Last Man Standing
Orrin Judd saw this article about a professional "hand-a-thoner". Now before you start getting any wild ideas, I reprinted part of the article below (read the whole article, it's a hoot):
More than 134 hours into a popular local endurance contest, two hollow-eyed men at a Volkswagen dealership here [Perrysburg, Ohio] still had their hands plastered to a pale-green Beetle. Whoever lasted the longest would win the $20,000 car. But “Brian Root of Perrysburg,” as the announcer introduced one of the two remaining men, is no rookie. Mr. Root, who is actually from Mobile, Ala., is a professional hand-a-thoner. He travels around the country entering competitions.They oughta make a movie about this guy. Let's see, who could we get to play him?
By his own count, the tall 44-year-old has won or tied for first in 16 hands-on contests, collecting about $160,000. He doesn’t do much else. He lives with his mother and hasn’t held a long-term job since the mid-1980s, soon after he discovered that in one 97-hour span, he could win a truck worth half his annual pay as a produce manager in a health-food store.
“I’ve never really liked working, doing the 8-to-5,” he says. “I knew it would give me the freedom to go to the beach.” Besides, he adds, his long stands are “like a spiritual experience. Your mind goes to places it’s never gone before. … You see a part of yourself you never see otherwise.”...
Mr. Root’s 72-year-old mother, Betty, an antique dealer, would be happy to see her son change his line of work. “He doesn’t really have a career, per se,” she complains. “I wish he’d find a nice girl and settle down."
Posted by MarcV, 3:03 PM link
* I'm working three computers at the same time and loving it!
* Wired has an update on what General Motors is developing to replace our current internal combustion cars, with ones that use fuel cells. The hydrogen car has been a long time coming. GM is betting $1 billion that the end of internal combustion is near. The car will be "fly-by-wire", with the fuel cells powering electrical motors positioned near the wheel. Without the moving parts of today's car, their lifetime expectancy could be decades, so they are designing the body so that you can change the outer "shell". They are also looking to use them as mini-power generators on wheels for third-world applications.
* Tried the Yahoo-mail beta update for about a week. It is prettier, and has updated the calendar and notes functions, but I don't use them since I have Outlook. The horizontal bar that tells you how much storage space you have left is much easier to see. Otherwise it's the same on speed and getting to the basic things you use, like composing a letter and the address book. Free is free.
Posted by MarcV, 3:57 PM link
Mark Byron has a good reply for the concept of a "blogosphere church". We don't worship together, but hopefully we all want to elevate Jesus and tell the good news. This is new ground we are breaking, and we are all only connected by a thin 4 strand wire (6 if you're on broadband!). The other new aspect of this is the immediacy of ideas. Things happen so fast that last weeks news is barely remembered (or is it just my old brain cells?). We live in interesting times, but I wouldn't go so far as to call it "lore"!
Posted by MarcV, 9:09 AM link
Did it seem like the last few weeks that there was a dearth of good columns and opinions (even discounting the lack of Bleats)? Well, I just mentioned Ralph Peters and Larry Miller below, now two more guys from NRO hit a couple out as well. Victor Davis Hanson sticks a fork in the European balloon and lets out the last of the hot air. He is charitable towards them at the end, but not much.
Michael Novak gives an excellent perspective on the "nine for nine" miner rescue in Pa. Is it true that the same town where flight 93 went crashed on 9/11/01 is the same town where the miners were rescued? If so, isn't God awesome? (He's awesome either way!) Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
Who has the time to read all of them? Well, I'm defragmenting a hard drive if you want to know, but you may have to come up with your own excuse.
Posted by MarcV, 4:38 PM link
Larry Miller over at Weekly Standard reminisces about some experiences he had working for Frank Sinatra years ago. Good read, some funny parts - makes you wonder if those "magical" moments are worth all of the other junk you usually have to go through in the entertainment business. Guess I'll never know ...
Posted by MarcV, 4:37 PM link
Fighting to Win
Ralph Peters at OpinionJournal has an excellent article on the latest Israeli strike against a Hamas leader, and the war on terrorism in general.
Europe's reflexive anti-Semitism doesn't really matter much, since today's Europeans lack the power, will and courage to act upon their bigotry. But the Bush administration needs to stop pandering to corrupt Arab regimes and to recognize that Israel is fighting for its life; that Israel is fighting with great restraint; and that Israel's pursuit of terrorists is every bit as legitimate as our own. Instead of criticizing Israeli policy, we should be studying it.
The whole article makes very strong points on what we need to do for some victories.
Many of us find this war unsettling (maybe even sickened by it). Mr. Peters brings up an interesting strategy of holding terrorist leaders' families hostage .
Meanwhile, few of Israel's critics complain when Palestinian mothers and fathers praise the gruesome suicides of their children or accept blood money from Riyadh and Baghdad. If you want a stark indicator of the power of family in the Middle East, consider that of the many suicide bombers to date, not one has been a close relative of a Hamas leader or of the leadership of any other Palestinian faction. Suicide bombers employed to inflict mass murder on Israel are always drawn from marginal families. The terrorist leaders would no more send their own sons and daughters out as suicide bombers than they would go themselves.Wonder if the Europeans would approve?
If you cannot kill your enemy, threaten what he holds dear. Force him to come out and confront you in desperation. Today, we do not have the stomach for this. Tomorrow, we may find it a necessity.
Posted by MarcV, 9:38 AM link
A Pox on Error 503!
Being the wanna-be computer-geeky kind of guy that I am (knows enough to be dangerous and really kludge a system) I went to the Discuss section at blogger's help site. Yeah, it's not so helpful, but wadda ya want for ... well, better not keep repeating myself.
Anyhow, the secret is the Archive - yes those darn Archives, you keep scrubbing and still you get Archives. Here's the rundown of what I did to successfully find relief from the Error 503 scourge:
-At the edit-your-blog (Posts) page, click on the Template button.
-Change something on there (maybe update a link to Spudlets?) and then click on Save Changes.
-That should take you back to your edit-your-blog page. Click the Archive button (next to the Template button).
-You should see on the upper part of the screen (tool bar) a label for "archive templates" - click on that.
-You should now see the HTML code for your Archive. Change something simple in there, like one of the labels that is printed on the Archive page, and then click on Save Changes.
-This should take you back to the edit-your-blog page. You can post something if you want, and then click on the Publish key.
Changing both your regular and archive template appears to be needed for blogger's servers to feel better. I try to change a little something on the templates to improve the chances of the computer accepting the changes. Hope this works better than mumbling some chants at your screen! The management of Spudlets takes no responsibility for computers blowing up, unless I'm getting paid for working on them.
Posted by MarcV, 3:40 PM link
R U Blogging Yet?
A co-worker pulled a magazine out of his mailbox that piqued my interest. On the cover in large letters was BLOG. "Information Week", a weekly dead-tree publication of business technology, devoted a few pages to the state of blogs. Before I go any further, see which side you identify with:
Is the Internet creating vacuous, uncommitted information grazers or, with guidance, will it create post-Net thinkers able to combine traditional, contemplative thought with broad knowledge and pattern-matching skills? Net thinkers are said to generate work quickly and make connections easily. But they also value information-gathering over deliberation [and] breadth over depth... Rebecca Blood
Gawrsh, am I a VUIG? I don't think the Internet creates them, they were already "vacuous grazers" to begin with!
The author does a pretty good job of detailing the blog scene, how to get in and some of the things going on. He does not mention things like blogger being down again (*##&% waddaya expect fer free?). The main thrust of the article is to somehow justify blogging as a potential business tool.
So far, few businesses have adopted blogging for use by employees on company time. But that might be the direction things are heading. John Robb, president and chief operating officer of UserLand Software Inc., which develops blogging technology, envisions individual workers using blogging tools to jot down their thoughts during the course of the day and as a platform for collaboration among colleagues.
Blogging on company time, (shudder) perish the thought! I can just imagine some of the important stuff that could go on company blogs:
2 tickets for local minor league baseball team game tonight - first come first serve!
We're out of coffee again!!?!
Remember, people are our most important asset.
Some people at companies that do use blogs like the fact that it frees up time they previously spent communicating via e-mail. It is also be useful for documenting the ideas that go into a project, because what is usually documented for a project is just the end result and not the path.
Another barrier to business acceptance is just the term "blogging" itself.
If they really want to be taken seriously, bloggers might think about using a different term to describe what they do. The phrase "I was blogging last night" is just as likely to trigger thoughts of impropriety as it is to impress a listener with one's philosophical side.
Philosophical, moi? If someone can think of a better term, leave a comment or send it to IW so they can publicize it and perhaps give you a place in the blogging (or whatever term is used in the future) Hall of Fame.
Posted by MarcV, 9:49 AM link
Error 503, away with thee!
In the name of blogger, blegone!
Posted by MarcV, 4:28 PM link
Go Home Yanks
Orrin Judd has a good post on possibilities for dealing with Saddam and Iraq. One that I had not heard of before, but could be interesting, is just disengaging and let the "region" sort things out. It goes against the Bush Doctrine of pre-emptive strikes against terrorists, but with the constant cries for the need of mountains of evidence against Saddam before attacking Iraq, maybe stepping out of the Middle East could work. Kinda curious to see what would happen without the US military controlling the no-fly zones.
