Saturday, June 08, 2002

Wild Wild West Bank- There was a shootout at a moble home park in Karmei Tsur, with six Palestinian gunnies and three Israeli settlers, including a pregnant woman, being killed in a series of incidents. Another olive branch from the Religion of Peace. I didn't know they had West Bank moble home parks. Ours get tornados, theirs get Hamasies. "You might be a redneck Jew if ...."

Evening Sports Musings-Just got into my office a few moments ago from an all-day teaching gig in Melbourne, so my first post of the day was just now. No Triple crown winner, as War Emblem finished eighth in the Belmont. Saudi prince Ahmed bin Salman who ponied $900,000 to buy War Emblem three weeks before the Kentucky Derby, will have to go without a triple crown. I heard that factoid on my way to teach this morning and was a bit sicken to think that a Triple Crown could be bought by a rich Saudi dude who bought the horse essentially to be part of the action at this year's Kentucky Derby. The Italians blew a one goal lead (got to catch most of the first have before heading to Melbourne) this morning, losing to Croatia, 2-1. Now three of the four traditional megapowers, Germany, Italy and Argentina, will have to win or tie their last group game to get to the elimination round. The other megapower, Brazil, took care of business today with a 4-0 win over China, all but locking up a spot in the next round. The South Africans got a big win, beating Slovenia, 1-0, which gives them the inside track to a spot in the finals barring a blowout at the hands of Spain Wednesday.

Edifier du jour-Luke 19:28-40
28After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. 29As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, 30"Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 31If anyone asks you, 'Why are you untying it?' tell him, 'The Lord needs it.' " 32Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them. 33As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, "Why are you untying the colt?" 34They replied, "The Lord needs it." 35They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. 36As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road. 37When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:
38"Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!" "Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!"
39Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, "Teacher, rebuke your disciples!" 40"I tell you," he replied, "if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out."
We're a fickle people. The same people who were shouting "Hosanna!" on Sunday were the same ones who were shouting "Crucify him!" on Friday. Many Christians get in trouble by giving the Jews the blame for the crucifixion, but it's mankind at large that is to blame, as out sins required the cross.

Friday, June 07, 2002

Not Quite Clear on the Concept-I must of been the last one to see this piece. Someone in the Beijing Evening News ran as straight news a Onion piece about Congress looking to relocate unless Washington build a new Capital with a retractable dome. Someone didn't get the concept that the Onion is a satire outfit with real-looking stories on fictitious subjects. I'm reminded of President Ford's trip to China during his time in office. Knowing that Ford was a star football player at the University of Michigan, someone thought to greet him with the school fight song. However, someone couldn't tell the difference between the University of Michigan and Michigan State University. Instead of hearing The Victors as he walked off the plane, he was serenaded with the MSU fight song.

Sports Musings- I'm still cableless, so I didn't get to catch last night's Red Wings game. Detroit managed to even the series at 1-1 with a 3-1 win over Carolina. With the number of future hall-of-famers on this Wings' club, anything less than a Stanley Cup will look like they are underachieving. The English fans are happy, all-but-clinching a spot in the World Cup's elimination round, beating Argentina 1-0. Samizadata's Perry de Havilland gives a description of the post-game festivities in London. Nigeria was shown the door, losing to Sweeden. 2-1. Argentina now has to beat Sweeden to get out of the Group of Death in one piece. Spain locked up a spot in the elimination round with a 3-1 win over Paraguay. It's not been a good Cup for the Guay brothers, as Para and Uru are both 0-1-1 so far.

Good unemployment report-The unemployment rate droped to 5.8% in May, down from the 6.0% in April. The number of job seekers remained stable while 41,000 jobs were added based on the Labor department data. The data point liberals and pessimists will point to is the big jump in people unemployed for more than 27 weeks. One thought that had crossed my mind was that we now have extended unemployment insurance due to the passage of HR 3986 in March, which extended coverage out to 39 weeks rather than the old 26 weeks. The increase in the long-term unemployment rate may be due to the large number of people laid off after 9-11 who now have less need to get off of unemployment than previously.

Another Martyr, But No 72 Virgins-There was a shootout at an Abu Sayyaf base where a American missionary couple were being held, as Filipino army troops had found the Islamic guerilla’s hideout. Martin Burnham was killed during the battle; Gracia was rescued alive with a wounded leg. I hadn't blogged on the Burnhams before this; I didn't have anything coherent to say about it. They aren't the first missionaries to be held captive by locals and won't be the last. The US doesn't have the resources to bring back every American kidnapped overseas, let alone all the missionaries. Being a missionary is a potentially dangerous act. People with beefs against the west, the US, or with Christians in general will look at you as a target. Often, we forget in our cozy American existence that other people suffer and die for being followers of Christ even to this day. I can assume that Mr. Burnham is with our Lord this afternoon, joining a long list of martyrs for the faith.

