May 31, 2002

FoxNews has a good article on a book calling for women to act like ladies. That is a right-on. Oh, for the days when guys wuz guys, dames wuz dames, and we appreciated and enjoyed the difference.

In their book, Von Mueffling and Cleary say a lady takes care of her appearance and doesn't suffer through offensive remarks. They also speak with disdain of the "big shoulder-padded Dark Ages" that were the 1980s.

They also say that women should not eat grits. Where's that coming from?

As a transplant, and wannabe Southener, I take great offense at this slap in the face of a fine and outstanding source of tasty nutrition (it's not just for breakfast!). I hope my brothers and sisters south of the Mason-Dixon line, and anyone else for that matter, will rise up and slay this grit bigotry. How is it lady-like to eat cream of wheat but not grits? I ask my Axis of Weevil friends to mobilize the troops in this siege to Southern civility.

Posted by MarcV, 9:01 AM link

May 30, 2002

Inevitable Cloning?
Good 'ole MIT has a depressing view of unstoppable cloning at TechReview. They start off on the wrong foot by likening artificial insemination and IVF to reproductive cloning, and go downhill from there. At least the first two use the contribution from a man and woman to create a unique individual (even if it is started in a glass vessel), while cloning is man's poor attempt at making "Xerox" copies.

It was difficult to read the whole article. Here's a note of "compassion":

Thanks to advances in prenatal diagnosis, many women at risk for bearing children with genetic or chromosomal disorders resort to abortion if their fetuses have lost the roll of the genetic dice. It seems inevitable that human cloning, if made medically safe, will undergo similar taming and adaptation to human wants.

You gotta abort if they genetically come up short - just awful. They go on to a "handwave" approval: "According to polls, a majority of the U.S. public already supports so-called therapeutic human cloning-" but they don't name any sources. Next comes the belittling of the opponent: "President Bush and his conservative allies, including Kass, object to research cloning, saying it creates life only to destroy it, but they appear to be fighting a rear-guard moral action."

Now we are set up for the argument, "So many people want it, and someone is gonna do it, so it might as well be us."

The demand for human reproductive cloning is already evident. Calls for permitting it have come from gay men, lesbians and infertile couples who wish to have genetically related children, and from people who want to clone lost children or other relatives. James Grifo, a fertility specialist at New York University Medical Center, has said of cloning opponents, “None of them have seen the misery my patients are living through.”
What a load of crap! Some people can't have children and they're unhappy, so let's authorize the destruction of innocent lives. I personally know the "misery" of infertility, but it can in no way justify the use of cloning. I won't go into their closing arguments, but they never do mention the huge amount of human lives to be "sacrificed", let alone the number of defective babies possible, before they get the first "normal" cloned human.

TechReview does offer a counterpoint, but they go along strictly scientific arguments, rather than moral: "Forget religion and politics, a top researcher says. Reproductive cloning will never work because biology will always get in the way." He does spell out some of the horrors to be expected if anyone tries cloning humans, based on experience with animal cloning.

Lord, help us to recognize those areas we have no business being in. Let us not forget the sanctity of human life, so that all of the people you have wonderfully made will uphold and treasure each individual life.

Posted by MarcV, 4:31 PM link

Grim Reaper
Typed this out yesterday, posting this morning:
A friend of my wife died today. She and her husband were friends (not super-close) that we met at church. She had battled some type of bone cancer for about 6 months, and was about our age. As my wife and I grow older, we will see more of our friends pass away. Middle age: loss of friends/family and short-term memory, gain of waistline and old worn-out underwear.

I've noticed more about death lately (maybe our friend's condition made me a little more sensitive). The teenage girl who died at the hockey game in Ohio - she was in the news today (her mom said that she was sitting up and laughing about her black eye at the hospital). Thirteen people dead because they happen to be on a bridge when a barge lost control. The Palestinians seem to be getting more desperate - homicide bombers have attacked three days in a row.

A local radio DJ died in a motorcycle wreck last week, and they finally had the memorial service yesterday. I'd never heard of him, but the local media made it their lead story for about a week. Celebrity-obsessed culture ??

Oh, did I mention our friend left behind a daughter and son, 9 and 4(same age as our son) years old? I grieve particularly for the kids who lost their mommy. I suppose it's selfish, but I want to be there every day for my son.

Now the loss of life from 9/11/01 and "responsibility" of it are being brought up again in the blogosphere. Are we preparing ourselves for the invasion of Iraq? Part of me wants to get at the supporters of terrorism, and Saddam is at the top of the list. Part of me does not want to approve killing thousands of Iraqis (as well as our military being in harm's way), and leaving so many children without parents.

People are starting to pile on Pres. Bush, thinking that he is going "wobbly" since he has not said much about invading Iraq. How many of us could bear the responsibility of ordering thousands of lives eliminated? I don't think Clinton could, so he dodged around the terrorist threat. If Pres. Bush waits it out too long, though, he runs the risk of the terrorists striking again, and probably even more deadly than 8 months ago. It may happen even if he attacks Iraq next week.

Please continue to pray for Pres. Bush, that God will give him the guidance and strength to make these difficult decisions.

Posted by MarcV, 6:58 AM link

May 29, 2002

Joyful Capitalist
Jeffrey Collins was kind enough to ask for clarification on a recent post about secular conservatives. Here is his concern:

It looks as if he's setting up Christianity and free-trade/small government conservatism as systems that are in some way inherently opposed. If that's what he's saying, then I can't agree. I will allow that there may be times when conservatism may be opposed to Christian values on a particular issue, but I don't see in what way the dichotomy he seems to be describing exists.

Perhaps I was being a little harsh on money-grubbing Christians (ha-ha). Don't you have to be poor and share everything with others in order to be a good Christian?

Since it's late and I'm stuck at work (love being on call 24/7), I'll try to clarify. I was trying to give MByron an example of secular conservatives, and perhaps I was misleading when I just defined evangelicals and not evangelical conservatives. It all comes down to motives and who you answer to. We all have talents and the apostle Paul states (Ephesians?) that every able-bodied man should work to provide for himself. Both secular and evangelical conservatives can be compensated well for their efforts in the marketplace, but the "seculars" use money as a metric (he who has the most toys in the end wins, my pile is bigger than yours, etc.), while the "evangelicals" will look at their compensation more as a tool: after I have taken care of my tithe and family, let me advance God's kingdom.

Both can want government out of their wallets (excessive taxation) and promoting free markets. Both can work together on this. It seems the problems that "seculars" and "evangelicals" have stem when the latter want to promote laws that affect the social fabric of society, while the former only want laws to protect their property. Then we go back to the desire of conservative parties to "broaden the base": if we put less rules on our platform, maybe more people will be interested. Fleshy humans do not inherently like rules (Romans 7), and as Christians we follow a different "law" (Romans 8), so how can Christians get involved in politics? Lord, send your Spirit and guide us through these minefields. Hosanna! (It's late and my wife will be getting worried, so adios for now.)
(Note: I was originally off by one chapter on Romans, so I edited them)

Posted by MarcV, 11:58 PM link

Secular Conservatives
Mark Byron wrote about some of the National Review Online columnists with regards to their worthiness of the "secular conservative" label. As a whole the NRO bunch do pretty well. Since they are in Yankee land, many of them are Catholics, and other bloggers have commented on the drift towards liberalism that the Catholic branch has exhibited over the last few decades. I hope that they can continue to point out liberal tendencies that go against Biblical principles.

I appreciate Rod Dreher's pursuit of the scandal involving the coverup of some of their priest's sexual crimes, because I am sure it it disheartening for him to see his church go through this. KJ Lopez is a staunch pro-lifer (Amen), and is comfortable with the fact that men and women are different. The others could be thought of as drifting towards secular conservatism, but it would be difficult to put that label on them without knowing them personally.

As MByron wrote towards the end of his post, Republicans are having a difficult time with the evangelical "platform". We are the base, yet if they reach out to more liberal folks, evangelicals start hollering. If Republicans narrow the platform, they have a tougher time with the "Reagan Democrats" and those floating moderates (who stand for nothing except whatever happens to be popular to them).

Secular conservatism could be thought of as market-based faith in the almighty dollar. Who or what do you worship, and what influences your daily decisions? If you're chasing wealth and want free markets and as little government intervention as possible, then you're looking at secular conservatives. If you're trying to store up treasures in heaven and want others to know that Jesus makes a difference in your life, then you're looking at evangelicals. There's probably a lot of people trying to straddle the fence between the two (could they be moderates?). Republican and Democrat leaders probably spend alot of sleepless nights trying to "strategize" on getting those fence-straddlers on their side.

Posted by MarcV, 9:19 AM link

May 28, 2002

Star Bores
Like many other patriotic Americans, after offering prayers for the families of those military personnel that gave their lives for our country (Thank you Lord for them and this country you have blessed us with), I supported the Hollywood entertainment industry and saw "Star Wars II". WARNING: If you have not seen it, the following will reveal more than you want to know if you plan on going to see SWII.

