Friday, December 23, 2005

Airport Security Regulations

Kevin Bauder has a good post on the TSA's decision to relax some "safety" regulations recently.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Is Bono a Universalist?

This report makes one wonder, at least. It would be nice to think he is not, but Bono does lean pretty far to the left and I can see him being very sympathetic to universalism.

HT: Doug

Corruption, Secrecy, and Lack Accountability at the U.N.

Claudia Rosett writes about an exchange between James Bone from the London Times and Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations at National Review. Bone asks Annan a question about two scandals plaguing the U.N. and Annan specifically, but Annan loses his cool and responds, "Hold on. Listen, James Bone. You have been behaving like an overgrown schoolboy in this room for many, many months and years. You are an embarrassment to your colleagues and to your profession. Please stop misbehaving, and please let’s move on to a more serious subject.”

Rosett goes on to detail the scandals. Read the whole thing. If you still respect the U.N. after that article, I'd be interested to hear why.

The Twins have a New Right Fielder

After losing Jacque Jones to the Cubs this week, the Twins have moved quickly to replace him. They signed Rondell White to a one year contract with an option for 2007.

This is a very good signing for the Twins. White is only owed $3.25 million in 2006 and the 2007 option is dependent upon plate appearances. He is cheaper than Jones this year, and if he misses significant time in '06 his '07 contract will reflect that.

White has always had difficulty staying healthy--that is clear. But the Twins have Jason Kubel coming off of knee surgery and he is likely their outfielder of the future. The White signing gives the Twins a solid hitter for the next season or two while Kubel earns his stripes.

Tony Dungy's Son Found Dead

James Dungy, the eighteen year old son of Indianapolis Colts' head coach, Tony Dungy, was found dead in an apartment early this morning. Minnesotan's will remember that during Tony Dungy's days as the defensive coordinator with the Vikings, his sons were often on the field with him.

My prayers are with the Dungy family as they cope with this devastating loss. Dungy is a professing believer, and I pray that he and his family will rest upon Christ in this time.

Update: Two ESPN writers have written columns expressing their condolensces to the Dungy family as well as honoring Tony and expressing sympathy to the family. Len Pasquarelli and Chris Mortenson give great honor to Tony Dungy--it is clear they think highly of him, and are both deeply saddened by the family's loss.

Update 2 (12/23/05): The evidence shows that James Dungy committed suicide.

Arrested Development

Arrested Development is the best show on television. Yet it does not get the ratings needed to ensure it is profitable. Fox has shortened season three to thirteen episodes and pulled it during November sweeps. But it has done well on DVD and now there is hope that ABC or Showtime could pick up the show if Fox cancels it.

I encourage you to check out this show while it is still on TV. Seasons one and two are both available on DVD too and are worth the purchase.

If you already watch the show, you can sign a petition to convince Fox to keep the show.

Senate Approves a Six Month Extension of the Patriot Act

The Senate reached a compromise on the Patriot Act after much debate to extend the act by six months rather than let it die. Utah Senator Orrin Hatch observed that, "We'll be right back where we are right now," arguing that the extension is only a temporary fix and that nothing is resolved.

Of course he is correct. One can only wonder if the Democrats realize the political damage they will reap if they do not keep the Patriot Act in force. Perhaps they made a decision to preserve national security while not bowing to the Bush administration in making the Patriot Act permanent?

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

ESPN Tampering with Collegiate Elibibility Rules?

ESPN posted an article this afternoon that caught my attention immediately, but the significance of the article didn't strike me until much later.

USC quarterback Matt Leinart appeared in a promotional spot for ESPN which disqualified him from collegiate athletic activity. USC apologized for the "unintentional and inadvertent" incident and Leinart was reinstated again.

My question is what is ESPN doing in appealing for a collegiate athlete to violate NCAA rules? Surely ESPN knows the rules? Perhaps this is just a misunderstanding, but it seems to me that whoever was responsible for this incident should be held accountable.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Patriot Act Hypocrisy


I posted earlier about the Senate's reprehensible refusal to allow a vote on the Patriot Act. Matt Drudge has posted a picture of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, at the signing of the Patriot Act into law. Not only that, but he is smiling proudly.

What is this, if not blatant hypocrisy? Was it a good law four years ago and a bad law today? As I wrote earlier--this is political opportunism at its worst. He has put politics before his responsibility to this nation and his constituents.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Gmail Instability

As I have mentioned in an earlier post, I've been using Gmail for over a year. Up until this past weekend I have had a very good experience with it. Unfortunately, the last time I was able to acces Gmail was Friday afternoon before leaving work. Since then, Gmail has been down. I have tried accessing it on three different PC's to no avail. The message I get says, "Server Error. Gmail is temporarily unavailable. Cross your fingers and try again in a few minutes."

I did some research on the problem that I am experiencing and it seems that it is a very common problem--one that everyone will likely experience at some point. After digging around more, I found a way to submit a help request to Gmail, but got a form email back (to my Hotmail) saying that, "You are receiving this reply because information related to your message is offered in the Gmail Help Center."

