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Saturday, July 12, 2003

Eighteen Months In-This post over at Cornfield Commentary reminded me that I've been at this for eighteen months now. Mr. Hogberg mentioned Moira Breen as a he. She was the first person to link to me back on January 8th, 2002.

Another Critical Mass, Sandy?-Via Minless Dreck, we get this NYT editorial from a Dr. Daniel C. Dennett, advocating rights for Brights. Well, just about all of the liberal coalition is a protected group, why not finish the job? If you add white male atheists and agnostics to women, blacks and Hispanics, how many Democrats would not qualify for some form of affirmative action? Just God-fearing white or Asian heterosexual males. What percentage of the Democratic vote is that? 10%, maybe 15% at best. Seriously, how many people are discriminated against because they're not a church-goer, especially in the academic circles that our good doctor runs around? Brights are probably a majority of the philosophy department at Tuffs where he hangs out. Were I to show up to teach Finance or Economics at Tuffs, I'd likely get more flak for being an evangelical Christian than he would for being a Bright. Yes, there are some church colleges he couldn't get hired at, but there are some secular schools I'd have trouble getting hired at due to my beliefs. In this day and age, anti-religious bigotry is more of a problem than anti-Brightism, especially on college campuses where Brightism is the dominant religion. One could see, baring legal action, Christians driven underground if Brights could claim a student carrying a Bible or wearing a cross presented a hostile environment. That sounds stupid, but in the realm of modern campuses, that's entirely feasible.

Economically Challenged-Dick Gephardt had this doozy earlier this week while stumping in an Iowa union hall
Just understand that when I'm president I will work against and I will never sign a trade treaty of any kind that will send our jobs and our money and our welfare off to the highest bidder around this world...
I guess he wants Joe Shoprat to lose his job, since he is the highest bidder. It's cheaper labor from overseas that is the lowest bidder. Tricky Dick 2.0 is trying to outflank everyone on protectionism and might just suceed. Let's go crossing over to John Edwards' economic whopper- he wants to give "a 10 percent tax cut for companies which resist the temptation to relocate their operations overseas." Let's pull out Squeeze's Tempted out of the oldie bin for bumper music. How the heck do you quantify such temptation? Stick to the $5,000 first-time homebuyer credit, John-I can actually use that and quantify when I buy a home.

Teensploitation-I only caught the tale 10 minutes or so of American Junior earlier this week, but what I saw wasn't promising. Not that the teenaged singers weren't good, but that the choice of material (they showed short snippets of each singer for the hour at the end) was too mature for the singers, especially the female singers. I'd like to have some of the gals in the audience to confirm this: when a 13-year-old guy who's voice hasn't quite deepened sings an adult love song, he sounds cute, while when a 13-year-old girl sings an adult love song, she sound like jail bait. I think of a mid-teened Tanya Tucker back in the mid-70s, singing songs way too sensual for her age bracket. Having a middle-school girl sing Love the One Your With doesn't send the right message for kids or adults. It makes young kids think of romance when they're not emotionally or economically ready to raise or family and it treats pre-teen and early-teen girls as available sexual objects to both teenage boys and men; remember that a lot of teen pregnancies have adult boyfriends involved. Seeing late-teen sirens is one thing, where the age of consent has already passed, but the sensualization of middle-schoolers is the latest push of the cultural envelope.

Edifier du Jour-Revelation 21:10-24
10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, 11 having the glory of God. Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper. 12 It had a great and high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels; and names were written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel. 13 There were three gates on the east and three gates on the north and three gates on the south and three gates on the west. 14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. 15 The one who spoke with me had a gold measuring rod to measure the city, and its gates and its wall. 16 The city is laid out as a square, and its length is as great as the width; and he measured the city with the rod, fifteen hundred miles; its length and width and height are equal. 17 And he measured its wall, seventy-two yards, according to human measurements, which are also angelic measurements. 18 The material of the wall was jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. 19 The foundation stones of the city wall were adorned with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation stone was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald; 20 the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprase; the eleventh, jacinth; the twelfth, amethyst. 21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the gates was a single pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass. 22 I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. 24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it.
We just got back home from Illinois about 6:00 yesterday, just in time to catch out home group at 7; this is one time that I really like the idea of going over in more depth the sermon topic from the previous Sunday. Revelation is more about worship and praise than it is about the end times, and this is a good case in point. It's hard to get a good mental picture of what this new heaven will look like; I wasn't the only one there last night to picture that 1500-mile 3D city as if Tiffany’s had gotten a commission from the Borg. One of the thoughts that had gone through my mind was that there's enough room for everyone. The second was wondering where the heck the oyster is that created those pearls in verse 21. Someone last night noted that the one significant square building in the Bible is the Holy of Holies. As verse 22 notes, heaven don't need no steekin' temple, for not only is God is in the house, God is in His house. It's hard to get your mind around what heaven will be like; even average folks seem to like toying with the idea if the Billboard charts are any indications. The current Billboard Adult Contemporary chart (that's the secular one, not the CCM one) has Mercy Me's I Can Only Imagine in at #18, between Hall and Oates and Kid Rock; my surprise when finding the song away from Christian stations seems to be not an isolated event for our neck of the woods. However, to appreciate heaven, you'll need to appreciate God. Hopefully, the airplay will make the listener a man on a mission to find a good church to be discipled in.

