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Saturday, August 16, 2003

Afternoon Musings-Had a couple of good chuckles yesterday while doing errands. The first was the "Bad Cop! No Donut!" one that always gets my funny bone. The second I actually saw two examples of yesterday: you've likely seen one or two Brights have a Darwin fish decal on their back bumper, making fun of the various Chrisitan fish decals; this one raises the ante, with a bigger Truth fish eating a Darwin fish (he's a third of the way there, for only "Darw" is visable). The Terminator slaps down Mr. Berkshire Hackaway. "He'll live." You don't mess with football in Texas and you don't mess with Prop 13 in California. The worm-based denial-of-service attack on Micro$oft didn't get down. However, we saw one more flaw in the Windows systems.

Investor on the Roof-Eileen and I were watching a best-of-Broadway show on our PBS station yesterday, and they had Zero Mostel doing If I Were a Rich Man. One of the verses seemed to fit Warren Buffett all too well (italics added)
The most important men in town will come to fawn on me-- They will ask me to advise them, Like a Solomon the Wise-- "If you please, Reb Tevye?"-- "Pardon me, Reb Tevye?"-- Posing problems that would cross a rabbi's eyes-- (chanting) Ya va voy, ya va voy voy vum... And it won't make one bit of difference If I answer right or wrong-- When you're rich, they think you really know.
At least Ahnold added George Schultz. Not a flaming supply-sider, mind you, but an improvement over Mr. Berkshire Hackaway (at economic growth). Also, will someone remind Ahnold that Rob Lowe only plays a communications director on TV.

Morning Musings-Don't blame the PGA for the blackout, for they sure aren't shooting the lights out at Oak Hill. They're having US Open numbers, with who's-he journeyman Shaun Micheel (that's the correct spelling) leading halfway through at -3; he's only one of only three guys in red. Mike Weir is two back and Tiger is AWOL at +6. Of course, now the Democrats are blaming this on Big Oil (the blackout, not the high scores, although if they felt that high PGA scores were a political issue, they'd try to tie it to Big Oil, too). I don't think they'd of liked any of the options needed to solve the problem. Building new lines makes people near the lines nervous. There is no politically-correct way to build a power plant; you either have to burn fossil fuels and create more global warming, ruin ecosystems by building more hydroeclectric dams or solve it by using (GASP) nuclear power. The Democrats, led by their environmentalist camps, would have fought any significant change to modernize the electrical system. It's always the cover up that gets you. Dave Bliss could be doing hard time if this story holds up for trying to spin the Patrick Dennehy story, getting his players to try and make him to be a drug dealer. Obstruction of justice, anyone. Oh, by the way, Baylor's a Baptist school. "Yeah, riiiiight" I hear you say. Throw another bucket of coal on the fire, Satan, you've got company. Idi Amin has finally bought the farm from his exile in the Saudi entity.

Edifier du Jour-1 Peter 1:3-9
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, 7 so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 8 and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.
This brings up some interesting thoughts. From a naturalistic vantage point, we have but anecdotal evidence of miracles and some vague feeling in our heart that God exist. We have even lighter evidence of Jesus' resurrection. However, I, and millions of others, have weighed that evidence and found that this is more than a 2000-year-old meme. If it is a meme, it's one with the power to heal and to change lives. If this is all a well-woven myth with a negligible basis in reality, how come so many people are being renewed because of it? The present-day Jesus may not be visible to the naked eye, but He leave a lot of trace evidence in the changed lives of His followers. That faith is more than just a mass hallucination that's got two millennia worth of legs.

Friday, August 15, 2003

Hasta la Vista, Baby!-The Democrats are starting to see the writing on the wall; the voters have weighed the Gray Gentleman in the ballance and found him wanting. He's losing 58-37 in the latest Field Poll

