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Saturday, February 08, 2003

Gospel of Peace?-I found this United Methodist document on the war with Iraq interesting, found via Methodist pastor Richard Hall
"The Gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel of peace," Christopher wrote to President Bush. "It calls us to transcend political ideology and national interests to act on behalf of the welfare of the whole human family." She commended him for his "careful work within the processes of the United Nations" and urged him "to stay the course, seeking every opportunity to disarm Iraq without resorting to war and looking for every peaceful way of protecting the world and our nation against the tyranny manifest around the globe."
Is the the Gospel of Peace of the Gospel of One World Government? The Gospel calls us to work not for the welfare of the whole human family but to expand God's kingdom. That will frequently include making lives better for people. However, the idea of the Gospel of Peace is a bit of a misnomer-look at Luke 12:49-53(NIV)
49"I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! 50But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed! 51Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. 52From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. 53They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law."
There will be division on this earth and to assume we can all agree and have one united world government is folly. Also, there are some times where war is better than peace, if the status quo is unacceptable and the damage from the war is outweighed by the good that will come from victory. If you drop the "peaceful" part, her phrase of "looking for every ... way of protecting the world and our nation against the tyranny manifest around the globe" is a keeper and one that the Bush administration would support. However, sometimes, you have people who are evil and don't respond to diplomacy. That's why you have policemen, that's why you have militaries and that's why you have wars. Liberal theologians underestimate the presence of evil and thus overestimate the power of diplomacy.

The Thermodymanics of Hell-John Ellis has this cutie
1) If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose. 2) If Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over...
A few possibilities Ellis isn't counting on. He assumes that Hell is a place with standard thermodynamics. Just like you can't point your starship and fly to Heaven, you can't fly to Hell either, although a few locales might look like it. It might not be a closed system, either; heat might be vented off by other means or implode into a black hole. However, the key point of Hell isn't the temperature but the isolation from God. That's the key thing to remember; it's not about pitchforks and flames, it's being on your own for eternity seperated from God.

Evening Musings-I'm getting some Google hits for the Sheila Godiva anti-war protesters; their birthday suit routine was at Byron Bay, Australia, prompting some misguided traffic. Orrin Judd's reporting on this new Marine chant-"When I get to Iraq, Saddam's gonna say; Howja get to Baghdad in just one day?" It reminds me of the old IDF joke
"What are we going to do today?" "Today, we capture Damascus!" "What are we going to do after lunch?.
He's not salted, he's not roasted, Joschka Fischer's just nuts.
"I am not convinced... I cannot go to the public and say these are the reasons because I don't believe in them," he told a European defense conference in Munich.
Everybody cue up Kermit the Kraut: 'It ain't easy being Green." You'd expect the head of the Green Party to be anything but clueless on this front? However, Fischer made sure he was heard on the other side of the pond by making the statement in English. In front of Rummy. Can we call that a middle-digit sal-oot? I think so. I hadn't heard about this one until yesterday-something ticked off Cambodians on the Thais and they ransacked the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh, causing Thailand to have to evacuate people from the city. It caused some change of itinerary of missionaries our church sponsers. Some people in our home group went to Cambodia on a mission trip last year; I have to avoid chuckling when the use the acronym for Kampuchea For Christ and not think of "regular or extra crispy"

Edifer du Jour-Hebrews 10:23-25(NASB)
23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; 24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
If you sneak into the back row, sing a few songs, hear a good sermon and sneak back into your car, you've not getting the full effect that Paul (or whoever wrote Hebrews) is shooting for. Church life is more than hymns and/or praise songs and sermons, it's about people bearing each others burdens. You don't get that from watching a televangelist or listening to the local church service on the radio or being a stealth congregant. The more help you have, the less the emotional and spiritual burdens become. We've struglled to get enough of that support moving into a new area, but we're slowly getting that support. We need the encouragement to do good things and to have shoulders to cry on when things aren't going well. Even if we're married, we need more than just a spouce to meet those burdens. Being a spiritual Lone Ranger's unhealthy.

Friday, February 07, 2003

Evening Musings-Josh Marshall has an interesting item on New Hampshire GOP operatives running a denial-of-service attack on Democratic GOTV phone banks, getting a Republican telemarketing firm to blitz the Democratic phone banks with calls. If true, someone needs to be strung up for it, even though a small part of me is playing that Gomez Addams wav file-"Dirty pool, old man. I like it!" Two million people are heading to Mecca, and the Saudi entity's on guard. Threre were over 400 people killed in rioting in '87 and the hosts don't want a repeat. A couple of Den Beste goodies-one fun piece takes apart the Germans nicely and the other (grab beverage of choice first) one is on the history of the tank.

Revisiting the Missiles of October-Orrin Judd rips this piece from Adlai Stevenson III and rightly so.
Pundits and officials in Washington have dubbed Secretary of State Colin Powell's attempt to make a case for war against Iraq in the United Nations Security Council an "Adlai Stevenson moment." I couldn't disagree more. My father was Adlai Stevenson, who in 1962, as President Kennedy's representative to the United Nations, presented the Security Council with incontrovertible proof that the Soviet Union, a nuclear superpower, was installing missiles in Cuba and threatening to upset the world's "balance of terror." That "moment" had an obvious purpose: containing the Soviet Union and maintaining peace. It worked, and eventually the Soviet Union collapsed under its own weight. This moment has a different purpose: war. The Bush administration clearly rejects the idea of containing Iraq through committed monitoring by the United Nations, even though this course is the better option.
Stevenson's off base here. It won't be the first time. I remember back in 1978 when he was running for governor of Illinois; he took the claudometer to record levels by blaming his close loss on Republican voting irregularities downstate1. Containment worked in the Cold War because of the Mutually Assured Destruction motif-neither side could start a war because the other side would send the world into the Stone Age if they did. We don't have MAD with Iraq. They can't wipe us out and they know we're unlikely to parking-lot them. That's why we have to take out Iraq rather than wait them out; they have less fear that we'll wipe them out, for we can afford to be merciful with them. End of argument; the door's that way, Adlai 3.0. Not so fast, Orrin. Have a seat.
Mr. Stevenson is exactly right, the question is not whether we just had a Stevenson moment, but whether we'll have a Kennedy moment. The Kennedy moment was when the brothers decided that peace was more important than defeating communism and that the handy pretext for freeing Cuba would not be seized upon. Their failure of will certainly prolonged the agony of the Cuban people and in all likelihood prolonged the Cold War, at great economic expense to the US and at devastating human expense to all those enslaved behind the Iron Curtain.
Does the words "World War Three" mean anything to you? We might have freed Cuba had the Soviets not gone nuclear. We might have destroyed the world as we know it they had. You want to replay history and roll those dice? The stakes were a lot higher in 1962 than they are today. Iraq has some capability to harm us, but can't create a worldwide nuclear wasteland. The stakes of Bush's decision is a lot lower than Kennedy's. If we guess wrong in 2003, a chemical Scud might drop on Tel Aviv. If we guessed wrong in 1962, the US is crispy critters. Yes, the quarantine of Cuba and the removal of the missiles left Castro in Cuba to this day. Not good in 20-20 hindsight. However, if we wound up blowing up the world over the issue, a Communist Cuba and a free Warsaw Pact in 2003 would have looked like Heaven. Kennedy's decision was wiser than Judd makes it out to be, and didn't lead to most of the social pathologies of the last four decades. 1The Democrats had Daley-machine "vote early and vote often" Chicago in their corner, so complaining about voting irregularities downstate was either the height of disingenuousness or total cluelessness.

