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Saturday, June 15, 2002

Raw Linkage-Via Kyle Still's mention of his addition, I find that Town Hall's C-log has linked. "Middle-of-the-stack", alas, but still linked. However, I don't begrudge anyone in the Top of the Stack section, it's a bunch of heavy hitters. Threre are quite a few very good blogs with me in Middle-of-the-Stack that deserve an upgrade more than I.

Bishops Work on the Diagonals-It may have not been a straight-ahead approach, but the US Catholic Bishops might have gotten this one right. As I understand their plan, a preist caught molesting kids will be given two options, life in a monastery-type setting away from kids and not serving as a parish priest or being allowed to leave the priesthood. This seems to get around the problem of having to strip a priest’s ordination while safeguarding kids. The Catholic blogs will be all over this, but they seem to be moving in the right direction.

Mark’s Ism-Part I-The Wealth Curve Let me start with a quote from Joshua Claybourn 's post yesterday
In a secular government (Christian governments change the paradigm), its sole responsibilities should be to defend the nation and create an environment that is most conducive to positive economic activity (law and order, reasonable taxes, etc.).
I’ve talked about the Laffer Curve (maximizing tax revinue) and the Byron Curve (maximizing happiness) but there is a third curve I’d like to bring into the mix that I will call the Wealth Curve. For the moment, lets look at government not from the current framework of reducing things from a socialist state, but a more pristine world of creating a minimalist government from a state of anarchy. Let’s assume for the moment that we rank-order any governmental programs by their wealth-generating usefulness and that we do the worthiest projects first. Likewise, let’s assume that we will use the least wealth-stifling taxes first to pay for them. If a project were a net wealth creator, creating more wealth than the taxes took away, it would be a viable project under Claybourn’s Creed. At some point, we will start running out of projects that our net wealth creators and we have reached the top of the Wealth Curve. The X-axis will be stated as overall tax burden as a percentage of GDP. The Y-axis can be measured in GDP or any other suitable measure of economic activity. Any move to enlarge government and increase taxes to pay for it past that peak will result in lower GDP. What kind of projects would this minimalist government be doing? A military will be needed to prevent invasions, guard against armed coups and possibly to protect our economic interest overseas. A court system and a policing force would be needed. Jails would likely need to be built. If we wanted to maximize wealth, would we want a jail system or would be go to a more Old Testament frame of reference, where there was no jail, only economic fines or death? Jails reduce the productivity of the jailed and require the use of jailers that aren’t producing wealth. For now, we’ll show some modern civility and assume that we will have jails rather than killing the people that required more punishment than just paying a fine. What form of mental institutions would we have if we were trying to maximize wealth? Many of the mentally ill would get in the way of economic activity, so they will have to have an inexpensive place to keep the seriously mentally ill out of the way. A more ruthlessly wealth-seeking culture would kill them off as negative NPV-projects, but a minimalist set of insane asylums would seem to be a civilized alternative. Some basic infrastructure might be needed. While many roads would be managed by the private sector, the government, for military and economic purposes, would maintain other roads. Some seaports and airports might get government assistance. Canals, dams and other civil engineering projects might be financed. Would some education funding be part of this basic package? I think so, since I think that leaving education a totally private matter would reduce overall GDP in the long haul. However, the form that help would take might not be in the form of publicly run schools but in the form of vouchers or tax credits to be used at private schools. Some modest level of regulation might be needed. Broadcast law would need to exist in order to find a way to assign frequencies, driving laws and licenses, aircraft laws and pilots licenses would be needed. I’m not sure if some sort of copyright and patent law would be needed, but I do thing that some form of intellectual property protection would is beneficial to economic growth. I’m running out of wealth-generating government programs at this point. Suggestions are welcome from the Peanut Gallery. {Update 6/16 PM-Joshua Claybourn suggests the Fed and basic bank regulation (FDIC going a bit lighter on the deposit gaurentees?)-good going.] Welfare, Social Security, most government regulators and anything else not listed above would likely be wealth-reducers. This begs the question-Why do we do them if they reduce wealth?

Mark’s Ism: Introduction. Both Joshua Claybourn and Jeffrey Collins have chimed in giving question to my thoughts on the Byron Curve. I’m still in the process of adding some rigor and definition to my economic thoughts. Since I’m going to be responsible for teaching Macroeconomics this fall, I’m going to try to flesh out a Biblically sound comprehensive economic ideology over the next few weeks. I don’t have a good name for it at this point, so I’ll call it Mark’s Ism for now. I’ve got a lot of sharp people looking over my shoulder as I do this and I welcome feedback. Some of those sharp people will occasional throw sharp elbows, and I pray that I take the critiques in the spirit intended. However, my goal is to engage this corner of the Blogosphere in a spirited discussion of economic theory that is both fairly rigorous but not too ivory-tower, since I want to be able to present what I’m finding to undergrad economics newbies this fall. First of all, I will heartily agree with Mr. Claybourn’s observation that utility and/or happiness can’t be measured or quantified. I apologize if I left that impression. I’m using the joytron as a tongue-in-cheek way to give a faux-unit to happiness; it’s more fun than the “util.” I’m trying to use the Laffer, Byron and Wealth Curves (wait an hour, I’ll have it up) as intellectual tools to think about public policy, rather than something that will be run through the statistical traps. Secondly, I want to state that I believe government should be significantly smaller and more decentralized. My blogging colleagues may disagree on how much smaller we should be making the government (ignoring a few liberal bloggers that might be on the loose) but we agree on the direction. Thirdly, I will agree that government is rather inefficient in doing things. However, we might want to see if there are ways to let government do something more efficiently (automation, decentralization, privatization of service-delivery, user fees rather than taxes) rather than quickly tossing it to the private sector. There are many things that the government does that are net bogon generators. However, the answer might be to (gag me, I’m borrowing from Slick Willie) mend, not end, a program. School vouchers would be a good example, where we would maintain government funding of schooling but outsource the operations to the private sector. In that case, reformed public funding of education would be better than an all-private system. I do have a drawing of the three curves on my hard drive, but I'm having trouble getting them onto the free server I'm using. When I lick the FTP issue, I'll link to them.

Edifier du jour-John 1:1,2-14
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. ... The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth
That is what makes Christianity unique. We have a God who was one of us, a fleash and blood human, but was God nonetheless. If you are going to take the Bible at face value, this is one verse that is hard to spin and still deny Jesus' divinity.

