Saturday, June 28, 2003

Morning Musings-No free ice cream until late this evening; we're heading north to visit kin in Michigan and Illinois and I'm bumming my uncle's computer this morning as we stayed with them last night in Mooresville.

Edifier du Jour-Galatians 6:14-16
14 But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. 16 And those who will walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.
When compared to saving the entire world, what we have is scum. I'm blogging from my aunt and uncle's house on Lake Norman north of Charlotte; this four-bedroom, 4.5 bath place is something for them to show off, but it is worth bupkis compared to the house we'll be moving into when we leave the planet. I don't have a fancy house, but I do have a relationship with God. The latter is something I'm allowed to boast on.

Friday, June 27, 2003

Front Page Haiku
Strom meets his Maker What's God gonna think of a flirty ex-bigot?
Had he died a year sooner, Trent Lott would still be Majority Leader. One of the troubling things about Thurmond is that he is so old, he takes us back to an entirely different era where open bigotry was not only OK but expected in certain quarters. We don't want to think about an era that had pluralities of Southern states voting for an openly segregationist presidential ticket in 1948, and that a young 45-year-old Thurmond headed up that ticket. Yet he stayed in politics another five-and-a-half decades, going from an era where the military was just starting to get integrated to a point where the Secretary of State was a black four-star general. The country has seen the error of its ways and has rejected those old views. There were quite a few populists whites in the South that saw things in Us-versus-Them mode, and the civil rights Yankees were Them. Fast forward a quarter-century, and those same rednecks grew to see that their black neighbors were Us, especially when they got the right to vote. How much of Strom's change from segregationist to a more color-blind stance is political expediency or personal growth is a point of debate, but we've seen in that half-century the debate change from one of bigotry versus color-blindness to one of color-blindness versus positive discrimination. Many people have move to what in the 1960s would have been a liberal position, only to see the posts moved on them. As we move away in time from the contentiousness of the 60s and early 70s, the redneck politicians of that era are dying off or retiring. While liberals like to label the GOP via Strom as the party of Jim Crow, Strom was a Democrat at the time. It was a Dixiecrat ticket, remember? With Strom's passing, we come closer to having a post-Civil Rights Era discussion without name-calling from the 60s.

Edifier du Jour-Galatians 5:22-23(NASB)
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Not yet, at least; the EU is working on it. Sometimes it's too easy to look at that laundry list above and dismiss it as if it's got a firm grasp of the obvious. However, we start heading away from God to the extent that we fall short of those things. For instance, a two-hour drive back from Melbourne can test most of those. Some of them go hand-in-hand with me; patience and self-control go together, as when I remember to think, I make better choices. Gentleness tends to promote kindness and goodness, for a gentle response, is unlikely to be harsh and evil. Combine patience and gentleness and you're now into love and peace. These are the things that happen when you let the Holy Spirit give directions; on your own you're going to fall well short on most if not all of these items. On my own, I fall way short, especially in joy and peace. I'm trying to not do things on my own as much, and that's been helping.

Thursday, June 26, 2003

Evening Musings-The Fed wound up cutting interest rates to 1% yesterday. This NYT wire piece was a bit off-"Trying to deal a deathblow to the long economic downturn, the Federal Reserve cut short-term interest rates by one-quarter of a percentage point ...." Last I checked, we've started the recovery already, unless Mr. Leonhardt thinks the economy still pointed downward. On a less snarky note, the Fed may have shot its wad on monetary policy; three more 25 basis points moves will have them at 0.25%, the lowest they can go if they keep things in current increments. The economy's going to have to get a move-on witthout Greenspan's help. The NBA draft is tonight. The Pistons are picking #2 and are slated to pick up Serbian big man Darko Milicic- I like Carmello Anthony's quote-"Obviously he must be good. They put him in front of me as the No. 2 pick." I'm not sure what to make of the ACC only adding VT and Miami. Eleven teams will mean home-and-home minus two in basketball and leave them a team short of a football playoff. Might they add a twelth team from elsewhere?

