Saturday, June 14, 2003

Evening Musings-This was one of the longer days I've had in a while; 5:30 alarm, out the door before 6 to get to Melbourne by 8 (2 hour drive); squeeze in an edifier that pulled Karl Thiene's Orthodox chatty ring (a hopefully thoughtful reply will come tomorrow), spend the day trying with some success teaching time-value-of-money concepts to my Managerial Finance class, then heading over to Lakeland for a wedding reception; my 9-5 class didn't get me back to Lakeland in time for a 6PM wedding. One of the interesting things I was reflecting on was how fast 15 and 30 years have gone by. I thought back to June of 1988, where I missed the wedding of a couple from the singles group from my church at the time taking the GMAT (SAT for business grad schools) but making the reception; fast forward a decade and a half, going through the Ph.D. I was hoping to get that day, and I'm missing an wedding due to a Saturday non-traditional class I'm teaching. ____ The other spooky thing was when I was channel surfing on the way back from Melbourne this afternoon, hearing Summer Breeze, a Seals and Croft oldie; my mind was saying "1973 or so... that song is thirty years old." Actually, it's from 1972, as the DJ mentioned, but my musical memory banks have thirty-plus years of coverage. I'm not sure if you have a point of musical history that from that point to the present is "current" stuff that you remember hearing on the radio as new hits and a point before that where stuff is "oldies" that was historic when your coherent memories kicked in. For me, that point is about 1970, when I was 9. However, that makes the back-end of what my mind things of as current is now part of oldies channels. What's even more disturbing is that they now have 80s oldies channels; stuff that I was too mature to appreciate fully is now oldies. My quip of long standing is starting to become true; when they start marketing luxury cars with the music from your teen years, you're getting old. _____ No, the peace process can't be salvaged. However, the US has played this current diplomatic game very well, playing the good cop and then letting Hamas ruin things. The US now can pin the blame on a lack of peace on Hamas and allow the Israelis to go and kick butt. The Roadmap gambit showed the PA to be impotent and Hamas to be the bad actor, which was needed. ________ Now that the US had gotten a few diplomatic points on the board, time to get out the can 'o diplomatic whuppin' on Belgium- since their judicial system sees anybody as fair game for human rights charges, US officials aren't safe to go to NATO HQ without being arrested; I'd recommend pulling out of NATO altogether, but this reminds me of a bus-full of plaintiff’s lawyers going off a cliff; it's a good start. [sorry, all my lawyer and law-school buddies]

Edifier du Jour-Romans 2:25-29(NASB)
25 For indeed circumcision is of value if you practice the Law; but if you are a transgressor of the Law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. 26 So if the uncircumcised man keeps the requirements of the Law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? 27 And he who is physically uncircumcised, if he keeps the Law, will he not judge you who though having the letter of the Law and circumcision are a transgressor of the Law? 28 For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. 29 But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.
Modern-day churches have their rituals of belonging; baptism, dedications, confirmations and memberships. However, while those things are meaningful cerimonies, it is your relationship with God that ultimately matters. Being in the right church or having been baptised isn't what saves you, it is a knowledge of Jesus as your Lord and Savior that does, and no human cerimony can dupilcate that.

Friday, June 13, 2003

Moving Day-I had a couple of reasons being late with today's Edifier. The first was getting in at midnight from my Melbourne class and the second was helping some friends from church today, Mac and Darrel Renfro, pack up their moving van for a move to Colorado, where they are moving to look after Mac's mom. Mac's been an instructor at HEART for 20 years. We weren't able to make it to his going-away party two weeks ago, but I left this letter to add to the scrapbook.
While I didn’t have any interaction with Mac on a professional level, I got to know Mac and Darrel via the Lakeland Vineyard and the Lake Wales home group that they were a part of. I appreciate Mac’s humor; it’s so dry that it needs underground drip irrigation. I appreciate the creativity and ingenuity that he applied at HEART and inculcated in his students, teaching a generation of Third World McGuyers on how to build electricity-free pumps and how to turn outhouse vents into Fly Motels, where the flies check in but don’t check out, as well as multiple ways to build water-holding containers. I appreciate his dedication to the Lord and his unspoken vow of modest living. A man of his talents could be making big money as a project engineer, yet works for a fraction of what he could make in the business world to teach people how to function in the developing world. I saw the respect that this knowledge and dedication generated when I visited ECHO earlier this week; many of the ECHO staff were HEART alums. They all wished Mac would retire to ECHO when he gets done looking after his mom. The kind of ingenuity he teaches was transferred down to Fort Meyers and around the world. I see overcomers. Both Mac and Darrel are confident in God’s ability to get them through any situation. While they might be critical, they are also confident that a solution is behind the corner and that God will give them the strength to hang in their until a solution is found. That spirit is infectious; Darrel’s council has helped my wife Eileen on numerous occasions when Eileen struggled to find her place here in Florida. I saw a godly man. Not ever man will put his career on hold in order to take care of his parents and not every wife will let their husband do something that godly but that “stoopid.” However, the one of the Ten Commandment that has just a positive promise is “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you” (Exodus 20:12 NASB). Mac is doing just that. A lesser man would have stashed his mom in a nursing home, keeping his good job at HEART and Darrel’s teaching job. However, both of them are heading out to Steamboat Springs to look after Mama Renfro. Godspeed, Mac. You’ll be missed. Yours in Christ, Mark Byron
Yes, he will be missed indeed. I'm expecting a multi-Kleenex moment when Eileen and Darrel part ways at home group this evening.