Friday, June 14, 2002

I just noticed Jeffery Collins has laid down the gaultlet on the Byron Curve. I have a potluck to head off to, but I will have a responce tomorrow. A fair rephrasing of the Rush question would be "Name ten things that the public sector does better than the private sector." There are a lot of things that the government does that leave a lot to be desired, but a less-than-well-done job may be better leaving it to the private sector. A fuller fleshing out of my thoughts will be forthcoming tomorrow.

Afternoon Musings-A bit late to the keyboard today, due to a big load of errand running, including looking into getting telephone service, cable service ($41/month for standard cable? I don't think so unless Eileen think that a good use of money), getting my hair cut (good old-school barber shop in Winter Haven that Dr. Wiseman recommended), setting up a bank account, reading over the lease and making the manager redo it due to a copying error and grocery shopping. World Cup-Oh, I did manage to watch the games before going off on my chores. Definition of grace-an unmerited gift. That's what the US soccer team got today, getting beat by Poland 3-1, but getting through to the round of 16 via South Korea's 1-0 win over Portugal. Had Portugal tied, the US would be heading home, and Portugal just missed tying, ringing one off the inside of the post late in the game. Portugal was pressing like I've never seen before at the end; Korea got called offside at midfield, as everyone but the Portuguese goalie was in the Korean end. Japan and Belgium made it out of Group H into the round of 16. Red Wings- Nothing much sweeter than an empty-net goal. Shannahan made the evening with that door-closer in the Wings' 3-1 win over Carolina. Scotty Bowman's decided to retire on top with an NHL record 9 Stanley Cup titles. Hasek and Robitaille got to have their names on a Cup for the first time in their likely Hall-of-Fame careers. Tiger on the Loose-Is Beth Page-Black Alan Page's daughter? Lizzie's sure sacking the pros like her dad. El Tigre's in the clubhouse at -5, and no one else is in red numbers.

Another Returnee to Blogspot-Midwest Conservative Journal's moved to Blogspot as of yesterday. Patrick Carver made a similar more recently, both seemingly to do bandwith restrictions with their old hosts. I may stay put for a while.

Edifier du jour-John 1:19-23
Now this was John's testimony when the Jews of Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, "I am not the Christ." They asked him, "Then who are you? Are you Elijah?" He said, "I am not." "Are you the Prophet?" He answered, "No." Finally they said, "Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?" John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, "I am the voice of one calling in the desert, 'Make straight the way for the Lord.
John the Baptist was quoting Isaiah 40:3; here's versus 3 and 4
A voice of one calling: "In the desert prepare the way for the Lord ; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.
John the Baptist was the civil engeneer, getting out the earth-movers and building a spiritual highway. Likewise, we today are called to be spiritual civil engeneers, clearing a path for the Holy Spirit to close the deal for the Lord. We don't bring people to Jesus, we bring Jesus to people by present a witness of Him to our world.

Thursday, June 13, 2002

The Wealth of America-Part III- The Byron Curve-Orrin's essay pointed out the importance of Christian values in American economic growth. The basis for my economic philosophy rest between two Biblical pillars: the desire to help the poor and the acknowledgement of man’s sinfulness. I felt this way two decades ago before becoming a Christian and feel more so today. Helping the Poor- It's fairly clear that God wants the needy looked after. This leads many godly people towards a more socialist worldview, as they strive to help the poor by enlisting the government in the process. Jesus did say, "The poor you will always have with you," but the context was of worshiping Him while He was still here, not of the futility of helping the needy. Some level or redistribution of wealth is needed, and I'm not quite ready to go the libertarian route of letting charity and the private sector handle everything. We may debate how to help the poor and how much, but whether to help at all is not a valid question for the believer. Our Sin Nature-We are naturally greedy. You don't need to be a Bible-thumper to agree with me on that; we prefer more goodies to less goodies. The better we are paid, the more interested we are in working. The higher the returns on an investment, the more interested we are in investing. Taxes reduce our take-home pay and after-tax investment returns, making us less interested in working and investing, thus slowing the economy. In general, when you redistribute wealth, you reduce overall wealth. Socialist economies see that sin nature channeled into laziness, theft and corruption. Free-market systems can channel some of that sin nature into productive labors. The American Dilemma- This creates the dichotomy of wanting to help the poor but not unduly slowing down the economy. Finding that balance between free markets and government intervention is the dilemma that democracies have to face. Republicans will disagree about how much to cut government, while Democrats will argue about how much to add. Everyone's trying to find that sweet spot that makes the country the best possible country. I'm about to present a basic framework to talk about this dilemma. Joytrons and the Byron Curve-Students of political economy will have heard of the Laffer Curve. The basic premise is that there is an optimal tax rate that will maximize tax revenue. Above a certain point, tax increases will be counter-productive. As take home pay falls and the cost of leisure decreases, moms will stay at home more, students will stay in school longer, retirees will retire sooner and overtime will be a rare beast. The higher tax rate will be applied to a sharply reduced income base, thus generating less tax revenue. If an economy were at that point, a tax cut would actually increase tax revenues. However, maximizing tax revenue may not be our goal. The downward-sloping part of the curve doesn’t make since, but we might want to set up shop somewhere on the upslope of the curve. We would then look to set up a second curve that would measure wellbeing rather than tax revenue, looking at the tax level (and resulting level of government) that would result in the highest overall wellbeing of the nation, maximizing the overall joytron count, the joytron being the quantum particle of happiness. Looking at things on a policy-by-policy basis, the policies that are net joytron creators should be done, and those that are net joytron destroyers should be rejected. This graph of joytrons on the Y axis and tax rates on the X axis might be called the Byron Curve. Joytron Analysis-Such a policy analysis will anger libertarians or more militant conservatives who are distrustful of most, if not all, government actions. They neglect to see that there are some beneficial government programs, that the good generated from some programs outweigh the costs. While lower taxes and smaller government are beneficial at this point, there is some level of government that we will want to maintain. Evangelical conservatives should remember that while God put the GOP on the earth to cut taxes (as Robert Novak puts it), it is expanding God's kingdom that we are are put on earth for. We are in trouble if our churches degrade into mere Republican cheerleaders. Such an analysis will anger liberals, who do not want to look at the negative effects of high taxes. Liberals forget that a better-off person will feel the loss of the extra tax money, as they'll be having X dollars less to save or to buy goodies with. Taxes reduce the incentive to work, as lower take home pay make leisure less expensive. Taxes reduce the incentive to invest, since the government will take a larger chuck of the return. People working less and investing less will slow the economy, hurting even the "working families" by costing jobs for people who may not be directly paying the new taxes. These effects make higher taxes less attractive, ruining the liberals fun. For those of us who are not hard-core liberals or hard-core libertarians, we should be able to look at economic policies objectively. We should look at the benefits from the spending and the total negative effects of the taxes (or regulations) needed to achieve the goal and weight them accordingly. Conservatives need to take a new look at the benefits of government. Liberals will need to take a look at the costs of government to the economy. However, this idea of thinking through the net joytron effect of a policy should be useful for everyone. Note that we won't agree on the effects. Liberals may tend to overestimate the benefits of a program and underestimate the bogon (anti-joytron) producing nature of higher taxes. conservatives and libertarians will tend to underestimate the benefits of a government program. However, this quantum economics might give us a means of thinking through the problem.