Proper Prayer-Rob Dreher has this keeper
Well, Episcopalian soldiers, here's some comfort: Peter Lee, the bishop of Virginia (and thus the ordinary of Colin Powell, a parishioner at St. John's, McLean), has issued a thoughtful, balanced statement about a Christian's duty in the impending conflict. "We pray for peace," the bishop said. "We uphold our leaders and our military in our prayers. And in a fallen world, we understand that one of the responsibilities of international leadership is to name the threats to peace and to participate in removing them, by diplomacy if possible, by measured, necessary force as a last resort."
The trick is to figure out when we get to "last resort" time, but that just about nails a basic biblical attitude for geopolitics.

Afternoon Musings-John Adams (the young blogger, not POTUS #2) fisks "a man named Harry Browne" within an inch of his life on Iraq. What'ya say we get him a badge and admit him to the Augustinian Posse? Google fun- was on the fifth page for "snipe hunting prank" and got a hit for "percentage of negros in NBA." What dinosaur typed that last one in? Cyberwar rules of engagement? Not from the next Tom Clancy novel, but from the White House. Interesting. American sports fans are used to seeing old stadiums come down, but let's shed a tear for our British mates as Wembly Stadium comes down. That is the soccer stadium of England that doesn't have an American analog; combine the hallowedness of Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, the LA Collesium and the Rose Bowl all into one, and you might get warm. Josh has an interesting essay on environmental politics-I might have a reply later in the weekend.

The Politics of Motherhood-This Jane Galt piece (linking to Tushnet who links to Balkin [blog stereotype snickers optional]) got my mind going
Eve Tushnet reports on a conference on Roe v. Wade in which she suggest the columnists claimed that abortion has to be kept legal because motherhood prevents women from participating as citizens. I think it's clear that the centrality of abortion to the modern feminist movement is clearly rooted in the fact that the greatest barrier to true equality is the asymmetry of reproductive biology between men and women.
It's not as much pregnancy but parenthood that will effect women's participation in elective politics; men and women vote in roughly equal percentages, IIRC. Motherhood might not prevent women from participating as citizens, but it limits their activity in the political process; moms are less likely to be elected to office or be key aids. To the extent than women look after kids more than men do, women will be underrepresented in positions of power. Pregnancy isn't a big barrier to elective office but the career choices that women make are. To the extent that women choose careers that are less prestigious and less demanding, in order to either stay home with their children of have jobs that allow them to spend more time with them, the less likely they are to advance into the political arena. We're just now seeing a generation of women who came of age in the 70s for whom careers in law, medicine or academe were achievable; for their mom's generation, the woman lawyer or doctor or college professor were exceptions that proved the rule. Note the difference between Barbara Bush and Hillary Clinton. Mrs. Bush was a stay-at-home mom, but women of her generation went to college to get their Mrs. degree or to work as teachers or nurses. Hillary's generation was the first that could aim for power careers that would give them the prestige to get into politics. While we are seeing more and more women in the political arena, we're unlikely to (without quota laws) get to 50% female legislatures or 50% of the governors being female. That's because not all women are going to be on the power-career track. Some women will choose to stay home with their kids, passing up more politically influential work. Some women will be in the workforce and be politically active, but opt for "mommy track" jobs that are less upwardly mobile but allow them to be better parents Feminists look at that as a downside of our society; motherhood limits women's collective ability to be politically influential. As long as women are allowed to choose not to be on the fast track and to focus on motherhood, we'll see women under-represented in political office. However, that's not a bug, that's a feature, for the benefits of loving moms being there for their kids far outweigh what they could do by being congresswomen and governors.

Midday Musings-Code Orange, eh?
A high-ranking official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the decision was based on an increase in intelligence pointing to a possible attack around the three-day Muslim holy period of Hajj, which begins on Sunday. Senior White House, Justice and Homeland Security Department officials had considered raising the level for several days.
Ya don't think a coming war with Iraq had anything to do with it? Also, if the Hajj has people going to Mecca if they can spring for it, why would that kick off terror here? If I were the Saudis, I'd be worried, for there's a lot of extra tension around Mecca during the Hajj as the pilgrims bring their various political and theological baggage with them. At least one Ivy League school is getting color-blind
Princeton University will stop offering a summer enrichment program for minority students because of concerns that it could be targeted in an affirmative action lawsuit. Administrators of the Woodrow Wilson School Junior Summer Institute made the decision earlier this week after Princeton's lawyers determined the program's race-based admissions policy could not be defended in court. The decision was announced Thursday.
Didn't they just bring Cornell West on board? This should be fun. 5.7% Unemployment-that might shut up the cries of a jobless recovery for a bit.

The Jesus and Mary Jane-Blogs4God meistro Mean Dean e-mailed me with this story from Alabama
A raid at two mobile homes led to the arrest of 31-year-old Jesus Santana, who was caught rolling marijuana cigarettes with pages from a Bible, Limestone County authorities said. "When we arrested him, he made the comment that `I guess God got y'all to get me,'" said Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely.
That might not be a unique use of that thin Bible paper-a quick Google on marijuana “Bible pages" got tutorials on using Bible pages as alternative rolling paper. The thought came to me-most churches are very eager to put inexpensive Bibles (or at least New Testaments) in the hands of visiting seekers. Could an enterprising young stoner save himself a trip to a head shop by wandering into a church and getting a new Bible? Funny side note-just as I was reading Dean's e-mail, I hear Dr. Shmidt singing La Cucaracha. No, he wasn't singing about that type of roach, but commenting on a loud red shirt a fellow professor was wearing, looking like something from a mariachi band. Note-I'll be simulcasting this piece on Blogs4God at noontime.

Edifier du Jour-Mark 4:36-41(NASB)
35 On that day, when evening came, He said to them, "Let us go over to the other side." 36 Leaving the crowd, they took Him along with them in the boat, just as He was; and other boats were with Him. 37 And there arose a fierce gale of wind, and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up. 38 Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke Him and said to Him, "Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?" 39 And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, "Hush, be still." And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm. 40 And He said to them, "Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?" 41 They became very much afraid and said to one another, "Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?"
Sometimes we might be tempted to think that God's asleep at the wheel if things don't happen when we want them to or if we're going through more grief than we'd like. He's not going to give us more trauma than we can handle. He's not unaware of what's happening. He's not too busy to help. This last year's been a busy and often traumatic year for me, as lots of things have changed. However, I've tried to remmeber through it all that He is there, that He loves me (and Eileen) and that He will work things for our good in the long term. Sometimes those waves look like they're about to swamp us, but God has always gotten us through.

