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Saturday, December 28, 2002

The Rockford Files-It was interesting to get a third look at Rockford; I had been here pre-engagement to visit my now-grandma-in-law Labor Day 2001 and then last Christmas en route to now-sister-in-law Michelle's wedding in metro St. Louis on the 27th (belated happy anniversary, Michelle and Uli). It's been two days of hanging out with the ladies of the clan, Eileen's mom, aunts and Grandma. It's been a largely testosterone-free zone, as the male relatives tend to either stay home or (a la uncle Jack) nap through the gabfests. Eileen's mom's up from Texas and her aunt Alicia's down from Wisconsin, meeting up with an aunt and uncle that live in metro Rockford. Her dad didn't make it up; two weddings ate into his vacation time. Grandma, Eileen, her mom and her aunts are in Old Girl Reunion mode. The laptop has come in handy. The "what do I do in a strange house at 5AM" feeling was replaced by blogging on my laptop, and I have made a strategic retreat to Madden 2003 (a Christmas gift) have made things bearable when I get peopled out. The sociologist and developmental economist come along for the ride even on pleasure trips, and looking at another old factory town confirms some basic trends. In many ways, Rockford feels a lot like Saginaw with a touch of Flint as a declining factory down that hasn't totally died. The development patterns stay roughly the same. The old stuff stays around and is underutilized, while new development goes to the edge of town. Downtowns don't die, they become low rent until they start to get trendy and gentrified. The old highways are just as useful when the Interstate comes through; route 2 south to Byron (I kid not, check the map) was a pretty but December-stark drive along the Rock River. The 60s-era department store building (Bergner's screamed early-mid 60s brick) still carries about the same stuff it did as a kid, adjusted for fashion trends. The old strip mall buildings still work, even if the rent goes down and boutiques turn into dollar stores and check-cashing emporiums. The old timers grumble about minorities moving in and the bilingual signs in certain parts of town. The nice family subdivisions of the 60s, like where my grandma-in-law lives, become the low-end starter house of the 00s (any candidate of how to pronounce "00s"-I've yet to hear a consensus develop, "oughts" is my candidate). There's nothing wrong with these starter houses except they're smaller; they might lack a spot for a "family room" (when you have two rooms of couches and chairs, why do we call the place were everyone hangs out the "family room" and the fancy sitting room the "living room" when no one lives in the living room anymore?)or a nice dining room, but the three-bedroom, kitchen and living room with dining room corner 60s subdivision house still works for a lot of people. For the nice new homes, families wind up either moving into new subdivisions on the edge of town or into exurban subdivisions in the middle of an old field a few miles out of town or on the edge of an small farm town just up the road that didn't used to be a suburb. My sister's house in Freeland fits the latter; it's turned into an exurb of Midland (where they go to church and our parents live) and Saginaw (where brother-in-law Matt works). So does Eileen's Uncle John's house that we visited, on the outskirts of Byron, halfway between John's mechanic's job on I-39 and Aunt Cathy's nursing job in Rockford. You get bigger rooms, higher ceilings, a fourth or fifth bedroom to turn into a Grandma room or a den or a sewing room. The bigger houses are nice, but I wonder if they are worth double the price of the basic home. We all want newer and bigger and nicer, but there should be some way short of anti-sprawl laws to allow better use of existing land and buildings. Environmental concerns make brownfield (old factor) redevelopment difficult, while the smaller houses will go wanting until prices or gentrification or declining crime rates (more a factor in big cities than medium-sized ones, where commuting time starts to make the inner-city attractive) makes them attractive to young families.

