Tuesday, October 28, 2003
John Watermelon-Camp has, evidently, released an anti-war song. Hugh Hewitt played snippets (thankfully, just snippets) on his show last week. It sounded kind of like Springsteen trying to sound like Dylan trying to sound like Guthrie... anyway, here's an open letter from Mellencamp. Same drivel about the supposed lack of WMD, no body-bag holding Saddam, no connection to 9/11, etc. Time does not permit analysis of this letter right now, but hopefully I can get to it and the song in the near future.
Monday, October 27, 2003
This past weekend was dark. We are, thank God, not near any of the fires in the southland. But we are downwind. Saturday morning was unusually dark... as if a dense fog had settled in. But this fog never lifted - and the sunlight that eventually managed to filter through cast an orange glow all about. Walking outside you were immediately hit with the smell of smoke. Tiny flecks of snowy ash drifted down ever so gently; covering everything. Then the winds came. Hot. Dry. They ripped through our neighborhood, attempting to sap the life out of the vegetation. Tonight it's cool and the winds have stopped... pray for the firefighters.
And muslim fanatics have celebrated by attacking the Red Cross and Iraqi police stations. Iraqis made up most of the victims, supposedly because they were considered collaborators by the terrorists. A fifth suicide bomber failed and was shot by Iraqi police... he turned out to be Syrian. Should we note a connection there? Does anyone believe that the attacks are meant to bolster the Iraqi people into rebellion? The Washington Post seems to think so, "President Bush yesterday put the best face on a new surge of violence in Iraq as his top defense aides huddled to discuss additional ways of thwarting the anti-American rebellion there before it becomes more widespread." No, these attacks are strategic in their planning and targeting... the U.S. Look at the headlines, listen to the Democrats "debate"... if they had their way we wouldn't have gotten into this "mess" and we should get out now while we can save some face. From the Post, "Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.), a presidential candidate... "Does the president really believe that suicide bombers are willing to strap explosives to their bodies because we're restoring electricity and creating jobs for Iraqis?"" That's the point isn't it John? Except you've missed it... this isn't some clean operation that will be over before the evening news. The President warned us it would be long and hard... beyond his term and, God willing, his next. I suppose you would have us run home and hope that they... the suicide bombers, the radicals, those that would detonate a bomb that rips apart a 14 year old Iraqi girl carrying her infant sibling... you would hope they won't come looking for us? Well... it'll be a lot harder for them to while Bush is in office.
Tuesday, Oct. 28th, 8-10 pm; Nov. 4th, 8-9 pm - The Elegant Universe, how String Theory unifies Quantum Physics and General Relativity. Check William Lane Craig's website for articles related to the existence of God as well as how the Kalam Cosmological Argument relates to the beginning of the Universe.
Greg Koukl, from Stand to Reason (a Christian apologetics organization), has written a short article titled Never Read a Bible Verse. The point of his piece is to get us away from focusing solely on a particular Bible verse and look, at a minimum, at the paragraph the verse is contained in. Walt Russell, a professor at Biola University, relates in his book Playing With Fire how a "word" is the lowest level of information in written communication (the lowest level that has "meaning" attached to it). From that level we move up to the highest level through a series of steps that include: sentence, paragraph, chapter, book and, finally, "big idea." Here's the rub - the intended meaning of a word can only truly understood when it is viewed within the context of the higher levels. The problem we as Christians tend to have is that we primarily focus on the lower level (e.g., sentence / verse) without taking the time to understand the bigger picture. Russell relates how we typically will read the Bible expecting to get blessed personally - in other words, we read it for insights on ourselves. We might end up asking ourselves, "What does this verse (or passage) mean to me?" Russell says we should be asking, "What does this verse (or passage) mean?" The meaning, or interpretation, is static. It means what the author wanted it to mean when he wrote it, and it has continued to mean that up to the present. Now that makes the meaning a Public thing - it is shared equally among all. This flies in the face of deconstructionism which considers the text to mean whatever the reader wishes it to mean. Okay, so how does that static meaning help us? Russell comments on how, when seeking spiritual formation as we study the Bible, we need to understand the Public to Private methodology involved. As stated above, Meaning is Public, but the next level towards Private is Application. There may be several intended applications of a particular text - the applications may be broad or they may be narrow (e.g., you can't take "Thou shalt not murder" much farther down the road). The final step towards a Private aspect of interpretation is Significance. The text may have a personal significance for you that differs from me simply because we have different life experiences. Koukl and Russell believe that the literary genre will also dictate how we are to interpret the passage. The Bible is a collection of literary genres and these genres have unique contributions to how we communicate. Again, this makes sense if you understand the aspect of communication. Your expectations of the information received differ between watching Seinfeld and the Evening News... or reading the Front Page vs. the Classifieds... or listening to Neil Diamond vs. Bob Dylan... or studying I Kings vs. Psalms. That's because they represent different "genres." The genre has distinct structure and purpose and it guides how we should interpret the text. A classic example is Jeremiah 29:11. A lot of people like to hold that verse close to their hearts as evidence that God has a specific plan for their lives (indeed, a plan for prosperity and freedom from harm). When Koukl disagrees with that line of thinking someone invariably brings up this verse. He responds by asking them what they know specifically about the prophet Jeremiah (e.g., who was he?, when did he live?, what were his prophecies concerning?, etc.). Typically they know very little. He then asks them to at least read the paragraph that Jeremiah 29:11 is contained in (if not the entire chapter). Do that for yourself and you'll find that the Lord was speaking to exiles who had been banished from the land... and it was to be 70 years before the Lord was to bring them back! It should also be clear from the passage that even though the Lord did have a plan for the exiles, He did not expressly say He would reveal it to them. The focus of the passage is not about us, but about God and Israel, and how He dealt with their obedience and disobedience. That's the main contribution of the prophetic books and it should structure how we read and study them. Therefore, rather than read a verse looking for insight on ourselves, Koukl and Russell say to read the passage in light of the literary unit. A practical example with regards to Jeremiah 29:11 is to study the Lord's letter to the exiles in light of the entire book of Jeremiah which is, in turn, studied in light of the entire Bible. P.S. Koukl and Russell also reference How To Read The Bible For All Its Worth by Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart. You can listen to lectures by Stuart here.