Thursday, February 06, 2003

Estrada-The Race to 60-I started to think about how the Democrats could get 41 votes to sustain a filibuster. With 49 senators, they could afford to lose only 8 and still keep a gabfest going. Here's a list of 15 Democrats I think would be possible cloture votes.
Mac Baucus Ernest Hollings Blanche Lincoln
Evan Bayh Jim Jeffords Zell Miller
John Breaux Tim Johnson Ben Nelson
Byron Dorgan Mary Landrieu David Pryor
Bob Graham Joe Lieberman Harry Reid

The Democrats have to bring 8 of these over. Graham and Lieberman could be brought over by presidential politics, but I think both might opt not to play that game; they can show an independent streak that will help in a general election, but the backlash from the liberal interest groups might force them to stay put. Jeffords could be won over on pure cussedness. Everyone else on that list is in Red State territory and would be swimming against the tide trying to shoot down a ABA-well-qualified Hispanic nominee just on ideological grounds. Bob Nelson, Russ Feingold and Joe Biden might even be yes votes on cloture, wanting to do the right thing for the process. The Democrats will have to keep all three of them on the reservation and pick off half of the names on the above table. I don't see it happening, but it would be interesting theater if it does.

Chirac-"We Refuse To Think..."-Oops, I should add "... that that war is inevitable." Bush went beyond saber-rattling and pulled it out and sounded the charge today-"The game is over. The danger Saddam Hussein poses reaches across the world[.]" I can think of seven reason why someone would oppose this upcoming action. How many fit the "Euroweenies?"
(1) A misplaced trust in diplomacy
The Europeans seem to have this disease; the Vatican is susceptible to it as well. This ties in with #6 below, optimism about human nature; people can be negotiated with if only we knew which carrots to bring out. I don't see any carrots that will get Saddam off of his WMD programs. Well, not quite; getting him declared Emperor Saddam I of the Milky Way, Autocrat of the Solar System, Dictator of All Earth might do it, but the US would veto the UN resolution and be declared unilateralist for doing so.
(2) Moral equivalence
Many people don't see the Iraqi government as evil, or if they do, they see their own governments as just as bad and unworthy of enforcing their will. Such people have their minds in an alternative universe than the one I'm living in. Even if the US isn't a worker's paradise, we're not gassing our own people and Dubya didn't execute Jim Jeffords for leaving the GOP.
(3) An aversion to war
The French can't plead this; they're willing to bang heads in the Ivory Coast. Some people could plead this; the German government, with its Green coalition partners and an one-time anti-war activist as Chancellor, might fit.
(4) Economic connections to Iraq
If you said "Yes, that's the French," stay on the line so our secretary can get your address for your prize. The Russians are on a similar vibe as well.
(5) Anti-Americanism
Hold your cards, we have another winner for the French. They don't like the Anglosphere and are content to disrupt it; the Germans and Russians can fit nicely here as well.
(6) Optimism of human nature
That might not fit the French, but there are quite a few people who assume that Saddam will play nice if treated properly-see #1 above. Many people don't get the concept of evil, that people aren't naturally good and that there are some monsters out there who do not respond to reason and can't be negotiated with.
(7) Underestimation of the risks of inaction
We're dealing with leader who has started two wars and has gassed his own people; to assume that he wouldn't use all available weapons to expand his power is flirting with disaster. Yes, there are risks of attacking now, but the risks get greater by the day as Iraq had more time to develop WMDs. If you look at these, you see most, if not all, of these coming into play with European (and their American soulmates) disinterest in prosecuting a war. There are enough biases against action that many of the foes won't concider the evidence at hand; they are essentially refusing to think. [Update 2-7 6:50AM-Breakfast Conversation Eileen-"But then, they cease to be." Me-"That's putting Descarte before the horse."]

How Many Divisions Does the Pope Have?-Josh points out the Vatican's skeptical response to Powell's UNSC speech yesterday.
Martino says, "I wonder why those who want to make war do not take into account the serious consequences." My response is simply this: I wonder why those who oppose war do not take into account the serious consequences.
The one weak spot in the Vatican's political bag of tricks is an overreliance on diplomacy. I'm not sure if it's the Vatican's desire to always be the good cop and honest broker or an honest theological application of their doctrines or creeping relativism or a combination of the above. Like getting the UN's blessing, getting the Pope's blessing doesn't mean much from a military perspective, but would give some moral cache to the cause. The institutional bias towards neutrality and diplomacy might prevent a blessing, but some lessening of the rebuke for going to war, like "it's a tragedy that both sides couldn't settle this matter peacefully-we pray for as quick and as bloodless an action as possible." I could agree with that kind of Vatican pronouncement, but I'll be pleasantly surprised if it happens.

Captive Audience-Interesting piece here where the Orange County (Orlando area) Jail had been giving time off of sentences for going to prison church services. Muslims complained, of course, and the practice had been discontinued. Rather than stop the policy, why not extend it to Muslim services (that are just begining to start) as well? It seems to serve a valid rehabilitative secular cause (people who are more religious tend to be less likely to recommit crimes) and if it was extended to other faiths, it would seem to be First Ammendment friendly. What about atheists or people who follow off-brand religions? It doesn't exclude them directly, but if they can come up with alternative programs that will reduce recitivism, go for it.

Not Filly-busting, Donkey-busting-The Democrats are about to throw Brer Elephant into the briar patch and filibuster the Estrada nomination. Some of the usual liberal suspects are getting limbered up for a talkathon, but not everyone is.
But two Democratic senators -- John Breaux of Louisiana and Byron Dorgan of North Dakota -- have approached GOP Senate Judiciary Committee staff aides and requested information about Estrada that they can use to defend a potential vote in favor of his nomination. Breaux's state has one of the largest concentrations of Hondurans in the United States. Republicans say they are prepared to debate Estrada's nomination "as long as it takes, for days, weeks, if necessary," one source told Fox News. "This is going to be an unprecedented fight over a nominee," the source said.
We're about to have an honest-to-goodness filibuster; a PoliSci major's second favorite erotic fantacy, coming in just behind an open convention. Go for it, gentlemen. we might have the opportunity to spring the plan I mentioned in November.
I've yet to see someone do this-if you've got a 58-42 vote and the public is 65-35 in your favor on this issue, let them filibuster; not the gentleman's filibuster where they don't bring up a bill without 60 votes, but an honest-to-goodness, 24/7, Robert Byrd reciting the entirety of Robert's Rules of Order at 3AM filibuster. Let them cancel Book TV on C-SPAN2 for a couple of weeks while the Senate is in continuous session. Let the leftist sound bites from the Democratic obstructionists flow over the airwaves, as well as the GOP message that this is a popular bill that has bipartisan support. Let the telephone switchboards light up in protest. Let thoughtful neolibs (no, that's not an oxymoron) point out the error in their ways. Let the blogfire fly.
By insisting on a full-fledged filibuster, you put the heat on the more moderate Democrats to allow for a vote or look obstructionist. I think this is one that will have 65-35 support (I can't be sure, since Estrada's only known by the political geeks right now) once this becomes an issue and might extend to 75-25 when the question is phrased "Is it worth shutting down the Senate to stop the nomination?" Has it been ten months since I first blogged on him? That's a symptom of Democratic obstructions right there.

Afternoon Musings-I'm not as glum as I was earlier in the week. I had a nice chat with our academic dean (who also has the Business school dean's portfolio for now) about my student evaluations this morning (he does this with everyone, not just the ones who cratered in their evals);<sigh> as long as I'm looking to improve my teaching skills and am making steps to do so, I'll be invited back for next year</sigh> . Ben's back from his honeymoon and Patrick's starting to plan his. Congratulations to both of them; Baggy Slims' getting the next-blogger-to-get-married pool going. This is cold. I'm a native Michigander, so I'm still a Tiger fan; I'm planning to scoot over to Lakeland for at least one pre-season game. We're an hour away from Tampa, so I could become a D-Rays fan. Both of them are likely to bring up the rear again this year. I'm still an Indians fan from my Kent State days and they train across the street from Fazoli's on Cypress Gardens Boulevard; that might be my best hope.