Edifier du Jour-Luke 18:18-30
A certain ruler asked him, "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" "Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good--except God alone. You know the commandments: 'Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.' " "All these I have kept since I was a boy," he said. When Jesus heard this, he said to him, "You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth. Jesus looked at him and said, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." Those who heard this asked, "Who then can be saved?" Jesus replied, "What is impossible with men is possible with God." Peter said to him, "We have left all we had to follow you!" "I tell you the truth," Jesus said to them, "no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life."
I'd been waiting for a good response to Hokie Pundits musing on the godliness of the American Dream, and today's passage did the job. My first though was to come back to John 10:10 (NASB) "I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly." The good things in life aren't bad in and of themselves, but need to be best utilized to advance God's kingdom. We're to be judged based on what we do with what we have. We need to discern what God wants us to keep and what He wants us to give away. It would be easier if we were to have a wealth-striving or poverty-striving goal, but both have their faults. Neither severe poverty nor lavish wealth should be norms. Many people with more Gnostic tendencies will look at worldly things as inherently evil, while the Prosperity Gospel types, like many Calvinists of the past, will look at poverty as a sign of lack of faith. Both are heterodox positions. There are godly rich people and godly poor people. We need to be comfortable in our position yet look to improve ourselves. It's easier said than done, but we should make every financial decision with being stewards of God's money in mind. I'm teaching a personal finance class this fall and will likely be musing a lot about this subject. It would appear that the rich ruler was consumed by his wealth; being impoverished would free him from the burdens of looking after his wealth. Such generosity will be magnified in blessing in the life to come if not in this life.

Unitarians and Nullarians?-Jeffrey Collins wants to know what I would call an atheist unitarian? Idiotarian, of course. I'd like to be a bit more gentle, but it is the fool that says there is no God. If triniarian is looking at God with three persons and unitarians have one person, what do you call an personless-deity, one like the Force in Star Wars. Nullarians? I brought in "binarian" to point out that the Holy Spirit is part the trinity and to get from three-in-one to just one, you have to chuck either the Holy Spirit or the Father as well. Giving it a second thought, much of the new-agey thought has a deity that looks more like the Holy Spirit than the Father.

Thursday, June 06, 2002

Department of Homeland Security-Here's the text of Dubya's speech-I was too busy writing to catch the speech proper. I'm not sure I like the title, but the idea of putting the INS, the Coast Guard and FEMA under one roof is sound. I'd lean more towards domestic rather than homeland, agreeing with the spirit of LadyDusk's sentiments. I'm more of the opinion that the US is as much an idea as a place. If we have colonies on Mars and the moon, they will just as American as Des Moines or Dallas. We transend race and ethnicity, thus the idea of a "homeland" sounds too European. This discomfort with the word has been around conservative cyberspace for a while, so I'm not the first to express it.

The Future of Christian Blogging-Lacy Elwood from Associated Baptist Press sent a nice set of questions about Christian Blogging; she seems to be doing a piece on blogging for FaithWorks magazine.
First off, Do you have a title that our readers might identify you with? (Such as editor, writer, creator of your website)
I’d use “blogger”, but I’d change that to “writer” for a more general audience.
Would you call blogging a trend or craze? How popular do you think it has become?
Right now, I’d call it a trend. It is a good medium for personal journal-ing and will stay with us in some form for the foreseeable future. It may grow in popularity but will likely maintain only a niche audience that is interested in good think pieces from writers who interest them. However, it may be a very important niche audience, one that is likely better educated and more interested in more intellectual endeavors. Not too many people read the major political journals such as the National Review or the New Republic, but they are read by a lot of opinion-shapers that take the ideas out to a broader audience. Blogs may have the same effect on a smaller scale, as something I write might be used as a talking point for a reader across the country. For example, I used a Veritas post in a Bible study last month, thus Chris Burgwald had some influence on a dozen charismatics in Michigan.
What do the majority of Christian blog sites discuss?
I’m not sure where to start, since the definition of a Christian blog is rather loose. Some Christian writers will cover current events, politics and sports and rarely discuss theology, while others focus on more theological issues. I’m somewhere in the middle. For instance, I wrote today about the issue of forgiveness from Luke 17 and Matthew 18, today’s World Cup, pro-life Democrats, universalist theology and the proposed Department of Homeland Security.
How do the editors of Christian blog sites come up with topics?
The news, their own lives, other bloggers and other writers. For instance, two of my post today came from news/sports events, one came from my morning devotional and two came from other bloggers. Some of the best discussions are started by one blogger, who is responded to by other bloggers.
How can blogging be beneficial to Christians as a communication tool?
By helping disseminating ideas amongst the opinion-formers in the churches. On an intellectual level, it helps me keep mentally sharp. Not everyone has theological and intellectual “sparring partners” at the ready where they live; blogging gives me an outlet to talking with smart and godly (or not-so-godly) people around the world. This would be a good outlet for pastors and church leaders who may desire extra theological stimulation. The blogging technology could be used adapted to make bulletin boards, quickly posting information for church groups; members could check on the group blog rather than check their e-mail for updates.
How can Christian blog sites influence our communities and our culture?
If we place well-crafted arguments for Christ in our writing, we will eventually win some people over to Christ, or at least be less hostile to evangelicals. One of the reasons I cover current events and sports is that it will draw non-believers to the site that would ignore it if it were simply a “Christian” site.
What do you see in the future of blogging? in the future of Christian blogging?
I think that blogs will be a continuing feature of cyberspace in some form for the indefinite future. As I mentioned above, they may only be read by a minority, but may collectively be influential. Some of the better bloggers will wind up hooking up with more traditional media outlets, becoming semi-pro in the process. At this point, the commercial success of bloggers is largely limited to existing authors such as Andrew Sullivan and Mickey Kaus who used commercial blogs to become self-supporting free-lance Web writers. Blogging came to maturity after 9/11, as people wanted a place to talk about all the interesting things happening around the world. Christian blogging is about a half-year behind the secular curve; the Blogosphere was predominately secular at the first of the year when I started, with only a handful of evangelical or orthodox Catholic blogs up and running. I’ve seen a crop of good Catholic blogs come up in the late winter of 2002 with the current pedophilia scandals being a trauma point to start many blogs going. This spring has seen a continued growth of numbers of Catholic blogs and an increasing number of good evangelical blogs. Is there the next Charles Colson or James Dobson out there in evangelical blogland, someone who will break out into the larger Christian culture as a theologian/opinion leader? Very possibly, but I’m not about to set odds on whether Amy Welborn or Martin Roth will be household names in 2010
Why do you personally enjoy blogging?
It is intellectually stimulating, giving me an outlet to share things my friends and family may not want to talk about. It’s rewarding to interact with other smart people from around the world. It’s also edifing when I see that some prose that I wrote has touched someone’s heart. I may have a handful of people finding my site by Google accident, but I have about 100 readers who come on a daily basis, more if I get a good link from another blogger.
How do you pick the topics you are going to discuss?
As my motto says, “whatever pulls my chatty-ring.” If I have something coherent to say and feel the urge to say it, I’ll do so. I usually read a few news web sites in the morning, with Fox News, the BBC and the National Post typically being my first three stops, adding the Washington Post if a US political story is in play and regional sites if they are in play. I also read a couple dozen blogs a day, often getting topics from them. I start the day with my “Edifier du jour”, typically out of my morning devotional. I use to just list a verse, but I started to write short essays on a topic in the scripture about a month ago.
How did you get started in blogging and what attracted you to become a blogger?
By stumbling into other blogs late last year. I found Instapundit via one of Glenn Reynolds’ columns in either National Review or Fox News and linked to other bloggers, largely of a libertarian or non-evangelical conservative nature. I had fewer intellectual playmates than I was used to, and blogging gave me an outlet to talk about politics, foreign policy and sports that I was short on in the “real world.”