Sunday, October 26, 2003
Saturday, October 25, 2003
Here are a few comments I received from various homeschoolers regarding First5 California: I cannot stand those commercials “My husband and I often joke that our youngest will have an awful life if those ads are to be believed. Even though our older two went to preschool, I am sure it is not what First5 envisions - it was a lovely church school two days a week for 3 hours each and for the most part no "academics". “I agree with your blog about health programs being available for families that need them, but as far as I can see those ads do not talk a lick about health. They are done in such a way as to make moms and dads feel like they are doing a disservice to their children by not sending them away (I think they want them sent away 5 days a week for 4-5 hours from what I have seen). “For those who have not seen them one shows an infant cooing and being so very cute and a voiceover from the parent saying I just want her to be happy, I want her to be successful, I want her to go to college, etc. etc. (normal hopes and dreams of most parents as they look into the eyes of their precious gift). Then the announcer says something along the lines that studies show that kids who go to preschool tend to achieve these things more than those that don't - UGH my poor son will never be happy because I did not send him to preschool (I am such a bad mom). “Sorry, you kinda hit a nerve. My kids of course are beyond the preschool years, but I think that this message also heard on radio stations will have an effect on young moms just starting out. I mean we all want the best for our kids and now "studies" have shown that preschool is the answer. I do not think there is anything inherently wrong with preschool, just that it is not NECESSARY in most cases. I certainly can think of exceptions, but for the vast majority it is not a necessity.” Well, I can comment on the Georgia program and “if the CA turns out like it, the homeschooled preschoolers are much better off. We moved to Georgia when my oldest daughter was 4, and she attended. First, almost all the work the dc does goes into their file, you rarely get work that comes home. Second, they aren't required to do anything they don't want to. Basically, you are getting glorified daycare, and it was a full school day. Third, they aren't allowed to teach them beyond the curriculum, for example their was a little boy in my daughters class that could read quite exceptionally for a 4 year old, and do math facts, they could not work on teaching him any new information. There were reasons we had her in there, but no other dc of mine ever attended it. It would be a good program for a dc who spent all day in front of the TV, or something similar.” The NEA has long held the belief that children need to be in daycare and preschool because too many of them are coming into K with their parents' “morals and values. It takes them too long to un-teach those morals and values and then they have to begin teaching the 'correct' ones as dictated by today's PC social design. This is not secret. It's been available for anyone to study up on and know for at least 20 years. What HAS changed is that they now have parents fighting for mandatory preschool. Why? Money. If the school begin holding compulsory preschool it's all on the tax dollars and the parents won't have to write their own checks for child care. “Insidious, isn't it? They are not only working towards stealing your child's values but enlist 'you' to help.”
Friday, October 24, 2003
Have you heard of the California Children and Families Commission? Have you seen the commercials on the tube recently by First5 California? They are the ones that promote the idea that children who attend preschool will be better adjusted socially and do better academically (not only in K-12 but in higher education as well). My initial assessment, based solely on the commercials, was one of skepticism towards the idea that toddlers aged 3 – 5 are better off at a preschool than they are at home. Yet, the idea was purported to be backed up with scientific data, so I decided to take a little closer look. Here’s a statement from the Winter '03 newsletter published by the California Children and Families Commission: “The California Children and Families Commission has adopted “First 5 California” as its new overarching school readiness identity. We believe that the name First 5 California conveys the importance of the first five years of life, the period of time during which a child’s brain develops most dramatically. The new name will be used in all Commission public education efforts, on any printed materials developed and, over time, may become the primary identity of the organization.” The Commission members include: S. Kimberly Belshè, Elizabeth Rice Grossman, Sandra Gutierrez, Karen Hill-Scott, Rob Reiner (yeah… “Meathead”), Louis A. Vismara, Grantland Johnson, and Kerry Mazzoni. Okay, if you read the material on their website and in their brochures it looks pretty good. They are, after all, concerned with a child’s health and well-being – that’s good. They want to insure that underprivileged families get proper medical and nutritional data for their children from pre-natal to kindergarten age – that’s good. But when you sniff out the details you also see that they want to make available universal preschool for all children – that’s not good. The reason why I believe it to be a dangerous move is that it begs the question of mandatory preschool. Is that on the horizon? It’s certainly not dictated as such on their material but, based on their presentation, if it isn’t on the backburner it certainly is in the kitchen. Take, for instance, the article titles in the Winter '03 newsletter: “Going to Scale with Pre-Kindergarten: Moving Toward High-Quality Early Learning Opportunities for All California 3- and 4-Year-Olds,” or “In Large and Small Counties, Plans Underway for Universal Preschool” (emphasis added). When addressing the need for “pre-kindergarten” one of the articles states, “As the science of early childhood development tells us, a child’s preparation for school and for life begins not with preschool at age 3, but much earlier, starting with a healthy pregnancy and continuing with nurturing, stimulating experiences through infancy, the toddler years and beyond.” Again, I have nothing against health programs aimed at developing a healthy population from the womb and beyond, but in reading on you find, “…recent research findings and a supportive climate of public opinion in California suggest that the time is right for a phased initiative to dramatically improve the accessibility and quality of pre-kindergarten programs for all 3- and 4- year-olds in California. High-quality pre-kindergarten experiences help reduce performance gaps in the first grade, which in turn have been shown to lay the foundation for observed performance gaps in later grades. Recent longitudinal studies have found that children exposed to high-quality preschool show lasting gains on a variety of educational and other dimensions all the way into adulthood…” The scientific research is footnoted and is reported as, Cunningham, A.E. and Stanovich, K.E. (1997). Early reading acquisition and its relation to reading experience and ability 10 years later. Developmental Psychology, 33(6), 934-945. I have not yet attempted to access that literature, but here's a similar article by Cunningham and Stanovich. It would be interesting to see what parameters and conditions were used in the study. What groups were compared? It is unlikely that toddlers from homeschooled families were part of the study. I wonder (also) if toddlers from stay-at-home moms were part of the dataset? Understand here that I take no issue with the conclusion of the study referenced above. Based on its title it appears to posit that early reading is – good! Bob Dylan also stated the obvious in a song once... “you don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows!” It should be intuitive that a mind enhancing activity such as reading will reap benefits later in life – especially if compared with mind deadening activities such as watching 6 hours of videos in one