My overall review - ehh, 2 1/2 stars. It was either too slow (more mushy stuff than the 4 other movies combined) or too much (when the Jedi platoon comes on screen for battle). SWII was visually stunning and there were a few interesting things going on in the film Unfortunately, I couldn't see any "on-screen chemistry" between Natalie Portman and Young-Hunky-Guy (don't remember his name). She is not hard to look at and seems to do OK expressing emotions, but YHG didn't seem to have it. I'm sure he tested well with females 12-30 years old, but he just did not have Darth Vader presence. Maybe they wrote it that way to give him a sense of immaturity. For the romance and marriage of the couple that would change the course of galactic history, the portrayal fell short.

Wife wants to see it, so I'll probably go again. Some inconsistencies from my first viewing: How is it that thousands of laser guns shooting at the Jedi's are deflected, but one guy (Jangi(?) Fett) shoots a Jedi knight at close range and kills him off? When Yoda saves Obi Wan and Anakin from the falling column, wouldn't it have been easier to move the two bodies (less than 400 pounds) than the column (10 tons?)? How do the clone soldiers know who is in command and who to take orders from?

For Ms. Portman, the sky is the limit. She could be as big as Jodie Foster (choosing her own projects, having her own production company, $20+ million a film) and Bruce Willis (the likable, common-guy action hero) combined. I would like to see her in a film portraying a soldier in the Israeli Defense Force, showing the truth about what is going on in Palestine now and the grief/horror of those people who are victimized by suicide bombers. That would be a stretch for Hollywood, though! We're much more likely to see propaganda about the Palestinian "freedom fighters" first.
Clone Wars
Star Wars II will be an important "mile-marker" on the public perception of cloning. In the film, clones were being bred like chickens (hatchery/incubator, accelerated growth, closely confined), yet helped save the day (and the Jedi's) when the going got tough. The planet where they were raised was harsh, so they spent the whole time indoors. Contrast that to Naboo, warm sunshine falling on gentle pastures, where the fun couple played.

We are already near the point of conducting robot/remote wars. Raising clones could be justified for helping to save lives (with clones as surrogate soldiers). What type of country would we have if we are not willing to defend it with our own lives?

The clone war now is trying to justify the growth and destruction of thousands (millions?) of barely-developed embryos, in order to provide stem cells for research and possible "cures". The pro-cloners would say that it is just a lump of cells, recongizably human only if you tested the DNA, and that they could help save lives. The pro-lifers would say that those cells do represent human life, using and killing them would be akin to murder, and we would start to head down the slippery slope of human life for sale (for example, breed a clone for heart replacement).

I pray that Jesus would be in the midst of this debate, that the Holy Spirit would give us patience and understanding on dealing with pro-cloners. Help us to value every human life, that each one comes from you and that You love them all.

Posted by MarcV, 12:54 PM link

May 25, 2002

A friendly reader of this blog has asked me about my cynical stance on M$. It depends what day you ask. Some days I think they are wrongly persecuted, and other days they seem to be the greedy monopolists as the media portrays them. I don't think the government should go after them, because monopolies are a thing of the past in this economy. In a free market, people either find alternate sources or develop new technologies. There might be some temporary pain, but in the long run the free market will overcome monopolies. Perhaps Mark Byron can comment on this, as a Dr. of Economics!

Computers would not be what they are now without a standard OS, and Windows has filled that need. I will leave the debate about market control and pricing of OS's for others. I understand people's concerns about M$ controlling the Internet. Like the Windows OS, Internet Explorer is the de-facto standard program on the Web. For consumers, it's hard to turn down a freeware program. We can hope that the government will keep M$ on their toes to allow compatiblity with different systems. Yeah, I just said that government shouldn't pursue anti-trust cases, but in this case the government still controls the Web, so it is a "public utility" and needs special consideration.

My main beef is with M$ Office. They continue to upgrade and add minor "conveniences", but I don't think their Office 2002 is worth the upgrade from, say, an Office 97 version for about 98% of users. They are charging about $400 per copy, and about half that for an "upgrade". Now they are asking big companies to accept long-term licensing agreements. Corporations didn't bite for downloaded software, where M$ would activate and track program usage by the Internet.

This is where StarOffice comes in, as an alternative. If the M$ leviathon loses market share, they will either have to meet the competition on price, or include enough improvements with Office to justify the price. Part of me wants the government to impose standards for documents and spreadsheets, but these are the same people who have brought us Social (in)Security. I hope more companies and consumers have had enough, and force M$ to reconsider their pricing/upgrade policies.

I will try to download Open Office and give an initial report sometime next week. Hopefully I can at least try a trial version of Star Office 6 as well.

Posted by MarcV, 11:14 PM link

May 24, 2002

Star Office
Here's an article from PCMag on StarOffice 6.0, Sun Microsystem's answer to the bloated M$ Office. Previously I had heard a price of $60, but now they're saying $75 ($50 or less in quantities 150 or more). They say it is compatible with M$ Office, particularly for Office 2000 and 2002, less so with earlier versions.

For less than 1/5th the price, it would be a definite look-see. StarOffice is more famous as an office suite for Linux, and it still is, but now with better M$ Office compatibility. Another version that provides the basic functionality of StarOffice is Open Office 1.0, which is a free (50 MB for Windows) download. Most people just need a simple word processor and spreadsheet, and these products sound like they would do the trick without having to line the pockets of folks in Redmond. How long do you think it will take Gates and Co. to find ways to kill the compatibility?

Posted by MarcV, 3:27 PM link

Food Police
Have you seen the news stories about how pizza will kill you? I had two slices Wed., Thurs., and will have today. I usually don't eat that much anymore, because I had been spoiled on pizzerias from Chicago. Last time I was there I went to Home Run Inn for the lunch buffet (wait, gotta wipe off some drool from the desktop... OK), and it nearly brought tears to my eyes. To eat some of the junk around here - yecch. A couple of the local "Italian food" places are run by Egyptians. They are nice guys, but how do the sons of Pharoah know how to make pizza? Plus they don't even offer any Egyptian/Arabic dishes!

Enough rant - there's an article on FoxNews about the food police spreading scare tactics (again) about America's favorite foods. Why the hysteria? Oh yeah, they're trying to sell a book. From the news story: "What would be more useful to consumers is something called "CSPI Confidential." Such a book might describe CSPI's 30-year history of fomenting bogus food scares including attacks on Chinese, Mexican and Italian foods, movie popcorn, caffeine, the fat-substitute Olestra, meat, fast foods, and snack foods to gain publicity for purposes of fundraising tens of millions of dollars."
Tater Toots
* The first potatoes arrived in North America in 1621 when Captain Nathaniel Butler, then Governor of Bermuda, sent two large cedar chests containing potatoes and other vegetables to Francis Wyatt, Governor of Virginia at Jamestown.
* It reputedly took seven transatlantic crossings before the potato gained acceptance in America. In fact, the potato did not really become popular until discovered by Benjamin Franklin. While ambassador to France, he attended a banquet hosted by Parmentier at which the potato was served 20 different ways. Franklin returned to America singing the praises of the potato as the ultimate vegetable. Americans followed the lead of trendsetting Franklin, and soon the potato was being cultivated in the colonies and in remote regions of the western frontier.

Posted by MarcV, 7:59 AM link

May 23, 2002

More Charisma Please (and extra tongue)
Part of me says cease and desist, that arguing over this is wasting time better spent praising the Lord. God is good, he has blessed me tonight with 10, 7 and 5 year old kids (in addition to my 4 year old) for a brief overnight stay, so the laptop will be a good excuse to keep me attached to the Lazy-Boy. Interesting that Mark Byron accurately predicted my main gifts, teaching and administration, and he gave a good post too on the Holy Spirit. There are some terms and concepts that I would like to amplify.

MarkB refers to the Assembly of God position, when it may be more accurate to say Pentecostal. AoG is the biggest denomination, but there are other churches that follow Pentecostal doctrines (Church of God, Pentecostal Holiness, etc.). Charismatics and Pentecostal are not interchangeable. Pentecostals started about 100 years ago, while Charismatic is a general term for something coming out of the holiness movement 30-40 years ago. Charisma is the Greek word for gift of grace. Charismatics believe that the Holy Spirit can bless you with gifts, but some (many?) do not believe in the baptism of the Holy Spirit for today's believers. From my study Bible: Spiritual gifts are not a sign of some higher degree of spiritual maturity. They are simply gifts.

Pentecostals believe that speaking in tongues is the initial evidence of baptism in the Holy Spirit. Every instance in the Bible where the baptism in the Holy Spirit occurs, speaking in tongues follows, except for Acts 8:17-19. Speaking in tongues may have occurred but it is not explicitly mentioned, although something happened, because there is mention of "power" that Simon the sorcerer wants to buy.

