Sunday, November 30, 2003
also known as St. Andrews Day. St. Andrew, the First-Called. The celebration of Advent starts on the Sunday closest to St. Andrews Day. For each of the four Sundays until Christmas a candle is lit, a prayer spoken, and a hymn sung. On Christmas Eve a fifth candle is lit in honor of the Christ-child. Read Isaiah 7 and 9; Luke 2; and Galatians 4. Remember the Sun of Righteousness (Malachi 4:2), the Messiah - Immanuel, in preparation for the celebration of Christmas morning. The Greek Orthodox treat the weeks prior to Christmas not with parties and fanfare, but with solemn reflection, in anticipation - HOPE - of the promised coming of the Lord. This is done to parallel the waiting that Israel experienced for the Messiah's arrival. Once Christmas morning arrives, festive celebrations occur for 12 days up until January 6 and the Epiphany celebration of the arrival of the Magi. Whether we follow that liturgy or not, we would be well advised to take the time to meditate on the true meaning of the Christmas season. O come, O come Emmanuel And ransom captive Israel That mourns in lonely exile here Until the Son of God appear Rejoice, rejoice Emmanuel Shall come to thee, O Israel
Sunday Dilemma in U.S.: Sports Vs. Church, from the AP. "Sports vs. church: It's become the Sunday morning dilemma in homes across the nation. With weekend sports leagues growing in popularity, schedules have stretched further into those Sunday morning hours that were once the exclusive domain of churches." It seems that the domain of children's sports leagues has encroached upon church attendance. This is not surprising. We live down the street from a city park that is used extensively for sports programs. Throughout the year, whether in football, soccer, or baseball season, the streets are lined with cars as various sporting events are held, usually on the weekends, but many times during the week. Sunday used to be free from this... it was, at least in principle, time that families could spend together. It also used to be a time when markets and stores were closed (I don't mention malls, because malls weren't around yet). No more. My daughter and I will sometimes ride our bikes down the street to the schoolyard adjacent to the park. Whenever there is a sporting event (which seems to be most of the time, nowadays) we end up watching a parade of mini-vans and SUVs as they bus in and out the litany of child sports prodigys. So far, my daughter has not expressed any great desire to be part of these organized teams. She is content with her participation in weekly ballet or gymnastic classes. I really don't know why she is uninterested in organized sports... it may be the fact that, through homeschooling, she is not as exposed to peer-pressure situations. Or it may simply be part of her personality. "Rev. Chuck Rush, senior minister at Christ Church in Summit... sees the church vs. sports conflict in his own home. His 13-year-old daughter, who plays soccer, is sometimes torn between religion and her loyalty to her team, where she stood a good chance of being named most valuable player. "She was in a tournament recently and she said, `I could be the MVP, but if I don't play in this Sunday's game, I definitely won't be the MVP," he recalled. It all boils down to time, and the precious lack of it for families. As the growing demands of homework, weekend errands and sports compete for families' free time, church often loses." What are the sports leagues for? Our children? What ever happened to family time together? We've been hoodwinked into entertaining our children with events so as not to allow them to get bored. Or we're concerned about their self-esteem so we attempt to bolster it with a team sports mentality. Or they may have expressed an interest in playing say, soccer, so we cave in to multiple practices during the week and tournaments on Sunday mornings. We claim we have our children's best interests in mind... but because Time is finite (for us) it has become the determining factor in where our priorities lie. That's what it's become, hasn't it? Our Priority. Here's a question to ponder: 20 years from now, which will matter most... that your daughter was MVP for her long forgotten team?, or that your family was able to attend church, eat lunch, and then spend the afternoon together? This morning I was thinking about maybe taking my daughter for a bike ride today (Sunday afternoon). After reading this article, I know I will.
Friday, November 28, 2003
The Christian Courier posted some info on Thomas Aquinas College giving Carl's Jr. CEO Andrew Puzder the boot from the college's board of governors. This was in response for the recent Playboy Ad campaign by Carl's Jr. Good for Thomas Aquinas College! In a previous article, the Christian Courier lumped the Playboy Ad campaign in with both Carl's Jr. and Hardee's (Hardee's and Carl's are under the parent CKE Restaurants). Interestingly, Carl's Jr. wrote to the Christian Courier (published here) and clarified that Hardee's is not involved in the Playboy Ad campaign. What difference does that make?
Thursday, November 27, 2003
1st Amendment: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. Pretty simple, basic, and straightforward, isn't it? Yet the Press seems to think it grants them elitist standing. Regarding President Bush' stellar appearance in Baghdad, Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post wrote, Some Understand Covert Journey; Others Fear Bad Precedent. "Although the White House lied to much of the press to conceal President Bush's Thanksgiving visit to Baghdad, many journalists and analysts yesterday were willing to give the administration a pass." That's big of you Howard, considering the fact that there is no Constitutional obligation that the White House tell you diddley-squat. "...Philip Taubman, Washington bureau chief of the New York Times, said that "in this day and age, there should have been a way to take more reporters. People are perfectly capable of maintaining a confidence for security reasons. It's a bad precedent." Once White House officials "decided to do a stealth trip, they bought into a whole series of things that are questionable." Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, criticized the White House correspondents who made the trip without spilling the secret. "That's just not kosher," he said. "Reporters are in the business of telling the truth. They can't decide it's okay to lie sometimes because it serves a larger truth or good cause."" This is a classic example of why the White House ran such stringent security on this trip. Philip Taubman states that reporters are capable of keeping a secret, but Tom Rosentiel chastizes those who did! "Former White House spokesman Joe Lockhart, who worked for President Bill Clinton, said: "There's no way to do this kind of trip if it's broadcast in advance, for security reasons. My problem with this is not that he misled the press. This is a president who has been unwilling to provide his presence to the families who have suffered but thinks nothing of flying to Baghdad to use the troops there as a prop."" Really? I guess Joe Lockhart missed Bush' appearance and speech at Fort Carson, CO, last week. In it, Bush said, "It is the nature of terrorism that a small number of people can inflict terrible grief. And here, you felt loss. Every person who dies in the line of duty leaves a family that lives in sorrow, and comrades who must go on without them. The Fort Carson community said farewell to some of your best. One of them was Staff Sergeant Daniel Bader. This good man left behind his wife, Tiffany, and their 14-month-old daughter. Tiffany Bader said this to a reporter recently, "I'm going to wait until she is old enough to realize what happened, and I will tell her exactly what her daddy did for her. He died serving his country so that my little girl could grow up free." The courage of that soldier, and the courage of that wife, show the spirit of this country in the face of great adversity. And all our military families that mourn can know this: Our nation will never forget the sacrifice their loved one made to protect us all. By the unselfish dedication of Americans in uniform, children in our own country and in lands far away will be able to live in freedom, and know the peace that freedom brings. As Americans, we believe that freedom is not America's gift to the world, freedom is the Almighty God's gift to every person who lives in the world. As men and women who served the cause of freedom, each one of you has answered a great calling. You live by a code of honor, in service to your nation, for the safety and security of your fellow citizens. You and I have taken an oath to defend America. We're meeting that duty together, and I'm proud to be the Commander-in-Chief of the greatest military, full of the finest people on the face of this earth." Hugh Hewitt is right. The Liberals still don't get it. They're still thinking in terms of political overtones from days gone by. They don't understand what this war is about. President Bush does. His presence in Baghdad on Thanksgiving Day boosted morale in the U.S. military worldwide. The Joe Lockhart's of the world would easily find this out if they simply took the time to talk with those that wear the uniform of the U.S. military.
Bush Pays Surprise Thanksgiving Visit to Troops in Iraq. "BAGHDAD, Nov. 27 -- President Bush made a secret trip to Iraq on Thursday to celebrate Thanksgiving with troops and pledge that he will not retreat in the face of increasing insurgent violence. Bush surprised 600 soldiers of the 1st Armored Division and the 82nd Airborne Division attending a Thanksgiving celebration at the Bob Hope Dining Facility on the makeshift military base at Baghdad International Airport, telling them they "are defeating the terrorists here in Iraq so we don't have to face them in our own country. "We did not charge hundreds of miles into the heart of Iraq, pay a bitter cost of casualties, defeat a ruthless dictator and liberate 25 million people, only to retreat before a band of thugs and assassins," Bush said, to a standing ovation. "We will prevail. We will win because our cause is just."" Now what kind of message does that send to our troops! It tells them they have a Commander-in-Chief that cares about what they are doing and understands the sacrifices they have made and are continuing to make! Bravo! President Bush! Watch out for the Liberals crying foul - that Bush did it only as a campaign stunt. But just compare to Billary being in Afghanistan bringing attention to herself...
It's Thanksgiving Day. Let us learn to be thankful for the bountiful blessings that we have received. In teaching our daughters to cherish what they have we've run into a few difficulties. The problem is that, in their abundance, it's too easy for them to get complacent and greedy. It's a problem we adults seem to have as well.
