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Saturday, September 06, 2003

He Went That-a-Way-The blog has moved over to TypePad I'll keep this active as an archive, occasionally posting over here just to keep things from going stale.

In Praise of Blogger and YACCS-I don't want to leave Blogger on a bad note. The Pyra people have provided a solid public service in providing a free and easy way to spead your thoughts to a world-wide audience. It has its weak spots and its down times, but it delivers a product far in excess of its cost. They have, as the caring folks would say, done well by doing good. Google seems to have been helpful in the process, providing some synergies like adding Blogger to the Google Toolbar. Despite their recent server fubar, I'd like to tip my hat to YACCS as well. It would go AWOL from time to time and sometimes be tempermental to load up, but it worked nicely most of the time. If you're looking to add a commenting feature to a blog, it's a solid choice, although other services are available. For those of you that might wander this way via the Lakeand Ledger piece that is due out this moring, starting a blog will expand your horizons and help you make pen pals from around the globe. I've got Filipino programmers, Canadian journalists and Americans from most states that have become friends. Blogger is a bit like free bowling ball and rental shoes. The serious bowlers have their own ball and shoes, but the free stuff will allow you to see if you like it before you lay out serious money. Likewise, if I had to pay $5/month to blog at the start, this would never had happened. It may still be a bit buggy, but Blogger is easily worth trying out if you want to give this a try.

Friday, September 05, 2003

Last One Off Blogger, Turn Out the Lights-Part IV-Hasta La Bye-Bye. I have just moved over to TypePad.

One Seagull Returns-The Texas Democrat Two-Step to the border ends as one guy decides to get real.
State Sen. John Whitmire, the longest-serving Democrat in the state Senate, returned to Texas Wednesday from Albuquerque, where 10 of his fellow Democrats remain. Whitmire is taking a lot of heat for returning home, but he said that's where the fight must now take place. "I just don't know what 30 more days in Albuquerque would accomplish. Ultimately, I think everyone knows we need to fight this on the Senate floor. We can do it next week or we can do it two or three months from now, but it's going to happen," Whitmire said. According to Whitmire, some of his Democratic colleagues have talked of staying in New Mexico until Christmas.
However, that isn't stopping people from keeping up the rhetorical fight at the cost of being factually challenged-
The White House has insisted that the redistricting fight is a state matter. But the Texans in Washington, and one ally in the House, said the similarities between Colorado and Texas indicate a concerted effort by Republicans to gain advantage illegally. "What's happening here is people in the Republican Party are trying to overturn the results of elections. They are trying to overturn the results of elections in Texas two years ago. They are trying to overturn the results of the election in California. They are trying to overturn results of the election in Colorado," said U.S. Rep. Martin Frost, D-Texas.
That dog don't hunt, Marty. The 2002 elections aren't being overturned; you'll still have your seat through 2004. What will go down if the Republicans get their way is that the 2004 elections will have a different set of districts. I don't know of any constitutional requirement that states have to stick with an original redistricting plan for an entire census cycle. Irregular, to be sure, but not illegal.

Last One Off Blogger, Turn Out the Lights-Part III-Jeffery Collins has moved over to TypePad. I may soon join him.

Orn'ry Henri-It looks like I finally get to see a tropical storm upclose and personal. Henri is about 100 miles east of St. Pete and heading this general direction, expected to make landfall a bit north of the Tampa Bay area near midnight. We're a good 50 miles inland, so storm surge stuff isn't a factor, but we'll still get a lot of rain. We're already getting some early drizzle thanks to Henri. Minor problem. We've got tickets to Night of Joy tonight. Michael W. Smith. Nicole C. Mullins. Rebecca St. James. Petra. It's a pity they couldn't get any stars to come (For those of you who aren't in the CCM loop, that's a all-star cast). Disney World hosts the thing, and as part of the group package we got through Warner Southern, we get into Disney World at 4, have the run of the place, then the concerts start at various locals in the park at 8. Not bad for $20. We'll most likely be on the southeastern edge of Henri this evening, so I swung by WallyWorld to pick up a couple of ponchos for Eileen and I on my way to work just now. One of the downsides of being 6'5" and, ur, stocky; the generic "one size fits all" stuff usually doesn't. At least the poncho I got for Eileen was honest to say "One size fits most." I kinda figured I wouldn't be one of the most.