Cabinet Shuffle's Not That Big-Ari, unless the President's going to tell an hour from now a whole lot more than just setting up a cabinet-level Department of Homeland Security to give teeth to Tom Ridge's job, it doesn't make it "the biggest government restructuring since the Truman administration." It would be more on the level of some of the Carter tinkering, setting up a separate Energy department and splitting HEW in two, creating HHS and Education. If he's equating this to the creation of the modern Defense department, merging the Navy and War departments under one roof, the White House's hyperbole runneth over.

Unitarian Universalists, Upper and Lower Case- David Heddle had a good post on Unitarian Universalists, closing with this interesting paragraph
From my years as a university professor I have a suspicion, with only anecdotal supporting data, that UUs have significant influence at institutes of higher learning. Indeed many of the stories we read (with decreasing incredulousness or rather increasing numbness) about the indoctrination of college students are consistent with a UU influence on campus.
I don’t think the problem is with the UU as a denomination but with universalist theology that has creeped into in many denominations. Modern liberal theology has discounted the issue of sin, preferring to deal with man’s depravity on a psychological rather than a spiritual level. It has also treated Hell as an archaic concept. If sin and Hell aren’t issues, they Jesus going to the cross isn’t important either and the liberal is a step away from buying the universalist concept that everyone will go to Heaven whether they acknowledge Jesus as Lord and Savior or not. If Jesus went to die for non-existent sins to save us from a non-existent Hell, what good is He? Better yet, what God is He? If the cross and the empty tomb are moot points, then the liberal has little reason to go to the mat to defend Jesus’ divinity. Our Lord becomes a role model and our Savior becomes a good teacher. While most liberals don’t want to announce to the world that they have a unitarian (well, it could be binarian, but the Holy Spirit’s largely off the radar for these folks) theology, many have gone there in all but name. For every card-carrying UU on campus, there are dozens of fellow travelers wearing a variety of denominational labels. The people that are openly UU are easier to deal with, since they wear their heterodox label openly. It’s the fellow travelers on campuses, in seminaries and elsewhere in the public square that we have to do battle with.