Edifier du Jour-Romans 1:11-12(NASB)
11 For I long to see you so that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, that you may be established; 12 that is, that I may be encouraged together with you while among you, each of us by the other's faith, both yours and mine.
Eileen and I were talking with one of our neighbors in our apartment complex a few days ago when the subject of church came up; the mom was one of those all-too-typical people who are "spiritual" but don't go to church. Some of those people may have been hurt by a past church experience and don't want to go back, while others may prefer a personal flexidoxy to the standard brands; I don't know what bucket my neighbor belongs to as of yet. Trying to live out your faith on your own isn't easy, for you don't get the encouragement of other believers, as Paul was looking forward to with the Romans. You also don't get the accountability of other believers; for people who have yet to find Jesus and don't want to be held accountable for how they live their lives, that part of fellowship is scarry. We're not designed to be Lone Ranger Christians, for personal interaction with other believers strengthens our walk. Iron sharpens iron.

An Atticus Brief- A recently telecast survey of popular movie heroes had Gregory Peck’s portrayal of Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird ranked #1; Peck's death this week recalls that story. That #1 pick was a bit of a head-scratcher, but I think I have the answer to that. I don’t recall watching the movie, but I do remember reading the book in high school. While fans of war and action movies have any number of heroes to look to, the pacifist/liberal has fewer options. Atticus is a modern liberal hero a quarter-century or so ahead of his time. A de-facto single dad (his wife is in a mental hospital, IIRC) doing a good job of looking after Scout, Atticus fits the fractured family mode of modern fiction. His strident but gentle egalitarianism tries to strike a blow for justice in the Jim Crow South, defending a black man against a trumped-up charge of raping a white woman. He’s a liberal hero that people of all political stripes can look up to, for who’s against good parenting and racial justice? Not the positive discrimination that passes for racial justice today, but fighting for someone slated to die because he happened to be black. Atticus is also an achievable hero. Most parents would prefer that kids model themselves on Atticus than Rambo or the Terminator.

Evening Musings- An interesting day in the news. Two celebrity deaths in dominated the news on the way over to Melbourne this afternoon. The first was that of David Brinkley, who both helped start modern news anchoring in the 50s and 60s at NBC. Later, when put out to pasture at NBC, he then helped redo the Sunday news show in the 80s at ABC with This Week; what was a novel interview and discussion format a quarter century ago has now been copied by all the other networks. I’m not sure if distance is blurring the vision, but he seems to have been the least liberal of the big network anchors in my memory. He wasn’t a conservative per se, but he had a low tolerance for spin and BS. However, unlike many in-your-face TV anti-idiotarians of today, he did his rhetorical damage with a dry and sardonic wit. The other celebrity death was that of actor Gregory Peck. Peck brought a dignity to roles missing in most modern actors. He won an Oscar for his portrayal of Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird. More on that movie in a bit. The Yankees had a tag-team no-hitter thrown at them last night by the Astros. Former Florida Blogista Roy Oswald had to leave the game in the second inning without giving up a hit; six Astros combined to finish the job, including a record-tying four-strikeout eighth inning by Octavio Dotel. Just the idea of having Boy George squirm through watching that one makes me very happy.