Edifier du Jour-Proverbs 6:7-11(NASB)
6 Go to the ant, O sluggard, Observe her ways and be wise, 7 Which, having no chief, Officer or ruler, 8 Prepares her food in the summer And gathers her provision in the harvest. 9 How long will you lie down, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? 10 "A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to rest"-- 11 Your poverty will come in like a vagabond And your need like an armed man.
Procastinators Monthly-published four or five times a year. Are you current with your subscription? I'm in the process of dropping my subscription and trying to squirrel away some things. Lesson plans, for one. I started Christmas break with good intentions of having weeks worth of class notes prepared, only to have illness and laziness intervene; now, I'm paying the price of having to work harder during the semester. We can err on the side of being miserly, saving things that should be given away or enjoyed. However, most of us have the opposite problem of not laying down enough provisions for our future, not setting aside things for a rainy-day fund and not being on top of our bill paying and deadlines. For those of us with a tendancy to procrastinate, pray for wisdom and perserverence so that we don't wait until the last minute to get things done. So, if you're procrastinating, I'll help you out by providing a round TUIT here.

Wednesday, February 05, 2003

Cold War II-Item 6-X 2.0-Back in July of 1947, George Kennan wrote an article, using the pseudonym X, detailing the containment policy that delineated the Cold War. We might have the makings of the X article for Cold War II from Richard Pearle.
France is no longer an ally of the United States and the NATO alliance "must develop a strategy to contain our erstwhile ally or we will not be talking about a NATO alliance" the head of the Pentagon's top advisory board said in Washington Tuesday. Richard Pearle, a former assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration and now chairman of the Pentagon's Policy Advisory Board, condemned French and German policy on Iraq in the strongest terms at a public seminar organized by a New York-based PR firm and attended by Iraqi exiles and American Middle East and security officials. But while dismissing Germany's refusal to support military action against Iraq as an aberration by "a discredited chancellor," Pearle warned that France's attitude was both more dangerous and more serious. "France is no longer the ally it once was," Pearle said. And he went on to accuse French President Jacques Chirac of believing "deep in his soul that Saddam Hussein is preferable to any likely successor." French leaders have insisted the country will oppose any military action against Iraq without a second resolution by the United Nations Security Council, where it holds one of five crucial veto powers. Last November France did vote for Resolution 1441, which promised "serious consequences" if Iraq did not cooperate with UN weapons inspectors verifying that Iraq has indeed dismantled its programs for chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. "I have long thought that there were forces in France intent on reducing the American role in the world. That is more troubling than the stance of a German chancellor, who has been largely rejected by his own people," Pearle said, referring to the sharp electoral defeat suffered by Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's party in state elections Sunday.
The post-Powell noises coming from France, calling for more inspections, seem to point against their approving action against Iraq, thus likely ending the UN as an effective agency. An EU meeting this weekend might bring the French around, but that's an iffy proposition. Given some fairly solid evidence that Iraq is playing a shell game with weapons inspectors, has active nuclear and chemical weapons programs and has a small but significant connection to al Qaeda, France prefers Saddam in place to his being removed; the French have an apparent goal of avoiding regime change in Iraq by all diplomatic means possible. There are negligible French interests endangered by Iraqi militarism and plenty of French economic interest endangered by a regime change. By contrast, there are plenty of American interests (including Israel) endangered by Iraqi militarism and negligible American economic interest endangered by a regime change. Two years ago, that Pearle piece would be looked at as a Onion piece; now we face the real possibility of having to fight France and her allies (they might get outnumbered in the EU) for geopolitical influence around the world. Chris Burgwald (who supplied the Pearle link) left this message in my post on Powell's UN speech
Bring the French on board? I don't know. While they might eventually come along with us, it will only be because they don't want to be left out in the cold when Iraq is rebuilt post-war. I see no reason to believe that they will ever support us on this, short of a photo of a nuke sitting in Saddam's lap.
We don't need the French for military purpose in this; we would like a UN blessing, but it's only for world PR and not for military content. That blessing might not be feasible. France needs to figure out whether they want to be a junior partner in the Anglosphere or a senior partner in a statist, amoral Eurosphere. Don't hold your breath for the first option; even so, they might be lukewarmly on board so as to not start Cold War II right now. If they see that their EU brethren are mostly for the US coalition, they might opt for discretion being the better part of valor and either approve of, or at least abstain, on a UN vote. However, I wouldn't put it past the French government to give the middle-digit salute to the US and start to become isolated from the rest of the western world.

Closing Down the Baathhouse-I've been busy teaching, but Powell seems to have the Baathists dead to rights. This first half of his speech lays out how the Iraqi government has been systematicaly hiding the WMD evidence. Part two lays out that they have enough chemical weapons to casue "mass casualties across more than 100 square miles of territory, an area nearly 5 times the size of Manhattan." Iraq's also working on a nuke program (although they've not been shown to have gotten the fissionable material to finish the job) and working on long-range rockets and unmanned vehicles for spreading either chemical or biological weapons. There's also a small but significant al Qaeda presence in Iraq, not just in Iraqi Kurdistan but in the more southern areas under Baathist controll as well. That should give us something close to 70-30 support in the US for an invasion. It should shut up all but the most dovish of Democrats and even bring the French on board.

... and Grizzly Bears Use Forest Service Toilets-Lebron James getting only a two-game suspention for getting $800 of jerseys might have been fair, but his lawyer, Fred Nance, pinned the claudometer with this one
"All LeBron did was receive a gift from a friend as congratulations for his academic achievements,'' Nance said. "Had LeBron wished to capitalize on his fame, the recompense could be in the millions of dollars.''
Yeah, and his mom got that loan for the Hummer on his academic achievements.

Polity-Saturated Phat-My first Church Polity moderator post is up over at Blogs4God.

Edifier du Jour-James 4:13-16(NASB)
13 Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit." 14 Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. 15 Instead, you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that." 16 But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil.
I was thinking of ESPN's Dan Patrick's standard quip for a injured player-"He's listed as day to day, but, then again, aren't we all?" Shuttles (and plenty of other things) crash, killing their occupants. Divorces happen; Eileen's old grade school buddy just had her husband walk out on her. ACL's get torn; at Warner, we've got at least three guys on crutches with blown knees. Nothing goes quite according to plan; at least according to our plans. We need to plan for the future, but remember that God has the ultimate Franklin Planner on His desk, and His planner might not look like yours. An old First Call song had the refrain "I may not know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future." Both Eileen and I can't see clearly past this spring-her current temp job will likely be over next month and my Warner Southern position is on a one-year contract that's up in May. A part of me, more than I'd like to admit, is nervous about the future. However, if we remember who's desk that universal planner's on, we can rest easier.