sitting. I can see the results of this just down the hall from where I’m writing this – my 8 year old daughter. She was not brought up on videos and was reading the Little House on the Prairie series when she was 4 (note: that series is considered to be 4th grade level). But here’s the rub – would it have been better for her to have been in a state run preschool, as part of a class of 15 - 20 kids -or- was it better for her to be nurtured at home by her caring, loving mother? So we flashback to the commercial on the tube that shows a young mother picking up her child from preschool. In it, we hear the mother tell her mother how thankful she was that she was sent to preschool. Fade to white and listen to a voiceover inform us that scientific data indicates those children who attend preschool are more likely to… [you get the idea] Now tell me… how big a step is it from: a) having preschool available to all 3 and 4 year olds?, to b) requiring all 3 and 4 year olds to attend preschool? (after all, isn’t it scientifically proven to be better?) Think I’m an alarmist? Check a USAToday article by John Merrow titled, European preschools should embarrass USA. Here are a few clips, “Today in France, essentially all children ages 3 through 5 attend preschool, most in public programs. It's the same across Europe. Almost all 4-year-olds in England, Luxembourg and the Netherlands go to public school. So do more than 70% of Greek children of preschool age, more than 80% of Spanish children and more than 90% of those in Germany, Denmark and Italy. Virtually every industrialized country in the world provides free, high-quality preschool for children regardless of family income. “Georgia… is at the head of the preschool class. It requires all school districts to offer preschool classes to all students… Overall, 70% of Georgia's 4-year-olds are now in some form of publicly subsidized preschool. The program was the brainchild of former Georgia governor Zell Miller, now a U.S. senator, who has said he believes that "preschool is more important than the 12th grade in high school."” (emphasis added) Merrow produced a PBS documentary titled, “THE PROMISE OF PRESCHOOL.” From the intro, “For parents, educators, and lawmakers, the promise of preschool is that children will enter school ready to learn, but, in reality, the results are mixed.” Make no mistake about it, the children in California are being targeted for inclusion in preschool. In “Free Preschool for All?,” an article that originally appeared in the May-June 1998 Children's Advocate newsmagazine, Leslie Weiss stated in the first line, “Today, half of California's 1.1 million three- and four-year-olds attend child care or preschool. Within 10 years, all of them could be in publicly financed preschool.” (emphasis added) The question is: are there any ulterior motives behind this type of action? Read on (and California homeschoolers - look for a familiar name), “In March, a task force of educators, parents, and child care professionals released a far-reaching report calling for "universal preschool" in California. Convened by state schools Superintendent Delaine Eastin, the task force set the goal of providing a half-day of high-quality preschool for every three- and four-year-old in California by 2008.” That’s right – former Superintendent Delaine Eastin – for those of you outside of California, she is known as every homeschooler’s nightmare. Now, to be fair, this quick expose has not proved ulterior motives. Consider the description of The School Readiness Bill AB 56, “AB 56 calls for preparing a child to start his/her education in good health with appropriate learning support for individual needs. This preparation includes access to preschool for all families who desire it and the access to community services from infancy through preschool that identify developmental concerns before they become a barrier to learning. Panelists: Lynn Daucher, Karen Hill-Scott, Carol Liu, Rob Reiner, Darrell Steinberg” (emphasis added) And the task force mentioned above had to convene at some time right?, and Delaine Eastin happened to be the Superintendent when they convened… but still, it’s got to make you wonder. Who’s to say that, after they corral all the 3 and 4 year olds, they won’t go after newborns to 2 years? (based on some scientific study, of course) You will note that, when reading the articles promoting universal preschool, you find it pretty much expected that children have to go to preschool. Our society has become accustomed to the two-income family as being the norm. The stay-at-home mom is considered an oddity. Shockingly, she is thought to be depriving her child if she doesn’t expose the child to the social activities of a preschool. Have we drifted that far from our roots? Do we now really consider the state to have a better handle on how our children should be nurtured? I excuse all those single mothers or families that, for financial reasons, really do need to have their children in preschool. But, to be honest, there are a lot of families out there that could exist on one income. There are a lot of mothers out there that are splitting their time between a career and their children – and the children are getting the short end of the stick. What can you do? 1) Link or e-mail this blog post and / or the links I’ve posted to your homeschool web forums. If you’re in California, stay aware of First5 California’s activities. If you’re out of California, find out what is going on in your state. 2) Let your representatives know that you don’t want more government intervention, but less; that you don’t want more taxes to force you into two incomes, but less; and that you welcome health-care assistance, but the educational nurturing of your preschool children is strictly your business. 3) e-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org if you have comments and advice.
Thursday, October 23, 2003
In between watering the frontyard and ripping out a dead lavender I caught a portion of the Hugh Hewitt show today. In the spot I heard, he had cut live to a debate on Fox News Channel. I don't know who the players were but the topic centered around William Arkin and the General Boykin issue. Comments were made about a statement Boykin is reported to have made when referring to a Somali warlord. Boykin said, "my God was bigger than his god." One of the debaters stated that the God of the Judeo-Christian religion was essentially the same one as Islam's Allah. Therefore, as he reasoned, Boykin's statement was theologically inconsistent. Well, his conclusion is not just wrong, it is FLAT OUT wrong. Don't let anyone snooker you into believing that Allah is the same as Yaweh. 1. Islam states that Allah is God and Muhammed is his prophet. There is no room in Islam for a God that relates to humans on a personal level. Allah is one person and essence. Islam considers Jesus to be a prophet but in no way considers Him to be equal with Allah. 2. The Jews believe that Jehovah is one God, but reject Jesus Christ as the Messiah. 3. Christians believe that Jehovah is God and the He is One. We believe that God is One in essence, yet exists as 3 Persons. This is not a contradiction: the way He is one, He isn't three; the way He is three, He isn't one. Note the Athanasian Creed: "That we worship one God in trinity and the trinity in unity, neither blending their persons nor dividing their essence. For the person of the Father is a distinct person, the person of the Son is another, and that of the Holy Spirit still another. But the divinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is one, their glory equal, their majesty coeternal…. Thus the Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God. Yet there are not three gods; there is but one God. Thus the Father is Lord, the Son is Lord, the Holy Spirit is Lord. Yet there are not three lords; there is but one Lord. Just as Christian truth compels us to confess each person individually as both God and Lord, so catholic religion forbids us to say that there are three gods or lords…" Now... it doesn't take a theologian to see that there ain't much equality between choices 1., 2., and 3. Sidenote: check A Scientist's Perspective on Islam.