A Spiritual Struggle for Democrats: Silence on Religion Could Hurt Candidates, in the Washington Post today treats religion simply as a demographic statistic whose qualities can somehow be maximized by politicians, in this case - Democrats, to their advantage. Comparisons to how George W. Bush has supposedly used this leveraging feature are given. "The nine Democratic presidential candidates all consider themselves religious, though most keep their faith and spiritual views to themselves when campaigning. Their silence stands in contrast to President Bush, among the most overtly religious presidents in generations, and could undermine the Democratic nominee, as polls consistently show that voters want to hear more about faith from their national leaders." Herein lies one of the many problems with this viewpoint: Religious views are a good thing, as long as you keep them to yourself. This is, in a word, ridiculous. Whatever philosophy structures your Worldview must express itself in your life. This applies whether your Worldview is structured by Christianity or Atheism. "Bush's faith plays a big part in his political strength, pollsters say, as he receives high marks from the public for providing moral and trustworthy leadership. Bush is a born-again Christian who frequently studies the Bible, prays and candidly discusses his faith in God. "If you can connect with people spiritually, that is an important connection," said retired Gen. Wesley K. Clark, a Catholic who frequently attends Presbyterian services. "That's what George Bush tries to do."" Another problem: Treating some spiritual connection as the means to political ends. What should be evident from someone positing that approach is that they follow their particular philosophy / religion simply because they like it... not because they truly consider it to be True. "In some ways, Democrats see their opening revealed in the philosophical splits dividing the Episcopal and Catholic churches in the United States. On the one side are conservative Christians who interpret the Bible more literally and see abortion and homosexuality as incompatible with scripture and, therefore, incompatible with their political views. This group leans strongly Republican, pollsters say. On the other side are the millions of Episcopalians who supported the confirmation of an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire and Catholics who support abortion rights. These voters are considered very gettable for Democrats." Yet another problem: Simply viewing religious blocks as political fodder. A while back I criticized the Dems for courting the Arab-American vote while ignoring the Evangelicals. Am I contradicting myself here? No. The reason why is that, when courting the Arab-Americans, the Dems were attempting to sympathize with the concerns and desires of the Arab-Americans. Here we find the Dems chasing after voters that belong to religious denominations that already ascribe to Liberal philosophies... under the guise of being spiritually connected with them. "This is the camp the Democratic candidates mostly fall into. In interviews, those candidates who described themselves as Christians said homosexuality and abortion are not sinful, and all described the New Testament as focused on helping the poor and needy. They mostly talked about it as a broad guide of principles not to be taken too literally. It is a very "different set of teachings some in the more fundamentalist parts talk about," said Rep. Richard A. Gephardt (Mo.), a Baptist who once considered joining the seminary." Final point: Equating selected social concerns in the New Testament with Evangelical Christianity. Liberals are very selective in their reading and interpretation of the Bible. It is flat out wrong to consider that, according to the Bible, homosexuality and abortion are not sinful. Regarding abortion, check the resources found at Stand to Reason. It is also flat out wrong to state that the New Testament is focused on helping the poor and needy. One wonders if they have ever heard of the word Gospel? While Jesus helped the poor and needy he did not consider them to be of utmost importance. The writers of the Epistles were very concerned with the poor and needy but their writings were focused on fulfilling the Great Commission - namely - making disciples. Within that context is the act of helping the needy... something Christians in America need to revisit - but that's a topic for another time.
Tuesday, November 25, 2003
Gov.'s Cuts to Hit Poor, Universities. So says the article in the L.A. Times. A draft of Gov. Arnold's (I can never remember how to spell Schwarzenegger) was obtained by the Times. The article states, "Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is expected today to propose $3.8 billion in budget cuts over the next 19 months, including reductions in services to the poor and disabled, as well as in higher education programs. The cuts, intended to help close a budget shortfall of at least $17 billion through mid-2005, would end art therapy for the developmentally disabled, scale back food stamp eligibility, reduce fees to doctors who treat Medi-Cal patients and eliminate recruitment programs at public universities." Budget tightening is never easy, is it? What's interesting is how Arnold is portrayed by radical Democrats. ""This is not a centrist, bipartisan view of the world," said Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg (D-Los Angeles). "This is a radical right view of the world. And if Gov. Schwarzenegger wants to position himself in the direction of saying he wants bipartisanship, this is not a step in that direction."" Radical Right? Is this the same Schwarzenegger who is criticized by conservative Republicans as being too liberal? Such a confusing world we live in. The cuts to programs for poor and the developmentally disabled drew some of the biggest criticisms. That there are needy human beings in our midst is obvious. Yet, as Christians, shouldn't we be aware of a lesson here regarding the Biblical Worldview of the role of government in society? Is it really the government's responsibility to care for the poor and needy? What are our responsibilities, if any, as Christians? It really doesn't take much digging into the New Testament to find out the answer to that one. For one tangible example of Christian expression of love, I direct you to the Friendship Ministries program at the Orange County Worship Center.
A homeschool mom sent a complaint to Carl's Jr. regarding their advertising campaign and received the same canned response I posted below. She went one step further, though, and replied to the e-mail. Here is what she sent, with Carl's Jr. text in italics and her comments in bold... =================================== Subject: Re: A Thank You Message From Carl's Jr. we'd like you to know that it is targeted toward a specific audience -- young men between 18 and 34 years so, you are targeting men my son's age? Men between the age of 18-34 don't need that kind of garbage fed to them either (both the high fat and low class variety) It is not intended to appeal to children; and, therefore, we do not attempt to run it at times or during programs that children would typically view. Really? Those commercials are running at a time my 13 and 11 year old sons are up (they stopped going to bed at 8:00 a long time ago) and more damaging is that my 12 year old daughter is getting a rather degrading image of women in general. If you are only pandering to the 18-34 year old male then do it on cable stations where your market is much better defined and I can choose to not subscribe to the service. The truth is your market is to the teen and pre-teen boy. Kids need messages that encourage sexual responsibility not the "have a different one every night" mentality that you are encouraging. Our daughters need to have a message that they are more than a piece of meat to be sampled. Your commercials are degrading to all people, they are not funny, cute, and they may sell a few hamburgers to those with the combined mental capacity of a carrot but families will spend their dollars elsewhere. In my city, Burger King is directly across the street from Carls. Guess where my money will be spent. ===================================== On a positive note, I sent an e-mail to In-n-Out Burger commending them for not resorting to the use of SEX to sell their burgers, and telling them that we would be frequenting their establisments more often. Here is their response: Subject: Regarding_your_inquiry_at_the_IN-N-OUT_Burger® _Web_Site. Date: Tue, 25 Nov 2003 16:15:03 -0800 Dear Rusty Lopez: Thank you for your wonderful e-mail! It is always nice to hear from our customers, and especially nice to receive comments such as those you sent. We appreciate your encouragement and confidence! Sincerely, Sarah VanKirk Customer Service Representative
Monday, November 24, 2003
No, the title isn't supposed to be read moron Hugh Hefner selling fast food. I blogged earlier about the fact that a primarily West Coast fast food chain, Carl's Jr., is using Hugh Hefner in its latest ad campaign. The Orange County (CA) Register's Business section has an article titled, Sexy Sales Pitch, outlining the last 9 years of advertising based on Carl's Jr. working with the Mendelsohn/Zien ad agency in Los Angeles. The article states, "The campaign has employed everything from controversial celebrities to sexual overtones as it tries to energize the chain's loyal customer base, 18- to 35-year-old males, while exercising a rare willingness to offend a few folks." For one, I believe their rare willingness to offend is a precisely calculated move. For another, I think the claim that their customer base is 18 - 35 year-old males is nothing more than a smokescreen. Remember people, this is a fast food chain. "Ponder the latest TV ads. One features an attractive lady seductively riding a mechanical bull while enjoying a burger. Foghat's hard-charging "Slow Ride" plays in the background. Need I say more? Then come spots featuring Hefner, the founder of Playboy magazine, who at age 77 still relishes the classic bachelor life that his publication portrays. Hefner's pitching an expanded line of upscale burgers with ads noting that variety - wink-wink - is the spice of life." Those of us who grew up in southern California know that Carl's Jr. was not always like this. The founder, Carl Karcher, established the chain on a solid work ethic and was "a man known for conservative political views and Christian ethics." But Carl no longer runs the company. Greed does. The execs in charge are unrepentant over their regression which, as point of fact, has turned the company's fortunes around. ""I don't think we've run an ad that we haven't gotten some complaints about," notes Andy Puzder, Carl's Jr.'s chief exec, who was asked to resign from the board of Thomas Aquinas College, a small Catholic school in Santa Paula, due to the Hefner ads. "I run the company, but I'm not the creative police. We've been very successful with (Mendelsohn/Zien) and I support them."" The Carl's Jr. website has a link to post comments. If you have ever frequented their chain, then let them know how you feel about their ad campaigns... heck, even if you have never seen a Carl's Jr., let them know how you feel. But don't expect a cozy response. Here's the text of the e-mail I received after voicing my objections to their Hugh Hefner ad and after stating that we would not frequent their establishment so long as they ran those ads. ============================================= Subject: A Thank You Message From Carl's Jr. Date: Mon, 24 Nov 2003 15:37:47 -0800 Thank you for your message regarding recent Carl's Jr. advertising featuring a young woman riding a mechanical bull and -- in another spot -- Hugh Hefner. While reasonable people can certainly disagree as to the impact of our advertising, we'd like you to know that it is targeted toward a specific audience -- young men between 18 and 34 years old. It is not intended to appeal to children; and, therefore, we do not attempt to run it at times or during programs that children would typically view. Regardless, we regret that you took offense to the contents of the ads -- that was not our intention. We appreciate the time you have taken to express your concerns. Rest assured, your feedback is taken directly to our executives at the highest level within the Carl's Jr. organization. We hope to have the opportunity to serve you in the future. Sincerely, Caroline Leakan Vice President, Corporate Communications ============================== Ask your friends to contact Carl's Jr. AND to stop buying meals there. It seems that the only message they understand is MONEY... so it's up to the buying public to shut down their revenue. Then go to In-n-Out Burger and let them know you appreciate the fact that they do not resort to using sex to sell their product AND that you will be buying meals from them.