Thursday, June 12, 2003

Edifier du Jour-John 20:19-23(NASB)
19 So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, "Peace be with you." 20 And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples then rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 So Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you." 22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 "If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained."
This is an interesting passage that seems to make a good case against some real hard-core Pentecostals who think you have to be a tongue-talker to be saved; the disciples had the Holy Spirit given to them here, instead of in Acts 2. As far as I understand it, believers have access to the Holy Spirit from the moment of belief; salvation and the baptism/indwelling of the Holy Spirit is a package deal. Without it, the believer is enfeebled and rudderless in the spiritual realm. Note that this is a "mundane" presence of the Holy Spirit as our councilor and discerner, as opposed to some of the flashier "gifts of the Spirit." However, this is far from mundane, for the Holy Spirit gives the believer discernment and will-power to stop doing the sinful things he did in the past and to do things he didn't have the guts to do before. That's available to every believing Christian, Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal or whatever. Now, some people might wind up being used by God to be the vehicle for less-mundane acts of the Holy Spirit. I'm inclined to think that people who have been given that honor are not extra-saved or have achieved another plateau of faith. Not everyone's going to be a prophet or one whom healing flows through, but we all have, if we are a follower of Christ, the Holy Spirit with us 24/7.

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Paying Tribute to Virtue-Lileks launches one at escape velocity today on the issue of cultural propriety; go thou and readest. We have had so many people "pushing the envelope" for so long, there is no envelope left. When the usual suspects on the right complain, it gets dismissed; however, Lileks isn't one of them, so this might get heard. He's a conservative libertarian (?) who has his old-school limits. Today, he reminded me quite a bit of Mike Royko, in the way that Royko could be old-school without being conservative and to be (as John Adams once said) both erudite and earthy. Here's to the Land of a Thousand Lakes' Slats Grobnik, Jr.

Evening Musings-"Just what I want for my birthday, Mommy. A Bob Graham CD. Can I? Can I?" "No, Susie, we've already given our maximum $2000." "We could buy a Graham stuffed animal; that would count as soft money, Mom." How come I'm reminded of the Jim Wright book deal, where he got a 55% commission and allies bought the book in bulk? If profits from the CD are sent to the Graham campaign, would bulk purchases of the CDs be illegal campaign donations? This is almost funny, doyaknow, doyaknow. Spike Lee thinks he has dibs on the name Spike and is suing to rename a new "mens" channel, Spike TV. He must have a jones for the name Spike? Let's see the courts say "Heil! Heil!" right in Der Marsters face. Monkeypox has made it to Sarasota. Of course, the family has a prairie dog companion and all the children are above average.

Thinking Young-Hold your cards, we have a winner-Rummy nailed one today over in Germany
The key, I believe, is that even as they are busy looking inward and rebuilding their economies and societies, they have had the vision to look outward as well, to find ways they can contribute to a more peaceful and secure world... It suggests that the distinction between old and new in Europe today is really not a matter of age or size or even geography. It is really a matter of attitude — of the vision that countries bring to the trans-Atlantic relationship.
It is possible to teach an old European dog new tricks; exhibit A is Italy under Berlusconi. If you went back 15 years to the patchwork quilt Christian Democrats-and-friends-of-the-month goverments, you wouldn't have expected such a change. Other "Old Europe" countries can be a part of this new coalition, if they junk their old attitudes; translation-"Earth calling Paris, Earth calling Paris. Come in, Paris."

Free Hamburgers Tomorrow-That was the sign at the diner in Higgins Lake my Mom's family went to when she was a kid. Occasionally, some naïf would come back the next day looking for their gratis greaseball, only to be told to look at the sign. Yesterday's New Brunswick election (thanks to Bene for the link) saw the Progressive Conservatives are neither nearly lose power in the provincial legislature by the Liberals promising a 25% cut in auto insurance rates and/or a publicly run system. Assuming that the insurance industry in New Brunswick is competitive, a 25% rate cut will need to be done either by subsidizing the industry or by setting up a state-run fund that will be subsidized by the province. What the politicians aren't saying is that such a rate cut will either mean reduction in damage awards or higher taxes. Guess which one is likely? Guess who's back at the diner looking for the free hamburger? The voters of New Brunswick.

