Saturday, June 07, 2003

Second Wind-Cue up some old Billy Joel and this essay from Richard Hall on Pentecost Sunday tomorrow
Good Friday had taken the wind from their sails. The disciples remained wracked with fear for the next seven weeks. Now, gathered in the Upper Room in the early morning of the first Pentecost Sunday, they struggled as individuals filled with uncertainty, gloom and emptiness. When the wind of Pentecost blew, they were transformed - they found faith, hope and love. The first chapter of Genesis speaks of the Spirit of God moving over chaos - the result of that movement was new life, transformation, new possibilities. The Spirit that moved at the creation is the same Spirit who empowered the disciples at Pentecost and creates the Church. The movement of the Spirit never stops. In every age and place the Spirit of God is at work inside the Church and out of it, creating new life and offering fresh gifts of faith, hope and love. Pentecost changed the Resurrection for the disciples from an event that happened to Jesus into an event that happened to them and gave them the strength to offer that resurrection experience to others. It still happens today. The transforming power of the Holy Spirit is still at work to give us a "second wind" and fill us with the same gifts of faith, hope and love that were so evident in the church following Pentecost. These are gifts not just for the chosen few, but for the whole people of God.
Don't think you have to start speaking in toungues or start handling snakes in order to acknowledge the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. I'm not sure I have something that qualifies as a prayer language, but the Holy Spirit helps me nonetheless. Tony Campolo had a book out a decade or so ago titled How to be Pentecostal Without Speaking in Tongues. While I don't agree with Campolo on economics and foreign policy, we have some room for agreement here. The Holy Spirit transforms lives in many ways, most of which aren't healings, words of knowledge or prophetic toungues. We as Christians are at a loss if we ignore the third person of the Trinity, for we then will ignore the peace, wisdom and discernment that flows from Him.

Boiling a Frog Slowly-Den Beste has a number of good posts on the current unrest in France, where the pattern of governance by mob rule continues. The pattern has been: (1) Government proposes trimming generous retirement and pension benefits, or refuses requested increase of same. (2) Unions strike, blockade the highways and bring Paris and other cities to a standstill. (3) Government gives in to unions. We were in retro mode earlier today when talking about Prop 13 and Carter's malaise speech; let's do another retro moment. Remember the air traffic controllers strike? Federal employees aren't allowed to strike, and Reagan fired the whole lot, using military controllers, a minority that didn't walk out and a cut-back flight schedule at first, then bringing the system back to normal with newly trained controllers and a few "scabs" who came back to their well paid (but stressful) jobs. As Den Beste's contributor notes, French political culture doesn't allow for such hardball by the government. Many countries have been taken over by mob rule; Mussolini comes to mind. If the French aren't careful, they might be turning into some sort of dystopic anarchy where nothing works for long, kinda like some of the black African ex-colonies of France.

Afternoon Musings-A sinus infection has kept me low the last couple of days, and a Blogger outage this morning kept me from posting the Martha Stewart and Prop 13 posts below until just now. I'm tempted to see what the new Blogger and the new hosting service from MT looks like, for I'm leery of spending a lot of money on this without having to. However, I'm tired of getting "links not working" from my fellow bloggers when they note my good work. MLB seems to have gotten up on the wrong side of the bed yesterday, giving Sammy Sosa an eight-game suspension for his corked bat. Albert Belle got 7 days for his comperable escapade back in 1996, so we might be seeing sentence inflation. However, they've been tough on crime for a while; they've had a three-strikes rule for over a century. Some people might take this to be bad news, as Josh did yesterday, but I think it is good news that Hamas isn't going to call for a ceasefire going into talks with the Israelis. Hamas and the other militant groups are going to have to be pacified or destroyed before a settlement can be reached. The question will be whether Abbas and the PA can do that, or whether we have to return to the raids of a year ago. Now, Israel can go after the autoboomer nests, having played the good cop, and the US gets a feather in its cap for trying to advance the mythical "peace process," making up in part for a big pile of badwill generated in a lot of quarters over Iraq. I haven't sat down and watched a Triple Crown race in years, but Eileen and I will likely do so this afternoon as Funny Cide goes for the record books at the Belmont. If D. Wayne Lucas hadn't said "Even the Hollywood guys couldn't come up with this one" I would have; a gelding who gets bought by six Long Island upstate New York guys for $75,000 gets to win the big one. That's a lot better than last year's War Emblem, owned by a Saudi prince. [Update 6:20PM-I heard the wrong story; the broadcast had them from near Lake Ontario, not Long Island]