In the L.A. Times, An Empire Built on Bargains Remakes the Working World, is the first article in a three part series on Wal-Mart and its methodology for driving down prices. It’s an interesting piece. Especially in light of the fact that many jobs, once considered to be pretty solid here in the U.S., are now moving overseas. Computer programmers are quickly facing extinction here in the states. Engineers? Ha! The hotbeds for that type of work is now in places like the Philippines, India, or Mexico. Note that those are supposed white-collar jobs. The Wal-Mart effect primarily hits blue-collar workers. The article notes, “Kelly Gray, the chief breadwinner for five children, lost her job as a Raley's grocery clerk last December after Wal-Mart expanded into the supermarket business here. California-based Raley's closed all 18 of its stores in the area, laying off 1,400 workers. Gray earned $14.68 an hour with a pension and family health insurance. Wal-Mart grocery workers typically make less than $9 an hour.” $9 an hour?! Well, if you work hard you will be rewarded… right? Store managers at Wal-Mart are said to make $95,000 including bonuses. “A management position requires long hours — as many as 80 a week — and, often, a willingness to relocate. Rios worked at six California Wal-Mart stores before taking the helm at Serene Avenue. "It doesn't come free," said Rios, a divorced father who shares custody of his 2-year-old son. Still, he said, the benefits outweigh the sacrifices. "I have an open opportunity. I could go into real estate for Wal-Mart. I could do systems, analysis, accounting. It's endless," Rios said. "If I wanted to go to Germany or Japan or Brazil or any of the markets we have, I believe I could go." 80 hours a week? Do you think there’s a correlation between the “divorced” and “a management position requires long hours”? But it’s all about prices, right? After all, where else can you pick up such bargains? In Part 2 of the series, Scouring the Globe to Give Shoppers an $8.63 Polo Shirt, we’re told of the means and methods Wal-Mart uses to get its foreign suppliers to drive down their prices. “…here in Honduras, under the corrugated metal roof of the Cosmos clothing factory. Isabel Reyes, who has worked at the plant for 11 years, pushes fabric through her sewing machine 10 hours a day, struggling to meet the latest quota scrawled on a blackboard. She now sews sleeves onto shirts at the rate of 1,200 garments a day. That's two shirts a minute, one sleeve every 15 seconds. Reyes, who earns the equivalent of $35 a week, says her bosses blame the long hours and low wages on big U.S. companies and their demands for ever-cheaper merchandise. Wal-Mart, the biggest company of them all, is the Cosmos factory's main customer. Reyes is skeptical. Why, she asked, would a company in the richest country in the world care about a few pennies on a pair of shorts?” Short answer: GREED Dylan had a song, in the ‘80s, titled Union Sundown, which was about the slow but imminent demise of organized labor in the U.S. Well, you know, lots of people complainin' that there is no work. I say, "What do you say that for? When nothin' you got is U.S.-made? They don't make nothin' here no more." You know, capitalism is above the law. It says, "It don't count uless it sells." When it costs too much to build it at home You just build it cheaper someplace else. Well, it's sundown on the union And what's made in the U.S.A. Sure was a good idea 'Til greed got in the way. You know what? Capitalism works… but there is no room in it for greed. We have it under Divine authority that we cannot love both money and God. Jesus, although concerned for the well-being of the poor, did not seem to consider their well-being to be of utmost importance. Here is one of the mandates we’ve been given: to care for those who are in need. It is not the government’s responsibility… it is ours. Do we think about that as we casually spend what would be one person’s weekly wages for dinner? I’ll be the first to admit that I’m no saint in this area. In the meantime, someone better let Wal-Mart know that if they drive too many jobs away from the U.S. then there’ll be no one left who can afford to buy the bargains on their store shelves.
Sunday, November 23, 2003
I Chronicles 4:9-10 Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, "I gave birth to him in pain." Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, "Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain." And God granted his request. NIV Matthew 6:9-13 "This, then, is how you should pray: " `Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.' NIV Chronicles are... chronicles (hence, the title). The comment on Jabez is found in the middle of a geneaology and, from the context, appears to act as a sidenote. The passage from Matthew are the words of Jesus and are directed to his disciples in a teaching manner. From this quick look at the two, which prayer would you conclude to be an example of how Christians should pray?
Okay, I'll be griping here. One of my pet peeves is the use of background music, usually a piano, towards the end of a church service during a closing prayer. I've yet to find that modeled in the Bible, although it is exquisitely modeled on the Silver Screen. Anyway, today we went one step beyond the use of music: the worship team was singing behind the pastor's prayer. C'mon! What happened to running an orderly service and having reverence for the act of prayer? I know... there are people in some places in the world that would long for the freedom to have background music over their prayers. Again, it's just a pet peeve.
On Monday, Nov. 24th, at 5 pm PST, Christian Apologist Norman Geisler will be interviewed by Reasons to Believe on a primetime edition of their Creation Update webcast. The topic will be Is the Bible error free? I believe call-in questions will be accepted. If you miss it, Reasons to Believe archives the interviews in either WMV or RealPlayer format.
Saturday, November 22, 2003
Forty years ago today, November 22, 1963, a great man died. No. Not the one you’re probably thinking of. This man was a 64 year old university professor at Cambridge. On November 22, 1963, he was upstairs in his bedroom when his older brother heard him collapse onto the floor. By the time his brother got to his room, he was dead. His name was Clive Staples “Jack” Lewis. C. S. Lewis was the common man’s Christian. He was the answer for the 20th century attack on fundamental Evangelical Christianity that had found its roots in the so-called Enlightenment a century or so earlier. Time magazine referred to him as an “apostle to the skeptics.” From his Chronicles of Narnia series, written for children, yet rich with wisdom and Christian principles that adults can enjoy, to his Space Trilogy, his fiction vividly stirred the imagination. Till We Have Faces is considered his best work of fiction and will surely delight anyone interested in the genre of myth and/or fantasy. Yet Lewis’ greatest works, in my opinion, were in the area of apologetics and reason. His ability to weave ideas into your mind through everyday concepts and actions is a testament to his ability to explain. Yes, to explain. Not necessarily to teach, although he could certainly do that, but to explain – concepts, ideas, processes, doctrines, notions, etc. It is this hallmark of critical thinking that has kept C. S. Lewis at the forefront of Evangelical Christianity a full 40 years after his death. Critical thinking, as used by Lewis, was primarily to persuade – not in the sense as a lawyer might use it – but in the sense as a good friend might, when he sits down in your company, to share a cup of Colombian coffee, a crackling fire, and meaningful conversation (or… as Lewis would have put it – a pipe, a glass of Port, and a good book). This week, and this weekend, you will probably watch a myriad of television specials on JFK, endlessly repeating that grainy film footage of his last moments in Dallas, and tirelessly describing every possible conspiracy scenario for his death except, of course, the most obvious. What you might want to do, though, is ponder what Lewis wrote, regarding death and beyond, in The Last Battle, his final book in the Narnia series - “There was a real railway accident,” said Aslan softly. “Your father and mother and all of you are – as you used to call it in the Shadow-Lands – dead. The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning.” And as He spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story, which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.
Friday, November 21, 2003
I was looking for this quote by G. K. Chesterton for my Babies vs. Career post below but couldn't find it - until today! Here he compares the role of a teacher vs. that of a mother... "When domesticity is called drudgery, all the difficulty arises from a double meaning in the word. If drudgery means dreadfully hard work, I admit the woman drudges in the home... I can understand how this might exhaust the mind, but I cannot understand how it could narrow it. How can it be a large career to tell other people's children about the rule of three, and a small career to tell one's own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone?"