Check the April 2003 edition of Touchstone Magazine. It generated quite a few subscription cancellations. In the title article, The Godless Party: Media Bias & Blindness - And the Big Story They Missed, Rod Dreher outlines how he feels the Democratic Party lost their religion. He's a politically conservative journalist, which he readily admits may seem like an oxymoron to some. He does give us pause, though, to understand how some well meaning Liberals may simply not understand their bias. Consider, "I once proposed a column on some now-forgotten religious theme to the man who was at the time the city editor of the New York Post. He looked at me like I'd lost my mind. "This is not a religious city," he said, with a straight face. As it happened, the man lived in my neighborhood. To walk to the subway every morning, he had to pass in front of or close to two Catholic churches, an Episcopal church, a synagogue, a mosque, an Assemblies of God Hispanic parish, and an Iglesia Bautista Hispana. Yet this man did not see those places because he does not know anyone who attends them. It's not that this editor despises religion; it's that he's too parochial (pardon the pun) to see what's right in front of him." This reminds me of the time, years back, when I sold Real Estate. There was one house listed that was occupied not only by the husband and wife owners, but by their three, large dogs. That in and of itself is not very unusual, but when you take into account the fact that the owners were not overly concerned with picking up after their dogs (and I'm not referring to the dog's toys) you might get a drift... or a whiff, of what I mean. Essentially, the house REEKED! Yet, as far as the owners were concerned, the whole world may as well have smelled like that... they didn't notice it. Okay, so maybe we can give Liberal journalists the benefit of the doubt most of the time. But what has that got to do with the Dems? Dreher goes on to describe their slip into secularism, "Until relatively recently, both major parties were of similar mind on issues of personal morality. Then came the 1972 Democratic Convention, at which secularists - defined as agnostics, atheists, and those who seldom or never attend religious services - seized control of the party and nominated George McGovern. Prior to that year, neither party had many secularists among its delegates. According to a comprehensive study of survey data from the Democratic delegates, the party was badly split between religious and moral traditionalists on one side, and secularists on the other. They fought over moral issues: abortion, women's rights, homosexuality, the traditional family. What the authors call a "secularist putsch" triumphed, giving us what Richard Nixon mocked as the party of "acid, amnesty, and abortion," and instigating - with help from the Supreme Court on January 22, 1973 - the long march of religious and moral conservatives to the GOP, which became the party of traditionalists by default." (emphasis mine) Dreher comments on how the divide between traditionalists and secularists widened, and how it also effected relations with minority groups and those typically viewed as disadvantaged. "The divide has become so stark that the authors have discerned a new kind of voter: the "anti-fundamentalist." According to the 2000 ANES [American National Election Study] data, the hatred of religious conservatives long apparent among Democratic convention delegates has found a home among a disproportionate number of Democratic voters. Twenty-five percent of white respondents in the ANES survey expressed serious hostility towards religious conservatives, as opposed to only one percent who felt this strongly against Jews, and 2.5 percent who disliked blacks and Catholics to a strong degree. (Ironically, these are people who say they "strongly agree" that one should be tolerant of persons whose moral standards are different from one's own.") Eighty percent of these voters picked Bill Clinton in 1996, with 70 percent choosing Al Gore in 2000." (emphasis mine) The link is then made to the current influence that the media has by its reporting strategy with regards to the Religious Right. "But their most striking finding was the near total lack of editorial and news coverage devoted to the increased importance of secularists to the Democratic Party versus the role of traditionalists in the GOP. The numbers are mind-boggling: 43 stories on secularist Democrats, 682 stories on traditionalist Republicans. In 1992, the Times alone published nearly twice the number of stories about Evangelicals in the GOP than both papers did about secularists among the Democrats for the entire decade. The bias is even worse among television journalists, who filled the airwaves with stories about the "Religious Right" and the Republican Party, but who didn't file a single story - not one - about the Secular Left's relationship to the Democrats." The media has a hand in shaping public opinion. Being in bed with the Liberals will produce biased reporting - we have to understand this. How to fight it? Blogs certainly pass valid information along, but perhaps the war will only be won one person at a time. Scientific theories are validated primarily by one method - testing. Worldviews should follow the same verification. Indeed, there are many tests one can apply to a worldview to TEST its reliability. Ron Nash, in Faith & Reason, and Chuck Colson, in How Now Shall We Live? outline tests that may be applied to worldviews. In our day to day dealings with Liberal secularists who may be our colleagues or friends we need to gracefully show them how to test the two opposing worldviews. Easy? Nope. Productive? You bet. Also check out several other articles in the April 2003 Touchstone issue including: Voting as Christians, and Political Orphans: How the Democratic Pary Left Traditional Believers Behind
Wednesday, October 22, 2003
Per MSNBC, Carrying money for Hamas?: Head of Muslim chaplain program headed to Syria with cash, tells the story of Abdurahman Alamoudi, founder of the Muslim chaplain program for the U.S. military. "Now he’s in jail, caught heading to Syria with $340,000 in cash, money prosecutors believe came from Libya. According to FBI counterterrorism chief Steve Pomerantz, “It’s very hard to explain in any innocent way a suitcase full of money going from one terrorist-sponsoring nation to another terrorist-sponsoring nation.”" Rep. John Warner should personally call General Boykin and apologize. Rumsfield is right... if we don't change our tactics in this war we will have no reliable way of measuring its effectiveness. Instead of tieing Boykin's hands and causing him grief over constitutionally protected speech, we need to let him do his job. On the tube they showed a clip of Alamoudi at a protest outside the White House in 2000. He is heard saying, "Hear that, Bill Clinton. We are all supporters of Hamas. Allah Akbar!"