Posted by MarcV, 3:30 PM link
For those blogger who have been getting withdrawls/delirium tremens from not getting a daily Bleat from Lileks, let the Possumblogger give you a quick fix as he describes his 15 minutes of fame, being interviewed by a real live journalist about blogging. Here's something that will hit home to many bloggers:
The next question caught me off guard too, something to the effect of "would you tell people to start a blog," which I answered by incoherently mumbling. Finally, we got it to the point that I wouldn't say to just anyone, 'hey go blog yourself,' simply because if you aren't interested in writing or having people be critical of you, blogging is not going to be very much fun. I have reached the point where it doesn't really matter to me what people think, which explains a lot of the content herein.How would we answer an interviewer about our reasons for blogging? Because it's there!?!
Posted by MarcV, 10:30 AM link
I have apparently ruffled some feathers, caused jaws to be clenched and given the appearance of a judgemental old fart. Yes, Joshua Claybourn and I have exchanged a few e-mails and we seem to be disappointed in each other. Oh well, that's what happens sometimes even to brothers and sisters. Blogs are public forums, so situations will be dealt with out in the open. Unfortunately, it is an imperfect medium for communication, so that inferences and assumptions can be made that were never meant to be made. I did not intend to question whether Joshua was Christian or not, just that I don't know him very well, and I am sorry if people got that impression.
I will continue to openly challenge what other people post. They can then either try to defend what they post or just ignore me. I hope all of us in the "Christian" blogosphere can hold each other accountable, exchange faith ideas, and accept criticism. I will make mistakes and hope that others can be forgiving. So with that I will make the following apology to Joshua:
I do apologize for the "b" list comment. I have no intention of belittling your site. What I should have said is that I frequent you site maybe once a week. The fact that I have it bookmarked under a folder labeled "b list" should not have been mentioned, and I am sorry I presented it that way.PS Thanks to all who have visited yesterday. It has peaked the counter to 83 (woo-hoo), just wish that it could have been under better circumstances.
Posted by MarcV, 10:11 AM link
Wired has an article on the rise of the Chinese market for computers. They estimate that by 2006 they will be the biggest buyers of computers. Legend is the local producer and 800 lb. gorilla of the market. They may also turn out to be the "Ford" of China by offering their workers "American-style incentives: merit-based pay raises, pension plans, profit sharing, stock options." Hard to believe from a communist country.
Legend also works hard on customer service, having to convince people to spend a relatively large sum of money.
"You must gently hold the hands of people who are intimidated by technology and who, in many cases, have never spent this much money on a single purchase."
On the main floor of the store, a salesman is explaining to a couple in their fifties how to get on the Web with a Legend Conet. He encourages them to take the computer home for a week before deciding whether to buy it. Next he demonstrates the Tian Le ("Happiness PC"), which operates by touchscreen, and explains the "idiot" button: "If you download anything unwanted or otherwise mess up the preset configurations, the button resets the system."
Dell is their biggest competitor, but they only sell one computer for every 7 Legends. Can you say "Dude, you're getting a Dell" in Chinese?
Posted by MarcV, 3:38 PM link
Well, here I go again about more vulgarities. Some of you may have heard about the ad that Mr. Moon of the Unification Church has placed in several papers, proclaiming himself "king of kings" by Jesus and other notable figures. I would consider this more vulgar than anything that other bloggers have posted about sexual lyrics, and I don't wish to recreate it on this post, so you will have to look elsewhere for the full text.
Rather than just get upset about it, Dave Shifflet at NRO has a good chuckler on the "behind the scenes" happenings for this mythical meeting of religious titans.
It appears Moon was informed of his new standing during "a seminar in the spirit world for leaders of five of the great religions." Explains Mr. Remsen: "40 leaders of the five faiths, as well as Karl Marx and three other Communist greats, express their obeisance to Mr. Moon. At the celestial event, Mohammad is said to have led three cheers, while God submitted a letter stating, 'I believe in the True Parents.'" Perhaps it should be mentioned here that Moon and his wife (his second, as memory serves) bill themselves as the True Parents.
Yes, we should be angry about this junk coming out of Mr. Moon, but it is so ridiculous that a little humor helps.
Posted by MarcV, 11:52 AM link
Had a few minutes to check out blogs before the end of the day, so I visited my "b list", sites that I check out once a week. One of them was Joshua Claybourn's, and today he happened to post on bad lyrics in current music. He gave a quick warning about it being "R rated", but it seemed closer to X.
I have posted about sexual innuendos in the past, and Joshua even left a kind comment about the post. His post, though, in no way was innuendo. He reprinted the lyrics to make a point, but in doing so I wonder if he has stepped over the line. Most of us are aware about the trash that passes for music nowadays, and for those of us who are parents we need to be constantly vigilant.
This is new territory for me on the blogosphere, and I'm not sure what the best response to him should be. It's not like I can gather two or three others to confront him, or can I? This is the Net, and anything goes, but at what point do we say that something does not belong on the "Christian" blogosphere? Joshua may say that his blog is not necessarily Christian, but just things that are going on in his life. I really don't know him, so deciding to discuss his post was difficult.
At NRO's Corner today, there was some discussion about labels and their usefulness. When Martin Roth's list came out and "labeled" Christian sites, I felt uneasy about it because he listed so many sites that there was no way that someone could check them on a regular basis to see if they maintain Christian content. I did not request to be on his list, but I made it there (not sure how). You also have the problem of one person using his judgement of what constituted Christian content. The sites I list to the right I do not label as Christian, just people who happen to put out good blogs. Some are Christian, some are not, and some I can't say one way or another.
Now Bene Diction will have his own blog, and expand on the Roth list. It has been interesting to see this "cloud" in the blogosphere expand, and I suppose it was inevitable that lists of sites with the "Christian" label would be made. Most of us struggle with deciding what is "post worthy", particularly if we want to make an effort to honor God and advance His kingdom. I could probably go through my archives and find posts that do not fit that criteria. I hope that I can keep my posts clean, not let the dirt of the world in, and I hope that others out there will point out when I fail.
Posted by MarcV, 10:50 PM link
The Untold War
Fred Reed, who has been there and done that, has a serious column on war and things we don't normally take into account for those on the front lines. Our invasion of Afghanistan was relatively clean with low loss of life. With the drumbeats of war beating louder for invading Iraq, this country may be looking at substantial military loss of life. Sometimes we have to fight a war now to reduce a potentially bigger problem in the future, but it seems that Iraq will be a messy situation.
Posted by MarcV, 4:15 PM link
Trying to find a good Sunday School class, but the last two have been more on the lecture side (class size>30), where I would like to be in a smaller group Bible study environment. We did discuss Noah, and I brought up one of the things that struck me from that story: after the boat lands and he clears the ark, rather than just flopping on the ground (like I would do) he builds an altar and and makes sacrifices to the Lord.
We tend to pray before and up to the time of a crisis, but after it is over do we just say "Thanks Lord", wipe our brow and go on the next task put before us? We also pray for others to get through a specific event, but afterwards things get dropped off of the prayer list and other needs are listed. So what am I trying to say?
Circumstances might change for people, but they still may have needs. Someone has a death in their family and we pray for peace and comfort, but they may need more help to make it into the future without that person.
While we pray and ask God to help those in need, we should continue to listen for that still small voice in our ear that can answer our prayers, and give us direction on what we can do to serve God and each other. When you pray, remember to make an effort to listen for a reply. I write this more for myself than for anyone in particular, because I am guilty (during my prayer time) of presenting some thanks followed by the laundry list of needs, and don't take the time to wait for an answer.
Posted by MarcV, 9:35 AM link
- Does it seem like the investment folks are playing a big game of "chicken" with the stock market? How far will it go until someone pulls over and has had enough? For years we were living in the good-life boom times, with predictions of the Dow going past 20 to 30,000. Might be awhile before that happens.
- My 4 year old fell asleep next to me in the LaZBoy last night. It has been a few months since that happened, and I enjoyed it until carrying him off to bed (he's starting to get too big for that too!). Wife got him a ScoobyDoo alarm clock. When it went off this morning I checked on him. He didn't seem to be waking up, so after I turned the clock off, he half-opens one eye, rolls over and grabs the sheet, because it's much too early (just like his mama)! What a life!
- Looked at my blog list of sites I visit regularly, and there was only one with significant estrogen content (use to visit Alice in TVLand, but she is MIA - anyone know what has happened?). I appreciate a feminine touch and respect ladies' opinions, so I have added two to the list, a fellow Illini and a Girl on the Right, and am looking forward to good blogging from both.
Posted by MarcV, 9:33 AM link
Hey Possumblogger - since you don't have a comments section I'll yell at you this way.
How about an Executive Summary for those really long ones that the weekends seem to inspire!
Great googly moogly - are you keeping those carpal tunnel specialists in vacation homes?!?
Posted by MarcV, 3:43 PM link
If anyone is interested in making picks on NFL games during the regular season, either leave a note in the comments or e-mail me, and I will arrange to have a pick sheet e-mailed to you each week. This being the "Christian" blogosphere (and since it is also illegal), there will be no monetary or other material prizes, just the chance to be a humble and gracious winner. The winner at the end of the regular season will be duly noted and lauded throughout the blogosphere.
