Monday, May 31, 2004

Happy Memorial Day 

Here are some links I've read today that talk about the bravery of men who have fought for their country.

Den Beste

James Robbins from NRO

The Mudville Gazette

Thanks to all who serve, and especially those who have been wounded or died in the line of duty. Also, thanks to all the reservists who have been away from good jobs and family for so many months, to fight this very necessary fight in Iraq. God bless all of you.

Friday, May 28, 2004


Last week's sermon is up. We explored the first division in the church, on the subject of how money was being spent. The sermon broadly addresses the subject of divisions, and how they ought to be handled. Enjoy- link's on the sidebar.


Here's a good opinion piece about McDonalds appeasing environmentalist groups without any science to back up their claims. This feels a lot the same as terrorist appeasement in one respect- the environmentalists are not going to be happy until McDonalds, and everyone like them, are put out of business, just like the terrorists won't have accomplished their goal until we're all dead or Muslim.

Once you have payed the Danegeld, you never get rid of the Dane.

The Cat in the Mirror 

I have to confess to being disturbed by Dr. Seuss. I have always loved his pithy little rhymes, and I am always relieved when Katie picks one of those shiny Dr Seuss books for story time, instead of one of those insipid Brother Bear books, or something like that. ("I'm not one of those wild bears; I walk on two legs!" Such an improvement- a bear in short pants.)

But the Cat in the Hat, in particular, disturbs me. I never knew whether I liked him or not as a child. He was always causing all kinds of trouble, but he just wanted to have fun, and always skated out just before real trouble (usually in the person of Mother) arrived. Of course, I'm basing this on just one book. I know there’s a second one but I’ve never read it. One gets the impression from this one book that it is meant to be emblematic. The Cat is an icon, a totem. He is representative, and his behavior is meant to be understood as a pattern. The kids recognize the Cat instantly when he comes in; he talks about what he ‘always’ does. One can imagine a dozen or so ‘lost’ Cat books. So is he a troublemaker? Or just a lovable guy wanting to have some fun and play with kids? I find myself simultaneously drawn to and terrified of the Cat.

"Look at me! Look at me! Look at me now!
It is fun to have fun, but you have to know how!"

So the Cat is a classic narcissist. He doesn't care about these kids. He just wants to have fun. He finds some vulnerable kids without adult supervision and uses them for self-gratification. He uses them as a way to have a sense of identity, being. He can only feel alive when others are responding to what he is doing. He is basically amoral; only his pleasure matters, not any trouble he may cause. He uses entertainment and amusement to marginalize the voice of reason and caution, the fish. It's all about him.

Even by the end, after he makes a huge mess and is on the verge of being caught by the mother, when he trots out his weird multi-armed car, it is still just for the purpose of self-gratification. He cleans up the mess in order to regain the kids' approval lost by making the mess in the first place. He is anxious to let them know- "I ALWAYS clean up all my toys". It's still about him. And the kids are left compromised by guilt- their involvement, however peripheral, makes it impossible for them to come clean and tell their mother what happened. So the cat comes uninvited, for self-aggrandizement only, makes a huge mess, skates out just ahead of real trouble, and leaves the kids morally compromised as a result. It is all ultimately about the Cat, for the Cat- the all-important thing is that the Cat has fun, and is well-thought of. He’s the ultimate navel-gazer, Nitzchean, 60’s hippie. He can’t stand for anyone to not love him, regardless of how much trouble he causes.

Now I know why I'm so uneasy about the Cat. The Cat is Bill Clinton.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

The State of Marriage 

I posted a while back about gay marriage, and tried to present a non-religious argument against it, focusing on the disconnection between marriage and childrearing that gay marriage causes, and why that's a bad thing from a society's perspective. It is very much in the society's interest that the great majority of children are raised with one mother and father, which is why the state subsidizes marriage. The state does not subsidize the love between two individuals, but rather the institution of marriage, so that it is within the bonds of marriage that most childrearing takes place. Gay marriage completes the destruction of that understanding. And so, as many have said, it's not so much that gays want to be married (Joe at EO has a great summary here of homosexuals' understanding of monogamy) as they want to end the privileged status that married people have. They want to destroy the institution.