Rumsfeld Memo Questions Progress in Terror War, so says the Washington Post. Do you remember 9/11? Are you as concerned for our safety, more concerned, or simply just don't care anymore? One of the worst things that can happen here in the U.S. is that we become complacent in our dealings with this War on Terror. What do we need to do, and KEEP on doing, to make our country safe for our children? This threat is unlike anything we've faced in our 227 years of existence. Check www.freedom.gov Here I link the commentary by Hugh Hewitt on the 2nd anniversary of 9/11. Please take the time to read it... and then ask yourself if you should respond to the Rumsfield memo with partisan politics in mind, or with the security of the U.S. in mind. Finally, read Romans 8.
The L.A. Times has an article on the Terri Schiavo case titled, Complexities Mount in Florida Right-to-Die Case. Right to Die?... Right to DIE?! Is John-Thor Dahlburg or his editor blind or biased? (okaaaay! I know we know the answer to that one!) Say, Mr. Dahlburg? Intentionally starving someone is killing them. This case isn't about the Right to Die, it's about the Right to KILL. The perpertrators well admit that before she became brain-damaged, Terri Schiavo did not outline her desires should such a situation arise. So now we have her husband taking legal action to have her killed (that is, when he can pull himself away from his pregnant girl-friend and their one child). Regarding Gov. Bush stepping in to have Terri fed, Michael Schiavo's lawyer George Felos said, "It was just an absolute trampling of her personal rights and her dignity." Come again? Bait and switch - Felos tries to turn this into an issue of personal rights because, as we all know, in America we have the RIGHT to [you fill in the blank]. Or, "It is a direct assault on the separation of powers," Democratic state Rep. Dan Gelber, a Miami Beach attorney, told CNN. "I mean, the governor will be able to essentially say, 'I disagree with the courts, so I will rule differently.' And I think anybody who has been in junior high civics class knows that is not the way our nation and this state is founded." Maybe Dan Gelber, Esq., has never heard of the Emancipation Proclamation. Words... Words have meaning.
Beltin' Barbara Boxer (D-Ca) was letting loose regarding the Ban on Partial Birth Abortion. In the L.A. Times article she is quoted, "For the first time in history, Congress is banning a medical procedure that is considered medically necessary by physicians," said Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who led the fight against the bill. "This is a radical, radical thing that is about to happen." Wow, I actually agree with you Babs! It is radical for us to actually protect the unborn! But Boxer is flat out wrong when she says the procedure is considered medically necessary... or at least, maybe she ought to present the number of times per 1,000,000 pregnancies when it is considered medically necessary. You won't see her go down that road (she may be crazy but she's not stupid). How ironic that she's fighting for the right to suck out the brains of viable unborn children, while across the country judges are witholding nutrition from Terri Schiavo. Well... maybe it's not so ironic.
How ridiculous can it get? Rumsfield says there will be a formal investigation into Boykin's remarks / activities. John Warner (R-VA) has even asked that Boykin step aside because of his remarks. And now for a moment of IRONY: Alec Baldwin just participated in a conference, hosted by the "National Coalition to Protect Political Freedom (NCPPF), which was co-founded in 1997 by Sami Al-Arian - the former University of South Florida professor charged earlier this year as a fund-raiser and organizer for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group. The money Al-Arian allegedly raised went to terrorist operations overseas that killed at least two Americans." (thanks to Michelle Malkin) The purpose of this conference was to bash the US Patriot Act, John Ashcroft, and the "oppressive" War on Terror. Among the continued Liberal droning was the supposed assault on the Bill of Rights by the Patriot Act. So, how is taking means to apprehend terrorists considered an assault on the Bill of Rights, but demanding that General Boykin keep quiet and be removed from his job not? From the Washington Post article, "Aside from legal questions, Boykin's comments have generated a political problem for the administration, which has tried to convince Muslims that the war on terrorism is not aimed at their religion. The Boykin case has received wide coverage in Muslim countries and has led to angry editorials in newspapers from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan. "Ali Ahmed, executive director of the Saudi Institute, a Washington-based nonprofit that seeks to foster democracy and human rights in Saudi Arabia, said many Arabic-language newspapers have accused the Bush administration of hypocrisy for condemning Mahathir's recent comments about Jews while excusing Boykin's statements on Islam. An editorial Tuesday in the Saudi daily Al Riyadh, entitled "Who projects the ideology of hatred?", argued that Boykin's remarks were far "more disgusting" than Mahathir's." I spent time in Saudi Arabia twenty years ago. Most Westerners, simply put, do not understand the line of reasoning that goes on in the Middle East. If, for instance, you are involved in an automobile accident in Saudi with an Arab, it makes no difference whose fault it really was; since you are a foreigner the fault is yours… because, so the reasoning goes, since you are a foreigner you don't belong here - since you don't belong here this accident wouldn't have happened if you weren't here - hence, you are at fault. I'm not saying whether this is right or wrong reasoning, I'm just illustrating how the reasoning goes. If you are skeptical of that then simply ask anyone who has worked in that region… you'll be surprised.
