Cutting Edge Banality

The Banner is fairly non-controversial this month, though. There's a puff piece on Koreans in America and, specifically, in the CRC. Naturally there are criticisms of American culture, but they are mild and really amount to Koreans expressing a preference for Korean culture. This is not surprising. If I were asked about Korean culture, I would express both my appreciation of it and my preference for American culture.

There's also a brief bit on how to be a
Christian employee which is pretty bland, but true.

And there's an article about raising a
child with autism. It is difficult. And it's even more difficult for nursery attendants and teachers who are rarely trained in dealing with autism, even if they had the time to devote their entire attention to one or two kids in a busy nursery. To the extent it gives people a glimpse of life and enables them to deal better when trying to accommodate brothers and sisters in that situation, it's fine.

Let's not forget
how to dump a program, either. Some things need to be let go - not that they were invalid when started, but they've long since been OBE (Overcome By Events) and need to pass from the panoply of programs on offer. How do you do that without really irritating the folks who are still on board from those early days?

Some banal news reports are mixed in -
World Missions is sponsoring a Timothy Leadership conference in Kenya (though they call it something else); students at Calvin Theological seminary volunteer (they're required to); and somebody is starting a church without actually starting a church - or trying to.

That's kind of the thing among church planters, you know. Anything that smacks, however remotely, of tradition must be bad. Buildings gotta go. People don't want to go to church buildings, even though millions do every Sunday. Gotta get new music, however much folks might like the old hymns. Gotta be hip, gotta be cutting edge,

A new multicultural church in East Waterloo, Iowa, is reaching out to Waterloo’s young people, as well as to poor and chronically unemployed residents of the city.

“I believe in social justice and reconciliation,” says Rev. Reggie Haywood, pastor of the Home Missions-supported New Straightway Church. “Jesus calls us to be ministers of a holistic gospel, and we want to be a bridge of hope for disenfranchised youth.”
The Rev. Haywood says this like it is the most original thought in the world. It isn't. And it won't last, either. We have plenty of people out there already who believe in multicultural social justice, reconciliation, bridges of hope, and holistic gospels for disenfranchised youths. Maybe you should try believing in Jesus instead. Isn't that what Paul did? I seem to recall something like, "When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified..." (II Corinthians 2:1-2)

Nah - too traditional.

Seriously Messed Up Mothers?

The September issue of The Banner is out, so we'll start our little review with this article by Timothy Palmer. In it, he argues that the Belhar Confession is appropriate to South Africa, but transplanted to a society like that of the United States, where the history of race relations has worn a different course, it doesn't work. He makes a valid point, I think. In fact, I'm sure of it.

We then turn to the FAQ where some mother is upset that, after spending thousands of dollars to send their little Johnny to Christian day schools, he and his wife are planning to home school their own children. She wants to be able to tell her son that he and his wife must raise their kids the way he was raised. Plaintively she asks, "...are we supposed to pretend this is OK with us?"

Um, well, yes. The person they got to answer the question takes a fair bit longer to reach that point, but essentially, that's what she finally gets around to saying.

The other question in the FAQ is about so-called "Good Samaritan" laws. Somebody's mother witnessed a serious crime but did not want to get involved, so she did not report it. We seem to all agree - the questioner, the mom, the philosophy prof who answers the question, and myself - that this is a sin of omission and she should have reported it. He clarifies the legal question somewhat, and then lets it go.

If these questions are indeed frequent, though, we've got some seriously messed up mothers out there.

Islam Intolerant

A good read. So is Bernard Lewis' book Faith and Power.

Islam, unlike Judaism and Christianity, does not distinguish between the civil and the religious powers. It is theologically incapable of doing so. They are all for the separation of church and state, but there is no separation possible between Islam and the state. Indeed, except to the extent they have been impacted by the European use of these concepts, "church" and "state" have no real meaning in Islam. There is only the community of the faithful and the community of the infidels. A subset of these infidels are called, sometimes, "people of the book" in that they are monotheistic religions based on a written Word of God - it's just that they got it wrong. With these, Islam may be patient, even mildly tolerant, as long as they are not seen as a threat to the community of the faithful. But book or no, they're still infidels.

Since these are the only possible distinctions, and since infidels deserve whatever they get, it is acceptable to lie to them, kill them, manipulate them, conquer them, or anything else one deems necessary to advance Islam against them. But it is never acceptable to simply accept them as equals within a given society or nation. Indeed, by definition, they cannot be part of the same society or nation since the faithful and the infidels are unavoidably different communities.

Apart from some radical change in Islam - either they see it as restricted to a certain territory, or develop the concepts of church and state (along with the division between civil and religious authority), and finally reject violence as a means of spreading their religion - apart from something like that, we will need to completely defeat Islam.

I realize the horror that might entail, and the magnitude of the task at hand. I understand how some might shrink from that conclusion and instead reach for mythical mantras about religions of peace. The spectre of religious war should horrify us. But until and unless voices within Islam still the intolerant screeds of so-called "moderates" in favor of a more tolerant expression of their faith - something Christians learned in the European Wars of Religion that ran from 1520-1620 - we will be facing exactly that, whether we like it or not. It is they who are putting us in a position where we must either surrender to their theocracy or destroy it.

Just as the problem is not Israel but those who refuse to accept her existence under any circumstances, so the problem here is not us, but Muslims who think the world isn't big enough for us both. I have no intention of leaving, so if the world isn't big enough for both of us, the sooner we help them off it, the better.


Talk Away, Barry

With a tip of the hat to National Review's Campaign Spot, I notice that the White House is aware of our troubled economy and
"We know he needs to be out there to talk about the economy next week," a White House official told ABC News, acknowledging the need for the president to talk about the issue on the minds of Americans in the midst of a schedule packed with events focused on other priorities. "We haven’t yet figured out the way he’s going to do that."
I'm sure you haven't. Mainly because you haven't figured out a way to get the American public to believe anything Obama says about anything, much less the economy. In any event, we have already had two years of the president talking about the economy. Don't you think it might be better instead if the president actually did something about the economy?

On second thought, this is President Obama we're discussing here, isn't it? Maybe it wouldn't be such a good idea for him to try to do something about it. Talk away.