Friday, July 11, 2003

Monrovia Doctrine-The current debate over whether to get involved in Liberia will show what American foreign policy, and the worlds, will be with regards to large chunks of Africa for the next half-decade. There are a number of chaotic, dysfunctional countries in West Africa that would warrant outside intervention from a fair mediator. However, the US will need to show resolve that we won’t cut and run when the going gets tough, as we did in Somalia. The solid stick-to-itiveness we’ve shown in Afghanistan and Iraq, along with the “Bring ‘em on” spirit, should help to convince nasty factions that the US and friends are there for the long-haul. We are the Anglosphere Collective. You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile. This is a task that can be done without spreading the US military too thin. If we can get European cooperation without too much paleoeuropean micromanagement, we can use that as a force multiplier in West Africa. Places like Sierra Leon and the Ivory Coast could use the same treatment as well; Congo could too, but that would wind up on a large enough scale where one needs to think twice and three times before getting in there. This approach is going to look quite a bit like colonialism, but with a more benign approach than the 20th century variety. It will be temporary and designed to construct the social, economic and political infrastructures needed to create free and stable democracies. Nation-construction efforts can succeed if the bad guys know they can’t win and the good guys have the stomach to be there for the long haul and get the occasional bloody nose. Here is where Dubya’s vision and moral clarity will be put to the test in a way that even the New York Times crowd might applaud. Intervention in Liberia doesn’t have a major military or economic angle to bring realpolitik to bear. However, if we view American policy as to extend the reach of free-market liberal democracy and to limit the reach of its foes, helping out in Liberia fits in nicely. This will be over more than just oil, or big geopolitics, it will be about doing the right thing. Pessimists will gripe about not having a compelling national interest or say something racist about Africans not being up to the challenge of democracy. To handle the first question, expanding freedom is our compelling national interest. As to the second, I don’t see a democratic temperament being genetic. Not going in shows a selfishness that says that a few American lives aren’t worth thousands of African lives, which is self-centered at best and racist at worst.

Edifier du Jour-Mark 9:38-41
38 John said to Him, "Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we tried to prevent him because he was not following us." 39 But Jesus said, "Do not hinder him, for there is no one who will perform a miracle in My name, and be able soon afterward to speak evil of Me. 40 "For he who is not against us is for us. 41 "For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because of your name as followers of Christ, truly I say to you, he will not lose his reward.
I’ve had a spiritually-interesting couple of days, as Eileen and I went to the funeral of her mom’s cousin Sandy, who was a de-facto extra aunt for Eileen, as her grandma loved on Sandy like an extra daughter. Sandy was active in the local Lutheran (Missouri Synod, IIRC) church where the service was held Wednesday. Once I got past the old-school liturgy and the five-foot-high pulpit, the sermon provided a solid salvation message for all those people who only darken the door of a church for weddings and funerals. “Despite” the traditional baggage, the Gospel was getting through. Yesterday morning, as we were heading south through Illinois, I cruised the bottom part of FM dial for a good Christian channel to listen to and found a good discussion about the theology of the Holy Spirit. The guy was spot-on and I glossed over a part where I thought I heard the guy referencing the Pope; nah, this is too solid a preaching to be Catholic. Think again, Mark. It was an Eternal Word Network radio channel, and the guy in question was a Catholic priest. I’d have to do some research (or bleg my Catholic blog buddies) on which encyclical it was, but the good father was referencing a papal piece on the Holy Spirit that was theologically sound as he fielded questions from a studio audience. Good preaching isn’t quite the same as driving out demons, but if the Gospel is being preached and the person is expanding God’s kingdom, I’m willing to cut the preacher some slack on theological details. Not too much slack, mind you, I’m not compromising on core evangelical principals. However, if they’re showing the fruit of the Spirit, they’re one of the good guys.