The Last of the Pro-Life Democrats? Not Quite-Jason Steffans noted the defeat of Robert Casey Jr. and asked "Will he be the last pro-life Democrat to ever seriously contend for a major political office?" I think that there will be pro-life Democrats getting elected to state-wide offices under the right circumstances, especially in the south where a good pro-life Blue Dog could easily get the party nomination. I can think of two unsuccessful cases off the top of my head- Glenn Poshard was a pro-life congressman and the 1998 Democratic nominee for governor in Illinois. I would have likely voted for him if I were in Illinios four years ago. This year, former House Democratic whip David Bonior, a liberal pro-lifer, is running for Governor in Michigan. He's running third due more to relative lack of exposure statewide (running against an ex-governor and the current AG) than to his pro-life stance. The UAW's backing him even if he doesn't pass the NARAL test. A pro-lifer running on a populist little-guy platform could win a Democratic primary. A fire-brand Catholic or Baptist who has solid economic liberal credentials could easily get a Democratic nomination if only the NOW/NARAL crowd were opposing him. Another name that has been mentioned recently in the pro-life Democrat camp was Dennis Kucinich, the Cleveland congressman. He'd have to get over his Dennis the Menace days as a boy-mayor in the late 70s, running Cleveland into default as he fought the populist fight with the banks, but I could see him at minimum winning a statewide primary and possibly winning against a weak GOP nominee.

Goooooalll!-Kevin James goes to town, giving a polite Fisking (an oxymoron?) to Orrin Judd's six points of soccer's anti-conservatism. I've got a soft spot for Cameroon, since a good freind of mine from my KSU days is from Cameroon; Martin taught me a lot about the finer points of soccer during the 1994 Cup. The Indomitable Lions did win this morning, but they only managed to get a 1-0 win over the Saudi entity. That deosn't bode well for them, as they will now need to beat Germany in their final group match or fall prey to having Ireland get the second spot on diffenentials. A two-goal win for the Irish in their final game with the Saudi entity will lock up a spot for them. France is in tough shape after playing Uruguay to a scoreless tie. They outplayed Uruguay but were a man short for most of the game after Thierry Henry was questionably red-carded for a "high challenge"-sliding in with the spikes too high a la Ty Cobb. At first, I had thought he had been carded for an elbow on another defender just previous. Denmark and Senegal tied in the early game today, leaving them co-leaders of Group A with 4 points. In order for France to advance, they'll have to beat Denmark in their final game and hope that Senagal gets at least a tie from Uruguay.

Edifier du jour- Luke 17:3-6
"If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, 'I repent,' forgive him." The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!" He replied, "If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it will obey you.
It's not easy to forgive, but we need to do so. Matthew 18:21-22 (I'm using NASB for this) goes even further on the forgiveness front
Then Peter came and said to Him, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.
The NIV goes with "seventy-seven times," giving the alternative as a footnote, but I prefer the 70*7 version. First, it puts the counting out of reach. I can see holding a grudge to the extent of counting up to 78 and saying "That's 78, now I can stop forgiving you." However, counting up to 491 would be near impossible, since something before getting too deep into three digits you'd remember the underlying concept that we are supposed to be indefinitely forgiving and mentally wipe the slate clean. My second reason for liking the 70*7 version is that White Heart had a good song years ago, How Many Times? , with the subtitle Seventy Times Seven. One thing that Pastor Milton pointed out in our pre-marital counseling is the metaphor of putting out hurts and grudges on a chalkboard and to make sure to get out the eraser on a regular (daily if possible) basis. Grudges have a habit of growing on an exponential basis, so it is important to nip them in the bud. It is freeing to be able to be released from a grudge, and God knows that. One of the key parts of the Lord's Prayer is "Forgive us our trespasses (our sins/ our debts) as we forgive those who trespass against us (sin against us/ our debtors).” Clean chalkboards are both nice and necessary, as being reminded of our grudges is unhealthy.

Wednesday, June 05, 2002

Unsafe at any Screed The world would have been a better place if the Kings had won the West, but I don't think Butterworth or Holtsberry want Mr. Nader's help on this one. Is this an Onion piece?

Candid Camera-OK. All you people who've been Googling for months looking for the goods on R. Kelly, I'll send some goodies your ways. I've gotten at least a hundred Google hits looking for stuff related to this story. Here's a BBC piece on the singer being charged with participating in child p0rn after a video allegedly caught him flagrante delicto with an underaged lady.

Deja Vu All Over Again-After a autoboomer took out 16 Israelis earlier today, the IDF's on the move again, going first into Autoboomer U, more commonly known as Jenin, then most recently into Ramallah, surrounding Arafat’s HQ again. OK. Will Israel finish the job this time? It's an open question what "finishing the job" is, though. The Israelis need to do more than get into a call-and-response mode with the autoboomers. They may have to do something more drastic than the occasional raid to clean out Hamas and al Asqa nests. What it is, I'm not the least bit clear about now. The two leading candidates would be to retake the West Bank and Gaza, throwing Oslo out the window in flames. The second would be to set up a defendable wall and coexist with the Palestinians over barbed wire. Whether either of these happens remains to be seen, but the status quo sucks bilge water, as my Navy buddy Dave used to say.

