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Friday, July 25, 2003

Afternoon Musings-I'm trying to get seven hours of class mapped out for tomorrow and finally had my creative muse hit, creating the functional west African nation of Golimba ("...a small, stable democracy on Africa’s Atlantic coast; the devout Baptist prime minister has done a good job of weeding out corruption that has scarred neighboring countries.") and the Macho Nacho brand of tortilla chips,
...offering plain, Original Macho, Three-L-Lllama Jalapeño, (“A one-l lama is a Tibetan monk, a two-l llama is a South American beast of burden, but a Three-L-Lllama is one heck of a fire”) and Sour Cream & Onion flavors.
I even got to use a Virginia Postrel piece for the mergers part tomorrow afternoon. The California recall election is October 7th, buying as much time as possible. The Note mentioned this piece on Jack Kemp's name being floated as a possible candidate. It may be the conservative's best shot, a Buffalo wing and a prayer to stop Ahnold from getting in. Leon Panetta's name is also being floated as a possible concensus Democratic candidate; that would be a good pick that might just win if the Democrats opt to go away from the Gray or Bust strategy. Somehow this slipped under my radar, but Andrew Dodge is back in the blog saddle in frisky libertarian form, giving both barrells to anti-medical-pot folks; however, these pictures make him look like Meat Loaf's character in Rocky Horror, where the rest of the party had him for dinner.
"Meat Loaf Again?" "Don't eat the Meat Loaf!!"

Media Musings-I'm not sure what to make of the current flap over media concentration. The House passed a bill rolling back FCC rules allowing media companies to have coverage of a larger percentage of the country; this WaPo piece has the ham and scalloped potatoes in the oven, ready for the wake of FCC chairman Michael Powell. I'm not sure what to think on this one. Liberals don't like media concentration because it helps big business and decreases media diversity. Conservatives don't like media concentration it for it gives more power to amoral media conglomerates. How much diversity is there on the commercial airwaves? Only the diversity that people want to listen to. Liberals would like to get more liberal talkers on the air, but radio stations would be happy to have them on if they brought listeners. If you head over to black radio, Tom Joyner roasts Bush on a regular basis to a national audience, doing from the left what Rush does from the right, but with a bit less joy. Jim Hightower was doing a good job when given a chance, and there likely are others that can entertain and inform an audience. However, I don't think local ownership is the problem. Even locally-owned stations will buy syndicated programming, limiting the number of local voices on the air. Generally, the national shows are more interesting than the local shows, unless you have a good local host and both the host and you have been in an area long enough to appreciate the nuances of your area. As the country becomes more mobile, national shows make more sense to a transient audience. I don't see where national ownership will make that much of a difference with TV stations; other than the local news broadcasts, you have little local content. Cable TV makes a lot of local broadcast TV content moot; community access channels wind up filling the niche that local TV filled before the growth of syndication. People might say they want local content, but if given the choice between watching a local talk show on school reform or a Seinfeld rerun, Jerry and his buddies win for most people. The syndication market will sell to both locally-owned and conglomerate stations. The conglomerates might not have quite a handle on what local viewers like, but the station managers should be able to tell HQ what does and doesn't work; ratings are universally understood. To roll back the FCC rules won't mean that local content will blossom. To insure that local content got produced, you'd have to have a nasty set of regulations requiring that stations document their local content. The conglomerates have some economies of scale; the company that runs the smooth jazz channels can run the same jingle with the same music and have the singer sing different call letters and station frequencies for each jingle (at least I heard that both here in metro Tampa and in Chicago). For radio people, that will mean fewer jobs. However, aren't we as free-marketeers supposed to support doing things more efficiently? The dynamist in me wants to back Powell; there's nothing wrong about a national conglomerate. Would we be better off if a Federal Food Commission limited McDonalds or Wal-Mart to 35% of the cities? I don't think so. If people like standardization, they'll listen to the national product. If local product works better, the conglomerates will start producing it. However, the CrunchyCon in me appreciates local control. There's a long-seated American distrust to centralized business power, preferring the mom-'n-pop to the national chain. When their is a limited number of spots on the radio dial, having local control of some of them is more comforting than having national chains run them from elsewhere. The dynamist and the CrunchyCon have fought to a draw on this one, for you're not going to see much difference in what gets on the air either way. That may be where low-power broadcasting could be helpful. Papa Blog's been beating the drums on this one and rightly so; more channels at the bottom of the FM dial could wind up adding to the diversity of the dial. There might not be a market for your type of music or your type of talk show on the conventional station. A legal pirate radio station might wind up being the broadcasting version of a blog, broadcasting a quirky mix of whatever the station-owner felt like putting on, whether it be reggae or Christian alternative or political commentary or whatever. I wouldn't be disappointed if the Senate passed the rollbacks on corporate concentration. However, I'm in the odd position of looking to support Power on this because the liberals are against him, even if they have valid points.

Thanks, Canada-Chalk up one more refugee from Canada; this Canadian teen's heading to Princeton rather than Ontario colleges, for she spend her senior year in Italy doing Alzheimer's research with a major lab. She finished up via correspondence courses, but the lack of mid-term grades was outside of the box for Ontario's admission system, so no one their could accept her. Harvard and Princeton, more used to home-schoolers' unorthodox records, were happy to admit her. And the Canadian big-wigs wonder why the smart Canadians keep heading south of the border? There are probably some American schools that would suffer from similar recto-cranial inversion, but the big-government persona of Canada might make them more rules-oriented, and if the kid doesn't have her midterms, she can't get in.

Edifier du Jour-2 Peter 3:8-9
8 But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. 9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.
We don't have His schedule before us. God may never do things quite when you want Him to, but He always does them on time. That's not easy to swallow when you're waiting on something to happen, but it's true nonetheless.

Thursday, July 24, 2003

Special Interest Grouper-Here's an interesting local story about a guy who nearly set a fishing record.
The Lakeland angler came close to putting his name in the record books last week when he muscled a mammoth black grouper to the boat. The grouper, mycteroperca bonici, weighed in at 105.3 pounds -- after it regurgitated a 10pound fish. The all-tackle world record for black grouper is 114 pounds, caught in the Gulf of Mexico out of Galveston, Texas, in 1997 by Stanley W. Sweet.
Well, the record may be in danger early next year, where a couple of large-mouthed black groupers will be in the state for the Presidential primary; the angler that bags Sharpton will probably double the record.