Edifier du Jour-Judges 1:27-35
27 But Manasseh did not take possession of Beth-shean and its villages, or Taanach and its villages, or the inhabitants of Dor and its villages, or the inhabitants of Ibleam and its villages, or the inhabitants of Megiddo and its villages; so the Canaanites persisted in living in that land. 28 It came about when Israel became strong, that they put the Canaanites to forced labor, but they did not drive them out completely. 29 Ephraim did not drive out the Canaanites who were living in Gezer; so the Canaanites lived in Gezer among them. 30 Zebulun did not drive out the inhabitants of Kitron, or the inhabitants of Nahalol; so the Canaanites lived among them and became subject to forced labor. 31 Asher did not drive out the inhabitants of Acco, or the inhabitants of Sidon, or of Ahlab, or of Achzib, or of Helbah, or of Aphik, or of Rehob. 32 So the Asherites lived among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land; for they did not drive them out. 33 Naphtali did not drive out the inhabitants of Beth-shemesh, or the inhabitants of Beth-anath, but lived among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land; and the inhabitants of Beth-shemesh and Beth-anath became forced labor for them. 34 Then the Amorites forced the sons of Dan into the hill country, for they did not allow them to come down to the valley; 35 yet the Amorites persisted in living in Mount Heres, in Aijalon and in Shaalbim; but when the power of the house of Joseph grew strong, they became forced labor.
The Israelites didn't finish the ethnic cleansing job that God told them to do. They wound up living with their heathen neighbors, much to their future detriment. In our own personal lives, we haven't cleaned house and applied a big can of Holy Ghost whuppin' to the heathen spirits in our head and heart. How many spiritual Canaanites do you let live in your life? A TV show that isn't edifying, but is a guilty pleasure? Movies that are "pretty good, if it weren’t for ..."? Songs that glorify illicit sex or drugs but have such a great melody or base-line? Old buddies whose conversation takes you into the gutter? Just a little bit of gossip at the water cooler? Maybe you've got an amorous Amorite loose, letting your eyes spend a bit too much time appreciating the coeds? What's that? Only just a bit? An unhealthy dose of sarcasm? Is there a healthy dose? We've (at least myself, and I've probably got company) got a truckload of small vices that drag me down. There was a old Doobie Brothers album entitled What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits. Ain't that the truth. When we let those vices settle in, we can fall prey to that mind-set that they are just habits and aren't sinful. Time for some spiritual ethnic cleansing. If the Devil doesn't like it, tell him to complain to the UN.

Hey Rocky! Watch Me Pull a Cucumber From a Hat!-Not again! Not another Christian company selling out to a secular media outfit. The VeggieTales people, Big Idea, wrote a new chapter in the company history, Chapter 11; self-financing the Jonah movie and a big lawsuit over changing video marketers forced the issue
Big Idea has agreed to sell its assets—including copyrights to Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber and other VeggieTales characters—to Classic Media LLC, which owns or manages media properties such as "Rocky and Bullwinkle," "Lassie," "The Lone Ranger" and "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer."
Classic Media might treat Bob and Larry with respect, but after what I've seen with other secular media sorts taking over Christian organizations, I'm a bit skeptical. While reading that CT article, I saw a reader poll on the Family Christian Sunday thing. 65% said that "No. Christian businesses should be different." One thing that I was thinking about this afternoon was that the five proposed hours on Sunday might only increase sales by 7-10%. If they lose 15% of their business from folks like me who want them to be different, they've just lost money in the process. Thanks to Amy Welborn for the link.

Thursday, September 04, 2003

Appologies and Counter-Posts-YACCS is still hosed due to a server crash. The YACCS site has them shipping a backup server and getting back up by Monday night. Well, it has been worth the price. I'm about this close to moving over to TypePad to provide a more robust package than Blogger. I had begrudged myself the money that a server would cost. However, I don't begrudge Eileen spending money on stuff for her Lake Wales Chorale and the church dance group that she just joined, so why should I begrudge an upgrade of my little ministry? I'm not sure if Typepad is the best option, but Movable Type seems to be the way to go and I'm not in the mood to play server geek. I could probably get server space and get MT installed, but the Typepad Pro seems to be an option that would be more condusive to my sanity. ________ Two quick counter-posts. The first is on Gov. Owens. Chris Burgwald take exception to my early funeral for his presidential hopes
hold your horses, guys! A separation is just that... a separation. In his statement, Owens says, "We hope to be able to work through this soon." It doesn't sound like things are totally done yet, does it? Of course, it is fine to discuss Owens' political future should he be divorced, but that isn't necessarily what will happen... let's hope and pray that it doesn't.
Agreed. My mind was fast-forwarding, assuming a divorce or permanent separation. If they work out whatever the problem was and the problem isn't infidelity, then he might still have a shot. However, if things don't get patched up, my assessment stands. Clarification two-I picked up an F in Constitutional Law from Professor Collins, who pointed out that it's the Sixth Amendment that the Supremes used to mandate that juries give out death sentences. However, here is the text of the Sixth Amendment
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.
It says that all criminal prosecutions need to be tried by jury. What got shot down was a plan to have the jury convict the person and then assign the duty of sentencing to a judge. The amendment doesn't specify what the scope of the jury's duties was. If the jury has to be the body that decides prison sentences, then our whole parole system and good-behavior mechanisms may also be unconstitutional, for they modify a sentence handed down by a jury. That being said, I can also see where the Supremes came to a different conclusion.