MarkB has more:

It looks to be clear to the Jewish believers that speaking in tongues was evidence of the gift of the Holy Spirit. It helped break the Jewish believers out of their insular rut and accept the Gentile believers as equals in Christ. [Amen, a revolutionary event, where the wall between Jew and Gentile was broken down.]
However, while it's an evidence of the Holy Spirit's presence, is tongues the evidence? Nowhere in the New Testament does it require believers to speak in tongues to receive the Holy Spirit.

Every believer who accepts Jesus Christ in their heart as Lord and Savior welcomes the Holy Spirit into their life. It is up to each individual believer to grab as much spiritual power as possible. MarkB gave relevant scriptures, and I will mention Jesus' words from Acts 1:5, "John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now." The two baptisms are different. While people speak in tongues initially, they may never speak in tongues in public ever again. It can be used as a private "prayer" language, and other gifts will be available to them.

I still stand by my statement: Those who are not actively seeking and embracing the Holy Spirit are missing out. I will also reiterate that those who have not been baptized in or actively seeking the Holy Spirit are not second-class Christians. He has made good on His promise of blessing us with the Holy Spirit. If you want more of Jesus, then the Holy Spirit is our link to Him. I'm a well-trained scientist/engineer, and it took me awhile to accept some things by faith, but the scriptures and testimonies that testify to the Holy Spirit and His power are overwhelming. You can think of everyone being in a swift, deep river. There are people drowning (unsaved), with others in rafts and some in power boats. How many people can those in rafts save as opposed to those in power boats?

Well, I'm stepping on toes again. Everyone has a different faith journey, and if you are not ready for receiving more spiritual power, I pray that you will continue to ask God for wisdom about this. Keep in mind that this is a supernatural experience, so at some point you will have to let go and let God. I'll end with a post from Wed. night on NRO's The Corner:

A PROPHET?: [Rod Dreher] This past spring, New York buzzed about Fr. Zlatko Sudac, a young Croatian priest who claimed he had stigmata, and other mystical gifts. I went to a Sudac prayer service a few months back, and I have no idea whether this guy is the real deal or not. But I will tell you this: I have a friend, now in his late 50s, who was repeatedly raped by a priest when he was young. He led an adult life of alcoholism and promiscuity until a couple of years ago, when he returned to the Church, sobriety and chastity. He is still deeply wounded by what happened to him, and went to a Fr. Sudac prayer service in Queens a month or two ago, seeking some kind of inner healing. Not a soul knew him there, and, of course, no one knew what had happened to him all those years ago. After the service, he stood in line to receive Fr. Sudac's blessing. When he approached the priest, he didn't get a word out before Sudac took his hand, leaned over at once and whispered to him, "The Blessed Mother knows what you suffered in that rectory. She and Our Lord suffered with you. They love you, and want you to know they are with you." My friend left in tears of joy.

How do you explain this, other than the power of the Holy Spirit? Did he take a vague stab with a generic statement for the friend? Was Sudac baptized in the Holy Spirit? Don't know, but I believe that the power Sudac appears to have is available to other believers by being baptized in the Holy Spirit. Finally, I come back to the fear factor. Like witnessing miracles, if people experience true Holy Spirit power, then they have to accept the source: God lives and He is active in my life, now what do I do? A potential life-changing decision.
Open the eyes of my heart Lord, I want to see you.

Posted by MarcV, 10:27 PM link

Bringing in the Sheaves
I write this blog for many reasons, one being as an evangelistic tool. The only problem is someone has to find their way here to read my keyboard peckings, and then hopefully my posts can help someone's hunger for more of the Lord. Another method would be to go where the "sheep" are found. I hang out at a couple of sites and occasionally have a chance to expound on Chrisitan concepts. The other day I went near the belly of the beast.
Most wanderers who stop by here are probably familiar with the USS Clueless. His bulletin board is fairly popular, where folks have a chance to give their opinions on topics related to the Captain's posts (mostly war stuff as well as some technical and social things). He has registered about 700 users. Ye Olde Blogge has just started a good looking bulletin board, and Andrea has about a dozen or two registered users.
NRO's The Corner gave a link for Michael Moore's bulletin board, and it was huge(the bulletin board). He had registered nearly 7000 users, with about 15 different topic areas to post questions and comments. I visited the religious thread, where someone had started a topic that went along the lines of: faith is personal, nobody's faith is better than anyone else, keep your faith to yourself. She got some people to agree with her, but a guy named "Joe" questioned her beliefs and started to bring in Christian concepts. Everyone started to pile on him, but he kept his head and gave good responses to them.
WWJD? Would He swap faith issues with other like-minded bloggers, or would he seek out the lost on those "other" sites? Maybe both. We need to sharpen iron with iron, but we also need to reach the lost. I know I will need special power (could it be the Holy Spirit?) and prayer before diving into the pit. I'm concerned about someone filling my e-mail with junk or trying to hack my site, but faint heart never won lost souls. It's about time to go to the Lord's training camp and prepare for spiritual battle. The battle is not with flesh and blood, but against the rulers and spiritual forces of evil (Eph. 6:12). Hosanna!

Posted by MarcV, 8:40 AM link

May 22, 2002

Charismatic Concerns
David Heddle at HeLives saw my statement about people missing out on the Holy Spirit and had concerns about taking that stance. I wrote him a letter back at first, rather than respond by blog. There were some things that I was not sure I wanted to share but I've decided to share most of it (besides stuff that is going on in my church):
Belated howdy! I'm tempted to respond to you on my site, but the things I'm about to tell you I'm not ready yet to show on my blog (but to you a near-perfect stranger it's OK). I will stand by my statement that those who don't embrace the Holy Spirit are missing out. It grieves me tremendously to know that people would take that the wrong way and feel like second-class citizens. I myself am going through the same turmoil. I have a Pentecostal label, which is OK since I am a member of an Assemblies of God church, but I have not received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. I have prayed and asked, but still no fruit. I accept it as my rocky road, trying to be patient with God's timing, but it is frustrating. I have had the Spirit move in me and communicate to me. It was brief yet I still remember the sense of peace from those encounters. People expect some type of "outer-body" experience, but the feeling of peace the Spirit can give you is supernatural yet calming and reassuring.
I have gone through many different studies on speaking in tongues and interpretation, and I believe what the Bible says and appreciate the potential power of the Holy Spirit. You could poll all my pastors and church board members, and they would all say that not receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit does not make you second class, but it's difficult for someone who has not received to feel that way. When someone tells you they have a special gift from God that you do not have, your human inclination is to feel inferior and wonder why you don't have it. Stephen in Acts 7 is someone described as full of the Holy Spirit. It is probable that he was baptized in the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues, but the Bible does not explicitly state that. His story is short, and he did great things in service to the Lord.
I am curious about the scripture that "the other" side would use to defend their point of not seeking and embracing the Holy Spirit. He is our Counselor, and the "interface" between us and God. Not to hammer on "non-charismatics", but denying the importance of the Holy Spirit and not taking the time to understand the impact He can have on your life is sad (for lack of a better word). Maybe that is the emotion that charismatics convey which results in non-charismatics feeling inadequate and like second-class citizens. People typically do not want to be the object of pity, and most charismatics would say that they do not want to express that, but maybe deep-down inside they do. For someone to question somebody else's salvation because of these theological differences is regrettable.
May our Savior richly bless you and lead you to new and exciting evangelistic opportunities.

Marc Velazquez (aka Spud)
Now I'm concerned about the letter I wrote into the Greensboro paper. Will people be driven away when I tried to present Biblical truth? I don't think I stated anything contrary to the Bible, but some may take it as "hammering on non-charismatics" and harden their heart to the Holy Spirit. Well, if I step on toes, I hope I don't step too hard, and once people get over their pain/discomfort, may they go to the Bible (Ultimate Authority!) and ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate the truth for themselves.

PS Just saw that he posted again, and honors me as some sort of moderator on Bible inerrancy (wow). All I did was to answer Mark Byron when he tried to use scripture to prove Bible inerrancy. I will gladly let him or Mr. Heddle take the reins of moderator, as I am just a humble blogging newbie who is using sluggish parts of his brain long dormant (posting on blog helps exercise the mind, but sometimes me 'ead 'urts!)

Posted by MarcV, 6:40 PM link

May 21, 2002

Ultimate Authority
Roy Jacobsen continues with the circular argument discussion about biblical inerrancy I posted on previously. Yeah, it can be looked at from different angles depending on how your foundation, or Ultimate Authority, is defined. Since I have accepted the Bible as Truth, I have no problem with using scripture to validate scripture. People who are not saved, or new to the faith, would be encouraged and persuaded more effectively by bringing in facts/evidence from outside of the Bible (where their Ultimate Authority is or just was).