Blackout Musings-I'm surprised at the low level of looting that we've seen in this blackout, especially compared to 1977. That blackout made New York look like Rodney King LA in the general level of mayhem. It it the post-9/11 sense of togetherness? A more law-abiding Millennial generation rather than a bunch of Boomers in the key youth demographic? A residual from the fixing-broken-windows community policing efforts? All of the above? This was an interesting quote that says a lot
"You can't tell me that the whole of the U.S. and Canada can't even sort out their national grid. It's ridiculous," said Becky Jones, 27, whose Virgin Atlantic flight to New York returned to London midway across the Atlantic due to the blackout.
Excuse me, but these are two nations, last I checked. Or are they? Are we one nation in two states, Quebec notwithstanding? I remember a book I read years ago, The Nine Nations of North America, that divided the continent on socioeconomic groupings. One of them, The Foundry, is a "coherent nation made up of the industrialized regions from New York City to approximately Toronto and Chicago." Was it not the Foundry that got whacked last night? I'm not sure what the short-term solution is to fix the electrical grid, but more distributed power production would seem to be a plus. Some have envisioned a large number of small, neighborhood fuel-cell electric generators that would make such wide blackouts unlikely and no one plant a terrorist target; I remember hearing one of the NPR talk shows talk about something similar to the above link. How you actually do that is another thing, but it's a thought worth pondering.

Political Employment at Will-I haven't, that I recall, talked about the recall process and whether it's a good idea. Some conservative commentators (this Howard Owens piece was on the viewer at the moment) have argued that recalls move us away from representative democracy and towards mob rule. Others have argued that mere incompetence isn't enough to warrant a recall. What a recall system does is to change the terms of a politician’s employment from a term contract to employment at will. Most conservatives would agree that, barring a contract that states a time-frame, that employers should be able to fire their employees if they aren't doing their job or if fewer workers are needed. When we elect a politician in a recall-enabled state, they have a two or four-year term of office, conditional on not being recalled. If the voters of the state are sufficiently POed at the official's performance, they can replace him. This is the political version of employment at will. My mind goes back twenty years to Michigan. A recall attempt was made to oust Gov. Blanchard, who had reneged on a no-tax-hike pledge he made in the 1982 campaign. They failed to get enough signatures to put Blanchard up to a recall vote, but they did recall two Democratic state senators who voted for the tax package. The resulting Republican pick ups gave them control of the senate and introduced us to the new Senate majority leader, a guy from Mount Pleasant named John Engler. That was a case where a recall effort had a conservative (political) effect, starting a lean to the right in Michigan politics. If the California election goes according to plan, we'll replace a liberal Democrat with a centrist (on balance) Republican, that too would be a net plus. This comes far from mob rule, for it takes a large petition campaign to get a recall on the ballot and a majority of the voters to effect a recall. The no-runoff process for the replacement election is badly flawed and needs to be changed, but that doesn't make it undemocratic. The thing I fear about the recall here is that you could be in constant recall mode. Let's say that Ahnold has to make a tough decision in February 2004 and ticks a few people off; the left then gets their 10% petition out and tries to terminate the Terminator; by next June, we now have Governor Feinstein. The right then gets yet another recall effort done after Governor Feinstein butchers the budget process, giving us Governor Simon in the winter of 2005. Recalls are supposed to be rare beasts. So were filibusters. If the left can get as ornery and as organized as the right, we could see that constant recall mode happen. However, as long as the procedures on the books, we should use it as a political tool. Conservatives conserve the things that make the country function well. The Gray Gentleman ain't one of them.

Edifier du Jour-1 Timothy 6:7-11
7 For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. 8 If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. 9 But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. 11 But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.
Note that this has the love of money as a root of evil, not the root, as it is often stated. A lot of evil isn't mercenary. However, if you pursue the virtues in verse 11, you'll wind up doing well. Someone who's honest, diligent and hard-working will be in demand. The money will come. Like Solomon, who asked only for wisdom but got the bling-bling as a bonus, the godly will often prosper in a reasonably fair society. Verse 11 isn't great career advice where Christians are persecuted, but for most of us, it is good career advice.

Thursday, August 14, 2003

Evening Musings-Tonight's class, coming at the end of a week (tomorrow is blissfully meeting-free, other than a couple of students coming in for advisement) of meetings, was fun. It was the current issues section of my International Finance class, so I was able to spend three hours pontificating on aging in Europe and Japan, instability in all the big players in OPEC, the Islamization of Europe and other issues. I mentioned Pim Fortuyn in class on that topic, and one of the students quiped "Is he Episcopalian?" Ba-ta-la-bing! No, he was a non-practicing Catholic, if I recall. I happened to hit the jackpot on my Fantasy Baseball team (solidly in third out of seven); not of my active players was blacked out tonight. I had a couple of Giants pitchers that weren't active tonight; the Mets-Giants game was the only one in the blackout zone tonight. Some good sports news; Lefty's heading up the leaderboard at the PGA. Time for him to get the major monkey off his back.