Edifier du Jour Luke 2:41-52(NASB)
41 Now His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. 42 And when He became twelve, they went up there according to the custom of the Feast; 43 and as they were returning, after spending the full number of days, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. But His parents were unaware of it, 44 but supposed Him to be in the caravan, and went a day's journey; and they began looking for Him among their relatives and acquaintances. 45 When they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem looking for Him. 46 Then, after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers. 48 When they saw Him, they were astonished; and His mother said to Him, "Son, why have You treated us this way? Behold, Your father and I have been anxiously looking for You." 49 And He said to them, "Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father's house?" 50 But they did not understand the statement which He had made to them. 51 And He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and He continued in subjection to them; and His mother treasured all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.
Continuing along with what I was thinking yesterday, I wonder how Jesus learned the scriptures so well at age 12. Would it have been that the scriptures were hard-wired so that he didn’t have to memorize them? Was the human brain he had gifted with given an eidetic memory such that he picked up everything he heard in synagogue the first time? Did his perfect nature give him wisdom beyond his years? This interesting interlude in Jesus’ life leaves us looking for more tidbits of his pre-ministry life, yet the details might be deliberately elusive. We get a couple of essays on his birth, a fast forward to an incident in his teen years and another fast, forward to adulthood and the ministry days. I think those were left off so that we could focus on the message of salvation that he brings. We don’t have a clue of what he looks like; the light-skinned fellow we see in pictures was likely stockier and darker. If we did, we’d be subject to a run of idolatry, where people would wear their hair like He did or have cosmetic surgery for a “Jesus nose.” Paintings would be more venerated, as we looked at what our Savior looked like. We’re left without anything to put into the “Jesus, the Nazareth Years” miniseries nor a good picture from which to cast the hero. We’re left only with a picture of God’s heart. That is good enough for me, for the rest would get in the way of looking at the heart of our Lord.

Friday, December 27, 2002

Morning Musings- Two goodies from Orrin Judd. The first was the marking of the thirtieth anniversary Christmas Day of Roberto Clemente's death, going down in a plane crash delivering supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. The eerie part of Clemente's death is that he finished the 1972 season with 3,000 hits on the nose; 3,000 hits is a de facto ticket to Cooperstown, as all eligible players with 3,000 hits are in the HoF. Since there was little chance he'd come out of retirement, they waived the normal five-year wait and voted Clemente into the Hall of Fame in 1973 and also set up the Clemente award for the most humanitarian player. The second Judd piece that caught my eye was on the birth dearth in Europe.
It's nice to see the Times notice that something's gone badly wrong with the West, but impossible to imagine that they'll seriously address any of the underlying causes--big government, divorce, too many people going to college, homosexuality, abortion, etc...
You can add more working mothers, delayed marriage and children as a consumption good rather than a production good. My Economics of Birthrates piece from May might be a good complement. A few days ago, Rummy said we were up for two major regional conflicts. Looks like we might get them, as the KorComms have kicked out UN inspectors. Even the dovish incoming South Korean president Roh said that this let's-get-nukes spree is "not beneficial to peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia, nor are they helpful for its own safety and prosperity." No kidding, Sherlock. Signs of manure hitting fan in Venezuela; they're importing oil from Brazil. How long until an all-out civil war, where Chavez tries to militarize the economy. OK, you're talking about decriminalizing marijuana in the Great White North and now Nova Scotia is criminalizing teen smoking; not purchasing, possession. Give the kids a doobie, for at that point, teen smoking of either tobacco or pot will be on an equal plane if the feds have their way.

Edifier du Jour Luke 2:39-40(NASB)
39 When they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city of Nazareth. 40 The Child continued to grow and become strong, increasing in wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.
I’m not sure what that young Jesus was like. If you accept that he was fully God and fully human, what would that fully God part look like as a 2-year-old? Would he have been uncommonly selfless, never hollering the Aramaic for “Mine! Mine!” or a petulant “No!”? What part of his divinity did he put in a blind trust until that day with John the Baptist? The verse here says that he increased in wisdom, which would mean that his God part was not totally there, for the God most of us worship can’t increase in wisdom. I’ve never heard a good explanation of how much of his omniscience and omnipotence he had as a kid. Could He have merely been a perfect kid, infused with a perfect conscience, a direct heart-to-heart line with God, until that release of the Holy Spirit after the baptism? For if he was able to know everything as a kid, he wouldn’t have surprised the locals with his messiahship; he would have already had the reputation as the child rabbi. Any comments on how the divinity of Jesus would have manifested itself?