Posted by MarcV, 1:19 PM link

Butting In
As unworthy as I may feel sometimes, I would like to get into some of the faith discussion from last week. So, at the risk of butting in, I'm putting in another $0.02 (the kitty is up to $0.04). My Sunday school class is in a "lean time", so I am glad to have serious Bible/faith discussion on the blogosphere.

David Heddle had a great response to someone writing to him about Bible inerrancy. Joyful Christian makes some good points by considering the historical context. I had noticed Louder Fenn's blog linked at other sites, but did not pursue reading his blog until recently because I had lumped him in with the Catholic crowd. The ones that I had read were OK but I wasn't getting much from them. Fenn's posts gets a "right on - Amen" from the few that I have read. (A Pentecostal Catholic? Would that be PC? Maybe Charismatic Catholic would be better. You gotta love labels.)

The dogma is that Jesus was 100% human and 100% divine. The Church is not asking that you remove even an ounce of humanity from Christ; but it insists as well that you not remove an ounce of his divinity. It is important to note that the Church is not saying, as Mark (Butterworth) asserts it says, that Jesus was "two distinct people at the same time while in the flesh." "Human" and "divine" refer to Christ's natures: He had two coexistent natures (which, yes, is unusual; but that's kind of the point). There was, however, only one person and that person was God. The flesh was not divine, as Mark seems to think.

Jesus had the power to call down legions of angels at any time, from birth up to His crucifixion. That would not, however, have served the Father's purpose. Jesus is referred to as the second person of the Trinity because He is the Son, He looks to the Father for direction, and the Father has knowledge that Jesus does not possess. Yes, putting a number/rank on Him is more for our weak minds than some type of absolute truth, like saying the Holy Spirit is the third person. Each member of the Trinity has different roles and helps us in different ways (no way to tackle that subject in a single post).
Our love relationship with Jesus is central to our faith and salvation. No church, theology, pastor, Pope etc. can take that away from you. Romans 8:38-39 "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Jesus suffered and died as a man, yet is victorious in conquering death, and gives us the opportunity of eternal life as well. I can't adequately describe how God would sacrifice Himself for us, but He went through all He did in human flesh for our sake. Hallelujah!

Posted by MarcV, 10:32 AM link

May 20, 2002

PETA Inanities
Sent a response letter to the junk that PETA has been up to, based on FoxNews snippets.PETA has asked a school to change their name from Packers to Pickers, as well as lobbying the NCAA and other sports organizations to stop using leather footballs, basketballs, etc.

As a 1 1/2 generation Mexican (and other stuff) American, I take great umbrage against the choice of "Pickers" as a mascot name, as it connotes hard-working Latinos stooping down for low wages in order to feed the hungry maw of rich Anglos. It also is disheartening to know that we won't be able to throw, strap on, or bounce the leather anymore. Let's bring PETA back to its roots: People Eating Tasty Animals (don't know who originally said it, but it's a good one).

Planet Moron
Lileks has another chuckler from his STrib Backfence column. If I didn't know better, I would think he made up the letter from someone trying to defend George Lucas. I'm trying to picture him getting the letter and reading it: does he start reading, stroking his chin, furrowing the eyebrows and think "What the -", or does he just start laughing and hooting out loud, like I did.
I would suggest that Lileks could start a Planet Moron club (think of the licensing opportunities!), and make it the home base for Anti-Idiotarians. What would Lileks' title be: Grand Imperial PooBah? Columnist of Calumny Detection? The Most Excellent Scribe of Screeds?

Posted by MarcV, 1:58 PM link

Yesterday was Pentecost Sunday, and I didn't even know it until Pastor mentioned it during service. I was looking forward to it, to use it as a time to strengthen my walk with the Lord by improving my Holy Spirit connection. Instead I missed out again because I wallow in my stupid sins. How can He be so patient with me? At first I was angry for missing out - I'm not receiving my full blessing because of the sin and unbelief in my life. After praying about it, the message I got was that this is another part of the rocky path I am on. I know how to get to the smoother, gentler path, but my selfishness keeps me sidetracked.
I was going to butt in on the HokiePundit pile-on, but my current state, as well as the recent post by Mark Byron, precludes that idea. I might have a post for Louder Fenn tomorrow. Instead, I'll go with the chorus from Sarah Jahn's "Paradox":

My faith will not fly, when my heart is held down,
by the weight of my mind, caging thoughts that I know
Must be free

My sins do not "hurt" God, but they hurt my family and me by not allowing me to be the spiritual leader that He wants. Righteousness has been a recurring theme lately. We live in a "wrong-ousness" world, yet as Christians we need to go out and tell the world the good news without letting the world pollute us (a Spudlets blog vision statement). Hosanna! I criticize others for missing out on Holy Spirit power in their lives, yet I should be looking in the mirror and seeing who the fool is. A fool knows the answer, but disregards using it:

All to Jesus, I surrender, make me Savior wholly thine
Let me feel the Holy Spirit, Truly know that Thou art mine

Posted by MarcV, 8:54 AM link

May 18, 2002

More Batmanathon
As a public service, in case you win the lottery or some other large prize, you can use the joyful words of the Riddler: "Every greedy body in my bone cries out, Huzzah, Huzzah!" Don't feel like you have to follow that with maniacal laughing and uncontrollable twitching/shaking.

Chief O'Hara's role on the show has troubled me the past few weeks. He is rarely in on the police mop-up after Batman has knocked his foes senseless, and he does not seem to have his own office (he just hangs out at the Commissioner Gordon's office). Notice how he will mug for the camera when the Commish is on the phone. I keep waiting for Gordon to turn around, while he's on the phone, and tell O'Hara, "Do you mind?" Now I know O'Hara's role (besides Gordon's shadow): he's the guy what picks up the cover on the Batphone.

Posted by MarcV, 7:59 PM link

May 17, 2002

Bible Sufficiency
Dr. Byron posted a long but good one on biblical sufficiency, and was kind enough to mention this humble site. I feel up to the challenge of putting in my $0.02, so here goes:

I would be careful about using scripture as proof of biblical inerrancy (I'm right because I said I'm right!). Instead we have the thousands of prophecies from the Old Testament come true both back then as well as in the New Testament. And the way things are going, some people are starting to see prophecies from Revelation being realized before our eyes. Folks who find the OT a little dry or boring should center on finding prophecies in their reading time, then seeing if they have come true. Nostradamus has nothing on Isaiah!

Our human nature wants to believe that more books could be added (what makes people from 2000 years ago more special?!), considering that God still talks to us. But taking that approach leaves us open to the risk of human, rather than God, inspired writing. This is what helps make Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses (to name just two) cults, rather than Christians. We need to spend time gleaning knowledge from the Word, not deciding if something belongs in the Bible.

Christians who don't actively embrace the Holy Spirit are missing out on the power of God. God cannot stand to be in the presence of anything unholy, so he communicates His perfect will by His Spirit. The Spirit can also supply power to the believer. We should not expect God to speak to us like He did to Paul on the road to Damascus, but more like the travelers on the road to Emmaeus. Keep alert for that still small voice, that "ah-ha" moment when something in Scripture leaps out at you, or just when someone seems to say the right thing at the right time.

Finally, I believe that people doubt miracles because they have a fear of the consequences: Now that I know God exists, what do I do? It can bring someone to a sobering, life-changing choice. The truth can set us free, it can be painful, but it beats living a lie.

Dr. B. writes, "The gifts of the Spirit are gifts, not requirements; not everyone gets them." We are all blessed with talents and abilities, and how we use them to strengthen our relationship with Jesus will determine how the Spirit will gift us in the future. It is something I am wrestling with now: what's wrong with me, why haven't I been given gifts of the Spirit after I asked for them? It's humbling and frustrating, and I pray that He will continue to reveal His plan for me. Dr. B. concludes:

True, an overreliance on personal insight and manifestations can lead to heresy in a hurry. That's why I appreciate the Baptist (and other evangelicals) tradition of serious Bible study as a counterweight to keep one grounded in the Word. Being a good student of the Bible allows you to better test the spirits, keeping you from going off on any number of heretical tangents. However, to say that such manifestations of the Holy Spirit don't happen at all anymore seems to be heretical as well.
A problem that Charismatics have confronted over the years is that worship turns more to emotion rather than intellect. We anticipate the feeling, rather than the relationship. There's nothing wrong with a good tingle after worship service, but we need to be confident that we made a pleasing offering to the Lord, that we serve Him with our worship rather than just taking. Serious Bible study can serve Him. He left the instructions, all we have to do is figure out what they mean (with Holy Spirit help) and go do them.