Front Page Haiku
Supremes strike again. Sodomy's OK by them. Same sex marriage next?
It was a 6-3 center-left vote, with Kennedy writing for the majority; O'Connor wrote an concurring opinion. In and of itself, this isn't a huge loss, for busting down Sully's door to catch him flagrante delicto with his boyfriend wasn't high on my list of things the police should be doing. The next question to be sliding up to the Supremes might well be same-sex marriage. I don't think that it would be a slam-dunk win for the gay lobby, for not criminalizing a behavior isn't the same thing as positively rewarding a behavior. The government gives various subsidies and tax credits that discriminated on different behaviors; for instance, trucks pay higher tolls than cars, yet trucks don't have the right to equal treatment. A trucker is free to get a cheaper toll if he drives a car. A guy is free to enjoy the benefits of marriage, if he gets a woman to marry him. I'm reminded of the preamble to the Constitution, which sets up to "...promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity...." Does a equal-protection claim by a same-sex couple overwhelm the intent of promoting the commonweal and the long-term blessings of liberty? How about it, Sandy and Anthony K.?

Edifier du Jour-Galatians 5:1-4
1 It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. 2 Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. 3 And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. 4 You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.
Don't worry, all you modern goyim who've been circumcised as a baby, you're not who Paul's talking about. What Paul is railing against is a works-based faith, of which circumcision is the initiation rite in the case of the Jews of that era. What grace does is get us graded pass-fail, with the demarcation being whether we know Jesus as our Lord and Savior. We don't get in on our good works, even though God appreciates them. Basing your salvation on works sets you up for failure, so Paul was very harsh with the Judaizers within the early church.

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Adlai Gore-Pinch me, I just read a good Richard Cohen article favorably comparing Dubya with Ike and unfavorably compairing Gore with Adlai Stevenson. A few minor digs on hanging chads, and a few major digs on Ike's less-than-liberal administration, but refreshingly bile-free. How is Mr. Austin going to scourge this one? The Note pointed out that Barney the pink dinosaur Frank has advised Gore not to run. It might be a bias towards homeboy John Kerry or a truly frank discussion of Gore's chances; I think the latter. Frank's about as far away from me as you can get and not have joined the Greens, but he's usually living up to his name with fairly honest and blunt commentary. How many people voted for Bush in 2000 and think they made a mistake? Not many. Weigh that with the number of people that voted for Gore and are now glad that their guy didn't win and you have a 55-45 win in a Bush-Gore rematch. Bush is better on foreign policy that people expected and about as conservative as they expected. Gore doesn't have a compelling case to make to Bush voters that they goofed voting for him in 2000. He also will have to regain the swing voters who voted against a bumbing cowboy only to find a smart and capable leader there. I think the next month or so will be key for Gore's chances in 2004. If we go to war in Iraq and win cleanly, Gore is more than toast, he's charcoal, corpus crispy. Cheap shot warning-the one Republican group Gore does like are the Republican Guards; for a stiff and ugly war is his best chance. If things go ugly there, he'll have the "I told you so" ground to run on. However, if the war is won cleanly, he's not going to have a leg to stand on and will have to let someone else challage Bush.

Morning Musings-Start out with some prayers for Jeffrey Collins and James Lileks. Jeff's out at the Arizona branch of the Mayo Clinic getting his neurological problems looked at; readers of his have likely been praying anyways, but another dose will help. Some yet-to-be-disclosed bad juju has hit Lilek's life, but he's metaphoricly comparing it to the tornados that went through the Twin Cities yesterday. Pray that whatever is going down bounces in his favor. Here's one that shows us what a difference 9-11 makes. We had opportunites to have Preditors take out Osama in early 2001 and couldn't quite pull the trigger. Note that's 2001, not in the Clinton era. Clinton has been roasted for not doing anything significant (other than the Wag-the-Dog Sudan incident) against Osama, but this points to American, not liberal, civility in not wanting to stoop to something that feels like an assasination. Israelis don't think twice about such terrorist terminations, but they've been being bombed on a regular basis for decades. 9-11 gave us the anti-terrorism chutzpah to fight a bit dirty. Three-and-a-half years for anti-Semitic remarks? This guy, one of the leading thugs generals in the Argentinian junta of the 70s and early 80s, seemed to deserve some time in the pokey, but this make taking down Al Capone for tax evasion seem like clean justice by comparison. Will we see the human rights groups come to Gen. Suarez Mason's aid and defend his right to free speech? No, we've got the Latin version of the ends justifies the means; "¡Simplemente triunfo, niño!"