Posted by MarcV, 3:38 PM link
Not much reaction from fellow bloggers on the Samantha Runnion abduction story. Besides tying your stomach in knots, there isn't much to say. It is difficult to look at her picture and not be flooded with emotions, particularly if you are a parent. You want to protect your children so much, knowing you can't watch them 24/7, but you also eventually have to let go and trust that God is watching over them.
I will admit to being against capital punishment, yet I mentioned to my wife (who is for it) that if anyone deserves an exception it is the man responsible for this horror. God is working on me through this, helping me to better understand forgiveness, but this is a tough one. It looks like his defense might use the "rough childhood - tragic family circumstances" to avoid the death penalty. I have a hunch that even if he gets life in prison, unless he is given solitary confinement he will be getting a very rough reception from his fellow inmates.
Posted by MarcV, 3:37 PM link
Inspired by Mark Byron, I have included my predictions for the NFL season. I tried not to read any "in-depth" preseason analyses before making these predictions, and I still may post a revision just prior to the start of the regular season.
We are finally coming to the end of the off-season (oh yeah!). I have tried to simplify my life to two seasons: football and off season. I try not to make my wife a football widow, but Sunday afternoons during the season are usually reserved for watching the best team sport.
It was particularly difficult to list da Bears as only 11-5, because this should be the "19-0 bandwagon to the Super Bowl" year. As with every other team, they will only go as far as their quarterbacking does not hold them back, let alone elevate them to playoff victories. Do two old arms equal one good arm? We'll find out.
I predict the NFC South will be tougher than others think, and that Philly will be the Super Bowl rep if they can get past da Bears. The Rams are due for a playoff bomb. For the AFC, Denver will rise from the pack and edge out New England on a contraversial play (it all evens out in the end). The Raiders appear on paper to be strong, but internal pressures and a lame duck coach will give them an early playoff exit.
If anyone else would like to throw their hat in the ring, either post them in the comments or on another blog. Any suggestions for a "no-prize" would also be appreciated. Let me know if you would like to join the competition and I can keep all preseason predictions on a spreadsheet, to check against the final season standings. Predictions on the Super Bowl participants could be used as the tie breaker if needed.
NY Giants 8-8
Green Bay 10-6
New Orleans 11-5
Tampa Bay 9-7
St. Louis 13-3
San Francisco 8-8
New England 12-4
NY Jets 7-9
Kansas City 7-9
San Diego 6-10
Posted by MarcV, 9:16 PM link
Last year, when the country was trying to come to grips with the aftermath of 9/11, Peggy Noonan wrote some great articles that helped put the situation in perspective and give a voice to the sorrow and other emotions felt then. She is still churning out a column every Friday at OpinionJournal.com, but for the last few months I've skipped reading them.
Part of it was being busy with other things, like this humble blog, but it was also that her columns were getting too maudlin, for lack of a better word. She has a real doozy today, the kind where you shake your head and start an eye-roll. You feel like patting her hand and telling her it's OK. I would describe her now as a cross between Erma Bombeck and Jimmy Breslin (does that date me or what?), but held up to a mirror in order to reverse the liberal to a conservative.
In one of her journeys into anecdotes, she notices that people still have bad dreams about 9/11. She wants everyone to write her so that she can collect them for some type of "record". Read her column and how she explains her reasoning at the end. I guess some folks take this seriously, but I found it to rate an 8.5 on the Unintentional Chuckle Factor (UChF).
Posted by MarcV, 2:53 PM link
The US-SDB Clueless
Kudos to Jeffrey Collins for hanging in there and continuing to check up on den Beste at the USS Clueless. When I first started blogging, the Clueless was a good site to practice putting your thoughts together and posting them. He does have one of the biggest "warblog" sites, and he gets many different people contrbuting their viewpoints.
About a month or so ago, I got to the point where his pride in atheism and contempt for Christians were too much for me to bear. I think den Beste was raised in a Christian home, but rebelled once he was on his own (literally) and now worships at the altar of technology. I used to be there myself, but by the grace of God I have found a better way.
Anyhow, Jeffrey has a good reply to den Beste's fear of fundamentalism and anything religious. There was one line from den Beste that I want to center on:
Religion provides a feeling of power, of control, of knowledge and understanding.
Other religions may have that, but Christians should feel the opposite: powerless, giving control to the Lord, dumb for everything save Jesus Christ and him crucified, and continuing to seek the Holy Spirit (not yourself) for understanding. What we should have is contentment and peace, that God cares for us and we have a hope for a blessed future, not that we just end up as worm feed, or that somehow our puny attempts at advancing technology will be remembered (and revered?) for future generations.
As far as "family values", I would like to get nostalgic and go back to a time where once you turn on the TV you didn't have to worry about seeing sex and violence in commercials, let alone the shows themselves. Let's get back to a time where people did not openly indulge in the vulgarity of this world in public, where kids could be kids past the age of 10.
For that change to happen in our society we would need hearts to change, since laws can not change a person's morality. den Beste fears the fundamentalists can become "pathological" from their feeling of powerlessness, and eventually cause society to be thrown back into the dark age. He is taking dangerous steps in lumping Christian with Muslim fundamentalists, and I appreciate Jeffrey (and other folks) alerting us to the techno-tyrant utterances.
Posted by MarcV, 12:28 PM link
A little slow at work, so I checked the referral log, and my site came up for the google search "batman mpeg newmar". Turns out it was #5 on the google return. If I had a Julie Newmar mpeg, I could get a PayPal account on my site! Her fan site has a bunch of pictures and a biography. Here is how the bio starts:
If ever the term goddess applied to an actress, it's to five-foot-ten, 145-pound, 38-23-38, 135-IQ Julie Newmar. She even seems to have the life-span of a goddess, her beauty unchanged in three decades.Born (not created in a lab) on August 16, 1935, in Los Angeles, Julia Chalane Newmeyer's mother was redheaded Helen Jesmer, star of the Follies of 1920. Her father, six-foot-four Donald Newmeyer, was a professor at Los Angeles City College and at one time a Chicago Bears football player.
Ahem... 23" waist? Maybe when I was 10.
You see the results from good breeding, the daughter of a Bears player!
Posted by MarcV, 2:57 PM link
Did anyone else see the Nova program on PBS about the human body? It's incredible how technology has affected medical science. Had to chuckle that they chose the Charlotte Hornets (they showed the team from two seasons ago) as their athletes to spotlight. Now they'll be the the New Orleans Hornets (or Crawdads or whatever they happen to choose).
The program highlighted two cases: a man with a brain tumor and a couple going through IVF. I could not watch the actual brain surgery - ick. They have to keep him awake during the process, and then to top it off they show him the tumor after they remove it (don't think it would be delicious with fava beans!). At a time you think the family would be in fervent prayer, they never did pray. I'm not sure if they chose to cut it out or if the family is just not religious (I think it's the latter).
The part on in-vitro fertilization was fascinating. They showed the actual process (through the microscope) of the doctor injecting one sperm into the egg. When it came time to implant the embryos, she chose two, in case one did not take. God blessed her with twins, a boy and a girl. They showed her sonogram examination, and at 18 days the circulation/heart system are just starting to show.
I enjoyed seeing all of that, but at the same time it opened up some pain that I try not to dwell on. My wife and I got up to the point of IVF, but decided against it because of cost/risk and the fact that God seemed to be telling us not to do it. He has blessed us beyond belief with our Joshua, and I can't adequately give thanks for him. I admit my weakness before God that I sometimes feel sorry for myself, not having the daughter I hoped for, and pray that He will forgive me and continue to reveal the riches in life that He wants me to have.
Posted by MarcV, 12:30 PM link
Not Accounting Up
Some good comments on the accounting fraud scandals from Mark Byron and David French. It seems like it's a few bad apples having the potential to spoil the whole basket. You do have to wonder how many CFO's try to interpret accounting practices to help their company as opposed to using honest and fair practices. I wonder how I would handle those grey areas.
People should not be too surprised that some books were cooked to make profit numbers look good. Senior management is rewarded for keeping stock prices as high as possible, and stock prices are driven by a "What have you done for me this quarter?" attitude. There have been grumblings about the SEC falling asleep, as well as Congress trying to make cheating CEO's "real" criminals and give them hard time. I think we have to look at the free market to eventually fix this situation, although there will definitely be some pain felt as some retirement accounts will dwindle and jobs are lost.
One aspect that I have not seen mentioned is the tax implications. At first I thought that the IRS could go after the "bad guys" because people who change their accounting numbers usually do so to avoid taxes. If it worked to get Al Capone, then it should work here. The numbers were changed, though, to make profits appear out of the air. So not only are the profits fictitious, but these companies paid taxes on fake profits with money they don't have! Talk about a double whammy to the midsection... mmph!
If and when the books are "corrected" to show a loss, rather than the fake profits reported, will the IRS be obligated to return the tax payments? I suppose the companies could eventually file a form like 1040X, where you amend your returns because of mistakes made from previous years. Would it be possible for this to drive up the federal deficit even more? Doubt it, but it would be interesting to see the impact on federal and state treasuries after the dust has settled.