Wedding Bill Blues-Kevin James has a good post on over-elaborate wedding ceremonies. Eileen and I aren't going overboard on our wedding, with just a matron of honor (her sister) and a best man (my dad). Only Eileen's wedding dress is special-made; we opted out of tuxes, going with standard suits and we're having our reception downstairs at our church in Midland. However, even a simple wedding has a truckload of details, such as sending out invitations, catering the reception, the wedding dress (I only know that she has it and where she bought it and I'm not supposed to know more than that), et cetera, ad exhaustium, that has stress both of us out at times. When I went down to Houston over Thanksgiving to meet Eileen's parents to (without using the words verbatim) ask for her hand. Her dad quipped back-"You want me to give you her hand? Here, I'll give you a ladder." They have a one-story ranch, so the metaphor doesn't quite work, but eloping has sounded good from time to time when the planning gets hairy. P.S. I've been told that having your father as best man is a Southern tradition. Can my Axis of Weevil fans (or any other sons and daughters of the South) confirm that?

Capitalizing an Idea-Here's an interesting piece from Bob Hiler (plugged by Microcontent News brother John) comparing the Internet bubble to a pyramid scheme. There are elements of a pyramid scheme available in that early investors are paid by later investors; little if any real commerce gets done outside the digital media circle. However, I think that there was a fundamental misunderstanding of the revinue income potential of online media that was more to blame than malfeasance of the online companies. People forgot that positive cash flow is the end goal, and that profits are needed somewhere in the future. People overestimated the salability of advertising and the rates at which people will click through on ads. In growth companies that have yet to show a profit but are expected to in the future, people will often look at revenues rather than net income to try to evaluate a company. "Lazy Susan" deals (the money just wheels back and forth between two parties) were often done to nominally increase revenues. If I pay $1,000,000 each to Kevin, Ben and Louder to place a series of ads on his site (just try cashing those checks) and they pay $1,000,000 each to place a series of ads on my site, I can loudly proclaim to Wall Street, "Look! Revenues are up three million!" So are expenses, and there is no economic change other than reciprocal ads. Most of you are familiar with the phrase "capitalizing on an idea" with capitalize being a synonym for "to take advantage of, to utilize." That is the essence of being an entrepreneur, getting an idea and profitably running with it. In the past, an entrepreneur would typically have to be making a profit and have a fairly well established company before going public with it. However, many dot bombs founders capitalized an idea. They didn't wait for the company to start turning a profit, they were able to go public with just a basic idea and a small staff, selling the profits that the idea could make in the future. In an investing environment looking for the next Netscape or the next Yahoo, people were ready to believe that the Internet could do no wrong. They forecasted that the Web would grow by leaps and bounds indefinitely and that ad revenues would grow with it. They underestimated Web growth and underestimated ad revenues, as advertisers grew wise to the fact that click-through rates were lousy and that they weren't worth as much as advertisers originally thought. When the lack of positive cash flow finally hit home with investors, the plug was pulled on a lot of endeavors. It isn't the first time that an industry was the hot item, only to be brought down to earth by a reality different from the one originally envisioned. Many of those were honesty tries to use the Internet but didn't make it. It's hard to run a freestanding digital media enterprise without a broadcast or dead-tree enterprise to back it up. The old-media parent can supply staff and content to the on-line site while the site provided brand loyalty to the old-media products. There have been a few lucky souls like Yahoo, but it looks like online content will be provided either by old-media companies or by amateurs or the occasional mom-and-pop on-liner who's filling a niche.

Help! Help! I'm Being Oppressed (by the heat)! - We've just now had the first (normally-standard) late-afternoon thunderstorm since I've been down here. The storms kick in and help bring the temperature from creeping too far into the 90s. Prior to this, we have had oppresive heat in the afternoon all this week,pushing into the high 90s.

The Check-out Lane Ben Domenech has a good, in-depth (why isn't NRO getting this one, Ben?) piece on Kashmir and the idea the young democracies (like post-Congress India) are prone to beligerance. Orrin Judd goes after soccer as being anti-conservative. Just becuase you don't like something doesn't mean it's liberal, sir. Soccer-buff Kevin provides a rejoinder Charles Austin has some fun with incoming Googles. This one dates back to Sunday, but librarian Chris Johnson has a good take on stopping porn on library computers.

A-Bomb Blogfire- Chris Burgwald's post on the morality of Hiroshima started a firestorm almost as intense as the initial bombing. The link above is the initial piece; he's been dealing with the fallout ever sense, so just go and read the site for the whole series of blogfire. Let me start by saying I don't agree with Burgwald, who seems too stuck in his earnest application of Catholic just-war doctrine to appreciate the merits of Hiroshima. While I'm not bound by Vatican II, it's worth taking a long look at the passage that Burgwald cites:.
Any act of war aimed indiscriminately at the destruction of entire cities or extensive areas along with their population is a crime against God and man himself. It merits unequivocal and unhesitating condemnation.
I think the key word is indiscriminately. John Betts' piece shows that the cities were very significant militarily and that there was discrimination done by the US in the choice of targets. If a foreign power nuked San Diego, with it's large concentration of military bases, it would be more discriminating that if they bombed Phoenix. I'm partial to the view that there was a net saving of life from those two bombs and that the two cities were valid military targets. Would a series of smaller nukes aimed at key airfield and port facilities be more morally justifiable? Yes. Did we have them at that point? Not that I know of. We should avoid taking "innocent civilian" lives, but we should also avoid taking military lives as well. Minimizing civilian casualties and focusing warfare on military and industrial targets is a godly thing to do, but the goal of a war should be to achieve the desired aims with a minimum of damage to both sides. I think the actions at Hiroshima and Nagasaki qualifies under that guideline. While I disagree with Burgwald on this, I want to support his desire to follow God's will in this area, even if it means being critical of our country's past actions. In my somewhat humble opinion, he's honorably wrong on this one. I don't think he deserved the broadside he got from William Sulik, who took offense for all American veterans at Burgwald's critique. Sulik has backed away from the harshness of his first post but the initial rant made Burgwald sound like a pinko flag-burner. Questioning the use of nukes doesn't equate to giving the middle-digit salute to America, sir. Burgwald may be a notch off on his history and may be under the influence of the pacifist wing of Catholicism, but he's not stoopid. His pending doctorate in theology will be roughly as hard won as Sulik's J.D. and my Ph.D. He also seems to love this country as much as I do. There are times where, under the influence of the Holy Spirit but using our own flawed intellects, we will need to question the actions of our country. Sometimes we'll get it wrong, but we should disagree agreeably, trying to point out the apparent flaws in each other's arguments and truly try to figure out what God wants us to do.

