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Saturday, June 29, 2002

Foolishness to the Geeks- I was replying to a pro-young-earth email from Gary Petersen and he asked a very telling question-"If you're basing old earth thinking on science, and not Scripture, why?" I think it might be an intellectualism that wants to maintain control and then sets up "hyper-literalism" as a straw man to beat up. It seems foolish to my intellect to take Genesis 1 at face value, but then there are any number of things that we do as believers that are foolish to the outsiders. 1 Corinthians 1:22-23 comes to mind-"For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness." This is foolishness to the geek as well as the Greek, as modern intellectuals will not want to accept the supernatural, subservient nature of Christ without some way of asserting intellectual dominance. While I don't think God wants us to check our intellect at the door, I do need to have it take second fiddle to following God's word. This goes for my forays into free-will issues as well. I’m trying to take a fresh look at Calvinist thought and how I can better understand the mind of God via what He has to say in His Word.

Nene Nene Booboo-Some of the draft stuff was interesting. I think the Knicks got snookered by Denver in the big draft-day trade. The Knicks got Antonio McDyess and 25th pick, Illinios combo guard Frank Williams, for Marcus Camby, Mark Jackson and the 7th pick, Brazillian teen sensation Maybyner Hilario, who in futbol tradition goes by "Nene.'' McDyess may be talented, but I think he will make the Knicks chemestry even more dysfunctional. Meanwhile, the Nuggets get a veteran point guard to fill the void created let by letting Tim Hardaway go, get a solid big guy in Camby and may have a potential all-star in Hilario. Add Juwan Howard and Georgian rookie Nikoloz Tskitishvili, and you have a seriously nasty front line in the making.

Don't Count Your Chickens-I spent quite a bit of Friday morning reading the dead-tree Detroit Free Press while waiting for my flight to Midland. They had a piece on former Detroit police chief Benny Napoleon, who's running for county executive. They had a side-bar that stated
The winner of the Aug. 6 Democratic primary is a shoo-in to win the November general election because Wayne County is overwhelmingly Democratic.
Freepsters, then explain to me how William Lucas won that post 20 years ago as a Republican? With the right candidate, especially a black candidate like Lucas, a Republican can win a majority-black area. Lucas went on to work in the Reagan and Bush administations.

Other Supreme Court Stuff-We got the June dump from the Supremes this week, with the voucher case being the biggie. Thanks to the Blogosphere residant court watcher William Sulik for the following links. There was a 6-3 center-left decision making chaining an inmate to a steel pole in the Alabama sun for seven hours was cruel and unusual punishment. Rehnquist, Thomas and Scalia must have been playing Tom Jones' It's Not Unusual. I'm usually with those three, but I'll part company on this one. A decision backing random drug testing for school athletes was a 5-4 center-right decision, but with O'Connor dissenting and Breyer voting with the conservative block. Normally, the Supreme Court watcher's bracelet is WWSD-What Would Sandra Do? It isn't often that she's in the minority. The other case that might be worth watching was on a 5-4 center-right vote getting rid of a gag order on certain campaign speech for judicial candidates in Minnesota. That doesn't bode well for McCain-Feingold.

Up Yours, Mr. President-We had Acting President Cheney for a few hours today, between 7 and 9:30 AM while Dubya was sedated for a colonoscopy. Cheney gave the job back, showing that he didn't have quite enough targ in him.

Edifier du jour-John 16:1-15
"Now I am going to him who sent me, yet none of you asks me, 'Where are you going?' 6Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief. 7But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt[1] in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: 9in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; 10in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned. 12"I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. 15All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.
With my wedding a week away, there are a lot of stresses, but this passage reminds me that I have the help of the Holy Spirit through all of this. He'll allow Eileen and I to get through this week in one piece, comforting us through the rough patches. When life throws y'all a curve, remember that you have that Councelor at your disposal as well, comforting you and guiding you to the truth.