Do I Have to Choose?-Kevin Holtsberry had an interesting post-"If I had to vote for a Democratic Presidential candidate who would it be?" He then list the various candidates and their qualities or lack thereof. Like all of the respondants to date, I opted for Lieberman. He's the least liberal and most moral of the candidates. He's also, in a dry, earnest way, a likeable guy. There's also a higher degree of trustworthiness there than the rest of the field; he may kiss the rings of the various party groups, but he would seem to be less likely to do something against the interest of the country in general than the rest of the field. Gephardt would be my second choice, but a distant second; he's the least idiotarian of the rest of the pack and is the most positive as well. He has drifted to the left over the years, but has some common sence that seems to be lacking in the rest of the field. He'd also be, of the candidates, the one I'd like to have lunch with at the school cafeteria, shooting the bull over a cold beverage of choice (although the choices are limited; feel free to translate to cocktail party for your mental game). He's a happy warrior, a rare breed these days. Graham would seem to by a third choice, but there is a bitterness and bile there that turns me off from his gravitas. He's also far more liberal than he lets on. Edwards and Kerry are self-seeking Alpha Male types that are after their interest and not yours; any passion they have is mostly of ambition and not compassion. Dean, Mosely Braun and Sharpton are very angry and bitter; that's not attractive to me regardless of politics. Angry may sell to some, but not to me. Sharpton may have a friendly side to him when he's off stage, but his race-baiting puts him dead last on the list. I actually have a soft spot for Dennis the Menace. He may be a loony socialist, but he's a friendly loony socialist. I remember him doing some commentary work for one of the Cleveland TV channels in the early 90s between gigs as mayor and congressman, and he seemed fairly congenial. Even in his mayoral days, he seemed likeable even as he was too tightly wound and too much a populist crusader. Edwards might be my third choice to vote for, but Kucinich would be my third choice to hang out with.

California Inc's Proxy Fight-The recall petitions have been approved by California's Secretary of State yesterday they had 1.3 million valid signatures, well over the ~900,000 needed to trigger an election; Lt. Gov. Bustamante now has to schedule a recall election 60-80 days from now. He's ducking and passing the buck on the question on whether a replacement election would run at the same time. However, the interesting comment of the day came from the Gray Gentleman, calling the recall effort "a hostile takeover by the right." Davis is trying to paint the recallistas as Gordon Gekko, but he may be speaking more truth than he'd like to admit. Not about the recallistas, but about his leadership of California. Let's remember what a hostile takeover is in corporate finance; it's when someone that the current corporate management doesn't like is trying to buy the company. If management of the target company likes the acquirer, it's a friendly merger/takeover. It generally happens when a company has been mismanaged and an outsider is willing to pay a significant premium above the current market price in order to get 50.1% of the shareholders to sell the stock to him so that he can run the company. If the stock it merely under-appreciated, the acquirer can buy a small, non-controlling stake without jacking up the stock price in order to do so; to go for 50+% control generally means the current management sucks. The incumbent management has the power of inertia and incumbency on their side; they can count on passive investors to give them their proxy and can use the PR machine of the company to bad-mouth the would-be-acquirer and to give the best spin on their tenure. This does look like a hostile takeover, for the shareholders of California Inc. deserve better management. The current CEO has run the corporation into the ground with bad strategic decision-making. A bloc of dissident shareholders have put a proposition forward and they'll be a proxy vote this fall to bring in a new CEO.

