Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Cheap Drugs from Foreign Countries!!!!!! Call now. 

I was recently told of a friend of a relative of mine who buys penicillin through her daughter who lives in Russia. This relative of mine thought that was great, and offered to get me some. The conversation went something like this--

Me: "... "
Relative: "It's really cheap... they save a lot of money"
Me: "Illegally imported drugs from a mafia-run country... What part of that sounded like a good idea to you?"
Relative: "What's the problem?"
Me: "..."
Relative: "I think it's a blessing. If someone you knew gave you $100,000 that they won gambling in Vegas, would you take it? They're run by mobsters too"
Other Relative, Laughing: "At least you'd know it was real money!"
Relative: "Well, drugs are so expensive in this country."
Me: "Well, quite aside from the fact that we can be reasonably sure that drugs sold here don't have rat poison in them, which I expect runs up costs some, there's the whole issue of R&D expenses(blah blah blah Friedman / Cato free market stuff)"
Relative: "Well I just won't tell you when I get it then."

I am just amazed that any rational adult would think this was a smart idea. On top of that, look at this link I saw that very same night.

I'm fairly certain the relative in question doesn't know how to use the Internet, so if anyone else knows who I'm referring to here, please don't tell them I posted this story.

Being and Function 

I have been convicted of error.

For some time, I have basically accepted the proposition that a man is what he does. A man will find self-worth and identity in his job, and this is a function of the creation mandate to the man, to have dominion. One of the most important ways a man takes dominion is through his work, which is also part of the creation mandate, as Adam was created and placed in the garden and told to tend it. This in my mind would mean, or often mean at least, that a man would find his identity in his work, and that this was OK.

Monday night I had class at the seminary. The class was Church Development, and we were discussing leadership, principles of leadership and how you would train leadership. I proposed beginning with the idea that leadership in the Kingdom of God is servanthood, per John 13. This defines leadership for us as servanthood contrary to the world's idea that leadership is power and authority over others. Our professor, Dr. Aquila, in drawing this idea out related it to the concept of identity, and said that the Christian idea of leadership, among other things, meant that being or essence is not defined by the function, which is just another way of saying that I am not what I do. The task extends my essence, but it does not define it. Jesus in John 13, knowing who He was, and knowing that His end is near, gets a towel and washes the disciples' feet. He says essentially- I am the Son of God and the Messiah and your Lord, and yet I wash your feet. You must all be servants to each other likewise. That is, the function or job of service did not define who Jesus was. Therefore, the idea that a man is what he does is a lie of the world, like the Gentiles that Jesus speaks of here, who love to have authority and power over each other because if the job defines me then having authority over others defines me as superior to others.

This also calls to my mind a recent book by a Christian author on leadership, who said that leadership comes from being, which is essentially the pagan idea. If I am superior to others then it is right that I lead them. I can't name the book that said that, because I sold the book after I read it. But it's a common idea that leadership is driven by giftedness rather than by service.

This is not to say that the function is irrelevant. Jesus didn't say that it doesn't matter what you do, just love yourself, or feel good about who you are. The function is an extension or expression of being, and how I do whatever it is I'm called to do will say a great deal about what I am. But it does not define it. Joseph, for example, was a slave. This did not define his essence or being. But what kind of slave he was did say a great deal about his essence, about who he was.

The Christian finds his identity as a child of God. And God will put us into many different functions on earth and some of those functions likely will not be that glorious. Leadership does not flow from essence, any more than slavery flows from essence. It flows from God's providence and plan for your life and for His kingdom.

*editor's note - this was composed at 4 AM, due to thoughts that would not allow the author to sleep. Please report any resultant incoherence. Those responsible will be sacked.

Saturday, September 27, 2003

Passion and Knowing your Friends from your Enemies 

I find myself with mixed feelings about Mel Gibson's upcoming movie, Passion. Lots of people are taking shots at Gibson for the movie, and I am slow to want to join them, because they're all taking shots at him for the wrong reasons. He's being criticized for anti-Semitism, since of course John tells us, along with all the gospels, that it was the Jews that killed Jesus.

I probably don't need to spend a lot of time on the profound ridiculousness of this criticism, since essentially it amounts to saying that being a Christian is fundamentally antisemitic. The Gospel of John, and the passion story in general, lies at the foundation of our faith, and we can't alter our understanding of that without changing our religion. Some Jews, at least, have recognized the foolishness and hypocrisy of attacking Gibson over this, but many Jews and many non-Jews have piled onto the PC cause du jour.