Voucher Take-The Supreme Court came out 5-4 in favor of allowing Cleveland's voucher program yesterday. This shoots down the church-state seperation issue that critics raised; now they will have debate on the merits. Coverage of the case has been muted in the Blogosphere; Kevin Holtsberry has the comprehensive coverage. The word that a number of liberal critics of vouchers, including the Detroit Free Press this morning, like to use is "siphon." For those of us who remember the gas crunches, the word has a ring like that of horse-rustling, as people would steal gas by pumping it out of other car's gas tanks. However, if you take the word at its face value, siphoning is simply moving a liquid from one tank to another via suction. Will it take money away from public schools? Yes. Is it the public schools' birthright to get that money? Not in my book. Will this "hamper effors to fix the public schools" as the Free Press intones? Only if vouchers leave school with less money on a per-capita basis. If private schools take 20% of the students at half the current public school tuition, then the public schools will have an 11% per-pupil budget increase, given that the will have 80% of the students but will have 90% of the money. Yes, there might be some leakage as people currently paying their own tuition will get tax money, but the cost savings of the private education will offset the money given to existing private-school students. David Heddle peice of a week ago points out one problem with private schools-the special needs kid. You may not have a critical mass of autistic Baptists to set up a private school Special Ed program, or enough evengelical Hispanic kids to get a English-emersion program going, Not every niche will be bing enough to fill up a class or a school. However, where there is a niche that has a critical mass to support a school (or a program within an existing school) the option should be allowed, giving the private school a larger voucher to support the special-needs child. It will help the parents, the kid, the public (due to lower costs) and it only hurts the public teachers unions.

Friday, June 28, 2002

Rockers Dying of Natural Causes?It's interesting to see some of the rock stars of the 60s get old enough to die of something other than car crashes, murders, suicides and drug overdoses. The Who's bass player, John Entwistle, didn't die before he got old, having assumed room temperature via a heart attack this week. Having lost George Harrison not that far back, we may start to see a lot more rockers dying of old-folks maladies. What ever happened to "Live hard, die young and leave a beautiful corpse?"

Edifier Du Jour-(Late night edition)John 15:1-6
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
Pruning is often painful to the believer, but it is designed to create more fruit. However, the pruning that Jesus does to the believer isn't as hards as the cutting off of the unproductive branch, which would be the nominal believer. We gather our substinance from the vine, for Jesus and his Word. If we are in Him, we will be given our wishes, since they will be of God.

Back in One Piece.-It took me 21 hours to fly from Palm Beach to Midland, including a 9-hour overnight layover in Detroit; my flight from Palm Beach to Detroit got canceled after waiting three hours, then my Palm Beach-Atlanta-Detroit alternative was stalled in Atlanta for two hours in a thunderstorm, getting me into Detroit after midnight. I live the life of a homeless person for the night, as the bad storms around the east had plenty of other people stranded; the local hotels were filled. I managed to stay awake and sane through the night, doing some writing on the school voucher decision and the NBA draft; I'll share that later. I managed to catch a 9AM flight out of Detroit and got home around 10:30. A long nap and a huggy reunion with Eileen has taken up the rest of the day. I hope to get some stuff posted around 10PM after dinner and our last Vineyard young adult Friends Group this evening.

Thursday, June 27, 2002

Leaving on a Jet Plane- Heading down to West Palm Beach to fly back to Midland for my wedding nine days hence; It's a longer drive by an hour to West Palm than to Tampa or Orlando, but also $70 cheaper. I'll take that trade for now. Online Discipleship- Got a nice testimonial from Ganns Deen,
Lately, I've been finding myself visiting David's, Josh's and Mark Byron's blogs more often than not because of the intense, thought-provoking, intelligent, mind-blowing commentary on Christian issues. As a baby Christian, it is important to me to learn as much as possible about what other Christians think and feel about the world, doctrine, dogma and whatnot. I make it a point to go to at least one link of each of their sites, as right now, these four [Jeffery Collins seems to be the fourth-MB: Correction- Ganns says it's Brownpau] are my adopted shepherds, and I'm sure the folks they link to come highly recommended. Mind you, I don't take their world as gospel, but they provide for truly great conversation and prayer.
I get a big lump in my throat when I read that; it's an ego-booster, but James 3:1 gives that a good splash of cold water, "Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly." I'm honored to be a mentor, but it's an honor that has a truckload of responsibility with it.