Edifier du Jour-2 Peter 2:17-21
17 These are springs without water and mists driven by a storm, for whom the black darkness has been reserved. 18 For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error, 19 promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved. 20 For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21 For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them.
Peter spends chapter 2 giving both barrels to false teachers. What comes to mind as modern versions of these are the liberal Episcopal leaders who may well both confirm the ordaining an openly-homosexual bishop but also approving of same-sex marriage in their General Convention that starts next week. The Episcopal leaders aren't the only ones that, when given a choice of affirming modern sexual amorality and sticking with the Bible, will choose the world over the Bible, but their the ones with the binoculars on them at the moment; the PC-USA was in the opera glasses back in May and dodged a bullet by sending some radioactive stuff on sexual issues back to committee. People are going to want to have their desires fulfilled; telling someone that premarital and extra-marital sex is wrong, immoral and unhealthy will often fall on hormone-deafened ears. They don't want to hear that God has something better for them that may take time to develop. That's why Peter was talking about self-control and perseverance in chapter 1; it takes extra care not to fall prey to the flesh. That self-control and perseverance takes on extra urgency when there isn't an honorable or legal outlet for one's desires. While heterosexual urges have an honorable outlet in marriage, other desires do not. This isn't just the troubled gay who thinks he can't change his desires and has trouble believing in a God who'd think those cravings are wrong; drug addicts, gamblers and other people with deep-seated vices have trouble allowing the Holy Spirit to first keep them from acting on their cravings and eventually taking those cravings away (or minimizing them). The church needs to both nurture the person fighting off those vices and fight the vices as well. In an NPR piece on the Episcopal Church's internal fight I heard yesterday morning, a pro-gay lady priest invoked the end of the baptism service text, where the church is supposed to support the sprinklee in their life in Christ; her take was that the church was to support the person regardless. However, we're supposed to support their life in Christ. That doesn't mean to accept sinful behavior as normal, and stuff that runs counter to what God's laid down needs to be rebuked. Ephesians 5 comes to mind here
1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; 2 and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. 3 But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; 4 and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.
This is tough love here, but Paul and Peter aren't saying "As long as it isn't politically incorrect, be imitators of God. As long as it isn't out of step with modern culture, be imitators of God. As long as it feels good, be imitators of God." However, that seems to be what far too many church leaders are saying today. Those people are defiling the Church and sapping it of what power it has left. Calling them on it will mean some ugly times, as the people who support turning the Church into a free-love zone will keep the buildings and bank accounts while the supporters of God will wind up meeting in middle-school gyms for a season. However, better to go to a church with folding chairs than a whorehouse with nicely-cushioned pews and stained-glass windows. As I read that, that's 180-proof firewater, but it's far closer to what needs to be done in a lot of left-listing denominations. Unity for the sake of unity isn't good for the Body of Christ, for if that unity comes at the cost of taking your faith on an al-a-carte basis and throwing out the un-PC parts, what's left isn't the Church.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Home Churches in a Non-Congregationalist Polity-Here's a Rev. Mike piece from Monday that caught Lee Anne's eye.
Sooooooo ... as I have read many of the fine blogs out there written by "emerging churchers" and their fellow travelers, I have recently found myself wondering how one would do a new church development (NCD in Presbyterianese -- that's church plant for the rest of you) in my denomination, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), using insights from the emerging church movement. The main idea here is how to do an NCD without ever building the building or paying a full-time staff. However, as I have tried to think this through in terms of Reformed ecclesiology, worship and preaching and good, old fashioned stodgy Presbyterian polity ("decently and in order" taking precedence over sola scriptura, sola fide, sola gratia on any given day), one question with which I wrestle is how to structure worship in the Reformed tradition if preaching is not the central act of worship.
I'm not an expert in Presbyterian church polity, but I'll step up to the plate and give this a go. I've had to pick up some Presbyterianese to understand Eileen's past as a Christian Ed director. Not having a building is very possible. For instance, my in-laws Presbyterian church burned down in 2001; for almost two years, they used a day-care center for their Sunday services. It should be possible to hold church in rented or borrowed facilities, even if the facility is Joe Parrisioner's family room. If you use lay ministers, you can avoid paying a full-time staff. If you wanted small groups of 15-20, it would get tough to financially support a full-time pastor. The kind of mature leader that might teach a Sunday School class could get recruited to be a lay minister. As I understand the office of lay minister in the Presbyterian church, it's designed for small rural churches that need bivocational ministers. The lay minister, IIRC, can serve fully as a minister in providing the sacraments, but only in his home church; the position isn't mobile. In less structured denomination, you can ordain anyone who has a love of the Lord and enough knowledge of Scripture to be a good pastor. However, a Masters of Divinity seems to be a prereq for ordination in the PCUSA; that will preclude most would-be home group pastors from full ordination, but the lay minister concept would be a way around that. Presbyterian churches are run by a session (church board) of its members. With a small group, the group would effectively be the session. One problem with such a novel concept would be oversight from a local Presbytery (churches report to local presbyteries who report to regional synods who report to the national General Assembly) who may not have a clue as to what these home churches were all about. I remember hearing about one PCUSA church plant in South Carolina that was disbanded after the presbytery officials intervened, changing the music and effectively running off the music team that did the contemporary service at the new church. A way around this would be to allow the home churches to have independence from the local presbytery. There is a precedent for synods to have Korean-language presbyteries that will be independent of the local presbyteries. As long as the home churches had a friend in the synod HQ, they could have like-minded officials look after them at the presbytery level. That should handle the church polity angle, now, let's work on the worship service angle. I don't know how the Vineyard format that I'm used to correlates to the Emerging Church stuff, but I'll use that as my model. The loose liturgical pattern is to have about a half-hour of singing (five or so songs) followed by a sermon followed by "ministry time" where people are prayed for. Announcements and passing the offering plate is slid in between the singing and the sermon. This isn't the Presbyterian paradigm I have seen, where some hymnody is interspersed with prayer and scripture reading, culminating in the sermon and a closing hymn. The prayer focus is on corporate repentance with an interlude for personal reflection. I don't think that Reform theology mandates that model. Presbyterian custom of what "decently and in order" may be challenged, but the theology isn't. A home church may have a different definition of what is decent and what is in order. For instance, the raising of hands in worship might be indecent to old-schooler. Children and adults waiving flags down by the altar would be out of order. However, both are normal at Lakeland Vineyard; such activity would be decently and in order for us. Does a charismatic-oriented service remove preaching from the central act of worship? Sorta. What it does is make God the focus rather than the sermon. Some days, the musical worship will be more impactful than the sermon. Last Sunday, the ministry time was the keynote of the morning and the sermon took second-billing. However, on most Sundays, the sermon is what will stick with the people there. These services are more ad-lib than a standard-issue Presbyterian would be used to. One of the differences, other than the lack of a formal liturgy, is the prayer focus. Instead of corporate prayer, individual prayer is emphasized. Corporate repentance leads to corporate responses; that might point a cause to the PC-USA's economic liberalism. Individual repentance leads to changes in individual lives. While that doesn't run counter to Reformed theology, it is a difference in emphasis from standard-issue Presbyterian thought. Another difference is the emphasis on fellowship. It's a lot easier to be a stealth congregant in a standard Presbyterian church; the idea of altar calls and ministry time is novel in most Presbyterian circles. In a home group, the focus is on fellowship with fellow believers. People will get to know you, pray for your particular concerns and keep you accountable to do the things you need to do. For someone with a casual faith, such in-your-face interaction isn't comfortable. However, people who want to hang on to their casual faith and be a stealth congregant can go to a traditional mainline church where they aren't challenged. If you want fellowship and an active faith, home churches or cell groups within a larger church will be more appealing. You could fit that into a broad Presbyterian box, but it's a snug fit.

Louder's Goodby-Louder Fenn seems to have hung up the mouse, retiring his blog. He's scaled back his blogging to a weekly basis as of late; I'll put him in the "In Hibernation" column just in case he wants to change his mind. Louder seems to now have a ladyfriend, who may take up some of the free time he used to blog with. I can't see quitting blogging anytime soon, for I have lots of on-line friends in the Blogosphere that I enjoy dealing with and lots of people who enjoy what I'm doing. Maybe if I had more of a brick-and-mortar life, with stimulating intelectual conversation, I'd be less interested in blogging, but I, for now, enjoy the give-and-take of this art. One of the people I liked to interact with was Louder. Godspeed, sir. Don't be a stranger.

Time to Be a Demand Sider-Part III-Some Demand Side Growth Policies-In part II, I posited the possibility that a lack of new products coming into the market may be slowing economic growth; not a lack of products, mind you, but of new products that will get people to add to their market basket. Is there a way to encourage the production of new goods, rather than making existing goods more efficiently? The classic Keynesian response to lax aggregate demand would be to have more government spending, but I think there are more efficient ways to encourage the AD curve along. Here are seven ideas that should help incourage small, innovative companies to create more new playthings (and new serious stuff, too) without feeding Porkasaurus Rex. (1) Be easy on high-tech visas. The more techies we have in the country, the more neat software and hardware we’ll come up with. Given that there is a shortage of good programmers and computer engineers, we should be generous with the H1A visa program. There are a few older engineers in other fields who feel shorted by the upstarts from Bangalore, but we’re better off with more sharp minds than less. (2) Keep the current stock option tax rules. Taxing stock options when given rather than when exercised would harm small start-ups and their employees. If the current value of stock options is taxed as income, it will reduce the take-home pay of the new employees as it increases their taxes. However, the start-up can only realize the tax break from counting the option as an expense when they start earning a profit in the future. This will raise the salary costs of start-ups and slows a sector that comes up with most creative products. (3) Regulatory structures that are open to dynamism. If the rules are too stacked in favor of the status quo, new products that don’t quite fit into current paradigm can be kept off the market by the dinosaurs. (4) If given a choice between cutting capital gains and cutting dividend taxes, go with the capital gains. That helps smaller start-ups who are years away from paying dividends. Dividends are generally paid by older, mature companies who are less likely to be innovative. (5) Allow for individuals to deduct health insurance costs as a non-itemized item and allow for health-buying co-ops. This will allow small firm workers to get their own insurance in pre-tax dollars and level the playing field between larger, older firms with health plans; smaller firms struggle to get insurance for their workers. (6) Tort Reform-New products mean new possibilities for liability lawsuits. The added cost of insurance and the prospect of years of hard work going into the pockets of a lawyer with dreams of seven-figure punitive damages dancing in his head mean many new products never get made. My apologies to the lawyers and law students in the audience, but the economy would function better with a few less class-action lawsuits. Y’all are smart enough to get retrained in more productive disciplines if we make some of you redundant. I’m not an expert in product liability law, but it’s become too easy to bring suit as of late. Tighter requirements of finding liability may leave some injured parties uncompensated, but we’re better off with cheaper products and more products than with a few more rich victims and rich plaintiff’s lawyers (7) Lower trade barriers-If we’re looking to goose demand, don’t complain if some of the demand is for foreign goodies. If the Japanese happen to come up with a great WiFi gizmo, bring it on; they’ll wind up buying something from us in return. Only item 5 might run counter to dynamist principles, but as a package, they would help stimulate small businesses and help bring some new products to market. Note that this doesn't get into an industrial policy and pick which small firms to help, unlike Kerry's platform. This will give small firms of various types an opportunity to prosper and bring new products to market, and help bigger but innovative companies as well.