Front Page Haiku
Anglican Cafe Northern: Bible a-la-carte Southern: Table d’hôte
It looks like we may see a rupture of the Anglican Church within months rather than years. The naming of homosexual bishops in Britain and New Hampshire has drawn the ire of more conservative bishops from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Australia. Dr. John, the homosexual nominee to be Bishop of Reading, seems to be in the right place at the wrong time. He's in the right place, so as to be nominated by a gay-friendly Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams. However, he's there at the wrong time, as the liberal churches in Europe and North America are clashing with more conservative churches in the developing world. This is a microcosm of the fight going on in many mainline Protestant denominations and in the Roman Catholic Church as well. Do you take the Bible at face value or do you take out the politically incorrect parts? Liberals prefer an a-la-carte approach to scripture, throwing out stuff that seems to be a poor fit to the 21st Century. Conservatives insist that we take the Bible as a package deal; in fancy restaurant lingo, that's called table d’hôte, where the meal comes as a package with little or no substations. This won't be the last fight of this type. When Catholics choose the next pope, they may well break down on regional lines as well; the lines aren't as neatly drawn in the Catholic Church, but the metastory will be conservative-south-versus-liberal-north. The churches of the developing world were largely put in place in the last century and haven’t had as much time to ossify as their northern brothers. Instead of having ten or fifteen generations for people to drift away from the faith of their forefathers, it may be only one or two. Thus, in the 21st century, it's the developing world in Asia, Africa and Latin America that is bringing a conservative theology back to Europe and North America. In evangelical circles, Billy Graham's most likely successor as mass-crusade evangelist is Argentina-born Luis Palau. When I went up to Richmond last month, I saw conservative Korean Presbyterian students bringing an evangelical spirit to liberal listing Union-PSCE. In a way, this is akin to children looking after their parents after they start to grow spiritually senile, for centuries of secular plaque has built up in the northern church, cutting the flow of the Spirit to the brain. The mission field has become the missionaries to the developed world. The fault lines laid out in last fall’s Philip Jenkins Atlantic piece seem to be starting to show some serious seismic activity.

Tricky Dick 2.0 and Judicial Review-Orrin Judd had an interesting but bogus thought here on Gephardt.
"When I'm president, we'll do executive orders to overcome any wrong thing the Supreme Court does tomorrow or any other day," said Rep. Dick Gephardt of Missouri.
This is the first good idea we've heard from a Democratic presidential candidate. The Court should not have the final word on the Constitution.
We then had a back-and-forth in the comment section
Mark-Do you want to head to a point where a mere majority of Congress and the President can scrap the constitution? Getting rid of some of the stupider decisions would be nice, but would you really want a President Gephardt or a President Hillary with carte blanche to overhaul the Constitution? Orrin-No. I think it was an oversight of the Founders and should be dealt with in a Constitutional Convention. I'd allow the President a veto that must be upheld by both houses, but don't rule out the possibility that the issue might go to the statehouses or governors..
In Orrin's basic system, the President and Congress can tell the Supreme Court to go do an unnatural act with itself. One of the problems with his system is that the Constitution becomes whatever both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue say it is. This would move us towards the British system of an unwritten Constitution that can be amended by a majority of Parliament; for instance, the current government is in the process of taking away the House of Lord’s function as Britain’s supreme court and creating a new supreme court. Not too long before Marbury Vs. Madison, the Alien and Sedition Acts were enacted, which gutted political speech rights, a law that the Supreme Court would have shot down if the concept of judicial review took hold a decade sooner. Judicial review isn't explicitly written into the Constitution, but in Marbury, the Supreme Court took upon itself the duty to decide which laws and actions are constitutional. Without judicial review, the Constitution can be effectively amended with a mere majority of both houses and the President's signature, which would run counter to the amendment procedure that requires a two-thirds majority of each house and three-quarters of the states. Judicial review is a small-c conservative position, for it adds another hoop for bad ideas to jump through before they become law. In many cases, the Supreme Court has been asleep at the switch, allowing a lot of stuff to be passed in the catch-all Interstate Commerce clause; however, as of late, the court has been better at making Congress live within its delegated powers. At this point, it may be a flawed deliverer of checks and balances, but it still slows many bad ideas down, as well as some good ones. When the Supreme Court does something seemingly illogical, like Roe v Wade or the pair of UofM cases earlier this week, remember that they also block some bad liberal ideas as well. Conservative politicians would be more likely to respect tradition and the rule of law, so conservative presidents would both have less desire to end-run the Supreme Court and less need to. However, liberals would both have the desire and political need to gut the Constitution in order to achieve their goals, and the Living Constitution that can be modified by a mere majority of Congress and the President is one that will become a Dead Constitution in short order. Mark Twain used to quip that the Republic isn't safe as long as Congress is in session. That's why we need judicial review, even if you get the occasional Warren Court. It beats the heck out having the Alien and Sedition Acts or McCain-Feingold go unchallenged.