Edifier du Jour-Matthew 12:1-14
1 At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath, and His disciples became hungry and began to pick the heads of grain and eat. 2 But when the Pharisees saw this, they said to Him, "Look, Your disciples do what is not lawful to do on a Sabbath." 3 But He said to them, "Have you not read what David did when he became hungry, he and his companions, 4 how he entered the house of God, and they ate the consecrated bread, which was not lawful for him to eat nor for those with him, but for the priests alone? 5 "Or have you not read in the Law, that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple break the Sabbath and are innocent? 6 "But I say to you that something greater than the temple is here. 7 "But if you had known what this means, 'I DESIRE COMPASSION, AND NOT A SACRIFICE,' you would not have condemned the innocent. 8 "For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath." 9 Departing from there, He went into their synagogue. 10 And a man was there whose hand was withered. And they questioned Jesus, asking, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?"--so that they might accuse Him. 11 And He said to them, "What man is there among you who has a sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will he not take hold of it and lift it out? 12 "How much more valuable then is a man than a sheep! So then, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath." 13 Then He said to the man, "Stretch out your hand!" He stretched it out, and it was restored to normal, like the other. 14 But the Pharisees went out and conspired against Him, as to how they might destroy Him.
A day off each week to rest and focus on God is a good thing. However, the Pharisees of the days would up making it a day to focus on rules. For instance, elevators in orthodox Jewish territory automatically go to every floor on the Sabbath, for hitting a floor button would be concidered work. God wants us to focus on Him on the Sabbath (Sunday for most of us). It's not a day to do errands or to catch up on work, but to rest, spend time with friends and family and draw closer to God. All work and no re-creation make Johnny an unproductive boy. I remember when I was in a busy stretch of my MBA program, I caught myself going to the early service at the large church I was attending in order to "get it out of the way." Sunday's not a day to get God out of the way. Nor is any other day, for that matter, but I remember rebuking myself for that attitude. Sometimes, you do have to get some work in or run the occasional errand on the way home from church, but those should be the exception to the rule. P.S. Sorry for the lateness-I gave Eileen a ride to work this morning and didn't squeeze in my morning quiet time until now.