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Free Iran Day-I don't recall if he gave a title to the effort, but Sullivan asked for today to be a day dedicated to plugging for freedom in Iran, supporting the reform-minded protesters. They're making some noise in Washington. The Iranian government has arrested 4,000 protesters. Pray that reform comes quickly and as peacefully as possible. It turns out that July 9, 1999 saw a bloddy clash between students and the government at Tehran U. That might have influenced Sullivan's choice for the date.

Take Me Back to Chicago-Jonah's the Reggie Jackson of conservative punditry; he can look silly on occasion, but when he makes contact.... He sent one into the cheap seats with a post arguing for a dead constitution. He has an interesting comment that a static constitution gives our forefathers a vote on today. Letting the dead vote sounds a bit like Dailey-machine Chicago, but give Jonah a minute.
So if you don't want a living Constitution, you can almost hear Phil Donahue asking, do you want a dead Constitution instead? And the answer is, yes, of course, I want a dead Constitution. Now I certainly don't mean dead in merely the biological, i.e. literal, sense. And while I agree entirely with the complaints from the likes of Judge Bork and Justice Scalia, I don't mean dead in the sense of "not living." Indeed, Justice Scalia has expressly rejected the phrase "dead Constitution" preferring — perhaps for public-relations reasons — the more felicitous phrase "enduring Constitution." But I prefer a dead Constitution. The largest political constituency with the smallest number of advocates are not the unborn, or blacks, or Indians, or the mentally handicapped. It is not Christian white men or lesbian brown women. It's not even the "future generations" who, we are constantly told, will have to pay for our deficits or for the retirement of the baby boomers. No, the group whose priorities are given the least attention are those of the dead. This isn't Swiftian sarcasm or winking irony. I'm quite serious about this. Chesterton's defense of the power of tradition is probably the most famous take on this idea (though, it should be noted, he's rewriting Burke's ideas). "Tradition means giving a vote to most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead." He continued, "Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about. All democrats object to men being disqualified by the accident of birth; tradition objects to their being disqualified by the accident of death. Democracy tells us not to neglect a good man's opinion, even if he is our groom; tradition asks us not to neglect a good man's opinion, even if he is our father."
This doesn't just extend to politics; theology gets the same treatment. We get in trouble when we try to get the Bible to say things that it didn't tell our ancestors. Both the Bible and the Constitution need to be read from the context of when they were written as well as what we want them to say today. In liberal theology, a desired application for today superceeds the Biblical text or what the writers were trying to say two millennia ago. Likewise, liberal constitutional law, especially as applied by O'Connor, starts from what the "right thing to do" is, ignoring whether the right thing is clearly allowed in the constitution. It's time for some good constitutional exegesis.

Edifier du Jour-1 Corinthians 4:6-10
6 Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively applied to myself and Apollos for your sakes, so that in us you may learn not to exceed what is written, so that no one of you will become arrogant in behalf of one against the other. 7 For who regards you as superior? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it? 8 You are already filled, you have already become rich, you have become kings without us; and indeed, I wish that you had become kings so that we also might reign with you. 9 For, I think, God has exhibited us apostles last of all, as men condemned to death; because we have become a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men. 10 We are fools for Christ's sake, but you are prudent in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are distinguished, but we are without honor.
That last part of this passage hit home, reminding me of how the world treats churches; the more they compromise and water-down their faith, the better the world likes them. A "distinguished" pastor in the eyes of the public is typically one who has cast his lot with the secular culture. Few, if any, orthodox believers will get any props from the media. Paul is laying on the sarcasm rather thick here; fast forward two millennia, and it is the Corinthians who are looked down upon for their decadence and ego. Following the Lord may not be the best worldly career move, but it has one heck of a retirement plan.

