Saturday, July 13, 2002

One-Penny Opera-Former Democratic congressman Tim Penny is going to pick up Jesse Ventura's slot and run as the Independence Party's candidate for governor. The contrast between the showman wrestler/actor and the wonk's wonk is startling. Penny made his name (at least to this political junkie) as a budget hawk in the early 90s, joining with John Kasich to fashion a set of common-sense budget cuts in the '93-'94 session that helped show the ugly side of the House Democratic leadership. The WaPo piece points out that a few moderate Republicans state senators have jumped ship to the Independence Party. If these people keep their seats running as IP members and Penny manages to win as a IP candidate, could we be seeing the birth of a soccer-mom centrist party that could have legs? There was a lot of buzz about Ross Perot and his Reform Party in 1992 and 1996, but the movement didn't have legs once the Little General stepped aside; a Buchanan "takeover" in 2000 and the infighting that followed spelled its demise as a significant force. However, Minnesota's Independence Party was only loosely affiliated with Perot. While Ventura put the party on the map, Penny might be the guy to build it into a force to be reckoned with. There is a market for a secular centrist party that is a tad to the right on economics and a tad to the left on social issues. This "blue-collar libertarianism" doesn't come from reading Rand or Hayek, but couples a discomfort with religious conservatism with a discomfort with big government. It doesn't mind police, schools and a modest amount of welfare, but wants a good bang for the buck for any government endeavor. There are two futures for the Republican party, one that chucks the religious conservatives and heads towards such a blue-collar libertarianism and one that couples economic and moral conservatism in a way that will appeal to the swing voter. I'm obviously going to plug for the second option. The swing voter will prefer Jesse Ventura to Jesse Helms or Jesse Jackson, but it's the GOP's job to not be stereotyped as rednecks. The GOP needs to show a truly progressive (improving how we govern ourselves) conservatism rather than the reactionary conservatism of the past. If they don't, they will allow the political ecology to develop that an Independence Party can thrive in.

Warm Fuzzies to Tony Dungy-We hear a lot about the bad guys in sports, like Alan Iverson's recent arrest, but the good guys don't get the props they deserve. I was a bit tickled when I saw this piece in the Winter Haven paper that Colts coach Tony Dungy was doing a prison ministry gig at a local jail. This both shows off Dungy's Christian faith and documents that he's still got roots in Florida that didn't go away when the Bucs unceremoniously dumped him after last season. He could have shaken the Central Florida dust off of his shoes and not come back, but he's a better man than that.

"Birkenstocked Burkeans"-The Rob Dreher piece on some of his more "crunchier" tastes got some people, including Joshua Claybourn (thanks for the heads-up) and myself thinking. Why can't conservatives and hippie liberals enjoy some of the same things? There isn't anything inherently liberal in granola; I just chomped down one of those granola breakfast bars to placate my stomach as I wait for milady to get up. Organic foods, natural childbirth and jazz aren’t anti-conservative in and of themselves. Mandating that the public pay to support those habits or to squash popular culture is anti-conservative. Claybourn makes a good point in his musing on his dislike of suburbia, "I probably don’t agree with leftists on what to do about it, but we do agree on our opposition to suburban sprawl." I think this is the key differential between liberals and conservatives. Liberals will want to make us do what is good for us, while the economic libertarian streak in conservatives will shy away from enforcing their likes and dislikes on people. That's what a free market is for, to allow people to express their individual tastes in the marketplace. Where liberals get nasty is when the market doesn't appreciate what they like, or takes it over and makes it commercial. Jazz and folk music are minority tastes that you can't always get in the Wal-Mart racks. You might have to head to a specialty store in a big city or college town or the Web to get your type of stuff if you're not up to getting your local retailer to special-order it for you. Conservatives will grin and bear the inconveniences, while liberals will want to have their favorite style of culture subsidized. Small town stores get squashed when WallyWorld moves in on the edge of town. This dismays many people on both the left and the right, as even in the traditionalist realm there is a love of Small Town Values that standardized subdivisions and megamarts help to destroy. The local craftsman may make an excellent $100 floor lamp, but I just want to be able to see in our spare bedroom and the $10 Basic Floor Lamp at Target will do just fine, thank you. If I had to buy the well-crafted one, I might not have gotten the $20 Standard Folding Cushioned Chair or the $29 Standard Folding Card Table that is serving as my workstation pending more serious furniture shopping. The IMF-protesting liberals would like to ban the MegaStore and MegaCorps, forcing people to buy locally and produce locally. This is an inefficient way to organize an economy and would reduce the GDP dramatically. If you like small-town merchants, support them. However, by banning the big merchants and big corporations, you reduce the number of things people can buy. Most people consider not having enough things poverty. The exurban quiet that Josh likes is desired by a lot of people, who wind up turning it into the next suburb to the dismay of the older residents. My sister just moved into a nice new house in Freeland, and my comment to myself as we drove down the streets of her Upper Middle Class Subdivision on Monday was a folk-song homage; "Big Boxes, Big Boxes. They're all made of very nice ticky-tack and they're all just the same." Not that they aren't nice homes, but the sameness of the subdivision struck me. However, that's what sells to the Bobos of Central Michigan; if you want a funky part of town, this ain't it. Even if you wanted to, how would you zone against sameness? "I'm sorry, sir, but that design isn't unique enough." There isn’t a good free-market way to avoid suburban sprawl that I know of; feel free to fire up a good Coasian solution (Enviros buying development rights, maybe) if you’ve got one. Stopping sprawl would seem to require laws preserving the rural nature of the land, which might run afoul of the takings clause of the constitution if the value of the land as farmland is much less than as strip mall or subdivision. You can appreciate some of the nicer things in liberal culture, but be careful that you don’t ask the rest of us to pay for it.