Roger, Wilkins, Over and Out-Ben's been covering this story well, but I'm strealing the story; Virginia House Speaker Vance Wilkins just stepped down. He was caught in a Henry Cisneros-style scandal of trying to pay hush money to a mistress. Good to see GOP sleaze shown the door sooner rather than later.

Your Homeland Security Dollars at Work-Today's headline-Border guards get dirty bomb detectors. Maybe some Windex or Scrubbing Bubbles will help clean the detectors up.

Riot Protection Plan?- Detroit officals are looking to close the inbound highways (I-75 and 1-94) heading into downtown Detroit tonight if the Red Wings look likely to clinch the Stanley Cup tonight. I pity the poor trucker who's trying to go from Port Huron to Chicago tonight.

Vouchers Up and Running in Florida? A 1999 Florida voucher law might be put to the test, as vouchers will be available to students at 10 schools which had failing grades in both 1999 and 2002. This appears to be the first time that any schools fell into the two-Fs in a four-year period that triggered the voucher plan. Of course, we're likely to see plenty of lawsuits, but the Cleveland case before the Supreme Court will be the real battle.

Power Point Parinoia- Patrick Ruffini points to this Roll Call article that got ahold of a White House political presentation. The semi-bombshell is that they see Arkansas and New Hampshire as being vunerable. New Hampshire is only vunerable if Bob Smith can get past John Sununu (Congressman/son of the ex-governor) in the Republican primary. Sununu would be able to make fairly short work of Jean Shaheen but Smith would be a slight underdog in the general. Hutchinson-Pryor in Arkansas will be a dog-fight but it should stay in GOP hands.The article omits the number of Democratic seats that will be dicey.

Contraction in the Axis of Evil?-Orrin points out an interesting piece from Tom Friedman on a possible US-Iranian détente. There seems to be little appetite for American-bashing except that it is part of their catechism. If the Iranians are willing to coexist peacefully and be good international citizens, then normalization would be possible. However, that would require them to step back from supporting Shiite (make sure you have two i's) and other Islamic militant groups overseas, including Hezbollah, who has graduated into a political party with its own militia in the Lebanese tradition. Cast me as a reluctant Engager. I don't think normalized relations will hurt reform efforts; the economy is poor but not close to a breaking point, thus keeping the economic lid on isn't much help. Normalization may help the forces of reform as it deprives the mullahs of an enemy. A pledge of good international behavior would be a requirement for such a détente to be consummated, but if the mullahs are ready for such a détente, we should consider it.

Mission Accomplished-Other than teaching the Business Writing class, my other goal for my June stay was to track done an apartment. I've done so, getting a nice place on the eastern edge of Winter Haven, about 13 miles from campus. A 5% teacher discount took the price from a notch more than I was hoping to pay down to a half-notch more, but it's a nice place. I'll be moving in next Thursday. Now I need to snag some beds for the new digs as well as arrange for the utilities to be set up. I'm going to get the bare minimun of furniture for now, waiting for Eileen to get down here to do to the serious furniture shopping. Well, I went to Michigan State, so I'm living a spartan existance this month.

The Wealth of America-Part II- The Spiritual Dimension- Orrin Judd has a solid response to Brook’s piece, of which I am in agreement with-go thou and readeth. Orrin points out that it is the more Christian nature of the US that has helped to keep America less socialistic than Europe. Our greater understanding of the sinfulness of man allows for more encouragement of the private sphere. He echoes some of my thoughts in the previous post, eloquently noting that the roots of the garden needs to keep being tended. The quote from Kraynak is thought provoking on how we square a fixed theology that is not open to compromise with a democratic system of government. I had mused on the advantages of the generic God of civil religion a while back. A theocracy has its own problems in that the power-hungry will be drawn to the priesthood and that both the government and the church will suffer in the process. A democracy influenced and informed by a faithful populous appears to be less corrupting to both the church and the government than a theocracy. We shouldn’t worship at the altar of democracy, but Churchill's quip come to mind; it's the worst form of government with the exception of everything else we've tried. One minor quibble; Orrin states that
Of course, Mr. Brooks is not a conservative critic of America; he's a neoconservative, and, as such, probably doesn't believe any of this.
It is Brooks’ secular (dare I say bobo) nature, not his neo label, that blinds him to the issue.