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

Fiskings Where They are Due-I've been teaching an on-line Money and Banking class this month, and we've finished the first week of the class. Yesterday, I had the interesting experience of grading "take-home" quizzes submitted only as a Word file and sending back the grades, comments and corrections in red added text. On one student's paper, the addition of a red comment line "Nope, you're thinking of strong-form efficiency" on a question about market reaction to news and semi-strong form efficiency felt a bit like a fisking. So as to get that spirit out of my system before I finish the other half of the quizzes today, let me go after this Nick Kristof piece on Blair and Bush.
A poll by the Pew Research Center found that Mr. Blair was the world leader Americans trusted most (Mr. Bush ranked second), respected by 83 percent of Americans, and he was also highly esteemed in countries as diverse as Australia and Nigeria. More interesting, Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair took very similar positions over the last couple of years, and both exaggerated the Iraqi threat — and yet Mr. Blair is perhaps the leading statesman in the world today and Mr. Bush is regarded by much of the globe as a dimwitted cowboy. Or, as an Oxford don put it to me after perhaps too much sherry, "a buffoon." The main reason is that the White House overdosed on moral clarity.
That assumes that there both is a standard dose of moral clarity and that Bush ODed. This is a bit two-faced; exhibit too much realpolitik and Kristof and his buddies will call you on that as well. The striking thing about that statement is that it assumes moral relativism and that there is such a thing as too much morality.
Mr. Bush always exudes a sense that the issues are crystal clear and that anyone who disagrees with him is playing political games. This fervor worked fine in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, and in proper doses, moral clarity is admirable. But too much hobbles policy-making and insults our intelligence.
Do I hear a Bright talking? I think so. Morality insults his intelligence secular world-view. It only hobbles decision-making if you want to make amoral decisions.
Mr. Blair stands with Mr. Bush on Iraq but acknowledges the complexity of the issues. "Yes, there are countries that disagree with what we are doing; I mean, there's no point in hiding it — there's been a division," Mr. Blair told reporters at Camp David early in the war, when the two leaders were asked about opposition to the war among allies. But Mr. Bush gave no ground, saying: "We've got a huge coalition. . . . I'm very pleased with the size of our coalition." Mr. Blair met Pope John Paul II and the archbishop of Canterbury to discuss their opposition to the war. But President Bush refused to discuss objections to the war with the head of the National Council of Churches or even the head of his own church, the United Methodists.
For Blair, talking to Rowan Williams made sense since they are political allies on a lot of issues while they took opposing views on the war; Blair needs to pay Williams some attention or else see him become a shill for the Liberal Democrats and the disaffected left-wing of Labour. As for the Pope, he is persuadable about this issue. John Paul has a addiction to diplomacy, but it can be set aside if the cause is right; he wasn't persuaded in this case, but it was worth a shot. Conversely, the NCC and the hierarchy of the United Methodists (not to be confused with his local pastor) are hard-core pacifist liberals. Both oppose Bush's stance on practically all issues of concern and are unlikely to be persuaded by a trip to the White House. Their diametrically opposite stands on the war left little room for discussion.
Political insults are a traditional British sport (Churchill famously described his rival Clement Atlee as a sheep in sheep's clothing, and as a modest man with much to be modest about). But Mr. Blair dignifies his opponents by grappling with their arguments in a way that helps preserve civility — and that we Americans can learn from.
British politics also has the tradition of Question Time, where there is a weekly back-and-forth in the House of Commons between the opposition and the PM. Even the nastiest foe is a "honorable gentleman." Blair has to do that on a weekly basis, where Bush doesn't.
Mr. Bush is not the dummy his critics perceive. My take is that he's very bright in a street-smarts way: he's witty and has a great memory for faces, and his old girlfriends speak more highly of him than many women do of their husbands. But he's also less interested in ideas than perhaps anybody I've ever interviewed, and his intelligence is all practical and not a bit intellectual. Nuance isn't his natural state, and yet he gives us glimmers to show he can achieve it.
He can't play the dummy card with a straight face, so he falls back to unsophisticated. "If he were sophisticated, he's at least see things our way from time to time."
The last time Mr. Bush seemed genuinely to wrestle with an issue was the summer of 2001, when he acknowledged the toughness of the stem cell debate. He showed an impressive willingness to puzzle through stem cell policy and seek a compromise. If Mr. Bush had pursued that same model of policy-making into Iraq, then we would not have alienated our allies or bungled postwar planning because of rosy assumptions.
If Bush did that, Saddam would still be in power.
In 1979, James Fallows wrote a legendary critique of President Jimmy Carter's "Passionless Presidency." He argued that Mr. Carter was a smart, decent man who excelled in details but catastrophically lacked a sweeping vision to inspire the country and animate his presidency. Well, now we've got a Passionate Presidency. But it's so focused on big-picture ideological campaigns that it doesn't bother with details (like what we will do with Iraq after we've conquered it). Mr. Blair offers a third way — passion tethered to practicality, idealism without ideologues.
Blair has political passion tethered to a secular neosocialist paradigm. Bush has pragmatic conservatism tethered to evangelical Christian thought. I'll take the latter, thank you.