The Lights are On, but No One's Home-I've just got done with a week's worth of meetings and seminars, so I'm whipped. I heard about tonight's power outages as I went to my International Finance class this evening and have memories of a big blackout in 1977 and the classic one in 1965 that inspired a movie Where Were You When the Lights Went Out. It seems to have hit New York, Ontario, Ohio and Michigan, and parts of Connetucuit and Pennsylania, as an lightning strike caused an outage in the US side of Niagra Falls cascaded due to warm weather demand for air conditioner juice. Eileen had called both her parents and mine while I was teaching this evening. The power was on in Midland, MI, as it was in East Lansing where Kevin Holtsberry is at a conference. Midland and metro Lansing are Consumers Energy (at least that was the last name I remember) and the metro Detroit area are Detroit Edison. Over in the Big Apple, Minless Dreck is blogging on generator power.

Edifier du Jour-1 Timothy 5:1-2
1 Do not sharply rebuke an older man, but rather appeal to him as a father, to the younger men as brothers, 2 the older women as mothers, and the younger women as sisters, in all purity.
Treat people like family. That assumes that you treat your parents and siblings with respect, but a good simple concept for a simple mind this morning.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Barf Bag, Pleeeeeeze!-Ahnold's picked his economic advisor-Warren Buffet. Mr. Limosine Liberal himself, the guy who didn't see a tax cut he didn't hate. I'd recomend Jimmy Buffet instead; his politics might not be much better, but he can at least be entertaining. Investing, Buffet knows. Macroeconomics, he doesn't, at least not on the policy level. Why not name Krugman the junior economics advisor and make it even clearer? Watch the right go into low-earth orbit at this one.

Evening Musings-Weird Google for "Freeland Michigan P0rn." There might be a adult video store in town, otherwise, you're on your own. Josh's story on Jack Van Impe made Christianity Today today; CT's discovered Blogdex. I'm not sure what the insight of an escatology geek will help with foreign policy. It might help throwing someone in the base a bone, but it's unlikely to be a must-read in the West Wing, except for a few good chuckles. Proposed political cartoon
Panel One-Condi at here desk"Sure, we'd love to read your take on Israel, Reverand Van Impe." Second panel has her putting The West Bank in Prophecy in the, ahem, circular file
That's just about what it's worth from a policy standpoint. If God wants some serious doo-doo to go down in the Middle East , it'll happen regardless of what Dubya does. Isn't it amazing when a politician gets in trouble that they get a sudden urge to spend more time with their kids?
Gov. Judy Martz, whose first term has been besieged by missteps and dismal popularity among voters, said Wednesday she will not run for re-election next year. At a news conference, Martz said she wanted to spend more time with her family and insisted that her sagging popularity was not a factor in her decision. Recent polls have shown her approval rating at about 20 percent.
That's about as red a state as it gets, so the seat's fairly safe for the GOP. This is encouraging- only 19% of relocating retirees are moving to Florida; that figure was 32% a decade ago. The Florida panther may be endangered, but not the Gray Panther variety.

Morning Musings-US troops in Iraq are now on a one-year rotation. This will get a lot of heart-tugging media pieces about families broken up and soldiers with babies born that they've never seen. I had one of my Melbourne-site students who had to drop the class in order to look after some nieces of hers; mommy was deployed to the Gulf. There's a window of opportuntity for churches to help; if you're near a base that has people deployed in the Gulf, see if your church can provide baby-sitting, handyman help and other support for these de-facto single moms. Extend that to families of servicemen in other overseas locales, too; they need the support as much as the families of the servicepeople in Iraq. ____ The FCC has ruled that broadcast stations airing shows featuring gubernatorial candidates would be subject to giving equal time to all the other candidates. No Terminator. No Different Strokes (darn). No SNL episodes with Father Guido (Don Novelo's running, too). However, this is broadcast only and only for California; cable's still fair game for all of the above _____ The price for Libya's membership in the international community is $2.7 billion; they're close to a deal where that amount of money is paid to the Lockerbee victims. Gadhafi Duck's close to signing off on that deal; he's been on a charm offensive for a while now, trying to become merely another benign military dictator.