Tuesday, October 21, 2003
Once again, on Tue, Oct. 28, and Nov. 4, NOVA will broadcast a special on Brian Green's book, The Elegant Universe. All Christian apologists should watch this program. Now, the theory of General Relativity is the most exhaustively tested theory in physics. And the spacetime theorems derived from GR give us the concept of the Big Bang. But what does that have to do with Christianity? Namely, this - the three common features of any Big Bang model are: 1) the universe had a singular beginning, 2) the universe is expanding, and 3) the universe is cooling down. These three features are found in the Bible. (quick references Genesis 1:1; Isaiah 40:22; Romans 8) Yet, since the advent of quantum physics it has been painfully clear that GR doesn't apply at the quantum level and quantum physics doesn't apply at the GR level. Yet both must be true! Enter String Theory. This theory posits, among other things, that quantum particles are actually made up of vibrating strings; also, it posits that our current four spacetime dimensions (length + height + width + time) are actually short by about 6 space dimensions. In other words, by using a universe with 11 dimensions the apparent problem between GR and quantum mechanics is resolved. Now for the link to Christian apologetics... Check out J.P. Moreland's Scaling the Secular City and his use of the Kalam Cosmological Argument. In a nutshell, what we're saying here is that if the Big Bang is true then there must have been a "Big Banger" (to steal a quote from Greg Koukl). The Kalam argument points to a MIND or person that must be responsible for the creation. The Big Banger must exist outside the realm of what is created (check Ron Nash' Faith & Reason). String Theory posits at least 11 dimensions... THEREFORE, the MIND that created the universe, who also exists outside its realms, must exist in at least 12 spacetime dimensions! Multiple spacetime dimensions for a Creator opens up potential answers to some tough questions that have perplexed mankind for many, many years. For instance, a being that exists in even one additional space dimension can appear to us as multiple yet claim to be one (i.e., the Trinity). For more on those aspects, read Hugh Ross' Beyond the Cosmos. Bottom line - watch the NOVA special and then read Isaiah 40.
Check Governor Orders Feeding Resumed for Florida Woman by Reuters. This is scary folks. All arguments regarding the courts and judges and lawyers aside, there are some incredibly crazy thoughts here. Jeb Bush has ordered that nutrition and water be given to Terri, overruling a court order which removed them from her about 5 days ago. Do you understand what is going on here? A U.S. Court ordered that Terri Schiavo be starved to death! According to the article, "Republican state Sen. Tom Lee said senators felt political pressure to quickly approve the bill or be blamed "for killing Terri Schiavo." "Some people came up with a political brainstorm to use this woman's life as a political football, to appeal to the Christian conservatives in this state who will never understand the details that construct this case," Lee said. Some lawmakers and scholars questioned whether the state constitution authorized the legislature to give the governor power to overrule a court." That's right Tom, blame it on those moronic Christian conservatives who will never understand anything as complicated as this court case. From Boykin to Ashcroft to Schiavo supporters... it's those radical right Christians. Tell me Tom, do you have the fortitude to watch Terri starve to death? Do you understand that it is a long, painful process? Will you monitor her condition as her life slowly slips away? Note the ending of the article, "Robert Schindler [Terri's father] was delighted with Tuesday's turn of events, telling reporters outside the hospice where Schiavo is being treated in Pinellas Park, a suburb of St. Petersburg, "It's incredible." But George Felos, an attorney for Schiavo's husband, called the legislature's action unconstitutional and said he would try to have the bill overturned. Felos also said he would file civil suits against anyone who helped put Schiavo back on life support." Life support? This is completely false. Terri is not on life support... she is being provided with nutrition. Maybe attorney George Felos should be reminded of that the next time he sits down for a meal? What should be scary here is the lack of outrage we see on the streets. Is this indicative of agreement by a majority of Americans with the court's decision to starve Terri to death? If so... where will it stop?
The General Boykin story seems to be growing. I was through with it myself but now Hugh Hewitt reports that James Carroll from the Boston Globe has jumped into the water (Warring with God, 10/21/03). Unfortunately, Carroll wore his illogical wetsuit and is attempting to swim amongst logical great whites. Carroll dreams of a scenario where all exclusivistic religions and / or philosophies drop their exclusivism and turn pluralistic as a precondition of justice and peace. In other words... actually, in his words, "The general's critics are right to deplore the denigration of the faith of Muslims, but the problem goes deeper than a crudely expressed religious chauvinism. In point of fact... exclusivist claims made for Jesus Christ by most Christians, from Vatican corridors to evangelical revival tents, implicitly insult the religion of others. "Last week's response to General Boykin, however, suggests a new sensitivity to the links between intolerant theology and intolerant behavior. "The ethical dilemma facing all religions today, but perhaps especially religions of revelation, is laid bare here: How to affirm one's own faith without denigrating the faith of others? "But there can be such a thing as an inclusivist religious faith that rejects this way of thinking. Instead of polarity, this other way of being religious assumes unity -- unity between God and God's creation..." Forgetting the political aspects of this story let's take a quick look at the concepts of Absolute Truth and the Law of Non-Contradiction: Absolute Truth - simply stated, there is objective Truth that exists in the reality of the cosmos we exist in. It is distinct from our subjective thinking, does not change simply because we may happen to change our thinking, and it logically follows that Absolute Truth comes not by chance but from a Mind. Now, if someone claims that there is no such thing as Absolute Truth, one should ask that person if their claim is true? (Note that an answer of "maybe" is equivalent to "no") If they answer "yes" then voila!, there is truth afterall! If they answer "no" then ask them why you should then continue to listen to what they're saying? Another avenue is to ask the person if torturing babies, simply for the fun of it, is always wrong? You see, this takes the issue from the realm of theory into the realm of reality. Now, of course this is a greatly simplified analysis, but the key point to understand is that any philosophy that denies Absolute Truth is ultimately self-defeating. The question should not be "is there Absolute Truth?" but rather "how do we determine Absolute Truth?" This leads us to the second aspect, The Law of Non-Contradiction - "A" cannot be "non-A" in the same sense and at the same time. Anyone who claims that all religions say essentially the same thing, or must deny their truth claims, is essentially ignorant of what religions say. Judaism does not recognize Jesus Christ as the Messiah, Christianity does. By their very nature they can't be saying the same thing - they are exclusive in their truth claims. For someone to demand that religions cease from making exclusive claims on truth is the epitome of illogical thinking. Another issue raised by denying religions their claims to truth is that such a propostition is blatant hypocrisy. The reason for this is that those who make such a demand are (themselves) making an exlcusivistic truth claim - namely - that for world peace, all religions must cease being religions. Carroll's idea that exclusive claims to religious truth should be muted is well received by the non-churched (and, unfortunately, some evangelicals). Afterall, it seems to make sense... if we just learn to live with each others differences, we'll all get along - right? 21st century post-moderns who are arrogant enough to consider themselves beyond superstitous religions buy into this thinking. But it's an idea that needs to be demolished. At best, it reflects a dumbing down of the masses; at worst, it's a slippery slope towards a totalitarian mentality that reeks of the very intolerance they preach against. For more in-depth analysis of these concepts check Faith & Reason by Ron Nash, The Abolition of Man by C.S. Lewis, Scaling the Secular City by J.P. Moreland, and What We Can't Not Know by J. Budziszewski.