Per Twin Attacks Appear Timed to Deliver a Message, in the L.A. Times, "PARIS — The twin bombings Thursday in Istanbul sent a pointed message to the United States and a wide array of allies that a resurgent terrorist network retains the power to strike despite tight local security and an ongoing international crackdown. By bombing the British Consulate and the headquarters of a Britain-based bank, the attackers served notice on Washington's chief ally in Iraq and other members of its coalition, as well as moderate Islamic countries, that cooperating with the Bush administration is risky — and that the danger extends to the business as well as the diplomatic community." Per Blair is more determined than ever to back Bush war against terrorism, in the Daily Telegraph, "Mr Blair said the blasts would not lessen Britain's commitment to Iraq. He denied a television reporter's suggestion that they were a direct result of Britain supporting the US-led invasion to topple Saddam Hussein. "If they [the terrorists] think they are going to somehow weaken us or make us think, well, let's shuffle to the back of the queue and hide away from this, they are wrong." A senior Bush administration official last night said it was misleading to interpret the attacks as an attempt to split the alliance. "If they were trying to drive a wedge ... then they surely failed and did nothing but cement that alliance more strongly," the official said" The world is a big place. Those on the side of good are constrained in their use of force... those on the side of evil are not. As said by many people, over and over, this war will be long. This war will extend beyond borders. This war will test our resolve. But this war will be won.
Thursday, November 20, 2003
This is a piggyback off of Hugh's post listed below regarding the news media coverage of Jacko vs. Bush and / or the terrorist attack in Turkey. That we are a country enamored with trivial stories, mindless chatter, and sensationalistic escapades is not news to anyone. Lileks was right when he noted that if our major news stories are the likes of helicopter coverage of a near-vacant airport in Santa Barbara, waiting to see if Jacko shows up - all while real news is happening in the world - well, then we really do live in fantasyland. I'll take it a step further though. Evangelical Christians just as much to blame, if not more so, for the dumbing-down mentality. Note how many of us know The Prayer of Jabez, yet are incapable of interpreting the Lord's Prayer. Note our hunger for experiencing Rick Warren's Purpose Driven Life, while turning a blind eye towards becoming disciples of God and discovering HIS plan. Note our interest in a popular paraphrase like The Message while avoiding taking the time to learn the true meaning of the words themselves. Post-modern narcissists...
An excerpt from President Bush's speech to the Banqueting House in London, "On September the 11th, 2001, the terrorists left their mark of murder on my country and took the lives of 67 British citizens. With the passing of months and years, it is the natural human desire to resume a quiet life and to put that day behind us as if waking from a dark dream. The hope that danger has passed is comforting, is understanding and it is false. The attacks that followed in Bali, Jakarta, Casablanca, Bombay, Mombasa, Najaf, Jerusalem, Riyadh, Baghdad and Istanbul were not dreams. They're part of a global campaign by terrorist networks to intimidate and demoralize all who oppose them. These terrorists target the innocent and they kill by the thousands. And they would, if they gain the weapons they seek, kill by the millions and not be finished. The greatest threat of our age is nuclear, chemical or biological weapons in the hands of terrorists and the dictators who aid them. The evil is in plain sight. The danger only increases with denial. Great responsibilities fall once again to the great democracies. We will face these threats with open eyes and we will defeat them." The next day there is another terrorist attack in Istanbul - note - an Islamic country. An estimated 150,000 protesters in London showed up (don't they have to go to work?) to display their anger towards Bush and Blair. With regards to the Istanbul blast, one protester said, "There have been more and more bombings since the action in Iraq and more terrorism," said Mischa Gorris, a 37-year-old London lawyer. "You will never change the hearts and minds of terrorists by bombing them. This is what you will get." And, "some protesters said U.S.-British policy in Iraq was helping fuel terrorist attacks. "It wouldn't have happened without Iraq. ... America is creating their own terrorists," said Ziggy Dlabal, a German sociologist who lives in London." Are they really that naive? Are they really that blind? I'm serious here... not trying to be sarcastic... Do they really believe that? Don't they remember that the World Trade Center was attacked once before its fatal attack on 9/11/2001? Wasn't it in 1993 that terrorists first attempted to bring it down? There are at least two errors of judgment here. First, there is a fundamental misunderstanding of the fanatical mindset. These protesters sincerely, at least I hope it's sincerely, believe that terrorists behave in a cause and effect manner consistent with reasoned thinking. Second, they mistake the intent of actions in Afghanistan and Iraq. We are not attempting to dissuade future terrorist activity by conducting operations such as these. Unless, of course, one is referring to valid political entities who may give safe harbor to terrorists. Simply put, our actions in Afghanistan and Iraq are to eradicate terrorists.
Wednesday, November 19, 2003
From President Bush's speech at Banqueting House in London, "Americans traveling to England always observe more similarities to our country than differences. I've been here only a short time, but I've noticed the tradition of free speech exercised with enthusiasm... is alive and well here in London. We have that at home too. They now have that right in Baghdad as well."
A friend of mine recently told me of a lady friend of hers who arrives at work by 6:30 a.m. and usually doesn't leave for home until 6 p.m. This, in itself, is not amazing, until one considers the fact that her lady friend is a married mother of four children. Not a single mother trying to make ends meet... but a married mother striving to build her career. To be sure, the career of this woman is a noble one - she is a public school teacher. But one can't help but wonder what prompts her devoted interest in other people's children over her own. Harsh words? Yes. They're intended to be. You may say, "well, she may need to work to help support her and her husband's family." Now I don't know their financial status, but one usually does not spend such an exorbitant amount of time in that type of work, unless one enjoys it. No, I think, all things being equal, that she has bought in to the notion that a woman can have it all... in other words, that she can have both a career and a family. Well, yes she can have them both, but only at the expense of one. Now I've heard many arguments from the other side: "I relate better with my child if I'm away for a while." "I'm bored at home." "I'm a concrete Type A-X squared personality..." "I need to expand my mind." "I'm helping others by working." "I need to be around people." Blah, blah, blah. When you get right down to it, it's all fluff. In our family, the situation is what may be considered, in suburbia, to be an anomaly. I am gainfully employed, while my wife is a stay-at-home mom. Not only does she stay at home with her children, she is homeschooling them as well. The first choice (i.e., stay-at-home mom) is easy and, I would argue, it is a mother's responsibility. The second choice (i.e., homeschooling) is much more difficult and is certainly not for everyone. To stay at home with your child means that you will be there with them and for them from the time they are born until at least the time they go into kindergarten. I've blogged about the First5 California program that has its eyes set on mandatory preschool... but that's another subject. Here I'm speaking about a mother and how she guides the development of her children through the years that are the most critical in establishing their thought patterns. With regards to homeschooling - there are certainly enormous sacrifices that must be made when one decides to engage in this endeavor. If you were to ask a typical homeschool mom she would probably tell you that her biggest sacrifice is that of time. Yet, she would add, it is certainly not without reward. My wife told me recently, of an incident that occurred between her and our 8 year old daughter. In a discussion they were having during school, the subject came up of mothers that go to work (i.e., are employed). Upon seeing our daughter's confused reaction my wife realized that, without necessarily planning it this way, we have pretty much hung out with other homeschooling families and / or stay-at-home mothers. As such, our daughter was completely unprepared for the idea that some mothers actually went to work out of their own free will! My wife explained that some mothers had to go to work so that their family would have enough money to buy food, clothing, etc. But she also said that some mothers wanted to go to work and that they either left their kids at daycare or with another family member, such as the kid's grandparents. My daughter pondered this new thought for a few moments, and then looked at my wife and asked, "Then why did they have kids?" There, in the innocent question of an 8 year old, is the crux of the matter. She's figured it out. She understands the sacrifice that my wife has made for her and her 3 year old sister. She is now fully aware of what my wife considers to be of utmost importance. For the career mother, this is unexplored territory... it might as well be a dark abyss that she will never visit. The career mother, while building her own future, has handed her own children over to someone else and has sent herself into a self imposed exile from moments in time that can never be revisited. In choosing a career, she transfers to another, experiences that are rightfully hers. Experiences such as: being the one to see her child take her first steps, or of watching her child's eyes light up as she learns to read, or being the first person to answer her child's question about just who God is. The list is endless... Time is fleeting. In just 10 short years our 8 year old will be ready to leave our house. After she leaves, even though we will inevitably still see her, we will be left with only memories of her childhood. As for my wife, she will have the memories of intimately guiding, firsthand, our daughter throughout her life from a baby into that of a young woman. What career can compete with that? Heidi Bratton wrote an article recently for Touchstone Magazine. The article, Soldiers on the Home Front: on the Vocation of Motherhood, does a fine job of relating, from a woman's point of view, the aspect of motherhood and career choices within a Christian Worldview.