Economic Decisions-Paul Musgrave "ripped Glenn Reynolds a new one" on some gloating over the European heat wave deaths
FACTOID OF THE DAY: Bill Quick looks at the death toll from the Paris heat wave and remarks: "Why, that's almost twice as many as the number of US troops killed in Iraq. Send in the UN!" It's the "brutal Parisian summer." Did Robert Fisk warn us about that? UPDATE: A couple of readers seem to think I'm gloating at the fact that people in Paris are dying from the heat. No. I just think it brings a little perspective to the -- genuine -- gloating we're seeing from some antiwar folks about "massive" U.S. casualties.
Let's take this very slowly. People...dying...from...heatstroke...are...not...dying...because...of...a...decision...somebody...made. Soldiers...dying...in...Iraq...are...dying...because...they...were...ordered...there. There is no comparison, none whatsoever, to be made between heatstroke and the war in Iraq. Further, since Ipundit and his ilk are unconcerned--or at least, not moved to "witty" observations--when Americans die from heatstroke in summer or no heat in winter, I don't know why he's bringing this up.
Paul is three-quarters correct in that schadenfreude isn't godly. However, people are dying from heatstroke because of decisions people made. In moderate climates, like France normally is, air conditioners are something of a luxury, for few summer days are hot enough to need it. For instance, up in Michigan where I grew up, not everyone had air conditioners, for we had only a handful of high-80s or 90 degree days that called for air conditioners. Here in Florida, where we have 90-degree days as standard fare for half the year, air conditioners are standard equipment. The decisions that helped kill off these people (indirectly, mind you, nothing that can get Mitterand or Chirac convicted) are the decision to stick with a large, socialist-oriented public sector and the high taxes to pay for it. A faster-growing economy would have allowed people to have more money to buy more household appliances, including air conditioners. A comparable heat wave in Chicago or Detroit will kill off some overheated oldsters, but fewer than in Paris, since American blue-collar neighborhoods will be more likely to have air conditioners than a comparably plebian Parisian 'hood. Is that a cheap shot at the French? Yes, but a fair one.

Take Two Tablets and Call Me in the Morning-Lileks is at it again; even when he has a three-column day and the Bleat's a bit al dente, he's still a good read.
Summit Beer has a new brand called “Grand” - it’s a cheerful beer for the Bud crowd, the people who find hoppy beers too bitter, too harsh, too unbeery. I hear it’s good. The ads have a common theme - they show a picture, titled “Good,” and then show the picture with a noticeable improvement, and that one’s titled “Grand.” The ad on the bus shelter showed Moses with two tablets: “Good.” Then Moses with one tablet: “Grand.” You don’t know where to begin. First of all, I’m glad I live in America, where I can see an ad that mocks Patriarchs to sell liquor, and I don’t wonder whether the Committee For Hacking Off Hands of Blasphemers arrested everyone in the ad agency and made them draw dotted lines on their own wrists. But why is a beer company telling me that Five Commandments are better than Ten? Which ones would they like removed? I’m tempted to call the ad agency and ask, but they’d probably say something like “Uh, the second one, the one about guns. Also the one about quartering troops in your neighbor’s wife or something. I don’t know.” Right. Maybe the Ten Commandments is like the Constitution. It’s a living stone tablet.
One of the things that's always bugged me about Ten Commandment-bashers is that there isn't much their to disapprove of unless you're promoting anti-social behavior. A quick stroll through Exodus 20's an order.
1 Then God spoke all these words, saying, 2 "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 3 "You shall have no other gods before Me.
No polytheists need apply, but you don't have too many of those hanging around. Some, but not too many.
4 "You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. 5 "You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
Not too many literal idol-worshipers around; you may have a few Voodoo-Santeria types, but that's not going to the deal killer.
7 "You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.
Remember, this doesn't just mean letting loose with a GD or a JC as an expletive. It also means invoking God flippantly. Here's where a lot of people get in trouble, like the old joke about the golfer holding up his 2-iron in a thunderstorm-"I'm safe as can be; even God can't hit a 2-iron."
8 "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 "Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. 11 "For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.
Here's where we start to get into trouble. Some of us abuse this mildly, by eating out on Sunday or swinging by the hardware store or grocery store on our way back from church or using Sunday to mow the back yard. However, where a lot of people get in trouble is working seven-day weeks. For health-care and public-safety folks, an occasional Sunday shift is fine, but other people seem to be so caught up in their work. I was about to light into people who are "spiritual" but don't go to church, but God doesn't mention that directly here.
12 "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you.
Dissing our folks is a good thing? If we honored our parents more, by taking heed of their advice when we're young and foolish and looking after them when they were old, we'd cut the federal budget by 25%, for a lot of social pathologies could be remedied by honoring our parents.
13 "You shall not murder.
Not too many people in the pro-murder crowd, unless it's for the unborn or the handicapped who've become negative net present value projects.
14 "You shall not commit adultery.
No, you're not supposed to get some nik-nik1 on the side if you feel like it; that's not good for you in the short or long run. God's not a party pooper; he's put a lot of political capital into marriage for a reason. Marrigage is the cornerstone of society and a model of God's relationship with us. Don't mess with it.
15 "You shall not steal.
...unless their rich and deserve to be stolen from. Not! This helps keep social order and happens to be one of the cornerstones of a free-market system. If my stuff is fair game for others to swipe, there's little reason for me to make it.
16 "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
...unless it would help my career or my cause. Not! Honesty's been the best policy since the get-go. Lies are usually found out, making things much worse in the long term. Plus, if you tell the truth, you don't have to remember which lie you told to whom.
17 "You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor."
Andrew, stop coveting your neighbor's ass! Liberals should be for this one, for our consumer-driven economy would grind to a halt if we didn't covet stuff. We're supposed to seek God as our primary focus, not stuff. Most of these aren't bad things. Being honest and respecting people, especially your parents and your spouse, are near-universal virtues; few people can argue that the last six of the commandments are bad public policy. Being forced to take a day off is a virtue as well from a worldly point-of-view; were it not for the custom of a Sabbath, bosses would expect workers to work every day. I don't think we could trim this to five without gutting our culture. I don't think the ad writer would appreciate having people sleeping with his wife or stealing his car or terminating him with extreme prejudice, and if Lileks did corner the poor fellow, he'd probably admit it. 1-Peanut Galery: bonus points for citing the pop culture piece that "nik-nik"comes from.