Morning Musings-I don't think this Dixie Chicks Rock the Vote thing is a political statement as much as it is a marketing ploy. The RtV people are left-wing, yes, but I think what may well be going on is a move away from a country persona. They've already modeled themselves as half-pop and half-country and may feel that they have greener pastures on the pop side. By working with an MTV staple, they set themselves up to get more pop airplay as they distance themselves from Red State political values while still keeping their country fans. Willie Nelson with halter tops, anyone? He's left-leaning, too, and still keeps a country following. Could Willie and the Chicks play at the GM benefit concert in Flint next month-Lemon Aid? :-) I'm still not quite getting why the Teamsters are gung-ho protectionists, unless its merely for solidarity with rustbelt factory workers. If we have free trade deals with Chile and Singapore, we'll have more goods coming and going, some of which will need to go on trucks driven by Teamsters. They should be in favor of economic growth that creates more goods and more goods being transported by their truckers. Someone within the Teamsters might ask Jimmy Hoffa 2.0 "Fewer jobs is a good thing? How does this sucking up to the shoprat unions improve my paycheck?"

Edifier du Jour-2 Peter 1:5-8
5 Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, 6 and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, 7 and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
This is interesting how Peter nests these various traits, with agape ranking as the end result of the line of virtues. Peter ranks moral excellence at the bottom of the list. Not that it isn't good, but it can be misapplied by zealots and turned into legalism. Add some knowledge to that morality and you can better apply moral standards. However, you can be moral and knowledgeable but still go off half-cocked, so adding some self-control to a learned morality will help. Now that we have things tamed, he wants us to add spiritual and emotional stamina, for sticking through the tough times is needed. That's about where I'm at now in areas other than food, where I'm back at self-control; being married is showing the need for stick-to-it-iveness. Perseverance is needed for me to get through the 1AM tears and fears of a wife in transition on multiple levels. It's needed for those times when you'd really rather not be doing the right thing. Peter puts godliness next on the list; you'd think it'd be the last on the list, but I think there's a reason why it's here. You can act "godly" in doing all the right things without having a warm spirit. Pharisees were godly in that they strived to obey the letter of the law, but Jesus was after them to obey the spirit of the law as well. There are two types of love Peter lists; John 21 has Peter as the subject of a lesson between philios and agape. Philios is what's translated "brotherly love" (hence Philadelphia being the "City of Brotherly Love"-{Not!}), while agape is unconditional love; to borrow from Clint Wright, "'I love you and there ain't nothin' you can do about it." Jesus asked Peter if he agaped him the first two go-rounds and Peter replied that he philiosed Him. On the third go-round, Jesus asked Peter if he philiosed Him; Peter, getting the message, stated that he agaped him. I still like my comment from last July 4th
Very often, our love of God is rather lukewarm, like the Laodiceans. That kind of love that's more of a like, a mild preference, makes God want to barf; the word "spit" in Revelation 3:16 would be better translated vomit. The exchange between Jesus and Peter reminds me of how often I have pitched my tent in Laodicea and how often I fail to truly love God. Unlike Sally Field, God's not going to get excited over the fact that we like him. We're supposed to all-out agape Him, but we only get there by drawing close to him and allowing the Holy Spirit to show us the agape flowing from Him.
However, it takes perseverance, self control, morality, knowledge and godliness (not necessarily in that order) just to get to philios. Agape is unnatural for us, for even our "unconditional" love has conditions. Agape is truly a gift of the Holy Spirit; not that all the other traits don't flow throw the Spirit, but you can see secular approximations of the other traits Peter mentions. You don't see much, if any, secular agape. To be honest, you don't see much agape in the Church either, but it's what we're shooting for and occasionally find.

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Evening Musings-I dismissed the possibility of adding Tony Blair to the Presidential race as part of party expansion to 12. However, someone is more upbeat about the chances (link via Samizdata). This is a weird four-way package-when the wheels stop, Van Horn goes to the Knicks, the Big Dog feeds on cheesesteaks and Spree heads to Minnesota. I'll believe it when it gets approved.

Cereal State for Dean-The home of flakes, fruits and nuts has Howard Dean out in front in a Field Poll. It's a three-way squeaker with Dean at 16%, Kerry and 15% and Lieberman at 14%. Gephardt has 7% and everyone else can count their percentages with one hand. There is two interesing stories here. Dean has made this a three-person race and Lieberman has a good shot of winning California if he can get up to 25-27%. This is one of the few statewide polls where he is in the hunt. It doesn't bode well for Kerry, who is losing the front-runner status very quickly.

Cruz Control-Here's an interesting twist to the recall; it seems to be within the discretion of Lt. Gov. Bustamante to not hold a replacement election along with the recall and take over if Davis is recalled.That would be sneaky as all get out, but seemingly legal. If given the choice of keeping Davis or handing the reins over to another liberal Democrat, recall supporters might opt to keep Davis, who is severely damaged goods, while liberals might opt to get rid of him in favor of an untainted Bustamante. The no-replacement option seems to be in the Democrat's best interest, but not in the Gray Gentleman's best interest. Currently, the Democratic strategy is to not run anybody in the replacement election, leaving pro-Davis voters to either abstain, vote for Green Party candidate Peter Camejo or for a Republican. That strategy is designed to give swing voters who might want to get rid of Davis and vote for a better Democrat more of a reason to vote No on the recall. Here's an odd thought. Are there enough hard-core liberals to give Camejo a plurality? When presented with a choice between Ahnold and Camejo, how many voters would be multicolored and like both a Green and a Gray? Enough to give Ahnold a run for his money from the left. If Ahnold is held to 30% by two or more good conservatives, a Camejo plurality might be possible. However, if there is no replacement election, the choice becomes "Who do you want, Gray or Cruz?" Cruz wins, Gray goes, unless Republicans vote strategically and opt to keep the loser in office.