Midday Musings- Now that I've got my Business Writing class underway, I can start settling in to something resembling normal living. Well, as normal as I can without a phone and a permenent address. Housing-hunting starts after lunch. World Cup Stuff-I didn't get in until near midnight last night, so I only woke up in time to see the second half of the USA-Portugal game. The US had gone out to a 3-0 lead and hung on to a 3-2 win. They were being outplayed by the Portugese side in the second half and were lucky to come away with the win from what I saw of the game. Since Portugal was the favorite in group D, the US is looking good at this point. The Germany-Ireland game was a thriller, with Ireland's Robbie Keane scoring in injury time to force a 1-1 tie. Being cableless at the moment, I was watching the Univision coverage, and the annoucer (I'm not sure if it was Andres Cantor) let out with a classic "Goooooooooooal!!!" on that tying score. The Germans were being outplayed for most of the game, with Ireland having the ball in the German end for the majority of the time. However, until the last few minutes of the game, when some good scoring chances opened up, Ireland wasn't able to do much with their field dominance. While the Germans were getting whupped in time of possession, they made the most of their counterpunches, getting more quality looks at the net than the Irish. One German guy that made an impression was Carsten Jancker, who was making a truckload of good plays on the attack. His chrome-dome made him look like a classic villian/arch-rival in a sports movie. Perhaps the great-grandson of the brawling airplane mechanic in Raiders of the Lost Ark? Another German player had a skinny Mohawk. They look like a pair that I wouldn't want to see in a dark ally, especially if my skin had any darkness to it. NHL-Being cableless (and teaching last night), I missed the Wings-Hurricanes game one. Yet another Wings OT loss. Good thing I missed it, it would have ruined my evening. I saw Glen Wesley's name in the box score, bringing back some computer fun. I used to play NHL 98 a lot, and I would play an aggressive, fire-at-will game, with my players checking like maniacs. When we played Carolina, with Wesley and a then-teammate named Ranheim, my favorite checks would be the Wesley crusher and the Ranheim steamroller. First Class-The class I'm teaching is over in Melbourne, a two-hour drive from Lake Wales. I was underprepped for the course when I got down here, so I would up spending a lot of time the last two days preparing, thus a low level of blogging. The first 80 miles of the trip is on state route 60, which has to be the most desolate stretches of road I've ever seen. Once you clear the outskirts of Lake Wales, it is 55 miles of orange groves, cattle ranches and swamp. You get a short respite at Yeehaw Junction (I'm not makin' it up-check the map) when 60 hits the Florida Turnpike, then another 25 miles of nada until you hit I-95 on the Vero Beach outskirts. I was properly warned to have a full gas tank and to eat before leaving, since there was nothing but a Stuckey's en route. The class itself went better than planned. I've never taught Business Writing and haven't taught the accelerated adult learner format this class uses, cramming a three semester-hour class into 24 hours of class time (rather than the standard 42-45 hours). Being able to openly pray for the class before starting and to be able to bring Biblical principals into the class was a treat. A couple of students were a bit sullen, but the class was easy to get along with and the 3.75 hours went buy in a hurry. My one regret is that the test-bank quiz I gave didn't quite reflect what I lectured on; it was the last thing I did yesterday and didn't make sure to lecture on all the quiz questions. An interesting concept I was covering was the idea of making your writing reader-centered. "You-attitude" was the cutsie phrase the book was using to convey the idea that readers respond better if things are address with them in mind; "Your order was shipped yesterday" sounds more appealing to the reader than "We processed the order yesterday." I pointed out that this has Biblical applications as well, as we need to be more other-centered and focused on serving others anyway. I got past a big land-mine of the section in Chapter 2 on bias-reducing language, giving them a handout I made titled "How to Minimize Bias Without Being Politically Correct." We have one Latina and four blacks in the class of 16, and I'm always on edge not to hurt anyone's feelings on such subjects. We then got to the section of black versus African-American (black is still the standard route).
"Which one works better these days" "Black" "Black" "Sandra," one of the black gals (name changed to protect the innocent) chimes in. "I like to be called Sandra."
Sandra further made my day shortly thereafter when we were talking about getting a good racial mix in photos by saying "Why not just show people." Sandra, you have a future. The three Air Force people in the class (we're just down the road from Cape Canaveral in Melbourne) allowed their acronymitis to be made fun of and I got them to break into groups of four to give full Fiskings to some bad memo writing, pointing out the problems with the writing. They sure did Fisk with gusto; walking around and listening to them take apart the writing examples was a hoot. All in all, the evening went well, and the two hour drive back was not that bad, despite being truly barren in the dark, knowing that I had gotten off to a fairly good start. I can take a short breather before a 9-5 doubleheader on Saturday.