Morning Musings-Interesting WaPo piece on Ah-nold's political future, pulling up one more movie title (that I haven't seen applied yet) from his cinemography-The Running Man. I don't see him losing unless a credible Democrat opposes him. I think he's good for a 25% base among moderate and libertarian Republicans, independents and some soccer mom Democrats. If the race is merely he, a conservative Republican a la Bill Simon and a number of Sister and Brother Boom-Booms from leftist interest groups, Schwarzenegger wins 45-30. The one way to beat him would be to have Democrats rally around one champion and conservatives have at least two different flavors; there, Favored Donkey could sneak in with a 33-28 win over Schwarzenegger. Interesting ESPN piece on whether the rape charge would give Kobe any street cred. The piece plays with the idea only to reject it; Kobe's a suburban kid that has some cred by merely being a good player. He doesn’t have the gun waiving, authority-dissing persona to benefit from this. This is a sad case but an inspiring one; the Iranian Siamese twins who had surgery to separate themselves died in the attempt. For some reason, using it as a metaphor of preaching the Gospel in Islamic territory comes to mind; it promises freedom to people yet could easily kill them. Many opposed the operation, favoring a safe binding rather than risky freedom. The Iranian gals opted for the risky freedom and lost their gamble; may God have mercy on those two.

Edifier du Jour-1 Corinthians 2:11-15
11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, 13 which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. 14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. 15 But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one.
Spiritual instruction can be helped along by people, but the Holy Spirit is the true tutor in such things. Consider a seminary grad, or better yet, a professor at a spiritually-dry seminary. He may be able to tell you which manuscript this part of Exodus came from but not be able understand the day-to-day movings of God for his spiritual antennae aren't there. Theologians who can recite the Bible backwards aren't any good if they deny basic truths contained in it. Book learning is good; as a college professor, I'd be a hypocrite if I didn't believe so. However, it only does a little bit of the job of creating a fully-functioning Christian. The rest is done by living out what is said within, by prayer and contemplation. Meditating on the Word isn't easy for me or most moderns, who live in a world where immediate gratification takes too long. However, those that wait upon the Lord will be blessed.

Monday, July 07, 2003

Evening Musings-Odd evening; I wound up calling 911 for my grandma-in-law as Eileen and her mom tended to a badly bleeding wound on her head from a fall. Mother-in-law suggested otherwise and asked me to hang up about two seconds after I called and called one of her nurse-sisters in town. Interestingly, about two minutes after Eileen's aunt arrived, so did a Rockford policeman checking on the 911. Aunt and cop helped Grandma up off of the floor and into aunt's van for trip to hopspital. Everythings OK, Grandma's watching TV with her head patched up and an icebag on it. While mother-in-law and aunt went off to hospital, Eileen and I stayed behind to look after cousins in aunt's tow. I also now know how to get blood-stains out of a carpet for <horror film music> future career options</horror film music> . On a even more somber note, via C-Log, Christian personal finance guy Larry Burkette died today. I didn't always agree with his rather legalistic approaches to things, but he's done many people a great favor by geting them to take a hard look on how they spend their money. Spike Lee's given up stopping the renaming of TNN to Spike TV. Justice is served.

Evening Humor-One from yesterday's sermon-
Up in Wisconsin, a young man grew up across the lake from town and heard how both his dad and grandpa, on their 21st birthday, walked across the lake for their first legal brew. July comes, and our boy comes of age. He's dead set to do the same thing his male kin had done, and makes it about 50 feet into the lake before the water's over his head. Grandpa comes by as the kid wades back out of the water, and cuffs the kid upside the head-"Doofus! Your dad was born in Janurary and I was born in February; the lake's frozen solid then!"
Here's one that was making the rounds in late March that my mother in law brought to my attention. You may have seen it, but I didn't
You are the President of the U.S.A. and you've just learned that there is an asteroid headed for France that will wipe out their entire country. It is scheduled to hit about 2.30 a.m. in just two days time from now. You have sufficient ships and military personnel nearby to evacuate them safely, but they are on stand-by in case of war with Iraq. Your question: do you set the VCR to record the asteroid hitting France, or do you stay up to watch it live?
Heck, this doesn't happen every day-stay up and watch it live. I like this third option that a later writer added
3) WHY NOW? The U. S. ''needs more time'' to consider the request for evacuation. We need absolute proof that there is a meteor. The alleged meteor is not visible to the naked eye. U.N. meteor inspectors should be sent to astronomical observatories next month to spend 90 days carefully examining photographic evidence of the alleged meteor, and then present their findings to the Security Council. The reason for the request should be carefully evaluated, and the U.N. should be asked to fully debate the subject and then give UNANIMOUS consent to a resolution showing that the whole world supports the request. The U. S. should not act unilaterally, hastily, precipitously, nor preemptively. EVERY member nation should contribute ships to the effort before the U. S. takes any action whatsoever.
One final one from Eileen's uncle. What do you call a smart blonde? A golden retriever.