Uday? Uday? Uday say gonna run Iraq?-It's very odd, after running obits for Christian stalwarts Larry Burkette and Bill Bright, morning their deaths, we shift over to two names on The Mikado's Lord High Executioner's list that never will be missed: Uday and Qusai Hudsein. The two sons were #2 and #3 on the most wanted list, right behind Daddy Dearest. They assumed ambient temperature at the hands of the 101st Airborne earlier today, who cornered them in a villa in Mosul.

Time to Be a Demand Sider-Part II-Where's the New Stuff?-Another thing that may be slowing the economic recovery is the lack of new products to add to our budget. There doesn’t seem to be that many new products coming down the pipeline in the last few years. Late adopters like me might wind up buying a DVD player and a cell phone, but there doesn’t seem to be too many gizmos that are going to have me running out to Best Buy. The computer industry and home electronic industry have become steady-state; the computers, TVs and game boxes may get faster and have more hard drive space, but only are adding to existing realms and not adding a new good to the shopping list. WiFi might be the killer ap to bring extra oomph to portable computing, while satellite radio might get some people into the car upgrade stores. The kitchen market could use a new appliance; bread makers and Foreman-style grills are mature markets. Other than that, you’re going to see more of the same-old stuff that people already have. As people make more money, they have to make the decision to buy more now or save more for spending stuff later. If there is no new stuff to buy, more and more of that increased income will go into savings. That will be great if you’re a business looking to expand, for the cost of capital will be low, but it may reduce aggregate demand if their isn’t much new stuff to demand. The one area that does seem to be expanding is health care; the pharmaceutical companies are cranking out new stuff to lengthen and improve lives. However, this will be a very edgy area, for people are used to having their employer or Uncle Sam to pick up the tab for their health care. The percentage of our budgets going to health care will be going up, not because the system is screwing us but because there more types of health care products to spend money on. The 90s growth was computer-driven. Might the 00s be health-care driven? Barring some major breakthrough from out of left field (nanotech developments, like self-cleaning clothes? Robot-driven cars? Computer interface implants?), it looks like health care will be the driver. How we pay for it will be a major set of scuffles. We’re looking at expanding Medicare to cover drugs, much to the dismay of most conservatives. Will we collectively wind up paying for Grandma’s new wonder drugs? That will increase demand for such drugs, but may slow down the supply side of the equation with higher taxes (or higher interest rates if we crank up the deficit) to pay for it. I’m not all that opposed to doing so in theory (that’s another post, hold your fire until I write it), but it will slow down the economy some. For the pre-Medicare crowd, we’ll have an ongoing fight over how much employers will pay for health insurance and how high the copays and deductibles will be. As more stuff becomes available, insurance rates will go up, since they’ll be more stuff to insure. This will mean lower take-home pay, since this will add to the cost to employers. Our politics may respond to this in one of two ways. From the left, the added cost of health care will result in calls to make policy changes that take out their frustrations at the expense of drug companies, doctors and hospitals, or at the taxpayer. From the right, this will be an opportunity to make some free-market reforms, such as making medical insurance tax-deductible for individuals as well as businesses and making health-purchasing co-ops easier to form and join. The bigger-picture issue here is that health-care will become a bigger percentage of GDP in the years to come. Rather than worry about that, the system needs to adapt to it, and allow it to become a bigger part. If productivity winds up making existing products less expensive, the added buying power can be shifted into health care without lowering our non-health-care standard of living.