Edifier du jour-Luke 16:16-17
"The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it. It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law.
This is one that troubled me when I read it earlier this morning, since it has a universalist overtone to it. When I couple verse 16 with 17, I get the interpretation that the Kingdom is attracting people to it, but not everyone may be willing to pay the admission price. I hear echoes of Mark 10:24-27
The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, "Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, "Who then can be saved?" Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God."
The peace and comfort of the Kingdom is attractive, but not everyone is willing to “pledge allegiance to the Lamb”. We can’t sucessfully force our way into the Kingdom’s gates; it takes an inside job to get through. The price of getting through the gates of the Kingdom is to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. My borrowing of the Ray Boltz song title just now got my mind wrapped around the word allegiance. It has at its root the old English word liege, or lord. In a medieval armor-and-sword epic, you might hear an underling refer to his nobleman as “my liege.” The word allegiance implies being a vassal, being subservient to a greater person of thing. This is a hard concept for us freedom-loving Americans to get our hand around. We want to be the masters of our own fate and not accept someone, even God Himself, to be in total charge of our lives. God doesn’t ask to be president, boss or supervisor, he’s asking for lordship. This might have been easier to swallow for people in less democratic lands, where being oppressed by bad dictators was common and the idea of the ultimate benevolent dictator would be rather attractive. It requires help from the Holy Spirit to get us past these biases of independence. We need to realize that we are better off being a well-loved vassal of Jesus than a lonely free soul. P.S.-This might put me in league with Jehovah’s Witnesses and Chompskities, but I’m uncomfortable with the Pledge of Allegiance. I don’t mind being a servant of a great country, but the imagery of being a vassal of a piece of cloth seems to be verging on idolatry, even if that piece of cloth is a symbol of a force for good in the world.

Tuesday, June 04, 2002

Happy Hosts-Japan and South Korea both did well this morning. South Korea took out Poland 2-0 to lay claim as a force to be reckoned with in the US' Group D and Japan tied Belgium in Group H, giving the first point ever in World Cup play. The US plays Portugal tomorrow morning US time.

Edifier du jour-Luke 15:11-32
Jesus continued: "There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, 'Father, give me my share of the estate.' So he divided his property between them. "Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. "When he came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father's hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.' So he got up and went to his father. "But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. "The son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.' "But the father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate. "Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 'Your brother has come,' he replied, 'and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.' "The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, 'Look! All these years I've been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!' " 'My son,' the father said, 'you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' "
Jesus led up to the Prodigal Son parable with parables about finding lost coins and lost sheep, pointing out that finding the lost ones is a cause for celebration. In this parable, the father is God, willing to accept us back into the fold after we have gone astray. That part of the parable is very well covered. However, we should look in our hearts as to whether we're the older brother in this piece. My NIV Study Bible note on Luke 15 make the older son a stand-in for the Pharasees, wanting a more legalistic approach and resenting the easy and exuberant acceptance of his reprobate brother by his dad. I don't think it quite that simple, as we as mature believers can fit into that role if we're not careful. The church is often big on giving love and affirmation to the new believer; the jucier the testimony, the better. The long-term believer who's been following fairly close to God for years and doesn't have the "big" sins to repent from may feel left out, wondering where his big party went. Envy isn't pretty. We need to try our best to rejoice with new believers and give them extra attention, for it is at that early state of discipleship that they need a lot of extra support to make the transition to a godly life.

Monday, June 03, 2002

Round One of Canadian Leadership Fight?-PM Jean Chretien got rid of Finance Minister and likely heir Paul Martin yesterday, which is the second big-portfolio minister to go in just over a week, as Defence Minister Art Eggleton was sacked last weekend. The Eggleton case may have been simple scandal-control, but Martin may have big political implications. Martin has a Robert Rubinesque appeal to the Bay Street crowd and the neoliberal wing of the Liberal party. Martin wouldn't have much to lose at this point to call for a Liberal Party leadership conference in the near future, once he gets his ducks in a row, and try to oust Chretien. The financial markets didn't like the news of Martin's removal; it's likely just the general jitters over changes at the top. There shouldn't be any major policy shifts with John Manley getting the Finance Ministry post. Manley's seen as about as pro-business as Martin was, so this looks to be more personal than idiological, with an emergent queen bee being kicked out of the nest by the incumbent queen (don't go there). Canadian politics fans, the game is afoot. Praise report-It looks like the National Post now shows the full URL when you link through. Before, it would only show the nationalpost.com URL and you'd have to right-click on the link from the sending page to get the deeplink. Thanks.