Posted by MarcV, 12:29 PM link
Tony Woodlief over at Sand in the Gears has a great post on ADA. I'll try not to get started expressing my disgust with this "act of Congress", but it is unfortunate how something meant to help truly handicapped people has been warped and twisted by anybody looking for a free pass. Each community should be taking care of its own, but the feds stick their noses in and tell people that they have solved the problem, no need to worry. Just a sad state of affairs.
(and don't get me started on the PGA and Casey Martin, or I might start grinding my teeth!)
Posted by MarcV, 12:32 PM link
As a public non-service, and keeping with the blogosphere tradition of complementary linking to drive up our hit meter readings, thanks to Possumblogger for helping me with my deep troubledness. Taters may seem to be innocent root-cellar dwellers, but the thought of an evil spud on the loose makes one give pause. Watch where you step in the garden, as you may be stepping on a landmine!
So before you reach in the tater bin and possibly grip a moldy one (and then you can't seem to wash off the smell and it lingers on your fingers), beware the evil spud.
Posted by MarcV, 12:30 PM link
Mark Byron has a good rundown on some thoughts about education and home schooling. One other factor for home schooling that he did not mention is the question of the parent (usually the mom) having the talent and desire to make teaching at home a full-time occupation. If they have a difficult time communicating and explaining concepts, helping others to grow in their understanding, then they may have to look at other options. If their heart is not into it, and they want to do something else (like a career, gardening, or whatever), then a public or private school should be considered.
I am curious as to how school vouchers will affect home schooling, and if some states will give payments to families that home school. Makes sense to do so, but you could end up with a situation that is messier than welfare.
Posted by MarcV, 10:25 AM link
A River Ran Through It
Just finished reading A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean that the movie of the same name was based on. It's a good read, not too long, and very interesting to see how the movie and book differ. If you have not read the book but have seen the movie, watch the movie again and then read the book. It is a good "guy" book, written from a man's point of view about some of the stuff that guys, and maybe gals, wrestle with in their lives.
In the movie the father (pastor) gives a sermon at the end about helping people. In my post prior to this one, I had tried to help Ms. Cornett with a faith/doctrine issue. I don't know if I could help her, and maybe help myself as well, but I tried. In his book, Mr. Maclean presents the concepts of helping while he is talking to his father about Paul (Norman's brother) before their last father-son fishing trip.
He [Paul's father] spoke in the abstract, but he had spent his life fitting abstractions to listeners so that listeners would have no trouble fitting his abstractions to the particulars of their lives.
"You are too young to help anybody and I am too old," he said. "By help I don't mean a courtesy like serving chokecherry jelly or giving money.
"Help," he said, "is giving part of yourself to somebody who comes to accept it willingly and needs it badly.
"So it is," he said, using an old homiletic transition, "that we can seldom help anybody. Either we don't know what part to give or maybe we don't like to give any part of ourselves. Then, more often than not, the part that is needed is not wanted. And even more often, we do not have the part that is needed. It is like the auto-supply shop over town where they always say, 'Sorry, we are just out of that part.'"
I told him, "You make it too tough. Help doesn't have to be anything that big."
He asked me, "Do you think your mother helps him by buttering his rolls?"
"She might," I told him. "In fact, yes, I think she does."
"Do you think you help him?" he asked me.
"I try to, I said. "My trouble is I don't know him. In fact, one of my troubles is that I don't even know whether he needs help. I don't know, that's my trouble."
"That should have been my text," my father said. "We are willing to help, Lord, but what if anything is needed?
"I still know how to fish," he concluded. "Tomorrow we will go fishing with him."
I like that definition of help. Many of us live quiet lives for the most part, struggling occasionally to find meaning for the things we do and wondering about the things that maybe we should do but don't. It can be particularly frustrating when someone close to us needs help but we don't know what specifically is needed, or even that it will be accepted.
When doctrine wars flare up, we know that misguided person needs our help to determine the correct scriptural interpretation. If they don't take our "help", do we shun them or do we continue to treat them as brothers? We say we rely on the Holy Spirit to guide us, but in our eagerness to help, I believe we sometimes answer the call of our own desires.
What if anything is needed? Personal relationship. We can go fishing, golfing, take a walk in the park, play a video game, swap ideas on the blogosphere, or whatever else interests people, and you are showing you care by giving a part of yourself. If the personal relationship is strong enough, then maybe help will be accepted willingly... if it is needed badly. There are no guarantees, except for the relationship we can have with Jesus, who will never let us down.
Our journey down the river of life lasts briefly. We may linger in a quiet side pool or run the rapids. We try, each in our own way, to help others get downstream. We may never know if our efforts are fruitful, but we keep trying because of the One who loved us first, as He blesses and cares for us down the river.
Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it.
Posted by MarcV, 10:23 AM link
Susanna at Cut on the Bias sent back a lengthy reply on a prior post. Rather then let it linger in a past comments section, I wanted to post on it. First is her letter, followed by my response.
Marc, first let me apologize for taking so long to get back to this discussion. Work, the need to update my own blog, and then a mini-vacation intruded. But I know you will forgive me :).
Much of what you say I agree with in theory - that we should operate out of love, that rancor and butting heads will not move anyone closer to God, that conducting a doctrinal discussion wholly in the blogosphere may not be the best way to fine tune our understandings of each other's doctrine/beliefs. But I keep coming back to a point where I think we disagree - the centrality of doctrine to salvation.
In part, I believe this emerges from our differing views on how we come to know something as "truth". From my conversations with my UPCI friend (I talked to him about this, and he noted among other things that it's UPCI, not UPI, so I stand corrected), I know that for Charismatics (or his "brand", anyway), the primary manner of "knowing" is through the Holy Spirit - you know because you "know" in a revealed way. The HS, in essence, speaks to you in a superscriptural way, which is to say, outside of just what Scriptural text has to say - you read Scripture, then look to the HS's indwelling to "know" or confirm what it means. My belief is that the Holy Spirit deals with us primarily through the Scripture, at least when it comes to truth and teaching.
Thus, everything I need to know about salvation is in God's word, which the authors were inspired by the Holy Spirit to write - and in this manner the HS teaches me. Certainly I pray to God for an open heart and clear mind to see the truth - to prevent the problem you mention in a later post, that kept the Pharisees from seeing the truth about Jesus as the Christ. But I don't think the HS operates outside of the Scriptures to convict me of this "truth" vs that "truth", and certainly he would not convict you of one "truth" that conflicted with another "truth" that I believe.
That is to say, if I believe that baptism by immersion is necessary for salvation (precedes it), and you believe that salvation can come before it although baptism is important, then we have beliefs that are mutually exclusive and the HS cannot have been instrumental in causing each of our individual beliefs, since God is not the author of confusion. It is on these grounds that I say doctrine is of great moment, and a general "I'm ok, you're ok" attitude can actually do great harm.
The difficulty comes when either side gets reactionary about the excesses of the other, and the effort to find a common ground is abandoned. My view is considered by some to be too legalistic, focusing on a relatively strict interpretation of Scripture, an almost Pharisaical adherence to doctrine with, they would say (and have said), a commensurate neglect of the love and forgiveness required by Jesus in His followers. On the other hand, some who tend to have my same view of Scriptural interpretation become very edgy with what they see as squishy, emotional religion that focuses on an individual connection to God as what is most important regardless of what path someone chooses to foster that connection. It is an approach that minimizes doctrinal differences and emphasizes instead that we all worship the same God, regardless of how we get there, and isn't it wonderful to live in love.
The problem there, according to someone following a strict interpretation of Scripture, is that squishy is the road to hell - it does matter, for example, whether the dunking under water is considered the passage into the kingdom or just a ritualistic acknowledgement of something that has already happened, because the Scriptures say, "He who believes and is baptized shall be saved" (Mark 16:16); it doesn't say "He who believes will be saved, and it's a good idea to be immersed at some point to show your acceptance of God's will" or even "immersion is a nice traditional gesture, but sprinkling is fine too, and hey, if baptism just doesn't work for you, that not a problem. What's important is that you believe in God."
If the strict Scriptural interpretation is correct - "believes AND is baptized", then what happens to the person who believes but isn't baptized because he is taught that baptism is a good thing but not a necessary thing? It is not my place to condemn anyone; God judges. But it's not a risk I would feel comfortable taking.
I think you know that I am not making accusations here, I'm making a point about approaches to Scripture. I also think it likely that you have seen both extremes in action and probably do not subcribe fully to either. However, I'd say you lean more to the emotional side as I lean toward the legalistic. I think I have much to learn about your heart-centered love for and worship of God; I know that I don't nurture that enough in my own life, and I am the worse off for it.
I also think that it would serve you well to consider a more narrow interpretation of the truth of Scripture, because, as I mentioned before, God is not the author of confusion. The way to avoid confusion, meaning in this instance contradictory practices accepted as equally valid, is to first acknowledge that there is a One Truth - One Doctrine - that we must seek to find and follow. While it is definitely inappropriate for me to tell everyone that I have "The Truth" and if you don't agree with me you're doomed, at the same time, we need to focus more on piecing together all the bits of truth each of us have uncovered so we can be One, not Several, in our service to God. All this must be done with love, with humility and much prayer - with the kind of generosity of spirit (Spirit?) that I perceive in you, and that I would do well to emulate. But that need for loving each other does not perforce replace the imperative of doctrine.