Foundations and Agency Costs-I'm no expert in foundation management, but this is an interesting piece. Charitable foundations are required to pay out 5% of their assets each year in grants; currently, their administrative expenses count towards that 5%. There's a law on the books to not allow administrative expenses to count, and the big foundations are bringing out the big lobbying lumber. If I'm doing my math correctly, the average top 100 foundation gives away $90 million a year and spends $8.3 million doing so. There seems to be an administrative inertia that has a lot of money being spent by these foundations on top academics, ex-politicians and other members of the left-leaning elite to run the big foundations. A Weekly Standard piece last year pointed out the relationship between Bill Moyers and the Schumann Foundation, who paid him a big salary and financed his TV projects. If foundations have to give away 5% plus the 1%+ of operating expenses, it might start to eat into the firms endowment, jepordizing the gravy train. That will either mean they will give less or start to trim expenses. There seems to be little incentive to trim expenses in the foundation world, for they are accountable only to a board of directors who might be in on the cushy saleries. In business, we call that agency costs, where the management is looking to line their own pockets rather than look after the best interest of stockholders. Without stockholders, there is little to reign in such agency costs. In corporations, a proxy fight or hostile takeover is the market's responce to excessive agency costs. In goverment, it's oversight from the executive and/or legistative branches. However, there's little prospect in getting an inbred directorate to trim things down, unless some outside force steps in. It's interesting that the point man in the lobbying effort is Bill Paxon, a moderate Republican former congressman. I'd expect the Democrats to be more in opposition to this tax change, for trimming executive compensation in foundations will mean less cushy jobs for them and their allies. On the flip side, it might mean more propaganda projects being funded, shifting the gravy train away from the foundations to the organizations that they fund.

Don't Mess With ... Alberta-Den Beste has an interesting post on possible future annexation of parts of Canada, but he was a bit off his legendary signal-to-noise ratio last night.
We Americans have a strong national identity. We disagree about a lot, but there's even more we all deeply agree on. But there's no equivalent agreement up north. And perhaps that's why if you ask an American what it means to be American, he will talk about the Constitution and our shared values. If you ask a Canadian what it means to be a Canadian, he'll talk about all the ways Canada is different from the US. Canada is a contiguous territory, but it isn't a single people. The preamble to the Constitution of the US begins We the people of the United States, and we Americans think that way. But there's not really any "we" in Canada. It's one of the many nations which was created in Europe out of disparate elements because it seemed to make sense on a map, just as with most of Africa and the Middle East, where all the people in the area were shoved together. Canada is a single nation now pretty much only because it used to be a single British colony. And that means that there's not all that much that really ties Canada together, just as is the case in a lot of African nations. The pieces don't really fit.
If you take Quebec out of the mix and look at anglophone Canada, the two North American countries look rather similar. Think of anglophone Canada as the US without the South. The Maritimes are New England with its aging economy and secular mind-set; this is the native habitat for RINOs in the US and the RINOesque Conservative Party up north. Ontario is a combination of New York and Pennsylvania, the urbanized, secular-leaning Rust Belt. Manitoba and Saskatchewan are the Dakotas and Iowa, home of prairie populism with a bit of a religious streak; the populism can swing left or right. Alberta is Montana-Idaho Big Sky conservative, while British Columbia has the characteristics of Washington state, a bit left-leaning but open to good conservatives. Thus, when you ignore Quebec, Canada is about as diverse as the northern US. Canadians may not be able to define what it means to be a Canadian well, without a Constitution and Founding Fathers mythology, but there's roughly the same culture. Western Americans are often resentful of Washington's heavy-handed centralized regulation and high taxes, just as western Canadians are resentful of Ottawa. However, with Quebec independence in play, other provinces are taking advantage of that to renegotiate Canadian federalism and take a serious look at whether they want to stay in Canada Here's another area where Den Beste isn't quite on target historically
The Oregon Territory was a sort-of joint possession of the US and Britain through most of the early part of the 19th century but became American exclusively in 1846. Oregon became a state in 1859, Washington in 1889 and Idaho in 1890. Oklahoma became a state in 1907, the last part of the 1803 Louisiana Purchase to do so. Statehood isn't something we tend to rush into; it's an critical decision and we don't want to fight any more wars about it with states which change their minds. (One was enough.) So we're going to wait until everyone is really sure it's the right thing to do, even if it takes fifty years. We do not want our own version of Northern Ireland. (Which is part of why Puerto Rico still isn't a state, more than a hundred years on.) If one or more of the western provinces asked for secession from Canada, that might conceivably happen rapidly. That's a Canadian issue; we're not involved in it. But if they applied for US statehood, they'd have to expect to be territories for at least 20 years before statehood was even seriously considered, just to make sure they truly wanted to join us and really did share our values. Territories have no representation in Congress and do not vote for the President. The people there are citizens and have all the rights and responsibilities of citizens, but they have no right to self-government. Article IV of the Constitution gives Congress full power to rule over territories. Territories are often granted limited self-government but there's also usually an appointed governor. In some cases historically all judges and law enforcement authorities were federally appointed. The degree of self-government is totally at the discretion of Congress and could be unilaterally revoked at any time. That would be politically distasteful for the people of the western provinces, I think, and might be seen as an insult by proud Canadians. ("They don't think we're good enough to be full Americans? They want us to be second class citizens, ruled by them but not fully participating? To hell with the bastards.") The only thing they'd accept, I suspect, would be immediate full statehood, and there's no way. Canadians already have a chip on their shoulder about us; I can't see them actually accepting formal political subordination to us just for the chance to be considered for statehood in 30 years.
If I remember my frontier history correctly, territories became states when they had a large enough population to do so; there were some cases where statehood was a bit delayed during the Missouri Compromise era when matching slave and free states were added (for instance, Michigan and Arkansas were such a matched set), but the general rationale for territory status was lack of population rather than of a cooling-off period before statehood. Oklahoma's Indian Territory status delayed its inclusion, but that's the one key exception. I think the strongest historical analogy for Canadian provinces becoming states right off would be Texas, who was its own country for about a decade after breaking off from Mexico. There was no Texas Territory; it got statehood from the get-go, and the same would likely be true for Alberta or other provinces wanting to join the US. The annexation deal might require more than one popular vote, or a two-thirds majority approving statehood, but I don't think we're going to see the Manitoba Territory. The one exception might be if Canada's three northern territories wanted to join; they might be small enough to justify old-school territory status. [Update 10:30PM-Nice wave of traffic from the USS Clueless and good add-on comments from Behind The Net, giving some good Canadian provincial Poli-Sci background]