Tuesday, November 18, 2003
"Judicial hocus-pocus" is what a character from the television series Law and Order said in reference to the aggressive practice of legislation by judges... an act we have just seen in Massachusetts. Per the Conservative Crust, here's an excerpt of the decision, "Marriage is a vital social institution. The exclusive commitment of two individuals to each other nurtures love and mutual support; it brings stability to our society. For those who choose to marry, and for their children, marriage provides an abundance of legal, financial, and social benefits. In return it imposes weighty legal, financial, and social obligations. The question before us is whether, consistent with the Massachusetts Constitution, the Commonwealth may deny the protections, benefits, and obligations conferred by civil marriage to two individuals of the same sex who wish to marry. We conclude that it may not. The Massachusetts Constitution affirms the dignity and equality of all individuals. It forbids the creation of second-class citizens. In reaching our conclusion we have given full deference to the arguments made by the Commonwealth. But it has failed to identify any constitutionally adequate reason for denying civil marriage to same-sex couples." (emphasis added) I defy anyone to produce a homosexual couple that is able to procreate. To define marriage as a "vital social institution" is to trivialize it. Marriage binds a society. Marriage builds the family. Marriage includes sex, but marriage is not about sex. Homosexuality is. Anyone who doubts that statement need only watch a Gay Pride parade... If a same-sex couple can marry, for the reasons stated by the judges... why not a same-sex threesome?, or two men and one woman?, or just one woman? (as has happened in the Netherlands - say no more). But these are questions that don't seem to be considered by the judges while they establish laws to allow the minority to dictate to the majority how they will live. David Mills, of Touchstone magazine, recently wrote an article titled, Choosing Love & Making Life: Sex, Love, Marriage & the Culture of Life. He touches on the issues of free sex, homosexuality, abortion, and divorce... and he does a fine job of painting the true reality of the vows of marriage. He closes with, "A priest I know told me about a very sick man and his wife he watched at a special Mass celebrated for couples who had been married a long time. He was sitting near the altar and looked out on the front row, where the sick and handicapped had been seated. The husband lay on a gurney, having suffered for years from a degenerative disease that left him able only to move his eyes. His wife stood by him, and when the time came for the wives to renew their vows, she stood and took his hand and looked into his eyes as she renewed her vows to him. And then it was the husbands’ turn, and she took his hand and looked into his eyes as she spoke the words for him, and renewed his vows to her. In this woman is the culture of death defeated. In her are life’s true fruits to be seen. She has paid for them in ways she did not expect when she married, but having paid, she can hold the hand of her husband and tell the world she loves him, and he loves her, though he cannot hold her hand nor speak a word."
In an article entitled, Police guard for Bush trebled, George Jones, Chris Boffey and John Steele of the Daily Telegraph report on the heightened security for GWB's visit to the U.K. They also report on the heightened anti-war protests and the accompanied fear that terrorists will hijaack those protests. There are estimates that 100,000 protesters will show up during Bush's visit. According to the article, one confused Brit by the name of "Ken Livingstone, the London mayor, who is staging a "peace party" at City Hall, embarrassed Mr Blair further by describing President Bush as "the greatest threat to life on this planet"." (emphasis added) The souls lost 60 years ago in the battle for London are surely turning over in their graves.
Monday, November 17, 2003
Hawaiians-Only Policy at School Upheld, so says the article from Yahoo! News. It seems that a non-Hawaiian wanted to attend a private school that admits only Hawaiians. Kamehameha Schools will consider non-Hawaiians only after all Hawaiians have been given a chance to attend. The non-Hawaiian brought suit claiming his civil rights were violated. His suit was dismissed. The ruling was determined because, according to U.S. District Judge Alan Kay, "Since the private school receives no federal funding, it should not be held to the same scrutiny as public schools." Interestingly enough, the article states that "three years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court held that Hawaiian is a racial designation and that the state law restricting the Office of Hawaiian Affairs' elections to Hawaiians constituted unconstitutional racial discrimination." Are we on a merry-go-round or what? One wonders whether, if the tables were turned, and a homosexual petitioned admission to a conservative Evangelical school... what would the outcome be?
Powerline referenced an op-ed by the London Telegraph, Bush's visit will be expensive, but America has paid many times over. It's an interesting piece that highlights the massive security surrounding GWB's upcoming visit and contrasts it with the ungrateful, whining attitude of many Britons. Written by Tom Utley, he concludes the op-ed with, "Many Britons are kicking up a fuss about all the disruption that the President's visit will cause, and the cost of the security operation to the Treasury... "What did the Americans do for us?" For a start, they twice saved us from German tyranny, entering conflicts that were not obviously their own; they rebuilt the economies of Europe and Japan; they gave democracy a chance all over the world; they gave us Hollywood and The Simpsons, the internet and the Boeing 747. Britain's greatest ever contribution to civilisation was the liberal democracy upon which America was founded, and for which its President is now the chief standard-bearer. How dare people quibble about the cost of his visit, when America has paid us a billion times more, in blood and dollars?" Very well said.
Sunday, November 16, 2003
in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him... and he will put his sheep at his right hand... Then the king will say to those at his right hand, 'Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.'" Matthew 25:31-36 NRSV Heard a message at church today from a missionary named Ron Bueno. He is co-director of a group in Central America named ENLACE. Their mission is to extend Christian love to the community, through the local church, in concrete and tangible means. For example, they may provide the means for purified water to be brought into a local mountain community where the children are ravaged by parasites. They may help establish local single mothers or widows in employment endeavors that bring food into their households. The point is, they show that they care for the people and that, as Greg Koukl is fond of saying, the people are not important just because they are "gospel fodder." Ron's father, John Bueno, founded Latin America ChildCare forty years ago. It's an organization that teaches the Word of God, provides schooling, a hot meal, and medical care for children throughout Latin America. Through its evangelistic outreach it has laid the foundation for groups such as ENLACE. Check out their websites and consider donating time or money to these ministries. Note that some of the people that ENLACE ministers to make as little as $1 a day. Does your morning cup of coffee matter that much?
Saturday, November 15, 2003
After 5 Years, Davis Leaves a Lasting Imprint: The outgoing governor's legacy includes laws on health care and gay rights, Indian gaming and limits on auto emissions... so says the L.A. Times editorial. Lasting Imprint?... yeah, they got that right. They say, "Davis repeatedly called education his "first, second and third priority." Over the last five years, Davis and the Legislature spent an additional $9 billion on kindergarten through high school education. The state will spend $6,887 per pupil this year, almost 20% more than the $5,757 spent in 1998-99. The National Education Assn. places California 29th in per pupil spending, up from 43rd when Davis took office. California teachers are the highest paid in the nation." Translation: We've spent more money. How about a look at where California students score academically as compared to the rest of the nation? Why do you think that data is conveniently missing from the editorial? "Davis signed 447 bills backed by organized labor, according to the Senate Labor Committee." I was wondering why so many companies are leaving California! "Davis signed gambling agreements with Indian tribes in 1999, his first year in office, and voters ratified the deals. Since then, Indian casinos' revenue, closely guarded by most tribes, has risen from an estimated $1.5 billion in 1999 to about $5 billion a year." Is there anyone out there who still doesn't understand why McClintock got money from the Indian casinos? "Davis, a cautious and moderate politician, took a leadership role on gay-rights issues. It was one area in which he consistently agreed to bold changes. Critics called his expansion of domestic partner rights an attack on the institution of marriage — and a subversion of Proposition 22, a successful 2000 ballot measure that defined marriage as between a man and a woman." And the "critics" were right! I wonder if the Democrats in Sacramento have gotten the message sent by the voters last month? It's pretty obvious that the Times hasn't.
Friday, November 14, 2003
Remember Sean Connery in the fictional account of Eliot Ness' Untouchables a few years ago? He was instructing Ness, played by Kevin Costner, on tactics... Chicago tactics to be specific. Connery's character, a beat cop, told Ness that the only way to win against the likes of Al Capone was to fight him 'the Chicago way.' The cop says something along the line of, "If he hurts one of your guys, you send two of his to the morgue! That's the Chicago way." Fictional or not, there's a lot to be said for that line of reasoning. It's tremendously reassuring to see the U.S. military taking that route in its reaction to Iraqi terrorists. In fact, it's gone beyond a "reaction." U.S. military forces are now actively seeking out terrorist cells, whether in response to terrorist activities, or due to intelligence data. Powerline blog references an article by the Washington Times with regards to Israel's use of these tactics. In Israeli warns of terrorist training, Rowan Scarborough explains that an October bombing, by Israeli jets, of an Islamic Jihad terror camp near Damascus also included one of the jets buzzing one President Assad's palaces. I would imagine that the pilot probably also waved his hand in a not-so-friendly manner. Even a fanatic would get the message. The article also states, "Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said yesterday terrorist bases in Lebanon are training some of the foreign fighters who are moving into Iraq to kill American troops. Asked whether Hezbollah is training recruits to enter Iraq, Mr. Mofaz said, "They train them to be terrorists. To what directions [they are] sending them is a different question. Part of them, I believe, are going to Iraq."" I spoke with a Marine who was on the front lines in Iraq and he confirmed that they raided abandoned camps littered with Hezbollah paraphenalia, as well as finding chemical weapon facilities. In an earlier post I referenced Israel's attack on a nuclear reactor under construction in Iraq before it was capable of producing WMD material. The article also references this attack and states, "In 1981, Israel gave a demonstration of what would become President Bush's policy of pre-emption in the global war on terrorism. Israel F-16s bombed Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor before it could go on line and produce nuclear bomb-making material." 1981 was 22 years ago. NOTE: Israel is still fighting its war on terror. As President Bush stated just after 9/11, this war will be long.