I've read a fair amount of confusing and self-contradictory stuff on the web about what the exact criticism of the movie is- is it that he simply represents the gospel story as it is presented by John? Or does he embellish the story? Perhaps he highlights the guilt of the Jews even more than John himself does? I guess I'll have to wait for the movie to find out.

But that presents the other side of my dilemma. I have no intention of seeing the movie at all, as representations of Christ in any form violate our understanding of the 2nd Commandment. "God may not and cannot be imaged in any way." The Reformed have always understood this to include Christ. The Roman Catholics of course have a very different understanding of the 2nd Commandment, and Gibson is a Roman Catholic.

Now what is the reason that we believe that the 2nd Commandment applies to the incarnate form of Christ? We are perhaps on slightly more ambiguous ground here than on any other aspect of the 2nd Commandment. There is little doubt that we ought not have golden calves in our worship services, or the like. We must not worship other gods beside Jehovah. In traditional Protestant circles there is strong agreement that pictures in general should not be used in the aid of worship, although this understanding has eroded significantly. The Roman Catholic Church doesn't even view the 2nd Commandment as a separate commandment, lumping it in with the first, and calling the commandment about taking the Lord's name in vain the 2nd Commandment. Therefore, to the RCC, there is no unique commandment regarding the use of pictures in worship, and a good thing too because they use a truckload of them.

Our complaint is, the only proper response to God is worship. That is, if I say "That is God", then whatever the That is, I have to worship it. If an artist pictures God, and I say, "that artist has pictured God," then I must worship that artist's picture. But of course I am then worshiping a false God because I am worshiping that artist's conception of God in his mind, which cannot possibly correspond in any meaningful way to the real God, who is a Spirit and cannot be represented by the physical. There was no idol in Solomon's temple.

The same applies to a dramatic interpretation of Jesus. Even if they stick to the plain words of the gospel, the way Jesus looks, the way he talks, the way he walks, all will communicate the actor's and the director's understanding of who Jesus is, and if I say, "that's Jesus," I have to worship that understanding, and am thus worshiping a false God, because it's based on a human understanding. So we in the Reformed community avoid any dramatic interpretation of Jesus as well.

Then why do I say I have mixed feelings? Well, all that being said, Mel Gibson is one of the few conservatives of any kind in Hollywood, and we have to do some serious thinking about who our friends are and who our enemies are. I can picture some saying that those who appear to be on the side of Christianity but subvert it with dangerous doctrine do more damage than outright enemies of the faith. I think that's true, but I'm not sure if Gibson falls into that category. And in this particular controversy, what Gibson appears to be coming under attack for is believing that the gospels are true, and we all have a dog in that fight. I'd venture to say that how exactly someone understands the Second Commandment is of less importance than believing in the truth of the Bible, and I hope that we in the Reformed community do not distract ourselves from the central issue, which is whether the secular community or any particular religious community can demand that we give up our faith because it offends them, with what is a relatively minor point of doctrine.

The Second Commandment is not a minor point of doctrine, and I hope that you don't think I'm saying that it is. I'm saying that the particular application of the Second Commandment to this particular situation, is _relatively_ minor, in comparison to the larger question of whether we will be permitted to exercise our faith in the public square at all.


An update to the post below, regarding the teens who vandalized the school:

I found out last night, from some local people, that the teens involved caused a few hundred thousand dollars in damage, including among other things, taking a sledgehammer to the school's computer system. So I guess the tone of indignation in the article was pretty justified.

Friday, September 26, 2003

Prayer Request 

Rev. Dorman Savage, the former minister of the congregations I now serve, is not expected to live much longer. He has been battling cancer for over a decade now. Please pray for him, and his family, in the days ahead. Rev. Savage has been a faithful minister in our denomination, the RCUS, for over thirty years.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

In Re: The post below the post below (Scroll, baby, scroll):

Another benefit of small town life is that kids never ever come to my door to sell me magazines that I should buy to keep them out of trouble and help them win a trip to Acapulco.

Small town life is kind of genial, friendly, in a way that the roaring metropolis of Colorado Springs was not, in lots of little ways.

This week, we got a notice in our newspaper from the city, not to park on certain streets or they'd tow us. They were resurfacing some roads (they called it "Fog sealing", a term I'd never heard before. Any insight?). It seemed kind of friendly to get this notice via the paper, like there is an assumption that everyone gets the paper, and if you don't, well, that's like not showing up to church or to the High School football game- they cock their head, and say, well... give him time. And it's not too far to walk to the impound lot to pick up your car.

In COS they'd just break out the window, release the brake and push your car down the hill. Here, it's a nice notice in the paper.