Pitchfork Pat and Constitutional Democracy-This Pat Buchanan rant against the Supreme Court has some people scratching their heads. Jeff Collins, back from his Mayo sojourn, has this comment on the piece
Question: Why does anybody listen to Buchanan any more? I haven't really paid any attention to anything he said in years. Another question: Who changed, Buchanan or me? I used to thing Buchanan was pretty reasonable, but over the last 6 or 7 years I've come to see him as a blustering, slightly crazy windbag. Is it me or him?
It's him, Jeff. Back in the early 90s, he tapped the angry blue-collar conservative vein of American politics; however, a decade of general economic prosperity along with a more-conservative Dubya rather than a center-conservative dad leading the GOP has pushed him off in the political wilderness. I think the Uruguay round of GATT and NAFTA was the final straw for the paleocons; the WTO made trade rules stick and gave us some autonomy. Paleocons are pessimists by nature and they feared the US getting the shaft from the WTO more than it helped and feared a loss of jobs to Mexico via NAFTA. With GATT and NAFTA in play and a lack of progress in getting a moral conservative agenda done disheartening many, Pat challenged Bush 41 in ’92 and did fairly well, giving him false hope. By 1996, the economy had improved and a flock of free-market-oriented conservatives had taken the conservative side of the party. Steve Forbes or Catholic conservative Alan Keyes addressed the feelings of conservatives better than Buchanan, and a New Hampshire win was the highlight of the campaign for him. With moral conservatives flocking to Keyes, the part of the ’92 coalition that was left, that of blue-collar anti-free-trade conservatives, was better represented by Ross Perot. By 2000, the Keyes-Bauer (Gary, not Robert) wing of the party had pretty much given Pat no room to maneuver in the GOP and he took a flyer and ran for the Reform Party nomination, gutting the party in the process, as a messy fight from non-conservative Perogies killed off what was left of the Perot movement. Today, libertarians have a better shot of getting a plurality than paleocons, and Buchanan is frustrated with the current system. Eugene Volokh rightly calls Pat on tracing the decline of the Constitution to the Civil War, which seemed to be more of a Lew Rockwell Dixiephile thing than classic Buchanan. I think Buchanan's problem is that our system tries to respect the Constitution; we don't lock people up for supporting the Confederacy. Had he said something comparable about the Nazis, he'd be arrested in many parts of Europe. We have the First Amendment that allows him to say his piece and ACLU types who will defend his right to say them and a Supreme Court that will enforce that right, even if Congress passed and the President signed a bill outlawing saying nice things about the Confederacy. The Supreme Court is made up of nine humans; Congress is made up of 535 humans and the President is human as well. They make mistakes and the recent sodomy case is one of them. However, if we don't have judicial review, we don't have a constitutional democracy. Without it, Congress and the President can pass laws without paying attention to the Constitution. It keeps a temporary majority from oppressing a minority. If they wanted the Constitution that easy to amend, the framers wouldn’t have put in the 2/3 of both houses and ¾ of the states rule. However, there are people that Buchanan would like to suppress. He’s a European-style God-and-country conservative, not the free-market of goods and ideas American-style. Pat seems more comfortable with Franco than with Bush 41. If Bush can unilaterally put the Ten Commandments in courthouses, as Pat suggests he can, Hillary can take them down from churches next go-round. The route to correcting the problems Buchanan sees is to get a new-and-improved Supreme Court or to pass constitutional amendments overriding their decisions. Even if sodomy and de-facto racial quotas are OK, having the Supreme Court beats the heck out of an unchecked liberal government in the future. I preferred a flawed constitutional democracy to a flawed theocratic authoritarian regime or a flawed atheistic authoritarian regime.