Edifier du Jour-1 Timothy 4:1-5
1 But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, 3 men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. 4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; 5 for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.
The Gospel isn't overly restricting; the pleasures God put on the planet that are healthy are there to be enjoyed in their proper context, including alcohol (yes, in moderation) and sex and lots of yummy foods. When a sect starts banning things that the Bible allows for, one needs to question the motives of the prohibitionists. If there is a contemporary problem that makes a certain item problematic, like avoiding shellfish if your area is prone to shellfish-borne diseases, fine. However, if such prohibitions are striving to be more pure than Paul, it might be a sign of a legalistic-at-best and heterodox-at-worst sect. God's not a grump; don't make Him out to be one.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Midday Musings-Still in the meeting-to-death first week back for the fall. A couple of goodies to pass on. In the ice-breaker session, we got a small "Anti-Stress Kit" inspired by Branson comic Willie Makeit
A penny, so you will never be broke A marble, in case someone says you've lost yours An eraser, to make problems disappear and a Hug and a Kiss to remind you that someone cares.
The latter two are of the Hershey variety. The second one was a quote from Bernard of Clairveaux. This web version differs a little bit from the one handed out in our seminar today
For there are some who want knowledge for the sole purpose of knowing, and this is unseemly curiosity. And there are some who seek knowledge in order to be known themselves; and this is unseemly vanity . . . But there are also those who seek knowledge in order to edify, and this is charity
That's the dillema of the educator's life. Are we seeking knowledge for our own good or for the good of others. Dr. Weins left off the last bit of the quote I just Googled into-
And there are those who seek knowledge in order to be edified, and this is prudence.
That's where I'm at, more than the charity phase. I might be using my knowledge in order to edifiy others, but I still feel lacking in knowledge.

The Other Last Action Hero-Ganns Deens points out the Philippine's track record with actor-presidents, having elected (and then forced out of office by mob action) a action-movie actor named Joseph Estrada, who was popular but autocratic and corrupt. I don't think American politics would swallow the autocratic style of Estrada, so I'm not sure that's a good analogy. Plus, Estrada and Schwarzenegger have different persona. Estrada would be best compared, if I understand his movie portfolio, to Charles Bronson, more dour and pessimistic in seeking justice than the tongue-in-cheek Ahnold. That negative swagger carried over into the presidential mansion. At least Schwarzenegger would make politics fun. He's not just "a much-better-built Joe Lieberman" as Larry Miller put it, but a funnier one too. Yes, he's no conservative, but he'll be an improvement over the Gray Gentleman.