That's it. Thank you for the opportunity to address this, and please feel free to go after it in any manner you deem reasonable. I'm strong, so don't worry about pulling punches. What is important to me is learning from each other, and expressing my views in a direct, respectful yet unvarnished manner is, I think, the quickest route to understanding.
"I thoroughly disapprove of duels. I consider them unwise and I know they are dangerous. Also, sinful. If a man should challenge me now I would go to that man and take him kindly and forgivingly by the hand and lead him to a quiet retired spot and kill him." ---Mark Twain
I echo your reasons on the lateness of returning to this discussion. At first, when I read your reply, that foot-stomp was getting started again, then you had to get nice to me at the end, so I will put the foot down gently (it's time someone put their foot down, and that foot is me - Dean Wormer).
My first reaction to your reply was the song "I Surrender All", and I'll get back to that. Between the time you wrote and now, I had replied to Garver at Sacra Doctrina about infant baptism. After re-reading your reply, you would really "love" what I have to say!
You mention Mark 16:16 as essential scripture for your doctrine. Let's look at it in a little more depth, keeping in mind that the most reliable earlier manuscripts and other ancient witnesses do not include this account:
MK 16:15 He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well."
You cite verse 16, but the last part states that the condemned will consist of only those who do not believe, not necessarily those who are "unbaptized". What baptism was Jesus talking about here? At the time when He was giving these instructions, the apostles were hiding out and Jesus told them to wait in Jerusalem (for Pentecost), so they were not going out to evangelize until Jesus gave them more instructions at Jerusalem. Verses 17 and 18 sound like the kind of powers one gets from a baptism in the Holy Spirit. Would you "feel comfortable taking the risk" of handling poisonous snakes or drinking poison (besides ethanol)? Have you experienced any of the signs that "accompany those who believe"?
I have been praying about this response for days, because I have the feeling you are at a crossroads. I'll make a guess here. You're wondering if you are missing out, that there's something more you should be getting from your relationship with Jesus.
I wonder about this myself: have I given everything to the Lord, is He really the most important part of my life, could someone who spends a good portion of time with me be able to tell that I am a disciple of Jesus? I consider it a good day if I have drawn closer to the Lord and have changed some part of me to be more like Jesus. Have a good day!
I take by faith and have accepted that I am saved, the Holy Spirit resides in me and guides me when I am right with the Lord, and that God is active in my life. I cannot convince you of doctrinal error or even accepting salvation - that is the job of the Holy Spirit. At best I can "prepare the seed bed", but it is the Holy Spirit that plants the seed and changes hearts. Therefore, I don't get excited or out of joint when someone has a different doctrine.
I do care about how someone interprets the Bible, and would like to discuss it, knowing that we will not agree with everything. God is not the author of confusion, man is. As long as imperfect people misinterpret and miscommunicate their understanding of the Bible as guided by the Holy Spirit, then we will have doctrinal differences. Let me be dumb to everything save Jesus Christ and Him crucified
I can decide where to worship, and if the pastor and church leadership are taking the church body out of doctrine that I believe, then the Spirit prompts me to find somewhere else to worship. I will probably not find a pastor that I agree with 100%, but if he has a good foundation, then I hope that we can learn from each other. I hope that is possible on the blogosphere as well, with the other blog friends that I have made.
Now, enough of me and getting back to you. What is your reaction to the following scripture - this is where disciples of John the Baptist ask Jesus if He is the Messiah:
LK 7:20 When the men came to Jesus, they said, "John the Baptist sent us to you to ask, `Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?' "
LK 7:21 At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind. 22 So he replied to the messengers, "Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor."
Does this make you want to stand up and shout hallelujah, or do you just think "good scripture, I remember reading that before"?
Susanna, Jesus desires all of you. He sacrificed all for us, even though we did not deserve it. I have found that living a spirit-led life has helped take away the desire for me to be always right or insist on some doctrine imperative. Jesus is more concerned about your purity, and not with doctrinal purity.
We've come to our final point - surrender. This is my current struggle: have I surrendered all, what am I holding back and why? The Lord is working in me, and I may not like His timing, but accept it I will. Verses one and three from "I Surrender All"link
All to Jesus, I surrender;
All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him,
In His presence daily live.
I surrender all, I surrender all,
All to Thee, my blessèd Savior,
I surrender all.
All to Jesus, I surrender;
Make me, Savior, wholly Thine;
Let me feel the Holy Spirit,
Truly know that Thou art mine.
I hope this has been a help to you, and that you will be blessed with more heart-knowledge of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Posted by MarcV, 11:10 PM link
Help Jane, someone fix this crazy thing!
Posted by MarcV, 7:06 AM link
Is it happy hour yet?
Posted by MarcV, 2:37 PM link
If I had to guess the most linked site in the blogosphere, I would say Lileks Bleat. At the risk of making him even less humble, I would also say that he is the best writer in the business today. Not that I read "everybody", but I have been reading a newspaper nearly every day for the past +20 years, and he beats anybody else that I have read. He consistently puts out 5 good Bleats, 3 Backfences and a Newhouse article week after week, along with an occasional screed and his online memorabilia collection.
Those who have tried to blog for awhile can appreciate the talent needed for that type of output. I also like to read him because we are close in age and we both are raising preschoolers.
Today he touched on a fear of every parent, losing a young'n in a public place.
Parents know exactly the emotions I am describing. Those without children have no idea. I’m not accusing you of a lack of empathy or failure of imagination, but trust me: you have no idea. One moment you’re looking at wooden letters and wondering how they’d look on the shelf; the next you are petitioning the universe to take your life in exchange for hers.
And then you’re fine and saying no, we can’t have a cookie now.
The biggest obstacle to reading a Lileks piece is that he may be nominally Christian, and he seems to be cynical about religion. What type of answer do you think he will get when he "petitions the universe"? I pray to the Lord that He will send him the right person and/or circumstance to bring him back in right relationship with Jesus.
Posted by MarcV, 1:06 PM link
Garver at Sacra Doctrina, the most linked site in the Christian blogosphere(!), was kind enough to reply to my last post below on infant adoption. Rather then mess up the comments section, I'll make another post and start off with his reaction to the situation. From his blog:
In any case, the comments led to some further thoughts about how people talk past each other, misconstrue and distort one another's views, draw unwarranted conclusions from others' words, and often seem incapable of understanding what the other person is trying to say (not that David did any of this). This seems to happen more often in certain evangelical circles than one would reasonably expect (and particularly so in Reformed circles, so it appears to me). I wonder sometimes why this is and find it a disturbing phenomenon.I agree that it is disturbing. I thought the subject was infant baptism, not baptism in general.
Well, none of those references I made was intended to establish infant baptism, but a biblical theology of baptism.
I think we would need to come to agreement first on precisely what God does through baptism (if anything) before we can ask the question of whether or not infants of believers are proper recipients of the sacrament.
I would see infant baptism as the way in which covenant infants come before God in repentance and to receive forgiveness, being entrusted to God for those things in the name of the Trinity and thereby entering upon a life of faith.
But I suspect we're probably on completely different pages on all these questions.
If you replace "infant" with "believer" on the third sentence, then we would be on the same page for baptism.
I believe we run into the problem of infant baptism taking the place of the believer's baptism, to "come before God in repentance and to receive forgiveness...", where an infant or even toddler cannot be expected to do that. There needs to be a progression of understanding what rules are, obeying the law/authority, and then submitting to God's authority and plan for us.
Rom. 7:7 What shall we say, then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law. We cannot know sin until we understand how "law" works in our lives. This is where maturity comes in, as well as a parent's duty to teach their children and guide them to enter "upon a life of faith".
Posted by MarcV, 1:03 PM link
David Heddle's post on baptism resulted in a few comments (one of them being mine). Garver over at Sacra Doctrina is a proponent of infant baptism and gave a few references in scripture. Let's see what he said:
I think what proponents of infant baptism are focusing upon is that idea that Christ, the Gospel, and promises of God are held forth to us in baptism (Acts 2:38-39; 22:16; Rom 6; 1 Cor 6:11; Gal 3:27; Col 2:11-14; Eph 5:25-26; Tit 3:5-6; 1 Pe 3:18-22).
Moreover, baptism is seen first and foremost a sign and seal of God's faithfulness of us in Jesus Christ and our incorporation into everything that his own baptism signified, including its outworking in the baptism of the cross and his being raised to new life by the Spirit.
I should know better than to wade into scripture "feuds", but for some reason I feel like putting in my 2 cents (outworking in the baptism of the cross? that's a new one on me).
Let me first lay the foundation that the sacraments of water baptism and communion are ceremonies and are not necessary for salvation. If you disagree you might as well go to another blog, and God bless you. Jesus modeled these for us at the beginning and end of his ministry, so we partake of these sacraments as a memorial and as an act of submission to Jesus. Let's look at the references that Garver gave.