Some of those who criticized my earlier post did so on the grounds of the sorry state of marriage in America already. The statistics are all bad; although the 50% divorce rate may be misleading, we all know the situation is a whole lot worse than it was 40 years ago. There is no longer a consensus in America that sex should only occur in marriage or that having children out of wedlock is an unambiguously bad thing. A large portion of our children are now raised outside of the normal two biological parent household, and the effects of this are well known. Juvenile crime, illiteracy, poverty, and a host of other social ills can be traced to illegitimacy. All of this happened long before gay marriage was even contemplated, it is argued, so why posit the possibility of something happening as a result of a given cause, when the effect has already occurred absent the cause?

And they're right. The fact is, there is virtually no societal or legal structure that is doing much these days to hold marriages together and encourage childrearing in those marriages. Gay marriage will simply continue a process that began a long time ago, and the church is fighting a rearguard action, insofar as we are fighting at all. The institution of marriage was dealt its body blow quite a while ago and the church just stood by, and even actively helped in some cases. We did not speak out like we should have against no-fault divorce, abortion, welfare and the like, and now we are stuck.

At this stage, it seems to me that the church will now have to provide for itself many things that previously were done by the church, state and society working in concert. The church, by itself, will have to encourage good marriages, discourage promiscuity, and promote Christian values. I don't believe we will be able to look to the state or culture to help us. That may not be such a bad thing. The church may have to be serious about its calling in a way that it hasn't for a while.

I guess what I'm saying is that I'm coming to realize that gay marriage is not the fundamental issue. Gay marriage is just the inevitable symptom of the church's failure to maintain its core teachings on the subject of marriage, family and childrearing. We'll have to fall back now and address the core issues, and start rebuilding an understanding of God's intention for men, women and the family. We'll have to do this on our own, without the help (and frequently against the opposition) of most other elements of the society. But the church has been in that position before and has always triumphed.

The philosophies of the world are ultimately self-defeating. A culture that destroys its ability to replicate itself through widespread abortion and destructive sexual practices is not a culture that will be around long. If the church is faithful to its mission, then we will be the ones left when the rest of it collapses.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

The Zoo 

We went to the Denver Zoo on Tuesday. It was a beautiful day, and our plan was to get our zoo visit in before school was out, to avoid all the kids. Unfortunately, we didn't plan on the sloth of teachers at the end of the school year, who rather than continue to teach their kids up till the last possible moment, took all of them to the zoo instead. So the zoo was packed.

I think I hate zoos. Probably a quarter of the exhibits were just empty. Many of the coolest animals were absent, sleeping, hiding or just really bored and sad looking. It was twenty two bucks, and there were maybe six really good exhibits. Maybe I'm expecting too much? Maybe I have false impressions of how cool other zoos were? I don't know. All I know is that I could have thought of dozens of better ways to spend the time, let alone the money.

But Katie liked it. I guess that's the important thing. And she's young enough that I don't have to spend a lot of time debunking all of the signs in the zoo (No, the lemurs are NOT our cousins. No, chimpanzees are NOT just like us. Notice which one's in a cage, spending his life naked and being watched by the other.)

I think maybe zoos are run for the purpose of propagandizing and raising funds for eco-hippie causes. I speak with no certainty on this, but I certainly saw a great deal of propagandizing. One item that would have been thrilling to my community out here- reintroduction of prairie dog towns in Colorado, with all of the attendant loss of grazing lands and broken horse ankles that goes along with that.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Over A Barrel 

I had to sing "Jesus Loves Me" about 30 times last night, driving home from the Springs. I'm really not very fond of the song, but Katie loves it. So every time I'd get done with the song, she'd say, "more Jesus?"

What am I going to say? "No, Katie, no more Jesus. Sorry."

Saturday, May 22, 2004


So I'm at the Subway here in Limon (what's it say about a town when the best dining is all fast food?). There's a long line, and I'm behind a family. The guy's tall, kind of pudgy, weak chin, and dressed like middle-aged people do when they're trying to look young. He's wearing a t-shirt with the sleeves cut off, tucked into a tight pair of shorts.