Thursday, November 13, 2003
I thought that Carl's Jr. (fast food chain mainly in the west) could do no worse than when it utilized Dennis Rodman in it's commercials a few years ago. But they have. Hugh Hefner graces the T.V. screen now in a commercial for the fast food chain. In the ad Huey rambles on about not being able to pick a "favorite" because he loves "them all." We then cut to some quick clips of a few bimbos pondering the question, "just how can Hugh choose?" Of course, he's talking about the myriad of burger choices he has at Carl's Jr... but the off color humor is obvious. The commercial closes with the words, "Some guys don't like the same thing night after night." Now, lots of families grab fast food on their way to soccer practice or whatever. I, for one, do not want my kids associating their high fat meal with this icon of hedonism. Let Carl's Jr. know what you think about their using Hugh the Playboy in their ad campaign. Better yet, go for In-n-Out Burger.
MSNBC reports, Is this Saddam’s counterattack? Commander says insurgency has signs of planning. Not to put too fine a point on it but, as I've mentioned earlier, this conclusion should be plain and clear... and it should also alert us on to how to respond to the Iraqi acts of terror. It is encouraging, though, to see that our military is taking the fight back to the Iraqi terrorists. When you get right down to it, it's a pretty basic strategy - hit them back harder than they hit you. Even if they can't figure out the consequences... you'll eventually eradicate them.
Wednesday, November 12, 2003
Rapid body size decline in Alaskan Pleistocene horses before extinction, so says the article in Nature. Here's an excerpt, "About 70% of North American large mammal species were lost at the end of the Pleistocene epoch. The causes of this extinction - the role of humans versus that of climate - have been the focus of much controversy." So what? Well for one, understanding the role humans have played in animal extinction will help us better manage our current world. But the important thing to note is that the large mammals went extinct regardless of whether humans were involved. Now... why is that important? It's important because some of the so-called best examples presented for natural evolution are the horse and the whale... large mammals. But history has shown us that large mammals run a high risk of extinction due to their inability to react fast enough to environmental changes. Just look at how easily we can run various species of whales into extinction. Why, manatees might not be able to survive whether humans are involved or not. The supposed evolutionary sequence for horses has been drastically revised in the past 100 years, with species originally thought to be part of the modern horse's lineage now considered to be evolutionary dead-ends. Well, they've got the dead-end part correct. Simply put, the evolutionary model cannot account for the appearance and re-appearance of large mammal species, prior to mankind. The Biblical model can. In Genesis we read that God created up until His intended culmination..Humans. After that, it tells us that He rested or, ceased, from His creative activities. Hebrews tells us that God continues in His rest to this day and that is supported by the fact that the seventh day shows no conclusion in Genesis. Now, to be sure, human activity tremendously exacerbates species extinction rates. Yet, discounting the effect of human involvement, species will go extinct at a rate of about 1 species per year. The question that evolutionists should be asking is, "Why aren't we seeing any replacement species evolving?" The answer is in Genesis 2:1-3 "The heavens and the earth were completed with everything that was in them. By the seventh day God finished the work that he had been doing, and he ceased on the seventh day all the work that he had been doing. God blessed the seventh day and made it holy because on it he ceased all the work that he had been doing in creation." NET
What is it with the Libs? Last week, Al Gore-rhythm criticized Bush' approach to national security citing that freedoms shouldn't be compromised to fight terror. Among other things, Gore said that "the new technologies of surveillance, long anticipated by novelists like Orwell and other prophets of the 'Police State,' are now more widespread than they have ever been." Welcome Big Brother? How does that sit with rookie Senator Clinton's It Takes a Village philosophy? We all know that it ain't a village she's talking about. Or what about First5 California and their goal of mandatory pre-school? Now we hear that the Human Resources Subcommittee of the United States House of Representatives' Ways and Means Committee, held a hearing to examine "a recent failure to protect child safety". (emphasis added) Where do they claim we are failing to protect child safety? - In HOMESCHOOLS across America! Therefore, so the thinking goes, we need to track and monitor all homeschools. Hey Al! H. R. Clinton! Help! You need to let your followers know about this Big Brother tactic! Hello?!... Are you listening Al?... Billary?... Of course they aren't listening. But, per the HSLDA article, listen to Carla Katz, president of a union representing social workers in New Jersey, who testified at the hearing. "Home schooling creates gaps. Nearly 20% of all abuse cases are reported by schools. When children are outside the school system, extra protections are critical. There are no home schooling regulations that would require homeschooled children to see anyone from the public education system. There is no cross-referencing with the Department of Education to look for children who are in the 'system' but have not been seen by anyone." (emphasis added) So, once they've got the homeschoolers "in the system", what's the next step? Well, they've already targeted all preschoolers... the only group left are infants to preschool age. Tell you what Ms. Katz? Let's take a look at the ratio of child abuse across all children who are homeschooled and compare that with the ratio of child abuse across all children who are in public schools. Wanna bet what the numbers will say?
Tuesday, November 11, 2003
The L.A. Times reports, U.S. Military Responding More Fiercely to Iraqi Guerrilla Strikes, in which John Daniszewski and Patrick McDonnell tell of a recent incident in which a suspected terrorist safe house was bombed: "U.S. military authorities said the bombing... was a prime example of a firm new response to those who plant roadside bombs, hide weapons or carry out ambushes that kill or harm American soldiers, and they want the people in these parts to know about it. It was the third fixed-wing bombing in a week across Iraq, pointing up a re-escalation of the war by the U.S. in response to heightened insurgency. "The message is this: If you shoot at an American or a coalition force member, you are going to be killed or you are going to be captured, and if we trace somebody back to a specific safe house, we are going to destroy that facility," said Maj. Lou Zeisman, a paratroop officer of the Army's 82nd Airborne Division deployed here from Fayetteville, N.C. "We are not going to take these continuous attacks."" I doubt the message Zeisman refers to will get through to the fanatics still causing problems, but offensive operations such as these will certainly help to weed them out.
Remember the recruiting slogan used by the Army a few years ago?... "Be! all that YOU can be... in the Army!" Well, now you're probably familiar with the latest slogan... "An Army of One" I doubt that the marketing director (if one exists) in the Army really thought through the post-modern, narcissistic implications of such a slogan. For starters let's take a look at some definitions: army - a large body of people organized for warfare. warfare - the act of waging war. war - a state or period of armed conflict between nations, states, or parties. military - of or relating to the armed forces or war. Those of us who are Baby Boomers and older will have no problem understanding that an Army of One is a contradiction in terms, unless it is referring to a body of soldiers (like the definition above). But our culture today is so narcissistic in its thinking that they really believe the implication of the slogan that an Army of One means themselves as INDIVIDUALS. Don't think so? Just check out the article on Jessica Lynch's new book, co-authored with Rick Bragg, I Am a Soldier Too: the Jessica Lynch Story. The article is titled, Lynch book debunks myths about rescue: Former POW says Iraqi doctors were gentle caretakers. Here are some excerpts: "The authorized biography of Pfc. Jessica Lynch debunks early myths that U.S. troops waged a daring rescue to save her, and describes a team of Iraqi doctors as gentle caretakers who worked at their own risk to keep her alive." "I AM A SOLDIER, TOO: The Jessica Lynch Story, published Tuesday, suggests camera-toting American fighters met no resistance as they rushed a Nasiriyah hospital April 1 to retrieve the prisoner of war. The biography, by former New York Times writer Rick Bragg, discredits stories from the war’s first days that Lynch shot at her Iraqi captors, and that the Iraqi hospital was hostile territory that posed grave danger to Lynch’s rescuers." "Once, according to the book, Iraqi medical workers even loaded Lynch into an ambulance and drove it to an American checkpoint in hopes of returning her - but came under fire from U.S. troops and had to turn around." ""From the heartbreaking mess of the convoy ambush, gold was spun - first from an event that looked more dangerous on television than it perhaps had truly been, and next from a story of heroics in the fight at Nasiriyah that a Hollywood script writer would have been hard put to invent," Bragg writes." "Lynch and Bragg are splitting the book’s $1 million advance, and publisher Alfred A. Knopf ordered a first run of 500,000 copies. The cover features a smiling photo of Lynch in military garb, a U.S. flag behind her. "The book’s release, timed for Veterans Day, comes amid a blitz of promotional interviews by Lynch and Bragg. ABC’s Diane Sawyer interviews Lynch in a prime-time special Tuesday; NBC aired an unauthorized movie about her Sunday." "Lynch told Bragg she wished the war had never taken place because other soldiers would then be alive - including Lori Piestewa, a soldier close to Lynch who was killed in the ambush. ""We went and we did our job, and that was to go to the war, but I wish I hadn’t done it - I wish it had never happened," Lynch says. "I’d give four hundred billion dollars. I’d give anything."" I'll repeat what I've written earlier that Lynch is to be commended for going through and surviving the horrible experience of war and brutal captivity. Yet, as I've also stated before, she is confused. Bragg is of no help. Harping on about the unconfirmed and incorrect early reports of the incident is a waste of print. Anyone with half an ounce of sense who watched those reports remembers that they were sketchy from the get-go. As far as incorrect reporting goes, maybe Bragg should counsel his colleagues at the N.Y. Times. Bragg's biggest error is to paint the entire rescue raid as a publicity stunt woven in gold by the U.S. military. If Bragg truly thinks that the raid was less dangerous than it looked on TV then I suggest he be embedded on the next similar type raid conducted by our Armed Forces. Now, is anyone else a bit more than repulsed at the fact that they are promoting this book on Veteran's Day? $500,000 each upfront for Bragg and Lynch, and appearances on talks shows? I can understand Lynch wishing to have never gone through the experience. Who can blame her for that? I doubt you'll find that anyone who has experienced the horrors of war would wish to walk that road again. An Army of One? No, it isn't... but can we blame Jessica for thinking that it was? It seems that she wasn't fully aware, when she signed up, that the Army was part of the military... and that the military engages in warfare. And that warfare means people getting killed. It was said that she joined the Army to see the world. If true, we need to reeducate our youth that besides seeing the world, when you join the military, you may see war as well. An obvious point? Extremely. But it has somehow been lost by our youth.