Morning Musings-Kobe busted on a rape charge? It could be trumped up, but that would put a damper on the Lakers' effort to lure Malone and Payton to become part of the Staples Singers. It would also do-in a good-guy image that Bryant has set-up; not quite a real squeaky-clean Grant Hill-David Robinson thing, but one that you can't keep up with a rape charge. Even if it was consensual sex that the woman later regretted, it still will have various corporations that have Kobe as a spokesman reach for the antacid. Whether the allegations about Kobe are true or not, I marvel at the rape charges that athletes ring up. Its not as if they would have a problem going into a watering hole and find a willing woman; for Kobe, I'd bet the ladies would have to take a number. For these guys, the feminist critique that rape isn't about sex but about power may hold true; could it be that these guys are so used to getting their way that they result to violence if a woman says no? _____ This incident may be good in the long run, but butt-ugly in the short run-the US has arrested a group of Turkish military guys in Kurdistan. It may make for lousy US-Turkey relations, but it highlights Turkish designs to stamp down Kurdish nationalism in Iraq so that it doesn't spread to Kurds in southeastern Turkey. Bringing this out into the open may be good for the long-term. I've got a longer post in me on Liberia and West Africa in general, but we're close to a regime change in Liberia; the sticking point is whether outgoing leader Charles Taylor will have to face war crimes charges and whether a US-led peacekeeping force comes first or Taylor goes first. Wrong headline, Fox- the prefix liberal is needed on Protestants Losing Faith in Bush? This bunch of anti-poverty activists never had much to begin with. A few signed off on the faith-based initiatives, but didn't like the small amount of gravy heading their way. Remember- mainline churches are institutionally liberal, having them oppose conservatives isn't news.

The Gospel as Anti-Semitism?-That's the bum rap that Mel Gibson is getting for his upcoming Jesus biopic, The Passion. Here's a piece on a screening given to some evangelical leaders, including a delegation from Focus on the Family. The movie seems to be a straight-forward telling of the crucifixion story as far as all the reports that have come out. The problem with a straight-forward telling of the Gospel is that is make Jesus the only way to God, and that's just not PC. Thus, liberals or activists of other faiths, will want something extra to throw at this, and trying to resurrect the charge of deicide is an effort to mute the message of Jesus' resurrection. The Jewish leaders of the day were instrumental in getting Jesus executed. However, that doesn't mean that Judiasm en masse carries that collective guilt today. We all, Jew and Gentile, carry that collective guilt, for our sins neccesitated the need for the sacrifice to end all sacrifices. Those first-century priests were merely tools God used to carry out His ultimate sacrifice. To say that Jesus died for our sins isn't anti-Jewish, it's pro-God. Of course, Jews have the option to ignore the Messiah's first coming and await his second trip, but they do so at their own spiritual peril.

Edifier du Jour-Job 33:13-18
13 "Why do you complain against Him That He does not give an account of all His doings? 14 "Indeed God speaks once, Or twice, yet no one notices it. 15 "In a dream, a vision of the night, When sound sleep falls on men, While they slumber in their beds, 16 Then He opens the ears of men, And seals their instruction, 17 That He may turn man aside from his conduct, And keep man from pride; 18 He keeps back his soul from the pit, And his life from passing over into Sheol.
God speaks to people on a daily, if not hourly, basis. Even if we ignore his Word, we still have nature's witness; exhibit A is this piece from Ohio which you've likely already seen, where a Baptist church was hit by lightning just after the pastor had asked for a sign. We had a somewhat-comparable moment a few weeks ago. In the middle of a storm, Pastor Dave was standing on a first-row chair, expressing a desire for closeness with God. "We need more!" At that moment, the (by far) biggest clap of thunder let loose. We also have people's witness; it need not come out as a capital P-prophecy to be heard. If a godly person confirms what your thinking by unknowingly suggesting the same thing that you're contemplating, take it as a sign. For instance, I was considering taking US-35 across Ohio en route to Michigan rather than go up I-77 to the truck-laden Ohio Turnpike. It wasn't a route I had considered before. Spudlet proceeded to e-mail me that very suggestion. It was a nice, peaceful (and mostly expressway, thus faster than it looks on the map) alternative to the Turnpike, not to mention an example of a growing community within the Blogosphere. I remember an old joke about a guy about to have flood waters overtake his house. A rowboat came by; guy turned down the lift, saying that God would save him. Offers from a police boat and a helicopter were also turned down. When the guy drowned, he questions why God didn't save him. God told him He sent help three times and he turned them down each time. God can use the supernatural, but he can also use the mundane as well.

Sunday, July 06, 2003

EuroMortitis-One line my dad used to use is "If you can't be anything else, you can always be a bad example." Two cases in point-first, Den Beste points out a chemical-documentation law that will drive a lot of manufacturing out of the EU if maintained and this report on EU growth slated to be under 1% for the year. This isn't good news
Italy is hoping to boost growth among the 12 nations with a "New Deal", similar to the deal which boosted the US economy after the Great Depression in the 1930s. The current plan would see infrastructure projects such as new transport links funded by raising money via European Investment Bank bonds.
I'd expect Berlusconi to model after Reagan (or Kennedy, to keep the socialists from fainting) rather than FDR as his motif for economic stimulus.