New Blog in Town- Hokie Pundit Robert Bauer has set up a new group theology blog, Department of Theology at University of Blogistan, of which I'm put in an initial contribution this morning on Free Will and Calvinism. Mark Butterworth and Kevin Holtsberry are other early contributers; Bryan Prestion and Chris Burgwald have signed up, but with only "Hello, World" posts so far. Bauer's plan is have this be a Christian Samizdata of sorts. Should be fun.

Edifier du jour-John 14:15-21
If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever-- the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.
Back up in verse 6, Jesus let loose with "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." Here, he's giving us our guide to help us find the Way, the Holy Spirit. The world may not be able to see Him, but they can see the effects He leaves behind in changed and healed lives. Like a physicist looking for a neutrino, the observer has to look for indirect evidence to the presence of the Holy Spirit. However, to the believer, His presence becomes apparent in our own lives by the wisdom and calm that He alone can bring.

Wednesday, June 26, 2002

Evening Musings- Long day so far, including grading papers, posting grades and some hide-a-bed delivery snafus that would have driven me to drink if I were a drinker. The bed has some problems, but there's a 30-day warranty; I can have my then-father-in-law help me take the thing back when we get back down here in two weeks. In the meantime, the bad boy's set up warts and all. Brazil got into the World Cup Final with a 1-0 win over Turkey. For all the non-traditional teams that did well, it comes down to Brazil and Germany in the final. I'll actually be able to understand the commentary for that one, since I'll be back at my parents' house in Michigan for the final and will get to watch the ESPN or ABC (I'm not sure who's got the live final) broadcast rather than the Univision coverage. I finished up my Business Writing class last night, and the students had a series of good oral presentations, better than the ones I've had to suffer through as a student in the past. One Air Force guy gave a report based on a debriefing on his Nuclear Test Ban Treaty compliance team's trip to set up seismic stations in South America. Another gal did her report on the award-giving department at NASA (the Melbourne class site's just south of Cape Canaveral), noting the most prestigious award for the ground workers is the Silver Snoopy. A local cop in the class gave a good speech on community policing, with the good quip describing the old-school style of policing-"You call, we haul." An ex-paramedic gave a good presentation on how to do CPR and a student working at NASA's Space Station complex did a nice piece on the Japanese module about to be sent up. They were a good bunch of people in the class, almost worth driving two hours one way to teach the class-I'll have a nice mileage check coming.

Ninth Circuit Liberals Ride Again-Ben Domenech stole stated most of my thoughts on the Pledge of Allegiance story, including the "In God We Trust" line. This is overrule-bait, since the 9th Circuit is the most overruled of the appellate courts; this doesn't sound like reasoning that O'Connor will sign off on.

Interchangable Churches?-Jeffery Collins made a good post yesterday from his sickbed questioning my comment from last month that Protestant churches were interchangeable, closing with this
So, to the question, "Are Protestant churches interchangeable?" I would have to answer, "Only to the extent that they teach the same message of salvation taught by the apostles."
That is an excellent clarification. There are plenty of liberal churches that I wouldn't feel comfortable worshiping in, but I have a number of different options that would meet Collins' criteria. In the last six years, while looking for a church home in Midland, I was a regular attendee at a very conservative GARB Baptist church, an Assemblies of God church, an Evangelical Free Church, a Southern Baptist Church and finally a Vineyard church. In my new digs, I've been going to a Vineyard church in Lakeland but am strongly considering going to an independent charismatic church in Winter Haven near where I'm now living that I went to last Wednesday night and am planning to go to again tonight. All of the churches listed are evangelical in that they preach salvation by faith/belief in Jesus as Lord and Savior. While the churches may have different worship styles and different views on the gifts of the Spirit, they share a common faith and a common Savior. To the extent that they are preaching what the Bible says and trying their best to live it out as well, they are interchangeable from a salvation standpoint. As I was trying to point out in the post Collins’ cited, it's easier to move from one evangelical church to another than to leave the Catholic Church. While we have some confidence that our church is presenting a close approximation of what the apostles preached, we evangelicals typically do not think our church or denomination has a monopoly on the proper interpretation of God's Word. For a Catholic, denying that monopoly is much harder, if not heretical. For an evangelical, it will often lead to bouts of church-shopping, as we look for a church that best fits our view of what a church should be like. Marc of Spudlets is in church-shopping mode now. He's got a good essay on this issue. He's right; if your church isn't preaching the Gospel and stops delivering the truth, you either need to turn the church around or walk with your feet. He also points out that you need to judge individual churches, not just the name on the front door. There are very good churches in lame denominations and lame churches in good denominations. I'd advise Marc and the rest of us who are in that position, to look for a place that they are comfortable in, that their spirit-man feels is the right spot. The music might be a bit too loud/too bland/too new or the preacher might be too loud/too long/too pushy but we aren't going to find the perfect church this side of heaven. We need to find the place God wants us to be, and avoiding going into Siskel and Ebert mode.