Time to Be a Demand-Sider?-Part I-The Ideopolis Hangover-Megan McArdell had a good post last week on the macroeconomic picture that's a good jumping-off point for some thoughts that have been floating through my brain. While we've officially been out of the brief recession since November 2001, unemployment has been going up
So why doesn't it feel like the recession is over? One of the major factors, as the article points out, is that unemployment is a lagging indicator, which is to say that it continues to rise even after the recession is over. (Stock prices, by contrast, are a leading indicator: they start to fall ahead of the recession). And it's lagged more in recent recessions -- the jobs are a lot slower to come back, which is what killed George Bush's father in '92. The recession had been over for a year, but the unemployment numbers were still bad. Remember "the jobless recovery"? We're having another one. We've lost nearly a million payroll jobs since 2000, and it still hurts.
If productivity is growing faster than demand for goods is, it'll require less people to make stuff, thus creating the oddity of GDP going up while unemployment goes up as well.
In general, recessions have been getting steadily shallower since WWII. The problem is that recovery takes longer, which is psychologically very hard. Fewer people are out of work -- fer gosh sakes, the unemployment rate is below what some economists used to think was the lowest possible rate of sustainable unemployment. It's well below what continental Europeans enjoy during their booms. But while fewer people may have actually lost jobs, more people fear losing their jobs, for longer. ("Is this recession worst than 1981?" I asked my mother recently. "Every recession is the worst recession when you're in it" was her sage reply.)
Since our economy has become more just-in-time oriented, there are less inventory stockpiles. When things slow down, that means more short-term layoffs, but it also means quicker hire-backs, since firms won't have the big stockpiles to sell before needing to hire back workers. Our employment system, with less generous unemployment benefits, easier layoff rules and greater reliance on temps, makes hiring workers less risky and getting rid of them easier when things slow down. With less freebies from the government and lower tax rates on work, there is a greater incentive for blue-collar folks to work in the US. This last recession was a lot lighter than the one in the early 1980s. If we can compare recessions to the ups and downs of the stock market, the 2001 recession was a correction rather than a bear market. It was due to the end of the Internet boom, 9-11, Enron and high oil prices, and people knew the problems that caused the recession were likely to be temporary. The 1981 recession was being caused by high oil prices, Cold War queasiness, high interest rates thanks to the Volker Fed and a general cultural pessimism that we don't have today. Reagan came along at just the right time; four more years of liberal pessimism might have sent the US into European stagnation. 1981 was a lot worse than 2001, since we weren't sure things were going to get better. We're a lot cockier than we were in 1981, and Reagan, for his tax cutting, his winning the Cold War1 and general optimistic attitude, deserved the plurality of the credit for where we've gone in the last 22 years. The computer industry deserves the second star (and possibly the first, for they've driven the growth in the 90s) and Volker (in 20/20 hindsight) and Greenspan deserve the third star for keeping inflation at bay; people who didn't live through the late 70s don't quite have a handle on how debilitating double-digit inflation can be to one's economic mind-set.
For another thing, even if GDP increases at quite a clip, a lot of us aren't going to be able to increase our consumption along with it, because we spent a nice chunk of the nineties increasing our consumption above sustainable levels based on unrealistic expectations. If we were technology workers, for example, we assumed that the demand for our services would be always and forever strong, while the sky-high wages we were able to demand would not attract any new entrants into the job market to compete for our jobs and thus drive wages down. If we had money in the stock market, we figured that it was okay to use our credit cards to buy a 72-inch HDTV system because, after all, our portfolio was going to double every six months, which would leave plenty of money to pay the bill and the accrued interest. If we were homeowners, we took out extra loans on the rising equity in our home on the assumption that it would be easy to sell the house for a comfy profit if we needed to. If we were practically anyone, we assumed that a loan at 7-8% was a good deal because inflation would chew up a lot of that over the life of the loan.
This is an interesting premise, especially for young people in the Ideopolis. If we combine the Permanent Income Hypothesis with the tech boom of the late 90s, we have people who have expectations of rising incomes spending more than they "should" since they expect to have the money to pay for it in the future. People tend to spend towards their expected average income over the foreseeable future, and the foreseeable future looked so bright, they had to wear shades. Now that the future isn't so bright, their expectations about income growth have come down, and people have geared their spending down accordingly.
Now inflation is practically nonexistent, the technology job market is glutted, the housing market is stalling out, and we're choked with debt that no measly 3-4% increase in GDP is going to get us out of. A lot of us will be putting any future income increases into paying down debt, not improving our lifestyle, for quite a long time. (And I am included in that number: my decision to attend business school was predicated on drawing a salary a lot higher than a journalist's when I got out.) Even if things get better, they aren't going to get as much better as they were getting just five short years ago. Of course, they were only getting better because we were borrowing part of now's "better" to pay for it. But that doesn't make it easier to face that cabinet full of Top Ramen when you get home from a hard day's work.
For the Gen Xers (and others) who overspent (in 20-20 hindsight) in the late 90s, they are having to gear their lifestyle down a notch below their normal levels for a while in order to pay down their home equity loans and credit cards. They're saving more than their age-income profile would suggest they should. That savings may not come in the form of adding to the 401(K), but in paying off debt. This will have an economic fallout, as the demand for consumer goods will be lower than income growth would indicate it should be. It will be good for businesses looking to raise capital, for the decrease in consumer debt will free up loanable funds for business purposes. However, the decreased demand will slow the recovery a bit.
So even though the economy is getting better, it feels worse. Though I'm no Austrian, you might call this The Great National Hangover. It won't kill us.
For a 20-something like Megan, the '00s are a popping of an emotional bubble. They hit college in the 90s, where human capital and a college education was the key to making the big bucks. The computer boom of the 90s placed a premium on human capital, promising high wages and a fast-growing economy. We've had a correction in that sector, and the future, while still bright, wasn't as rosy as it was a few years ago. For us oldsters who went through "real" recessions in the 70s and 80s, the early '00s were a modest bump in the road. However, it was a bump that took the air out of a lot of high-flying balloons. This may make the effects of the Bush tax cuts a bit harder to see and give liberals more ammunition. However, if you cut demand, it will tend to slow down the economy. While free-market economists like to focus on the supply-side of the equation, we need to remember that there is an aggregate demand curve as well as an aggregate supply curve. Just because Keynesians are fixated on it doesn't mean we can ignore it. ______________ 1If you use the baseball rule to credit the win to the pitcher who was on the mound when the team went ahead to stay, Reagan gets the W. We weren't leading in January 1981, given Communist successes in Nicaragua and Afghanistan, and we were in 1989, in large part due to an active anti-Communist efforts and a strong military buildup. That's not to say that other presidents didn't help, but Reagan put us in the lead to stay, while Bush 41 picks up the save.

The Bible Dweeb-I haven't commented on the "Bible Geek" fiacso as of yet, and want to put my $0.02 in. For the few of you who haven't seen the story yet, Cruciform Chronicles has called himself the Bible Geek for a while, only to get a awkward letter from a LifeTeen (a Catholic youth ministry) lawyer-turns out they have a trademark on Bible Geek. It seems not to be a trivial matter; LifeTeen’s got a lot of books published under the Bible Geek label and from a business level, they have a right to look after their trademark. However, they have rightly gotten fire from across the Christian sector of the Blogosphere for threatening legal action against our modest little blogger. First of all, the LifeTeen people should of sent something less litigious, something like "We applaud your devotion to the word of God, but we have a trademark on Bible Geek; we have a lot of publications and quite a bit of intelectual capital tied up in the name. Might we suggest Scripture Geek or Bible Nerd as an alternative, so that we don't have to share Google space with you when people look for Bible Geek stuff." That would have been less threatening (the letter would leave unstated any legal action LifeTeen might make) than what they sent, and likely gotten a better responce. As is, LifeTeen is now sharing Google space with a lot of outraged Christian bloggers writing about the case. I had heard about their good work with Catholic teens via Amy Welborn and was looking to recomend them to some Catholic pre-teen cousins-in-law who could use a solid Biblical counterballance to the popular culture they are immersed in. After this, I'm not quite as sure. One of the problems with Martin Roth's suggestion (slide down to Saturday 7/19) invoking 1 Corinthians 6 is that there's no good way to handle a dispute between two belivers from different churches. Here's what I mentioned last week
Since most of the believers we do business with aren't in the same church, there would seem to be no good way to effect some sort of Christian Arbitration Bureau that would settle legal disputes between believers. In this litigious society, it would be hard even for two fellow church members to have a third party from church serve as arbiter for a dispute. That says a lot about our society and our churches. I don't know if you could set such a beast up. It would require a lot of churches to commit to have their members to refer cases to them if both parties were believers and have churches require, or at least strongly encourage, people use such non-judicial arbitration before going to the courts if the other party wasn't willing to go along
I don't know what background the proprietor of Cruciform Chronicles is, but I'm assuming it isn't Catholic. That would make some sort of pan-Christian arbitration tricky. Paul's letter sorta assumes that the two parties are in the same local church. For instance, let's assume that Martin and I got into some sort of legal scuffle, where I posted a long excerpt of his stuff that he felt nudged past fair use and deserved compensation. Who would an Australian Baptist and an American Vineyardite(?) choose as a neutral third party? LifeTeen's transgression was to jump into legal mode, when they should have more politely asked for him to move off their intelectual domain. As is, they now have bad press on their hands and are sharing Google space with a bunch of ornery Protestants commenting on the case, making them look like Bible Dweebs.

Morning Musings-I didn't realize that Bill Bright was Orlando based-the Sentinel has a nice obit here. Stevie Y reupped with the Wings; after losing Federov, they really needed that. He's a Wing lifer, as much as anyone can be in this free-agent era. Liberia keeps getting messier. While most of the people in the capital would prefer Taylor get the boot, the rebels aren't gaining any points by bombing the heck out of Monrovia as they try to go up to the capital.

