (gotta love 'em) of Cameroon for a spot in the next round. CNN's house expert disagrees with me on some of these, thinking that the Guay brothers, Uru and Para, should advance, as could Turkey, Russia and Japan.

World Cup Mania-Part II-Soccer for Dummies- It's a 32-team field. Co-hosts Japan and South Korea got automatic bids, as did defending champ France. The remaining 29 teams got in as part of regional qualifying tournaments. Pros are welcome, so all the stars (unless they're hurt or suspended) are here. The US is in, having tied for second with Mexico in the Concacaf (North/Central America) regional which sends three teams to the World Cup. They break down the teams into eight four-team groups, who play a round-robin series of three games. The top two teams in each group advance to what we tacky Americans would call the Sweet 16 and a single-elimination playoff. Here's a quick list of factiods for sports junkies who'd like to get into this but are soccer-challenged. I'm doing this from memory, so feel free to let me know if the rules have changed without me knowing it. [5/30-Peter Briffa did just that,chiming in with a couple of corrections] Fit to be Tied-Ties are allowed in the round-robin group play. To discourage teams from playing for ties, a win counts three points in the group standings and a tie only one point. OT-In the playoff part, they play a 30-minute sudden-death overtime, although the term "golden-goal" is used rather than "sudden-death." If they get through overtime still tied, they decide it on penalty kicks, where five players from each team get to go mano-a-mano with the goalie; you can expect a 80%-or-so success rate on penalty kicks. If it's tied after five, they trade extra penalty kicks until it's decided. The 1994 men's World Cup final was decided on penalty kicks, ending as Italian superstar Roberto Baggio missed the net entirely to give Brazil the win. You may better remember the bra better than Brazil, as the '99 Women's World Cup came down to penalty kicks as well, with Brandi Chastain netting the winner to get the US past China. Geting Carded-The soccer equivalent of a technical foul is a yellow card, given for flagrant fouls or sufficiently dissing the refs. Like in basketball, two of those get you tossed. The ref will pull out a red card for a second infraction (or an agregious single action) which kicks out the player in question without replacement. The other team is then essentially on a game-long power play, playing 11-on-10. The Replacements-Soccer's like baseball, you can't come back in once you're replaced. This means that soccer players have to have a lot of stamina. Three substitutions are allowed, which are saved for injuries or getting as set of wobbly legs out late in the second half. You might save a old-but-dangerous player to put in the second half to give the team a late lift. The Goalie Host-The goalie can use his hands within the penalty area, the big box surrounding the goal. Any foul within the penalty area results in a penalty kick. The goalie will occasionally punt the ball downfield, but that's a lower-percentage play and he'll more likely pass it out to a nearby teammate. The goalie has a three-step limit while holding it, so he can't run forever with it. The goalie can't catch it if his teammate intentionally kicks it to him (catching deflections is OK). [5/30 Peter Briffa writes that a 3-4 second rule has been instituted-replace the three-step rule] Hands Off-Of course, any non-goalie touching the ball with his hands, deliberately or not, is a foul. A deliberate hand-touch gets you a red card. English soccer fans will scream about this rule, as replays showed that Argentine star Maradona deflected the winning goal of the 1986 World Cup off his hand rather than his head. The refs didn't catch it and Maradona famously denied using his hand, saying it was the "hand of God" that deflected it in. That's sorta the soccer version of the Immaculate Reception (Raiders fans still think Fuqua touched it last, making the catch illegal) Injury Time- The referee keep the official time. So, when the 45 minutes of the stadium clock is up, the half's not over. A few minutes, for injuries and time spent after goals, will remain. The referees may announce an estimate of the injury time (or extra time), thus making this period a two-minute-drill without knowing exactly how much time is left. [5/30 Briffa notes that they now put the exact injury time on the scoreboard] [Eschatological aside-For premillenialists, the impending return of Christ can be described using an injury time analogy. "We know the end of the game is coming real soon, but we don't know exactly how much time is left."] Knowing your boundaries- Like baseball, the lines are inbounds. The ball has to go fully over the line to be out-of-bounds. If a ball goes out of bounds on the side, the team who didn't touch it last gets to throw it in. If the ball goes out of bounds on the endline and the defense touched it last, the offence gets a corner kick, where the offence will be able to center the ball and create a good scoring chance. Everyone holds their breath on a corner kick. The goalie gets a free kick (look ma, no hands) from inside the Goal Box (little box by the goal) if the offence touched it last. Playing the ball-You can make contact with a player with the ball as long as you are going for the ball. If you make contact without coming close to the ball, it can be judged a foul. Tackling from behind is a good recipe for a yellow card. Free Kicks- Fouls allow the other team a free kick. The fouling team has to be ten yards away from the ball. If the foul is close to their goal, the team on defense will often make a wall of a half-dozen or so players at the ten-yard mark between the goal and the kicker, thus making the offence make at least one pass before shooting. If there is a foul inside the penalty box, it results in a penalty kick. Since those are near-automatic, you don't want to foul there.