Late Night MusingsIt looks like Blogger has done its alledged upgrade. It doesn't look like much of an upgrade; the new format seems as buggy as ever and changes some of the editing codes. The bold code goes from b to "strong" and the italics goes from i to em. However, if they've fixed the archive problem, they may get to keep a customer for a while. This might change US-Canadian relations; the Ontario Appeal Court (the province's highest court) made same-sex marriages legal immediately. That might make tying Windsor knots popular among the pink triangle crowd; others might go pronto to Toronto to get hitched. The sad part is that polls had a majority of Canadians in favor of the change; you hosers up north are starting to make San Francisco look old-school. I've got a bad feeling about Haley Barbour's run for Mississippi governor. His lobbying firm seems to have bad taste in clients, including Ted Turner. I was going to blast him for being in bed with the gambling industry, but that was one of his GOP predecessors, Frank Fahrenkopf, who did that lobbying.

Edifier du Jour-John 19:6:16(NASB)
6 So when the chief priests and the officers saw Him, they cried out saying, "Crucify, crucify!" Pilate said to them, "Take Him yourselves and crucify Him, for I find no guilt in Him." 7 The Jews answered him, "We have a law, and by that law He ought to die because He made Himself out to be the Son of God." 8 Therefore when Pilate heard this statement, he was even more afraid; 9 and he entered into the Praetorium again and said to Jesus, "Where are You from?" But Jesus gave him no answer. 10 So Pilate said to Him, "You do not speak to me? Do You not know that I have authority to release You, and I have authority to crucify You?" 11 Jesus answered, "You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me to you has the greater sin." 12 As a result of this Pilate made efforts to release Him, but the Jews cried out saying, "If you release this Man, you are no friend of Caesar; everyone who makes himself out to be a king opposes Caesar." 13 Therefore when Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out, and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Pavement, but in Hebrew, Gabbatha. 14 Now it was the day of preparation for the Passover; it was about the sixth hour. And he said to the Jews, "Behold, your King!" 15 So they cried out, "Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him!" Pilate said to them, "Shall I crucify your King?" The chief priests answered, "We have no king but Caesar." 16 So he then handed Him over to them to be crucified.
I'm not sure why, but I have a soft spot for Pilate here. He's in a no-win situation and makes a realpolitik decision to make Jesus a scapegoat; rather than make the idealistic choice and let Jesus go free and risk a riot which would not look good back in Rome; he lets Jesus be executed and get the Jews off his back. To Pilate, Jesus is a scarificial lamb, but a sacrifice on the altar of provincial realpolitik. What Pilate intended as a crass political gesture was used to atone for the sins of the world. The shortest path to God's will isn't always a straight line, for God will throw a few curve balls from time to time, using evil for a greater good.