Edifier du jour-John 13:2-11
The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, "Lord, are you going to wash my feet?" Jesus replied, "You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand." "No," said Peter, "you shall never wash my feet." Jesus answered, "Unless I wash you, you have no part with me." "Then, Lord," Simon Peter replied, "not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!" Jesus answered, "A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you." 11For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.
You have to love Peter; open mouth, change feet. Washing feet was a servent's job, and Peter was unworthy of having the Messiah wash his feet. However, we are worthy in God's eyes, for Jesus came to be a servant to mankind. Once Peter understood that Jesus required that he be washed, he wanted to go whole hog. For the moment at least. I'm not sure how to apply the washing of the feet versus the whole body, but here's my stab. If we are cleansed of our sins by the blood of Jesus upon our belief in him, we need only be washed of the day-to-day sins, which are handled through prayer and personal confession. We don't need to be re-baptised for each transgression.

Tuesday, June 25, 2002

Midday Musings- South Korea's dream run fell short, as they lost to Germany 1-0 today. It's up to Turkey to hold up the non-traditional mantle tomorrow against Brazil. Good news on the Papa Blog front-Kevin Holtsberry's been blessed with an Instapundit permalink the day after I got one myself. Prof. Reynolds seems to be venturing further into the Christian quadrant of the Blogosphere. I'll be cableless tomorrow night, so I'll wind up missing the NBA draft coverage. Well, I'd be in church for the first ten picks anyway. There seems to be less talk about high schoolers this year than the year before, as many of the diaper dandies had rather poor first years, even given their lack of experience. The big story (about 7'5" big) is Yao Ming, the Chinese guy who's likely to be the first pick. He might lack a low post game, but he does have great size and a good outside touch. Some seriuos time in the weight room and a few trips to the Big Man's Camp might turn him into a potential Hall of Famer. As-is, he looks to be an oversized Jack Sikma, which ain't bad. The revamping of the NFL divisions has saved me from making some enemies down here. The Bucs have moved to the new NFC South, with the rest of the old NFC Central staying put, thus avoiding rooting for the Lions against the Bucs twice a year. I haven't quite got the Florida-FSU demographics down. FSU fans seem to trend a bit redneck downscale, according to what I've been told. I'm around a batch of upscale FSU fans at Warner Southern, who agree with MCJ's assessment of Spurrier as the Antichrist.

Bush and Israel-Dubya's Middle-East policy address nailed things fairly well, requiring a new generation of Palestinian leaders before any peace is possible. The good news is that Yasser has been declared persona non grata by this speech. The bad news is that the idea of a peaceful, democratic Palestinian state is a tad goo-goo and downright Wilsonian. This isn’t too satisfying, but what good alternatives do we have in the long run? Here are six possible scenarios for a long-term situation in the West Bank and Gaza
(1) An Israeli colony-no political rights to the residents-The pre-Oslo situation
I don't think Israel has the stomach to be an occupying empire over the long haul. Some alternative solution needs to be created.
(2) Annexation into Israel with full rights to residents
That would be suicidal, as Arabs would quickly be a majority in the merged territory. When combined with the Arabs inside Israel proper, the new Israel would be about 40% Arab.
(3) Israeli ethnic cleansing-Annexation by eviction of non-Jewish residents
It might come to this, but its not an option too many people would be interested in. World War III, anyone?
(4) Jordanian control
That might work, except that this would radicalize Jordanian politics (the population of Jordan proper is majority Palestinian) and lead to a larger Palestinian state and the overthrow of the Hashemites. Do we want an anti-western Arab tyrant running Jordan proper, the West Bank and Gaza?
(5) UN protectorate
Sorry! Wrong answer! Bad nightmares of Bosnia.
(6) Independent state in some form
We may have to go back to option 1 for a while until an alternative Palestinian leadership can be nurtured, but I think some sort of disarmed independence, possible with US supervision, is the best option 5 to 20 years down the line.