From Blue Laws to the Law of Green-I’ve got some misgivings about this story on Family Christian Store's decision to open from 12-5 on Sundays, starting first in Dallas and rolling out the policy nationwide. That link will require registration, you can pass on reading it if you like. Jason Steffans pointed out this interesting post from Jared Bridges-
...the CEO of Family Christian Stores, Dave Browne, said:
"This was a decision that we took very seriously," Mr. Browne said. "But after prayer, study and seeking the counsel of others, it became clear to us that the ministry opportunity of opening on Sundays vastly outweighed the operational preference of the status quo." He considers his decision to open on Sunday different from Chick-fil-A's because Family Christian sells "ministry products." "No one is going to go to hell if they don't eat a chicken sandwich on a Sunday," he said.
Does this mean that someone is going to hell if they don't buy an It's All About Jesus Candy Tin, a Fruits of the Spirit canister set, and a Praying Puppy stuffed animal? I think not.
This is a business decision. Family Christian is a major bookstore chain and is run as a business. In the article, Browne mentions that competition from church bookstores is driving the decision. Maybe things are a bit different in other places, but the $40-$50 of sales from the Lakeland Vineyard’s resource room isn’t going do much to help the bottom line. Some churches, like the big Victory Church in Lakeland, have a large, well-stocked bookstore that would likely drain some business, but not that much. I don’t think too many people will say “Let’s skip the church bookstore, we can pick it up at Family Christian next to Wal-Mart on our way home.” There are sales that Rupert Murdock isn't getting and they want to claim that market share. What's Murdock got to do with this? Yes, News Corp. owns Harper Collins, which bought Zondervan, Family Christian’s parent company, back in the late 80s. This is big business, with $4 billion in sales last year. While the people working at the local Family Christian may be good and faithful folks, the business is run as a business first and foremost. Corporate decisions will be based with the bottom line in mind. I don't to get too puritanical, but Sunday is supposed to be a day of rest. We'll go out to McDonalds after church for a cheap $1.19 All-American Meal with some of our Lake Wales friends and occasionally hit the grocery store on the way home, but Sunday shouldn't be the day to do all the errands you couldn't get to on Saturday. "Customers tell us that they work Monday through Friday, are occupied with soccer and the kids' activities on Saturday[.]" Might that be a sign that you're over-scheduling yourself and need to build in some more down time during the rest of the week. If you need to run lots of errands on Sunday, you're too busy. Being open on Sunday isn't evil in and of itself. It is lawful to do good on the Sabbath, and the stores that do stay open do serve the public. However, stores that supply non-necessities, such as CDs and books, should be able to afford to close on Sunday, especially for a clientele that understands the need to have Sunday off. Having Family Christian open will make it harder for workers to take Sundays off and for Christian-owned businesses to stay closed on Sunday. "Hey, even the Christian bookstore's open on Sunday, you can skip church this week." Chick-fil-a can't get into many malls, for they don't want that vacant spot on Sunday; this will give secular mall owners more ammunition to force them to open on Sundays. Also, a lot of stuff happens between 12 and 5. Church lunches, meetings, youth activities will often go on in those hours. Plus, not every church gets done at noon. People going to big churches might have the option to go to an early service, but a worker whose single-service church starts at 10 and ends about 12:30 will be under some pressure to skip church. This might be counter-productive to Family Christian. Our household will now be more likely to shop at alternative Christian stores, like Lighthouse Christian in Winter Haven or Pathway in Midland, MI. I still have a $25 gift certificate to Family Christian left over from my birthday, but the trip to spend that will likely be the last time I’ll be there for a while.

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Evening Musings-Let's send some warm fuzzies over to Dr. Sulik. He's not in a very friendly mood. However, what he suggest that his bishop should do shouldn't be too hard. Given what his head is already at, his lips will already be in the general vicinity. I don't have anything pithy to say about Paul Hill's pending demise. He won't inspire other Bible Belt jihadists, for he was already a martyr to whatever hard-core anti-abortion folks are backing him. Remember that, to the best of my knowledge, we've only had two abortionist assasinations, the one Hill did and the one up in metro Buffalo. We've had the occasional bombing, but they tend to be at night with few exceptions, so I don't see any anti-abortion al Qaeda about to rise up. I'll have a longer post later, but GE's purchase of Universal Studios should prove interesting.

Midday Musings-Someday I'm going to get out of "Give us this day my daily overheads" mode, but it isn't today. A four-hour (well, actually three, but it's supposed to go 6-10) night class in Melbourne yesterday on top of three hours of day classes yesterday makes Dr. B. a grouchy fellow (give thank always, Mark, give thanks always) this afternoon; I still need to get two classes prepped for tomorrow and two quizzes and a term paper set graded by end of business tomorrow for my International Finance class from last month. Needless to say, the free ice cream will likely be severly rationed until the weekend. However, God might be gracious and give me prepping and grading mercies. Interesting news on Colorado Gov. Bill Owens' seperation. Ben thinks it shoots out any White House aspirations for Owens, while Josh isn't sure. I'm with Ben on this one. While Josh rightly points out that Reagan and McCain have done well at the presidential level working on a second marriage, Owens doesn't have the national gravitas or reputation to make that work. Also, if the theocon wing of the party has other viable contenders with stable marriages (might I suggest my governor Jeb?), they might bypass Owens for less damaged goods. The Ninth Circuit's at it again, throwing out judge-imposed death penalty cases. However, I'm going to give the Ninth a pass on this one, for it seems that they're merely applying the logic the Supreme Court used in another case about needing to have a jury hand down a death sentence. Where that got into the Consitution, I don't know. Oh, for a 60-vote conservative-friendly Senate!