The Wealth of America-Part I-The High Cost of Leisure-Orrin Judd wanted me to take a look at this David Brooks piece that he had a large commentary on yesterday. The title of the Brooks piece “Why the U.S. Will Always Be Rich” is more than a bit presumptuous, but if you add ”For the Foreseeable Future” to the title, Brooks is dead-on. I’m going to deal with the Brooks piece first, then look at Judd’s commentary in a second post. Brooks states that “despite all the social-critic jeremiads, Americans have shown this remarkable tendency to remain undecadent. “ To the extent that the vision of a class of idle rich lounging by the pool all day isn’t true, he is correct. However, we are decadent in the sense that we have an unhealthy craving for creature comforts over higher pursuits. It might not be “orgiastic self-indulgence” but it is self-indulgent nonetheless. He indirectly points out the American driven-ness that makes the US special. The “Protestant Work Ethic” may be a misnomer, but Americans do have a greater sense of duty to work hard. We’re willing to make the trade for more time at work for more creature comforts. Collectively, we prize work, and the goodies that come for it, more than the Europeans do. This is due in part to our lower tax rates. Let’s look at the decision to work more as a trade-off between the utility of leisure versus the utility of the stuff that an extra hour of work will buy. If you lower the tax rates, the take-home pay from that extra hour of work goes up, thus making leisure more expensive. Lower American tax rates provide higher take-home pay and thus more work gets done in the US than in Europe. While the American obsession with stuff is easy to look down at, the American worker gets to buy more stuff with an extra hour of work than his European counterpart. Time is more valuable here. We like fast food because time is valuable. While a slow sit-down meal may be nice, it may not be everyone’s idea of time well spent. The economic changes that low taxes and a greater work ethic cause look to be selfish and unhealthily individualistic, but they are fairly rational responses to our economic system. Brooks is sloppy here, as he verges on categorizing the American economy as slop-down economics
The reason America hasn't been corrupted by all its wealth is that in this country we have transformed the nature of money. If you have enough of it, and you are sloppy enough with it, and if you have a system that promiscuously sloshes it around from the deserving to the undeserving and back again so that there are great flows of wealth oozing all over the place and great tales of opportunity in every ear, then pretty soon money is no longer just a thing you hoard in the bank. Money has become the environment, and that changes the way it affects people. Money in America has been transformed into abundance. In the realm of money, money is scarce. But in the realm of abundance, money is promiscuous. And this environment of abundance comes with its own psychology, morality, sins and virtues. It does not create the old corrupting patterns described by the philosophers.
Money is amoral, giving purchasing power to anyone who holds it. The economics of scarcity still applies, as there still isn’t enough stuff to meet everyone’s desires. However, we’ve largely moved from meeting needs to meeting wants. My take of the American economic system is a tweak to the old Marx line “From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs, and once all the needs are met, everyone for themselves.” A basic welfare system sees to it that people are fed, clothed, housed and doctored; there are a few holes in the governmental safely net that the charitable sector meets fairly well. In the American system, people are allowed to spend their money on just about whatever they want with a relative minimum of government interference. Money is not promiscuous, it is simply free to do what its owner wants to do with it. If we want to use a romance metaphor, American money isn’t constrained by the class structure and strictures of the Old World. It doesn’t have to marry the dullard next door, for it can find its own soul-mate. Money is also able to dump the dullard it is married to and find a better mate, as the creative destruction of the modern economy will be disruptive in the short turn. Closing businesses will create crushed dreams and lost jobs for some, but will create a better place in the long run as assets are put to increasingly better uses. The wealth created by this system allows us to spend our resources on luxury goods, like fine wines, good steaks, missionaries and environmental protection, things we could less afford to do if we were scraping for survival. This wealth is likely to stay in place as long as the system that helped produce it stays in place. I’m thinking of a line from the Constitutional Convention, where a bystander asked Ben Franklin “What kind of government have you given us.” Franklin was supposed to have responded “A republic, if you can keep it.” We have a free-market economy that helped create the biggest economy in the world. It will stay that way if we can keep it a free-market economy. A liberal favorite introductory clause is “This is a rich country.” When they say that, you need to keep both hands on your wallet, for the next thing out of the liberal’s mouth is “We can afford to [insert pet program here].” If we sign off on enough pet programs and start paying the taxes to pay for them, we will begin to lose that competitive edge that low taxes help create. As taxes go up, people start taking more and more leisure time. As taxes go up, people look for tax loophole rather than good ideas. We have a free-market economy if we can keep it.

Sports Musings-Old School Version-First off, go check out Louder Fenn's essay on hockey and his take on Game 4 of the Wings-Canes series. Well, the Lakers went and swept the Nets, winning game 4, 113-107. This created quite a few milestones and unlike yesterday, I've got a truckload of thoughts. Phil Jackson-He and Red Auerbach are now tied with nine titles each (the Red Wings’ Scotty Bowman can join them tonight for the lead in big-sport coaching titles), adding the Laker's 3-peat to his matched set of 3-peats in Chicago. I’m just old enough to remember Jackson as a journeyman power forward in the late 60-early 70, and still have a hard time thinking of him as a coaching genius. The prophet has no honor in his hometown. New Zone Rules That was a good move, to switch to a simple defensive three-second rule. The old rule made for a much more boring game, as the offence would have three guys on the weak side out by the three-point line, requiring their defenders to be outside the paint to guard them. Once the defense was isolated, they would commence with the 2-on-2 game. The new rule speeds up the game. Shaq-I don't remember Wilt Chamberlain in his prime, but he would be the only other person to be as physically dominant for his time as Shaq. Wilt had an arrogance that few people can match, which Shaq doesn't quite have yet. The free throws are coming around and if he and Kobe can stay healthy, the Lakers should snag another three titles over the next five years. Laker Dynasty?-There are enough good teams in the West to make matching the Celtic's run of eight straight titles far-fetched. However, they are the favorites for the title for the foreseeable future. Somewhere about 2007, Shaq will start to wear down, but they're the team to beat for now. Keynon Martin-I was seeing skills in him that I hadn’t seen from him before, having some small forward moves to go with a post-up, turn-around bank shot that reminded me of Elvin Hayes’ signature move. However, Keynon was riding a tricycle when Hayes hung up the sneakers in '84, so he couldn't be a role model. World Cup Stuff Italy was five minutes away from going home, but a late goal gave them a 1-1 tie with Mexico. Ecuador upset Croatia 1-0 to give Italy the second spot in Group G. They play the last matches of the group simultaneously, so as to not give the teams in the late game knowledge of what they needed to do to advance. However, the Ecuador-Croatia game was a few minutes ahead of the Italy-Mexico game. Once the Ecuador win was final and both teams were assured a spot in the Sweet 16, Mexico went into a four-corner for the four minutes of extra time, with Italy just letting them play keep-away. Turkey grabbed the second spot in Group C. A 3-0 win over China coupled with Costa Rica's 5-2 loss to Brazil allowed Turkey to win a tiebreaker with Costa Rica. Is Brazil the new favorite to win this thing?

Edifier du jour-Luke 23:44-47
It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." When he had said this, he breathed his last. The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, "Surely this was a righteous man."
It's hard to focus on one item out of this chapter on the crucifixion, but the temple curtain being torn has some serious meaning. The curtain separated God's presence from the people, only the priests could enter. Now, everyone can approach God with confidence due to Jesus being the Father's field representative.

Wednesday, June 12, 2002

The Check Out Lane Louder Fenn has a pair (a one and a two) of good pieces on euthanasia. He's going mano-a-mano with the USS. Clueless, so grab a big tub of popcorn for a good fight. Megan McArdle has a good piece on Japan's economic shortcomings. I'll have to give it a better look tomorrow. Orrin Judd has unleashed an opus on American exceptionalism. Ted Esler has an interesting piece on missions to Muslims. David Heddle has a thought provoking piece on our ideas of God and that's he's not a Superman. I've got $0.02 coming on this tomorrow, but it's off to watch Nets-Lakers Game 4. See you tomorrow.