Kill a Terrorist for World Peace

So, I get this little blurb from our denomination about "International Peace Day"

International Day of Peace is set for September 21. Anyone, anywhere can celebrate Peace Day. It can be as simple as lighting a candle at noon, or just sitting in silent meditation. Or it can involve getting your coworkers, organization, community, or government engaged in a large event. Visit the websites Peace Day or CRC Social Justice for more participation ideas. On the Social Justice site, catch up on the Christian Reformed Church's involvement in peacebuilding.
Right. Light a candle. That'll show those evil terrorist ba*t**ds a thing or two! Sit in silent meditation or get engaged in a "large event". On the International Peace Day web site, I clicked on their link for "Peacebuilding 101". I found
Peacebuilding activities aim at building understanding and tolerance between individuals, communities and societies and establishing new structures of cooperation. Peacebuilding activities range in scale from personal acts of kindness toward others to global inter-governmental programs.
What I did not find were any actual, practical strategis for achieving this. Notice also that coupling of "understanding and tolerance" as if they go hand-in-glove. I understand Al-Quaeda. I understand they want to kill me and destroy my civilization. Maybe these nitwits want to tolerate that, but I sure don't. Fact is, at times the best inter-governmental program for building peace is an invasion, a few laser-guided munitions, and some dead. (Now, there's a program for world peace: International Kill aTerrorist Day.)

Instead, we get a suggestion to light a candle in broad daylight (at noon) when you don't need it and likely can't even see it because of the sunlight. Maybe sit in your room in silent meditation. Hey, morons. September 21 is a work day. Maybe you organizers can get paid to sit in silence, but the rest of us have real jobs. Oh, yes. This is the Christian Reformed Church that forwarded this little news blurb and asked me to get my government involved in a "large event" of noon-time candle-lighting. Yet nowhere does this announcement suggest we get the Prince of Peace involved by, like, maybe, you know, praying or something.

I don't know if Lenin said it or not, but there sure are a lot of useful idiots out there. Well, useful to him and his ilk. And an awful lot of them have advanced degrees. One gets the impression that college is designed to educate all the common sense out of people and the more advanced the degree, the more advanced the stupidity.

Child Porn Masquerades as Compelling TV on HBO

Another reason why I don't get cable and, in particular, HBO. Mad Men has been pretty uniformly praised as this wonderful period drama from the 1960s. The scenes, the mannerisms, the world and life views are all, I'm told, spot on. I don't know about that as I was only 6 when the 1960s came to a well-deserved close.

But HBO has to cross the line. It is their insistence on overstepping whatever boundaries of decency get drawn. Draw a line at sex, and they'll make sure you get sex in its most vulgar and overt displays. Draw a line at gore, and they'll make sure you get plenty of gore. Draw a line at profanity, and you'll get an entire script of profanity.

I remember hearing all the wonderful stuff about the series Band of Brothers, based on Stephen Ambrose's book of that name. Episodes 1-8 are very, very good - though they do come close to showing the mess that is war. So I popped the DVD with episode 9 into the player, sat back to relax and enjoy the same wonderful television history of an Airborne unit in World War 2 only to be greeted by a naked blonde bouncing up and down on what, I presume, was one of the soldiers. I don't know, maybe 30 seconds of this?

Why? What purpose did it serve in the story of these soldiers? Yes, I know soldiers fraternize with civilians when they can. Could it not have been told by having a soldier and a woman walk into a room and closing the door behind them? Maybe just sounds in the background? But no, we need the full frontal visual.

I haven't seen their series The Pacific. I'm told that's good, too. But I know that the third episode, with Marines in Australia, is, well, like episode 9 of Band of Brothers. I'll pass.

Now, this episode of Mad Men - if you go to page two of the Entertainment Week recap you'll find this:
Just as Betty was later less curious about why Sally would masturbate on her friend's sofa than she was aghast at how the neighborhood mothers would now all talk...
They just kind of gloss over it, but the fact is, the episode displays Sally masturbating on the sofa. Sally is played by Kiernan Shipka who was born in November, 1999. In other words, she was just past her 10th birthday when the episode was filmed. According to Limbaugh, the scene left very little to the imagination and the actress was in fact masturbating in order to get the scene.

Now, I realize that I have not seen the episode and that all this is based on reports by people who have seen it. I have no intention of satisfying HBO by trying to find it and see it by way of "research", either. If it's even close to what's reported, it's bad enough. Getting someone to masturbate so the world can watch is not art or drama or accurate history. It's just pornography. That it involves a 10-year-old makes it criminal - child pornography. I'm sure they ran it past their lawyers to make sure they could show as much as possible without facing criminal penalties. Besides our Department of (so-called) Justice is too busy suing states for enforcing the law and excusing Black bullies and union thugs. They don't have time to deal with the abuse of a 10-year-old actress.

I can't do anything about it other than not watch it and not buy the cable that disseminates such trash. But in a sane world, that show would be off the air yesterday and every adult involved in its production would be facing a judge today.


Money Has No Substance

Here's a good piece, worth reading, on the Cash for Clunkers folly. Particularly worth noting is this paragraph:
That’s because money isn’t wealth. Money is at best a measure of wealth, which actually consists of goods. Money retains its value as long as there are goods to be traded for it. When the goods disappear, the economy grows poorer, regardless of how the money is shuffled around.
This is something most people don't realize. Money is not real, in the sense that it is not substantive. An "inch" is not real, either. You cannot show me an inch by itself. You can only show me an inch by measuring something - whether it's the distance between your thumb and forefinger, or the width of a board. A dollar (or euro or pound or yen or wan) is simply a unit of measurement, like an inch. Separate from the thing it measures - an hour of your labor, a candy bar, a house - it has no substantive existence. You may show me a piece of paper from your wallet with a portrait and some numbers on it, but most money is simply an electronic record. I rarely even write a check anymore. I go online and ask my credit union to subtract a number from the balance in my account and add that same number to the balance in somebody else's account. No paper is actually involved at all. I do this because I consider the electricity I used this past month to be so many dollars of value, just like I use the inch (or foot in this case) to express the size of my living room.

The confusing thing is, value and wealth are subjective and the unit used to measure them is somewhat amorphous. Take the concept of inflation, for instance. We say that a "1950 dollar" is worth so much relative to a "2010 dollar". But what does that mean? Sure, I could buy a lot more gas for a dollar in 1950 than I can now, and a new car didn't cost as much, either. But much of the technology that is in my 2010 car didn't exist in 1950 - onboard computers, airbags, 3-point restraint systems, anti-lock brakes, CD players and Dolby surround-sound speakers, and on and on. How do I legitimately compare the two vehicles? I might like a 1956 Chevy as a show car, but I'd rather have my minivan for a long road trip.