And the paper itself... well... the editorial this last week was about Home, Lisa the editor waxing rhapsodic about Home, which for her was a lot of places other than Limon, it turned out. It meant this and that about all these different places- Jamaica, Montana, so forth- being handed a chicken on a bus or something. For me to understand home apparently involves knowing a lot more about our local editor than I'd intended. Oh well.

There was a front page article about three boys who had to come to the school board meeting to apologize for some vandalism. Lots of heartbreaking stuff about how these boys had grown up here, for crying out loud. We knew their parents. How could they do this? But the actual headline? The real scandal, the money line? One of the boys had not shown up. He'd just decided he didn't need to be there. Several lines into the article, we learn he had a work scheduling conflict and had to postpone. Remember the inverted pyramid from your "Writing for the Media" class?* Shouldn't that be a little farther up in the article? But, well, let's just scan these two headlines:



I guess I know which paper I'd be more likely to pick up. You who is without sin...

*What do you mean, you never took "Writing for the Media"? It was like the easiest "A" there was! (Wait, I got a D+).

I got a call from a telemarketer the other night. First one I've taken in ages, except for the ones you get from credit cards you already have. I've been on the Do Not Call list for Colorado pretty much since they started it, but I hadn't put the new number on there, after the move.

Isn't it funny how the modern age has totally taken the joy out of someone telling you you've just won something? How we assume that we'll never see whatever fabulous prize it is they're talking about, or if we do, it won't be worth the degrading Faustian tradeoff of answering their twenty minute's worth of survey questions or whatever? Exactly how much of my time and personal info is worth a free camera, retail value $149.99 (in Moscow maybe after all the excise taxes and kickbacks to local crime lords / elected officials) not including seventy dollars shipping and handling?

Fortunately, Colorado has a Do Not Call list. I have followed some of the debate in different places and in the news regarding the Do Not Call list, and have decided I have to, in good conscience, be in favor of a national list, since I am on the Colorado list and a big believer in the Golden Rule. What's good for the goose, is good for the gander. (That's an odd expression, Bruce.)

The backlash against telemarketers seems to have lowered the pay grade for telemarketers a good deal. I'm basing this purely on the difference between my experience with telemarketers a few years ago and now. As I recall, they used to sound professional and polite, if annoying. Now, they kind of have the quality of those kids who come to your door to sell you magazines, that I should buy to keep them out of trouble and help them win a trip to Acapulco.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

I was on Barnes and Noble's web site earlier today (buying _Cracked_ by Dr. Pinsky, see below) and noticed they had _The Scarlet Letter_ as the featured book for Banned Book Week. So I took a quick peek at their list- _Huckleberry Finn_, _Lord of the Flies_, etc etc- all the usual suspects.

Can anyone guess which book, which most-frequently-banned book was not on their list? I'll give you a hint- this book has been actually banned, not just removed from library shelves or taken off the high-school reading lists. Actually banned, as in, you get killed in nasty ways if you get caught with it. Yes, that's right, the Bible has apparently not been banned enough to make Barnes and Noble's list, although _Jude the Obscure_ made it. Does that seem stupid to anyone other than me?

On another topic, I'd just like to say that _Jude the Obscure_ is my favorite Thomas Hardy novel, although I've never read it. I've never read any Thomas Hardy novel. I just like the name.

I heard part of an interview with Dr. Drew Pinsky today on NPR. He's the guy who used to do that show on MTV with Adam Carolla, The Love Show or something. Well, I guess he's actually a serious doctor who works with drug addicts and the like.

He was talking about research he was doing into the sexual behaviors of college kids, especially the 'hooking up' type behavior, just finding some random person at a party to have sex with. He said that both men and women were invariably drunk when they did it, but for very different reasons. Men got drunk to get up the courage and nerve to do it. Women got drunk to tolerate what was to them a less-than-desirable situation, but one to which they saw little alternative. He said society in one generation has gone from a mindset where sex was the solution to everything, to one where sex is the problem. Interesting interview.

I'm speaking only from anecdotal knowledge here, but it certainly seems to me that the sexual revolution worked more in favor of the baser desires of men than of women. I don't know all that many women who are in favor of random sexual encounters, and the ones who have engaged in that kind of behavior mostly regret it a great deal later, and often say they only did it because of very poor self-esteem. Men don't seem to suffer near so many consequences from that kind of behavior as women do. Women were supposed to be liberated by the sexual revolution, but I don't think they got what they thought they were getting. Pinsky said what most college women wanted, rather than the sexually charged atmosphere on most college campuses, was a man who would just talk to them. This, too, is borne out by my rather limited experience with women.