I'll save the first for last. Acts 22:16 applies only to Paul, when he recounted his initial conversion. Rom. 6:1, 1Cor. 6:11, Col. 2:12, and Titus 3:5 all focus on people who haved lived a life of sin and are washed/sanctified by baptism for the forgiveness of sins (doesn't apply to infants). Gal 3:26-27 (all NIV)You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. Great scripture, but just refers to baptism as an analogy. Eph. 5:25-26 is at best a stretch to use in reference to baptism, but is used to illuminate the husband-wife relationship.
1Pet. 3:18-22 takes the analogy concept even further: In it[the ark] only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also--not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ That last part sounds like an active response by the believer, pledge of a good conscience.
Acts 2:38-39 signals the start of the Christian church. Witnesses saw the signs of Pentecost and were caught up with the talk that Peter had just given, and then they wanted to know, "How do I join?" Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off--for all whom the Lord our God will call." Now someone could see children and think that baptism is for infants. The promise of the Holy Spirit is for you and "your children who are far off", meaning generations into the future, that the Lord will call. Hallelujah, we serve a God who cares enough to call us, who is active in our lives.
Here is Garver's final comments:
Baptism is thus primarily understood as something that God does for us, and only secondarily something that we do in response to God and before others.
Infant baptism needs to be understood in that wider context.
Indeed, from a certain perspective, one might say taht all baptisms are infant baptisms since--whatever our biological age--in baptism we come to God with nothing in order to receive life from him.
Well, yes, God does "everything" for us. In this case we submit to baptism by repenting of our sins and asking for His cleansing, but it is up to us to step forward and say, "Lord I'm a dirty filthy sinner who does not deserve forgiveness, but by your grace I ask for forgiveness. Please cleanse me of my sin in Jesus name." We make baptism a church ceremony so that others can pray for the candidate, as well as being reminded of their need for repentance, and it is a way of telling the church that you submit to Jesus.
All baptisms are not infant baptisms, but more like bar mitzvahs, when you are telling the Lord that you are mature enough to begin your faith journey. That is what I believe Jesus modeled. Holy spirit baptisms are a whole different matter (and post).
[NOTE] Garver left a few more comments during the time I wrote this post. Not that they affect my response, but his explanations are so "strange" (for lack of a better word) that it's difficult to re-read them.
Posted by MarcV, 4:05 PM link
John Derbyshire has an article in NRO on making the distinction of calling the Islamofascists our enemy, rather than all Muslims in general. He goes into detail comparing religions and asserts that religion itself does not determine how a nation/group of people will or will not prosper:
What is really important in determining the destinies and character of peoples is culture, tradition, ingrained folkways. Most of the time, religion does not so much mould those things as wrap itself around them. The fondness of the Germanic peoples for moots, parliaments, althings, debates and elections seems to pre-date Christianity; the feistiness and confidence of Jewish women can be spotted far back in the Old Testament, in the stories of Sarah and Deborah, way before Judaism achieved a settled form. I don't know, but I'm willing to bet, that Arabs were excluding their women from public affairs long before Muhammad came along. I wouldn't be very surprised to learnt that they were being beastly to Jews, too.
I still think we need to fight the good fight to defend ourselves from future acts of terror. He does make a good point of avoiding the use of broad brush strokes when dealing with people. Pres. Bush has tried to advocate that Islam is a religion of peace, and I know that irritates some folks to hear that.
As Christians we can have a difficult time relating to Muslims because we know their doctrines are way off. I do hear the drum beats of war with Iraq getting louder, and although they are a secular country, they are still primarily Muslim. The '91 Gulf War did not seem to cause too much animosity with Muslims, due to the help of the Sauds, and that the other Arab countries only grumbled about the attack. There's no telling how the '02 Gulf War will play out.
One of his last points is still bothering me, like a popcorn hull wedged between your gums and back molar:
A coherent and well-established religion like Islam is an asset to the human race, with the potential to soften the hearts and enlighten the minds of believers. It might be the instrument for lifting those believers out of the pit of lies, cruelty, intolerance and stagnation into which their tribal cultures seem have dragged them.
Ideally we would like to see them come to salvation through Jesus Christ. Accepting this intermediate step of peace through Islam is difficult, but it seems to be the option we will use for now. Islam as an asset to the human race?
I used to think that it was not so bad for prison inmates to be Muslim, so that they would hopefully be a little more peaceful (spending time in prayer and reading the Koran). Now that I have heard about the recruitment for terrorists going on in prisons, I've had to rethink that position, as well as the Spirit convicting me that they would still be doomed without salvation through Christ. Will Arabs rise above the "tribal-culture mindset" with their Islamic faith, or is a Christian faith necessary? My (obvious) answer would be biased, so I'll let others answer it.
Posted by MarcV, 12:18 PM link
The Jimmy Movie
Took an extra-long lunch break to meet the family at the matinee for Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius. It's already out on video (or do I say DVD now?). Fantabulous flick!
It was even better the second time around. Although the SpudBed (my humble household) does not have a DVD player, buying this movie on DVD might help push us over the edge to join the 21st century. If you have the chance, take the kids (or just yourself or whoever) to see it on the big screen, because it is one of those movies that is bigger than the TV monitor. JNBG is a very good family film, and it has enough humor to keep the adults interested as well.
Watch your youngster's reaction when the kids in the movie celebrate life without parents, and afterwards when reality starts to set in. Mine asked, "Are the mommy and daddy coming back?" and I told him just to keep watching and find out. It was interesting, but occasionally distracting, to watch it in a theater full of kids, but you have to like the times when all the kids would laugh out loud together.
I'm still sticking to my assertion that JNBG is the ultimate guy movie, with the caveat that some gals (particularly younger ones) will also like it, but maybe not as much as the guys. I hope this movie helps inspire some kids to reach for the stars, to seek out new areas to explore. When I was a kid (back before Woodstock) this country was still the home of the brave and adventurous. I don't think it has been like that for decades, but maybe this new generation can get the exploration bug.
Posted by MarcV, 3:47 PM link
Possumblogger wrote back and said he assembled his vacation post in drips and drabs, but kept off the blog machine for a whole week. What stamina! He, along with many of you, would enjoy this post from the Bros. Judd on the "red state world". They start by pounding "lumps" on Maureen Dowd. That's like shooting fish in a barrel, but sometimes you just can't help yourself.
Posted by MarcV, 2:01 PM link
Does your stomach start getting tied in knots when you hear some Europeans or Arabs bad-mouth the US and the things we are doing for the war on terrorism? Kenneth Adelman at TechCentral Station has a great reply for those critics. It's difficult being the lone superpower sometimes, but persevere we must.
Posted by MarcV, 2:00 PM link
For Christian bloggers who take their posts seriously yet like to liven them up with a little humor, we can run the risk of offending someone or miscommunicating our intent/ideas. I hate the thought of ticking someone off because of a poorly worded post, yet I feel the need to make posts interesting, and I want to be true to my "communication style".
Bob Halloran in the Page 2 section of the ESPN site has a good article about word/phrase choice for sportscasters and writers, and much of what he says can be applied to bloggers. [NOTE: Some of his examples use mild sexual innuendo - if that bothers you do not link to the article or read any further]
"The Triple Crown races are the horse racing family's jewels" is a harmless little turn of a phrase, just like: "The Raptors only scored 63 points in the first game, so they'll be making more adjustments than a catcher with an undersized cup." Yet, both of those would likely fall victim to the delete key. They'd never be seen in a teleprompter, and they'd never be heard by a TV audience. Maybe it's just that people who read aren't as easy to offend.
I like the Page 2 section, but it is "worldly" and will occasionally present topics with humor and language that many Christians, including myself, find offensive.
Every day that we live in this world we have to draw lines and decide what our eyes and ears will take in (we'll leave the mouth out for now!). I do not want to live in an insulated, "church certified and approved" environment all the time, yet I am acutely aware of the garbage in-garbage out phenomenon. How can I venture out into the world and reach the lost yet not be overcome by the dirt of this world? Sounds like I'm getting close to the Spudlets vision statement (for more see the FAQ link).
In the end we continue to rely on our relationship with Jesus and the guidance of the Holy Spirit to manage our meandering through this media mess.
And speaking of media mess, Jonah Goldberg at NRO's Corner has a great take on postmodernism and how a bad doctrine can harm society.
Posted by MarcV, 1:01 PM link
Possumblogger is back and you knew he would write a long one about his vacation week, and he did not disappoint. I have to wonder if he wrote during the week, or just expectorated it all in one lump after he got back. Good to hear from the marsupial family man - would anyone voluntarily take a teenage daughter and in-laws on vacation at the same time?
Posted by MarcV, 1:00 PM link
Jeffrey over at Joyful Christian was kind enough to post in reply to my thoughts on Episcopalians. I had wondered about marriage being a financial hardship, and here is Jeffrey's reply:
In answer to Marc's question about how marriage can be a financial hardship I would say this is probably government related. There are certain government scholarships that through quirks in calculations frequently end up paying higher amounts to singles than to married couples. Also, there are some government housing and food programs that seem to give preference to single women. Then there is the dreaded "marriage penalty." This isn't really a penalty of course. The marriage penalty is a quirk in the tax law that ends up causing some married couples who both work and make about the same amount of money to pay a higher income tax than they would if they were single. When you combine all those factors, it is certainly possible that some people would find it financially desirable to refrain from marriage.