Posted by MarcV, 3:53 PM link

NC Budget Woes
Like many other states, North Carolina is wrestling with deficits. After years of spending the ballooning tax receipts, the party is over and the fat lady is singing. Unlike many other states, NC has kept lotteries at bay, but Dem. Gov. (easy-money) Easley has been chomping hard at the bit for a lottery. He uses the same old tired line, "It will go for Education!", but the truth is that a lottery is still a state money grab, and the state government will continue to increase spending whenever they can.

Gov. Mike Easley offered the first glimpse at his budget agenda Wednesday, saying he would reject education cuts being discussed in the General Assembly and rely on revenue from a nonexistent North Carolina lottery to make ends meet. (Legislature is proposing ~$700 million cut in education.) "Veto, shoot, burn, beat," Easley said after being asked how he would receive such a plan if it crossed his desk. Public education comprises almost 60 percent of the general operating budget, making it a logical but sensitive place to find savings. To help balance the ledger, Easley's plan will include $250 million from a state lottery that has not been passed. He tucked lottery revenue into his last budget proposal only to have lawmakers ignore it.
From Mayberry, Gomer weighs in on Easley's "dream":
Told that the governor would put gambling profit into his budget document, lottery foe Chuck Neely replied: "Surprise, surprise."

Posted by MarcV, 8:53 AM link

Tater Toots
Potatoes are one of the most nutritious foods you can eat. One medium sized potato has fewer calories than a grapefruit, more potassium than a banana, and more usable iron than any other vegetable. Potatoes are also high in fiber, and loaded with complex carbohydrates. And best of all, potatoes are fat-free.

Posted by MarcV, 8:52 AM link

May 16, 2002

Dynnamist Revival
How can citizens affect a change for reducing the size and scope of the government? I wonder if we need a new political party, Constitutionalists, that will take back power from the centralized federal government and allow communities more latitude to start regulating and controlling their own lives. The one problem with that name is that it sounds like a medical procedure, but perhaps this country is due for some strong medicine. We have let small diseases, like a minority of environmental extremists screaming long and loud, cause an illness in the body, such as diminished rights of property owners and suffocating regulations. A politician running for a seat on Capitol Hill may start out saying they are for reduced government, but when it comes to re-election time, how many of us are asking them, "How much pork have you managed to put in our barrel?"
Citizens can bring about a dynamist revival by holding politician's feet to the fire and demanding more tax cuts. The less play money they have the less power they can wield. Otherwise term limits may be another option. If someone knows they don't have to worry about being re-elected, then they may be more inclined to decrease the size of the federal governement.
The Fathers of the Constitution had the very fear of an overpowering federal government taking control of the country, and tried to put in place remedies, such as the "independent" Judicial branch. We advocate having Pres. Bush nominate judges who would bring the country back to the ideals of the Constitution, but look at how much trouble we are having just confirming district judges. How much dirt and partisan politics will be thrown at a Supreme Court nominee? I fear it will make Justice Thomas's confirmation hearing look like a tea party.

Posted by MarcV, 8:43 AM link

More Dem Whining
Democrats on Capitol Hill got more face time by Gephardt complaining that the "Republican leadership is out of step with what real people want in America", in a FoxNews story. Then they come up with another whopper:

"The American people want action, not rhetoric. They need an honest debate on the issues, not phony votes designed to confuse the issues," Daschle said.
Hold on. Who has been blocking judicial appointments? Who has been stalling on allowing religious-based charities access to federal grants? And what proposals are those concerned Democrats offering?
They vowed to increase funding for education, preserve the environment, safeguard pensions, protect Social Security and reduce the cost of prescription drugs.
Does anyone else see big $$$ signs floating past their eyes? I don't think you will find any of these proposals mentioned in the Constitution. Tax and spend, 'cause we know what's best for you - that should be the official Democrat slogan for the 2004 election.

Posted by MarcV, 8:39 AM link

May 15, 2002

Top 20 Sci-Fi Films
With Star Wars coming out Thursday, the new issue of Wired has their listing of top 20 science fiction films (which include 7 of the top 10 grossing films of all time). The article on their website only showed the top ten:
1. Blade Runner 2. Gattaca 3. The Matrix 4. 2001: A Space Odyssey 5. Brazil 6. A Clockwork Orange 7. Alien 8. The Boys From Brazil 9. Jurassic Park 10. Star Wars.
Their criteria: a film's power to enthrall and excite (Adrenaline), how well it presents a scenario for the future (Vision), and whether the science behind the fiction holds up (Precision). Being the cutting edge - high tech guy that I am, the latest edition of Wired showed up in my mailbox yesterday. Here are the next ten:
11. The Road Warrior 12. Tron 13. The Terminator 14. Sleeper 15. Soylent Green 16. Robocop 17. Planet of the Apes 18. The Day the Earth Stood Still 19. Akira 20. Barbarella

I would put Blade Runner at #1. It is a personal favorite of mine, touching on questions about humanity and meaning of life. It gets high marks on all three of the criteria. The film is all the more visually stunning when you consider that it is the last great epic film to be made prior to the overpowering use of computer-generated scenes. Loved the hand-held SEM too .
Didn't see Gattaca, so no comment. Matrix was OK, but not top ten (I still think of Keanu in "Excellent Adventure" when I see him in Matrix). The rest hold up pretty well for the top ten, although Clockwork and The Boys from Brazil are borderline sci-fi (and Brazil was just plain weird). I'm sure they will get some grief over Star Wars only getting #10, but it has its slow moments (and lets not get into Jar-Jar Binks!). The only other ones I would question on the list are Sleeper (a comedy set in the future, not sci-fi) and Akira (didn't see it, might be a good story, but no animation for the list!). Robocop is kinda shaky too, more of a moralistic tale than sci-fi.
OK, what's missing? I would put either War of the Worlds or Jouney to the Center of the Earth above Barbarella. #2 on my list would be Destroy All Monsters, where Godzilla and crew save the world from an attack of the three-headed space monster (Ghidra?). Saw it when I was 10 on the big screen, and it gives me shivers just thinking about it. None of the Star Trek films made the list - maybe they need more time to get a better perspective on them, although most of them probably get low scores on the criteria. If the original Flash Gordon series could be made into a film, that would be top 20 (close your eyes and imagine the sound effect they used for the rocket ships, and the cool smoke coming from the back - and you can't beat Ming the Merciless for bad guys).
Finally, no movie list would be complete without mentioning UHF. It belongs in there somewhere. Science fiction, hmmm.... science can't explain Weird Al, and he's not fiction. It scores high on all 3 criteria: enthralling and riveting, great vision (All Al, All the Time!), and the science holds up (what is it that comes out of Michael Richards' nose?). What, you disagree?!? Maybe you need the FireHose!

Posted by MarcV, 10:25 PM link

Ashcroft Address
NRO's The Corner gave a link to Atty. Gen. Ashcroft's commencement address to graduates of Catholic University of America last Saturday. It's all good. He makes a great point between freedom and license, and saying that choices not having consequence will result in meaningless for our lives. He also richly describes the true source of our freedom:

There are those who believe that to acknowledge the Creator as the source of freedom is to diminish our freedom. But I believe they misinterpret, they invert, and they turn around that which is right. We acknowledged God as the author of our freedom and when we have, we affirm the dignity and worth of every human being. We are blessed to live in a nation that protects the rights of all precisely because we acknowledge that we are not the grantors of these rights, that God grants rights - we seek to guard them and guarantee them, but they are of a source greater than our own.
Thank God for public servants like John Ashcroft, who acknowledge and serve a power higher than themselves.

Posted by MarcV, 10:22 PM link

May 14, 2002

Updated Link
Jason Steffens has paid the big bucks fo his own domain name, and changed his URL for the News for Christians site. Still looking good!

Posted by MarcV, 3:34 PM link

Trinity and Muslims
John over at Christdot links to a great article at BPNews on differences between Christians and Muslims, as well as the centrality of the cross and confusion about the Trinity. It started out slow, but then the author gave some meaty arguments. " ...we preach nothing else than Jesus Christ and Him crucified." How can God love us so much to sacrifice Himself for us? I look forward to the time when I am embracing Him and thanking Him personally. The Trinity can be confusing for our weak human minds, but if we ask the Lord, He can help our understanding of this mystery.

Posted by MarcV, 3:28 PM link

May 13, 2002

I was humbled by Jonah Goldberg's piece on NRO about censorship and child p-rn. From some opinions that I had read a few weeks ago, it seemed that the Supreme Court was giving some people a break by not prosecuting them for simply depicting children having s-x as long as they did not use any children for the depiction. I tend to be libertarian (little L) to let people do what they want, living in the land of the free, so I wasn't too upset about the decision. Mr. Goldberg makes the point that child p-rn is wrong, no matter what the source.

In other words, why does constitutional purity only occur to civil libertarians when the question is whether or not we should protect deviant, disgusting, and patently evil "speech"? The serious libertarians, who are "pure" on all of these other issues, can speak without hypocrisy about slippery slopes and the dangers to constitutional liberty. Indeed, I salute them!
Everybody else should shut up.
More to the point, for the vast majority of this nation's history it was entirely uncontroversial to say child p-rnography — and lots of much tamer stuff — should be censored. In fact, it would be considered controversial to suggest it was an open question.