Edifier du Jour-Galatians 4:4-7
4 But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, 5 so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. 6 Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" 7 Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.
Lord, help me, but this verse has me running Lilo and Stitch in my mind-"Ohana means 'family'; family means no one gets left behind, or forgotten." We are not just servants of God, we're family. We've been adopted by God. You might forget someone else's kid, but you're not going to forget your own. God's the Good Shepherd; Deuteronomy 31:8 comes to mind "The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed." Lord, help me again, but I'm about to make that butt-ugly alien into a spiritual metaphor. Stitch was Chaotic Evil incarnate (Totally Depraved, anyone?) tamed by being adopted into a dysfunctional but loving Hawaiian family. How much better the transformation when our inner Stitch is adopted by God's family. Jesus doesn't leave us behind or forget us. Nor should we not go to bat for our siblings in Christ. The Church means family; family means no one gets left behind, or forgotten.

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Spike vs Spike-Two weeks ago, I had accused Spike Lee have a jones about the name Spike. Well, Spike Jones Jr. has weighed in on the issue, making sure Der Marster doesn't suceed in getting exclusive rights to the word Spike and make it harder to capitalize on his dad's stuff. Even McDonalds doesn't have dibs on the prefix Mc. The title fits better than I thought; just like Mad, we have a black Spike against a white Spike.

Great Lakes State Musings-This might help the Gephardt campaign; Michigan has decided to move its Democratic presidential caucus (actually more like a party-run primary) up to Saturday, February 7th. Here's one to be wary of; Internet voting is an option here. That will be four days after South Carolina, Arizona, Delaware and Missouri go on Tuesday the 3rd. If Gephardt wins Iowa, Missouri and Michigan, he might still be a player, but if he loses Michigan, he's probably toast. The new GOP state AG, Mike Cox, was investigating rumors of a cover-up of party escapades involving Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. Merely rumors, for the alleged nudity and assault wasn't confirmed and chalked up as an urban legend seemingly cooked up by a fired Kilpatrick staffer. The intriguing thing is that this is the first time in my lifetime (IIRC) that there has been a Republican AG; Frank Kelly was state AG from the early 60s to 1999 and was followed by now-Gov Granholm. Would Kelly or Granholm have investigated Dennis Archer or Coleman Young? There would likely have been a treasure trove of stuff in the Young days to look at, but that is ancient history.