Notice an underlying thread? He probably is quite cognizant of this as well, but it bears re-stating.
It is a tragedy that government has taken over some aspects of society, such as housing and food programs, that the community and church should be administering. It is also a tragedy that some tax laws would penalize married people. I pray the Pres. Bush will continue his leadership on addressing these issues and presenting alternatives that would glorify God and let churches help take care of their individual communities.
Posted by MarcV, 12:58 PM link
Culture Curve has another good one on school vouchers and a response from a Slate article against vouchers. We will need the all the help we can get to topple the NEA/liberal juggernaut that is opposed to school vouchers.
Posted by MarcV, 12:57 PM link
Martin Roth today has a post on church growth and possibly revival in Australia being fueled by Chinese immigrants. I have a difficult time with the "R" word, simply because many people do not have a good perspective on what revival really is and the sacrifice necessary to sustain one, so it ends up being a buzz word.
Is this revival?
I don’t really know. But it is a phenomenon that is being replicated in many cities in the West. And of course it reflects what is happening within China itself, and in some other parts of Asia.
So perhaps the more important questions are as follows: Is the church in the West aware of what is happening? And what is it doing in response?
Depends what he means by "church". The leadership for most denominations are aware of various growth areas, but many are trying to maintain status quo or are too busy bailing water out of a sinking boat. I wasn't aware of the big surge in Chinese immigrants to Australia, but it makes sense considering the geography.
As for the body of believers, I would say that many are not aware. I have heard that Pentecostalism is the fastest growing denomination in the Christian world. That warms my heart if it is true, but I have to consider the source of this fact, as well as hopefully having this fact confirmed from other sources. Other people will just take whatever they hear from the pulpit and not look for other news about the Christian world.
"What we are doing in response?" is something we wrestle with every day, since that could be considered part of the Christian duty: am I seeking His will and serving God? He will tell us the proper "response" if we continue to ask for more of Him, whether or not there is revival breaking out. Praise God that He cares enough to tell us His will and gives us the strength to accomplish the tasks He sets before us by the power of His Holy Spirit.
Posted by MarcV, 8:29 AM link
Was I just thinking about that triple predestination thing or did I actually post on it? Uh-oh, I did. Oh that post and publish button!
If some think that it is making light of a serious subject, I apologize. I still stand behind what I posted, as I do with all of my posts. Who knows how I'll feel years from now?
It was not my intent to make predestination a "reductio ad absurdium"(is that the right phrase/spelling?), but just a feeble attempt at justifying free-will. We want so much to make God the supreme being (and He is!) that we impose our human logic on aspects of God that we could never begin to fathom.
I'm confident He likes praise, so perhaps I should be concentrating on that more than triple predestination.
Posted by MarcV, 8:26 AM link
Why stop at double predestination? Let's give God another layer, and say He knew that we would question double predestination, so He decided to just let it all go and we're on our own now. Triple predestination: God chose certain (future) men (and women) to be saved, God chose not to give the damned a chance to get to heaven on their own, God made a final "offer" and lets us figure it out. Hey, is that the Gospel story?
God has a chosen people (tribe of Israel). He gave them ceremonies and rituals for atonement, knowing that they will fail since they cannot make a "sufficiently appropriate" sacrifice, let alone having to ask for continual atonement being the sin machines that they (and we) are. He decided on a "mechanism" to wipe the slate clean, sent prophets to give them hints, and supplied us with the final sacrifice, and now wants us to come to Him by having us first acknowledge His Son/Sacrifice.
I'll accept that predestination. Once God decided to create Man, He knew that His Son's death would be needed to reconcile us to Him. God gave us this world and the freedom to live the brief instant in time that we draw breath. If some want to believe in predestination rather than free will, that is understandable.
Romans 8:29-30 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
You could take predestined to mean that God has already chosen His "elect" and is letting them bide our time here on earth, or that He expects some to choose salvation and make their way as best they can (with a little Holy Spirit help). Can God be powerful enough to allow His creation to accept or reject Him?
Imagine you are a farmer, and you find a great place for a farm, but you find out that your beloved son will be grievously hurt someday if you buy the parcel. The son has never done anything wrong, and he will be returned to you, but he will be kidnapped and tortured beyond belief.
To take the farm analogy further, we are the seed that the farmer has scattered. He wants all of the seed to sprout and flower, but he knows some will not. He helps all plants that sprout, but some don't make it to harvest, and are thrown in the compost pile.
This isn't any "garden-variety" theology, but I just want to throw a few different angles on the free-will debate. I like to think of us as walking random variables, and God is seeing how many of His test-cases are positive. Am I putting too much "man-think" on God's plan for us? Probably, but some of us succumb to the temptation of wanting to play God. We've come to praise Him and lift His holy name! (sang that yesterday)
Posted by MarcV, 2:42 PM link
We're starting to get in the dark-grey area on doctrinal differences with some of our Episcopalian friends. The bishop for the Kansas area will allow clerical blessings of homosexual couples and unwed heterosexuals for whom marriage is a financial hardship. The issues of homosexual clergy and same-sex blessings are "dividing" the 77 million Anglican Communion, which includes the Episcopal church.
Bishop Smalley said he based his decision on a resolution at the 2000 Episcopal convention that "acknowledged" some Episcopalians live in committed relationships outside of wedlock.
He said that the blessings aren't a substitute for matrimony and might not resemble it liturgically. A parish must apply to Smalley before conducting such rituals.
"This has been a long struggle for me," Smalley said. "I can say that this decision was reached prayerfully."
Wow. Should I respond, and where to start? Should I just bless him and move on, since Episcopalians are supposed to have a "salvation orthodoxy" similar to other mainline denominations?
Oddly enough, it somewhat humbles me. As we talk to people from our former church, we usually mention that we have "prayed" about our decision to leave. After hearing Bishop Smalley's defense, though, I wonder if my decision was sufficiently prayerful, or if I'm hearing (or even getting) the right answer.
This might be enough to cross that nebulous "doctrinal difference line". If so, besides declining to worship with them, how do we treat those who haved crossed that line? Do we love them as a brother or treat them like the red-headed stepchild? Episcopalians seem to be condoning and promoting sinful behavior, so perhaps that could justify placing them over the line.
Even though my dad is Episcopalian, and we should not judge individual churches based on their affiliation, I can not attend another Episcopalian service unless there are some drastic changes by the Anglican leadership. 2 Th. 3:13-15 (NKJV) But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good. And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.
Could someone please tell me how marriage can be a financial hardship? I could see divorce being a financial hardship. It's frustrating that fornication (sex outside of marriage) could be condoned by some "Christians" due to some extenuating financial situation. The church family should be able to get together and contribute whatever money is needed for a simple wedding ceremony, rather than turning their heads and giving excuses.
Posted by MarcV, 10:39 PM link
Hey Mark Byron!
Hope this is not too late - congratulations on your wedding. I'm sure the whole blogosphere joins me in wishing the best for you and your wife. Have a great honeymoon and come back ready to improve your marriage a little bit each day. I pray that you will let Jesus be at the center of your marriage, and continue to allow Him to strengthen your relationship.
Posted by MarcV, 7:36 AM link
Top 3 Westerns
During this time of celebrating freedom, I'll take the opportunity to give my top 3 western films. Westerns can in particular celebrate the American spirit and examine the trials this country went through, both good and bad, to make us what we are today. It was a time when the country had been washed in its own blood, with great frontiers waiting to be settled, and enough "crazy" people having the freedom to chase their dreams.
#1 - Lonesome Dove
Originally a made-for-TV "event" (and you can tell with the gaps in between scenes that scream for "insert commercial here"), it has outstanding performances, great scenery and epic tales of heroism. The movie centers on two retired Texas rangers that reveal two different sides of the western hero.
Capt. Call, the hard-charging, no-nonsense, type-A personality was at one end. Gus was at the other end, pleasure-seeker who avoided physical work when possible, always the life of the party. But when the chips were down, Gus would do whatever needed to be done. His rescue of Laurie(-darling) reminded me of one of the parables that Jesus tells, when the shepherd goes after the one lost sheep.
#2 - The Outlaw Josey Wales
The anti-hero, who helps others in spite of his misgivings, was Clint Eastwood's greatest effort. It can get a little too PC with some of the Indian issues, but that's Hollywood.
Honorable mention goes to Unforgiven, but it's a little too dark to make #2, though some would pick this over Josey Wales. Unforgiven does mark a rare occurrence for Clint, sharing the screen with two master actors, Morgan Freeman and Gene Hackman. Clint does OK, but is still not in their league.
#3 - tie (difficult to pick #3)
Stagecoach is an old-timey Western, and one of John Wayne's first major leads. They do a great job leading up to the Indian attack on the stagecoach, as well as the attack itself.
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance features an older John Wayne with Jimmy Stewart in a tale of how Western myths were made, as well as how the West became "civilized".
Tombstone (with Val Kilmer) is one of many versions of the legendary feud between the Earps and Clantons meeting at the OK corral. A little long, but I enjoyed this version's development of the Doc-Wyatt relationship.