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Afternoon Musings-Very interesting Den Beste piece on North Korea. His solution: a Chinese invasion/takeover with recovery package financed with US/Japanese/South Korean aid. Crazy enough to work, and an improvement over the status quo for all concerned. How real is my realpolitik? The meter just got pinned, but it is a solution that is doable. John Edwards is starting very much to look like a cute version of Phil Gramm circa 1995-96, with tons of ready money but next-to-no supporters. Zogby (grains of salt sold separately; thanks to Ben for the link) has him at 2% in New Hampshire. California may have a political nuclear bomb about to go off in a recall election on the Gray Gentleman. The petition drive seems to be gathering steam, and Democrats will be in an awkward spot, as the replacement election will be held at the same time, non-partisan and no runoffs; the person getting the most votes wins, assuming Davis is recalled. There are so many variables to this equation, it makes the Black-Scholes derivation seem straight forward. Will Arnold run? Will Riordon? Which Democrat(s) will run? This will wind up being a Poli-Sci major's erotic fantasy.

Musings on a Christian Sexual Paradigm-Part I-Is a Homosexual Orientation Sinful?-Susan's comments on homosexuality are a good conversation-starter; here's her list stemming from a Dean Esmay dialog between Christians and homosexuals.
My status: a heterosexual, orthodox (small “o”) Christian. Here is what I believe on the whole homosexuality issue:
I believe that homosexual behavior (but not orientation) is sinful. There’s a lot of heterosexual behavior that is sinful, too. I don’t believe that homosexual behavior is some “special” sin that’s somehow worse than all others. I think some Christians are way too fixated on homosexuality. I think heterosexual behavior that is sinful causes much more damage to society. Examples are abortion, illegitimacy, infidelity, divorce, broken families, etc. Because of this, I think Christians should pay more attention to heterosexual sins and quit obsessing on homosexuals. I don’t necessarily think that sex should only be procreative. But, I think that Catholics make a good point when they say that separating sex from its procreative potential is not a healthy thing
There are a number of points that I'm not sure I agree with her on. I'm nowhere near an expert on the subject, but here's my $0.02. It would seem that homosexual orientation isn't healthy and is sinful in and of itself. Thinking about sinful behavior is sinful in and of itself. Heterosexual attraction can be sinful if you go beyond a basic appreciation of the attractiveness of a member of the opposite sex and start to fantasize about having sex with that person. However, that attraction itself is godly since it is helpful in developing marital relationships. If a heterosexual male is shown a picture of equally attractive guy and gal in revealing swimsuits, the guy's attention is going to go to the female. That is natural; that inclination is going to allow him to have a sexual bond with his wife and to set the wheels in motions to get married and have children. Those inclinations can lead a guy astray, if those desires are acted upon outside of marriage, they can lead to all the negative behaviors Susan lists above and more. However, if I started to start paying attention to the guy's sexual attractiveness, that can lead me into some form of homosexual thought-patterns. If acted upon, that would have a number of negative side-effects. Even if God hadn't said anything about homosexual behavior, homosexual (or bisexual) activity is counter-productive from a societal standpoint. Male homosexual activity, especially anal sex, is a public health accident looking for a place and time to happen; I haven't seen much information on the health risk of lesbian relationships. The lack of reproductive activity reduces the bond of child-rearing, which creates a milieu that is more prone to promiscuous behavior, thus creating a less stable society. Bisexuality as an option doubles the pool of people to have adulterous affairs with, further leading people away from monogamous relationships. I think some frank discussion with our kids and ourselves is an order. People are sexual beings and will naturally want to find ways to scratch those sexual itches. The Christian response should be to channel those desires into marriage or to contain those desires while being celibate. There will be some attraction to the same sex in many, if not most, people. If left unrestrained by our conscience, that general sexual desire can manifest itself in unhealthy ways. I'm thinking about the classical Greek sexual morality that accepted homosexual behavior; that worldview seemed to be best described as omnisexual, doing whatever you wanted to do to scrotch your crotch. That omnisexual streak should be recognized as both sinful and normal. That's a tough trick, to tell a young person that being attracted to their same-sex friends is wrong but not that weird. It's a part of our sin nature, just like my desire to go 85 in the 65 zone out on US-27 or the desire to pig out on mini-corn dogs at the cafeteria even though I'm [deleted] pounds overweight. Left unchecked, some people may head in a bisexual or homosexual direction. We'll need to address the issue with our youth, moving them away from same-sex sexual attractions and containing the opposite sex desires until they mature and get married. This will require giving them a sense of self-worth in the community and with God that will give them a sense of intimacy that premarital sex is a poor substitute for. We also may have to address some psychological issues that may lead them away from relationships with the opposite sex and make homosexual relations an emotionally safer option. That counseling is best done at a young age, often prior to puberty, for sexual orientation is hard to break. I'm still of the opinion that it is an acquired, rather than genetic, trait, for a "gay gene" would tend to breed itself out over time. However, if acquired at a young age and reinforced, the software might be so imbedded that even going into RegEdit may not allow you to "uninstall" it. Acknowledging that such feelings do happen and lovingly discouraging them seems to be the best way to handle it, but that requires a strong level of communication between parents and children and a willingness to talk about sexual matters; adults often don't have their sexual thoughts down and often feel embarrassed talking about it with their kids.