Tuesday, February 04, 2003

Prelude to Hell-It's looking more and more like we will be heading into a war with Iraq in the very near future; Powell will lay the US case before the UN Security Council tomorrow. It looks like Canada's on board with or without UN blessing and the French might blink and support military action rather than risk trashing both the EU and the UN. I'm not happy about it. That's not to say that I think that war isn't needed. Given the nature of the Iraqi regime, it is needed to solve the problem. However, the fact that American, British and Australian planes will be bombing Iraqi targets, soon to be followed by troops from those countries subdue opposition and take over the country. People will die on both sides. Property will be destroyed. There aren't too many people who are truly pro-war. Movies that show the carnage of the battlefield from the vantage point of the private and the second lieutenant are labeled "anti-war movies." Even the chickenhawks know that people will die. However, there is the element of war game, where you're looking at the strategic level and lose sight of the people who are dying to meet those strategic goals. It's easy to be praying for "our men and women in uniform" but we also need to be praying for their soldiers and civilians as well; last I checked, Iraqis are people, too. It's a long shot, but the resignation of the current regime would be nice. Short of that, a quick, overwhelming victory where allied power gets the non-Saddam leadership to remove him from power and surrender or for a lucky bomb to find Saddam's bunker. War is hell, as the old saying goes. However, if it prevents an even greater hell, it is called for, and the greater hell of Iraqi nukes or biological weapons in the possession of a ruthless man is the future if we don't take care of it now. That doesn't make the job painless, but it makes it necessary.

Motown Salsa: Detroit has a Mariucci Band-I'm more positive about Mariucci's move to the Lions than Kevin is. Last I checked, WC Ford is the owner (if there are minority owners, they're out of the loop) and the franchise has hit bottom, so it's not in free fall anymore. A dead cat bounce, possibly, but not free fall. There are some solid players on the team; two young quarterbacks with talent, a good front seven on defense and some decent "skill position" players. They'll likely play a comparable offence, since Mornhinweg came out of the Niner school as well. However, Mariucci will bring an extra level of cache that Mornhinweg didn't have. Sometimes, coordinators become good head coaches and sometimes they need to go back to being coordinators. At least the NFL doesn't quite have the Peter Principal; they allow people to go back down to coordinators if they bomb out as head coaches.

Evening Musings-Raise your Steyn one more time- he has a goodie on American technology and sets up an intellectual bug-zapper to turn some of the critics into crispy critters. While out running errands this afternoon, I heard a news report on the French heading up a "last ditch" effort to stop a war. WWI metaphors, anyone; the barbed wire of French superiority and the machine guns of dense diplomacy. However, the right tank can roll right over a trench. The French might be trying to put up a diplomatic Maginot Line at the UN. What did the Wehrmacht do with the Maginot Line? They ignored it and came in via Belgium. The French get the UN OK to kick butt in the Ivory Coast, but Iraq's a different matter, eh? Yugoslavia is no more-What's left will go by Union of Serbia and Montenegro until they decide to go their separate ways. I can't help thinking of the Yugo, praised (with tongue so deep in cheek they just missed gagging) in the Dragnet movie as the "the cutting edge of Serbo-Croatian technology."

Wearing Flip Flops on the Space Coast-Senator Bill Nelson has been critical of NASA underfunding after the Columbia accident
The last two administrations have been starving NASA of money, and because it didn't have enough to do everything it wanted to do along with its cost overruns on the space station, it was delaying the safety upgrades," said Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., on ABC's "Good Morning America" program. "And there's no excuse for that."
However, he hasn't always been critical of Duyba's NASA budget. He praised it here in November 2002 press release
The new budget plan provides for a much-needed infusion of cash to start to provide for space shuttle safety upgrades and infrastructure repairs and modernization. These repairs and improvements will help us fly the shuttle much more safely through the middle of the next decade and possibly even longer. This funding is a welcome reprieve for the neglected and decaying human space flight infrastructure that is literally falling apart at NASA centers around the country.
A change of heart or political opportunism? Thanks to Sean Hannity who mentioned the second item on his show this afternoon. [update 10:15PM-that might be a bit of a cheap shot; it could be some honest desire to see the thing even better funded than the current budget. The current budget was an improvement, but maybe not enough of one]

FCAT Scratch Fever-Many other states have made similar moves, but Florida is now requiring a passing score on the FCAT-the test might keep about 20,000 students from graduating if they don't come up with passing scores in March. The lawsuits are expected to fly once diplomas are denied. This is an interesting side-point. Home schoolers and private-school students aren't required to take the FCAT. However, if they go on to college, the SAT or the ACT will serve as a decent substitute. The piece points out that despite the lack of a formal graduation format, colleges are readily accepting home-schooled kids. From what I know of most home schoolers, they don't need no steenkin FCAT to tell them where they're at.

Afternoon Musings-Google is weird. I got traffic looking for information on Canadian bank official Dan Marinangeli. I was ahead of the Globe and Mail piece on the topic. One more empty chemical warhead found; this is with the Iraqis trying to play keep-away. This is one to keep an eye on-Central Command (the people in charge of the Iraq invasion) chief Tommy Franks is being investigated for letting his wife sit in on inteligence briefings as well as not properly paying for her share of trips.The WaPo broke the story. It will be interesting if there is anything to this story-here are two paragraphs
A related issue in the matter, one of the sources said, is an allegation that two senior members of the Central Command staff were made aware of the situation by subordinates but declined to act on the complaints. In cases of this sort, investigators sometimes inquire into whether a commander fostered an unhealthy "command climate" in which people feared bringing problems to him, but there is no indication that such an ancillary probe is underway in the Franks case. ... Investigations of generals occur frequently in today's military, where even anonymous complaints to hotlines can result in lengthy inquiries. At the Army's course for newly promoted generals, students are warned that they are likely to endure formal investigations at least once or twice during their time as senior officers, and more often if a disgruntled subordinate chooses to harass them with complaints that under government rules must be checked out.
It sounds like the old Independent Council statute is tame by comparison.

It's Bene!-There was an interesting development at the Gannsies, where Josh Claybourn stated that the Favorite Christian Blog winner Bene Diction was a "she." Bene is carefully coy about the gender issue. It reminds me of a story about a gal who played Barney for children's outings. One kid spotted her going, in uniform, into the ladies' room, crying in disbelief- "Mom! Barney's a girl!"

The Blog at 17 Months-While 9/11/01 wasn't the birthday of the blog, it will serve as a key mile marker that started many blogs. I've been at it for 13 months myself. It's become part of the online culture, with online writers like Glenn Reynolds getting regular mentions in the commercial press and many online outlets having their own blog (The Corner at the National Review, &c at the New Republic, Hit and Run at Reason) or blogesque (the Note) outlets. I was thinking of this quote of mine from June in a reply to a Baptist reporter's inquiry on blogs
Is there the next Charles Colson or James Dobson out there in evangelical blogland, someone who will break out into the larger Christian culture as a theologian/opinion leader? Very possibly, but I’m not about to set odds on whether Amy Welborn or Martin Roth will be household names in 2010.
Back in June, those were the two of the biggest names in Christian blogging; eight months is an eternity. Amy just retired from blogging, while the master Christian blog list that Roth masterminded morphed into Blogs4God and left the nest; leaving Martin as a thoughtful essayist less in the flow than last spring. Now, I don't see a clear successor to Amy as the prime Catholic blogger. Tushnet? Shea? The gang at HMS Blog? Likewise, the crown held by Martin Roth as Evangelical Blog #1 is wide open; some of the pundit evangelicals have a large following, but none is breaking loose as a clear leader. Update: Bene pointed out this piece on blogs from Tapped founding father Chris Mooney

Investment Class Link Stash-I've got a financial information chapter up and I'm taking the young 'ens (all four of them, a nice set up) to the computer lab. Since I don't have a class web site, I'm posting links here to the book's web site , St. Louis Fed, Google News, the Motley Fool web site and that piece from the other day on the CSFB tech investment banker in seriously deep doo-doo.