Martha Musings-This is an interesting part of the Stewart indictment that Jeffery Collins brings up.
Inserting an unusual twist into their indictment of the domestic diva, prosecutors charge that she committed a crime when she stood up in public last summer and denied engaging in insider trading. "I was a little surprised at that," said Richard A. Serafini, a former economic crimes prosecutor in New York. "There's kind of a natural tendency when you're confronted with something to deny it. Now they're charging it as market manipulation." Legal experts said the charge is a high-risk move designed to convince a jury that Stewart hurt thousands of ordinary stockholders in Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia by trying to cover up her legal problems.
Normally, a CEO in legal trouble unrelated to their job wouldn't be in such a bind. For instance, if Bill Gates were trying to cover up a DUI charge, Microsoft would go on nicely without him if he were to spend time in the pokey. However, in the case of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, " La société est moi." She is the primary asset of the corporation and a significant diminishment of the value of that asset should be made known. For instance, if she were to have come down with a terminal cancer, stockholders would need to be made aware of that in order to make a fair assessment of the value of MSLO. The difference here is that she wouldn't have put herself at risk of jail time by reporting on her health. If I were her lawyer, I'd try pointing out the Fifth Amendment’s rules against self-incrimination. However, the Fifth Amendment doesn't apply in civil cases; since fines and not jail time are involved, there is no incrimination to be protected against. She has a fiduciary duty to her stockholders to be honest about the financial standing of MSLO. Assuming for the moment that she did do the insider trading she's alleged to have done, she failed in that task and is liable for that. She's in an awkward case where being honest would land her in jail and giving a pro-forma denial of the charges would, too. However, she could have saved herself the trouble by leaving the $40,000 (IIRC) of Imclone profits on the table and not acting on the inside information.