Afternoon Musings-This is a mixed blessing; Jeffrey John has decided not to take the Bishop of Reading post. The openly bisexual priest who currently lives with his male lover (he claims platonically for a long while) has caught fire from the evangelical wing of the Anglican Church. This resignation will buy the Anglican leadership a few months to fend off schism. However, the Anglican left isn't off the hook yet; a gay bishop-designate in New Hampshire is still in play. [Update 5:30 Mr. Johnson has more-in depth comments] Tiger's running away with the Western Open; they're in a rain delay (no rain at the moment, but thunderstorms are going through the area to the east of us) but he's got a ten-shot lead at the moment. The British Open's in two weeks; look out for large felines prowling Scotland. The local paper quipped that the White Sox are turning into baseball's Bad Boys, getting ump-spitting Robbie Alomar and ump-bumping Carl Everett. The better line was when the legally-challenged Trail Blazers picked Travis Outlaw as their first pick.

Campus Perestroika-Eileen and I went down to DeKalb this morning to church at DeKalb's Grace Vineyard. As we were driving down Glidden Road north of town, I saw the Northern Illinois U's campus skyline, with a quartet of big, boxy dorm towers that brought the adjective Stalinesque to mind; Stevenson and Grant towers (a quick scan of the campus map supplied the names) reminded me of those ugh-ly Cold-War era box-tower apartments all over Eastern Europe. It wasn't until I got to church and listened to a guest pastor who just moved to town in order to minister to NIU did the metaphor come to life; I was given a visionary thought of a spiritual Berlin Wall of secularism falling over in our state universities. Most of these campuses, at least on the institutional level, as about as godless as the old Warsaw Pact territory, being run by boomers steeped in 60s leftist thought. The good thing is that today's college kids are more old-school and less liberal than their elders in their thirties and forties were when they were youths. 9-11 showed the gulf between the middle-aged hippies running departments and more pragmatic youths. We're seeing a growing conservative presence on universities, both secular and religious; they're fighting an uphill fight, but they're winning more fights than they lose. However, my vision of this morning was of an increased and more fruitful campus ministry for Grace Vineyard at NIU in particular and for various church ministries on secular campuses in general. Campuses aren't a spiritual wasteland; pan-evangelical groups like InterVarsity, Campus Crusade for Christ and the Navigators are there, as well as denominational outreaches like the AoG's Chi Alpha and the Southern Baptist's Baptist Student Ministries (ne Baptist Student Union back in the late 80s when I was at MSU). I think campus Christians like Mr. Bauer and (back in the old days when he was a single college guy) Mr. Domenech will become more common and more accepted as the decade progresses. Ministry to this group will need a special touch; it will have to be able to tackle a post-modern paradigm, where relationship is more important and logic is less important. This will require stressing a relationship with Jesus and with fellow believers, and will require more than just the shake-29-hands-and-tell-them-Jesus-loves-you type of fellowship to make Christ real with a modern college kid. Some type of cell-group ministry, where a Bible study or prayer group can do one-on-one ministry that you can't do well on Sunday morning, will be helpful. It may be a while before InterVarsity gets equal press to the gay-and-lesbian shouters in the official campus birdcage-liner, but we're heading in that direction.

Morning Musings-There is power, power, laptop-working power, in Grandma's1 house. The electicity kicked back on about an hour ago. We got to bed with flashlights and oil lamps last night after Eileen and I showered out at Uncle1 John's south of Rockford. There is power, power, birdie-working power, in El Tigre's game this weekend. A six-shot lead going into Sunday, and Kevin is only offering a one-on-one trade for books in a bet. Only if he's offering a real book and I get to pick the cheapest item in the used book store. The Lakers as the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Jerks?-The Glove and the Mailman are looking to work cheap in order to snag a title. Karl may not deserve the title jerk (my mom, a big Utah fan, will protest), but he's got a prima-donna streak that is almost as bad as Payton or Kobe. I'm thinking of the proper macroeconomic spin explaination to give the 6.4% unemployment figures that came out last week, but the donkey crowd are giving their own spin. Isn't Hoover laying it on a bit thick? 1 While here, I find myself using her titles, even though their not my "real" grandma and uncle.

Edifier du Jour-1 Corinthians 1:26-29
26 For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; 27 but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, 28 and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, 29 so that no man may boast before God.
If you look at who Jesus picked as His disciples, He picked blue-collar guys, like fishermen, as his key followers, not some hotshot seminary grads. If Peter, Mr. Open-Mouth-Change-Feet can be such a key figure, there's hope for us all.

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