With the current technology for digital equipment and software, virtual p-rn would be fairly easy to produce. It's morally wrong to mess with it, and can eventually hurt someone. If we as a society set our standards so low, and bend over backwards to let people do anything they want, it won't take much of a push to send us over the edge into the pit (or should I say Sheol?).
...the more we talk about bestiality, the more we rationalize perversion, and the more we pooh-pooh the "moral panic" over pedophilia, the more likely we will be to define deviancy down.
I think it should be censored. Period. You make it, virtual or otherwise, you get in trouble with the law. Use real kids, you definitely go to jail. Use "virtual" kids, you at least should be shut down.
Thank you Mr. G for taking a stand and helping to get the word out.

Posted by MarcV, 3:36 PM link

Camps of Misery
Michael Novak on NRO hits another one out the park, detailing the use of Palestinian refugee camps as political pawns. He takes a big step by pointing the finger directly at the Arabs (YEAH!) who have allowed this suffering to go on for too many years.

But the biggest blot of all is the unconscionable political decision of the Arab states to maintain these camps in existence, as weapons against Israel. It is wrong to use human beings as political weapons.
He goes on to discuss the opportunity they had to build a useful society/country, but squandered it. Read the whole article to get to his "3 homely truths", and then decide how people can legitimately condone the Palestinian terrorists, or criticize Israelis for wanting to defend themselves.

Posted by MarcV, 12:54 PM link

May 11, 2002

Happy Mom's Day
A small tribute to all of the Moms out there, who if it wasn't for them, we wouldn't be here today. In particular, a special tribute to the Mom who shares the same last name and address (and yung'un) with me:

Precious K.,
Thanks for all you do for Josh. I thank God that He gave us Josh, and that He made you Josh's Mom (your name to some of his friends!). I know he tests you sometimes, but you always come through for him. May the Lord that blessed us with that tiny baby nearly 4 years ago continue to bless you with strength, knowledge and patience. You and Josh are the best reasons to come home, and I really do appreciate how you make our house a home.
Big Wet Kisses,

Posted by MarcV, 2:40 PM link

May 10, 2002

Lileks hits a little close to home today when he talks about traveling to Chicago with a debate team from University of Iowa, and then had this to say about the experience, "Dork heaven: spending your high school summer at college." Been there, done that. Before my senior year in high school, I went to the U of Illinois for two weeks in the summer to tour the engineering departments, learn how to use a slide-rule, and experience "college life" in a dorm. Since we were there for a weekend, we had the requisite party and beer, as well as the visit by the administrator with stern face to break up the festivities. Yes, while other youths were honing their tennis and camping skills, I was playing a primitive networked version of Star Trek on an orange monochrome screen (that was over 25 years ago). Now I'm enjoying the benefits of my misspent youth as a computer geek - happy, happy, joy, joy!

Posted by MarcV, 2:44 PM link

Helder Bomber
At the risk of giving this yoho more airtime, FoxNews had this caption for his story, "Helder's pals fear he's gone nuts." Yeah, guess so! Went on to read the article, and they showed a picture of his parents. There but for the grace of God go I. Just a guess, but they are probably going through a similar type of anguish and pain as if their son had died. The little boy they treasured has turned into a monster. My prayers go out to them and their difficult burden they now bear.
A smiley face pattern across the Midwest? Probably easier to do than a marijuana leaf pattern.

Posted by MarcV, 11:14 AM link

Revelation Hits It Again
Saw a link to this (NRO?) and checked it out - WHOA! Just when you think technology can protect us, look out for cosmic rays. Here's what could happen to the earth, Cosmic Catastrophe, when a supermassive star collapses:

On the side of Earth facing the explosion, searing shock waves will begin to rip through the atmosphere igniting infernos when they reach the ground. All organic material on the surface of Earth will start to burn. Survivors will cower in caves and buildings. But the worst is yet to come.
The initial gamma-ray burst will last a fraction of a second. Almost immediately afterwards will come the cosmic rays, which will drench our planet for days. There will be no hiding place.
Cosmic rays are highly energetic particles travelling through space at almost the speed of light. They will slam into the atmosphere, depositing vast amounts of energy and creating swarms of destructive "daughter" particles.
These particles, called muons, will penetrate hundreds of metres into rocks so that few caves will offer protection and even deep-sea creatures will be affected by lethal doses of radiation.
The Earth's ecosystem will be destroyed. "The few who might survive will wish they had died," said Dr Dar. "They will struggle, forlornly, on a wrecked planet."
Does this sound similar to something from the book of Revelations? Please Lord rapture me before this happens. I'll let the curious check out the timing for this by reading the article.

Posted by MarcV, 11:11 AM link

May 09, 2002

Medical Madness
Our golden boy senator from the Tarheel state, John Edwards, is featured in a FoxNews article detailing the destruction that trial lawyers (and juries) have wreaked on the national health system. Edwards is one of a group that have elevated medical malpractice payouts to megalottery-like payouts. A recent commercial for the Simpsons showed Homer crossing a street and wanting to get hit by a car so he could get a big cash payout. Check out the article if you can stomach the sickening description of payouts and loss of medical facilities, due to doctors fleeing from states where they cannot afford to practice medicine.
Yet, Edwards is proud of the fact that he is standing up for the little man. And taking his 20-30% cut. And forcing out doctors from poor regions. And making emergency rooms the last recourse for poor patients. And watching the increase in medical costs rise 3 times or more higher than inflation, every year for more years than I can remember. Every reform that someone tries to institute, Edwards and his trial lawyer friends are there shooting down. The only way I see this ending is when juries say enough, and not allow the big payouts. Otherwise, medical care will go even more corporate, and you will end up being processed like a Big Mac on an assembly line at a mega-medical center.

Posted by MarcV, 10:43 AM link

A Loving God
That Tony Woodlief did it to me again. For only the second time since I started surfing the blogosphere, something that he wrote caused me to stop reading, and made me take the time to compose myself (Lileks is the only other one who might get me slightly misty eyed). His two year old son Stephen fell 10 feet from a porch landing. Praise God that he is OK, without any apparent broken bones/bleeding. Tony touches on my greatest fear. I know as a Christian that I am not supposed to fear, but I am weak and stupid, and this fear still clings to me.
He then writes about suffering and man's lot in life. He refers to that classic verse of Romans 8:28 as a Presbyterian standard, but it is good for everyone. I could probably spend a whole Sunday school class on it, but I will briefly mention that this verse proclaims that an active God surrounds us. The verses that follow #28 help back it up. Yes, this verse can be abused, and should be used very carefully to folks who are grieving or suffering.
Tony has recently threatened getting off the blogging train, or at least cutting way back on his posts. He will be sorely missed. I hope he can take the time to step back, enjoy his family, write for other outlets, and then get a good frame of reference for where blogging fits in the 24 hours we are given each day. I have really enjoyed his posts in the brief time that I have read his writing, and I'm sure he has touched others. Go to his site and read his posts, and please send him a note of encouragement.

Posted by MarcV, 10:39 AM link

May 08, 2002

Berry Pickin'
Took the family out to pick berries yesterday. Summer starts for me when I'm sweating into a batch of strawberry jam, stirring it and wondering when this stuff is going to boil. I've made jam just about every year for the past 17 years, and I've never scorched a batch, but had maybe two that ended up as syrup (too much fruit). Syrup batches give you a good excuse to get a tub of vanilla ice cream, though! Anyhow, I'm stirring and feeling "summery" when I hear the youngster start up a movie, "The Grinch". Aaargh, it's too hot for Christmas! Does anyone else have youngsters that like to watch Christmas shows in the middle of the year? I had talked to the wife about storing those tapes out of sight until November, but he seems to like them, and it goes with Parent Rule #3: If they like it, it's not bad for them and it keeps them quiet, let 'em do it. The other two rules will come in future (gotta keep you coming back here somehow!) posts.


Blithering Idiot
William Sulik at his site was kind enough to plug this newbie, as well as reprinting a letter I had sent him awhile ago. I remember writing those words down, yet every day I have to confront myself, "Am I living that or just going through the motions?" Paul writes in Romans 7:19-24:

For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?

What hope do we have? Paul has the answer in the next verse: "Thanks be to God--through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin."
Read the whole book. It's one of my favorites.