Stoopidity Saving my Pocketbook-I'm beginning to start to follow local politics done here, but the Polk County school board might have shot itself in the foot yesterday. They think they need a half-percent increase in the county sales tax to pay for school construction and were talking about putting the proposal on the September 10 ballot. The powers-that-be on the school board decided that they needed more time to mount a campaign, and opted to wait until later to put it on the ballot. They would have had an easier time in September. Special elections tend to produce very low turnout and an older, upscale crowd that would be less interested in taxing themselves. September 10 is the statewide primary, and a hot Democratic gubernatorial race with Janet Reno and Bill McBride might boost tax-happy Democratic turnout. Republicans would have less of a reason to get to the polls and thus I'd think that they a better shot in September than next March.

The American (Paleo)Conservative-Pitchfork Pat's on the move, going over to MSNBC to do an afternoon show. He's also starting up a new magazine, The American Conservative, supplying a fortnightly commentary. It's stated goal is to be a rival to The New Republic and The Weekly Standard. I don't think so, Pat. Both of those magazines are critics of Washington politics from their respective neolib and neocon perspectives, calling out idiotarians of either party and doing it with extra relish to idiotarians of the other party. What TAC might be is the counterpart to The Nation, who can be counted on to deliver steaming piles of progressive dogma each issue. TAC will likely be the paleocon version of The Nation, giving us 100 pages of Buchanan wannabes every two weeks. Lew Rockwell on Dead Tree, anyone?

March of Dimes Syndrome-Jonah has a piece this afternoon on how feminism has won the vast majority of what they set out to accomplish a third-of-a-century ago and are stuck fighting over small things the majority of women do not care about. Instead of folding up the tents and declaring victory, the feminists have turned their focus to abortion and other secondary issues. An organization will strive to continue to exist even if its reason for being has been achieved, like the war robots who keep on patrolling a dead planet. I call this March of Dimes Syndrome, which describes the tendency of an organization to stay in existence long after its reason for being has been achieved. The March of Dimes was set up to cure polio. It did so. So, what's a big charity to do once they achieved their goal? Change the goal to fighting birth defects. NOW and other feminists groups were set up to achieve equality of women. With very few exceptions (ministers/priests in some denominations, some combat positions in the military), those rights have been won. The feminist groups then had to do something to stay in existence and changed focus to abortion and other pet projects of the left. There are a number of groups that have outlived their usefulness and should have folded years ago. The League of Women Voters is another; it should either rename itself the League for Voter Education or something like it, since its initial mandate of getting newly-enfranchised women up to speed in political literacy has been met decades ago. Many black civil rights groups are approaching that point as well, as the initial struggles for establishing legal rights has been won, leaving some rather tangential issues , such as apparent inequities in the death penalty and gerrymandering issues, left on the table. Due to the March of Dimes Syndrome, these civil rights groups, both for women and minorities, all lurch forward, being captured by increasingly left-of-center leaders. This new cadre then changes the initial mandate of seeking equality for their people to that of seeking socialist and amoral policies that do not help the majority of their alleged constituencies. At least the original March of Dimes is working towards a largely admirable goal.

Roundball Musings-Four more spots in the World Cup's Sweet 16 were filled today. Spain and Paraguay advanced out of Group B, with Paraguay edging out South Africa on a goals-scored tiebreaker. The Group of Death was particularly cruel, as powerhouse Argentina came in third in Group F, with England and Sweeden tying for first with a 1-0-2 record. Sweeden got the first spot on a goals-scored tiebreaker. Tomorrow, Groups G (with Italy needing a win against Mexico to advance) will be 7AM starts while Group C (with Costa Rica looking to get at least a tie out of Brazil to clinch second spot) will be the red-eye 2:30AM starter. I'm not sure what to think about the Lakers pending sweep of the Nets tonight. I don't have anything against the Lakers except that they are such a overdog that they are hard to like.

Bad Humor Alert- On my way back from teaching last night, I channelled-surfed into a classic rock channel playing Styx. My mind turned to the possibility of playing Start Me Up after Lady and creating Styx and Stones. One of the questions my students didn't get to work on last night (things went longer than I planed) had some questions regarding a "Report on the Feasability of Building Hilton Hotels in Vietnam." I can see them putting a Hilton in Saigon/Ho Chi Min City, but would they really want to build a real Hanoi Hilton? Pity that didn't get to inflict my students with that one.

Am I That Good?- Got some way-too-glowing props from the Hoosier Review's Joshua Claybourn. Both Joshua's personal blog and the HR blog are worth checking out, I'm mew to both of them. Joshua looks to be an econ major, so he might become an interesting pen-pal. Do I have "the potential to become a standard-bearer among Christian bloggers," as Mr. Claybourn suggests? I'd like to think so, but that inflates the ego to dangerous levels. I can write fairly well with some flair and good humor, but putting me in charge of a Business Writing class nearly had me heading for the Depends section at first (I'm doing better than I thought I would). I'm enough of a generalist to be able to put in a thoughtful $0.02 on a number of topics, and have a formal background in a lot of useful fields (Political Science, Economics, Finance, Computer Science) for a current events blog. I've always been a generalist and a sponge for trivia, before Trivial Pursuit was invented, that mental database was "The Mark Byron Encyclopedia of Useless Information." I don't yet consider myself a theology expert; my theology background is made up of 17 years of Bible studies and Sunday school classes, though I'd like to take some formal classes here at WSC. However, I do manage to hold my own in theological discussions with Eileen, who has a seminary degree and plenty of formal theology coursework. Her ultimate pick-up line as we parted the young-adult outing where we met (and talked some serious comparative theology) last March was "call me up and talk theology sometime." Three days later, I did just that, inviting her to a Bible study I was attending at the time. All this talk about the future of blogging, and seeing people get onto this new medium makes me wonder where this will be heading in a few years and who will emerge as the new stars of the media. You can't see many of the stars coming., as some so-so one will be in the right place at the right time while others good writers have no luck at all. I think it's more likely that some smart college kid of today, such as Ben Domenech or Joshua Claybourn, will be one of the next big pundits than this small-college business prof. The next step in the process of world pundit domination ("What are we going to do tonight, Prof?" "Same thing we try to do every night, Pinky. Try to take over the Blogosphere.") would be to start offering articles to bigger outlets, such as Bryan Preston just managed to pull off. I was a bit leery of trying to do so until now. However, Professor Byron does give me just enough prestige to get some doors open that wouldn't open for an accountant working for a hospital. Some of my better essays, given a double dose of editing and revising, might be as good as some of the stuff on NRO or The Weekly Standard. However, all this praise makes me think that it might be achievable. That being said, I'm not quitting my day job anytime soon.