Edifier du Jour-Jonah 1:1-4
1 The word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai saying, 2 "Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me." 3 But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. So he went down to Joppa, found a ship which was going to Tarshish, paid the fare and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. 4 The LORD hurled a great wind on the sea and there was a great storm on the sea so that the ship was about to break up.
It's one thing to have God say "X" and for you to say "Why?" Moses grilled God on his orders to returned to Egypt and even Mary asked the angel "How can this be...?" God doesn't mind a sincere question, for we'll often be ask to discern spirits to make sure that we don't attribute every thing that flitters through our head. However, what Jonah does is different. Here, he's fleeding from God's presence; good luck, Huck. God said "X" and Jonah said "Y." It took a three-day detour through a big fish for God to deliver the message "What part of 'X' didn't you understand?" Sometimes we have to be dragged kicking and screaming into doing what God wants. God still wound up using Jonah; not everyone who God uses comes off as a great study of character. In fact, you don't see too many Bible characters that batted a thousand. He can use quirky old you if he can use a self-centered grump like Jonah.

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Conductor on the Tiberian Shuttle-Interesting David Warren piece (thanks to Bene Diction for the links) on his bolting from his Anglican (he's Canadian, IIRC) faith to the Roman Catholic Church
There was a great schism behind our history, which involved the Reformation of the western churches; a huge tragedy, as the earlier division between East and West. I still think the Protestants walked away with particles of the one Catholic church; and between Greeks and Romans the indivisible was likewise divided. Yet God has his plans, and it is beyond human comprehension to know what purposes we have finally served. All devout Anglicans could wish there had been no need of a separated Anglican order in the first place; and I was among the many within who longed for communion with Rome. I see now it can never happen. The split has been widening until it is unbridgeable, as the Anglicans, along with other "mainstream" Protestant congregations in Europe and North America, go on one doctrinal bender after another in their desperate pursuit of "relevance" to a post-Christian society. No babies left, and precious little bathwater.
That puts devout Anglican/Episcopals at a crossroads. They can either join up with evangelical Protestants who still take the Bible at face vale but don't have the tradition and apostolic succession of the Catholic Church or go Catholic where they have the tradition and linkage to history but might be a bit ligher (in practice) on doctrine (duck, incoming).
It is said that rats leave a sinking ship, but in my own defence I must say that I boarded HMS Anglican against a tide of rodents running the other way. I have always been rather slow in detecting a leakage; or rather, quick to see the leakage, but slow to join the crowd. I shall not be the last rat through this particular plughole, however.
What may happen is that some of the rats might form a functional Anglican church that is true to Scripture and a worthy home. However, not everyone is willing to wait for that to happen.
I realized that our ship was no longer, as it were, sinking, but now, as it were, sunk, when I saw a statement from one of the hierarchy of Episcopal Church USA, "reminding" Anglicans that their authority is not founded on Scripture, but rather on the operation of the Holy Ghost within the communion. This was a doctrine I had already detected, under layers of deceit, in the meandering verbiage of Dr. Rowan Williams, the new, fanatically liberal, Archbishop of Canterbury. It is the characteristic doctrine of utopian revolutionaries and violent heretics from many centuries -- this idea that God is speaking to them directly, and that they may now ignore scripture, history, and tradition, and do whatever feels good.
When you stop taking the Bible at face value, it opens up the floodgates for any number of heresies. God does speak to people today, but He doesn't contratict Himself. If you hear God telling you something different from what's been laid down in scripture, it's a fairly safe bet that you're not hearing from God.
The Anglican Church will probably be at more pains to conceal than to reveal this doctrine in the immediate future, for it is too obviously the work of the devil. Yet the doctrine becomes absolutely necessary, in the moment when a church decides that, for instance, it will ordain as "bishop" some vile man who has left his wife and children to explore sexuality with a younger male. It is all really too disgusting to go into, and besides you may have seen the media accounts. The Anglican hierarchy had already been driving me up the wall; this pushed me right through the ceiling.
Many people think that the Anglican/Episcopal defectors are driven by homophobic hatred, as the Gene Robinson bishop appointment was the straw that broke the faithful's back;Case in point is this Jeff Jarvis piece-
Warren's words are hateful -- that is, full of hate. His words are bigoted and spiteful. He calls a man of God, a creature and creation of God, a "vile man." He put himself in the position to judge his fellow man. And why? Because this man, now a bishop of his church, is gay. Warren is leaving his church, the Anglican, because it embraced a gay man as a leader. I left my church, the Presbyterian, because it rejects gay people from leadership. We are both within our rights to hold and state our opinions, both within our rights to act on them, both within our rights to disagree. And, oh, I do disagree. I am appalled at "Christians" judging and rejecting people because of who they are, because of the way God made them.
A few quick points at Jarvis. If you take the Bible at face value, homosexual behavior is sinful, and while all of us fall short on perfecton, to tell God that he got certian parts of the Bible wrong is heresy. The new Bishop of New Hampshire meets that description. The first definiton of vile in my office dictionary is "morally base or evil; wicked; depraved; sinful." If you take the Bible at face value, Bishop Robinson fits that description and the people who voted him in as Bishop are enablers in that vileness. However, there was a lot of disregard of Scripture over the years that led to this, and the Robinson case was merely the tipping point that made schism the only remaining option. This might have been the case of boiling a frog in cold water; the faithful didn't quite sense the slow theological drift to the universalist left until it was too late. Each change was incremental but added up to serious apostacy at the top. Warren concluded his piece with a mournful eulogy for the Anglicans-
Yet I do not look back in anger, but in heartbreak, at the wreckage remaining from what was a fine, four- or five-century run. Within the ruin of the Anglican Church, we will find so many beautiful things, embodying noble aspirations. We will not, however, find the Catholic succession -- for Anglicanism has become one of those channels of history that runs out, as so many of the churches of the past, which lost their way, and sank into the sands.
I don't think it has run out. It will likely split into two camps, an orthodox, African-centered Evangelical Anglican (for lack of a better term) movement and a liberal, US-Canada-UK baced liberal wing, although many Anglicans in the north will slide over into the Evangelical Anglican camp.