That War Thing
I haven't said too much about the Mideast goings-on here in Spudlets, but at the risk of becoming a warblog, I'll put my two cents in, especially with news of another "massacre-bomber"(coined by Jonah Goldberg, NRO). The Palestinians deserve far worse than what the Israeli's have been dishing out to them. I've heard the arguments about how there are just a few crazy Palestinians causing trouble for the majority, but they are getting what they deserve: they have supported the Arafat regime for decades (and reaping that harvest), and their zeal for anti-Zionism leaves no room for peaceful co-existence. They may in part be puppets for the Arab world, but they will have to look in the mirror to find out who's behind all of the misery they get.
In response to the bombing, Sharon cut short his Washington trip in order to return to Israel, and had this to say:
"He who rises up to kill us, we will pre-empt and kill him first," Sharon said.
Is this different than the aim of the US to fight terrorism? It's frustrating for us to take our stand and then see our administration try to cut the legs from underneath Sharon and Israel. Let them take care of their terrorists, let us support this oasis of democracy in the Arab desert, and let the rest of the Mideast and world know that there will be a price to pay for supporting terrorists (are you listening, house of Saud, or you don't care?).


Color Blindness?

Ward Connerly, out in California, is backing a ballot initiative, trying to stop govenment agencies from classifying people by race. I have not read the whole initiative, but anything that would take the silly and useless race classification check boxes off of forms gets my approval. Some people get so obsessed over racial issues, particularly affirmative action, then wonder why racial discrimination seems to be such a problem. If we treat each other as individuals and equals, then we can rise above bigotry. It is human nature to notice and comment on differences, and that will probably never go away. Our governement is based on the premise that all men are created equal. Anything we can do to allow our government to treat us as equals should be pursued.
Anyhow, NRO has been following this, and gave a link for putting in a vote over the Net that includes an article against the initiative. Here's some lowlights:
I hate checking the box on government forms, but less out of concern for my privacy and more because of my desire for accuracy. As a Filipino American with a Spanish surname, I'm a demographer's nightmare. Asian? Hispanic? On the census, I mark "other" and write-in "Aspanic."
The Racial Privacy Initiative says to the growing ethnic majority population of California, "The less we know about you, the better. Just as you become the dominant force in the state, go hide under a rock. And stay there."
If the "ethnics" need check boxes on forms to exercise their "dominant force", and come to out from under the rock, then they are truly weak and should not be in power. He also goes on a rant over possible health crises because the government wouldn't allow research of race vs. disease issues. Untrue (from the American Civil Rights Coalition): Upon qualification and passage, racial check-off boxes would be phased out in state and local government forms by 2005, with explicit exemptions for such areas as medical research and treatment, law enforcement and the Department of Fair Employment and Housing. He finally ends his article by this whopper:
Ah, color blindness. What a wonderful world it would be, filled with ignorance and invisibility, two essential ingredients for racism. That's the ultimate outcome of Connerly's deceptive vision.
The two essential ingredients for racism are knowledge(oh, so that's how you are different) and hatred(or lack of love).
The author is in the same group that goes ballistic if a shred of "religion" contaminates schools or governments. But their religion is profiling, they worship at the shrine of victimhood, and they know conservatives want to repress them and keep them out of power. My suggestion for them is to get a copy of the Constituition and find out where it says that people have a right to health care, education or reparations for something that happened over a hundred years ago. By profiling, these liberals know where to find the "hurting masses", and give them payouts for their votes. I'm a Christian first, then American. I'm proud of my conglomerated heritage, but how I show my pride and what label I put on myself are my own personal choices, and should not be forced down my throat by some government agency.

Posted by MarcV, 1:10 PM link

May 07, 2002

Movie Mania
James Lileks posted another great bleat on why we like movies and his take on the new Spiderman movie. I could probably post at least a comment on each of his bleats, but this one in particular touched me because I have noticed just how much our society invests in the (roughly) two hours of prepackaged entertainment we call movies. The VCR's, DVD players, entertainment systems that people spend $$$'s on, and how many people do you know that have bookshelfs, boxes, etc. filled with movies they watch once or twice?
Now Hollywood is nervous because people have figured out how to swap movies over the Web, and all they can see is lost revenue. If Hollywood can focus on enhancing the theater experience, which few people can afford to do in their own homes, as well as packaging a quality copy of a movie, they can still make a ton of money. Plenty of people pay $10-20 for a DVD, even though they have the means and ability to download an MPEG. I don't download copyrighted movies or music, because it's stealing, but I can understand Hollywood feeling threatened by it.
Movies are a great, shared cultural experience, but I'll let Lileks say it:

But all these forms have been shouldered off to the wings by movies, because only movies have the killer combination of mass distribution, mass pre-publicity, a huge target audience, and the trebled appeal of story plus music plus acting plus visual effects on a scale unachievable in scope and size in any other medium.
In 30, 40 years, they’ll look back at the culture of 2002 just as we look back at the movies of WW2. Anyone look at the painting or novels of the 40s to discover the mood of wartime America? No. It’s the movies.
All I’m saying is this: when historians sift through the pop-culture of America looking for hints and clues, they will notice that a character born in Vietnam-era 1963 reached a mass appeal in 2002, shortly before the Second Iraq War, and they will pay particular attention to the recurring phrase:

With great power comes great responsibility.

Is that the pulse of America today - are we stepping up to the plate and taking responsibility for stomping out terrorism? How does a solo superpower act on this turbulent planet? I know there are others who would want this great experiment in freedom, the USA, to fall. I pray this country will continue to prevail with God's help, and that He continues to bless us as we deserve it.

Posted by MarcV, 3:58 PM link

To the Moon!
Watched the Honeymooners special last night, and it brought back a few memories (no, I'm not old enough to remember when they first aired!). Back in '78 when I was working a 2nd shift summer job, I would get home in time to watch the Honeymooners with my younger sister, who was a night-owl. We would both laugh out loud at the bug-eyed Ralph and his "crew". It was also special because it was a time to just enjoy each other's company. You really don't get an appreciation of that until years later, after you have all gone your separate ways.
I didn't realize that there were only 39 episodes, and that they did a half-hour show on the first take (usually, unless someone was physically injured). The show was not a big ratings hit at first, but has been in syndication since it went off the air. All of the roles were written and portrayed beautifully, particularly Alice (Audrey Meadows). She knew just how much to let Ralph go, and then when to hold her ground and give him a snappy comeback. BANG, ZOOM!


As a service to all who are interested in spudology, there will be tasty morsels of potato info given from time to time on this fertile site:

The Irish referred to potatoes as "spuds," the name that came from a type of spade used for digging potatoes.

Posted by MarcV, 9:32 AM link

May 06, 2002

The Rev'nooer's have done it again and stopped another still operation, this time outside of the Raleigh-Durham area. Couldn't find the article on line (it was in Greensboro News-Record 5/2/02), but here's some clips:

The Granville Sheriff's department, aided by alcohol agents, broke up Melvin Privette's moonshine operation Monday for the second time in six years.
It was as friendly a law enforcement operation as you'll ever see, as the colorful, humorous Privette [he looks like Uncle Jesse from Duke's of Hazzard] helped agents dismantle his still, a shiny copper contraption the sheriff hoped could be donated to the county's historical museum.
What probably hurt the most was when the barrels of sweet-smelling liquid were drained into the ground, liquid Privette would have turned into $75/gal. peach brandy. The 62 year old claimed to have been out of the business until a few weeks ago. Someone, unnamed, gave him 40 bushels of peaches, which he was using to make the brandy...
He urged the sheriff to get the dope dealers. "They hurt my business," he said.

What is this, the new and improved (and gentler-kinder) ATF bureau? I'm picturing Barney Fife with his axe going, "Pow-pow-pow!" I guess ATF isn't looking for anymore bad publicity. In case someone thinks the timeline looks questionable, in these parts peach season ends in August, and I doubt he got the peaches from Chile(!), so I think he's been at it longer than six weeks.



Just saw the essay on celibacy by Mark Byron - outstanding. My first impulse is to give him some type of hero status, but one of the points of his argument is that waiting for sex until marriage should be considered normal and not some type of freakish behavior. I liked his countdown to last day of celibacy, and in a way envy him, that his wedding day will be even more special by their agreed-upon patience.
I won't repeat his scriptural arguments for celibacy, since he cites some good ones. The world tends to look at bodies as disposable, so why bother with purity and holiness: try it you'll like it, and if it doesn't kill you, try it again. Besides the concept of treating your body as a temple, I would also add another underlying theme from the New Testament: what controls you? Whom do you serve? If you're not serving the Lord, then you are on your own.
The way society/culture behaves, you would think that most men (and some women) have a ring in their nose, that they are easily led by tugging on that ring by appealing to lust. For an attempt at a sweeping generalization about the ladies, most women desire romance (with sex as part of the deal), having that special "prince" sweep the "princess" off their feet and living royally. At least half of the ads on TV either overtly or subliminally use sex to get your attention. Have you found yourself not purchasing a particular product because they used sex in an advertisement?
I don't know any teenagers well enough to ask them about the peer pressure for sex, but I'm sure it is tremendous. Thank God that there are Christian groups operating in schools that kids can use for a refuge, where they can share with others the scarlet A(abstinence) they wear. Our (Mark Byron and I) generation was the first where it started to be not so shameful to be pregnant in high school. We are reaping the bitter fruits of the "love revolution" (Woodstock, Laugh-in, pornography, dis-jointed families), and I pray that this generation will recognize that there is more to life than trying to find some ephemeral satisfaction of lust.
God intended sex between a man and woman in marriage, and He made it pleasurable to help that man and woman form a strong bond of intimacy. We as a society have perverted this arrangement, and are in desperate need of God's help to get things right.