Thursday, December 26, 2002

Morning Musings-Bloggin' from Grandma Pedersen's living room chair. Our Christmas Tour 2002 took us to Rockford last night, after a nice gift orgy with my parents and my sister's family. A highlight was a picture session with little Tyler, who had on an red overall shorts outfit I wore for my first Christmas four decades ago. Didn't last long; a excess of throughput caused a quick change. The trip down to Rockford was too easy; Christmas evening meant an absence of truckers from I-94 and I-80 and the weather was near-perfect. Midland had gotten a couple inches of snow Chirstmas morning, but Rockford missed the big dump that pass through to the south of here. Laptops are nice; I'm blogging from my new laptop in Grandma's living room. That makes being the first person up a lot less awkward. __________________ This is why I don't want to ask for a white Christmas, you might get a Christmas nor'easter. It's also a good reason to beat a hasty retreat back to Florida this weekend, where a wet Christmas dumped two inches of rain. Castro's got a streph infection on his leg from a bug bite. Wouldn't it be wierd if that is the way he finally meets his Maker.

Edifier du Jour-Luke 2:25-35(NASB)
25 And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. 27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to carry out for Him the custom of the Law, 28 then he took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said, 29 "Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace, According to Your word; 30 For my eyes have seen Your salvation, 31 Which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32 A LIGHT OF REVELATION TO THE GENTILES, And the glory of Your people Israel." 33 And His father and mother were amazed at the things which were being said about Him. 34 And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, "Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed-- 35 and a sword will pierce even your own soul--to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed."
It didn't take long for the darker side of Jesus' destiny to come to the fore. He was (and is) the consolation of Israel (and the world) but will be divisive. He is a sign to be opposed, even to this day, for people who choose to go against God. I was thinking of this Christmas Day bombing of a Pakistani church where three children were killed. Jesus can bring people from every nation together as brothers, but He can also bring together people who don't accept the simple message that God came to die for our sins. He's both a uniter and a divider. He's not a univerasalist, so He is by nature divisive. Some people won't accept Him. Others will go to war against Him, opting for either no God or a false and warped version of God. Now that the Christmas season is all over except for the putting away of decorations, the sales and the returning of duplicates and bad fits, the touchy-feely baby in a manger goes back to His day job of being Lord and Savior, unnerving people who want to do things their way.

Wednesday, December 25, 2002

Is "The Battle of Peace" Winable?- Reporters talking about the Pope's Christmas address pointed out that the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano had the anti-Iraq war headline late yesterday "Humanity can win the 'battle' of peace." I don't think so. Our sinful nature makes wars all-but inevitable. Diplomacy works if you have two reasonable people and a mutually agreeable solution to the problem. Taking the particulars of the current Iraq issue aside, you will occasionally have people who are not reasonable and have to be dealt with by force. When they are operating on their own, we call them criminals and have police and the legal system deal with them, with a SWAT team if necessary. When they manage to get control of a country, we occasionally have to go to war to stop such people. The diplomats among us will often fall into the fallacy that everyone can be reasoned with if you understand them well enough; the Vatican falls into this frequently. I think back to the president's conversation with the captured alien in Independence Day-"What do you want us to do?" "Die!" Not a lot of room for additional frank and constructive dialogue. We've got quite a few people who come close to that alien ruthlessness. You can make a darn good case that Saddam's one of them. Until we can make sure that we don't get sociopathic wingnuts in charge of countries, we'll continue to face the possibility of wars; that ain't likely to happen until Jesus returns. We might be able to talk Saddam into playing nice with the rest of the world and showing us all his WMD goodies, but we might not be quite as lucky with the next sociopath. War will thus continue be something we'll have to study for the time being.

When's the Next Lambeth Conference?-This might not be the worst politically-inspired piece of hermeneutics ever, but this whopper from Rowan Williams is close.
In his message, to be broadcast shortly after midnight on 26 December on Radio 4, Dr Williams recalls the bible story of the Three Wise Men. On their way to Bethlehem they tell King Herod of the birth of Jesus, prompting a massacre of children. Dr Williams says it is as if the wise and resourceful cannot help making the most immense mistakes of all. He has robustly opposed war in Iraq and his Christmas broadcast seems to be intended to build on that theme. Dr Williams likens the Wise Men to strategists who, despite intimate knowledge of politics, miss obvious things and create more suffering and havoc.
A few things come to mind. If you take the story in Matthew 2 at face value, it would seem that God led the wise guys to Bethlehem, thus making God the ultimate heavy in the piece. If you're going to blame anyone, Mr Archbishop, blame God. Secondly, the line "it is as if the wise and resourceful cannot help making the most immense mistakes of all" is an indictment of socialist central planning as well; when you centralize resources, you prepare the way for some doozies. The Archbishop should remember that the next time he serves as Labour's critic of the left.