Anyway, I bought his book, _Cracked_. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Today, my cousin Susanna told me she had described Ted Turner as a communist to a cow orker. There was some skepticism to this claim, and so I have done a little research to support Susanna's assertion.

Here's what I came up with:

Here's his bio, from ABC News.

“His promised gift of $1 billion to a new foundation to support the United Nations, announced in September, 1997, may be the largest single donation by a private individual in history. (In comparison, all charitable giving by Americans in 1996 was approximately $120 billion.)”

The UN is the single biggest supporter of statist solutions to all problems, other than actual governments, and certainly agrees with Turner’s evaluations of the problems the world faces.

Then there's the Ten Voluntary Initiatives, proposed as an alternative to the Ten Commandments. Doesn't that just warm your heart? Here's some info on their origin.

Here's the original version from 1992.

Ted supports statist solutions to most problems. He assumes that the world is overpopulated, that resources are in jeopardy, that the environment is badly degraded. All of these are myths used to justify the need for government control over most or all aspects of life. Statist solutions are proposed in addition to voluntary reduction of resources. No free market solutions are proposed for any problem.

And here's a modified version in 2003:
The Ten Voluntary initiatives from 2003

Note the compromised language on WMD. Could this be that point 9 could have been seen to support Bush’s war on Iraq? Check out the language on family size- same as from the 1992 list, except that they removed the language implying a little bit of support for national sovereignty.

Here’s Ted and his son Beau on reintroducing wolves in the west.

Here’s more about Ted’s billion-dollar gift to the UN.

Look at this from Ted’s site about his philanthropic activity through the Turner Foundation:

"Since 1991, the Turner Foundation has given more than $152 million to hundreds of organizations, including Advocates for Youth, American Bird Conservancy, Global Green USA, Montana Land Reliance, National Audubon Society, National Public Radio, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Sierra Club Foundation, and the World Watch Institute."

Check out those organizations- every one of them actively promotes collectivist government solutions to whatever problem they are addressing.

The Trust for Public Land
A non-profit organization dedicated to setting land aside from private use for environmental reasons. Has partnerships with the Sierra Club, among others. Says it is for “Conserving Land for People”, but typically that means “All the people except the ones who actually own the land”. Listed on Ted Turner’s site as a recipient of funds.

Here’s an op-ed written by Ted about the new FCC rules changes that are coming. He’s disguising his statist approach by claiming these rules will be bad for small businesses. But note- only through government regulations will these businesses be able to exist, according to Ted. Another statist solution to the failure of the free market.

I especially like the line in there about how media monopoly could encourage the big corporations to slant news coverage to fit their biases- this from the owner of CNN.

I could go on for quite a while. But this should give a good starting place. All of the info has been taken from Ted's own words, or articles promoted by Turner's own web sites. Surf through those web sites for tons more info. What it comes down to is this- Ted’s not an actual Communist, probably, in the technical sense of subscribing to Karl Marx’s political philosophy. But he is a communist, in the more popular use of the term to mean a socialist, one who advocates state solutions to most problems.

Actually, he’s probably more like a fascist, one who, while not advocating direct state ownership of all industry, does believe that the state should direct the activity of industry and private individuals through regulation and education. Hitler once said, to paraphrase, “Why should we socialize the factories? We are socializing people.” Here’s a great example of Ted trying to do just that.

Now of course, the need to socialize people to believe the right thing doesn't apply to the elites like Ted- they already know the right thing. But the rest of us need it. It's wise for an enlightened man such as Ted to use his own money to support causes he agrees with, but the rest of us benighted buggers need to be directed to use our time and resources properly, for approved causes. Read those Ten "Initiatives" if you've forgotten what those causes are.

Wendy McElroy has an article on foxnews.com about so-called "deadbeat dads" that got the ol' synapses firing this morning.

It's good to see some cultural awareness building that the "deadbeat dad" problem is a problem of our own creating. I remember reading somewhere, don't remember where, that one of the reasons young men are hesitant to get married these days is the ease with which a woman can divorce a man and then stick him with huge child support obligations. She gets her trophy kid and a "get out of jail" card from the biggest consequence of behaving that way, which is poverty. She probably won't be rich, but she'll be OK, because the father will be footing the bill. And in the studies that have been done, the main reason the "deadbeat dad" doesn't pay is some combination of the fact that he's unemployed, sick, or otherwise unable to earn much of a living, and the fact that the mother is denying him visitation (a huge problem these days).