And the BO coming off this guy- HOO BOY. Eye-watering stink. And I'm thinking to myself, while the line slowly makes its way to the front, how do people in Europe do it? How do they eat in restaurants if people don't bathe regularly? Maybe that's why fast food isn't as popular there- nobody wants to stand in line and smell each other while they're waiting for food.

Anyway, we get to the front of the line. The girl behind the counter (black lipstick and a dog collar, by the way) asks him what he wants. And he says,

"I'd like ze fut-long Italienne with..."

That's right, he's French. I couldn't make up stuff this good.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Denominations and Money 

I really like being part of a denomination. It has its downsides, sure. But the upsides more than make up for it, I think. There is, of course, the issue of whether it's required by Scripture, which I believe it is. But that's another subject.

I just got back little bit ago from our meeting in Wisconsin. One of the things that denominations make a lot easier, it seems to me, is an orderly sharing of resources, with oversight to minimize waste and the like. A great deal of the time was spent deciding how to spend funds, and whether money was being spent and distributed properly. Now there are always people who resist and resent any inquiry into how they're using your money. We call those people Democrats. :) But in general, I believe it's very wise, not just for the other guy but for me too, to have some other eyes and ears looking into how money's being spent. Basically, we're asking larger, more prosperous churches to foot some of the bill for smaller churches, and I'm very much in favor of that, but human nature being what it is, I'm also in favor of some checks and balances around the spending of money.

I'm preaching on Acts 6 this week. I think it's remarkable that the first recorded division in the church was on the subject of money. The Apostles responded to the problem by putting structures in place that would result in better handling and distribution of the money. They didn't just ignore the problem, say "well, the kingdom of Heaven isn't about money, so we're not going to worry about that." No, they addressed it by having deacons elected.

Denominational controls continue this tradition. It's not perfect. If anything, my particular denomination is not even as careful as I sometimes think they ought to be. But of course, it's always the other guy's cause that I think needs mory scrutiny, not mine.

So it seems that without this authority structure in place, churches would either not have access to the funds of a larger group, or there would be little oversight in how those funds were spent. Neither sounds very appealing to me. And of course there's the question of whether it would be even better if we were all part of the same authority structure, all under just one hierarchy, as many think the ideal situation would be. I guess I'd respond to that by saying that we can look back in history to a time when just such an arrangement existed, and it doesn't seem all that desirable to bring it back. I like the idea that no one denomination can get too arrogant and unresponsive to its members, for fear that they could just go to a different denomination. I don't really think that's a bad thing.

Monday, May 17, 2004


I was gone all last week to our Synodical meeting in Wisconsin. Glad that's over. It was a great meeting, and I met a lot of people in my denomination for the first time, but it's very tiring, and hard to be away from the fam for that long.

I have two new sermons posted on the website. The first one is from Acts 5, and is the story of Ananias and Sapphira. I deal with the question of how much we do owe to God, and how much we can keep for ourselves. The answer, of course, is that we owe God everything, and can hold nothing back for ourselves. This doesn't mean that we owe the church everything, but that we owe God everything. We should serve God with all of our money, whether it's by tithing, by charitable giving, by taking care of our family, investing, or even going out for burgers. We must be thankful in all that we do, and do all in faith.

The second sermon is on the second half of Acts, and addresses the subject of apologetics.

The link for both of these sermons is on the sidebar.

Saturday, May 08, 2004


...and badly needed, courtesy of the Belmont Club.

Friday, May 07, 2004

I'm Sorry, What Story Is This? 

Victor Davis Hanson has a great piece on what we need to know, and to do, to win in Iraq. It's given me some needed optimism in this conflict.

He's absolutely right that the main problem here is that our enemies have mastered the art of asymmetrical warfare. They know us better than we know ourselves. So while they are utterly incapable of facing us on the battlefield, they can exploit our moral uncertainty, our short attention spans, our distaste for unpleasantness- in short, all the side effects of our wealth and power. The weaknesses that our enemies exploit are luxuries that only the very wealthy and powerful can afford. They are also the byproducts of the national character that made us great in the first place. America is great because America is good, but that creates weaknesses that our enemies use against us.