Ehh - think I have cotton between my ears? Why you low-down sidewinder! Well draw... and leave a comment if you happen to disagree, 'cause I would like to know if you (my faithful 2 readers) would have anything to add. Might have to get these flix on DVD!
[Edit 7/5 - Oh yeah, maybe I should get a DVD player too!]
Posted by MarcV, 10:09 PM link
4th at the Capital
Well, stuck inside again for the 4th due to "inclement" weather, lightning, so we get fireworks on TV, in addition to the music from the Mall on PBS. Rained on them last year, but it seemed like the music was alot better. This year - yikes!
They started with Aretha Franklin. You had to see her to believe her, but I won't go there, except to say that my wife commented, "I wouldn't wear a sleeveless dress if I was her." The saddest part was that she can't really sing anymore. She use to have the best pipes in the business, so I don't know if it is age, lack of practice or both. (Uh-oh, they have her singing the last song.) Just a shame.
After Lee Ann Womack sung something, up came Chuck Berry. Like Aretha, he should have been kept in retirement. At this point in the show, most of America is sitting with mouth agape, wondering if that's the best they could do. I could see someone in the TV production company thinking, "Gotta save this show, but what? Yeah, show tunes!"
Now everyone may not be big show tune fans, but at least they brought in some folks who could sing, and the lady they had singing was not hard to look at either. Unfortunately, they brought in the "people's tenor" (he's not my tenor) towards the end, and he didn't even sing in English. Call me provincial (others have), but you would think that America's birthday celebration would be in the national tongue, or at least Spanish and not Italian.
At least nothing bad seems to have happened tonight (10 pm EST). With all the warnings, that stayed in the back of your mind, that someone would do something stupid. That's one difference this year.
Posted by MarcV, 10:09 PM link
Since Mark Byron asked (and he doesn't have a comments section):
I thought the Red Wings already were the Yankees of the NHL. As close as they are to Canada, it might as well be them. Red Wing fans are rabid, and Detroit needs something to cheer about (you know about the Lions, Tigers and Pistons). Guess you could call the Lakers the Yankees of the NBA.
Can we call you when it is a comfy mid-70's here and you're still in the 90's in Fla.?
Appreciated your comments on the Trinity. I've ranted before on this, but Jesus' baptism gives me sufficient evidence for proof of the distinct members of the Trinity, the only time in the Bible that all 3 are present in one place on earth. I will go so far to say that it is the pivotal point in history. The Old Testament and Jesus birth led up to that point. Jesus did not start His ministry until He was baptized. As He ministered and taught the disciples (and us), His path led to the Crucifixion and Resurrection, which then allowed for the releasing of the Holy Spirit that is available for all believers.
He also gave us an example of being washed/baptized, hearing from the Father, and receiving Holy Spirit power. Jesus started His ministry facing and rejecting what the world had to offer during His time in the wilderness and subsequent temptation by Satan. How did He do it? Matt. 4:4 "Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God." Well, better stop before this becomes a real post.
Posted by MarcV, 1:26 PM link
Eugene Volokh has an excellent article at NRO Corner on courage and what his family went through to be here and celebrate the 4th. I have not visited his blog, but maybe will after reading this column. The end is particularly personal, when he wonders if he would have the courage to make life-or-death decisions.
If I were faced with the hard choices that, thanks to my parents' decision, I was spared, would I choose correctly? If I were called to fight a war, a demand that passed my fortunate generation by, would I acquit myself with honor?
As Christians we sometimes feel like we are at war (with the world), but for the most part, we live comfortable lives occasionally punctuated by faith struggles. We can get crabby (or worse) when some things don't go our way. We could look at it as the Lord testing us before the true battles come. From Matt. 3:12 - Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance... If you have what it takes to fight the good fight, God will use you, just ask Him!
Posted by MarcV, 1:03 PM link
All right, I admit I went blog-trolling today (that's where you pick one of the 10 most recently updated blogs listed on the left of blogger.com when you log in to update your blog), but it's a little slow here. Typically when you blog-troll you find alot of lost souls, sometimes kids in school who seem near-suicidal. You want to reach out and give them a hug, tell them that things will get better, and then let them know about a friend who will never let you down.
Anyhow, I found 2 Christian blogs in a row that I had never seen before. The first one was OK but not linkable. The second one was called Culture Curve, and it's written by a Christian lawyer. He gives long, well thought-out, posts on both political and faith issues (we're talking Heddle-size!). I ordinarily read a blog for at least a week or so before placing a link to the right, but he gets one as soon as I can get to my template.
A sample of his reaction to the voucher issue:
Since children have the freedom to leave failing schools, educational and economic opportunities for some for the poorest, most marginalized members of society would increase substantially. As I've noted before, I spent a year on the admissions committee of Cornell Law School, and I have seen firsthand evidence of the lasting effects of substandard public school education on poor and minority children. Parents without money, without choice or hope, would at a stroke find themselves empowered and able to take control of their children's futures. No longer would children be forced to listen to the government's message. No longer would children be trapped in schools that expend precious resources on condom awareness but graduate entire classes of nearly illiterate students.
He also touched on something that I have been wrestling with lately. Are we (Christian bloggers) spending too much time debating doctrine, and perhaps missing the boat entirely, based on our "reasoned perspectives", on what God is doing here now? This is excerpted from a post he made about a week ago on the end-times stuff that made the cover of Time magazine:
I have sometimes heard Christians express disbelief that the Pharisees did not believe in Jesus. The Pharisees knew scripture, and they saw Christ work miracles. How could they not believe? I would submit that one of the reasons why the Pharisees did not believe was their absolute conviction that they had studied the scriptures and knew the nature of the Messiah. Jesus did not fit the vision, so he could not be the Christ. It simply wasn't possible. The Pharisees scanned the same Old Testament prophecies that we read, and (as we now know) those prophecies were all precisely and perfectly fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ. They were simply fulfilled in a manner different than virtually every one of Christ's religious contemporaries predicted.
Once Christ came, the role of the prophetic scriptures became clear -- while they pointed to Christ's coming, they (obviously) did not serve to allow the mass of believers to predict Christ's exact nature and precise earthly role. However, they did serve to validate Christ's authenticity once he arrived. I sometimes wonder if the End Times scriptures represent the same dynamic. Rather than giving us a precise road map for the future -- the map marked out by the popular End Times prophecy scholars -- the scriptures instead point generally to Christ's return and then serve as precise validation as End Times events actually occur.
Use the link and read the whole post, 'cause it's all good.
Are we convinced about our doctrine and know the nature of Jesus and what He would do if He were here today? If others don't fit our doctrinal vision, then we tend to pat them on the head, say a few nice words and send them on their way. I'm not trying to point a finger at anyone, but encourage us all to be less dogmatic on doctrine and welcome different parts of the "body", even if they happen to be a little misguided. Let's lift the name of Jesus high!
He also gets kudos for continuing to point out the connection between the Clinton anti-morals administation and the problems we see now with WorldCom/Enron, and hits the nail on the head. He is on the MartinRoth list, along with +200 others. Maybe I should work that list, rather than blog-troll? It's a big blogosphere out there.
Posted by MarcV, 1:46 PM link
Free Marital Advice
Mark Byron dispensed some requested advice to a friend on "Godly Courting", and had some good points on things to consider before and after the "I do's". As a blogger with opinions, I'll boldly go where others have gone and put in my two cents for things to consider after the newly-wed glow is over:
1. Continue to love
Most of us have had our heart broken, and it is a natural tendency to avoid pain, with the result that we hold back and not open ourselves. I've found that you can only expect to "get" as good as you "give", so if you want all that life/God has for you, you have to let go. Most men don't surrender easily, though.
I was hesitant about adoption for many years, afraid that I would not love an adopted child as I would one born to my wife and me. It turns out that I love him so much that it hurts (but it's a good hurt), and he has blessed me beyond anything I could ever imagine. Such joy, and it's only a small fraction of what I can expect in heaven!
2. Don't take them for granted
After you have been married awhile you can find a comfort zone and stay there. It takes effort to find and express different ways of letting your spouse know that they are still special and loved. So after the initial "love-crush" is over, roll up the sleeves, do the work, and let them know that you are thinking about them. It can and should be a life-long endeavor.
Men are particularly more susceptible to status quo. As he-man hunters, we have "caught the prey (wife)", and tend to think that's it. We also find it much easier to supply material needs than emotional needs. Thank God He made wives to help us with our emotional side. We need to thank her and let her know that she is the best wife in the world, the one that God has blessed us with.
PS As can sometimes happen, after reading this it seems that I'm writing this more for me than anyone else. I can talk the talk, but I need to walk the walk better.
Posted by MarcV, 9:05 AM link
Susanna from Cut on the Bias has been kind enough to engage me in some doctrinal tussling in the Comments from a Charismatic post made a few days ago. She is one of those popular "old-school" bloggers, and I hope we have the chance in the future to further discuss faith or whatever else. (When I say "old-school" I mean that she has been blogging for alot longer than I have. She may be much younger than I am for all I know, but she is a good writer.)
Posted by MarcV, 4:04 PM link