Morning Musings-I'm going to be light on the blogging for the near future, as I'm enjoying a honeymoon period. I woke up before Eileen did this morning, so I've got some time to myself. The pro-research crowd was somewhat happy that a full ban on cloning research didn't come out of the Kass Commission. Sulik's got the killer synposis here, pointing out that Kass signed off on a 4-year morotorium on theraputic cloning research. Just got around to reading the Derb piece that got Kevin started on his rounds. Interesing but a little off-base in its application.

Jumping to Conclusions-The media's trying to get Rodney King II started with this Inglewood case. Methinks the powers that be will bring proper charges against the policeman if warranted. The big problem in the King case was that the policemen were overcharged in the first trial, with the charge essentially being attempted murder. Intent to beat the crap out of King, yes, but not enough to prove intent to kill. This case happened a week ago; how often do indictments come that quickly? Our justice system takes time, time to get things right. The same "no justice, no peace" gang who wants the cop drawn and quartered now will be perfectly happy to see appeals go on for decades if it is their guy on trial.

Edifier du jour-Proverbs 12:16 "A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult. " For me, this verse come to play best while driving. Rather than try to respond to bad driving in kind, it's often better to ignore the transgressor. You get less frustrated and have a better attitude when you get to your destination if you call upon that part of the Lord's Prayer "Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those [expletive deleted stoopid fools] who trespass against us."

Friday, July 12, 2002

Universal Faith-Kevin Holtsberry's has a good piece on the universality of Christianity. He's already gotten some feedback from Jeffery Collins and has responded to it. In Matthew 28, the Great Commission anticipates that the Gospel will be spread around the world. No other religion has quite its sweep. The few place that it has not gotten a toe-hold are ones that the existing religion is actively blocking competing religions. Even in some of those countries you will see people risking their lives to come to Christ. I'll have more to add later.

Edifier du jour-Psalm 112
Praise the Lord. Blessed is the man who fears the Lord , who finds great delight in his commands. 2 His children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed. 3 Wealth and riches are in his house, and his righteousness endures forever. 4 Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for the gracious and compassionate and righteous man. [3] 5 Good will come to him who is generous and lends freely, who conducts his affairs with justice. 6 Surely he will never be shaken; a righteous man will be remembered forever. 7 He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord . 8 His heart is secure, he will have no fear; in the end he will look in triumph on his foes. 9 He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor, his righteousness endures forever; his horn will be lifted high in honor. 10 The wicked man will see and be vexed, he will gnash his teeth and waste away; the longings of the wicked will come to nothing.
I needed this today. Some of the versus came through very clearly. Verse 4 points out that we as believers have the Holy Spirit to shine light in our darkness. A goldy believer takes bad news in stride, as he knows that God will help him find his way through the bad times. Even if it takes until the end, we will have the last laugh over our foes.