Edifier du jour-John 12:12-16(NASB)
On the next day the large crowd who had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took the branches of the palm trees and went out to meet Him, and began to shout, " Hosanna! BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD, even the King of Israel." Jesus, finding a young donkey, sat on it; as it is written, "FEAR NOT, DAUGHTER OF ZION; BEHOLD, YOUR KING IS COMING, SEATED ON A DONKEY'S COLT." These things His disciples did not understand at the first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written of Him, and that they had done these things to Him.
I looked back at the scripture John was quoting in verse 15 , Zechariah 9:9, and it is even more moving
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
The Zechariah verse points out the King's humility and has the King endowed with salvation. It isn't a small endowment like a struggling school, but an unlimited reservoir of grace. The residents of Jerusalem were right to shout their hosannas (which translates to "Save!" if I remember my commentary notes right); their Salvation-bringer had come.

Monday, June 24, 2002

Single Parents and the Church-Jordan Cooper had an interesing rant on stigma and single parenting spinning off of negative feedback on a post on the Nickelodeon child-of-lesbians show. Cooper's oversight in the original post was his saying that "I respect Nickelodeon's willingness to open a discussion and to talk about something that has so many people angry." The problem with that is it wasn't much of a discussion in that the cons of a lesbian couple raising a child were ill-addressed when they were addressed at all. From what I heard of the show, it was one-sided in favor of accepting a lesbian couple raising a child, with the token conservatives shown putting their side in a bad light. In liberal hands, "hate the sin, love the sinner" goes to "ignore the sin, accept the sinner's lifestyle choice." Cooper is correct in stressing that the children of alternative households shouldn't be stigmatized, but we should still speak out against the self-centered and amoral culture that gives us free extra-marital sex, homosexuality and divorce. He speaks from a wounded heart from his experiences of being a child of divorce, but he winds up inadvertently wading into the liberal camp by endorsing a flawed piece of pro-homosexual propaganda. Dealing with single moms (or single dads) is a hard issue. Many times, the single parent (as Mama Cooper seems to be) was a godly person who made a bad choice in spouses. In a family-oriented church, where couples' dinners and father-son and mother-daughter outings are common, single parents are awkward to deal with. Many churches will tend to judge the wronged spouse in a divorce, wondering what the person might of done wrong to help cause the divorce, since "godly people don't get divorced." Often, it isn't the churchgoing spouse's fault; their only sin might of been in marrying the wrong person, and even then the warning signs might have been hidden. Churches should be forgiving of past sins while being called to educated against present and future sins. Having single parents in a church is embarrassing in that it shows that some of the church's members were sinners in the past. Guess what, folks? We all were sinners in the past and still are. It will require accommodating the single parent into a paradigm that assumes two-parent families, but the church needs to minister to the single parent while still stressing the importance of stable marriages.

The Scourge of the Polk County School Board-Part II- Political entities will be looking to enlarge their territory like Jabez, and my new local school board is now exception. They're trying to make the county school superintendent an appointed position, putting the proposal on the September 10 primary ballot. The school board doesn't want to deal with an independent superintendent, because he can block their ideas.
"The key is we need to have the best-qualified person, who has the training, experience and track record to give us the leadership we need to take us to the next level," Nelson, the board chairman, said Saturday. "When you can't hold a superintendent accountable, it becomes a problem."
A problem to whom? The board, maybe? An appointed superintendent would be more of a yes-man for the board, since the school board, not the voters, can fire him. Note this telling paragraph at how clueless this school board is:
If the referendum date is approved by the board, it would be the seventh time the ballot initiative would go before voters. The referendum to change the superintendent post has failed six times before. The last time was in 1994.
I had raked the board over the coals (retroactively Scourge #1) a couple of weeks ago for putting off a tax referendum until next spring rather than put the tax proposal on the Sept. 10 primary ballot, when more tax-friendly Democrats will be at the polls. With the teacher's union backing the Republican superintendent (can you say "Primary challenger?"), holding the vote during a hot Democratic gubernatorial race would be a stoopid move. Beam me up, Scotty. No intelligent life-forms here.