Monday, October 20, 2003
Okay, a quick post because to dive into this one would take too much time tonight. Tue, Oct. 28, and Nov. 4, NOVA will broadcast a special on Brian Green's book, The Elegant Universe. Here's the blurb from NOVA: "Eleven dimensions, parallel universes, and a world made out of strings. It's not science fiction. It's String Theory." Why should you care? The implications for Christianity are astounding! More to follow...
L.A. Times Columnist, Patt Morrison, wrote a recent piece titled Recent Conservative Outcry Reeks of Liberal Leanings in which she attempts to convince us that conservatives who aren't perfect have somehow become... Liberals? Of course, her first attack is on Rush and his recent admission of drug addiction. I guess, based on her reasoning, that since he once (and still) condemns those who walk the path of substance abuse, that he is now a hypocrite and must either join the ranks of liberals, or else commit his soul to the great conservative radio god in the sky. For anyone to plead tolerance for his case is tantamount to speaking with forked tongue. Well, maybe she has a point. If Rush tries to weasel his way out and push the blame on Republicans... then I guess she would have a strong point. But what you have to watch out for is the subtle, or not so subtle, bait and switch that she plays with, "The old saying is that a conservative is a liberal who's been mugged. The new saying - because I just made it up - is that a liberal is a conservative who's been indicted. Iran-Contra leading man Oliver North - patriot, conservative, talk-show host - invoked that pinko 5th Amendment in that radical Bill of Rights..." Uh, let me get this straight now... conservatives consider the Bill of Rights to be "pinko"?... as in red?... as in communist? Whoa, that's a new one on me. Hang on folks because it gets even better. She closes with, "Limbaugh and his radio empire will survive his confession. Schwarzenegger did. William Bennett, author of "The Book of Virtues" and "The Death of Outrage," the man who gambled reported millions compulsively, 'fessed up and is still on the rubber-rooster circuit. Lawrence Kudlow, who was Ronald Reagan's chief economist at the Office of Management and Budget, acknowledged in the 1990s that he was a recovering alcoholic and drug addict, and he's got a show on CNBC. Just about the only difference between their vices and Bill Clinton's seems to be that it's not whether you do it, but that you confess to it." Herein lies the rub with the Liberals and their blindness when it comes to the difference between people and virtue. Notice that her conclusion is the difference between the likes of Bill Clinton and Bill Bennett is whether or not the immoral act committed was confessed. Is it really beyond Patt Morrison to understand that an immoral act is immoral regardless of whether it was confessed, and certainly regardless of who committed it? Is it a stretch of the imagination to understand the simple reality that regardless of whether Bill Bennett is a perfect human being (oxymoron there) that virtues remain virtues? Dietrich Bonhoeffer certainly recognized this when, comparing the difference between the Declaration of Independence of the United States and the Declaration of the Rights of Man of France, he said, "The American democracy is not founded upon the emancipated man but, quite on the contrary, upon the kingdom of God and the limitation of all earthly powers by the sovereignty of God. It is indeed significant when, in contrast to the Declaration of the Rights of Man, American historians can say that the federal constitution was written by men who were conscious of original sin and of the wickedness of the human heart." - from Ethics.
Saturday, October 18, 2003
Candidates Seek Audience With Arab Americans: Lieberman's Mideast Remarks Criticized At Meeting in Michigan… the Washington Post article, by David S. Broder, highlights an appearance of Presidential hopefuls Friday in Dearborn, Michigan at an Arab American Institute leadership conference. Evidently, the constituency of Arab Americans is considered by some to be of significant importance in the upcoming Presidential election. Lieberman drew boos for his stance that the security fence being constructed by the Israelis in the West Bank should only come down once the Palestinians have completely stopped their acts of terrorism. Imagine that – being booed because he wanted the Palestinians to stop acts of terror? Contrast this with the shouts of approval that Rep. Dennis Kucinich received when he bragged about being the only candidate who had voted against both the Patriot Act and the resolution authorizing use of military force against Iraq. Arab Americans, according to the article, number about 3 million and are now considered an influential voting bloc. On the Republican side, the chairman of President Bush’s reelection campaign, Marc Racicot, although not booed, was heard in silence. He was criticized for his responses regarding Bush’s Middle East policy as well as the US Patriot Act. First and foremost I would question just how influential the Arab American vote really is. Do their numbers justify such attention? Consider that there are more than 2.5 million members in the Assembly of God denomination across the U.S. Add to that the remainder of Evangelical denominations and I think you have a voting bloc that carries much more weight. One has to ask why aren’t Evangelical Christians being courted? Can you imagine the Democrats attempting to do that?