Proposition 13 and the Rise of Modern Conservatism -Boy, does tempest ever fugit. Patrick Ruffini and Bill Hobbes note that it was 25 years ago Friday that California passed Proposition 13, which capped property tax increases to 2% a year and moved them back to 1975 levels. I’m not sure if it was Prop 13’s passage that lead to Reagan’s election two years ago, but the general malaise and distrust of government that existed at the time did. One of the things that the new left hippie crowd did in the 60s is to challenge authority. As I came of age in the 70s, abuses and dysfunctions of government became easy to see, as we saw the CIA and FBI raked over the coals for abuses of authority, the Watergate scandal bring down a president and a stagnant economy reeling over increasing oil prices and a general lack of direction. While many of the problems of government were looked at from the left as an autocratic and patriarchal system that needed to be made transparent and more democratic, the right also got more ammunition that the government was spending too much of the public’s money and doing a poor job of it as well. Fans of the status quo became few and far between. While he wasn’t the man to fix this, Jimmy Carter was at least able to put a finger on the issue in his 1979 “malaise” speech
We remember when the phrase "sound as a dollar" was an expression of absolute dependability, until 10 years of inflation began to shrink our dollar and our savings. We believed that our Nation's re sources were limitless until 1973, when we had to face a growing dependence on foreign oil. These wounds are still very deep. They have never been healed. Looking for a way out of this crisis, our people have turned to the Federal Government and found it isolated from the mainstream of our Nation's life. Washington, D.C., has become an island. The gap between our citizens and our Government has never been so wide. The people are looking for honest answers, not easy answers; clear leadership, not false claims and evasiveness and politics as usual. What you see too often in Washington and elsewhere around the country is a system of government that seems incapable of action. You see a Congress twisted and pulled in every direction by hundreds of well financed and powerful special interests. You see every extreme position defended to the last vote, almost to the last breath by one unyielding group or another. You often see a balanced and a fair approach that demands sacrifice, a little sacrifice from everyone, abandoned like an orphan without support and without friends. Often you see paralysis and stagnation and drift. You don't like, and neither do I. What can we do? First of all, we must face the truth, and then we can change our course. We simply must have faith in each other, faith in our ability to govern ourselves, and faith in the future of this Nation. Restoring that faith and that confidence to America is now the most important task we face. It is a true challenge of this generation of Americans.
Carter might have wanted to be the honest and clear leader, his vision of the future wasn’t up to the challenge, giving us Ronald Reagan, who I wish I had voted for in 1980 with two decades of 20/20 hindsight. At a time when American confidence had been beat around by the Soviets, OPEC, Watergate and the American left, Reagan was the man to give that honest and clear leadership that was needed at the time. Prop 13 was merely a phlegm-filled cough stemming from the economic and emotional bronchitis that had hit the US in the late 70s; people were looking for a cure, and thankfully, the cure came from the right. Had a leftist more capable and less tainted than Ted Kennedy ran against Carter in the Democratic primaries of 1980, people might have been ready to accept him. However, God smiled upon us and brought Reagan into office. We needed the 70s to wring a lot of the statist bias out of our politics; had Carter gotten a second term, the history of the last quarter-century would have had the US economy and military look much more like Europe than the US. However, the dysfunctional nature of our government came clearer at the time, allowing the US to move to a lower-tax, more-free-market system. Prop 13 was one of the first moves of that era, but it was a symptom of a distrust of government rather than a cause of it.

Edifier du Jour-Revelation 19:6-9(NASB)
6 Then I heard something like the voice of a great multitude and like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, "Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. 7 "Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready." 8 It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. 9 Then he said to me, "Write, 'Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.'" And he said to me, "These are true words of God."
That was the passage we looked at in home group last night; the first think that struck me was the question-"What does it mean for God Almighty to reign?" Often, a nation is only as good as its ruler; a bad ruler and bad underlings can create a bad nation. The Kingdom of God is ruled by the ultimate benevolent dictator, and is a very good place to be. That's why the news is preceded with a cry of "Hallelujah!", for that news is work being silly-happy with joy over. The second thing that hit us was in verse 8, where we're (as the bride of Christ) dressed in our righteous acts; we're clothed in our own righteousness. If I can do a slight tweak to the exegesis and have each of us clothed in our own personal righteous acts (rather than the Church as a whole), it's going to be "Tarzan Time," as Darrel put it last night, for a lot of us won't have much clothing to cover us up. That shouldn't be taken to be a works-orientation, but I'd like to have more good stuff to bring with me when I go than just a bare minimum loincloth of salvation; my envisioned wedding attire is skimpier than I'd like. The ticket to that marriage supper is a hot commodity; you can't crash the party or scalp a ticket, it's by invitation only. Verse 9 points somewhat towards a Calvinist view on salvation, for if everyone got an invitation, no one in particular would be more blessed than others. What is left off is whether God the Father is the Godfather-is the invitation an offer you can't refuse?