Now I know plenty of bum guys who cheated on their wives, etc. I'm not downplaying the male end of responsibility for this. But it should be blindingly obvious by now that the courts are heavily skewed to the mother in all custody issues regardless of her responsibility for the breakup in the first place. Women have almost no incentive today to patch up a troubled marriage. A real cynic might even suspect that the main reason for this skew is that single mothers are far more likely to end up wards of the state in some aspect or another, whether it's funded by the dad but mandated by the state, or directly funded by the state, or both. This is a simple matter of statistics, in case anyone thinks I'm being sexist or anything. I'm a big believer in Public Choice Theory, and I really wish more choice were, because it would teach us to look at the motivations of public officials, both elected and unelected, with a much more critical eye when examining public policy issues like this one.

So now the Bush administration is going to address the problem by throwing "deadbeat dads" in jail. What this is meant to accomplish, I've no idea, unless it's just safe publicity for Bush. Who's going to say a father shouldn't take care of his kids? But when you look into it a little bit more, you see it's a much more complicated problem than it appears at first blush. And Public Choice theory would teach us that officials are pursuing this policy because it serves their own personal interests, not primarily "for the kids" as they claim, a perspective that allows us to examine whether this approach actually does help the children at all. Here's another article about the issue.

Perhaps the most relevant question one could ask of the current system is, "does it encourage families to stay together, or to split up?" Because there's now a mountain of evidence that single parenthood, whether mother or father, is one of the main drivers of social dysfunction in America today.

Monday, September 22, 2003

I was in Colorado Springs with my cousins last night to see a show- Maktub at 32 Bleu. It was a great show, like all of Maktub's shows have been, that I've seen. I highly recommend them, if they come to your neck of the woods. Kind of a Lenny Kravitz / Led Zeppelin / late '70's R&B kind of thing. It's not really like that at all, but I don't think I'm very good at that "they're like this other band" kind of thing unless the bands really suck. Usually I like a band because they're _not_ like every other band I've heard. Anyway, Maktub's cool.

They had an opener called HeirUspecs. I think I've got that spelling right. [You must- that spelling links to their site]. They pronounced it the same as the word "haruspex" which means something pretty strange for any fairly straightforward hip-hop act to be using as their name. It was a fun act too though. Watch out if you go- there was some vulgarity, although not nearly what you might expect if MTV is the basis for your understanding of what hip-hop is. I don't own a single hip-hop album, but it's fun live, if it's not all about ho's and popping caps and stuff.

Speaking of popping caps, there was this guy in front of us on the dance floor, thin white suburban kid in cargos and a blue polo. He reminded me of Dignan in Bottle Rocket. He was jumping up and down, right in front of the stage, making devil signs or something, when Maktub was playing. Even during their slower songs, he'd grab the edge of the stage and swing down, almost to the floor, and then jump up again and yell and yell, and grab his embarassed friends and drag them up too. He seemed so anxious that the band recognize his enthusiasm. Is it that somehow, if the band sees you and appreciates your abject worship of them, then somehow you share in some small piece of what it is to be "with the band"? Maybe they'll invite you backstage to party, or tour with them playing backup tambourine? I don't know.

32 Bleu does a weird thing these days though- they play the openers as loud as the main act some times. Matt G said they did it at another show he was at, and it seemed like they did it last time too. That deprives you of the extra sense of excitement that you get when the main act comes out and they turn it up to 11.

Thursday, September 18, 2003

Katie, with all her 13 month old energy and poor self-discipline, accompanied me to Limon’s public library story hour. It seemed like a good idea at the time--perhaps a tool to help her get used to extended periods of stillness.

She put the wooden shapes in all the wrong areas on the puzzle board in front of us as I and the other children and moms watched the librarian, Lucy, perch on her stool. Lucy, reading Arthur’s Computer Disaster ,tried to convince us with great animation that this was a riveting and amazing story. I have to admit, in spite of the obvious over dramatization, I found myself laughing loudly at Arthur’s little sister several times. I realized I was the only one laughing so, scanning the table and finding the children and other mothers were looking on with blank stares, I sat up in my chair and tried to compose a look of sophistication and boredom.

I tried to visit with the other mothers after the story, but found every question I posed could never be answered. Just as another mother would open her mouth to answer me, I would excuse myself to chase Katie into the adult section of the library. This exercise was great for the cardiovascular, but frustrating for the mind. I gave up and excused myself. The librarian kindly invited us back next week, but after seeing Lucy's performance with the story, I wasn’t fooled by her enthusiasm.


Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Starlight and Time

If you're interested in Creationism at all, check out this site. It's a great summary of the book by Dr. Russell Humphreys, written by the author of the book himself. It also has some information on the debate about the book and a link to archives of the debate. I have read the book, and it is very interesting, addressing one of the toughest areas for young-earth believers to address in a rational way.

From an email exchange on the RCUS chat list- you might find this interesting.

Rev. MacLeod,
> 1. The US does indeed act as an imperialist power in that it acts more
or less unilaterally in defiance of world opinion

There were some 40 other nations that joined us in the war on Iraq. We had security council resolutions condemning Saddam, NATO support (except for France and Germany), etc etc. How is this unilateral?

Besides, the president of the United States and our congress and everyone else, is tasked to serve and protect America, not France or Scotland or anyone else. I would not vote for any of them if they served your interest instead of ours. They spent a lot of time building a coalition and getting people on board, but in the end they did what was right for America. I'm glad they did.

And if it's the UN you're worried about, they gave us the authorization to attack Hussein in 1991, in order to expel him from Kuwait, destroy his WMD, and stop the human rights violations. The ceasefire that Hussein signed after the war was on condition that he end his WMD program and stop the human rights violations. He never did either, by anyone's account. Therefore, we still had authorization under the 1991 resolution to attack Hussein. All the other stuff we did was just diplomatic cover, and the world still whined.

> 2. It is irrational to attempt to claim the moral high ground when the
action is clearly for political and/or economic reasons

This statement is specious. Something can be in our interest, and yet morally right. In fact, if you believe Scripture, this will always be the case. Acting in morally wrong ways will be destructive to our own interest. So, it can be morally right for us to rescue people from a man who would rape your wife if you spoke against him and torture children if their parents kept them from joining his political party, and at the same time good for America to do so. Did you miss all that?

Is it your argument then that I should not help my neighbor if he is being attacked, if it is possible I might benefit by doing so?

> 3. The criteria which it's vital to employ in analysing whether or not
the actions of the US (or for that matter Saddam Hussein ) are right are
BIBLICAL criteria. It matters not a whit whether your opinion or mine is
more popular -- what matters is what is right in terms of God's revealed will.

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you".

If I were Iraqi, I'd want to be liberated. And we have seen that the great majority of Iraqis, except those directly profiting from Hussein's bloody rule, and the various extremists which have been imported into Iraq for the purpose of destabilizing our liberation of them, are delighted to have us there. The western media, anxious to have us fail in a war they opposed, anxious to have another Vietnam when they can crow about their influence, don't show a lot of that, but it's true. Do a little research and you'll see. We had the ability and the opportunity to do something and we did.

So why was Europe so unwilling to help people who were being butchered and raped and tortured? Why did the French and the Germans actively lobby against us to prevent us from doing it? Why were so many of your countrymen against it? Just because it was big bad America doing it? You didn't have a problem with it when it was Kosovo, and Clinton doing it, and the Security Council was on board.

"Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's"

That's right, we're Caesar. We're the biggest kid on the block, by a long shot. Now that doesn't justify whatever we do. We still are held accountable. But there's no point whining and acting like we should behave like a poor excuse for a second-rate power like France. They would act unilaterally if they could, but they can't, because they're weak. Compared to us, everyone's weak. We spend more on our military than the next 20 countries combined. And if we didn't, the world would be a worse place, not better.

God gave you the Caesar you have. Be thankful we're not like the other Caesars that have ruled the earth. Think you'd be better off if the Soviets won the Cold War? The reason they lost is because we spent all that money to become Caesar. Your main complaint seems to be that we're not angels. Criticism accepted. But we could be ruling your country and all of Europe right now if we wanted to. What we did instead, after 1945, was rebuild all your countries at great expense to ourselves, after we had saved your countries from a murderous dictator at great expense to ourselves, and never asked anything in return (except in the words of Colin Powell, a little land to bury our dead). Would France have done that? Would England? Would Rome? So now we do it for someone else, and you're complaining that we didn't spend enough time asking your opinion? You piped and we didn't dance, you wept and we didn't mourn. Pardon us if we don't care much. We'll just carry on protecting all of you, and I expect you'll carry on kicking us in the shins for it.

Matt Powell

Here's an interesting article about the state of Social Studies and history education in America. Surprise, surprise- multiculturalism is getting in the way of good history education.