Just Win, Baby!-I didn't give enough play to Dick Gephardt's comments yesterday; just about everyone on the right side of the Blogopshere has gotten on him for comments that seemed to have him overruling the Supreme Court on affirmative action via executive order. A bit of a debate has broken out whether Gephardt's statement was a bigger faux pas than Trent Lott's. Is inadvertently trashing the concept of judicial review worse than indirectly praising segregationists? Arguing the affirmative is Bryan Preston; Jack Balkin takes first negative. My first pass is to agree with Balkin; being a bit too flip about Jim Crow comes across worse that being a bit too flip about the role of the Supreme Court. However, what Gephardt seems to be exhibiting here is a manifestation of a common theme on the left; the desire to win at any cost, even if the cost is to gut the Constitution and the political and social infrastructure of the country. If you can't get your way in the political process, get the courts to write the law for you. If you can't get a majority in the Senate, fillibuster. If the Supreme Court doesn't cooperate with you, either ignore it or demonize it. Tradition and the rule of law are secondary to this spirit, for achieving their goals is the most important thing; the ends justify the means. I'm thinking of the old Al Davis motto for the Raiders-"Just Win, Baby." It doesn't matter how they won, how many reprobates were on the roster or how many penalties they took; winning was the important thing. Many Democrats have fallen pray to the Al Davis school of politics. Yes, there are some ruthless Republicans, but the life of a Democrat revolves more around politics that the typical Republicans. The political sphere is more important for liberals and thus victory is more important. Taken in that light, Gephardt's desire to give the middle-digit salute to the Supreme has more sinister implications than Trent Lott's lack of sensitivity to civil rights issues of the past. It may not cost Gephardt in the primary; in fact, it might gain him points among black voters who are in play in this race. However, swing voters might not like the idea of a president who's willing to play free and loose with the Constitution.

Morning Musings-Interesting post over at 111:2, where Jenny points out the NASB's permissions policy. I've put a modified version of their requested statement in the bottom of the link column. I will push the date back as I double-check the quotes I've used over the months. I also decided to add a copyright notice; not that I'm going to be a bear about things, but just to cover my backside in case I want to reuse this stuff in the future. This is a deceptive headline-"Colleges Cheer Affirmative Action Decision." They won't be cheering for long, for I think this just opens up another can of worms for reverse discrimination lawsuits. I'm not sure what they're going to call it, but I can see the beginnings of a Evangelical Anglican Community forming from conservative churches in the southern half of the world. I don't remember the Australian Anglicans being that conservative, but Sydney archbishop Peter Jensen states his opposition to two newly appointed homosexual bishops in Britain and New Hampshire
Dr Jensen said the church had been brought to the crossroads over the issue. "Yes it is ... it's not really ... about homosexuality, it's really about the authority of scripture (and) it happens to be this issue which has come before us and I'm saddened by that....No-one wants the church to split, that would be a grave disaster for us all. On the other hand, there are moments when we must make a stand and say 'We cannot let this go by without controversy and difficulty for us all'."
Señor Gil commented on a comparable piece and suggested that conservative Anglicans might look into crossing the Tiber and joining up with the Catholics. Not likely as a group, but likely for some individuals. I have one friend who grew up high-church Episcopal who converted when she married a Catholic guy and has seen her spiritual life improve; she has a walk on a par with a number of the good Catholic bloggers I've met over the years.

Front Page Haiku
Governor Conan? Arnold says to Gray Davis, "Hasta la vista".
The recall petitions seems to be on track to force an election. Democrats may try to boycott the replacement part of the recall election in order to get wayward Democrats to vote against a recall, for then keeping Davis would be the only way to avoid a Republican. I think Schwarzenegger might make that strategy problematic. His afterschool-program persona and centrist (at least) views on abortion make him palitable to the soccer mom crowd. In the absence of a serious Democratic contender, Schwarzenegger would grab a lot of normally-Democratic voters and give swing voters a positive reason to vote out Davis. I think the best way for the Democrats to keep the governor's mansion, short of getting Davis to resign prior to an election would be to rally behind a single replacement, possibly Diane Finestein. If they don't, three or four small-fry Democrats from various ethnic factions will split up the Democratic vote, leaving Ah-nold to win with a 35% plurality.