Yet, for all that, there is something to this "1950 dollar" vs. "2010 dollar". In 1968, my father-in-law received, as a pastor, the use of a parsonage plus about $6,000 a year. That provided for a family of six. It was tight, but do-able. I make that much in a month. Yes, I live far more comfortably than he did at that stage of his life, but there is simply no way I could provide for my family of 5 on $6,000 a year plus a house to live in.

So it boils down to a kind of relative percentage. Out of any given number of dollars I have, I will value something by assigning it a percentage of those dollars. This is what I say I can "afford". I can "afford" $500 towards a new car for my son. Does that mean I only have $500? Of course not. It means that, out of the dollars I do have, that's how many I'm willing to assign to that purpose. I am willing to assign $2,000 to redoing the landscape so I am less likely to get water in my basement, or $30 a month to have a land line so my wife can call her cell phone because she doesn't know where she left it, or $300 a month towards retirement savings. In so doing, I assign a relative value to the goods and services I want - I measure their worth to me. If I were making ten times as much money as I now do, I might assign $2,000 to my son's car and $10,000 to landscaping and just buy a new cell phone for my wife every time she loses one.

But the actual wealth is not in the unit of measurement any more than actual size is in an inch. The wealth is in the thing measured - the house, car, phone, labor, or knowledge. Unlike size, however, wealth is entirely subjective. If it were not, trade would be impossible. And that gets at the essential problem with socialism in general and communism in particular. Inherent in these systems is the idea that wealth and value are objective. A teacher has an inherent moral value, to be sure, as do all human beings. But in terms of wealth and value, a teacher's worth is subjective and relative (supply and demand). For the president to determine that some people make too much money is to assume the president is capable of determining how much a particular person's labor is worth to everyone else. He can't, so he simply substitutes his subjective judgement for mine by forcibly taking my money (taxes) and spending it on things I don't want but he does. Naturally, this distorts and stiffles the economy, which is (in part) why the mess we were in when Obama took office has only gotten worse.

Marines, Combat, PTSD, Chaplains & Shrinks

Here's an article on the mental health of Marines. Interestingly, it does not once mention chaplains. Lots of stuff on mental health professionals, suicide rates, and anecdotes of Marines who say they're fine just before they off themselves, but nothing about chaplains. In fact, they're putting "mental health professionals" with battalions, now.

A couple things about those "mental health professionals". The guy who murdered 14 people in Ft. Hood was a "mental health professional". The military deals with bodies, numbers, and credentials. It's not that hard to get credentialed as a psychologist - at least, the Ft. Hood shooter got the credentials. It is hard to get a reputation as a good psychologist, but that doesn't matter to the military. Here's a warm body, with the right credentials, so we'll put him with the troops.

In fairness to the Department of Defense, these things don't matter to the military because the military can't deal with it. In fact, the government as such can't deal with it. Quality is a subjective measure. In the case of both chaplains and psychologists, whose entire profession is subjective, quality becomes impossible to determine until tested in the field. By then, though, it's too late. A couple examples, one a shrink, one a chaplain.

I was assigned to a Marine Infantry battalion in January 2004. They had already been in combat during the invasion of Iraq the previous spring. The chaplain who had been assigned to them had all the right credentials and had passed all the requisite tests - on paper. He had not, however, shown himself much of a leader as far as his enlisted assistant was concerned. When the battalion deployed in 2003, he went to Kuwait with them and then, shortly before crossing the line in March, he disappeared. They found him later, claiming some previously undisclosed heart condition for which he had not brought enough medication. The Marines, rightly, felt abandoned and went into battle without their chaplain. The man had the credentials, but he was a waste of space.

While deployed, we had an incident in which a vehicle was overturned by an IED. The Marines were dumped, but not incapacitated. A firefight then ensued which lasted some time and they ran low on ammunition. One of the Marines was particularly affected by this. He wasn't just scared at the time, but for quite a while afterwards. They did not send him to me. They sent him to a psychologist. The psychologist, dealing with his fears which seemed to be triggered by donning his protective gear, suggested that he just put his flak and kevlar on for a minute, but a minute longer every day. In Iraq. In 2004. After a month, he'd be wearing it for a whole 30 minutes. Did this shrink even realize how much danger he'd put this Marine in? Random rocket and mortar attacks, snipers, going in to Fallujah - and he thought it'd be possible for him to stay alive long enough to do his job if he just wore his flak and kevlar for 20 or 30 minutes a day. Unbelievable. You'd think we were back in LeJeune as far as this shrink was concerned. After that, they brought the Marines to me.

The issue isn't having enough mental health professionals after the fact. It is preparing Marines for the stress of battle before hand. Patton's bluster and vulgarity was intended to, and largely effective at, doing this. In our feminized society, that might not be so pleasant or acceptable, but war is a vulgar, violent enterprize. There is no lace or finery when your head's blown off. And that gets at the key element of preparation, in my opinion.

Part of what yields PTSD is the stark disconnect between our expectation of reality and actual reality. We expect peace, fellowship, happiness and harmony. We expect that we will be brave and valourous like in the movies. We hide the reality of death and destruction - we take the video of the Challenger explosion off TV and stop showing the video of the World Trade Center attack with people deciding to jump to their death rather than roast. All that is masked. We buy our meat in neat packages without the mess or gore of blood. When we do face death, we think it's all special effects or just digital so we can reload the game or skip the scene. It is not real to us. So when we run into actual reality, especially the reality of sudden, traumatic, violent death, we don't know how to process it. A disconnect arises between what is real and what is not real and, since the unreality is so much more pleasant than the reality, we give up on the latter in favor of the former. We try to do in our own minds what we have done as a culture. We suppress the images of death and destruction that are too painful to tolerate. The human mind, however, is a powerful thing and the awful reality intrudes on us anyway. It gets hard to sleep or relax. A spiral of stress builds up. People snap.

The answer, as I have often said, is to face the dog. This unpleasant reality is like a dog chasing us. As long as we keep running from it, the dog keeps chasing. You have to face the dog. It may still attack you, but you can deal with that if you face him. Most of the time, the dog will back down. We need to face the reality of human depravity and incorporate that into our total understanding of the world - our worldview. We also need a framework in which to hang our understanding of pain and suffering and death that does not give in to a feeling of futility, that we might as well eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die. We need a framework in which there is purpose - a good purpose - even to pain and suffering and death.

Christianity provides just such a framework. No other religion, with the possible exception of Judaism, does. And when people have such a framework in place before going in to battle, they tend to deal with the stress of battle much better.