Corporations- A Large-Scale Evil?-Dispatches from Outland pointed to an interesting Christianity Today piece that gave a too-glowing review of an agrarian conference at Georgetown College in Kentucky and the movement's leader, Wendell Berry. While the idea of moving to a smaller, more community-oriented economy has its appeal, the agrarians neglect the advantages of large-scale economic endeavors. I just got back from lunch at a fairly authentic local Mexican restaurant, who delivers better quality food than Chi-Chis at roughly half the price. I type this from a small, human sized college campus, looking out on the commons building and a quad where cheerleading campers are practicing their routines. By that token, I am living the kind of life that the agrians would largely approve of. However, I'm typing this on a computer that has a CPU made in California, a hard drive that was likely made in Malaysia and memory chips that are likely of Taiwanese origin while adjusting my watch made in the Philippines. A company in California is in charge of running Blogger, making this post possible. If we adopted an agrarian ethic worldwide, such technological advances would slow to a crawl, as it takes large organizations to develop and distribute such technologies. If the agrarians are simply interested in setting up semi-communes, small towns where only small-scale commerce and farming is allowed, then they pose as much threat as the Amish. They can go off to their small town utopia and come out for the occasional hospital visit. However, if they want to force all of us to adopt their lifestyle,. then they are a threat to our economic well being, since we would likely stagnate at best on a technological basis and possible devolve back to a early-20th-century level if large non-governmental organizations were not allowed to exist. Small-scale products aren't necessarily safer and of better quality. Modern quality control has produced better products, while safety procedures are often easier to implement in larger plants than in smaller facilities. True, a safety breech at a large plant effects thousands, but smaller safety breeches at smaller producers will case an equivalent about of damage overall but will be less newsworthy. Large corporate landscapes do take away from neighborliness. However, what we lose in community, we gain in freedom. The forced independence of having to master a number of crafts in the agrarian model is replaced by a odd combination of economic independence and interdependence. We are interdependent on each other specialties, as I'm not a good auto mechanic or butcher, but the auto mechanic can't teach economics too well and the butcher doesn't have a Ph.D. in Finance. However, that interdependence allows us greater independence, as I can specialize, getting expertise in areas that I both enjoy and am good at. Corporations are a vital part of a large-scale economy, for a small set of individuals will be hard-pressed to raise the capital needed to run a large-scale enterprise at a partnership level. One downside of large corporations is that responsibility becomes diluted. A company's primary interest is to maximize long-term profits, losing out on any moral advantages that a sole proprietorship or partnership would have. You can shame a single proprietor into changing policy easier than you can a big corporation, who is looking out after the stockholders' financial well-being, not their moral well-being. People will look at corporate misdeeds and bellow "There oughta be a law!!" With good intentions to improve things, reformers will pass regulations that are designed to give corporations an artificial conscience. Frequently, the rigid structure of these artificial consciences makes it more bother than it is worth. The constrictive nature of the regulations will slow the economy, causing more pain than the behavior changes alleviate. Yes, corporations are a bit more “evil” than proprietorships in and of themselves. However, the economic and technological gains that large-scale enterprises allow for far overwhelms the lack of moral accountability created by the corporation. These gains are unlikely to be duplicated in the public sector, as communist countries found out the hard way. People of the left should stop worrying and learn to love the corporation.

Edifier du jour-Luke 22:7-20
Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, "Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover." "Where do you want us to prepare for it?" they asked. He replied, "As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house that he enters, and say to the owner of the house, 'The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?' He will show you a large upper room, all furnished. Make preparations there." They left and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover. When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, "I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God." After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, "Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes." And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me." In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.
Luke 22 has a lot of things that are noteworthy, such as Judas' betrayal, Peter's denial, the healing of the servant’s ear and the beginnings of the Jesus' kangaroo court process, but the part that sprang to mind was the part on the Last Supper. Jesus' blood was poured out on us on a spiritual level, paving the way for our salvation. The Old Testament idea was that sin could only be removed by a blood sacrifice. It was Jesus' blood that served that function, becoming the sacrifice to end all sacrifices. A sacrificial animal was to be without blemish; it would be an affront to God to sacrifice second-rate stuff while keeping the good stuff for yourself. That is why Jesus' divinity is important; since this sacrifice would have to be without physical or moral blemish, it required an incarnate God to meet those specs. This was a new covenant, a new contract between God and mankind, amending the Law as handed down to Moses. All those animal sacrifices were rendered moot, as the Lamb of God's sacrifice took care of all of our sins for all time. Jesus' cry on the cross "It is finished," was a business phrase of the day; it was written on a debt note to signified that it had been paid in full. Our sins have been paid in full, if only we claim that payment by accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior.