Edifier du Jour-Galatians 3:1-7(NASB)
1 You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? 2 This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? 4 Did you suffer so many things in vain--if indeed it was in vain? 5 So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? 6 Even so Abraham BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS. 7 Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham
In advertisments, you'll occasionally see the phrase "free gift." One would think that a gift is free, but not always. Some people will twist the term for something thrown in- "But wait, there's more; if you buy X, we'll throw in Y as a gift." Y isn't a gift, it's conditional on you doing X. Salvation is a free gift, yet it is priceless. It comes via the interaction of the Holy Spirit with our conscience producing faith, a saving faith in Jesus' death on the cross for us all. We don't have to work to get it. We can't repay a priceless gift, so don't worry about how much work you have to put in before you've earned your salvation, for it ain't gonna happen that way. That is why salvation has to be a free gift, for there's no way God can get full value back for what He went through on Golgotha. Not that we don't work hard for the Kingdom of God once we have that faith, but the gift of salvation is not conditional on how much we work. The parable of the day laborers comes in handy here; everyone got the same wage no matter how late in the day they showed up. The mass murderer who prays an earnest sinner's prayer just before going to visit Ol' Sparky gets salvation just as much as the guy who's been a pillar of the church for decades. Don't be jealous, just be thankful that Jesus died for you, too.

Monday, June 23, 2003

Midday Musings-Do we have Breyer having moments of clarity? He joined the center-right block to shoot down Michigan's undergrad admissions and the same six-pack signed off on federally-mandated library Internet filters. You may have the right to surf porn sites, but not on the Federal nickel. The more federalist among us might feel guilty about using the power of the purse to force the nanny-filters (the one here at Warner screens out Blogspot.com) onto local library computers, but the American Library Association seems to be so militantly anti-censorship that they seem to be flacks for the libertine wing of American politics; you can fit my sympathy in a flea's navel and still have room for both Bill and Hillary's moral compasses. Speaking of AA, there was a pilgrimage to the Rev-run Jackson making sure all good Democrats toed the line this weekend. Graham and Edwards did the smart thing and stayed far away from this meeting. There are a few good soundbites here that will be fun in a general election; take good notes, Patrick. I didn't catch this last week, but Bulls point guard Jay Williams got badly hurt in a motorcycle crash, making da Bulls scramble to figure out how to replace him. As a group, Dukies tend to be quality guys, but their point guards are starting to have a history of doing themselves in off the court; Bobby Hurley ruined his career in a car crash a decade ago.

Affirmative Inaction-The Supreme Court (no, make that Sandra Day O'Connor) didn't shine too brightly today, making a split decision on the UofM admissions policies. The more general affirmative action policy of the law school got by on a 5-4 O'Connor-left coalition, while the more quota-ish undergraduate policy, with a 20% boost for minorities, got shot down on a 6-3 vote, with Breyer joining the center-right quintet. This one will settle very little and create more opaqueness in admissions procedures. A fixed minority boost will get shot down, but a vague concept that race will be factored in as a positive part of an application process is a recipe for disingenuousness from admissions offices. If schools are under pressure from the powers that be to have the "correct" number of minority students, then some form of quota will be put in place. Bakke threw out a hard quota system a quarter-century ago, where x% of the Cal-Davis med school was set aside for minorities. What many schools did post-Bakke was to have a percentage boost that achieved the desired percentage; now that has been thrown out. The scoring of applicants will have to be a secret, for if a hard percentage is used, they are open to a lawsuit. If they don't use a hard percentage, schools will have to use a quota system to keep the AA lobby happy, but they dare not call it a quota system, for that will get them in trouble, too. Schools now have the impossible position that they can use race as a factor, but can't use quotas and can't use a fixed percentage boost to scores. If not a fixed percentage, what scoring system will you have? Schools will wind up either have de-facto percentage boosts or de-facto quotas that are whispered between admissions staff, the school administration and the pressure groups. Presidents and admissions officers will have their heads on a swivel trying to keep the fans of affirmative action happy and keeping their butts clear of the non-favor-persons' lawyers. This case starts to look like the racial gerrymandering cases of the last decade, where Sandra and friends tried to figure out how funky a districting map could get before it was unconstitutional, leaving them in the old obscenity definition of knowing it when you see it. Where the heck is the line, Sandy? Somewhere between 20% and zero, but we'll be fighting over where that point is for years if not decades, or until O'Connor is replaced by a justice with a more "color-blind" philosophy.