Thursday, July 11, 2002

Don't Panic over WorldCom-From a personal perspective, I like this big, bad bear market created by a the WorldCom mess-I start getting 403B money from my WSC job next month, my first foray into investing; buying in low is nice. Accounting irregularities aren't anything new, and a 24-7 media and a revenue-obsessed market made Lazy Susan accounting a way to boost share value until the financial realities sunk in. I think we've squeezed the last of the high-tech bubble of the turn-of-the-millennium out of the market, and things should be good-to-go for the long haul.

In Between Naps (Eileen's, not mine)-We "got rid" of my in-laws this afternoon after getting the Hide-a-bed from Hades back to the store for a full refund, having a nice lunch and showed Eileen and the outlaws Warner Southern and some of the orange-grove area to the southeast of WSC. Eileen and I just got back from grocery shopping; she's still zonked from the wedding, packing, trip down and unpacking; she's napping as we speak. I've got some spaghetti cooking as I'm writing-the first eat-in meal will be my special spaghetti sauce that got Eileen to start talking engagement when I made it Labor Day Sunday. I might post the recipe later.

The Real Honeymoon Begins- We didn't have a traditional honeymoon as such. We stayed within a easy drive of my parents house at the Undisclosed Secure Location for the first two days of our marriage, but weren't really by ourselves except in the evenings. We spent Sunday at church, then going out to lunch with some of our friends from our young adults Bible study group at the Vineyard, then went to my parent's house for the rest of the PM, having a marathon wedding-gift opening session. Monday was spent packing up and moving out of Eileen's old apartment in Sanford just north of Midland and getting as much of our wedding gifts and her stuff as possible into two cars and a pickup. The rest my family will ship down; my brother-in-law has some good shipping contacts from his engineering position. We stayed Monday night at my parent's house where I've been living the last six years; sharing my bed downstairs with Eileen was interesting, a fulfillment of the (mostly honorable) fantasy of reaching over to the other side of a empty side of a double bed and wondering what it would be like to have a wife there. We managed to get to Cleveland, TN at the end of Tuesday, having barely been able to detour around a massive parking lot in Saginaw, MI and being stuck for a half-hour in Knoxville at the I-75-I-40 merge. A bit ironic, since Warner Southern is Church of God-Anderson affiliated and the other CoG (a Pentecostal denomination) is based in Cleveland. A good Christian station was pre-set on the clock radio at the Holiday Inn and a copy of The Prayer of Jabez (??) on the desk. Driving Sparkle was a bit easier than I had thought, but the cramped space (Chevy Metros and 6'5" drivers do not mix well) created a bad cramp in my knee from time-to-time in my driving stints. We kept a loose convoy with her parents on Tuesday, but we managed to get very far ahead on our first leg yesterday, and proceeded to go ahead, getting to Winter Haven two hours ahead of them. We had time to unload Sparkle and get a late dinner before her parents get here and get lost in the apartment complex. It was 11:10 before we got everything unloaded. Not unpacked, mind you, just unloaded. Unpacking will take weeks. Eileen's had a severe sleep deficit during her wedding week, so she's in close fellowship with her pillow right now while I catch up on my reading. Now, we'll have some time to ourselves. Alone. In our new place. I don't have to teach until Tuesday, so we'll have a long weekend to kick back and do next-to-nothing. I do have a bit of prepping I need to do for that class, but Eileen's under Dr. Byron's orders to do nothing constructive (like job-hunting or changing license plates and drivers licenses) until Monday; mutual cooking, grocery shopping and supervised unpacking is allowed. Thus, the real honeymoon starts later today, when we sent off my in-laws back to Tejas.

Morning Musings- Congratulations to Ben on the one-year anniversary of his blog. I hit the six-month mark Sunday while I was off doing newlywed stuff. Patrick has a fun post on the political landscape of Bloggerville, However, the efforts to annex Tushnetville are, alas, still in the planning stages. We managed to annex the unincorporated areas of Butterworth Estates and the currently underpopulated area of Veritas Farms, but we just don't have the clout yet in the state capital to bring in Tushnetville. The WorldCom fiasco went down in this last week, and I'm still figuring out what a proper governmental response should be. I'm not sure that the Democratic critique doesn't have a germ of truth in it; much of Bush's response is window-dressing. Other than better enforcing the anti-fraud provisions already on the books, I'm not sure what more needs to be done. Take a page from the ChiComs and execute Ken Lay? Life sentences to the WorldCom bosses? We've had accounting fraud in the past, where companies have cooked the books; ZZZ Best and Phar-Mor come to mind. I'll have an extended post soon.