Friday, June 06, 2003

Edifier du Jour-Colossians 3:15-17
15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.
I was driving back from Melbourne this evening (I still haven't gotten to bed yet) and wound up channel-surfing into the Delilah show, a warm-fuzzy contemporary music show with an apparently evangelical lady host; it's one that often winds up sticking on my dial when I'm coming home from a night class. The thing that stuck with me this evening was a comment of hers about having "an attitude of gratitude." We don't give God the proper thanks. When's the last time you sung with thankfulness? It might not have been that long ago, but I know that such thankfulness only shows up every so often in my worship. One old praise song that I don't hear much anymore is Give Thanks, which will often bring me to tears; I remember ace pianist Jeff Nordine (sp?) playing it as a prelude to my sister's wedding and had the brother (not the mother) of the bride reaching for the Kleenex in the front row. Here's the chorus
Give thanks with a grateful heart, Give thanks to the Holy One, Give thanks because He's given Jesus Christ, his Son.
I long to have that level of thankfulness on a hourly basis rather than when a good praise song or a well-spoken word comes along. Most of the time I wind up taking God for granted. Do we let the Word of God richly dwell in us? Not just dwell, but richly dwell? Do we give the Gospel a good bedroom and let it have the run of the house, or do we stick it away in cold storage to be brought out every so often? For me, it's far from having the run of the house, even though it may have a nice den and guest bedroom at its disposal. Do we do everything in God's name? Not the first hour of my class tonight. I try to open up each class with prayer, but I only remembered to pray during the first break and opened up the second hour with a prayer. We may do some things with God in mind, but fewer than we should. Most of us are grateful to God. We're just lousy at showing it. Don't think you're praising him too much, for He'll like to hear it anyway. I know Eileen loves me, and I know she knows I know she loves me; however, she still says so on a regular basis during the day, more than I tell her that I love her. Maybe she has a better attitude of gratitude than I, don't ya think?

Thursday, June 05, 2003

Thoughts on Hillary and Condi-I was listening to a bit of Sean Hannity on the way over to Melbourne; he had Dick Morris and Susan Estrich talking about Hillary. Estrich made the comment that Hillary's relative lack of honesty would hurt her with women and make her chance of getting elected next to nil since a woman would have to get an overwhelming majority of women to vote for her to be elected president. Only if that woman is a Democrat. A standard-issue liberal Democratic woman would scare off a lot of swing voters, especially if she were seen to be soft on crime and foreign policy and too much in favor of a nanny state. A Republican woman wouldn't have that much of a problem, especially someone like Condi Rice, whose forte is geopolitics and who has the most political cojones for a woman this side of Dame Thatcher. Condi could win while merely holding her own with the women's vote. The woman's vote is mostly on economics, where they tend to be more economically liberal; they're more likely to be a single parent and need the help of government. Women also tend to be a bit less hawkish on geopolitics, but that seems to be diminishing after 9/11. There isn't a lot of the gender gap that's due to abortion; women tend to be more pro-life than men. Condi might get a few points of "You go, girl!" female cameraderie, but she'll still have a negative gender gap. If it's a somewhat close race, she could win the male vote 60-40 and lose the female vote 49-51 and still win 55-45.

Afternoon Musings-Oh, the joys of a laptop. I got over to Melbourne an hour early for my Financial Management class, give Eileen a call, then whip out my other Precious and find the Space Coast POPS. Sully has weighed in on the regime change at the NYT
And this is what this campaign was all about. It wasn't personal pique. I started to criticize the drift of the Raines Times months before he decided to purge anyone at the Times who dissented from his politics and his personal agendas. It was about stopping a hugely important media institution from becoming completely captive to the elite left and a mercurial, power-crazy Southern liberal. Of course, that battle isn't over. But the massive power-grab that Raines attempted was foiled in the end. And Lelyveld is the perfect interim choice. This is good news - for the media, the Times, above all for the blogosphere, which played a critical part in keeping this story alive - and lethal.
Amen; Sully seems to like Lelyveld better than Ben. In other good news, the House passed a partial-birth abortion ban today, 282-139. There still is a bit of conference committee work, possibly trimming off non-binding Senate language supporting Roe, but a bill will get to Dubya's desk sooner or later. Sammy Sosa seems to be owed a little benefit of the doubt; the rest of his bats weren't corked. Ben has a nice piece on the Sosa affair and how a lot of people, myself included, got a bit judgmental about the likable Dominican slugger. He'll get a lighter sentence than Albert Belle got years ago because of his likeability. You give them an inch, and they want to be a ruler. After passing a half-percent sales tax increase for school construction last month, the Polk County commissioners wants to tack on another quarter-percent for health care for the poor. This might be a trend, to finance the most heart-tugging stuff with a tax increase so they don't have to make hard choices on the more discressionary stuff. The Pope made his 100th foreign visit, to Croatia, to move along the sainthood process for a local nun. They were showing footage of John Paul staggering off the plane as I ate linner (half lunch/half dinner); an old lady in the restaurant was almost in tears with respect for him-"What a great man." When he goes, he will be missed, and not just by Catholics. He has transformed the image of the Roman Catholic Church into a more personal one; whoever follows will have a tough act to follow.