It's a paradox- if we were barbarians like them, they'd all be dead dead dead. If we were as warmongering and as power-hungry as they claim, then shortly after 9/11 we would have opened up the silos and nuked every Muslim country that didn't have oil, and unleashed the bombers and then the marines on every country that did have oil or anything else we needed. The Middle East would be an oil-pumping station for cheap gas for American SUV's, with any surviving locals being allowed to live only for cheap labor for us. But the paradox part of it is that if we were barbarians like them, we wouldn't be as insanely rich and powerful as we are. Perhaps it's just God's way of checking the power of nations. Only nations that have some understanding of order and decency ever get really powerful in the first place. And as they get powerful, they get soft and decadent, and lose their power as a result.

What does that mean in the future? That America's on the way down, the victim of its own success? Or that this vacillating, ADD-afllicted, 24-hour-news cycle addicted public, and hypocritical attacks on our treatment of prisoners and civilians from ARABS of all people, who celebrated on 9/11 and stab their own daughters to death for the crime of being raped, is just part of the price we have to pay for being who we are?

It's really hard sometimes to see which part of the historical play we're in right now. Gulliver, being stabbed at by Lilliputians? Or King Lear, the tragic character, destroyed by the vanity and blindness that was the result of his own success?

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Gays in the Church 

The Dunker Journal speculates about why, after the UMC ruling reaffirming that homosexuality is antiscriptural, don't the gays just pull out of all of their various denominations and form their own church?

The answer, I believe, is that they are not interested in just being tolerated, but they are interested in subverting all organizations that are opposed to their lifestyle. I really don't think they're going to rest until all remnant of hostility to their beliefs are destroyed. Otherwise, why join a denomination that you know is hostile to your beliefs? I wouldn't join the Mormons and then try to subvert their views. I join churches that are compatible with my beliefs, and promote my beliefs from within that organization. This is what any honest believer in some system of belief does. Joining another organization with the intention of subverting that organization is the behavior of a dishonest man, but this is what the gays are doing.

Just in case anyone forgot... 

... read this to remember who we're up against.

The Palestinians celebrated at the news of the mother and her four little girls being shot in the head at close range.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Great Quote 

From Lileks, on Ted Rall, the cartoonist who penned the anti-Pat Tillman cartoon getting all the heat lately:

...lots of speculation about whether he’ll be dropped from the syndicate, lose readership, meet up with an angry Tillman relative. But sometimes just being yourself is punishment enough.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004


Den Beste has put words to the frustration I've been feeling over the last few days. Why can't we seem to get a handle on this Fallujah situation? It doesn't seem all that difficult. Of course, I'm sitting here in my comfortable chair, and I'm sure it's a very different world over there. And I'm willing to cut them a lot of slack doing a very difficult job. But it does seem, like Den Beste says, that we're just being way too nice. This is a war. Fallujah was the heart of Saddam's support. We're not likely to win any hearts and minds there. They need to be put down, and hard.

The other thing that is increasingly frustrating me is what appears to me to be the resolve of the American people to see this thing through. I don't have a lot of evidence here, but it seems like the media's becoming successful in turning the minds of people against this war, and against the resolve to win. I hope that's not the case. The only way this becomes Vietnam is if the people lose heart. That's the only reason Vietnam became Vietnam. We lost Vietnam because they were in it for life and we weren't. They were willing to lose everything to win and we weren't. It's the same in Iraq. Our enemies there- the Baathist holdouts, the terrorists, the Iranian-sponsored Shiites- they've got nothing to lose. They'll fight to the end. We need to remember why we went there, why we went to war, and remember what we've got to lose if we fail. We have to get in this to win, or we will certainly lose.

It certainly seems like Bush is in it to win. But it seems like there's a lot of folks around him who aren't. Maybe it's time for a purge.

Monday, May 03, 2004


A new sermon is up. I have a new digital recorder, which so far works well, and makes nicer recordings than what I had before. So the quality of the new sermon is better than has been the case. If you listen to it, let me know what you think. The sermon is on Acts 4, and addresses the true purpose of prayer. Link's on the sidebar.

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