Still Wild About Harry-Just about everyone's posted about the latest Harry Potter book. I haven't got much new to day that I didn't say in this piece in October. Chris Regan has a good rundown on Potter syncretism in the modern church. Kevin Holtsberry points out this Dave Kopel piece on the large amount of low-level Christian imagery in the Potter books. Two quick counters to Kopel's view (1) Just because it has Christian imagery doesn't make it good theology. For instance, the Matrix movies have serious Christian overtones, but it used them in an unorthodox Gnostic framework. (2) The Potter books use English and European historical and mythological touchstones; such markers note that England has a Christian past, but merely provides flavoring for a post-Christian broth that has no Gospel meat left. Potter fans like to note that Ms. Rowling is a church-going Presbyterian. That doesn't necessarily make her a good theologian or a believer; lots of bad theology have come out of churchgoers. It doesn't make her the Devil's handmaiden, either, but I don't think she'd done Jesus any favors from this series. I don't think the damage that the book will do will come from people turning to the occult from reading the book. I think the damage will be done by people thinking that the supernatural, either of God or of the Devil, is merely fictional, and discount the day-to-day work of the Holy Spirit and unholy spirits. If Satan can't bring us to his side in supernatural warfare, his next best move is to make us non-combatants, and Harry does that job very well.

Late-Night Musings-Justice is served. It's a pity Bove's only getting 10 months, but the French may actually be throwing the first blow against the anarcholeft. Well overdue, but nice to see. Might I suggest he be transferred to Nuevo York and have this fine gentleman as a cellmate? Sully's been calling for a Iranian freedom flood-the-zone day on July 9th and Lilac Rose is calling out the Christian bloggers to join the cause. Consider me called-out; I can squeeze in some time between teaching my on-line class and celebrating Eileen's cousin's birthday in Rockford to do some Iranian-freedom blogging. Better that Deep-Link Dallas Day. We have been having wall-to-wall rain for about two weeks here in central Florida, and a dam about an hour southwest of us is bursting at the seams. I'm glad we're bugging out for the Great Lakes Friday.

Front Page Haiku
Desert abstract art scraping up gooey remains Saddam's DNA?
We've had too many false alarms in the past, but they seem to have hit a Baathist convoy that may well have been carrying Saddam, and they're now checking DNA samples to see if it is the Ace of Aces. We shall see.

Edifier du Jour-Revelation 20:10-15(NASB) Before we get to our regularly scheduled scripture, I'm in the mood to recall an old joke I got from my sister
There once was two buddies, Ollie Oyster and Sam Clam. Sam Clam died one day, then shortly thereafter, Ollie died of a broken heart. Ollie went up to Heaven, only to find Sam didn't make the cut. Ollie managed to talk St. Peter into letting him get a three-hour pass to Hades to get one last visit with Sam, going down with his harp and halo. Sam had fit in well, setting up a nightclub. The two had one last time together, then Ollie hustled back up. When Peter asked if he had all his equipment, Ollie exclaimed {cue Tony Bennett} "I left my harp in Sam Clam's disco!"
10 And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. 11 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
Hell isn't a disco, nor an all-star posthumous rock band with Karen Carpenter as band leader/drummer. It's presented here as an eternal fire that those who aren't in the Lamb's Book of Life are condemned to. Not annihilation. Not some halfway house that they return from. Eternal separation from God. This verse puts the universalist spirit to flight; if everyone gets to Heaven, who the heck is getting the heave-ho in verse 15? If people are getting chucked into the Abyss, how can we get into that Book of Life? The book is both smaller and larger than we think. Some people we think will be there won't, while some people that we won't expect will be there. Romans 10:9 is a quick review "...that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved[.]" Note that just mouthing some prayer of salvation isn't enough, you have to have Jesus in your heart. There are some people sitting in church that may say all the right things, but don't have Him in their heart. It's the people that do have Him in their hearts, regardless of how good or how lousy their church is (or if they have a church at all) that are in the Lamb's Book of Life. How's your heart doin'?