Monday, November 10, 2003
Matthew 28:19-20 "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." As stated earlier, most Christians seem to think that Jesus commanded us to go into the world and win converts - that is - evangelize. But is that what the text above states? Read it carefully. "Go... make disciples... baptizing them... teaching them..." What is God's Plan or, as Biola Professor Walt Russell likes to say... What is the historical Biblical Worldview? He teaches that we should frame our reading of the Bible with this worldview, which he defines through a circular set of steps: 1) God, 2) has a Plan, 3) that He is working out in history, 4) first, through Israel, and then the Church, 5) to bless all the peoples of the earth through faith, 6) which, in turn, maximally glorifies ---> GOD. Notice that there isn't any room in that worldview for us to seek our purpose, or what God's plan is for me, unless we understand that our purpose is only relevant within the context of God's Plan. I've been thinking about this recently and I believe that a simple list of the functions of the Church could be prioritized as follows: 1. Worship / Bless God 2. Ministry 3. Spiritual Maturity 4. Evangelize Consider Romans 10:13-14, "For, "every one who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved." But how are men to call upon him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without a preacher?" Surely we understand that converts will not be won unless they are first witnessed to? Yet we must also understand that making disciples is an intensive process. Cross reference the Romans passage with Ephesians 4:11-16, "And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ; so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their craftiness in deceitful wiles. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every joint with which it is supplied, when each part is working properly, makes bodily growth and upbuilds itself in love." (emphasis added) In this and other Epistles we are instructed to develop spiritual maturity in order to prepare us for... what?... ministry. Ministry to serve. Encompassing the entire process is the act of corporate and individual worship. Yet the act of worship is not a distinctly emotional one. One has only to seriously read the Psalms to see that they are a union of emotional worship with solid theology. Remember, we are to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind (Matthew 22:37). So... the Great Commission. It entails much more than evangelizing. It goes so much beyond attempts to attract non-believers inside the doors of the church building. Through it, Jesus commands us to actually do some work... to learn... to mature... to think.
Sunday, November 09, 2003
Per the Washington Post, Gore Criticizes Bush Approach to Security: Freedoms Shouldn't Be Compromised To Fight Terror, Ex-Vice President Says, we find the creator of the Internet accusing the Bush admin of exploiting the 9/11 attacks "to justify an undemocratic suspension of domestic freedoms and to create a government built on "secrecy and deception."" Gore also said, "I want to challenge the Bush administration's implicit assumption that we have to give up many of our traditional freedoms in order to be safe from terrorists. Rather than defending our freedoms, this administration has sought to abandon them. Rather than accepting our traditions of openness and accountability, this administration has opted to rule by secrecy and unquestioned authority. Its assaults on our core democratic principles have only left us less free and less secure." (emphasis added) Wow Al! Just which domestic and traditional freedoms have we had suspended? Let's see... there's that Bill of Rights document... hmmm, why don't we start at the first one? Freedom of Religion? - nope - I know we still have that one because my family and I attended church today. Freedom of Speech? - nope - I know we still have that one by proof of my modest blog (as well as the article of your ill-informed speech). Freedom of Assembly? - nope - you and your MoveOn.org co-horts proved we still have that one. Okay, in fairness to Al, the article does state that he, "urged Congress to repeal the Patriot Act, with its broad enhancements of government powers that allow federal agents to "sneak and peek" at citizens' private records; enter citizens' homes in secret; and hold citizens indefinitely without access to legal counsel or a hearing before a judge." Of course, weren't we left so vulnerable for 9/11 precisely because we had lax security measures? So, please tell me, how does keeping those lax security procedures increase our security level? You just don't get it do you Al? How can we have increased security around nuclear facilities, power plants, water reservoirs, etc., unless we bump up the government's security procedures? Tell you what Al?... Grab a cab, go to the airport, and ask people boarding a plane if they'd rather go through the inconvenience and invasion of their privacy by having increased security checking, or if they'd rather just take their chances by letting everyone on board willy nilly?
Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason recently made a great point (Oct. 19 broadcast) regarding the Great Commission and how it relates to the contemporary "seeker friendly" craze. In Matthew 28:19 we read, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." Notice that it doesn't say to make converts... or Christians. Jesus commanded us to make disciples. Important distinction? Let's look at the word disciple in Greek (per - W. E. Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words) matheteuo - verb, is used in the Active Voice, intransitively, in some mss., in Matt. 27:57, in the sense of being the disciple of a person; here, however, the best mss. have the Passive Voice, lit., 'had been made a disciple,' as in Matt. 13:52, R.V., "who hath been made a disciple." It is used in this transitive sense in the Active Voice in 28:19 and Acts 14:21. It is interesting to note the context of Matthew 13:52 in that Jesus had been teaching His disciples through the use of parables (Matthew 13). When His disciples asked why He spoke in parables He revealed that it was given to them to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 13:11). Upon the conclusion of His teaching in parables Jesus compares the disciples with those who have been trained... "Have you understood all these things?" They said to Him, "Yes." And He said to them, "Therefore every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household, who brings forth out of his treasure things new and old." When Jesus finished these parables, he left that place. - Matthew 13:51-53, NAS. The NRSV says, "... every scribe who has been trained..." (emphasis included) Typically, as Christians, our reading of Matthew 28:19 seems to indicate that we are to evangelize the world or, convert non-Christians to Christianity. While that is certainly true, a careful reading of the text, combined with supporting passages and also combined with the model given us by the early Church, indicates that we are actually to be in the business of making disciples. In other words, we are to develop spiritual maturity within the body of believers. Included in that process is evangelizing and bringing to Christ those who are lost, but the stated command by Jesus is that we train, learn, and teach... make disciples. Is that what we hear nowadays? Nope. Rather, we hear that we should concentrate on making the church a more seeker friendly environment, altering our liturgy so as not to offend or bore. Our emphasis is on converting the lost with simple messages that let them know that God has a Plan for them, or that they have Purpose within God's Plan... can you find that in the Gospel accounts or in the book of Acts? In our 21st century, short-attention span, Generation Y (or is it Z now?) culture this type of teaching doesn't sit well. Let's face it - learning is work, hard work. Who wants to work when we can enjoy experiencing God? Well my friends, regardless of whether we relish the idea of hitting the books... we've been commanded to.
Saturday, November 08, 2003
Jessica Lynch deserves commendation for her ability to withstand horrors most of us will never experience. She is a young woman who will have to live with the physical consequences of her time in Iraq for the rest of her life. In Too Painful, she recounts her experience - that which she can recall - from the ambush, to the captivity, to the rescue. She dismisses the initial accounts that had her emptying her weapon into the Iraqi attackers, vowing to fight to the end. I doubt anyone questions the prudence of releasing incorrect information like that at the time of the incident. But allusions to ulterior motives by the military are not entirely justified. One only has to look at the myriad of false reports generated, primarily by the media themselves, the first day or two after 9/11. Remember the account of the security guard on the roof of one of the twin towers who survived by "riding the collapse" down to the ground? Yet I'm a bit perplexed by some of her other comments to Diane Sawyer. The article states, "The U.S. military filmed the rescue, and U.S. television networks aired the dramatic green night-vision footage repeatedly as they reported how the special forces team, acting on a tip from a brave Iraqi lawyer, engaged in firefights on their way into and out of the hospital. "I don't think it happened quite like that," Lynch said, "though … anyone, you know, in that kind of situation would obviously go in with force, not knowing who was on the other side of the door." " Yeah, but that's pretty obvious - not knowing the exact strength of the enemy, you'd better engage the assault with sufficient strength on your side. It continues, "Asked whether the military's portrayal of the rescue bothers her, Lynch said, "Yeah, it does. It does that they used me as a way to symbolize all this stuff. I mean, yeah, it's wrong … I don't know what they had … or why they filmed it." " Lynch is confused. The military used her? Didn't they go in looking for all the POWs that may have been there? Her rescue was not the only night vision video that was shown during the war. They filmed it because they filmed it. That she was rescued is fantastic... that some of her comrades were found buried nearby is tragic. No Jessica, the military didn't use you. Yes Jessica, you were a symbol of propaganda. Propaganda for Operation Iraqi Freedom. This is not a new tactic. It was used in World War II in everything from war posters to newsreels to cartoons. She seems to feel abuse at being used by the military but has no qualms about writing a book, doing interviews, or having movies made about herself. It's entirely understandable that she will have intense feelings of bitterness, given her experience in Iraq. It will take years, if not the rest of her life, to deal with her experience. One hopes, though, that she will be able to overcome these feelings through other means than questioning the actions of the military that sponsored her rescue.