Edifier du Jour-Isaiah 9:6-7(NASB)
6 For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. 7 There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this.
We have been given a gift of the Prince of Peace back 2,005 or so years ago in Bethlehem. The diest idea of a hands-off God got thrown out the window that day, for God decided not just to casually intervene in the world, but to send a part of Himself to die. Ben had these words yesterday
The Greatest Gift ever given was unknown, unappreciated, unacknowledged by the world. There was no thank you note. Part of that was in the wrapping paper -- the Messiah came not to the palace, but to shepherds and street people, hookers and bums, born in a smelly Bethlehem shack. Not exactly bells and ribbons. The star was a nice touch, though. The Greatest Gift can't be paid back. It exceeds all other gifts. We can't give anything in return that will equal it in measure, we can make no offering that takes us out of debt, no present that will make things equal between us and God. We can only choose to accept or reject it for what it is -- a free gift, no strings attached.
The show-stopper at the Singing Christmas Tree was a kindergardenish girl singing "What can I give him? I'll give him my heart." That's the best we can do for a gift of eternal life. Try and get past the traditional things of Christmas and remember who it was who was in that manger and what it means to you and me. It was a start of a meme that rules the world; the idea that each individual is precious in God's sight and has the ability to be a child of God. Whoever beleives in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life-that's something no government or no suicide bomber can take away.

Tuesday, December 24, 2002

Christmas Eve Wishes-For the few brave souls who are venturing onto the Web this Christmas Eve, may I wish you a Merry Christmas. May you not get "peopled out" by all the friends and family, or get disgusted at the orgy of gift-giving that many families will have. May you come up with a truthful but tactful response for the gifts that don't quite cut it. May you remember that "all you can eat" is an invitation and not a challenge. May you enjoy the bounty that you have and not get overwhelmed by any material excess. May you not play Scrooge, grumbling that the pagans invented Christmas as a mid-winter festival, only to have the church co-opt it long enough for the pagans to take it back. May you not grumble that Jesus was likely not born in December. May you remember that it is this day when we remember God sending a part of Himself down to prepare to die for us all. The blood and body that we celebrate at communion got its start as that baby in the manger.

Bob? Why not Franklin?-We've got a Graham boomlet going; the Tampa Tribune has this semipuff piece on Graham's chances, including some positive quotes from Larry Sabato. A few wayward thoughts from the piece come to mind.
``I'm seriously thinking about options, including the option of running for president,'' he said. The disclosure prompted a few chuckles among those who recall how the senator was mocked over his methodical fondness for recording in notebooks the details of his days, from meetings to meals. That habit may have cost him the opportunity to be Al Gore's running mate in 2000 - and possibly cost Gore the election.
Good question. Yes, Gore might have won Florida, but with Lieberman on the ticket, the Gore campaign had a better appeal to swing voters with a moral streak. Gore might well have lost a few more northern and western states (Iowa, Wisconsin, Oregon, New Mexico) he won with the changed dynamic.
If he does enter the race, Graham will not immediately have to give up his Senate seat. He can form an exploratory committee, raise money and make forays into primary states while hedging his bets. Eventually, however, he will have to decide which job he wants. Under Florida law, a candidate can appear on the ballot only once.
Florida has a September general primary; for 2002, the statewide filing deadlines were in late July, well after the nomination should be decided, unless we wind up with such an open race that we have the political junkie's erotic fantacy-an open convention. If Graham has the nomination locked up by May, he can skip the Senate race. If he's been shown the door by then (much more likely), he can run for his Senate seat. No, I'm not up to a run for his seat, I haven't been in Florida long enough to run a credible campaign. Talk to me in 2005 about Nelson's seat. :-)