Edifier du Jour-1 Samuel 16:7(NASB)
But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."
I don't want to make myself out to be the next David, but that verse spoke to me this morning. I've been struggling to figure out whether I belong in teaching and whether I'm too sensitive and too transparent to be a good teacher. I'm not a leader in the "over the ridge, boys" mode, nor am I an actor. However, God places value in our hearts, not in the facades we place before the world. I've struggled to fit in, for I'm lousy at putting on facades. I'm like that good 'ol boy in the beer ad; ask me "How'ya doing" and I'll let you know how I am doing. I'm like David in that Saul's armor doesn't fit and I have to go into battle without that protection of pretension. I've struggled with being a good classroom lecturer, for that puts me, and all my tenderness and sensitivities, front and center for all to see. God judges the heart, and a pure (or at least as pure as humans get) heart is what He wants us to show the world. I'm finding that I need to be more open rather than less in how I deal with people; it sure doesn't conform to the world and leaves you open to occasional ridicule, but its a sign of that contrite heart that God seeks to give us. That's not to say that I have to turn every class into a sob session (that's not going to work in finance and economics) but I'd rather be sensitive and caring while still maintaining classroom discipline and presenting the material rather than being a drill sergeant. Let God do some interior decorating; the outside facade will take care of itself.

Monday, February 03, 2003

Evening Musings-The Catholic piece on New Age theology-'JESUS CHRIST THE BEARER OF THE WATER OF LIFE-A Christian reflection on the “New Age”'- isn't as bad this morning's headlines makes it look to be. It's too big to read in detail, but it scans as a solid biblical critique of Eastern theology. I'm the co-winner of the Most Educational Blog award at the Gannsies. Did the French judge insist on voting for Dr. Heddle? I'm going to be doing the Polity moderating over at Blogs4God; the first piece is due up on Wednesday. While I was doing my Polity rounds, I found another quiz-this one via I Think I Need a Stiff Drink on Cartoon Dogs. Of course, I tried it.

Now how'd they find that out?

Afternoon Musings-I had gone over to Amy Welborn's site earlier this afternoon, hoping that she had come up with an English text of the New Age report (thanks to Chris Burgwald for the link). If anyone would have the link, it would be the grand dame of Catholic bloggers. However, Ms. Welbourn's hanging them up, closing down her blog to pursue other endevours. Godspeed, madam. I'm in a bit of an edgy mood-I got my student evaluations from last semester this morning, and it wasn't pretty. I'm not sure how much of it was the classes, how much it was the crop of students and how much of it was me. I'm having to fight off urge to go into put-my-tail-between-my-legs-and-start-looking-for-other-work mode, for I like teaching and I'm a better teacher than those evaluations show. All I can do is try to do a better job this semester. The Columbia crash might give liberals an avenue-one NPR piece I heard on the way home was focusing on NASA's contractors (who do most of the work at NASA), trying to pin the blame on them. At this point, there isn't any proof of contractor screw-ups like the Morton-Thiokol O-ring problem that caused the Challenger accident, but that won't stop the "could it be because ..." pieces from giving contracting out government services a bad name.

Roman Potter-y The Vatican seems to be giving the green light to believers to dabble in New Age practices that don't contradict Church teachings. I'd like to see a longer breakdown of the topic before laying down blogfire, but I'm locked and loaded. [Update 11PM-the report is online and doesn't seem nearly as sell-outish as the article made it out to be] That won't be the lead item, however. This subset of the story involving Harry Potter will be around the Blogosphere for a while, and I'll likely get some flak for what I'm about to say about it. .
THE Vatican is giving two thumbs up to the Harry Potter series. The Reverend Don Peter Fleetwood told a Vatican press conference today the good versus evil plotlines of the best-selling books were imbued with Christian morals. "I don't see any, any problems in the Harry Potter series," he said.
It may have generic good-versus-evil ethics, but God is largely a non-issue in the series. It sort of reminds me of the aunt asking for "good Christian behavior" when what she was looking for was good behavior. However, this seems to be missing a key factor; the Potter series makes the supernatural seem too fictional. I'll rehash what I said back in October; there are essentially two things that are problematic with the use of magic in fiction. Most people dwell on the idea that it gives what I called the "negative supernatural" (as opposed to the good supernatural things that flow from the Holy Spirit) both a good name and good press(I made those two separate line items in October); however, the bigger problem in my mind is that by saying that the supernatural is merely fiction.
Fleetwood was responding to questions following the release of a new Vatican document on the New Age phenomenon, which he helped draft as a member of the Pontifical Council for Culture. Fleetwood was asked whether the magic embraced by Harry Potter and his pals at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was problematic for the Catholic church. Some evangelical groups have condemned the series for glamorising magic and the occult. "I don't think there's anyone in this room who grew up without fairies, magic and angels in their imaginary world," said Fleetwood, who is British. "They aren't bad. They aren't serving as a banner for an anti-Christian ideology.
Yep, we did grow up with that stuff, but that doesn't mean it's helpful. By moving the supernatural into the realm of fiction, it lowers people thoughts of what God can do in the real world, as well as what the Devil can do as well.
"If I have understood well the intentions of Harry Potter's author, they help children to see the difference between good and evil. "And she is very clear on this."
That's true, but they don't focus on the source of that good and evil. Children need to learn not just to call upon their consciences but to God for help on a daily basis. By making the supernatural seem so fictional, it makes the idea of a hands-on God seem equally fictional.
Religious reaction to Harry Potter has been mixed. While there has been criticism from some evangelicals, ecumenical groups such as Churches Together in Britain and Ireland have echoed Fleetwood's contention that the books illustrate important themes like the battle between good and evil.
The more theologically liberal churches also discount the idea of spiritual warfare, both of the positive influence of the Holy Spirit and the negative influence of demonic forces. By moving the supernatural into the realm of fiction, they take away the vitality of the faith and make their churches a mere rubber stamp for the larger culture's values.

Midday Musings-This is a funny headline-"Al Pacino still a BO draw." Who's armpits was he competing against? Does his foe have enough stink left to win in overtime? He might have good tackles and centers, but no one wants a right guard in this contest. On a more somber note, I can hear Elliot Spitzer salivating over this one-you’ve got a Credit Suisse First Boston broker, Frank Quattrone, who might be the poster boy for investment banking malfeasance
As an investment banker, Quattrone, 47, had the unusual position of head of CSFB's team of technology stock analysts. He is accused of failing to prevent conflicts of interest that occurred when analysts issued favorable research reports on companies that were investment-banking clients of CSFB. The NASD also is alleging that Quattrone was involved in distributing IPO shares to Silicon Valley executives whose companies did investment-banking business with CSFB. The practice, known as "spinning," recently was outlawed by federal regulators. Critics have said it gave corporate executives an unfair advantage in the IPO market while shutting out small investors. Quattrone is said to have personally directed some IPO shares to so-called "Friends of Frank" accounts.
Can you say "conflict of interest," boys and girls? I'm printing up a copy of that piece to hand out to my Investment students tomorrow. The general strike in Venezuela ended with a wimper, with the anti-Chavez forces moving along constitutional lines rather than mob force; they're gathering two million signatures to force early elections.