God Behind Bars-Chuck Colson's a hot topic in the Blogosphere today, warning about militant Islam getting a big toe-hold in prisons in a Wall Street Journal piece. Colson has been America's #1 prison minister since coming to Christ while serving a Watergate-related sentence in the mid-70s, and put in a plug for such prison ministries in his piece. Christianty Today's blog has a good overview of the issue, while Instapundit has his suspicions,
He's [Colson's] right that it's an issue, but his solution -- which seems basically that Christianity is better -- doesn't fly. First, it's got First Amendment problems. Under current Supreme Court law you could probably get rid of all prison ministries if you chose, but you can't favor one religion over another. Second, his view of Christianity in prison is a bit rosy-eyed: Christian Identity types have been recruiting there for years.
I'm not WSJ-registered, so I can't get to the article in question. I believe the answer is to keep tabs on groups with violent natures, whether they are of a religious or secular stripe. To try to indirectly tie Christian Identity (a white-power group with a "Christian" overlay) with Colson is a cheap shot. CI should be dealt with just as other gang-type groups that promote lawlessness, whether they are religious or not. Colson's Prison Fellowship and many others prison ministries have help turn plenty of inmates' lives around and thus should be encouraged on a public policy basis. There are also a number of decent Islamic ministries which have helped turn some guys' life around; the prayer and life-style disciplines of Islam will help re-socialize some guys, even if it is a warped version of God that is the focus of their energies. While I'm not going to endorse the Muslim groups spiritually, we need to do so from a public-policy standpoint; ministries that help inmates channel their frustrations into healthy outlets should be encouraged, regardless of their religious background. The first amendment doesn't create a religion-free zone behind bars, but any policies need to not play favorites. The unhealthy ones, such as your al Qaeda-friendly Muslim groups or CI should be barred on the grounds of being detrimental to the security of the prison, if they are avenues for prisoner revolts and lawlessness.

Genesis 1 Debate-David Heddle (holding a old-earth position supported by Francis Schaeffer) and Gary Peterson (young-earth, 144-hour creation) have had a series of good posts on creation. Go thou and readeth. Before we go any further, I'd like to stress that I accept the Bible as the inspired word of God that needs to be followed at face value. Since there are spots in the Bible that are to be taken metaphorically1, and that the word "day" can mean era in some contexts, I lean towards the old-earth position, that God created the earth and that the "days" mentioned in Genesis 1 were more likely to be eras. I'm open to arguments to the contrary, but I'm not yet sold on the science of the young-earth Creation Scientists. The Sun didn't get created until Day 4, so the idea of a standard 24-hour-day seems open to debate. If we did have a 24-6 creation, then either God made it look like it was billions of years old to modern scientists or modern scientists are clueless on the issue. I think the first option doesn't seem to mesh with God's nature; Jehovah isn't Loki the trickster. Heddle points out that the second option seems unlikely, unless God through out the rules of physics entirely for the creation period. However, accepting even a old-earth argument doesn't get the believer out of the woods when dealing with modern science. We still have to get past Adam and Eve and the Flood before we get up to Abraham and solid historical footing. This area will continue to be troubling to the scientific-minded believer or seeker. 1For instance, in Matthew 18:21, Jesus doesn't give us license to stop forgiving on offence #78 (or #491, depending on the translation); the command is to have a non-stop forgiving heart.