Morning Musings-I'm on the mend. The antiboitics seem to be kicking in nicely, and have a fairly busy slate of visiting freinds, family and a Christmas Eve service at our old Vineyard church here in Midland. Dreaming of a swampy Christmas? Head down to my adopted digs of Central Florida-they've got a storm system coming in. Meanwhile, we've got a dusting of snow on the ground in Midland; enough to keep the White Christmas facade yet not get in the way of driving around. This is a troubling sign of the times-handing condoms out to Boy Scouts at the World Jamboree in Thailand. I guess the "morally straight" part just went out the window. I've heard people describe governments as sucking the lifeblood out of the people; Rush's Count Taxula (and his faithful sidekick Algore) skits come to mind. However, we've got a wierd thing going in Malawi, where there's a vampire meme on the loose. The government is accused of trading food aid for blood.

Musings on the Conservative Mississippi Christian-I'm just about the last person to chime in on this last piece of verbiage from Trent Lott
There are people in Washington who have been trying to nail me for a long time. When you're from Mississippi and you're a conservative and you're a Christian, there are a lot of people that don't like that. I fell into their trap and so I have only myself to blame.
No, Trent, the fundi-bashers didn't do you in, you did yourself in. You played footsie with segregationists and true bigots for decades. Lott was caught playing politics, cozying up to the remnant of the Jim Crow days as part of a conservative coalition in Mississippi. Cozy up close enough and people will assume you partly agree with them. However, I think Lott had a germ of truth there, but he was playing the church card a bit shamelessly. There is a crop of people who will assume a white evangelical, especially a southern one, is at best a closet racist until proven otherwise. This allows them to tar any proposal with moral overtones with the insinuation of racism, driving away swing voters who might otherwise appreciate some honorable old-school values. However, it was more than the fundi-bashers who drove him out of office. The Strom Thurmond birthday party remark was simply the last straw that took Lott's cozy relationship with Mississippi's bigot bunch into the spotlight. It was a rather graceless exit.

Edifier du Jour-Matthew 1:18-25(NASB)
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. 19 And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. 20 But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 "She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins." 22 Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: 23 "BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL," which translated means, "GOD WITH US." 24 And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, 25 but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.
It's interesting that Matthew chooses to tell the story from Joseph's side; Luke, who's target audience was Gentiles, told the story from Mary's perspective, while Mark and John cut to the chase of Jesus' adult ministry. However, Matthew was talking to Jews, and the word of a cuckolded husband being told by God that this was no sin on the part of his intended was likely a bigger miracle to a Jew than Mary's story. "Of course, a woman caught in sin would try to tell a whopper that God did it, but a guy who says that God told him to accept it even when he could have gotten rid of her easily, now that's a story!" God chose to have His son born to a modest couple in the hinterlands, with the added implications of a pre-marital conception. He wasn't making it easy for Jesus to grab the ring of Messiahship in the eyes of the locals; it wasn't exactly the high priest's son He was setting him up as. However, this birth made him both miraculous and common, a good mix for God made incarnate to be able to make a pitch to the common man.