The Dog Days of Summer-Interesting NYT piece (via Josh Claybourn) on news burnout; ratings are down from last summer for most TV outlets. Normally, summer is the down-time of TV news. Congress is typically not in session. The summer of an odd-numbered year lacks the primaries and run-up to the fall election to keep political junkies with oodles of elections to talk about. We're past Iraq from a strategic vantage-point (although a lot still remains to be done), so the geopolitics has settled into a steady-state for the moment, with no particular motion towards the next fault line (will North Korea be the next flash point? Iran? the Saudi entity?). The Invisible Primary seems to have settled into a light-news stretch; Dean has become a co-favorate with Gephardt and Lieberman making tactical moves to get back into the lead pack, but not much political news. The recall has given the political junkies a shot of good smack and a novel y'all come, non-partisan, first to the post wins, election to think about. To top it off, you've got the Last Action Hero running. That doesn't quite erase the burnout, but it lessens it. The Episcopal Church's problems are another good topic that has livened up the summer. Josh makes a good point when he says "No matter how unappealing the news may seem during a particular period, one can always learn from it and have fun. " I've been busy and sickly the last few weeks, and haven't had as many think pieces, but it isn't due to the lack of news, but my lack of energy.

Edifier du Jour-1 Timothy 2:8-10
8 Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension. 9 Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, 10 but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness.
I remember a car ad a few years back that had the theme "Love at first sight is by sight; you don't say 'Wow, look at the morals on that guy!.'" That's the message the world wants to send, that character is invisible to the naked eye. Car ads notwithstanding, you can see character in a woman's bearing. It may take a five-second observation rather than a passing glance, but for the godly guy, modest character is more attractive than immodest beauty. The hussy with the bling-bling might reach some baser desires, but the guy a woman of God will want showing interest will be more attracted by her heart rather than her jewlery or cleavage. That's not to say that a godly guy doesn't care about looks (he's human and visually-oreineted) but you can make yourself attractive without being decedent. What a person (man or woman) should strive for is to develop their faith and character. That will be seen in how you deal with people, and those who share that desire for godliness will seek you out, even if your dress or slacks are a bit plain.

Monday, August 11, 2003

Evening Musings-Busy day; an on-line training class, lots of begining-of-the-semester faculty meetings. Not much spare time to blog. I was listening to a NPR piece on Gray Davis on the way home; his campaign stop for today was the Museum of Tolerance. He's hoping for tolerance from the voters of California, but not the kind Simon Wiesenthal is after. He's hoping that they will tolerate the status-quo and not vote him out of office. Chucky's finally heading out the door; don't let it hit ya where the good Lord split ya. Of course, he had to complain about the Vast Right Wing American Conspiriacy that drove him into exile. No, you're just a thug who outstayed his welcome, Mr. Taylor.

Edifier du Jour-1 Timothy 1:12-17
12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, 13 even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; 14 and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. 15 It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. 16 Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life. 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
I don't think bad, bad Saul of Tarsus was the baddest man in the whole damn town of Jerusalem, but Paul claims he was the head sinner. His point is that if God could change his heart, he can change anyone's. So don't think your so sunk in sin that God can't reach down to where you are. I think Paul gives himself a bad rap here; Saul was serving God the best he saw fit prior to the Road to Damascus encounter with Jesus, the problem was that he was a devout Jew who thought Jesus was the most recent in a long line of false messiahs. Once Jesus hit him upside the head with his presence, Paul changed his attitude towards Jesus and was as zealous in spreading the new faith as he had been to stop it. The zealot for a false cause can sometimes be easier to move than the apathetic, for the zealot is at least on the move.