Tuesday, June 11, 2002

Neanderthal Conservative Straw Men-Instapundit had an interesting link to this Eric Raymond piece on why he's not a liberal or a conservative. When you go through his list of ten reasons why he's not a liberal, he lists eight policies, Bill Clinton and an (accurate?) stereotype that liberals are fools. When he gets to his conservative list, he has about 5.25 policies, Ronald Reagan, a stereotype that conservatives are villains and 2.75 straw men in the area of racism, sexism and "anti-science." While there are a few bigots out there, modern conservatives are more color-blind than modern liberals, as conservatives are more interested in treating people as individuals than as members of racial or ethnic groups. Conservatives do have some dinosaurs, such as Jesse Helms and Strom Thurmond, who have quite a bit of racist baggage. but the generation of politicians under 50, who hit adulthood in the 70s or later, generally have a minimum of racist bile. For every David Duke, there are a larger number of Al Sharptons and Louis Farakhans who are as anti-white as Duke is anti-black. Likewise, there isn't a lot of true sexism in the conservative political ranks. On a religious level, many conservatives will lean towards having stay-at-home moms and male-only pastorates, but that bias doesn't seem to extend to wanting to undo equal-pay and anti-discrimination in the secular sphere. Being pro stay-at-home mom is pro-kid, not anti-female. Being anti-abortion is pro-kid, not anti-female; note that support for abortion is roughly even between males and females. I may not be comfortable with a woman head pastor, but I would be comfortable voting for a woman president as long as she shared more of my views than her opponent did. I gave the "anti-science" whack a 0.75 straw man, for the debate on cloning is a small part of an overall science picture. At least Raymond only went back to the 60s to bash conservatives for racism; he has to go back to medieval days to lay extra blogfire. Most conservatives are dynamists when it comes to R&D, parting company on cloning and embryo-harvesting issues. I'd hearken back to the Declaration of Independence, where Jefferson (the libertarian patron saint?) states that we’ve been given the inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I see those rights in that order, and if we view embryos as life, we shouldn’t be destroying them pursuing happiness. If you take these straw men aside, there is more policy points on the liberal side that the libertarian disagrees with. Robert Reich may be more fun to talk to at a cookout than Jerry Falwell, (Reich’s a good raconteur but liberal as all get-out) but he’s also more dangerous to our freedoms as a whole than a real-life conservative. Libertarians don’t have to like conservatives, go to our churches or have their female partners stay home with their kids, but they’d be better off if they voted for conservatives; they’re putting style ahead of substance. Many libertarians seem led to put up conservative straw men to keep from joining forces with them. Their distaste of the stereotype of religious conservatives leads them to seek independence when an alliance would better serve their ideological agenda, unless that agenda is truly anti-Christian rather than pro-freedom.

Sports Musings-My pityometer is barely registering as France goes back home without scoring a goal, losing 2-0 to Denmark. Denmark and Senegal advance out of Group A. I was rooting for Cameroon today, but the Germans were on their way to a win in one of the chippiest soccer games I've seen. It look like a Red Wings-Avs hockey game (Claude Lemieux era no less) game was about to break out, as the ref must of gotten a red-light special on yellow cards. The Germans were up 2-0 with about 10 minutes to play; both teams were short a player via red cards. Germany and Ireland got out of Group E, with Ireland handling the Saudi entity 2-0. [Update-the 2-0 scores held up, and there was a record 16 yellow cards in the Germany-Cameroon game.} I was also happy to see the Wings get a 3-1 lead in the Stanley Cup final with a 3-0 win yesterday. Hull and Larionov reprised their roles from game 3 as goal scorers with Shannahan adding an insurance goal. I'm not sure that an ABC announcer's idea that Igor Larionov is a possible future president of Russia might not be that far fetched. Former Red Wing and Larionov buddy Slava Fetisov is currently sport minister; Larionov has a job waiting for him as Fetisov's assistant once he decides to hang up the skates. Larionov does have a quiet, intellectual demeanor that reminds me a bit of Greg Maddux or even Bill Bradley. Stranger things have happened.

You’re Number Two- I was watching a local morning news show, showing footage of Gracia Burnham landing in the US, with the newslady saying that she had left the Phillipines without the one thing she loved the most. I hope that's not true, since I would think that the Burnham's loved God more than they loved each other. Had they loved each other more than they loved God, they'd have likely not allowed the other to be in harm's way witnessing to Muslims in Mindanao. Gracia may have lost her husband, but she still has her God. That's a challenge that I struggle to live up to; loving God more than I do Eileen. My faith has been strengthened as a result, as I am regularly reminded to have to love God more, making sure to keep Eileen in second place in my heart. A real close second at times, but still second. I remember a song a friend and his wife sung at their wedding reception entitled You’re Number Two. I don’t remember the lyrics in detail, but it stressed the need to have God as the #1 love in your life and that the spouse was thus “relegated” to #2.

Edifier du jour-Luke 21:8-19
"Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am he,' and, 'The time is near.' Do not follow them. When you hear of wars and revolutions, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away." Then he said to them: "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven. "But before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. This will result in your being witnesses to them. But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. All men will hate you because of me. But not a hair of your head will perish. By standing firm you will gain life.
This isn't the most cheery passage, but yet it contains a lot of things to cheer up the believer. Jesus tells us not to be frightened by the dangers of this world, for a better life ultimately awaits. More importantly to the typical person not quite ready to leave this life, He will also give us knowledge and wisdom to face the troubles of the world and to be a witness through our trials. It also points out the folly of trying to predect His time of return, since the end "will not come right away."

Monday, June 10, 2002

Fun with Textbooks-Dr. Heddle, you are something of a prophet on the life of a conservative professor. Even at an evangelical college, one of the problems of the professor business is lame and/or left-slanted textbooks, since there isn't a huge market for evangelical textbooks on topics that don't have much of an evangelical slant, such as business writing. I had to water down the section on bias-free language a bit, but it's not been too bad up to this point. However, the textbook (Kitty Locker, Business and Administrative Communication, 5th edition, McGraw Hill, 2000) has this gag-inducing section in its chapter 14 on report-writing that I'm prepping this evening.
To think of problems for class reports, think about problems that face your college or university.... Read your campus and local papers and newsmagazines; watch the news on TV or listen to it on National Public Radio.
How many center-right outlets will your student find? At most main campus papers, debate is between liberals and Chompskyites and most local papers, especially in college towns, aren't exactly bastions on conservatism. Only US News would pass for centrist among the big three news magazines. TV news slants left unless you find your way to Fox, and don't get me started on NPR. That may sound fine for an Ohio State prof, but it doesn't sound too good to this Warner Southern prof.