Friday, October 17, 2003
There's quite the buzz in blogspace regarding comments made by General Boykin regarding his Christian faith as well as his views on Islamic terrorists. The L.A. Times and MSNBC ran the story and it has now appeared in many other locales as well. Apparently these news agencies think the First Amendment only applies to them. As Hugh Hewitt reports, there were out of context quotes and the non-existent quotes surrounding an unspoken word (read: the word "jihad" was placed in quotes referring to the General's views... HELLO MEDIA?! Do you really think people won't connect the quotes used as implying that the General actually used that word?!). What's worse is that now the Dems have jumped on the bandwagon and are taking jabs at Boykin. Reuters reports that Joe Lieberman has called on Bush to condemn Boykin's "hateful remarks," while Rep. John Conyers is quoted as saying "it is outrageous that someone who holds such extreme, closed-minded, zealous views would be allowed such a prominent position in our military." Note the keywords: "hateful," "extreme," "closed-minded," and "zealous." In response to his critics, Boykin has stated, "I do believe that radical extremists have tried to use Islam as a cause for attacks on America. As I have stated before, they are not true followers of Islam. In my view they are simply terrorists, much like the so-called 'Christians' of the white supremacy groups, or extremist (sic) of any faith." We need to understand that what is also at stake here is the ridiculous notion of pluralism in the sense that "all roads lead to God." Boykin, it appears, is a well-grounded Christian who understands that a core element of the Christian faith is its exclusivism. Yet, while exercising his right to voice his opinion he has been deprecated as being hateful, extreme, closed-minded, and zealous. I for one hope that he is hateful - hateful of terrorists intent on killing innocent human beings. I hope that he is extreme - extreme enough to use the means necessary to destroy said terrorists. I hope that he is closed-minded - closed-minded to pluralistic mentalities that have either disregarded or are completely ignorant of the Law of Non-Contradiction. And I hope that he is zealous - zealous in his mission to protect the United States of America.
In the September 2003 issue of Touchstone: a Journal of Mere Christianity, Louis R Tarsitano has an article titled, Seriously Seeking Mysteries: on Seekers, Liturgy & Baseball. It's a straight shooting article that genuinely questions the "seeker-friendly" mentality currently found in evangelical circles. Indeed, the first line goes, "I have a very dear friend who has attended Willow Creek Church for years, and he has never moved much beyond his original attraction: a jolly good religious show that does not require him to do anything “demeaning,” such as worship or getting too involved with the other members of the audience." The question essentially raised by Tarsitano is whether we, as Christians, should water down the Gospel message in order to attract non-Christians to our church services. Offshoots to that question would be whether or not we let the desires of non-Christians dictate how we package our liturgy (e.g., non-Christian: "Church is BORING", Christian: "Okay. We'll do away with emphasis on sin and really jazz up the worship team... Oh!, how 'bout some cafe mochas between services?"). Along a similar vein, in the July/August 2003 issue (no web access to the article), Gillis J. Harp presents an article entitled, Mall Christianity: on Seeker Sensitivity & Cultural Captivity. In it, Harp states that, based on the early Church, the primary emphasis of Sunday worship was not to evangelize non-believers... it was for believers to corporately worship God and study His Word. Now, this is not to say that no evangelizing could occur on Sunday... rather, Harp is saying that it was through a concerted effort to impact society during the rest of the week that the early Church would seek new believers. This dovetails wonderfully with Hugh Hewitt's latest book, In, But Not Of. Although we should certainly be aware of the concerns of non-Christians, we must realize that they will not completely understand our liturgy or our ways. This should not be surprising... for they are In, And Of the world.
CBS News aired a blatantly biased report against homeschooling this past week. In A Dark Side to Homeschooling, we hear of how a homeschooled teenager shot and killed his two siblings and then turned the gun on himself. Highlighted are the futile attempts of social workers to control the situation. The teaser for part two of the series went like this, "Home Schooling Nightmares: In Part 2 of Vince Gonzales' report, how children nationwide have been put in danger, even killed, while home schooling." One has to wonder just what the rationale is at CBS to report a story like this. Are their liberal mindsets so much in line with Hillary that they feel that only the government can raise a child? Are they not aware of how well homeschoolers have done on national spelling bees and geography competitions? I'd love to see a follow-up report titled something like this, "Lethal Public Schools: In Part 1 of an ongoing series, we report on how children are being gunned down in public schools across America, all while their parents work in clean, safe, office environments." Thanks to the networking of many homeschool web boards, CBS has found out just what homeschoolers across America think of their biased reporting and their implication that only the government can properly teach our children. The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) has formally responded to CBS. For those interested in contacting CBS or Viacom: Viacom (parent company of CBS) P - 212-258-6000 CBS Evening News Comment Lines: P - (212) 975-3247 P - (212) 975 7825 CBS Evening News with Dan Rather 524 West 57th St. New York, NY 10019 Email: email@example.com Let your voice be heard.
FYI, I reside in California and am a California native. The recent recall of Gov. Gray Davis generated quite a bit of controversy between Christians regarding their options on the Republican ticket. Nearly every Christian I spoke with (and, interestingly enough, many non-Christians) felt that Tom McClintock was the more qualified candidate (vs. Arnold). Yet it was clear that McClintock was not only a distant third in the polls, his presence in the race would potentially prevent Arnold from securing the win. Herein was the issue between Christians: should I vote pragmatically (indeed, "compromising our beliefs" as I was told) for Arnold, or should we vote our conscience for McClintock. I opted for Arnie. I think that Christians need to understand that we are called to make an impact on society and not to simply make a statement. Standing firmly for one's beliefs is admirable, but if the result is a greater evil than voting pragmatically, what have we gained? (except the good feeling that we didn't compromise our beliefs). Anyway, the election is over and, as it turned out, McClintock's portion of the votes cast did not prevent Arnold from winning. For an interesting rundown on whether Christians should vote to make a statement or vote to make an impact, please visit the Stand to Reason website and checkout their September 28th broadcast.
Okay before I start genuine blogging I need to give credit where credit is due. If you haven't yet read Hugh Hewitt's latest book, In, But Not Of, then please do. Although its target audience is in the 20 - 30 year old range, I (being 45), found it to be a clear and precise set of guidelines for Christians with regards to impacting secular society. It is a collection of mostly pithy chapters with just plain good words of wisdom... wisdom based from experience. Please do yourself a favor and get this book. Also, please visit Hugh's blog site as well. As soon as I figure out how to put in a permanent link you will see it listed on this page. Also, thanks are in order to Hugh for inspiring this blog site.
I am now entering the blogging world... personal note - space and time still follow the laws established from the beginning. My name is Rusty. This blog will be based on Evangelical Christian thought and will include the topics (but certainly not limit itself to): Apologetics, Creationism, Evolution, Intelligent Design, Politics, Cosmology, Religion, Homeschooling, Postmodernism, Deconstructionism, Christian History, Star Trek, Philosophy, and maybe even Gilligan's Island.