The answer to the Marine Corps' problem, in other words, is not more psychologists, but more and better quality chaplains. Don't hold your breath, though.


McPain Again

John McCain won his primary in Arizona, quite handily, for one main reason and two minor ones. First, Hayworth is a seriously flawed candidate. That's the biggest reason. There was no equivalent to Florida's Rubio in the mix. Hayworth is, and was portrayed as, a typical Washington, D.C. legislator, particularly in that old infomercial about getting "free" money from the federal government. Given that, it is not surprising that a majority of Arizona Republicans decided it was better to go with the Devil you know.

The two minor reasons are:

(1) McCain spent an awful lot of money. Gobs. He basically drowned Hayworth in advertisements.

(2) McCain lied. He came out suddenly in favor of border enforcement, when he is one of the Senate's leading amnesty pushers. He talked of fiscal restraint he does not practice. In essence, he mouthed all the conservative, small-government words he has neither believed nor practiced in over a decade.

McCain will win his senate seat again, and spend another 6 years in that dilapidated body, gumming up the works, "crossing the aisle", and generally being a thorn in the side of conservatives. Lord willing, the Republicans will have a better candidate in 2016.


It's Bad & Going to Get Worse Before It Gets Better

I haven't commented much on the last couple of unemployment reports. It gets to a point where explaining finer points of statistics is rather beside the point - like coming up with a "wind chill" when the air temperature is already -40F. It's friggin' cold, either way. The economic news is bad, either way.

We saw yet another startling drop in sales of existing homes. This is not just because the economy is bad of itself. It's because the government's meddling in the housing market in the first half of the year pushed people who were interested in buying a new home into the market a little sooner than they otherwise would have. Instead of having home sales spread out over the year, we got them concentrated in the first half. If the government keeps its grubby paws off the housing market, it should stabilize some time in December or January.

More troubling is the report of 500,000 new claims for unemployment insurance. That means a lot of businesses aren't hiring and are laying people off. They anticipate business getting worse over the next few months and are cutting their largest expense. Meanwhile, a phony "jobs bill" was recently signed which, like other "jobs bills" and "stimulus bills", is intended to prop up government and union sectors of the economy. It will be used mostly to head off bankruptcy by states that are overextended on pension obligations, not hire new workers or change the systemic drag on state budgets that these excessive benefit packages are. And none of it will change the picture in the private sector of our economy - it will remain dismal.

We're in for some heavy weather over the next year or so. A GOP controlled Congress might - might - stop the hemorhaging, but it will require a drastic change in the federal bureaucracies (which are controlled, nominally, by the President) before we start getting out of the mess. That will take a decade or more, assuming we elect people with the testicular fortitude to try.

Don't Muzzle the Ox

There's a lot of stuff floating about on the edges of our minds just now concerning copyrights. Here are two articles, found via Arts & Letters Daily, that address the question, but there are more.

The first article claims that, because Germany did not have a copyright law in the 19th century, book publishing soared, knowledge was widely disseminated, and technological, economic, and industrial progress resulted.

I am rather dubious. The United States and England also experienced massive industrialization in that time - and they both had copyright laws. The scholar making the thesis says that, because of that copyright law, England didn't publish nearly as many new books and so frittered away its power in less than a century. Again, I'm dubious. England became the pre-eminent maritime power in the late 17th/early 18th century. It remained in that role until World War II, although the writing was on the wall in 1918. The decline had more to do with exhaustion after the first world war, the senseless slaughter on the Western Front, than how many books were published.

And it doesn't address the rise of the United States at all.

The second article, a cartoon review of an idea by Lewis Hyde, tries to explain Hyde's thesis. Hyde believes that intellectual property as such is not tenable. He is particularly attentive to the sense of art and literature as something that shapes an entire society, and therefore (he says) belongs to that society. He points to the kinds of stupid lawsuits that can result from any set of laws taken to the nth degree and uses them to paint the entire system of copyrights and intellectual property rights as ridiculous. How can one own an idea?

It's a fair question. Ideas, however, are important and good ideas even more so. Thomas Alva Edison had a great idea about electric lights. He developed that idea and produced the light bulb which has been of inestimable value to civilization over nearly 150 years now. Should he not be able to profit from that idea? Our past is filled with sad stories of people who had brilliant ideas, developed those ideas, only to die penniless because somebody else took that idea and ran with it. We say the idea was "stolen", and indeed it was.

Equally important to thinking good ideas is recognizing that an idea is, in fact, a good one. Bill Gates did not invent the computer or the operating system that made him wealthy. Other people did. He just saw it was a good idea, marketed it well, and profited tremendously. But he didn't steal the idea - he bought it at a bargain because the people with the ideas didn't discern their value. And again, the entire world has benefited from Bill Gates' discernment.

We try to protect these ideas so that those who think them and those who see their value have an incentive to do so. Take those 10,000 new books per year in Germany that the first article talks of. How many of them were any good? And of those that were good, how many of them might not prefer to have their work published in England or America where they could be assured of earning a comfortable living from good ideas? Quite a few German intellectuals, once their reputations were established by the more freely distributed works in Germany, migrated to England and America to continue their careers. Scientists, engineers, technicians, writers, musicians, artists, and thinkers from all over the world come to the United States still today. Access to support infrastructure and the North American market are a couple reasons why, but so are our robust copyright laws.

On a moral level, it comes down to not muzzling the ox. When oxen were used to turn the mill wheel which would grind the grain into flour, they were not to be muzzled so that they could enjoy some of the fruits of their labors. Copyright laws allow thinkers, artists, musicians, engineers and inventors to enjoy the fruits of their intellectual labors and they do not prevent us all from benefitting from their ideas. Even if you never own a computer or use a Microsoft product or even turn on a light, you have benefitted from Edison and Gates. They and those like them should not be muzzled.


Hope in Texas

The headline only reads that a Texas school denied admission to a lesbian woman's daughter. But, as I expected, the school is a private, Christian school. It got a little farther in the admissions process because one of the women's names is Tracy, which could also be a man's name.

The school said that, because it would be contradicting the values this couple obviously holds, it would not be a good fit for them. It would also confuse their own students by appearing to endorse a lifestyle they do not endorse. They also say they would have denied admission to the child of a heterosexual couple who were not married.

The lesbians say they wanted to send this kid to the Christian school because of its low student/teacher ratio. Nothing to do with its Christianity, morals, principles, or anything like that. And they're not convinced that the school's leadership is as principled as they claim. Who, I wonder, made them the judge of someone else's willingness to adhere to their principles?