Edifier du Jour-1 Corinthians 15:1-8
1 Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; 7 then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; 8 and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.
One of the details of Christ's resurrection that often gets overlooked is His various appearances after His death. Elvis' got nuttin' on this dude. One could write off the ramblings of a few people who claim to have seen a dead preacher, but the large numbers point to something bigger. You have hundreds of people who are, from a secular vantage-point, willing to lay their lives on the line for a hallucination. The potent fact is that they did lay their lives on the line; legend has John being the only disciple who died of natural causes. If all the sightings Paul mentions were all part of group hysteria, it was darn potent group hysteria. To this day, you have people comparably taken by this meme, willing to alter their lives, to pick up everything, and die if need be, to serve a dead Middle Eastern carpenter-turned-prophet who died almost two millennia ago. Either that's one potent myth, as the secular world would like us to believe, or that the first-century nail-slammer in question isn't a was but an is. For like those people Paul mentioned, many of us, including myself, believe that Jesus is alive and well, having died for all our sins and risen about 40 hours later. Meme or risen savior? I report, you decide.

Monday, July 21, 2003

Democratic Conference Expansion-Ben noted this morning that "by adding just three more candidates, the Democratic Party could hold a NCAA conference championship game next year." Let's look at some likely candidates. International expansion is the dream of many, but since he's both not a US citizen and already booked as Prime Minister, Tony Blair declined the invitation. Jean Chretien is steamed that he didn't get considered; well, if you play football with 11 players, they might let you in. With everyone in the race east of (or hugging, in the case of Gephardt) the Mississippi, westward expansion seems to be the most likely route to go. A team on the West Coast would make since, possibly two, to cover the Pacific time zone market. Gary Locke would make a good choice; he'd bring the Asian market as well and have a Husky warchest to contribute to the race. Since he's not running for a third term next year, a Seattle based member would make sense. The next underrepresented spot would be the Southwest. Normally, we'd look to Texas, but the pickings are rather slim. Instead, we'll look west to New Mexico's governor, Bill Richardson. How many governors have UN rep on their resume? He won't have to suffer the classic governor's joke that his foreign policy expertise comes from going to the International House of Pancakes. Since there are two blacks in the race, adding an Hispanic candidate would make sense. While we're looking west, we'll of course need to include the Cereal State, home of flakes, fruits and nuts. Diane Feinstein would be a natural choice. She'll add both national and local expertise to the race, and give Carol Mosely Braun someone to go to the ladies room with during candidate dinners. Now then, how do we divide them up into conferences? Here, we'll do it on ideology, with the merely liberals going into the Red Division and the hard-core progressives in the Green Division. We thought about switching Locke and Feinstein, but no one's completely happy with any divisional layout. Red Division-Gephardt, Richardson, Locke, Lieberman, Graham, Edwards Green Division-Kucinich, Kerry, Dean, Mosley Braun, Sharpton, Feinstein Now, some would argue that the Green Division is too loaded, with the two leading candidates. Tell that to the SEC, who had Florida-Tennessee winners go on to face weak Western Division winners. The Kerry-Dean match will dictate the Green champ. Edwards, being a lawyer, will have home court advantage in the Red Division, but it still should come down to a Gephardt-Lieberman race.

Afternoon Musings-I'm not sure whether it will be any good, but Rob Dreher has convinced his Dallas Morning News collegues to Cornerize the DMN, running their own in-house blog. This is a deeplink that they might not mind, when compaired to where we were a year ago last May. Did the Barking Dogs bad PR start to give them appreciation for blogs? Behind the Net has a good piece on Kobe and why a trial would be in his best interest, especially if he simply fell prey to the temptations of a cute cheerleader. He points out a similar (if the news of the weekend is pointing correctly) case involving VT/49ers QB Jim Druckenmiller a few years ago, where drunken sex got trumped up into a rape charge. OK, who do we want to be the next receipent of this novel procedure? Howard Stern? Enimem? Mike Tyson? Or do y'all have a better nominee? Don't read too much into the Blair-in-trouble stories. It's going to take a couple more hits to get the left wing of his party to try and take him down and about as much to get the dead-in-the-water Conservatives to look good in comparison.

Midday Musings-For all of you who are Googling in on "Kobe Rape" stuff, it looks more and more like he might be getting a bum rap. The young woman in question seems to be a bit unstable, possibily suicidal in the recent past. Other reports have her sounding like she was striving for her 15 minutes of fame. However, such blaming-the-accuser is a common spin put on by a defendant in a rape case or other case where sex is an issue; note the spin that Clinton's defenders tried to put on Monica. It's sometimes called the Nuts and Sluts defence; you question their sanity and their sexual history. One problem that Kobe still has is the fact that, at minimum, he was having sex with a woman other than his wife. Even if the young woman is making up rape claims after the fact, he still is showing "poor judgement," as a secular commentator might say. He wasn't marketing himself as a God-fearing guy, but this will knock him down a peg among people who like their role models to stay away from adultery. It's nice to see Berlusconi get the Crawford treatment. As the titular head of the EU, he's a very good agent-in-place for the US. This trip will surely make the Paleoeuropeans squirm. Speaking of squirming, the Beeb seems to be spinning at quasar speed on David Kelly; note that the word "suicide" is not found again today in the text of their coverage, only in a picture caption.

Another Kind of Bright-Campus Crusade for Christ founder Bill Bright died over the weekend at age 81 after a half-century of successful evangelism. You might look down upon the energetic proselytizing or the simplistic Four Spiritual Laws that made up the archetypal CCC tract, but they brought quite a few people to Christ through their outgoing, straight-forward evangelism. It's worth looking at that four-pack as we send up a prayer for Bright's family (1)-God LOVES you and offers a wonderful PLAN for your life. -Yes, He does. (2) -Man is SINFUL and SEPARATED from God. Therefore, he cannot know and experience God's love and plan for his life. -On our own, we're toast. We can debate how total our depravity is, but we can't get their on our own (3)- Jesus Christ is God's ONLY provision for man's sin. Through Him you can know and experience God's love and plan for your life. -"I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me' isn't politically correct, but it's dead on. God's perfect, we're not, and Jesus died to bridge that gap; check out the graphic in that section. To borrow from the old Point of Grace song, there's both a bridge to cross that great divide and a cross to bridge that divide. (4)-We must individually RECEIVE Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord; then we can know and experience God's love and plan for our lives. -God doesn't have grandkids. You don't get to God by going to church, or having Christian family members. Those might be simplistic, but the Gospel isn't designed to be rocket science.