Edifier du jour- Luke 6:43-45
No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.
When we are wondering whether a particular questionable movement is valid, we need to look at what they are producing. A movement that is truly of Satan will not manifest the Fruit of the Spirit, while one that produces love, joy, faithfullness and kindness is clearly working with God's blessing.

Sunday, May 26, 2002

Wounded Healers- Both Kathy Shaidle and Richard Neuhaus proceeded to trash Henri Nouwen's and his book The Wounded Healer. This is Neuhaus' take towards the end of the First Things piece
Perhaps no book on the priestly life and pastoral care has done more damage than the late Henri Nouwen's The Wounded Healer. In this view, priests become good pastors to the degree that they expose their own wounds to therapy, inviting others to similar disclosure. The teaching of the Church and centuries of spiritual and moral wisdom are judged by whether they inhibit or enhance the therapeutic norm. And so the therapeutic marches on from triumph to triumph.
I haven't read Nouwen, but I've heard quite a few people who have been positively influenced by him. The establishment Catholic take on this seems to have focused on the psychological rather than the spiritual, thus corrupting quite a few people who need to face their sins rather than deal with their inner child or other pop-psych playthings. The thing I have taken away from what other people have said about Nouwen's writing is that we can use the pains of our past to better understand what someone is going through. For instance, I've been able to use my problems with depression as a teen to minister to depressed teens. We may still have to deal with some of the problems we are helping to heal in others. I had the take-away message that we don't have to be perfect in order to minister to people. In fact, the imperfections may allows us to better relate to people.

High Quality Martian H2O-This will get a number of conversations rolling, not to mention a party at Simberg's joint. NASA's Mars Odyssey mission's discovered pockets of ice on the Red Planet. This reopens the issue of going to Mars with manned missions and even, as Glenn Reynolds' piece of this week addresses, possible terraforming of Mars down the line. I'm pleasantly surprised to be on Glenn's side on this one, as I have no moral qualms about remaking Mars to be more habitable for humans. However, I share a lot of Simberg's concern of shooting for a manned mission half-cocked. The manned space program is stuck with the shuttle, which is a quarter-century-old technology. It's going to take us a while to get the kinks out of manned flight, especially long-duration manned flight, to the point where we're ready for a manned mission to Mars. Spending time at the space station looking into the effects of long-term zero-G will be needed. We also need to better understanding how to set up long-term environments without quick restocking from Earth. Setting up a moonbase would be another good step, learning how to live on a low-G environment but with a quick resupply window to correct mistakes without killing people. While we're hacking the problems with long-term travel away from Earth, more unmanned Mars probes can be setting things up, getting more information and even setting up water and oxygen-making plants on Mars to get ready for a manned mission. NASA, do it right and do it a bit slowly.

Uribe Wins in Columbia-No Runoff Needed-Anti-FARC activist Alvaro Uribe looks to have won today's presidential election with 53% of the vote, avoiding a runoff in a four-way race. This could step up the pace of the civil war with the FARC, who have control of the drug trade (and most everything else) in the southern part of the country. The FARC killed Uribe's father two decades ago and have a contract out on him as well. The nasty politics to come will be in the US, as we debate how much to be involved in this civil war. We've been giving Columbia anti-drug money, but it's not allowed to be used to fight the FARC directly per law. Given that the FARC is the drug business in the south, a case can be made to remove that rule and allow US resources to be brought to bear on the FARC. Fears of "another Vietnam" and human rights concerns about rightist anti-FARC goons killing FARC "sympathizers" give the liberals their motives to stop such changes. Those rightist paramilitary groups backed Uribe; that will give the liberals another piece of ammo. Be prepared for a good and ugly fight on the Hill.