Fit to be tied--Due to my travels the last two days, I missed out on the All-Star tie of Tuesday. The game was stopped after 11 innings, as they had run out of relief pitchers and subs and didn't want to ruin the arms of the existing relievers. That's a common practice in pre-season games. where teams will only suit up a limited number of pitchers, and extra-inning affairs are called off at a certain point. Simple rule change, guys. If all the pitchers have been used, allow pitchers who've pitched less than three innings to come back in. However, it appears that idiotarians rule the roost in baseball; these were the people who were mulling the idea of George Mitchell as a possible commish befire settling of Bud Selig. Baseball's in serious doo-doo. According to Bud Lite, two teams might go belly-up financially before the end of the season and the players are toying with a possible strike. Maybe we need to scrap the whole Major League Baseball framework and start over. Any scripts for MLB II?

Señor Justice-This gives the middle-digit sal-oot to Castro. Gov. Bush just named Raoul Cantero III, a grandson of Batista, to be the first Hispanic member of the state Supreme Court. My Florida newbie mind ask "Why did it take this long?" It may have taken this long for the children of the Cuban diaspora of four decades ago to get law degrees and work their way up the ladder of the legal system.

Ediffer du Jour-2 John 1:4-6
It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us. And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another. And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.
How is it that obeying God's commands adds up to love? His commandments essentially add up to loving God and loving your fellow man. If you go back to the prelude to the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-29), you get this dialog
On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" "What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?" He answered: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' " "You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live." But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"
It's a simple sentence, but not that easy to do. If we have an all-out love of God, that will manifest itself in a love for our fellow man. The theologian in Luke 10 was looking for a cookbook response, some set of rules to follow like the minute customs of the Pharisees. Instead, Jesus gave him the shunned outsider who shows up two "godly" Jews in how to love your neighbor. I think our theologian has the order wrong, trying to put loving people first. I think we need to ask ourselves first, "How do I create and maintain a sold-out love for God?" Once we have than worked out, loving our fellow man should follow. I shame myself when I look at that question, as I am too tied up in my own wants to truly be sold-out for God. I'm still working on a good answer to the above question. Having a godly wife by my side won't hurt .

Wednesday, July 10, 2002

Arrived In Winter Haven- We just got done unloading my father-in-laws pickup and my mother-in-laws car. We don't have a computer desk as of yet, so I'm typing with the monitor on the floor, the keyboard on one leg and the mouse sitting on the phone book on the other. Eileen likes the new apartment: "muy bonita." We now have a guest room full of stuff to sort out. One we take the flawed hide-a-bed back tomorrow, we will be starting to have a semblance of a normal life.

Tuesday, July 09, 2002

Morning Musings-We're heading down to Florida in a half-hour, thus this space will be silent until tomorrow evening at the earliest. I've been able to sneak in a few posts this weekend; it's a welcome break from the wall-to-wall stress of getting married, adjusting to sharing a bed and a life with Eileen and the hassles of packing up her things (mine were largely down in Florida already) that has been this weekend. It's an relief to be by myself, away from the freinds and family that decended upon us, and be able to put my thoughts into the Blogosphere. Thus sayeth the Iron Man.

I Am The Way....A Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod pastor's been suspended for going to a multi-religion 9/11 prayer service. The Missouri Synod's the theologically conservative wing of Lutheranism, with the center-left ELCA being the big mainline grouping. I was uneasy with that Oprah-led service that was on national TV the weekend after 9/11. It's one thing to invoke the generic God of our civil religion in such times, but people who take the Bible and Jesus seriously can't say with a straight face that all the participants are praying to the same god. The Missouri Synod people will take a lot of flak for this, but If I were in their shoes, I'd probably make the same call. The relativistic word doesn't like the idea of a knowable, definitive God, because if such a God exists, people will have to answer to Him. The idea that the generic God's not good enough doesn't hunt for the leftist.