The Check-out Lane-Taking a prep break (my first class at Warner Southern starts tomorrow night and I still have a good bit of prepping to do) to catch up on some of the blog-reading I didn't do from Thursday noon on. I'm a bit late to this party due to my move this weekend, but Veritas started a good debate over the morality of dropping the A-bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Chris Burgwald argued that the standard argument that the Bomb saved lives when compaired with the carnage that would have ensued if the US was forced to invade Japan is flawed in that it doesn't justify killing innocent civilians without a significant military target being involved. There are followup pieces on Saturday, Sunday and today. The best of the responce pieces seems to come from John Betts, who points out the military significance of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I've gots some ideas percolating, but they'll most likely keep until Wednesday or when I get done preping for Tuesday night's class, whichever comes first. Orrin Judd has an interesting piece (thanks to Patrick Ruffini for the heads-up) on our overall strategic policy vis-a-vis the Islamic world. I'm not quite sure Western democracy is the inevitable winner, but it is the odd-on favorite to win. Another piece that has me thinking ; I've got a backlog of good stuff to think through. Ruffini springsboards off of Judd's piece and has a good side-rant of a possible population bust approaching. I'll be back to riff on this one, too. Megan McArdle gives Kyoto a good evisceration after practicing her knife-work on single-payer health care. I'm tempted to make her required reading of my Macro students this fall; at minimum, they'll get links to a number of good articles like these.

World Cup Musings- I'm undergoing a bit of culture shock having two Spanish-language broadcast channels, but they have the advantage of giving wall-to-wall coverage of the World Cup. I woke up later than normal (7:30) to see what appeared to be a World Cup Today wrap-up show, the Univision crew were all smiles after Mexico beat Croatia in the second-biggest upset of the Cup so far, with Senegal's upset of France being the biggest. My Spanish is too rusty to understand what the Univision gang was saying about the game, but happiness transcends language. I actually watched a bit of the first half of the game at about 3:00 when my achy knees and middle finger got me out of bed for a bit. There have been few other surprises other than a few ties that should have been wins. I had expected Cameroon to get past Ireland, but they tied instead.

Morning Musings-I'm successfully set up in my temporary office at Warner-Southern; the bigger office chair came in mid-post. The computer's old but serviceable and the same can be said for my body this morning. I made the "mistake" of playing basketball with some of my new colleagues yesterday afternoon. Outside. In 95 degree weather. Mad dogs, Englishmen and business professors? This crew usually uses the college gym, but a youth basketball tourney exiled us to the tennis/basketball courts on the old part of campus. I hadn't played a competitive basketball game in six years; after a half-hour of play, I had a jammed left middle finger, two sore knees and a sweat-soaked T-shirt. The "old guy" (for the first time in memory, I was the oldest adult in a pickup game) managed to use his 6'5" frame to dominate the boards and helped my trio to a 2-0 record, even giving the business school dean a bad case of rejection. Church was nice-went up to Lakeland's Vineyard and was treated like family from the get-go. I got there an hour before service started and bummed a phone to call Eileen; my trailer has no phone and I didn't have my office yet. "I'm calling from the kitchen of the Lakeland Vineyard. The pastor's getting the communion juice ready and the praise band's practicing Trading My Sorrows." The place looks like a re-do. The service was solid, with the worship leader doing more ad-libbing/praise jamming within songs more than Joann at the Midland Vineyard does. The sermon was a down-to-earth take on Revelation 14-I came in to a sequence on the Omega book. Got to meet a lot of people, including the pastor and the worship leader and got invited out to a local BBQ chain, Sonny's, for lunch with the pastor, his wife and about a dozen others. I also got active in a hurry, offering to help at the "Summer Blast" program they are having in lieu of a standard Vacation Bible School, taking it out to a pair of neighborhood parks for Sunday nights for four weeks at one site, and a four-week set on Wednesday nights at another. They were over-staffed for their cookout-sign-up shindig yesterday, so I got to eat hot dogs, dehydratedly sucked down juice-boxes ("What did our parent's do without these?" "Make a pitcher of Kool-Aid and put it in glasses.") and talk to a lot of church people. There are quite a few people from Lake Wales driving 35 minutes to Lakeland for church, and they have a Thursday night "Home Group" in Lake Wales. There's enough people down here to be talking about starting a new church down here. I got back from Lakeland in time to watch the second half of the Kings-Lakers game. Does it get much better than a OT game seven? The usual suspects have blogged the heck out of the game already. Mike Bibby almost single-handedly carried the Kings into the finals. If it weren't for the Kings catching a bad case of Shaqitis at the line, they'd be in the finals. All in all, I had a better Sunday than I thought, fearing being all alone in a trailer without a phone line or cable TV.

Edifier du jour-Luke 14:25-33
Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters--yes, even his own life--he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. "Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, 'This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.' "Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.
It's a radical idea to put God first and foremost and to allow everything else to be secondary. We do have to concider the cost of discipleship, but let's also remember its benefits.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?