History is mostly about people doing really nasty things to each other, and contrary to what our multiculturalist tendencies in this country tell us to think, some groups of people have been nastier than others at various times. Right now, for example, probably three out of any random four news stories involving someone doing something really evil to someone else will be about a Muslim. Well, that's just at the moment, but there it is. But if that's insensitive, then I can't say it. It doesn't matter whether it's true, just whether it makes us feel good about our multiculturalism. So a lot of those stories might make it into the news media, being less systematic about their selection of material, but it doesn't make it into the multiculturalist history book.

I especially liked the bit about textbooks being bland and uninspiring. I read somewhere at some time that this is the result of most history textbooks being written by committees these days, instead of by an individual author. When an individual writes a book, it may be good or bad, but it's a lot more likely to be interesting since you'll get all of that individual's biases and perspectives on whatever he's writing. Then, you may agree or disagree, but at least there's something to think about. All that being said, I went to a Christian, "outside-of-the-mainstream" school, and I never remember textbooks being anything other than bland and uninspiring. When I homeschool my kids, I can have them read all sorts of fun stuff like Paul Johnson and Florence King.

You know, as I re-read this, it seems like maybe the percentage of bad stories about Muslims has dropped off some in the last year or so. The result of a so-far successful war on terror?

I Thought She Was An Animal Lover!

From This Is Local London:

An impassioned animal rights campaigner, she follows the maxim ‘do as you would be done by’, and feels that violent protest is as wrong as the very research on animals which she hates.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

We watched Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai last night. At 7.5 out of 10, I think it's one of the more over-rated movies on IMDB I've seen so far. How a homeless man learns several martial arts and the skills of a high-tech assassin in a few years... I don't know. I'm all for suspension of disbelief, but a movie needs to give me something to suspend it on.

But it was a Jim Jarmusch film, and I'm still trying to decide if I like Jim Jarmusch. It wasn't a bad movie, just a little silly. Not as good as Dead Man, or Stranger than Paradise. Any huge Jim Jarmusch fans out there would probably like it, but I don't know any Jim Jarmusch fans, except maybe my cousin Beth. (I'm assuming, since Beth is the biggest movie buff I know, once even commenting on the factors, other than the T in TULIP, that drives a man to make a movie like The Pillow Book).

We got the extended version of Brazil too from Netflix, but that'll be a social occasion, so you'll have to wait a bit if you're interested.

Monday, September 15, 2003

Does this story seem sad to anyone else? I hadn't even discovered these wonderful things yet, and already they're on the way out...

Hi all. No posting since Friday. Right now, that's going to be typical since Sunday's busy with chuch most of the day, then I drive in to Colorado Springs for my Bible study, stay the night in town and don't come back to Limon until Monday afternoon.

We're getting it figured out which things to buy here and which things to buy in Colorado Springs. At first we thought we should just buy every thing in Colorado Springs, but that turned out to be wrong. We need to at least buy our meat in the local store. It's local, fresh, and awesome. Probably a lot of the produce too, for the same reasons. We will continue to buy our marijuana in the Springs though. Haha, just kidding. No, really, board of elders. Just kidding.

Bible study was on the parable of the sower. A key parable, Jesus implies at least in Mark 4. It's one of those really fascinating paradoxes that Jesus seems to be so fond of. He's of course telling us that we need to be fertile ground for the word, and not the rocky or thorny ground. Our sinfulness and our worldliness cannot get in the way of the gospel taking root in our lives. All of this is of course true. But why tell us? If we're that bad ground, then we can't hear the parable anyway, and if we're good ground, do we really need it?

So, wrestling with the paradox, one digs deeper into the truth that Jesus has for us. As with all parables, it's the one central actor who makes it all happen. The kingdom of heaven is caused to exist by one being, not by many. It's the landowner, the shepherd, the father, the farmer. He creates the kingdom. And the creation of the kingdom and the development of the kingdom is all for this purpose- weeding out, dividing, separating- those who will produce for the master, and those who will not. Glory be to God- I can't turn myself from unproductive ground to productive ground, especially on the basis of a teaching I can't understand unless I'm productive ground already. So the real lesson is on the nature of that kingdom, its origin, and its purpose.


Limon smells nice in the fall. Fall's my favorite time of year, and I believed that even before I read this. I swear. Ask anyone I know.

Saturday, September 13, 2003

Friday, September 12, 2003

I discovered another unanticipated aspect of small town life today. This requires a tiny bit of back-story.

I have an MP3 player in my car. So, I burn copies of CDs (that I own) onto CD-R's in MP3 format to listen to in the car. I can get about 14 albums on one disc in that format. One quirk of that format though is that when you turn off the car and then turn it back on, the song you were listening to starts over from the beginning instead of where you left off.