Morning Musings-I just spend some time with the photographer from the Lakeland Ledger here in the office this morning; I just got off the phone with Cary McMullen from the Ledger talking about my blogging. If all goes well, I might get my first 15 minutes of fame on Saturday. To the best of my knowledge, I've never been a subject of any newspaper coverage other than the pro-forma graduation, engagement and marriage pieces. An interesting part of the conversation was about how I share things in my personal life on the blog. I'm a fairly transparent person, not good at putting on facades, so I'm fairly comfortable airing my emotional dirty linen in public, even if someone from my "real life" might read it. Kerry wasn't a candidate until today? Sure did seem like he was. Maybe this is the only way he can get some free press, given the Dean love-in we've seen this summer. Will he run a stronger campaign as a challanger rather than the front-runner? We shall see. I didn't see a bit of Jerry Lewis this weekend; they raised $60m. In a pre-cable era, the telethon used to be a good day-long variety show interupted by checkbook-tugging bathos. When the alternatives were soap operas and an old movie, it looked good. Not today; I can't recall the last time I watched more than a split-second while channel-surfing. The Texans seem to have spent a sixth-rounder well; Drew Henson's moving to football. They might not have a good spot for him, given that David Carr is the QB of the present and future, but they might convert those rights into a first round pick for another team willing to give him a shot.

The Check-Out Lane-Good piece on the movie industry by Michael Jennings over at Samizdata. Grab a super-size beverage of choice before starting; it's long but worth the time. Interesting thoughts on poverty from the Gutless Pacifist. There's a post in this, but not right now. Another one I might post on in the near future was this topic that Eugene Volokh started on religous tolerance. Josh has lots of linkage on feedback on the piece.

Raise Your Steyn-Canada's gift to punditry's at it again, looking at Labor Day, progress and Psalm 8. Go thou and readest; we just got done looking at Psalm 8 in church a week ago. One of many keeper quotes-
The Eighth Psalm describes the central fact of our modern existence. It was a lot less plausible when it was written, when man's domain stretched barely to the horizon, when ravenous beasts lurked in the undergrowth, when the oceans were uncharted and the maps dribbled away with the words "Here be monsters ..." Back in those days, if PBS jetsetting finger-wagger Bill Moyers was sitting under some tree in the South African bush bemoaning man as a "cancer on the planet," nobody in Connecticut would be able to hear a word he was yakking on about, oh happy day.
Thanks to Papa Blog for the heads-up.

Edifier du Jour-Romans 7:12-16
12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, 13 which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. 14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. 15 But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. 16 For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM? But we have the mind of Christ.
My natural man has been on the loose over the weekend, and looking back at my blog entries, I can see some of the trash it left behind: Appreciating the tacky stuff at gift shops, joining in junior-high scatalogical humor and alluding to prison rape/homosexual activity for a soon-to-be-ex-congressman. Such sarcasm and crudeness doesn't belong here. Nor does the pessimism that seems to have crept into my spirit the past week. We, as believers, have the mind of Christ at our disposal. Why do I have my head in the disposal when I have the Holy Spirit at my disposal? Why? The Fruit of the Spirit don't come natural to us. Left to our own devices, we'll return to our old vices. That mean we'll need to intentionally draw close to God in order to counter that trend.