Batman Wrap-up

The one week BatMan-athon is over, and (yawn) now we will get Gotham's crime fighter for an hour each week (7-8 pm, oh joy). I stated previously that these old episodes were better for a 4 year old. After watching a week of them, I'm not so sure about that, but it does give us a chance to watch a show together and talk about TV vs. real violence. He's too young to notice the "cheesecake" content. I had forgotten how they "decorated" the show.

Thursday: King Tut - has to be the lamest adversary, big chubby psychotic convinces enough guys with muscle to steal Egyptian antiquities. Good time to catch up on reading.
Friday: Joker - the one the boy has been anxiously awaiting all week. Fell asleep during the second hour, despite the (Batman's words) "horrible harlequin laugh." Nicholson's portrayal was much more convincing for the evil side, and a better laugh too.

Posted by MarcV, 7:59 AM link

May 04, 2002


I should have googled my blog name before choosing it - oh well, it could be worse. Turns out there's a price on "spudlets", and they're pretty cheap.

Not cut seed potatoes but small, whole, disease-free mini-tubers, these roughly 1” diameter spudlets can be planted right out of the box.

Box of 12 spudlets
One box of 12
2 or more boxes of 12
$6.95 each
Well, at least I'm disease free and ready to be planted. I won't give the URL, just google it yourself if you're interested in planting spudlets. I'm working on a FAQ page, just as soon as someone besides the voice in my head starts asking me questions! I hope to explain how spudlets relates to this site and the author, as well as tieing it in to a faith-based explanation.

Posted by MarcV, 1:35 PM link

May 03, 2002


A lady named Wanda spent her last day at "da plant" where we work. She was in payroll, but now she is pursuing her dream of riding an ambulance as an EMT. She had been sad this week, thinking about the friends she will miss here. There was the usual hat-passing for a gift that I decided not to help with [note to self: topic for future screed], so instead I offer her a blog send-off:

May God keep you in His firm but gentle grasp. May He keep the wind at your back and your travelling safe. Be happy in the path you have taken. I am thankful for people like you who put up with some difficult times in order to help hurting people. We enjoyed your snappy comebacks, Scooby-Doo laugh and kindnesses that you extended to us. You will be missed here, and I hope the people that you will be working with will treat you well. I'd wish you good luck, but I know you are prepared and ready to grab the reigns and take hold of this new opportunity. God bless you, your husband and eight (going on twenty) year old daughter.

Posted by MarcV, 3:23 PM link


Possumblogger (link at right) had a good blurb on Clinton's possible talk show foray:

Although the talks are only preliminary, one source said Clinton's interest was serious and said he was demanding a fee of $50 million a year and had aspirations "of becoming the next Oprah Winfrey," the paper said.

Possumblogger: Well, he already claims to be black, so it should be only a short leap to be a woman, too. Then he could molest himself.

Good take on Clinton, the new Oprah! Watching his talkshow would be like driving past a bad car wreck: you know better than to slow and stare, but sometimes you just can't help yourself, even though you know the carnage that could possibly be seen.

Lawn Ornament Stealing Scum

Local thieves preyed upon the innocent lawns of Greensboro.
Greensboro residents Roger Edward Miller, 31, and Daniel Renwick, 32, are each charged with a dozen counts of misdemeanor larceny and misdemeanor possession of stolen goods. Police believe the two are responsible for taking ornaments from about 70 north Greensboro homes during the past three months.
Since February, the two men have driven around north Greensboro, usually during the middle of the week, snatching lawn ornaments, Stewart said. They sold the lawn ornaments at the Buckhorn Jockey flea market near Mebane, usually at dirt-cheap prices.
The pair's generous prices might have been their downfall.

They were selling a bronze bird-bath for $20 that ordinarily retails at $125. Strengthens the argument of staying away from a "too good" deal.

New Krispy-Kreme Store Sets Record

Krispy Kreme is taking over!Here's a reprint of the doughnut news:

Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc. said Thursday its new store outside Minneapolis in Maple Grove, Minn., has set a new opening week sales record.
First week sales for the Maple Grove location were $480,693. The previous record, $465,003 Canadian, was set at Krispy Kreme's first international opening in December 2001 in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.
This marks the Winston-Salem doughnut-maker's third opening record for first week sales set during the past six months.

Hey, isn't that Lilek's territory? You don't suppose he had anything to do with setting that record? Naah, he says he's on a diet and avoids the cookie/pastry trap. It can be hard to resist those fresh glazed rings of pleasure. As any connoiseur can tell you, getting them fresh off the rack can be a sublime experience. They melt in your mouth and your hands. It's fingerlickin' good!

Posted by MarcV, 9:25 AM link

May 02, 2002


What a concept, Survivor meets Little House on the Prairie! This would have been a much bigger media/social event 5 or more years ago, but with the onslaught of cable/dish/Internet competing for eyeballs, network TV just does not get the buzz it used to. What 3 things would you miss if you had to live like an 1880's pioneer? I would say: food supply, daily newspaper, on-demand water/hot showers. I was pleasantly surprised at how the kids on the show did, once they acclimated to the chores. It was funny to hear the teenage girls complaining about boredom after they got back (sounds like someone needs a hobby, or maybe more homework!).

The show reminded me of a missionary trip my wife and I took about 6 years ago to Guatemala. It was for ten days, and we got to meet and share faith with some wonderful people. We never did go hungry, and made sure to stock up on bottled water each morning. I did miss the newspaper, though. We took cold showers each night, except for the hot showers at the hotel in Guatemala City. Many of the people there subsist on beans/rice, with an occasional chicken/pork serving maybe once a week. If you ever get the chance to take a 2-4 week missionary trip, use the vacation time and go! At the very least it will change how you look at life, somewhat like the three families on the show went through.

The show also gave me a healthier respect on Jesus' ministry. Incredible how a band of about a dozen men relied on the kindness of others for their daily meals. We don't know the particular details of their funding (accepting donations, what the apostle's originally gave, whether any of them made money on the side to give to the group), but the fact that the Lord kept a dozen men together for three years without regular room and board is amazing.

Finally, the show also reminded me of my "softness", and my lack of attention to my physical soundness. We have owned farms in the past and benefitted by the labor. Now we are in a house with a good-sized yard. The only labor I regularly perform is using a push mower. It takes 3-4 hours to cut the whole yard, but it is a chore that gets old. I tell the guy in the mirror to get off your dead-butt and do something, but the LazyBoy and snacks in front of a movie keep calling, calling, calling...

Here's a link to PBS site if you want to dig further. After watching it for three days, I think I know more about those families than I care to admit.


The other must-see-TV event this week has been the Batman episodes on TVLand (one of the few cable channels we get in with our basic-basic plan). The youngster saw this on Monday night and is captivated by the Caped Crusader. The newer movies, both live and animated, are a little too rough for 4-year olds, so the TV series will have to do. He keeps asking for the Joker, but they are saving that for Friday.

Monday: The man in the "questionable" green body stocking is featured - The Riddler. I remembered the performances being a little over the top, but whoa! Jill St. John as the gun moll (keep telling myself I'm watching for the boy's sake), happens to be in a go-go club (and appropriately attired) when Batman shows up. She talks him into a dance, HEY - that's where Travolta got all of his moves! I won't spoil the ending, but her demise is tragic. TRIVIA QUESTION: Was Ms. John the only Bond girl to also appear in the Batman series?
Tuesday: Penguin. What did Burgess Meredith do between this and Rocky, dinner theater? In one episode he is running for office (wasn't that in one of the recent Batman movies?) and sings. Mmm, thank goodness for high fidelity speakers and a mute button.
Wednesday: Catwoman, Julie Newmar ('nuff said). I could only think of Eartha Kitt and Lee Meriweather(?) as the other actresses that donned the black leather. Eartha (do you know anyone else with that name?) was a revolutionary choice in the mid-60's, a black woman playing a villianess, and she did OK, but most would give Ms. Newmar the #1 vote (probably over Michelle Pfeiffer too).

Wrap it up on Monday.

Posted by MarcV, 3:32 PM link

getting my links in

Posted by MarcV, 9:20 AM link

May 01, 2002


Hope this new skin works - onto learning how to tweak the design in HTML (easy as pie, right?).

Posted by MarcV, 9:28 AM link

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