So far, it's a standard story about some stupid gay people trying to force their (im)morality on Christians. The real kicker is...wait for it...wait for it...

It's an Episcopalian school!!

The Episcopal Church, if you'll recall, is the same church that ordained gay bishop Robinson in New England and had such other paragons of theological clarity as Bishop Spong. I attended an Episcopal church in New Hampshire a year ago and was treated to a sermon on helping gay teenagers express their sexuality. But apparently the Episcopal Church in Texas is made of sterner stuff. Good for them.


Know the Past, but Look Forward

Sheesh. This mosque business is sure getting a lot of press, isn't it? There are a few die-hard leftists, the president among them, who are all for it - though they would never sanction a Christian church or Jewish synagogue as stridently. As noted before, a Greek Orthodox church was destroyed on 9-11 and its members want to rebuild, but that is unacceptable. Building a 13-story monument to Islam is absolutely essential to "prove to the world that Americans are tolerant".

As others have said, we hardly need to take lessons in tolerance from Muslims.

Now they've dragged in families of those killed in the attacks and they're sounding off. There's an ad out there about it and some other stuff.

I'm getting rather tired of this, so forgive me while I vent.

I know death sucks. I've buried a brother and a father already, not to mention grandparents, aunts and uncles. I've buried brothers-in-arms, brothers and sisters in Christ, and even beloved pets. I fully expect to outlive my mother and within two years both my sons will be in the armed forces of this country while we are still at war. Having been there myself a couple times already, I am fully aware that one or both of them may not come back. I am quite familiar with the pain of dead loved ones. Quite familiar. But my life didn't stop when theirs did.

As a nation and as individuals, we need to snap out of this cultivated feeling of remorse and grief. No shrine, no memorial, no museum, no nothing will ever bring that ephemeral "closure" we are told to seek because those three thousand people, like my brother and my father and too many of my friends, will still be dead. I got as much closure as I'm going to get when we tossed the dirt on top of the sealed casket. I don't have the time to roll around in luxurious maudlin grief after the funeral and I have no intention of building shrines to those who are already in glory. God put me here to live my life and I fully intend to live it, which means knowing the past but looking forward. I will honor my ancestors in the way I live with the name they gave me.

This stupid mosque is not an insult to the dead. It is an attack upon the culture of the living. I oppose it because I stand for the lives we choose to live in this country, not because I stand for the dead. So let the dead speak for themselves. Live.


Complete Ministry for $39.95 (plus shipping and handling)

While we're on the topic of my mail, I see a "Pastor's Info Packet: Fall 2010" which not only contains "Resources to Make Your Ministry Complete" but also offers an opportunity to "Win Balloon Ride for Two! Plus FREE Generosity Book"

It seems that indefinite articles are not needed for complete ministry.

Inside, we find such absolute essentials for ministry as "miracle recreation" (a company that builds playgrounds); how to set up a fundraising cruise (with a free cruise for the group leader), robes, Maranatha Tours, Inc., electronics, and Dutch Mill Bulbs (these being flower bulbs, not light bulbs). If your church needs a new gym, we've got folks who can help with that, too. In addition, there's a movie that will generate "hundreds of decisions for Christ" and offering cards that will realize "a 4000% rate of return...for all your fund raising needs".

There are quite a few building related ad cards in this packet - floors, signs, seating, etc. - and gobs of fund raising "helps" that promise excellent profits (I thought churches were mostly non-profits?). I can also substitute CDs for musicians and rack up poinsettias on a poinsettia display rack.

Of course, no ministry would be complete without recognition trees, statuary, and memorial plaques.

If we get all this, plus a book and a DVD, we can win both the cultural war and the parenting challenge. No doubt, these triumphs will be accompanied by said memorial plaques and statuary.

There was a time when all one needed to make one's ministry complete was a Bible and the Holy Spirit.


So, in today's mail, I get this flyer from Zondervan "in Partnership with monvee". It's an advertisement for something written by one John Ortberg. The name is featured prominently, as if I should know who John Ortberg is (I'm told in the ad that he's a "bestselling author" and a pastor in Menlo Park, CA). It's a five-week "church-wide experience" according to the flyer, and it's called "ME: the me I want to be". I need this, it seems, so I can "Help People Discover All God Created Them to Be".

"Imagine," we are told, "your church members experiencing:
  • A deeper, more genuine and life-giving connection with God
  • An unforced, natural unleashing of their spiritual gifts and God-given talents
  • Personal outreach arising organically out of their lives
  • A fresh outlook on church that encourages involvement and church growth
  • Customized, online support to help every person thrive in their ongoing spiritual journey"
This is "unlike anything else you've ever encountered church-wide - and it's easily within your reach."

Apparently Zondervan and monvee and perhaps even Rev. Ortberg are unacquainted with churches that actually encounter the Bible. Those that do encounter the Bible get pretty much all of that, except perhaps the "customized online support...in their ongoing spiritual journey".

What is so invigorating about this ad, though, is the breathtakingly blatant narcissism of it. It is so radically, yet innocently individualistic and self-centered - the study is even titled "ME". And it's not about the me I should be. No. It's about the me I want to be.

What's sad is that this will sell like hotcakes to people who are blind to the heresy - I don't mean the heresy of the study. I haven't seen the stuff and, given this ad, I'm not likely to. Maybe it's just the marketing pagans at Zondervan who are responsible for this advertisement. But the advertisement is selling heresy. It is no different than the self-fulfillment mantra of hundreds of books over the last half-century. It's not about humbly serving a gracious, and great, God. It's about ME.

Obama's Religion

According to various news reports coming out, some poll has found that fully 18% of Americans believe Obama is a Muslim and 34% believe he's a Christian while 43% say they don't know what he is. It's the 43% who are closer to the truth, for he is neither Muslim nor Christian, however expedient he may have found it at various points in his life to claim affiliation with one or the other of those religions.

Obama is an Alinskyite – a deeply committed Marxist and, like all committed Marxists, he worships at the altar of the State. It’s not that he thinks he, personally, can stop oceans from rising or temperatures from changing or poverty from happening. It’s that he believes a national government, unconstrained by the foolish fetters of the Constitution, can do these things. To be sure, he would prefer to be the high priest of this too-earthly religion when it achieves these miraculous things, but even if he is not, he will continue to believe in the omnipotence and omniscience of government. He, like Lenin and Stalin and Franco and Mussolini and – though I hesitate to mention him because of the ad Hitlerium implication – Hitler before him, is the product of the trends unleashed by the French Revolution and so nicely traced by Michael Burleigh in his books Earthly Powers and Sacred Causes.