Monday, September 01, 2003

This Week in Blog History- In the mode of Grace hitting Texas, look back at Fay hitting the Lone Star State on a Friday-It's not nice to mess with high school football. Here's an interesting post on Quantum Calvinism. In a move that looks interesting in view of the Plano confab, the British Columbia Anglicans were having at it over blessing same-sex unions. Was it only a year ago that Napster swam with the fishes for good?

Two Theological Musings-When I read this piece on the Pittsburgh diocese, my mind went to various space opera plots-"Prepare the shuttlecraft for separation." The escape pods will head towards the Plano homing beacon. The other interesting tidbit of the morning happened via a Brazilian Google hit for "Ron Kenoly Heresy." No, nothing wrong with Mr. K, but I stumbled into some sniping at Phillips Craig and Dean. Turns out that PCD are all United Pentecostal ministers. Here are two pages, including one quoting Christian singer Steve Camp, that go after PCD on the case that the United Pentecostal theology is Unitarian. Is that a bum rap? I happen to be checking the denomination's web site earlier this week, since we inadvertently visited one of their churches last Sunday at a neighbor’s invitation. The denomination's web site lays it out for the world to see.
1. Is the word trinity in the Bible? No. 2. Does the Bible say that there are three persons in the Godhead? No. 3. Does the Bible speak of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost? Yes. 4. Do these titles as used in Matthew 28:19 mean that there are three separate and distinct persons in the Godhead? No, they refer to three offices, roles, or relationship to humanity.
Point one is true, but I'll take issue with #2; I made a Biblical case for the Trinity last July. One of the things that split up the early Pentecostal church was the issue of how to baptize. Matthew 28:19 has Jesus instruction as "baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit" while in four sections of Acts, the disciples were baptizing in Jesus' name. Some early Pentecostals did this equation
Baptize in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit=Baptize in the name of Jesus Baptize in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit=Baptize in the name of Jesus the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit=Jesus
Thus, many folks then took that a step further and said that Jesus is the Godhead. The United Pentecostals aren't alone in that quirky theology. Televangelist TD Jakes gets into hot water on the issue. I'm not sure what to do with folks that otherwise have a solid theology but wind up having a off-kilter view of the Godhead. The preaching at the UP church I went to last week was sound if more than a bit dramatic. The music of PCD has been a blessing over the years. I wouldn't want to go back to that church knowing what I know today, but what seems to be an issue is whether this is sufficient grounds for me to chuck my PCD tape and CDs or to banish them from Christian radio, or to deem people in various Oneness Pentecostal churches Hell-bound. MY gut response is that it isn't, but that's a very slippery slope that I'm not comfortable staking out. Once YACCS gets back up and running, give me your take.

Morning Musings-Two points of advice to athletes. One-don't take women back to your hotel room. Bad things happen when you do so, even if everything seems "consensual" at the time. Two-don't go to bars. Even worse things happen there. I have the Steeler D on the football Florida Blogistas, so I'll have to keep an eye on Joey Porter's wounded kiester. MCJ brings us an interesting piece laying out a case for high-up Saudi funding of al Qaeda, essentially as protection money to keep jihad out of the Saudi entity. It true, the folks in Riyadh have a lot of 'splaining to do.

Edifier du Jour-Psalm 1:1-3
1 How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! 2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. 3 He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.
Getting into the Word, especially if you do so with the expectation of meeting with God, helps hook you in with those streams of living water that is the Holy Spirit. People often use the analogy of being filled and refilled with the Holy Spirit. "Why isn't the first filling enough? Because we leak." However, a better analogy is that of the tree. It takes water and uses the hydrogen from the water and the carbon from CO2 from the air, with help from the sun, and creates growth in the plant in the form of hydrocarbons. We grow in the light of the Son and the water of the Holy Spirit. Without that living water, we shrivel up. Perverse thought; my mind turned to Billy Bass singing Take Me to the River. However, somebody else already did a sermon with that in it, so I'm not that perverse.