Monday, December 23, 2002

Attack of the RIMLIDs-Chris Burgwald has a thoughtful piece on Bill Frist and what might be called "moderate pro-lifers"
The Senator is pro-life except in the instances of rape, incest and when the life of the mother is threatened. This is, of course, a barely intelligible argument. What is the only reason to be pro-life? Because one acknowledges the humanity & personhood of the embryo. But if the embryo is acknowledged as being a human person, on what grounds can abortion in the case of rape & incest be considered morally licit?
I've called Frist's position RIMLID (rape, incest, mother's life in danger) which is a common stance among many moderate conservatives; Bob Dole had that stance. First, let's look at the life-of the-mother case. I heard of a case this morning involving a friend of my sister who attends a conservative church. She had an ectopic (IIRC) pregnancy that would have killed her and most likely the child as well. The pro-lifers at her church supported the decsion to have an abortion in this case, since at least one person would survive. Such cases are rare, but when they do occur, it would seem to be the right thing to do, just as killing off one Siamese twin if the both couldn't survive together would be a life-maximizing position. However, you have a different issue with rape. I'm going to concider incest a subset of rape here, for most cases of incest are essentally statutory rape where either a father or older brother forces the issue. With a rape-conceived pregnancy, you have a trade-off of eight months of torture for the mother (assuming we're a month in by the time an abortion is comtemplated), having to have a painful living reminder of the attack growing inside her. That needs to be weighed against the value of the unborn life. For the person who believes the unborn child to be fully human and worthy of protection, eight months of pain don't justify the taking of another life. However, if you view the fetus as something of value, but something short of fully human, then you could justify tipping the scales in favor of allowing an abortion. This is the opinion of most people. If you gave three options (Fully human, something of value but not fully human or just a blob of protoplasm) the plurality, and likely the majority, of Americans would choose the second option. This allows people to be nominally pro-choice while opposing partial-birth abortion or being in favor of other restrictions short of a full ban. Those people who view the fetus as something of value that falls short of fully human can place differing values on that life. Some give little value to it, or not enough to want to make abortion illegal. Others will have the scales tip towards the baby after the first trimester. Others will side with the baby in most cases, but side with the right to abortion is special cases such as rape or fetal deformity. Rape brings out the soft side in many people, for the rape victim wasn't merely trying to clean up the mess from an episode of sexual gratification, tipping the scales in favor of the abortion. You have to have a strong value of the baby's worth to stick to a life-of-the-mother only standard. I was there once, as a generic theist, not quite buying the idea of treating the baby as a child in full, but knowing that I would be likely be answerable to some God that I couldn't define and wanting to do the lesser of the two evils. Having a high value for the child, I opted in my mind to have the gal carry the child to term. The Isaiah quotes didn't do much for me; sonograms did more. I still look at abortion that way, weighing the pain of the remainder of the pregnancy with the loss of a life (fully human in my eyes today), and come down on the side of the baby, baring the awfull situation where both will die unless the baby's aborted. Those people who have a high, but not ultimate, value on the unborn child need to be coaxed toward a fuller understanding of life.

Blogger Bowl 2k3 Update-It looks like the upstart Florida Blogistas are heading for the finals, besting the Hokie Pundit's Fighting Gobblers 78-49 going into MNF's Tampa Bay-Pittsburgh game. Mr. Bauer has Martin Gramatica going for the Gobblers, but besting Keyshawn by 29 for the evening will be a tall order unless Gramatica starts chanelling Paul Horning and starts doubling at tailback. Bring on the San Juan Pirates. Last week's upset of the Asylum Idiots had fallout in the loser's bracket. Kevin was licking his chops, planning to get his Pigskit to dump the Blogistas again, but got stuck with a onery bunch of Idiots not wanting to get their kiester's whupped two weeks in a row. He's down 51-37 going into MNF, and the McCardell-TB defence matchup isn't that promicing. 160 yards and two TDs in a 37-35 shootout? Possible but not likely. Sorry, Kev. Go get 'em for seventh place.

Afternoon Musings-I'm a germ-bag today, having come down with a sinus infection yesterday. I managed to get into my old alergist (who doubles as my amoxicillin supplier when I get my yearly bout of bronchitis) this morning. Eileen's making the rounds of her gal-pals in metro Midland without me while I treat myself with amoxicillin and Tex-Mex Penicillin (a.k.a. chili). President Bob Graham? I don't think so. However, he might just be nominatable. As a Floridian, he could rack up some delegates on Super Tuesday and be a playa. He also might be more nominatable than Lieberman, who'd he be fighting for on the DLC side of the party. However, he might be getting some free press leading up to a Senate run in 2004; when you're a "potential presidential candidate" you get more chances to speak than when you're just a Senator. Majority Leader Frist? Now that the Lott fiasco is largely history, we could look to see what Charming Billy could do in the post. He's got a track record of being a moderate conservative. Two instance stand out in my mind. If I recall correctly, he had a stem-cell research proposal that was close to what the President decided on, neither of which pleased more staunch pro-lifers. The other less-than-conservative position was on Henry Foster, the failed Surgeon General nominee. The Nashville OB-GYN (and occasional abortionist) got the support of his fellow doctor and homey in the Senate when other conservatives were going after Foster's flippant attitude over abortion. This pragmatic (others will have less kind adjectives) attitude will allow him to put together some cloture-enabling deals with moderate Democrats. He might just be a good combination of solid conservatve along with some Bob Dole-esque wurstmeister deal-making. Arresting striking oil workers? If Chavez does that, he'll have a PR nightmare on his hands. However, this thing's gone on for two weeks with neither side backing down; don't be suprised to have a OAU (translation-US) contingent in country to break up a civil war by Valentine's Day. After Christmas, it could get ugly.