Friday, November 07, 2003
Among one of Arnold's first moves as Gov. Elect is the removal of Kerry Mazzoni (see the blog on First5 and mandatory Preschool) as Education Secretary... EDUCATION • OUT: KERRY MAZZONI Mazzoni, 52, served six years in the Assembly representing parts of Marin and Sonoma counties, and headed the Assembly Education Committee, where she authored or worked on legislation targeting class-size reduction, student achievement, teacher credentialing and teacher incentives. Before coming to the Legislature, Mazzoni served on school boards in Novato and Marin County. Her legislation in Sacramento included the creation of reading academies for K-4 students. She was Davis' top spokeswoman for education policy. • IN: RICHARD RIORDAN Riordan, 73, was a two-term mayor of Los Angeles. As mayor, he set up reading programs for children with little access to books. He campaigned for reform candidates for the Los Angeles Unified School District and set up groups to boost literacy. Those include BEST, or Better Students for Tomorrow, an after-school program to help youngsters read and write. He created the Riordan Foundation in 1981 to teach children to read and write, distributing 21,700 computers to 2,100 schools in 40 states and enabling the purchase of more than 128,000 books for elementary classroom libraries. As mayor, he created the "Recreational Reading Mini-Grant Program," awarding $1,000 grants to teachers to help them create libraries in the classroom. He lives in Los Angeles and has seven children.
An L.A. Times editorial, No Politics -- Just the Truth, spells out some valid points regarding partisan politics and the questions in Iraq. But it falls short in some key areas. They call for an end to partisan politics in lieu of answering - “Where are the weapons of mass destruction that Bush administration officials insisted the United States needed to destroy because they so urgently threatened this nation? Before the March invasion, there was little evidence that Iraq was trying to develop nuclear weapons but there were hints it possessed biological weapons; many analysts believed Baghdad had chemical weapons or stockpiles that could quickly be assembled into weapons. Yet searches by hundreds of United Nations inspectors before the war and hundreds of U.S. and allied sleuths afterward have turned up nothing.” Two questions are then proposed – “Was, then, the initial intelligence wrong and did the weapons not exist? Or was the intelligence supporting their existence weak and then massaged for political reasons to support the war?” This is Fast-Food Mentality gone awry. In 21st century post-modern America if you can’t download it NOW through your DSL connection, well then… you be laggin’. Setting aside the report by David Kay outlining WMD evidence found thus far… there really are many other questions that should be asked. Namely: Is there evidence of pre-war movement of WMD? What is the likelihood that WMD were concealed pre-war? Given the coordinated attack pattern of post-war Iraqi terrorists, combined with their surprising lack of resistance during the war, what is the likelihood that they planned for WMD concealment pre-war? How easy would it have been to conceal WMD prior to and during the war? (remember how easy the Scud launchers were concealed?… and we knew they existed!) Could WMD have been relocated to neighboring countries? Asking questions such as these frame the expectations a bit differently. Of course, critics seem to think that, since stockpiles of WMD have not been found sitting inside warehouses, they must not exist! Remember back when Israel sent in fighter jets to take out a nuclear processing facility? The WMD did not yet exist… but the potential was there – one that Israel was not willing to wait for. Dylan wrote about it in his song, Neighborhood Bully, “When he destroyed the bomb factory – well, nobody was glad. The bombs were meant for him – he was supposed to feel bad.”
Here are a few picks from my shelf, read recently or, not so recently: The Art of Political War, David Horowitz - former Leftist Horowitz tells us that Politics is war, and that it should be fought as war. He lists 6 principles which the Left understands but conservatives miss: 1) Politics is war conducted by other means, 2) Politics is a war of position, 3) In political warfare, the aggressor usually prevails, 4) Position is defined by fear and hope, 5) The weapons of politics are symbols evoking fear and hope, and 6) Victory lies on the side of the people. Every blogger should read this. Afterglow of Creation, Marcus Chown - ever heard of the COBE satellite? Chown details the significance of the detection of ripples in the microwave background radiation left over from the Big Bang. The resulting image shows the time when light was first able to separate from darkness, approximately 300,000 years after the creation event. Scaling the Secular City, J.P. Moreland - an early, 1987, book by Moreland. He outlines apologetic strategies such as the Cosmological Argument, God and the Argument from Mind, as well as hitting on the Historicity of the New Testament. Rare Earth, Peter D. Ward & Donald Brownlee - an atheist and an agnostic propose that complex life is uncommon, if not nonexistent, in the universe. Their thesis is backed by the multitude of "just right" features that must exist in the universe, solar system, and planet in order for complex life to survive. Excellent, yet unintended, apologetic material for the existence of a caring Designer... produced by non-Christians no less! The Creator and the Cosmos, Hugh Ross - Christian physicist / astronomer details the evidence for the God of the Bible via what we know of the Cosmos. Good listings of "fine tuned" features within the universe that allow life to exist. Byzantium, Stephen Lawhead - historical fiction by a Christian author. The paperback version is 870 pages long... he gets into detail. Although it starts slowly, once you're in it's a wild ride from the Irish coast circa A.D. 940, into the land of the Vikings, all the way down to Constantinople (Byzantium), and into Arabia. You HAVE to read to the end... if you stop before page 862 you will have missed the point. Also... Darwin's Black Box, Michael Behe Faith & Reason, Ron Nash Intelligent Design, William Dembski Written on the Heart, J. Budziszewski Miracles, C.S. Lewis Ethics, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Show Me God, Fred Heeren
It was April of 1975. I was two months shy of graduating from high school. Are you old enough to remember the images that were being shown on the evening news at that time? If not, then maybe you should check out the following links… http://www.nytimes.com/learning/general/specials/saigon/evacuation.html http://www.nytimes.com/learning/general/specials/saigon/butterfield-article1.html The U.S. was pulling out of Saigon. The Vietnam War was, for all intents and purposes, over. The South Vietnamese people clearly understood the oppression that was upon them. There are images of people crowding onto helicopters and landing, unauthorized, onboard U.S. aircraft carriers. From, Saigon's Finale, by the New York Time’s Malcolm W. Browne, “As swarms of Vietnamese air force helicopters set down on the American warships, each helicopter was quickly unloaded and heaved overboard to make room for the next one. Meanwhile, legions of refugees used their sampans and fishing boats to reach the fleet, setting their craft afire to keep them from falling into communist hands. The tranquil sea, covered from horizon to horizon with blazing watercraft, looked like a vision of hell.” For those who continue to rant on that our presence in Iraq must not become another Vietnam, I heartily agree. We must not betray the Iraqi people, whom we have liberated from the hands of Saddam Hussein, as we did the South Vietnamese people (in 1975). We must not engage in an extended and limited conflict with terrorist cells in Iraq, as we did with the North Vietnamese (from the ‘60s into the ‘70s). We have recently lost upwards of 16 personnel in an attack on a U.S. helicopter. With every report on U.S. servicemen killed or wounded in action, the media paints a picture that our continued presence in Iraq is potentially counter-productive. Exactly who do they think military personnel should expect to encounter in their line of work?… girl scouts selling cookies?… or maybe the Dixie Chicks expressing their opinions? Let’s face it, we shouldn’t be surprised that soldiers in Iraq are still being shot at… but c’mon now – how many of the soldiers in Iraq are surprised that they’re still being shot at? No U.S. soldier lost in the War on Terror is insignificant. No U.S. soldier killed in the War on Terror should be forgotten. Yet we, as a country, need to understand the reality of fighting a War on Terror. Between March and November 3rd, there have been 376 U.S. killed in Iraq. Of those, 249 have been combat deaths. Compare those numbers with the Vietnam War, which lasted from 1959 to 1975, and took the lives of 58,000 U.S. soldiers. Now compare with the battle of Gettysburg, which lasted from July 1st to July 3rd, 1863, and took the lives of 48,000 soldiers on both the Union and Confederate sides. Have we become so frightened at the cost of freedom that we turn and run at the first sight of the reality of war?