Sunday, August 31, 2003

Afternoon Musings-We had a family from Winter Haven (daughter and granddaughter of one of our Lake Wales churchmates) in tow today, and we hit the grocery store on the way home. They were looking for a Mexican thin toast product called Bimbo; mom had much fun telling story of 9-year-old asking a clerk "Where are the Bimbos?" Interesting change in church culture. A less-than-edifying conversation that revolved around [passing gas] was going on between the 9-year-old and a teenage girl we also had in tow. I quipped that if you did that in church, you'd have to sit in your own pew. Turns out that pew wasn't in the young one's vocaublary, and she's a precocious one. If you don't go to old-school churches that have those set benches, you're not going to hear that word. Mother Nature has been a mutha to Texas this year; Grace is the third storm to hit there this year, although Grace hit closer to Houston while the Rio Grande valley was the target of the first two hits. It's just off shore as I write, and Houston is expecting flooding.

A Theology of Economics-Part 3-Aliens in the Marketplace-Josh Claybourn linked to an interesting piece I think I've seen before from Robert Nozick-Why Do Intellectuals Oppose Capitalism? Nozick's basic premise is that the academic elite is used to being the best and the brightest, getting the best grades and all the kudos at school, yet get outearned by lower-performing students. Seeing that unfairness, they start to blame the market for it. The marketplace doesn't prize knowledge for knowledge sake, it only prizes knowledge if it can be applied to a saleable product or service. Thus, my brother-in-law Matt, with just a bachelors in electrical engineering (yeah, just, that's tougher than an MBA and arguable a Ph.D. in Business), earns twice as much as I do as a college professor with a Ph.D. True, I could get a pay upgrade if I went to a bigger state school to teach, but I'd still be seriously underearning Matt. However, he's making equipment that people are eager to buy to make their production facilities more productive, and has to deal with more stress than I have to deal with as a college professor. Could the same think apply to faithful Christians? The market doesn't price the fruit of the Spirit unless it can be applied to the marketplace. Let's take a look at Galatians 5:22-23
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Some of these are good character traits in a worker. A joyful and peaceful and patient worker will be less trouble to deal with, and a faithful and good worker will put in their best efforts. However, there are some areas where love, kindness and gentleness aren't prized. In areas that are more competitive and cut-throat, many bosses would rather have someone who is ruthless and not loving and gentle. Thus, being a Christian only aids a believer's earning power if they are assets to a job. In many jobs, the character traits that flow from the spirit will aid in one's career, while in others, our honesty and love for our fellow man can get in the way of maximizing sales or minimizing costs. Christians can be competitive; a large number of born-again athletes put the lie to the idea of a wimpy believer. However, the communal nature of the Gospel as well as an emphasis on morality makes it hard to do the half-truths and spin that some positions call for will lead many believers away from sales or marketing. In situations where things are a zero-sum game, believers will be less interesting in screwing the other guy in order to get more market share. This will lead a lot of devout Christians into "caring professions" where love, kindness and gentleness are assets. For instance, one of my Personal Finance students is finishing up a ESE (today's term for Special Ed) degree; her prayer-warrior nature is an asset there. Caring for mentally handicapped kids requires a special calling and a love for people regardless of how gifted they are; Christians will have an edge in that area, and other areas where compassion is an asset, like medicine, nursing and psychology. However, this doesn't mean that Christians can't be good businessmen. The mantra we were taught in introductory Marketing was "Serve the customer and make a profit." If you don't do both, you won't stay in business for long. Believers will excel in the first area, as they will strive to give the customer a good product at a fair price. They might not be as ruthless about cutting costs or maximizing market share as their unchurched colleagues, but they may well make that up by being able to charge a higher price for their superior services. If one dwells upon how cut-throat the market can be, Christians can be just as disenchanted with the marketplace as the intellectuals in the Nozick piece. The world doesn't value the fruits of the Spirit for themselves. We are not at home in the marketplace; it is not out home. However, it is where we have to live while we're here. In a fallen world, a free-market system brings more goods and more well-being to the public than a government-run system. A secular government generally respects the Christian even less than the marketplace does. How do we function in this marketplace? Be well-trained. Work hard. Deliver a good product or service at a fair price. Be good workers wherever we work. Care for the people we work for and the people who use our goods and services we make. If we do that, we will both glorify God and earn our keep. The marketplace isn't our home; the Church is communal, but a fallen world doesn't function well on a communal basis. The worldly are overpaid, but we will get our reward later. Often, we will even get material rewards for a job well done, but the true rewards will lie in Heaven.

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