Mooning the GOP-In the comment section of a good Lilac Rose piece on homosexuality, a left-leaning troll named Don started into an unrelated comment/rant on the Unification Church and its close ties to the GOP. While Don may not deserve the attention, he managed to pull my chatty-ring; this post is an extension of comments I left on the post. A few quick facts about the Unification Church that are reasonably well-known among religious conservatives and conservatives in general. (1) The Unification Church owns the Washington Times (2) They want to make coalitions with religious conservatives in order to co-op them (3) Some conservatives, such as Pat Robertson, have made common cause with Unification Church fronts on political causes (4) Many conservatives are avid readers of the Washington Times as a right-of-center alternative to the (generally) left-leaning Washington Post on political matters. I've known this for over a decade, as have most people who follow conservative politics. The UC is decidedly heterodox, for Moon fashions himself to being a second Messiah, adding a marriage component that Jesus neglected two millennia ago. However, heterodox religions can also be politically conservative; Mormons are a key part of the Republican coalition as well, and much of the same bile can be pointed at the LDS as well as the UC. What then do we do with the Washington Times? The WaTi will be coming at things from a conservative, monotheistic perspective, just as NPR will be coming at things from a secular liberal perspective. The news consumer will then adjust for the slant. What about Moon's influence on the GOP? As far as I understand, it largely extends to the Washington Times and its sister publications. Part of that influence stems from an honest anti-communist conservatism born from Moon's North Korean roots, while part stems from a desire to co-opt American conservative movements into fellow travelers with the Unification Church. From a political conservative perspective, Moon isn't any more dangerous than the Mormons or the Southern Baptists. All of them share a basic emphasis on Ten Commandments morality and general agreement on geopolitics and economic policy. Politics is about bringing diverse people with similar goals under one roof. The GOP doesn't have to recognize Moon as a second Messiah any more than they have to agree with Mormons on baptizing the dead or Southern Baptists on the fine points of salvation. However, if small-o orthodox Christian groups start to make common cause with the Unification Church (or other heterodox outfits such as the Mormons or Jehovah's Witnesses), then the Gospel can start to be compromised. For political players with a strong Christian message, such as J.C. Watts, one needs to bring a long spoon if one wants to work with any of the UC's front on political or "family values" projects.

Edifier du Jour-Psalm 119:129-136(NASB)
129 Your testimonies are wonderful; Therefore my soul observes them. 130 The unfolding of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple. 131 I opened my mouth wide and panted, For I longed for Your commandments. 132 Turn to me and be gracious to me, After Your manner with those who love Your name. 133 Establish my footsteps in Your word, And do not let any iniquity have dominion over me. 134 Redeem me from the oppression of man, That I may keep Your precepts. 135 Make Your face shine upon Your servant, And teach me Your statutes. 136 My eyes shed streams of water, Because they do not keep Your law.
This is one of those scary verses that none of us live up to, except for that last verse in the passage. I'm not crying a river physically this morning, but yet there is an ache that I'm not living as God would want me to. I was sitting here this morning feeling out of place, despite feeling much better than yesterday with a good antibiotic and anti-allergy medication in my system. However, the out-of-placeness is spiritual, not physical. The self-centered me doesn't want God to order my steps. For me, there is a two-step process in letting God take control. The first is knowing that you need to have God take charge. That is the easiest of the two, for it's easy to see that things go better in the long run when God's in charge. However, acknowledging that it would be nice to have a God-centered life is easy. Acknowledging that it would be nice to lose weight and exercise is nice, too. Actually wanting to make those changes is another thing. I'm feeling a need to push past some plateaus that I've been on for a while spiritually and do more than just be a good churchman, and a large part of it stems from a bit of apathy towards God. There isn't quite the tongue-hanging-out thirst for God in verse 131. How do you learn to want God? You can learn facts, figures, techniques, but how do you learn desire? Maybe by studying the Word and the modern testimony of believers, you'll see that God is real, active, and transformative. A good form of envy will kick in, for you'll desire to taste of what they're having. If your hanging out with fellow apathetics, you don't see that striving, that thirst for God. Find out where the spiritually thirsty people are, for they're the ones on the hunt for that living water.