Regime Change at the Gray Lady-The Blogosphere may have mounted another head on the wall; Howard Raines has resigned as the NYT executive editor. I haven't seen any non-blog writups yet, but the Truth Squads of Blogistan have been Raines' biggest foe and seem to have been instrumental in bringing him down, as they were with Trent Lott. I haven't covered the problems at the Times much, for I haven't had much original to say. Raines' predecessor, Joseph Lelyveld, will be returning as an interim replacement.The flak that the NYT received on this one may have forced the investors to pull the plug on Raines. The appearance of both bias and dishonesty seemed to be enough to drive people away from the newspaper. I don't think that Lelyveld is going to turn the NYT into Fox News on Dead Tree, but he might well correct the sloppy editing and overt liberal slanting of the news. However, as Ben reports, a lot of the bad editing practices started on Lelyveld's watch The Raines regime did more crusading than in the past; the hype about the Masters that brought about 40 women to protest showed a disconnect with reality. Even if this doesn't take away the liberal slant from the Times, it should reduce it and let a lot of air out of quite a few egos. The NYT has a place in the American news mix as a place for serious discussion of foreign affairs and other topics. By its big city and big journalism nature, it's likely to stay a left-leaning rag, but if it covers the news reasonablly even-handedly and truthfully, I'll keep it bookmarked. I'd love to see Sullivan's take on this-he hasn't posted since the wee hours of this morning.

False Identity-Peter Sean Bradley rips into Olympic bomber Eric Rudolph, Christian Identity and leftist who want to make Rudolph a hero to the right. That post reminded me to check into what CI believes; it's some of the worst exegesis of the Bible to ever come down the pike. There is heretical, yet long-standing, school of thought called Anglo-Israelism, where the British (and often America as well) are seen as the descendents of the lost tribes of Israel and inheritors of God's blessing; Herbert W. Armstrong gave that view a more-benign airing in his teachings. The CI folks take that theology and give it a skinhead spin, making Adam and Eve the first whites rather than the first people, making non-whites out to be non-human pre-Adamic agents of the Devil. That's far different from what the Bible has to say about the issue. The universal reach of Christ transcends race; verses like Colossians 3:11 "Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all" make it next-to-impossible for me to be cocky about my European ancestors or dismissive of people of non-European descent. This bunch has next-to-nothing to do with Jesus' teaching other than the name on the front door. This is basically KKK doctrine given a spiritual spin. It might appeal to some people who are angry church-going bigots, giving them a quasi-spiritual rationale to justify their bigotry. Their theology is apocalyptic, foreseeing a end-of-the-world race war that many believers want to start right away; thus, CI people can lean easily into racial terrorism. I at first wanted to say that Rudolph's race war isn't mine. I was wrong. It is my war, except that I and other believers stand ready to fight against the demonic forces of CI.