It would be touchingly naïve if it were not so dangerous to our lives and freedoms, but Obama is really a very simple man.

Even Liberals Miss G. W. Bush

Do you want to know just how low President Barrack Hussein Obama's approval is? Check out this story from the Boston Globe. It's about the "buzz" on Martha's Vineyard where liberal presidents tend to go on vacation. We find that the folks who live and work there aren't all that excited about his coming, though last year their excitement and eagerness to be in the presence of The One We've Been Waiting For was through the roof. But what I found most interesting is this:
"Last year, Obama gave you goose bumps, but I don’t think you’re going to see that this year," said Alex McCluskey, co-owner of the Locker Room, who sold more than 4,000 "I vacationed with Obama" T-shirts last year. But so far this year, he said, his hot item is T-shirts of former President Bush asking, "Miss me yet?"
Couple that with Maureen Dowd and Peter Beinart - get that: Maureen Dowd and Peter Beinart who had nothing positive to say about George W. Bush when he was president - want George W. Bush to lend some gravitas to the whole Manhattan 9-11 mosque discussion. Apparently this tempest in a teapot is far too difficult for their annointed one to handle and they long for the days when we had somebody with experience, wisdom and maturity in the Oval Office.

Well, so do I. In 2012, Lord willing, we'll have an opportunity to elect somebody like that once more. In the meantime, we shall have to make the best of this situation in which an ignorant little child is leading us.


Rahm Emanuel Checking the Emergency Exits

Now this is interesting. In particular, these last two paragraphs are quite revealing (Hat Tip: Dan Foster at NRO Corner).
White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel has spent three days on the phone doing damage control with angry Democrats and urging them not to go public against the President, Democratic sources said.

Obama went ahead with the Ramadan dinner remarks even though his top political advisers had not reached a consensus on what he should do. Emanuel was one of the skeptics.
Now how did this reporter find out that the President's Chief of Staff did not like the idea and was advising him against saying anything about it, hmmmm? Somebody close to Rahm, if not the man himself, must have put that out there. Rahm's a smart guy, and very careful about message control. Behind-the-scenes info about him doesn't come out unless he wants it to come out. So he very much wants it known that this was not his doing, that Obama was off on his own on this one.

A Chief-of-Staff who is very publicly distancing himself from his boss is a Chief-of-Staff who is already planning an exit strategy. Democrats, Lord willing, are going to be severely trounced in the November elections. I'd expect Emanuel to stick around just long enough to make sure the crap lands on the President's desk instead of his own. That way, he can resign as somebody who is giving up on a hopeless political neophyte who won't listen to good advice rather than as somebody taking the blame for the November disaster. Expect a new chief-of-staff come February.


Tolerance for Thee, but Not for Me

So, politics and religion are mixing big time in this whole "Ground Zero Mosque" business, aren't they? A few points.

1. If it's their land and their money, build away if that's what they want to do. I rather like
Greg Gutfeld's idea of building a gay disco right next door, though. I am, however, extremely leery of giving government the power to decide what private individuals do with their property.

2. In this vein, it is of more than passing interest that the same authorities approving this mosque are
preventing a Greek Orthodox group from rebuilding a church that was destroyed by muslim terrorists in the 9/11 attacks. Apparently our "tolerant" society can only tolerate people who hate us and want to destroy us, but Christians are not acceptable.

3. The guy who wants to build this mosque is not really interested in promoting healing or tolerance. He's interested in dancing on our graves. He's talking "tolerance" because he knows that's a weak spot for leftists like Mayor Doomburg and President Obama. His group is a muslim supremecist group.

4. President Obama talks too much, but I'm sure he thinks the whole thing is George Bush's fault. The proper response of the president should have been, "I think it's insensitive, even tactless and insulting, but I lack the Constitutional authority to interfere." If he doesn't think it's a bad thing, then he could have simply stated that second clause - "I do not have the Constitutional authority to interfere, so I'm not going to."

I think the Greek Orthodox church should be rebuilt. I think the gay bar and the muslim mosque should be built right next to each other, too - let them out-infidel each other. While we're at it, let's finish building that fence along our southern border, too. The construction industry is hurting - let's rebuild the Twin Towers, too, and then put in a new 7-11 somewhere close by. Heck, the world can always use another Starbucks.

Build away!

Same Ol' Same Ol'

Ah, that lovely phrase - "cross-cultural". It is a beautiful thing, implying an openness to new ways and an appreciation for differences. In fact, it's so beautiful we all want to get in on the act.
All ministry today is crosscultural [sic], whether in local neighborhoods or around the world, note organizers of Calvin Theological Seminary’s special emphasis on missions in the coming academic year.
Uh, no. It's not. A guy born and raised in the midwest, going to a college in the midwest, and then going back as a youth pastor to a church of similar people in the midwest is not ministering cross-culturally. Neither is that hispanic immigrant who goes to seminary and then plants a church among hispanic immigrants. Then there's the Laotian refugee who plants churches among other Laotian refugees in this country - he's not ministering cross-culturally, either. Nor is that Korean pastor of the Korean church in Los Angeles. Now, if that Korean pastor were to take on the job of youth ministry in that midwestern church - that would be cross-cultural ministry. In fact, it would be so cross-cultural that he'd never think to apply for it and they'd never think to hire him.

But we want to tell ourselves that we minister cross-culturally, so
This fall the seminary and several ministries of the Christian Reformed Church will host a series of presentations and discussions about the mission of the church in the second decade of the 21st century.
The mission of the church in the second decade of the 21st century is the same as it was in the first decade of the 21st century - 2010 is not some watershed year, as if there were some radical break with 2007. In fact, the mission of the church in the second decade of the 21st century is pretty much the same as what it was in the second decade of the first century. I believe it has something to do with going and making disciples of all nations, teaching them to observe all that Jesus commanded and baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

But we're Americans. Even when we're doing the same old thing that the Church has been doing for over 2,000 years, we have to pretend that it's new.

Planting Trees for a Sense of Moral Superiority

Some kids are planting trees. This is, apparently, news to the ubiquitous Banner staff. They are planting the trees in a park in Newmarket, Ontario in celebration of the pagan "Earth Day" holiday. This is because they are "passionate about creation care and social justice."