This is a long way of telling you that I've heard the first thirty seconds of Morcheeba's "Who Can You Trust" about fifteen times in the last two days. That's the farthest anything is from anything else here in the town of Limon.

Eugene Volokh has a cogent summary of some of the main issues surrounding intellectual property rights and whether they should be considered the same as physical property rights. Highly recommended to anyone interested in issues of copyright law, or just whether you should download that latest Norah Jones song.

He makes a brief reference to the possibility of a moral right to have exclusive control over one's own production. I like the issues he raises, but I wish he'd written more about that part of it. That's not his area of specialty of course, but being raised in a Rushdoonyesque home, I was always taught that the Eighth Commandment (that's the one about stealing) was the basis of all property rights and copyright law, not public utility. Seems like public utility is a scary basis to rest property rights on. Volokh's argument perhaps rests it only partly on public utility. But still, someone is always likely to come along and define public utility in a way that means they get to steal your stuff.

Thursday, September 11, 2003

The sermon this Sunday is on Genesis 6:1-8. That's the lead-in to the story of the Flood of Noah. It won't surprise anyone who knows me to discover that I believe in the literal interpretation of the flood.

On the second anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, there's a lot of reflection on the web about the meaning of the attacks and subsequent events (see NRO and Instapundit's September 11th posts for good starting points). I did not even think about preaching a 9/11-relevant sermon this Sunday- that's not really how I operate. But this one sure will be. God sent the flood because violence filled the earth.

In Victor Davis Hanson's National Review article in the 9/15/03 issue, he says that recent events (the France heat wave, the Northeast blackout, suicide bombings) should remind us that only with our constant diligence can civilization be maintained. Genesis 6-8 counters with the idea that it is only by God's grace that civilization is possible at all, and only by His providence and preservation that we don't all slit each other's throats. It's still a good article and analyzes the situation well from a merely earthly perspective, but without the element of God's sovereignty taken into account, it is a perspective that will lead only to despair.

I'm starting a Bible study here in Limon, on the subject of Biblical interpretation. We'll be starting a week from Wednesday. It's open to the public. If anyone is in the Limon area and is interested, drop me a line and I'll let you know more. The email link is on the right sidebar.

We got a good taste of leisurely small-town life last night. We went out for dinner at a local restaurant at around five thirty, thinking it was a little early to go out. There were two other couples at the small restaurant, and we got our menus and ordered drinks. We were served our drinks in about five minutes and placed our orders. I noticed at this point that one of the other couples, who already had their drinks when we sat down, had brought newspapers to read. I thought perhaps they were just antisocial, but as it turned out they were just prepared for the leisurely pace of food service here.

We got our salads at ten after six, and our main courses around a quarter to seven. We ate pretty fast, as little Katie just does not have patience for two-hour dining experiences, and had left by five after seven or so. Everyone at the restaurant was very friendly and attentive, and nobody seemed to think it at all odd that our entrees took almost an hour to arrive after being ordered. I guess if I need to eat fast, I'd just better go to McDonalds.

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

In support of the previous point about culture shock (#3), we just got back from our daily walk to the post office, and stopped by the Radio Shack for a visit. It said Radio Shack outside, but actually, it was just a store called "Vern's", I think, that was a Radio Shack dealer. They were also a sports gear dealer, a video store rental and who knows what else. A nice gentleman (Vern, I suppose) talked to us about the store and his family and other details which escape me.

It was kind of creepy, like a Steven King story, to see a nice Olympus MP3 audio recorder in the same display case as .38 shells.

I have just completed a move from Colorado Springs, CO to Limon, CO. This is a big change for me and my family, from a town of 350,000 to a town of 2500.

Culture shock!

1: People actually talk to you here. Even people you don't know. I already know more about my neighbors here than I did in five years in my house in the Springs. (one's a drywaller, another has a race car).

2: There is no street delivery of mail. So, you go to the post office to pick up your mail every day and see your friends and neighbors also picking up their mail, and while you are there, you talk to people (see point one). The post office is about the busiest place I've seen so far in Limon (but then I haven't made it out to the Rusty Spur saloon yet).

3: They have clothes in the hardware store in Limon. It seems that a small town like this cannot support too many (or any) department stores, or fashion boutiques. So, most of the shopping gets done on trips into the Springs or Denver (both about an hour away). But if you need clothes right away for some reason, then the hardware store can take care of you, or the drugstore. Kind of like how dentists used to also perform surgery.

Also, it rains here a lot more than in the Springs, at least so far.


I've finally got web access again, after being without for two long weeks while I moved. I've decided to celebrate by creating this blog.

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