Edifier du Jour-2 Samuel 24:18-25(NASB)
18: So Gad came to David that day and said to him, "Go up, erect an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite." 19: David went up according to the word of Gad, just as the LORD had commanded. 20: Araunah looked down and saw the king and his servants crossing over toward him; and Araunah went out and bowed his face to the ground before the king. 21: Then Araunah said, "Why has my lord the king come to his servant?" And David said, "To buy the threshing floor from you, in order to build an altar to the LORD, that the plague may be held back from the people." 22: Araunah said to David, "Let my lord the king take and offer up what is good in his sight. Look, the oxen for the burnt offering, the threshing sledges and the yokes of the oxen for the wood. 23: "Everything, O king, Araunah gives to the king." And Araunah said to the king, "May the LORD your God accept you." 24: However, the king said to Araunah, "No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price, for I will not offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God which cost me nothing." So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver. 25: David built there an altar to the LORD and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. Thus the LORD was moved by prayer for the land, and the plague was held back from Israel.
Things given to us by others don't save us, it's our personal faith/belief in Jesus as our Lord and Savior that does the job. Other people may pray for us or live good lives, but ultimately, we have to give what we alone have to offer, our own lives, to God. Having someone else pay a price for you isn't good enough.

Wednesday, June 04, 2003

Why Not Ban Tobacco?-Ben links to this WaPo piece on Surgeon General Richard Carmona coming out in favor of banning tobacco products. I know many of my fellow conservative readers will wonder if I left my common sense somewhere on I-95, but I agree with him. It's a product which helps to shorten the lives of millions of people and has no good redeeming value other than the nicotine buzz that people get from smoking, a buzz that can be replicated by non-toxic means. I've never been a fan of smoking and haven't ever even tried a tobacco cigarette; back in the peer-pressure era when most kids start smoking, I had enough allergies and upper respiratory infections to know that I couldn't afford to gunk up my lungs. I've grown a bit more militant in my dislike of smoking when I saw my Grandma Kraenzlein die of lung cancer; she had been a smoker for a half-century-plus. 1989 was not a pretty year, as the cancer and chemotherapy made her a shell of the woman she once was. I don't want to have other people die such a death or have to watch a loved one do the same. It will also clear the air in offices; even in the ones that ban smoking inside, you'll have to walk through a gray haze of smoke to get in most doors. People will have more time to spend in other forms of goofing off (or actual work) when their smoking break is no longer legal. We'll have a more productive and healthy society with a severe reduction of smoking, which will increase GDP and add to tax revenue in the long haul. So, I think we'd be doing the country a favor if we ban cigarettes and other tobacco products (1) What about the black market for cigarettes that will be created?For one thing, tobacco could only be consumed in private; that alone would cut down smoking by 80% or more. Yes, there'll likely be a black market, but it will be far less than the number of current smokers. (2) What about the precedent that it would set for other politically-incorrect products, like Big Macs?-Big Macs can be part of a well-rounded diet, as can most "junk foods." The same can't be said for tobacco. Also, junk food isn't as harmful or as addictive as tobacco. (3) It's a victimless crime; if people want to rot out there lungs, let them- The victims help to raise our health insurance rates (but lower our Social Security bills, the bean-counters will remind us) as the people get lung cancer and other ailments. Also, the families of cancer victims are harmed as well. If J. Random User has no family and no friends to mourn his passing and to share the pain of his dying days, it would be different, but there's more than the user harmed when disease strikes. (4) Can we afford to cut tobacco taxes?-On the federal level, it would be manageable, given the $7 billion in taxes in 2000. Some states would be hard hit, as California would take a $1 billion hit. I think we could plug that hole easily; increased productivity and reduced medical expenditures should make the ban pay for itself in the long haul. This kind of proposal will rankle the libertarian spirit in us, but there are times where the government is valid to step in for the common good and save people from their own stupidity. I think this is one of them.