Notice how "creation care" and "social justice" get tossed in there as if they are synonymous, a kind of parallel structure. Now, "social justice" is really just a word denoting pet leftist policies, of which environmentalism is one, so to the utterer of these sentiments, one Jason Postma, I'm sure they are synonymous.

Here is another leftist trick. Who, after all, can argue with the notion of planting trees in a city park. But we can't leave it as simply wanting to beautify a city park, help out a local community, or simply express a fondness for trees. Instead, we have to make it a "statement" about our passion for creation care and social justice, that is, we have to make it a political statement. And, on this level, it is merely a symbolic gesture anyway. The few trees these kids plant will have no appreciable bearing on the overall environment, however much they may beautify this particular park. The real goal is to claim a moral superiority to those other students who don't really care about planting trees in city parks.

Weyerhaeuser - a leading producer of wood-based products (lumber, paper, etc.) - plants thousands of trees every year. They carefully maintain forest land and harvest the trees they plant, just as other farmers harvest corn or soybeans. But they, of course, are a big, evil corporation (again, note the parallel symmetry - corporation=big=evil), so that is the direct opposite of creation care and social justice. It is because of companies like this that we actually have more acres under trees in the U.S. and Canada now than we did in 1900. These folks seriously impact our environment and, over all, for the better.

So, Ontario kiddies, go ahead and plant your trees. As a contribution to the beauty of your town and a nice gesture to your community, it has merit. As a "creation care and social justice" statement, it's laughably irrelevant - you'd be better off helping your moms with the laundry.

Silence Is Golden

There's an old proverb - "If you have nothing to say, say exactly that." One might also suggest a corollary: "If you don't know what to say, don't say."

The Christian Reformed congregations in Arizona have wisely decided to take this course when queried about the recent Arizona law on immigration enforcement. They don't know what to say, so they aren't saying anything. This, however, offends the sensibilities of The Banner, and of the esteemed Rev. Esteban Lugo, director of the CRC’s Race Relations ministry.
While I don’t think the passing of this law does what needs to be done, something needs to be done concerning this problem of the border...It’s an issue of social justice. The church is not to be silent on these matters.
Notice that Rev. Lugo doesn't know what to say, either. He's just certain that we ought to say something. It's an issue of social justice, after all. Well, so are the proper laying of sewer lines, revamping the electrical grid, drilling for oil, freedom to use one's private property as desired, properly sized footwear, and putting the toilet seat back down. Do we need the church to comment on all these issues, too?

I've stated my own views. Illegal immigrants are stealing from the taxpayers of this country. They are also stealing from those who pursue the legal routes to immigration - stealing their reputations, their patience, and their dignity among other things. And Illegal immigrants are abusing their children, particularly the very young children they often bring with them who come to live in this country and call it home only to find that it is not. The pressures of the economic and/or political situations in their home countries may be great indeed, but that is no justification for this theft and abuse.

Failure to enforce immigration law on the part of the Federal government puts the legal citizens of this country at great and unnecessary risk as well. Kidnappings, murder, drug running, human trafficking, terrorism, and a host of other crimes are attendant upon that failure. It also amounts to aiding and abetting the theft and abuse committed by these illegal aliens. Whether the law should be changed, either to make the border more open or more closed is something I do not know. But the systematic non-enforcement, even to the point of suing a state government for taking on the duties they've neglected, is a clear abrogation of their responsibility and a violation of their oath of office. It is cruel to the natural citizens, to legal immigrants, and to illegal immigrants - and it is contemptible.

But I do not think this should be in any way the official position of the Church, either my congregation or denomination or the Church as such. Nor do I think a contrary opinion should be adopted. Some things are sufficiently complicated that we should be officially silent.

Poor Headline Choice

It's a rather innocent story about a free legal clinic in inner city Philadelphia. Some lawyers get together and open their doors to poor people who are needing legal help with various issues. There are hundreds of such clinics around the country and quite a few lawyers who do pro bono work for people in such unfortunate circumstances. Sometimes they are the stone in poor little David's sling for slaying Goliath. Sometimes they are passionately misguided into protecting the underdog from the very folly which made him an underdog. Sometimes they just want to make sure poor folks have equal access to the law. Fine. Great. Go for it. Charity is a good thing and as often as not it's a judgment call.

This gets in The Banner, though, because there's a Christian Reformed Church connected to this particular free legal clinic.

And that's fine, too - a little parochial horn-tooting isn't all bad, either.

What I find interesting, however, is the headline: "Pro Bono with a Purpose in Philadelphia".

Oh, so all these other pro bono lawyers offering assistance to poor clients are just aimlessly wandering about the legal landscape. But here, in Philadelphia, they have a purpose. All you other shiftlessly charitable attorneys, get a clue!

Holy Potatoes, Batman!

You know, it's kind of a shame when the Church has to teach kids how to peel potatoes. I suppose, in an age of microwave dinners, pre-packaged frozen meals, ubiquitous fast food, two-working-parent-latchkey-kids, and all the rest, such basic survival skills as boiling potatoes or mixing flour, oil, and water to make bread are not generally passed on to this younger generation. They may even have a hard time reading a recipe - given the deplorable state of our schools, they may have a hard time reading anything, much less figuring out how many teaspoons in a tablespoon.

Oh well. We shall muddle through, somehow, and at least somebody is taking the trouble to teach kids how to cook. The next step is to teach their parents.

Killing Rebellion

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Remember back in the '70s when graffiti was this big deal? Some people tried to stop it by increasing prosecution and others decided to put up big rocks or walls where folks could put their graffiti without worry. Eventually it kind of died out and, while we still see graffiti in various places, it's long lost whatever originality it once had and is largely ignored.

Well, it's back. But they don't call it graffiti anymore. They call it "tagging", and the people who do it are "taggers". As you might expect, there are connections with gangs who use this as a way of defining their "turf" - that, too, hasn't changed much since I read Nicky Cruz' Run, Baby, Run back in 1974. And some pastor in California is trying
the old method - he's gotten a local business to let kids do whatever they feel like doing to one of their walls.

Eventually, it will succeed, just as the "graffiti rocks" did. When you take a form of expression that is intended as a way of rebelling against society, order, and civilization in general, and you normalize it as a proper aspect of that very civilization, society and order, you kill the motivation for doing it. The whole point of tagging - and of graffiti back in the '70s - is to rebel. Making it legal makes it not rebellious and therefore kills it.

More power to him.