Edifier du jour-1 John 5:1:5
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.
For those of you who don't know the Lord yet, I'd like to stress that patch of verse 3 that says "his commands are not burdersome." The "fun things" that the believer gives up are far overwhelmed by the joy and peace of mind that comes from serving the Lord. No, I'm not on some honeymoon high, I have been saying that all along. The classic on this front is Matthew 11:29-30 "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." Jesus gives us much less to pull than the world does. When we to take on that yoke, we begin to transcend the world.

Monday, July 08, 2002

"If you can't say anything nice, don't say nothin' at all"-NOT!-It's a slow newsday but this little biodegradable steaming pile required a shout-out from the Iron Man. The Guardian leaked a WWF study saying that the world has 50 years of resources remaining. Funny, they've been saying that for decades now. I don't have time for a full history of enviromental doom-saying of the last three decades, but the amount of available resources keeps expanding, not contracting. We may run out of stuff someday, but not soon.

Monring Musings-Quick note on a nice David Heddle reply to my Trinity post. I agree with him that the truth is in the scripture sans inference, but I was erring on the side of understating my case. My lovely bride and I have returned from the USL and are about to commence packing. We opened up all our wedding gifts last night; some may have to stay behind to be brought down by my parents in November (my whole clan was slated to go to Orlando before I got the Warner Southern job) or snagged when we come up for Christmas. I'm just got done counting up a $1000+ haul from cash wedding gifts, not to count the $280 of Penney's and Tar-jay gift cards. Now we're down to the nitty-gritty of marriage details, like joint bank accounts and getting extra keys made for Sparkle (Eileen's car) and my car and our new apartment. We're fixin' to head up to Eileen's old apartment, clearing out the last stuff and saying goodby to the octogenarian lady who's been Eileen's landlady for the last two years.

Edifier du jour-1 John 4:1-6
1Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. 4You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 5They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. 6We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood
We need to test the things that we see and do, discerning what the source is. It's easy to take something that claims to be Christian but in truth is something far different. That spirit of the antichrist is on the loose, and we need to be on our guard.

Sunday, July 07, 2002

Wedding Update- The wedding went off without a hitch yesterday, and the reception was very moving, with yours truly breaking into tears as Eileen and I danced to Kenoly & Zschech's You Are. After that, my Dad gave a moving tribute, cranking up the karaoke and singing Is There A Cross in Your Life. Sone of Eileen's family got Sparkle (Eileen's Green Chevy Metro) the cans-on-string routine; we got the lipstick and shaving creme markings off at the car wash before heading for our Undiscosed Secure Location. So far, so good. We're at my folks house for dinner and gift openings, and will return to the USL for a second evening.

Edifier du jour-1 John 3:4:10
4Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. 5But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. 6No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. 7Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. 8He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work. 9No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. 10This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.
This struck me a bit hard this morning, as it is obvious that we're all sinners but verse 9 says that "No one who is born of God will continue to sin." The study notes in my Bible pointed out that the verse isn't pointing to the occasional sins a believer commits but the unrepentant sin of the unbeliever. This was hard ,as all the romantic fantasies and visual images that had come into my mind over the years were a heavy weight on my wedding day. Such improper thoughts, although not acted upon, were an ongoing sinfulness in my life; these verses pointed out some of the root causes of my awkwardness as a newlywed, wanting to honorably love my new wife. Pastor Milton's sermon this morning dealt with that problem, pointing out that the believer is blameless before God. His main text was in Psalm 26, where David kicks things off by saying "Vindicate me, O Lord , for I have led a blameless life; I have trusted in the Lord without wavering." Did he write this before or after Bathsheba? Even if he sounds like a bold-faced liar after some of his less-than-honorable activities, he could still be blameless if he had a repentant heart. Our blamelessness as a believer is something given to us by God, by grace and not due to our own goodness. Jesus' blood hides our sins from God's eyes. The one that nearly brought me to tears as his closing verse to point out that concept of imputed blamelessness was Romans 8:1-2 "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death." Satan was trying to use those thoughts of my past as a wedge to get between Eileen and I. The Holy Spirit used that verse to tell Ol' Sloughtfoot to get out of town. I am not condemned, and can use this clear conscience to properly love my adoring wife.

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