Dinnertime Musings-I'm still recovering from a busy 72-hour stretch, so blogging is coming back on line slowly. This was Topic One at our dinner table-federal prosecutors must of felt it was a good thing to indict Martha Stewart on obstruction of justice and securities fraud charges. The obstruction charge is one that is often easier to prove, as insider trading law leaves even finance professors' eyes glazed over, let alone Jane Juror. This will lead to a good blogfest on marijuana laws; a medicinal pot supplier got merely one day prison time from a federal district judge, and granted immediate release on time already served. That looks more like a judicial equivilent of jury nullification and makes the Ninth Circuit look conservative by comparison. This wasn't good news, especially when he was on my fantasy team-Sammy Sosa was caught using a corked bat. He had a lame excuse that the bat was for putting on homer shows at batting practice. So it's only cheating if you use it in a game?

Edifier du Jour-Matthew 8:5-13(NASB)
5 And when Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, imploring Him, 6 and saying, "Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, fearfully tormented." 7 Jesus said to him, "I will come and heal him." 8 But the centurion said, "Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 "For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, 'Go!' and he goes, and to another, 'Come!' and he comes, and to my slave, 'Do this!' and he does it." 10 Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled and said to those who were following, "Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel. 11 "I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; 12 but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." 13 And Jesus said to the centurion, "Go; it shall be done for you as you have believed." And the servant was healed that very moment.
The centurion figured out two things and made a good synthesis. First, he figured out that Jesus was divine, or at least had powers over the spiritual realm. Second, he realized that a being with such power didn't have to do the work in person; he could delegate such work, such as he could transmit an order to a soldier under him. A while back, Gary Peterson posted on a bad church sign saying that "God cannot be everywhere at once, so He created mothers." Not true; God can be anywhere at once and be multiple places at once, so you can't pull the trick of getting Superman busy in place A while you do your best nasty stuff in place B. Not only does "wherever you go, there you are" work, but "wherever you go, there He is" works, too. Also, this was a Gentile noticing Jesus' divine capabilities; Jesus gets in a dig at the Jews for being clueless about Him. Gentiles are now part of the family and being Jews doesn't give them reservations to the marriage supper of the Lamb. A good heumanutic for that is that God has no grandchildren; people don't go to heaven because their parents did or because they go to church but through a personal relationship with Jesus. The modern institutionalized church can serve as a stand-in for the Jews. Just as Jews claimed to be spiritual sons of Abraham, so could the Methodist claim to be sons of Wesley, the Presbyterians sons of Knox, the Congregationalists/UCC the sons of Mather, we need to be reminded that God can turn stones into sons of Wesley, Knox or Mather (or Graham or Luther). What a church's spiritual founders did is worth talking about, but tradition doesn't save you; Jesus does.

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

Return-to-Florida Musings-I've had a real busy 36 hours, getting Eileen's friend Ann moved out of her apartment and back to Spartanburg; we needed to get her out yesterday and we did, pulling out about 6:30 and not pulling into Spartanburg until about 2AM this morning. We then stayed at her dad's house and battled a bad storm front down the southeast, pulling into Winter Haven about 15 minutes ago. Comments on the news, including the NBA musical coaching chairs, will come tomorrow, as I return to a normal blogging routine.

Monday, June 02, 2003

Edifier du Jour-Matthew 8:1-4(NASB)
1 When Jesus came down from the mountain, large crowds followed Him. 2 And a leper came to Him and bowed down before Him, and said, "Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean." 3 Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, "I am willing; be cleansed." And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. 4 And Jesus said to him, "See that you tell no one; but go, show yourself to the priest and present the offering that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them."
The key idea here is if God is willing to heal. Not whether he is able, but whether He is willing. God's got the power, so we can't ask "can God do it?" but "will He do it?".