Edifier du Jour-1 Corinthians 14:12-19
12 So also you, since you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek to abound for the edification of the church. 13 Therefore let one who speaks in a tongue pray that he may interpret. 14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. 15 What is the outcome then? I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the mind also; I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the mind also. 16 Otherwise if you bless in the spirit only, how will the one who fills the place of the ungifted say the "Amen" at your giving of thanks, since he does not know what you are saying? 17 For you are giving thanks well enough, but the other person is not edified. 18 I thank God, I speak in tongues more than you all; 19 however, in the church I desire to speak five words with my mind so that I may instruct others also, rather than ten thousand words in a tongue.
We didn't have any big tongue-talking today at church, but we did have a serious move of the Spirit; the music was flowing with ad-libbed lyrics and melodies. Pastor Dave scrapped the normal routine of five-songs, pass-the-hat, sermon and prayer/ministry time to have an extended prayer session prior to the sermon, first for home group leaders, then for the teens heading off on a mission trip this week, then for everyone else. It was very good, but it happened to freak out a young lady who had happened to come to the church for the first time. Emily was from a lapsed Catholic family who hadn't taken her to church since she was five; if I take her story at face value, this was her first trip to church since. This kind of ad-hoc service, that threw what little liturgical pattern a Vineyard church has out the window, was hard for Emily to get her mind around. The service was very edifying for people who are at home in a charismatic environment, but wasn't as approachable to the novice. Emily could sense the power, but went over to Eileen, who was manning the resource room (Library/book and music store) after church to figure out what the heck she stumbled into. This doesn't just apply to charismatic stuff; it can easily apply to insider discussions of theological minutia as well. Make sure the Emilies that show up can follow and be edified by what we're up to in church.

Sunday, July 20, 2003

At Least it's not Sam's Choice Armageddon-Eileen and I were wondering how her cousin was faring at the Insane Clown Posse outing, the Gathering of the Juggalos. Neither the Clevland Plain Dealer nor the Akron Beacon Journal were reporting any bad news at this point, other than write-ups about the coming deluge. Here's a Beacon-Journal description of the festivities
The band has been holding these gatherings in various locales since 2000 and each seems a little bit bigger than the one before. In addition to Insane Clown Posse's Sunday night performance, there will be plenty of other bands, including Kottonmouth Kings, Wu Tang affiliate Killa Priest, former Geto Boy Bushwick Bill, Twizted, Dark Lotus and that musical chameleon, Vanilla Ice.
Vanilla Ice? Over the hill movies stars do gigs on The Love Boat and Murder, She Wrote; over-the-hill white rappers do the Juggalos.
See, Garrettsvillians, that's not so bad. Sure, they're a rowdy bunch. The next four days will probably be as hard on the grounds of the Crystal Forest as a full summer season of nonclown-obsessed tourists. The official Web site says the Gathering will be a nonstop 24-hour party with tons of nonmusical events, such as Juggalo wrestling, therapeutic massage, female mud wrestling, a Miss Juggalette pageant, Tribal Drum Party, a 2-on-2 basketball competition and, of course, Faygo Armageddon.
More on that last activity
Nicole Harrison, 20, of Columbus, said she was looking forward to the Faygo Armageddon, where fans are drenched in hundreds of gallons of Faygo, a soft drink preferred by the Insane Clown Posse.
As a Michigan ex-pat, I'll praise the ICP on their taste in pop. Faygo's a good multi-flavor brand based out of Michigan, with good root beer and redpop, priced between the big boys and the store brands. However, I prefer to drink Faygo, not wear it. Eileen asked if this was a generation gap between us and her younger cousin. No, not that much. There were comparable concert bacchanals in the 70s and 80s; the Dead Heads weren't that much different than the Juggalos. In my era, you had the small-g gothic/satanic groups with their nihilistic foreboding feel to punkers with their nihilistic anarchy. This bunch seems to have added a bit of fun to the nihilistic anarchy, sort of a Woodstock for the Double Dare generation. Nick at Woodstock?!? This parent might think so
Gary Gragen treated his 16-year-old son to the concert as a reward for a 4.0 grade point average. They traveled all the way from California. ``Every year he gets a 4.0, we go. This is our third one in a row,'' Gragen said.
What's this kid going to look like when he hits college? If you're going to Bezerkly or UCLA, keep an eye on this kid in a couple of years.

Afternoon Musings-I've been busy with family matters this weekend, so very little blogging; there's been a lot of stuff I haven't had a chance to respond to. Every so often, someone comes out of nowhere to win a major- Ben Curtis is the latest member of the "who's he?" club to win the British Open, having got in as a Western Open qualifier; he and Tom Watson are the only rookies to win. While I'm on the sports page, two big signings-Sergei Federov is now the mightiest of Ducks, filling in Paul Karaya's spot as the franchise player. That may mean a serious retooling of the Red Wings, for that will be a hard hole to fill, even with Mike Illich's pocketbook. Kobe's in trouble. He admits to having sex with the woman who's filed the rape charge. Even if he gets off on a he-said-she-said reasonable doubt decision, he's going to take a hit in the pocketbook. I'm not sure what to think of this case, where the main source for BBC coverage on an Iraq report allegedly "sexed up" by the Blair government was acknowledged to be David Kelly, who committed suicide last week. Dead men tell no tales. It's interesting that the Beeb piece on the acknowledgement doesn't mention the word "suicide." Here's an interesting paragraph from the BBC piece
The government has set up an independent judicial inquiry, led by Lord Hutton, into the circumstances surrounding Dr Kelly's death. Both Mr Blair and the BBC have said they will cooperate fully.
Can I see the British left making Kelly into Vince Foster? That's what I can expect to have some of the leftist types to bring up. Let's see who becomes the left's analog to the American Spectator on this one.

Edifier du Jour-1 Corinthians 11:23-31
23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, "This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me." 25 In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me." 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes. 27 Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. 28 But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly. 30 For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep. 31 But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged.
The question in my mind when I read this is what would be an unworthy manner. The side effects of taking communion when doing so aren't pleasant. I think the first step in worthiness is to acknowledge Jesus as Lord and Savior. People who haven't gotten to that point aren't really with the program. If I understand it correctly, one of the big steps in a Catholic kid's life is their First Communion, for they have to be old enough to understand what Jesus did for them. I don't remember a formal program growing up in the Methodist church, but Eileen mentioned that they had a communicant's class for 5th and 6th graders in her Presbyterian church; they've lowered the age some since, but the idea was to teach kids what communion was about. That might bring in some people who may not have a personal knowledge of Jesus, but it will at least give them a heads-up as to the idea that their doing something more than having crackers and juice. The second part is looking at one's life and whether he's actually living out that faith and repenting of those sins that have him falling short before taking communion. One church I was in left open a patch of time for not only prayerfully examining oneself but going over and asking forgiveness of fellow church member they had sinned against. A person who hasn't been walking the walk and refuses to admit it might be the person who Paul's talking about. One can carry this verse too far and act as the Judgement Police-"I saw what you and Katie were doing at the hayride last night; are you sure you're worth?" This is one for ourselves, not to hold over the heads of others.

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