Cue Randy Newman-This Fox piece has Little People of America blasting Robert Reich for making fun of his 4'10" frame. 4'10" is the ceiling for LPA membership. When other politicians make fun of their shortcomings (sorry) it's called self-deprecating humor and is generally seen as a positive, that the guy's not too full of himself. Reich has that trait as well, but he's run afoul of the PC police. I like the guy despite his statist tendancies; he'd be a great guest at a cookout.

Another thriller-I only got to see bits and pieces of the Lakers-Kings game this PM, being busy having lots of quality time with Eileen this afternoon. Since we'll be apart for 27 days starting Friday, we're jealous of the time we can have together until then. I saw the score when it was 40-20 Kings at the end of the first quarter, seeing them shooting something like 72% [Update-71.4%] for the first quarter and just kept rolling knocking down threes at the start of the second quarter; we stopped our togetherness to come upstairs (I essentially have a downstairs apartment sans kitchen) and have pizza with my folks who had the game on. I was shaking my head, thinking that the Kings offence was so lethal, it was illegal in 18 states and DC. Fast forward through an hour of so of togetherness, I come up to walk her out to her car, and its 99-97 Kings, 11 seconds left, Lakers have the ball. Chivalry takes a momentary backseat while I watch the final seconds. Kobe misses, Shaq misses, ball bounces out to Horry at the top of the arc-three pointer, 100-99 Lakers, series tied 2-2 ; that lethal offence of the Kings was somehow silenced. It's plays like that the make you stop what your doing and watch the last play of the game.

Submission-Emily Stimpson has a nice post on submission that is very evocative. The word submission has a bad rap in modern English. Just as righteousness has been muted by the prefix self-, submission has been muted by being at the end of "beaten into" or "cowed into." It has become a word of victimization, the antithesis of what a good liberal (especially feminist) is supposed to be. The core of submission is to be a servant, to look after another person's interest before ones own. However, you can be submissive and be very selfish at the same time. If the benefits of being subservient to someone outweigh the benefits of freedom, then it makes sense to be subservient. "Live free or die" doesn't hunt here, as being a well-treated servant of God is better than freedom or death. The worldly and eternal benefits of following God make being a servant of Christ a heck of a lot better than being a free agent on my own. Submitting to God means not doing some things that I used to do. The closer I walk with God, the more I grieve with Him on the sinful things I used to like. However, there are blessings being in His house that far outweigh the few things that I gave up. Thankfully, I was fairly much a straight-arrow before coming to the Lord, so I don't have a Augustinian story of substance abuse and debauchery to have repented from. Even so, there are plenty of clean and fun things to do with the blessing of the Holy Spirit that are much better than bar and bed-hopping. "Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart." God gave us the example of Himself when Jesus came to earth. He was a servant to mankind, washing feet (clearly a servant's job in that day, hence Peter's initial refusal to accept it) and dying on a cross to take the sin of the world upon Himself. If God can become a servant to mankind, who are we to not do likewise as His servants. I riffed on mutual servanthood in marriage a few weeks back out of Ephesians 5:21-27. Check out William Sulik's continuation on my take, too. However, if we back up a verse, we find Paul saying to the church as a whole "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ." We're supposed to look after the best interest of others and allow them to correct us and help us in our time of need. Life in the Body of Christ is that of mutual servanthood. It is most poignantly expressed in marriage, where husband and wife both act as servants to one another. Serving God means serving others. We do this not out of being cowed into submission but of love of God and what He means. Can you do a positive Fisking? I'm going to break down and give amens to Emily's piece
We're willing slaves, an odd combination in the world's eyes.
Unthinking obedience Mental slavery Relinquishing our individuality
We still have our own minds. God designed us as independent, thinking beings, not robots.
Turning a blind eye to the misdeeds of Church leaders
The leaders of the church need to be held accountable. The laity need to speak the truth in love and help correct people where they have fallen. The laity part of the Body, too.
A sign of weakness
Possibly, but I gain strength in the bargain.
Only for women and children
See "submit to one another" from Ephesians 5:20 above.
Something anyone can force upon us
It is freely given, earned by God's love for us.
SUBMISSION IS Freedom to live the fullness of the Catholic life
I'll substitute Christian for Catholic, but being in mutual servanthood with our fellow believers allows for a richer life than being a spiritual lone-ranger that "doesn't need to go to church."
Intellectually assenting to the primary claim of the Church, that She is the one true Church, and praying for the wisdom to understand the claims that our intellect cannot yet grasp
I may botch the translation into an evangelical context, but the Body of Christ, the capital-C Church, has been hacking away at theology for longer than I have and is collectively wiser than I. It the conventional wisdom of the church says X and I think X blows chunks, I need to think long and hard before I tell the church that it is full of it on X.
Recognizing that the depths of divine mystery will never be comprehended by our little human minds
Monday morning quarterbacking God's not the coolest career move. Trust that He's got a reason for things. He's a lot smarter than you are.
Placing total trust in God and His Church to transform us into what we were created to be
I'm a work-in-progress, getting closer to God day by day (I hope). I'm human, I'm weak and prone to sin, but God's still refining me.
Recognizing the human weaknesses of God’s servants and correcting them with strength and in love
Everyone else is a work-in-progress. too. Remember to cut them some slack as you correct and rebuke them in love.
A sign of strength, self-control, and holy humility
One of my dad's favorite phrases is a Dirty Harryism-"A man's got to know his limitations." It's the strong man that knows his weaknesses and asks God to strengthen them. The weak man tries to deny his weaknesses.
Hardest for women and children – there’s a reason God keeps telling us over and over again in scripture that we need to do it
Our American egalitarian nature revolts at the call to be positionally subservient to our parents (and husbands for you wives). However, if we see that as a special case of the subservience we need to pay everyone, it will help ease the egalitarian response.
The freely chosen surrender of self, in love, to Christ
True submission is earned, not taken. God's earned it, and I give it freely. Not without part of my selfish nature wanting to take back the wheel on occasion, but still freely given.
Absolutely necessary to fully partake in the gifts and blessings God longs to give us
If we aren't submitting to his will, we aren't going to be getting the things He longs to give a longing heart. Good job, Emily. Louder Fenn has a good take on her piece as well.