Liberal Drip Torture

So, let's go back to the August issue of The Banner, since it came out just as I was preparing to leave on vacation - and just when I found an inch and a half of water in my basement. We'll start with this little news blurb on classis meetings. It's all pretty innocuous, until you get to this last little thing:
Overtures (Requests) to Synod
Classis Grand Rapids East sent an overture (request) to Synod 2010, requesting appointment of a study committee to review the biblical teachings regarding homosexual orientation and practice in light of current biblical and theological study of the issues. [This overture was received too late for Synod 2010 to consider.]
It seems innocent - they're only asking for a study committee. But why? Has something changed in the Bible since 1973 when a rather extensive report on homosexuality was adopted by Synod? Perhaps something has changed since the 2002 statement on pastoral care to homosexuals was formally adopted. What "current biblical and theological study" might give us cause to change our opinion on this? Has the Bible changed?

This is always the way of leftists. They keep pushing and pushing and pushing until we get tired of resisting and just walk off the field. There is no need for another study committee. We've studied it already and we have settled it. Homosexual behavior is sinful behavior. Homosexual orientation is not sinful in and of itself any more than is a heterosexual orientation. And heterosexual behavior may also be sinful, particularly outside the context of a marriage. This is simply true. That it offends some people is not my problem and I'm not about to make it my problem. Some people are offended by gravity, but that's not going to change, either.

One hopes that Synod 2011 will have the wherewithal to point out that aceding to this request would be a waste of time and money, but I doubt it. Right now, the study committee will come back with a report essentially affirming the 1973 report, but creating enough ambiguity that some classis - Classis Lake Erie? - will come back about 5 years after this report is presented and adopted in, oh, 2013. They'll ask for another study which will be granted and take us just a little bit farther down this road to oblivion. Standing firm on the truth is considered impolite in this day and age. It's mean and inconsiderate.

Oh for leaders with spines.

Judicial Tyranny Stayed - for Now

I am pleased to see that the Ninth Circuit - yes, the Ninth Circuit - has stayed would-be dictator Walker's decision on California's Proposition 8 (the one that defined marriage as between one woman and one man). Walker ignored any evidence in favor of Proposition 8, ignored all prior court decisions on the matter, tried to intimidate (and apparently did intimidate) potential witnesses in support of Proposition 8, and generally made a complete mockery of the notion of impartial justice.

I am generally skeptical of the Ninth Circuit and they are no doubt a fairly liberal group of judges as a rule (there are exceptions, I know). Walker's "ruling" had to be pretty egregious for them to stop its implementation.

Now if only they'd do the same with the silly little tyrant who is stopping Arizona from enforcing federal law simply because the Federal government's policy is to not enforce the law themselves.

We really, really, really need to check this dictatorship of judges. Some kind of chief executive - a governor or (I know - idle dreaming) president who will simply thumb his nose at these black-robed fuhrers and tell them to bugger off. It is a travesty that we seem to have to wait forever on these controversial issues for some judge to pronounce on them. Let the people speak, either directly or through their representatives.

Choose This November

I know how much it frightens some people, but I am indeed back from a very pleasant vacation in which I pretty much ignored what was going on in the world outside my immediate view.

But much has happened in the last two weeks. If you really need my blog to get the news, however, you are in a sad state. So, assuming you already know what has happened, let's look forward a couple months - to November. We need genuine constitutionalists in office - people who take that oath to preserve, protect, and defend it seriously and not just as a matter of rote to be ignored ever after.

The United States of America is on a knife's edge. In the next two or three national elections (2010, 2012 and 2014), we will decide. Will we be a nation of free citizens who accept responsibility for our freedoms and force the government back into its proper place; or will we become slaves of that government? One might like to believe the former, but the temptations of government largesse - unemployment insurance, social security, medicare, medicaid, college grants, home owner tax incentives, welfare, and so on - are very strong.

The desire to have a neutral arbiter who will regulate powerful corporations is, too. I remember talking to somebody, normally quite responsible, thinking that there should be some government regulation as to where a store should put the candy aisle. Why? Because he found it frustrating having to argue with his children about candy when he needed to also get cereal or bread and it was in the same aisle. I suggested that his children also needed to learn about the sometimes subtle ways sales people try to influence them and resist it. We live in an advertised world, caveat emptor.

We also, as a society, have given up on God. We need somebody to be responsible, to pray to and to complain to when things go wrong. Sure, there was plenty of human error to go around when the Deep Water Horizon exploded, burned, and sank. But there is also a certain amount of s**t that just happens in this vale of tears we call life. Cancers aren't all cured. People try to do the right thing and get shafted. Equipment fails, chances are misjudged, weather happens, people die. And there is not always somebody to be sued or blamed or "made to pay" in spite of the Trial Lawyers' Association insistence to the contrary. Government has become our God. Somehow, the press, quite a few people, and apparently even Obama himself seemed to believe that he could simply issue a decree and the oil would stop leaking into the Gulf of Mexico, just as so many seemed to believe President Bush could have done the same and Hurricane Katrina would have been rendered harmless. The problem really was not the failures of either the Bush or Obama administrations, but our national worship of this false god that the Federal Government has become.

Freedom, on the other hand, is frightening. It entails risk and responsibility. I need to save and manage money for my retirement, spreading the risk and being careful. Even so, as the Gospels warn us, moth may destroy and thief may steal, not to mention my own propensity for imprudence and misjudging financial trends. I need to plan to take care of myself and my family, preparing for and managing risks of health care needs and dangers. I must choose, and I must accept responsibility for those choices as well as live with the consequences of them - even if I choose wrongly. The fact that I don't have all the information I might require does not absolve me of the need to choose, either. Every choice of significance, then, becomes a leap of faith - whether (and whom) to marry, where to invest, what work will I do and where, what living arrangements will I make, even what I eat and how often I eat it.

A man must have a master in such circumstances. My master is the God who created the earth, the sky, the seas, and all that is in them. For too many of my countrymen, it is government. This November will be another opportunity to heed Joshua's challenge at the end of that book - choose this day whom you will serve.


A Break from Curmudgeon-dom

We've had some serious rain - and serious flooding - in this area. I had some water in my basement, others have seen their basements inundated. There's more rain in the forecast, too. Flash flooding has taken out roads, at least one area dam, and several homes but as of yet there has been no loss of human life.

In addition to dealing with the fallout from the rain, we plan on taking a bit of a vacation. I won't promise not to post at all during the next couple weeks, but it will be pretty light.

Pray for those most affected by the flooding, look to take care of your families and friends, and don't worry about me - I'll be back to my own caterwauling self in a couple weeks.