Sunday, August 10, 2003

The Joys of Congregational Polity-This Derb post in The Corner caught Amy Welborn's eye
Bigger than usual congregation this morning at St. John's, Huntington. I guess that in religion, as in showbiz, there is no such thing as bad publicity. An exceptionally fine, eloquent, blunt but charitable, here-I-stand sermon from our rector, James Byrum. (Here he stands.) One passing thought: why, in mine and the other hierarchical Christian churches, is it hardly ever the devout, humble, hard-working parish priests like Rev. Byrum who ascend to bishoprics? Why is it so much more often, it seems to me, the bureaucrats, time-servers, schmoozers and fixers like Robinson--who has not done regular parish duties since (I think) the Carter administration? Not that I want them to take Rev. Byrum away from us to give him a bishopric. No, no, please not. Hey--maybe that's why.
Amy goes on to comment on that-good pastors don't want to play the politics needed to advance; they'd rather do the pastoral duties that they've been called for. She came to the same conclusion my dad came to about Ed. Adim.-being a principal is more bother that it's worth for someone who likes teaching. Go read the whole thing. One of the things that may lead hierarchical denominations to the left is that the traits of an administrator tend to draw less-godly people. Firstly, power draws the power-hungry. The pastor who wants to serve the Lord will be less interested in promotion, while the people who want power and the perks of power will seek promotion more than the more humble pastors. Secondly, advanced schooling tends to lean people to the left. While a M.Div. might be enough to be a pastor, a D.Min. is what will open the door to administrative positions. Secular degrees in psychology or councelling can add to a resume as well. Advanced theological studies will be more likely to lean to the left, as being critical of scripture and doctrine is prized. Getting doctoral students to challenge the status quo helps to advance the field in other disciplines, but it is corrosive to the faith of many theologians. A simple faith will be looked down upon as simplistic. Thirdly, the gifts of an administrator are more worldly than of a pastor. Fundraising, legal hassles, personnel management and other issues need secular gifts and draw a less-godly crop of candidates. The giftings tend to be different than a pastor; not that a godly person can't have giftings in management, marketing and law, but that's a different set of gifts from that of the typical good pastor. That's one of the reasons why the hierarchical denominations will drift to the left. The pattern in the mainline denominations is that the leadership is more liberal than the rank-and-file pastors; often, the leadership gets voted down at the national convention as the committee's proposals go too far to the left. There aren't too many churches with a non-congregational polity that are growing these days; it might be the nature of a hierarchy that might be helping a decline.

Morning Musings-Garamendi's out and Father Guido Sarducci's in? Actually, Don Novello has a better head on his shoulders than Arianna and has done some political satire. He's way to my left, but he'd be a decent candidate. As for Garamendi, they must have figured that having one credible Democrat was the only way to keep the statehouse, and Cruz is the annointed one. Peter Sean Bradley made the case for Ueberroth in the comment sections here and here. If the media can do in Ahnold, Ueberroth could become the choice of the center, but that's a fairly big if. However, I do think the media is capable of slinging enough mud to drive enough people away to make the race unwinnable for Schwarzenegger. Ignorant question; why are the Brits calling him Arnie? _____ Things might finally start to happen in Liberia-Chucky's hours are number (he says he's leaving tomorrow) and US troops come ashore in modest but significant numbers. It'll get very messy before it's over, but it seems to be the right thing to do. ______ Interesting piece on the Army finally cranking up it's Alabama chemical weapons incinerator made for destroying old 60s-vintage weapons. There isn't a good reason to keep them around if burning them will destroy things. Interesting line at the end of the piece-"One person stood outside the gate holding signs to protest the startup." I think that person would protest if they decided not to destroy them, too.

Edfier du Jour-1 Timothy 1:3-7
3 As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines, 4 nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith. 5 But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6 For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion, 7 wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions.
There's an old saying about academic specialization; you know more and more about less and less until you know everything about nothing. If we go off on theological tangents, we can forget the basics of a loving God sending a part of Himself to die on the cross for us all. That doesn't mean that understanding the Word's not important; indeed, it is the Sword of the Lord that can help us hack through the day. However, it's OK to be a generalist, as long as you don't start learning nothing about everything. Look at verse 5. What's our equipment? A pure heart, our conscience and our faith. None of those things needs a M. Div. Our youth at Lakeland Vineyard were down in Mexico late last month on a mission trip, and even the biggest "goofball" was being used of the Lord on the trip, not just in raw labor, but in prophetic discernment. Often, it's the children and the newly saved who have the clearest knowledge of the basics, uncluttered by extra baggage. Major on the majors, folks; the most major is love.

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