Sunday, June 22, 2003

Side Effects of the Baby Boom-Cashing in the 401(K)sMegan's tag-team partner Mindles Dreck has a good post on one of the side effects of the Baby Boom approaching retirement; when the boomers cash in their 401(K)s and IRAs, they'll have to pay taxes on them, mitigating the burden that their collective sucking on Social Security will bring. Financial people have thought about the effects of the Baby Boom hitting retirement for a while. The effect on Social Security is well known, but thought has also been given to the effect of the boomers starting to sell off their stock and bond holdings in order to finance the nice home in Shady Lanes Estates (55-and-older) rather than the trailer park abode. The thought for a while has been that the effect of the boomers hitting retirement would be a depressed capital market, as all the supply of boomer stocks and bonds getting cashed in will help crash (or at least slow the growth) of the financial markets. The studies that Mr. Dreck points out take that analysis of long standing a step further; assuming that the money's not in a Roth IRA, where investment income is tax-free, the oldesters will have to start paying taxes. When the boomers start hitting retirement, expect the AAPR issue of the day to be special tax treatment for withdrawls from tax-deferred retirement accounts.

Return of Front Page Haiku
The Big East's demise Lose Miami, likely more The new mid-major?
At least a mid-major in football, if the plans go through. There's a July 1st deadline at which the exit fee for the Big Easters goes up from $1 million to $2 million, so this is going to go down this week, or week-from-tomorrow at the worst, if it's going to go down at all. The ACC is pondering plan 10 (Miami), plan 13 (Miami, BC, VT and Syracuse) and plan 12 (plan 13 less either BC or 'cuse). I think that they'll settle on plan twelve, leaving out BC, but the Homeboy Shopping Network is running a Max Mo' Money special on plan 13. The ten-team plan doesn't give them the conference title game, while 13 becomes an ugly number to schedule. I'm thinking 12, for one less trip to the Northeast will make it easier for Duke and NC to swallow. However, no one ever went broke overestimating the greed of college presidents.

Edifier du Jour-Galatians 2:11-14(NASB)
11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision. 13 The rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, "If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?
The early church was in the middle of a fight over what to do with Jewish rituals within the church. Jewish believers wanted to essentially be both Jewish and Christian and extended that to any Gentile believer. This included circumcision, which is rather painful without anesthetics that they didn't have in the first century. Needless to say, that would be a bit of a barrier to conversion for Gentiles who had been preached a more stripped-down Gospel. The early church settled the issue eventually by allowing Gentiles not to have to follow the letter of the Old Testament sacramental system. While most(?) modern males are circumcised due to idea about genital cleanliness rather than theology, we have other fights that can block people from becoming a believer. Many churches will have extrabiblical lists of does and don't that aren't listed in the Bible. Some churches would kick me out for seeing Finding Nemo yesterday and others would have kicked me out for playing bridge with my gang in Midland. Neither activity is sinful in and of itself, as far as I can tell, but movies, cards and other categories of entertainment have gotten blanket prohibitions due to sinful variants of the class. Those and other extrabiblical prohibitions, such as women wearing pants (it might have been scandalous in 1953, but in 2003, it's no longer cross-dressing, folks) or micromanaging hair length can distract from the presentation of the Gospel. We need not stick people with burdens Jesus didn't attend us to have. Another area that can get churches into trouble is hyperseperatism, where every opinion on the Bible becomes a go-to-the-mat issue. If I like the translation that has us forgiving others seventy-times-seven rather than seventy-seven times, I shouldn't be kicking out the fellow who likes 77. But many churches will show the left foot of disfellowship on comparable minutia. While it is good and proper to defend the core of our faith, remember to pick your fights wisely, else we'll all have our own churches with attendance of one, unless we excommunicate ourselves for violating our standards.

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