Edifier du Jour-Luke 1:26-38(NASB)
26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. 28 And coming in, he said to her, "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you." 29 But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. 30 The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. 31 "And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. 32 "He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; 33 and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end." 34 Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?" 35 The angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. 36 "And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. 37 "For nothing will be impossible with God." 38 And Mary said, "Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.
There's been plenty of bloggage over the weekend over a survey that had 27% of British Anglican priests saying that they didn't believe in the Virgin Birth of Jesus. Given the decay in orthodox faith in Britain, that stat's not that surprising. Bene Diction and Jason Steffans both gave that piece a once-over. Such beliefs show both a distrust in the Bible and a distrust in the reality of the supernatural. Even back when I was a generic theist and didn't buy into Jesus' atoning death, I had little problem accepting the Virgin Birth. Let's go back to the basic concept of God; this is the Guy who created the universe from bupkis. He is in the miracle business. If He wants to do a little supernatural reproductive biology, God can. Idle thought-what would Jesus' DNA had looked like? There's some genetic engineering for ya. The believer who will have to rely on Mary having some hanky-panky or rape in order to conceive has a small God. Not only is he throwing out whole passages of the Bible as fables that we tell the kiddies to shield them from the ugly truth, he's discounting God's supernatural, transcendent nature. Could the Messiah have been a normal kid, procreated in the natural way? If God wanted it that way, yes, but he had planted the prophecy that the Messiah would be born of a virgin. So we add a third indictment of God, that He's not able to call His shots. However, let's not let the Euroweenies spoil our fun. I got to see my nephew (he'll turn 3 months on Christmas day, a bit old for the part) Tyler play Jesus in the Singing Christmas Tree production that his church puts on yesterday; check it out in future years if you're within road-trip distance of Midland, it's very well done. He’s following in his older sister's footsteps from six Christmases ago. Jessica got "demoted" to a dancing angel. The idea that Mary conceived out of some pre-marital escapades is designed to take away Jesus divinity and his sacrifice for us all;it would also be designed to ruin a fun parent.

Sunday, December 22, 2002

Morning Musings-I'm not sure I'm getting this Patty Murray faux pas praising Al Qaeda's humanitarian work. Sulik (oh, now that Joy is Blogging, I'll have to specify William) gives the McKinney award to her, pointing out the Peace Corps work. Where is the liberal Blogosphere on this one? Will they flood the zone to denounce such a igonrant statement like the conservative Blogosphere was on Lott? Nah. Some interesting billboards on the way home. One from the Tennessee Baptists praised the state for voting down a proposed state lottery. Two signs from some adventist-group ranting about the mark of the beast being enforced Sunday worship (ranks up on my list of signs, sure). A new Chick-Fil-A 3D painting-cow sign (Next summer, I suggest getting one of the cows on a personal watercraft and call it the ChickCowSki). A new sign north of Flint for Thumb MRI-great, we've taken medical specialization to its extreme. "Go next door to get your fingers checked"(For you non-Michiganders, the Thumb is the area north and east of Flint) .

Edifier du Jour-I’ll continue my looks at some of the classic Christmas carols-O Holy Night came to mind. Since you don’t sing it too often (it’s got a range that’s intimidating to the novice) I don’t remember seeing the lyrics too often. This passage struck me
Long lay the world in sin and error pining 'til he appeared and the soul felt it's worth
This isn’t a touchy-feely song; it has a sinful world waiting, nay, pining like a 19th century romantic heroine for the Messiah’s return. Only when Christ can deal with our sin does our spirit become valued. People who have problems with self-esteem can take comfort that God loves them, and loved them enough to send Himself to die.

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