Edifier du Jour-Exodus 13:12-17(NASB)
12 "He who strikes a man so that he dies shall surely be put to death. 13 "But if he did not lie in wait for him, but God let him fall into his hand, then I will appoint you a place to which he may flee. 14 "If, however, a man acts presumptuously toward his neighbor, so as to kill him craftily, you are to take him even from My altar, that he may die. 15 "He who strikes his father or his mother shall surely be put to death. 16 "He who kidnaps a man, whether he sells him or he is found in his possession, shall surely be put to death. 17 "He who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death.
This is a stretch that baffled me for years, especially verse 17; half the teenagers in this country would be toast if we implemented it today. The idea of respecting ones parents comes through here. Dissing your parents is a capital offence here. Remember that at the next holiday gathering. However, it isn't the idea of the string of capital offenses that are listed, but the lack of jail that makes the Mosaic Law unique. There is no imprisonment listed for crimes-only death or restitution. The idea of long prison sentences seems to run counter to what God is up to here. I'm not sure we want to increase the number of capital offences, but prisons are an unhealthy place to be, both physically and emotionally. We might be wise to look to move towards a restitution-based system of punishment and away from having as quite as many people locked up.

Sunday, February 02, 2003

This Kathy Kinsley piece deserves a once-over
While everyone is busy being upset at the radical left (see a small victory), for their disgusting reaction to a tragedy, I thought, just to give some balance, I should point out that the radical-right wingnuts (hate-site warning) are just as bad. Now, instead of writing me screaming that these guys are not representative of the right, which they aren't, note that they are as representative of the right as the nutcases among the Democratic underground are representative of the left. So, I'd just like to ask the right side of the blogosphere to go bash these guys, and the left side to go bash the nutcases on the DU. Ok? And if you can find any centrist nutcases, we in the Vast Center Wing Conspiracy will be delighted to bash them.
OK, consider both sets of wingnuts condemned. However, the left seems to take their wingnuts more seriously than the conservatives do the militia/white-supremacist bloc. I can't quantify it easily, but I can't remember any mainstream conservative sites passing on anything from overtly white-supremacist outfits, while the left's conspiracies have a wider clientele. I'm at a loss to come up with examples; help me out, blog buddies.

Evening Musings-The Christian Democrats made gains in German state elections today, picking up control of Lower Saxony and getting a majority of the seats in Hess. The Social Democrats polled 10% lower than they did four months ago. This might prove interesting-Paul Martin, the renegade former Liberal Finance Minister, is calling for an increase in defence spending. He might be setting himself up as a sensable neoliberal leader who would cruise to an electoral win if he gets to be Chretien's successor, but he also might be setting himself up for a rebellion from the left. It looks like the left side of Columbia got overheated, as the early indications suggested.

How to Deal With Islam?-With Eileen sick, we're missing the closing Sunday service of our mission week at church. Two of the speakers brought out conflicting emotions in my heart. Last Sunday, we got the testimony of Wally Magdangal, who was an house church pastor in Saudi Arabia in the early 90s. He was arrested, tortured and sentenced to death for bringing too many Muslims to Christ; only an international fax and telephone PR blitz got the Saudis to let him go hours before his scheduled execution. Pastor Wally's experience shows the root of Islam that, in part, approves of killing any opposition to it without any apology. Read in its pure form, the Koran seems to have warfare with the infidels as a admirable goal. I am not a Koran scholar (I'm tempted to give it a read-over to better refute it), but as long as the attitude of Islamic scripture is that of contempt for the lives of non-believers, it will continue to be a dangerous religion and one that the Anglosphere will struggle with for the rest of history. Many people want to see Islam housebroken and liberalized, where a liberal view of scripture will be applied to allow modern Muslims to ignore the call to wage war against the infidel and other un-PC passages of the Koran. However, you're not going to stop a conservative exegesis of the Koran as long as it exists. You're always going to find a few people who want to take it at face value and those people will be trouble. What does the liberalized Muslim say to the gung-ho teenager who cites Sura 4:89?-"But if they turn back (from Islâm), take (hold) of them and kill them wherever you find them, and take neither Auliyâ' (protectors or friends) nor helpers from them." As long as they consider the Koran God's message to man, you're going to create jihadists, even if the mosque elders try to tell them not to take things that literally. That puts us in an awkward spot in having to shoot down a literal following of a religion's scripture; that runs counter to an American's core belief in religious liberty. However, that might wind up having to become needed, for if people take the Koran at face value, they will find themselves at war with the non-Islamics of the world. Thus, we will have to fight the Wahhabi brand of Islam taught in Saudi Arabia and comparable variants taught elsewhere in the world. This is a religious war in the sense that straight Islam and western freedoms aren't compatible. The Western side isn't religious to the extent that they are trying to establish Christianity but they are against having Islam spread via force around the world. We'll be in the awkward spot of fighting a religion in order to protect religious liberty, but straight Islam doesn't want to coexist neatly with other religions. However, the best way to fight Islam is to fight for freedom within Islamic culture and present people a better alternative. The other speaker that moved me last week was George Rafidi, who heads up an Assemblies-of-God-based Arab Outreach Ministries in Jacksonville. He repeated a thought Wednesday that he used here in response to 9/11-"I'm praying that the church realizes more that we need to pray and reach the spiritual sons of Ishmael." There are quite a few Arab Christians, especially in Lebanon, Iraq and Palestine; Rafidi is a transplanted Palestinian who's dad is a Orthodox priest in the West Bank. We need not just to think about Muslims as potential jihadists but also as children of God who are being deceived by their spiritual leaders. As we roll back militant Islam, we're going to have to roll back Islam as well. However, our American ethics will require that we do it by conversion and not by the gun. Slowly, we'll have to get countries to allow freedom of religion and show people that Mohammed’s teaching aren't the way to Heaven. While we're at it, we need something to replace that faith in the God of Mohammed’s teachings and the best alternative is the real God that sent his Son to die for us all.