Edifier du jour-John 11:17-27
On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home. "Lord," Martha said to Jesus, "if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask." Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again." Martha answered, "I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day." Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" "Yes, Lord," she told him, "I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world."
Verses 25 and 26 are the kickers, especially with the closer, "Do you believe this?" Believers are promiced eternal life; Jesus shows his street creds by raising Lazerus a few verses later. Three days was supposed to be the maximum time a soul hung around the body in Jewish tradition, so four days in the grave was door-nail dead. If there was any doubt that Jesus had a direct connection to God, this dispelled it. However, it isn't the physical resurection of Lazarus that I'm dwelling upon today, it is the eternal life that Jesus says is available to the believer that is the key point. In Carman's Lazarus Come Forth, the story-song is introduced with a basso profundo reading verse 25 in the King James-"I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live." Thus, death isn't the end for the believer, it is a graduation ceremony for moving on to a life with God. For if there is no life beyond this, the benefits of leading a godly life are more limited. The council and peace of mind that God does provide in the here-and-now are significant, but it is that eternal security that makes putting one's faith in Jesus that much easier to do. I will direct Jesus' question to Martha to the reader-Do you believe this?

Sunday, June 23, 2002

A Class B blogger-Started getting some Instapundit traffic this evening, and checked out what Papa Blog was saying about me. To borrow from the Allison Krause song, he spoke best when he said nothing at all-I've got a permalink. Thanks, sir.

Fair but Unbalanced?-Michael Kinsley had a too-cute piece on TV anchors and George S. taking over This Week, but this closing paragraph was interesting
{I]t would not be so terrible if Stephanopoulos and This Week were overtly biased, or the other TV news anchorhoods as well. The TV news anchor I find myself watching most is Brit Hume of Fox News. He brims with bias, and it's a bias I don't share. But his freedom to be biased is also freedom to be intelligent. You get the news as filtered through an interesting mind.
He could be talking about bloggers, for the essence of blogging (or any good punditry) is having the news processed by interesting minds. If the pundit is honest about his biases and gives the other side their due when they have a point, you can have a biased but effective writer. While Kinsley will rip Fox for falling short of its "fair and balanced" motto, CNN and the major networks aren't exactly getting it on plumb either. If a biased reporter gives enough of the other side for the audience to make an informed decision, then they have done their job as a reporter. However, many of the conventional outlets will tend to give the liberal side of most stories more airtime. The standard Network Investigative Template is designed to give the afflicted party wanting big government more air-time than the foes of big government. Many issues don't have a true anti-X side but have opponents that wonder whether the costs of the law to promote X are worth it. Not too many people are anti-environment or pro-racism or pro-poverty or pro-unsafe products. However, it is hard to articulate the costs of a law within the standard newspiece. Most pieces will dwell on the injured party and have a "There oughta be a law!" tone to them; by the nature of the template, they don't take the time to look at the downsides.

Evening Musings-A number of bloggers have had eulogy blogs for Darryl Kile. It's a scary thought to see someone in their prime just die of a heart attack. No medical condition, no drug OD, just a blocked artery that did him in. At 40, it's scary to see a 33-year-old die of heart failure, pointing out our own mortality all too well. Esther "Eppie" Lederer, the lady who's written the Ann Landers column for 30 years, died as well this weekend. While she was a bit libertarian on some sexual issues, she was a standard-bearer of auntly common-sense. It looks like the Dominator's hanging up the mask and pads. Red Wings goalie Dominik Hasek is reported to be retiring, having gotten a chance to play for a Stanley Cup winner. Ray Borque did the same thing last year, leaving Boston for Colorado and a Cup before he retired. There are a lot of greats that never got the chance to play for a champ like Archie Manning or Tony Gwinn.

Edifier du jour-John 10:1-16
"I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a strangers voice." Jesus used this figure of speech, but they did not understand what he was telling them. Therefore Jesus said again, "I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. "I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me-- just as the Father knows me and I know the Father--and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd."
Sheep are d-u-m-b critters that need to be led. While me might take offence to being labled sheep, we are working in a spiritual realm that we are not expert in and need a guide to chart our way. Jesus will lead us where He wants us to go if we listen to Him. I'm thinking back to the old RCA logo, with the dog listening attentively to "His Master's Voice." How well do we know our Shepherd's voice? If we don't learn God's voice, we can't recognise it. I don't hear it as clearly as I should and am trying to develop better study habits in order to hear His voice. More quite prayer, where we are listening to God rather than rattle off our shopping list, will help, as well as going deeper into the Bible ( individually and in groups) will help us to better hear and understand his voice.

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