Sunday, June 01, 2003

Thoughts on a Consumption Tax-Via Patrick Carver, I found this Deroy Merdock NRO piece plugging possible Zell Miller replacement Herman Cain,a pull-no-punches black conservative businessman. Here, Cain is raising some Cain on the tax system
Take a look at the tax code," he tells me. "There was a law passed years ago that allows the government to take money out of your paycheck before you get your money. What would Thomas Jefferson say about that? You have lost the liberty to receive all of your wages before you pay taxes. You, by law, must contribute to Social Security, and you don't own your contributions. I don't call that liberty. The fact that the life expectancy of an African-American male is now 68 years of age, and the life expectancy of a white male is 75 years of age, says to me that there is not much liberty in African Americans subsidizing the Social Security system." Cain repeatedly says: "Replace the tax code." He would scrap today's federal income, corporate, payroll and death taxes and instead implement a 23-percent consumption tax. Americans could control their tax exposure by adjusting their spending. Monthly Treasury checks that Cain calls "pre-bates" would "untax" the sales levies on basic necessities. He forecasts that Americans would save $250 billion annually in transcended tax-compliance costs.
I don't think a sales tax would be the best way to do this. A high sales tax would wind up shifting the underground economy from wages to sales, as people moved a lot of service industries underground. Also, the prebates would be likely to prone to abuse. My simple proposal on this front, if you want to do a consumption tax, is to take the normal income tax motif and move to this system. How much did you make less year. Subtract your net savings. That's how much you spent, and we then base our taxable income from there. You can track your net savings by looking at any changes in your checking account, your savings account and any investments. The one key trick is to define what an investment is. Is your house? Your bass boat? This would effectively create a no-strings-attached IRA. Any money you put in savings is tax-deferred until you spend it. No dividend tax. No capital gain tax. This would encourage investment. You'd likely want a high personal deduction and exemption in order to get some help to the working poor, but that would be a simpler approach to move towards a consumption tax than the Cain proposal, which has been floated in some form by many conservatives over the years.

Mad Bomber Musings-It looks likes they've caught the Olympic bomber-Eric Rudolph was caught going through a dumpster in the mountains of North Carolina yesterday. He was wanted for bombing a gay bar and a building with an abortion clinic as well. One of the things that interested me about the coverage here is this factoid that I don't recall being covered prior to this, although the coverage of Rudolph was mostly six years old, so I'm open to the oversight being in my memory rather than the reportage.
Rudolph is thought to be a follower of the white supremacist Christian Identity religion that is rabidly anti-abortion, anti-gay and anti-Semitic.
It would have changed the coverage a bit if that was was more widely mentioned at the time. As I recall, by just talking about him being anti-abortion and a homophobe, it implied blame on the entire religious right rather than a violent Klan-on-steriods group. A quick Google showed that the info was out there, but I don't recall any of the media I saw or heard mention it. Now that he's caught, we'll likely see a good hunk of coverage try to portray Rudolph as just a nice church boy that the bigotry of the Bible Belt made ready for white supremacists. CI isn't Christian in any meaningful sence, for they have to do more twisting of the Bible than liberals do to justify race war. However, I'd expect some coverage try to make CI sound like the logical extention of fundamentalist theology.

Edifier du Jour-Philippians 1:18-21
18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice, 19 for I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, 20 according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
One of the things that hit me about much of the Presbyterian crowd here in Richmond is the lack of expectation and boldness when compaired to their more evangelical brothers. Their God seems to be more distant and less a player in their lives. There is a faith, but it is of a less-immenent God; they would be more comfortable than I with the old Bette Midler lyric-"God is watching us from a distance." Given the more deistic nature of the mainliner's God, worship seems to be restrained, for God isn't expected to do much. The transformative power of God is thus downplayed, turning their vision to psychology or government programs for help with worldly problems. However, God is more hands-on and more immenent than that. He can change lives. He does change lives, if given a chance. With the low expections of God brings about a low expectations of man. There is a pessimism there that a touch from the Holy Spirit could help if they knew to seek it. Instead of dwelling on our collective sins, we can begin to overcome them with God's help. A hands-on God can do more healing that group therapy ever can, but that requires thinking in a supernatural manner, one that isn't easy to do.

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