Containing the Axis of Evil--Nuclear Doctrine in the Post-Cold War world- Kevin Holtsberry gave a solid rebuttal to this Pat Buchanan piece "Woodrow W Bush." The title, as Kevin points out, aims to label the president as a Wilsonian do-gooder. I'll go after Buchanan's take on Kashmir and the Middle East later, but I wanted to give a counter-argument to this steaming pile in the middle of his article.
Is this the new Bush Doctrine: America asserting a right to launch preventive wars on any "rogue nations" that we catch building the kind of weapons we have had in our own arsenal for half a century? This is a formula for endless wars, almost certain to produce the very horror the president seeks to avert -- the detonation of an atomic or biological weapon on American soil. Where is Bush getting these ideas? Is deterrence really passe? What else but U.S. deterrence keeps China off Taiwan or North Korea out of the South? What other than America's deterrent power keeps Saddam out of Kuwait or prevents his using on us or Israel the poison gas weapons the War Party says he used on the Kurds? "Containment is not possible when unbalanced dictators with weapons of mass destruction can deliver those weapons on missiles or secretly provide them to terrorist allies," said the president. But is Saddam or Kim Jong-Il or the latest Ayatollah more "unbalanced" than the mass murderers Stalin, Mao and the megalomaniacal Kim Il-Sung? If containment and deterrence worked with these monsters, why will they not work with the smaller fry of today?
First, lets do a quick and dirty review of late-20th century history. An all-out attack on China, the USSR or North Korea prior to 1990 would have prompted a nuclear WWIII. Containment and deterrence were preferable to bombing each other back to the Stone Age. Nuclear deterrence worked well in the Cold War era due to the idea of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD). The US was saying to the Russians, "Bomb us, and we'll will turn all of your big cities into radioactive parking lots. We've got enough nukes in subs to do this just in case you manage to take out our bombers and missile silos." Deterrence doesn't work as well with a smaller foe. Knowing our distaste for going nuclear, smaller foes could believe that they could use nukes against US, counting on an measured American response with conventional forces. We didn't have the luxury of fighting WWIII without resorting to nukes, but we could take on any of the Axis of Evil without resorting to nukes. Thus, MAD is out the window for the Axis of Evil. The question is then whether to wait until we are attacked and then parking-lot the offending countries, or to preemptively attack countries with unstable and hostile leaderships working on WMDs. The more cautious response would be the first one, but the cost of not doing so would entail the loss of thousand if not millions of lives. Such an attack would take the WMDs out of the wrong hands and improve the regime in question if the attack resulted in a change in leadership. I've seen trailers for a new Cruise-Spielberg sci-fi thriller, Minority Report, where the renegade hero is part of a outfit that can predict criminal behavior, arresting people for crimes they were about to do. The idea of preemptively attacking the Axis of Evil seems a bit like the Thought Police of the movie; good Constitution-lovin' Americans shouldn't stand for punishing people for things that they haven't done yet. The AoE aren't first-time offenders, though. All three charter members of the AoE have lifetime achievement awards for crapping on their citizenry and sponcering terrorism abroad. These three countries will be punished more for what they have done in the past than for what they are likely to do in the future. Iraq's invasion of three of its neighbors and the bombing of a fourth puts them first on the list. With 20-20 hindsight, Bush 41 should have let the troops roll to Baghdad and finish the job. It may be up to Dubya to finish the job; Iraq shouldn't be allowed to give the International Community the cutsie-eye and say "Mommy, I haven't done anything wrong!" It may be preemptive for the WMD issue, but Saddam's got a rap sheet that goes on for miles and needs to be busted for that as well as the WMD issue.

Random Musings-I managed to hook my VCR up to the TV in my temporary housing (I brought a car-full of stuff with me) so I could catch the 2:30AM USA-South Korea game without destroying my sleep. It was a good game, as the US was lucky to get out with a 1-1 tie. A win would have clinched a spot in the elimination round, but not they'll need to a least tie Poland or get the Koreans to upset Portugal. If I had hooked up the VCR a day earlier, .I would have been able to watch the OT of Wings-Canes Game 3; given my teaching schedule on Saturday, I ran out of gas after regulation.. The Wings won 3-2, but needed a Brent Hull goal with a minute to play to force OT. Igor Larionov had become the oldest guy to score a goal in the Stanley Cup finals, and was a day older by the time he scored again in the third OT (third longest game ever) to win it. Apartment Wars-Spend the morning apartment hunting, and it brought out the middle-middle-class part of me, looking at some apartments and thinking "I don't need it to be this nice" but finding others that were just too grungy and ill-kept. I don't mind the frugal side, but the snobbish side isn't pretty. I'm having to fight through a lot of judgmental stereotypes (like lots of blacks=bad neighborhood; lots of toys on porch=no-class family) but I also have an honorable desire to want to find a safe, comfortable place for Eileen and I to live while being a good steward of the money God give me. It's a novel and scary thought to be having Eileen's well being in mind as I select an apartment. I'm 6'5", so anyone who wants to take me on will have to be either a down lineman or have a weapon, but I now have to look out after someone who's smaller and more likely to be targeted by any bad guys who happen to be around.

Dirty Bomb Boy- The news of the day is that the FBI has in custody an American Muslim convert, originally named Jose Padilla, who was in league with al Qaeda to build a dirty bomb. I don't know of too many Latino Muslims. This throws a monkey wrench into targeted profiling of people from Islamic countries, as an American born Latino would be about the last person I'd expect to be a Muslim convert and being one of Osama's boys. My mind's playing back bad liberal AIDS propaganda- "It could be anyone."

Edifier du jour-Revelation 15:2-5
And I saw what looked like a sea of glass mixed with fire and, standing beside the sea, those who had been victorious over the beast and his image and over the number of his name. They held harps given them by God and sang the song of Moses the servant of God and the song of the Lamb:
"Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, King of the ages. Who will not fear you, O Lord, and bring glory to your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed."
This one came from yesterday's sermon, but has stuck with me. Who won't fear God? Those who don't really know Him. It's the person that doesn't know Him that doesn't respect his power or his will.

Sunday, June 09, 2002

Globalization and the Esler Principals-Ted Esler has a good piece (the Thursday, June 6 post) bouncing off of Tom Friedman's globalization book The Lexus and the Olive Tree, nothing that the largely secular Freidman underplays religious issues. Esler goes on to list five features that a globalization-friendly religion should have
1. Ethnically Neutral 2. Culturally Adaptable 3. Decentralized 4. Technologically Savvy 5. Open
Esler points out that evangelicals have an advantage over Catholicism in that they are both opaque and centralized. In many aspects, the Catholic Church is somewhat decentralized, for the national church post-Vatican II has some ability to craft its services and Masses to the local customs within some basic Catholic parameters. The Vatican does need to work on transparency. What other major religions work well under the Esler Principals. Of the major religions, Buddhism would be the biggest candidate. It has an appeal to Western intellectuals it's shortcomings are in ethnic neutrality (being a bit Asian-centric) and openness (tending towards personality cults). It has stuck all over Asia, is decentralized and has many techies on board. New-age thought borrows from Mahayana Buddhism and Hinduism in a western-friendly way, but there is yet to be a definition of common values to become a coherent movement. I think it is secularism, rather than Eastern faiths, that will be the biggest threat to Christianity over the next half-century. It meets the Esler Principals very well. There's another essay there, but not tonight.

Edifier du jour-Matthew 11:28-30
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
Eileen gave this one to me yesterday, and it was much needed for both of us. Jesus is more than willing and more than able to take the emotional burdens of life from us, if we just let Him.

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