Monday, June 09, 2003

Evening Musings-The blasted sinus infection has cut into my blogging (and work) schedule, but I got some good drugs in the system, both for the infection and for the mild allergies. I also got an EKG to clear me to start an exercise program; I'm going to pick the brain of one of the Phys-Ed profs on how to start a weights-and-exercise program one the infection clears up. Is it just my phone, or has AT&T started a massive telemarketing campaign? I am looking forward to the national no-call list that will starting this fall. I just found out that Florida is one of many states that has do-not-call legislation. However, the Florida plan costs $10/year; I'll wait. Eileen's warned me to stay away from the prairie dogs when we head north later this month; we've got a monkeypox outbreak in the western Great Lakes region. Symptoms of monkeypox include a taste for cheese and white flags rashes, fever and chills. Those of us old enough to have gotten smallpox vaccine as a kid might be covered, for monkeypox is close enough to smallpox (but not nearly as deadly) to invoke a immune response. Chris Johnson at MCJ is all over the bisexual Episcopal bishop-designate in New Hampshire; start here and keep scrolling down for earlier posts. The national Episcopal church will have to play bad cop on this one or face exponential growth of the Anglican Mission in America. However, there seems to be some strong opposition from other bishops.

Edifier du Jour-Revelation 19:(NASB)
11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. 13 He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. 15 From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. 16 And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, "KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS." 17 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and he cried out with a loud voice, saying to all the birds which fly in midheaven, "Come, assemble for the great supper of God, 18 so that you may eat the flesh of kings and the flesh of commanders and the flesh of mighty men and the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them and the flesh of all men, both free men and slaves, and small and great." 19 And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies assembled to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army.
Pastor Dave's been in Revelation 19 the last few weeks, and pointed out that everyone's going to be a part of great supper; for the saved, we'll be the bride at the marriage supper of the Lamb. Those invited to the supper appear to be given white horses and ride over to see the other feast. That second feast is really for the birds; literally, in that the birds are the ones who will eat, and figuratively, for those who are being dined upon are being cast into Hell. Are we going to mess up those white robes going into battle; no, Jesus is doing all the work with his Word. Pastor Dave mentioned the an old Dylan lyric; we're all going to have to serve somebody. While I've got enough fat-laden meat to serve about a dozen vultures, I'd rather serve God than be served to the vultures.

Sunday, June 08, 2003

Edifier du Jour-1 Kings 3:5-14
5: In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream at night; and God said, "Ask what you wish me to give you." 6: Then Solomon said, "You have shown great lovingkindness to Your servant David my father, according as he walked before You in truth and righteousness and uprightness of heart toward You; and You have reserved for him this great lovingkindness, that You have given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day. 7: "Now, O LORD my God, You have made Your servant king in place of my father David, yet I am but a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. 8: "Your servant is in the midst of Your people which You have chosen, a great people who are too many to be numbered or counted. 9: "So give Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?" 10: It was pleasing in the sight of the Lord that Solomon had asked this thing. 11: God said to him, "Because you have asked this thing and have not asked for yourself long life, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have you asked for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself discernment to understand justice, 12: behold, I have done according to your words. Behold, I have given you a wise and discerning heart, so that there has been no one like you before you, nor shall one like you arise after you. 13: "I have also given you what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that there will not be any among the kings like you all your days. 14: "If you walk in My ways, keeping My statutes and commandments, as your father David walked, then I will prolong your days."
The greatest prize, other than salvation, that God gives someone is discernment, the ability to know what the right thing is to do. Doing the right things towards God is worship, doing the right things towards your fellow man is love. Solomon's discernment was far from perfect, for he was too cozy with the false gods of his wives, but he did go on to write most of Proverbs. On this Pentecost Sunday, remember that it the Holy Spirit that is in charge of delivering such discernment. Draw close to Him, and He will provide that discernment that we all desperately need.

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