Edifier du jour-Luke 6:27-36
But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' lend to 'sinners,' expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
It's another touchy-feely Sunday (like last week) here in the Byron Catacombs, but the comments on Ben's post of the other day call for another whack at the subject. It isn't easy to love your enemies and to give them their props as a fellow human being, especially if they are dead wrong on a vital subject. It's even harder when they make fun of your beliefs, as the Randroids of the world tend to do on many issues, or compare you to ignorant feces (Let me know when you find a sentient turd). It's a lot easier to take complements like Mark Butterworth's agreeing with last Sunday's Edifier on graceful blogging. It's natural to love your friends and hate your enemies. The trick is to love your enemies while standing true to God in the process. People tend to confuse loving ones enemies with agreeing with ones enemies. Quite a bit of evil of the world has been aided by the misinterpretation of this and other verses, as the liberal temptation is to be overly unsure of ones position (yes, some humility is an order) and that there is common ground to be had in all cases. Moral relativism is the very slick slope where loving the enemy slides into loving the enemy’s ideas. This is a tricky endevour, to go out into the world try to advance the Kingdom of God while being gracious in the process. We have to stand up for the truth and point our evil where it exists, but we need to do so in ways that doesn't stoop to the enemy's level or hurt our cause in the long run. If you are trying to change minds with what you say and do, your rhetoric should be set in such a way as to advance God's kingdom while showing the Fruit of the Spirit. It takes a certain amount of grace to walk away from a pissing match rather than return fire. If takes grace to attack an argument rather than the person making it. It takes wisdom to phrase an argument to correct and persuade rather than to condemn. It takes discernment to seek to redeem a person rather than to humiliate them. These things go against our basic nature and make our arguments a bit less sexy. However, we're here to please God, not man. Sometimes, we can do both, but don't count on it.

Good Morning, Instapundit viewers. This is the first time since I've gotten a hit counter that he's linked to me, and it is an interesting traffic flow. I don't agree with what Mr. Reynolds posted on teen sex, as he largely ignores the physical and moral downside of extramarital sex. It's not the age but the extramarital nature of teen sex that's the problem. That being said, I did come to Mr. Reynolds' defense over at Ben Domenech's site, where the rhetoric went a bit over the top in attacking him, with Ben questioning his fatherhood creds and others doing some name calling at both Reynolds and myself down in the comment section. I agree with Ben's take but his tone needed a little work. I'm uncomfortable playing the good cop here, since I agree with Ben more than I agree with Glenn on the underlying issue. Ben isn't anywhere near the jerk he's coming across here.

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