Macro or Micro-and I'm not Talking Economics-The story of a Texas Tech biology prof, Michael Dini, who refuses to give recommendations to creationists (or at least to people who can't support evolution as the basis of life) has been around the Blogosphere this week. Eugene Volokh mugwumps on the legal implications, weighing the religious discrimination implications with academic freedom. Moira Breen, not a Bible-thumper to be sure, surpises herself by coming down on the side of the creationist students
Despite what people may believe about biology as a unified subject, and pace Dobzhansky's famous dictum about the centrality of evolution in biology, it's quite possible to obtain a degree in molecular biology, biochemistry, or related fields without ever having to trouble oneself with gaining any real understanding of Darwinian theory. (This was true in my day, and I assume it's even more the case now - how often, in large schools, do population and evolutionary biology even share a department with molecular biology or biochemistry?) Dini makes an egregious attempt to link creationist beliefs and bad clinical practice via the example of the overprescription of antibiotics that leads to antibiotic resistance. Clayton Cramer refutes this reasoning with some empirical observations, but I'd also like to point out that explanations for the development of antibiotic resistance do not invoke any macroevolutionary mechanism - therefore, to the best of my knowledge, there is no reason to assume that creationists reject any clinically significant knowledge about the process of the development of antibiotic resistance. They may not believe it's evolution in action, but they deny neither that it happens nor that it happens because of improper use of antibiotics.
There are quite a few creationists who will accept microevolution (small changes in existing species) but not buy macroevolution (big, cumulative changes that create entire new species). Here's a piece from Bryan Preston (that doesn't seem to be a year ago already) on that topic of speciation. The idea that bacteria develop resistance to drugs via microevolution wouldn't get one labled one a heretic in most theoligically conservative churches. This will be an interesting one to see filter through the courts. There are a number of areas where religious beliefs and academia are clashing; the most prominent ones are where college anti-discrimination policies are attacking parachurch organizations like InterVarsity for insisting that officers be professing evangelical Christians. However, this Texas Tech case, if decided in favor of the professor, has the potential of blackballing conservative Christians (or people of other faiths as well) from pursuing careers in science and medicine unless they abandon their faith.

Morning Musings-Eileen's really under the weather this morning, so we're playing hooky from church; she dragged herself out of bed for some breakfast an hour ago then went back in. We're planning to make the evening service if she's feeling better. Punxsutawney Phil, the semi-official arbiter of Groundhog Day, saw his shadow this morning. With highs in the low 70s and evening lows about 50, I can live with six more weeks of winter. We had been having a cold snap down here in January where those figures were more like 60 and 40, to which all you northerners can say "Awwww, poor boobie." Keep an eye on this one-Germany's having state elections in Hesse and Lower Saxony today, and the Social Democrats are poised to get a can o' whuppin applied to them. It does have minor implication for national politics, as the state governments send representatives to the upper house, the Bundesrat, but it will serve as a referendum on the Schroeder government, who's standing in the polls has gone into free fall after winning reelection four months ago. Czech president Vaclav Havel is stepping down today; they've yet to come up with a replacement, as the two chambers of the legislature haven't agreed on a successor. It seems like ancient history hearing NPR pieces in the 80s about the Charter 77 movement he headed up, trying to get the then-communist government to live up to their human rights pledges of the Helsinki Agreement. He served time in prison for that. Later, he masterminded the Velvet Revolution and served as a statesman-president while maintaining the heart of a writer; he's been one of the good guys. If he'll take the job, show Kofi the door and name Havel UN Secretary-General.

Modeling Behavior-Josh's sidekick RW has this comment on the Super Bowl ads
I wish I could be as light-hearted about the remaining ads. Excluding only Jared the Subway Guy's wife, the rest of the commercials were like a flip through a lingerie catalog, enhanced for added lechery. The lowest had to be the ad that endlessly replayed footage of two curvaceous blondes while a throaty crooner panted, "Twins! Twins!" I really, really don't want to sound like a prude, but it felt like there should have been a bouncer at the door checking I.D. It was embarassing having my two young teenage male cousins in the same room; they're still forming their ideas about girls and sex, and the message from the T.V. on America's male holiday is "Women: For Entertainment Purposes Only."
The low was the soccer streaker, with the mud-wrestling beer debaters coming a close second, but the twins ad (and most anything from that brand that doesn't have the company president quietly talking about stuff) is in the hunt for the bronze. The beer ads are reaching new lows to the extent where I might have to stop watching sports. I've been cutting down on my sports watching, since Eileen's not a big sports fan, and I am likely morally healthier for it. The ads should come with a disclaimer "Pretty girl sold seperately." The Sweedish Bikini Team won't show up if you crack open the right beverage. I remember one sodapop company had an sendup of such ads, running a faux ad for Jookie-"a party in a can" with buff youths having fun on the beach. Flash to two sorry-looking TV-viewers on a couch with cans of Jookie-"Mine's busted."
It could have been more awkward. It could have been my young female cousins beside me. Parents--future parents--is this the conversation you dream of having with your daughters? "Well, honey, the company objectifies your sexuality to sell beer. Now, lots of guys will form their ideas about women from images like these, but don't let that affect how you feel about your body!" There are few things lovelier than a young woman of grace, self-respect, confidence, and intelligence, to whom is added the virtues of modesty and decorum. And, sadly, few role models for her in the culture.
You don't see girls you'd want to bring home to mother on the ads, for role models don't sell beer, swimsuit models do. Those virtues take time to see that don't fit into a 30-second ad. One sports car ad was talking about love at first sight-"you don't say 'Wow, look at the morals on that girl.'" It took me at least thirty minutes with Eileen. Bad boys and girls get the ads faster than the honorable ones-you see more of Allan Iverson that David Robinson, for few ad campaigns are going to be focused on the role models. Even then, they're often used to play the straight man to the rebels. The TV shows focus on the bad kids as well, for the good kids don't get themselves in the dillemas that make for easy drama.Dr. Byron's Rx-Get you kids away from a steady diet of the boob tube and into something where those virtues can be seen more readily.

Edifier du Jour-Exodus 18:13-24(NASB)
13 It came about the next day that Moses sat to judge the people, and the people stood about Moses from the morning until the evening. 14 Now when Moses' father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he said, "What is this thing that you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge and all the people stand about you from morning until evening?" 15 Moses said to his father-in-law, "Because the people come to me to inquire of God. 16 "When they have a dispute, it comes to me, and I judge between a man and his neighbor and make known the statutes of God and His laws." 17 Moses' father-in-law said to him, "The thing that you are doing is not good. 18 "You will surely wear out, both yourself and these people who are with you, for the task is too heavy for you; you cannot do it alone. 19 "Now listen to me: I will give you counsel, and God be with you. You be the people's representative before God, and you bring the disputes to God, 20 then teach them the statutes and the laws, and make known to them the way in which they are to walk and the work they are to do. 21 "Furthermore, you shall select out of all the people able men who fear God, men of truth, those who hate dishonest gain; and you shall place these over them as leaders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens. 22 "Let them judge the people at all times; and let it be that every major dispute they will bring to you, but every minor dispute they themselves will judge. So it will be easier for you, and they will bear the burden with you. 23 "If you do this thing and God so commands you, then you will be able to endure, and all these people also will go to their place in peace." 24 So Moses listened to his father-in-law and did all that he had said.
How does this apply today? First, don't overwork your pastor. Make sure he has time to pray and time for R&R. Get him to delegate more if he's a micromanager. Give him the time to do the things he does do well. Second, make sure to follow verse 20; teach people God's word and teach it well, then many of the problems won't get to his desk. A Bible-savvy church will (hopefully) have fewer problems and have the problems that do come up more likely to be handled by the laity. To borrow from that great theologian from Knoxville, create a pack and not a herd. It's better to have people acting on God's word independently rather than sending problems up the church's chain of command. Third, have the church divided into subsections so that each "elder" (or whatever term you use in your church) is responcible for looking after a small number of people. Not every church has a set up where small groups of members get together on a regular basis to pray and share burdens together. Adult Sunday school serves that purpose in some churches, home groups or weekly Bible study groups in others. To keep someone from falling through the cracks, you need to have a person who knows the people in his group well enough to get them on the phone if they weren't at church last week, not to castigate them for not being there, but to check on their well-being and pray for them and council with them if a problem has cropped up.

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