Thanks, Google! You're the best!

Seriously though, has anyone had any experience with this? How long can I expect to be without email access?

Google: you need to do a better job in supporting this problem. Your own forums have many listings of this problem over the past weekend alone. If this is part of server "maintenance" you need to tell us when and what you are doing. It is unacceptable to have an account down for three days without warning or an estimated time when we can expect restored service.

Update 12/19/05 11:00am: Gmail is back online for me. It is a relief to have it back. But Gmail must do better to resolve these issues, as it is totally unacceptable for an email service to be unavailable for more than 48 hours.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Responding to Phil Johnson on Wright and the New Perspective on Paul

Reader Matt Gumm was kind enough to leave a link to an article by Phil Johnson on Tom Wright and the new perspective on Paul in the comments section to an earlier post on the new perspective.

My response became much to long for a comment and it better to post it for all to see rather than leave it hidden in comments. So here is my response to Phil Johnson.

I wonder what Johnson thinks Galatians is about if it isn't about, "should ex-pagan converts be circumcised or not?" It seems evident that is Paul's primary concern: are Christians marked by obedience to Old Testament law, or "in some other way?"

In point 2, Johnson demonstrates an unwillingness to think differently about the "works of the law." This is typical of critics of the NPP. They have heard others (and themselves) recite that "works of the law" refers to meritorious effort too often to allow for any other understanding.

I haven't read enough Wright to come to any conclusions on his interpretation of the "righteousness of God" or imputation. I have a copy of "Paul: Fresh Perspectives" on my bookshelf awaiting me, though. Perhaps I'll have more to say after reading it.

It does seem clear to me that critics of Wright trip over his vocabulary. Johnson uses Luke 18:9-14 as support for his understanding of works righteousness. Yet I don't see it that way at all. Luke isn't saying that the Pharisee was not justified because he was an unrepentant sinner. The Pharisee's heart was hard, judgmental, and above all--unloving. That is why he is condemned.

Johnson also alleges that Acts 13:38-39 "is impossible to reconcile with the New Perspective." How is that? This doesn't at all undermine the NPP. We all know that the law of Moses didn't justify the ungodly. Does he mean to say that this eliminates the possibility that the law in Second Temple Judaism was a covenant of grace? Is he then saying that it was a law of works--where the Jew must earn merit with God? If that is the case, I must remind him of Romans 4:2-3.

Unfortunately Johnson's critique has the same tone as virtually everything I've encountered by Wright's critics. He seems to have put his hands over his ears while yelling, "No, you're wrong!" over and over before storming out of the room. That isn't to say that Wright isn't provoking it, but Johnson would do better by attempting to understand Wright's vocabulary better.

Politcs Before Security

Senate Democrats and too many Republicans did not allow a vote to extend the Patriot Act today. The provisions that will expire are listed here. The Senate has the roll call for the vote.

Since 9/11 we have not had a single terrorist attack on American soil. Without the Patriot Act future attacks are more likely than with it.

Politics have been put before integrity and sincere concern for the safety of Americans. The Patriot Act when first passed in October 2001 was passed 98-1. What has changed since four years ago? The Democrats returned to their derision of the Bush administration and returned to obstructing everything on his legistlative agenda.

The Twins Have a New Third Baseman

Former major league All-Star Tony Batista has signed a one year contract for $1.25 million with the Minnesota Twins. Batista has played with five major league clubs and spent last season in Japan, where he hit 27 home runs and drove in 90 runs for the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks. Batista is a career .251 hitter with an appalling .298 on-base percentage and a .456 slugging percentage.

If Batista hits in the 7th or 8th spot, with a power hitting designated hitter in cleanup, the signing will likely prove to be a decent one. His salary is very cheap, and he will provide some pop to the lineup. But if Batista is to fill in as the cleanup or fifth spot, the signing will be a regrettable one.

I hope that his signing allows Twins GM Terry Ryan to spend more on a DH. The problem is they all have big question marks. Frank Thomas has a bad ankle, Mike Piazza has been in a steady decline--also with injury trouble. And Nomar Garciappara seems to be out of the running completely.

Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau will have to step up their game significantly for the Twins to compete in 2006.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Dr. Death: Jack Kevorkian

Wesly J. Smith has an interesting article on nationalreview.com about Jack Kevorkian in light of rumors of an upcoming bio-pic. Smith illuminates several tidbits about Kevorkian that are not well known. Here are some of the most interesting:

  • received the moniker (Dr. Death) when, as a medical student, he haunted hospital wards to watch people die.
  • he admitted that assisting "suffering or doomed persons kill themselves" was "merely the first step, an early distasteful professional obligation... he was actually pursuing his own obsession... of making possible the performance of invaluable experiments or other beneficial medical acts under conditions that this first unpleasant step can help establish — in a word obitiatry."
  • Kevorkian's first targets in his quest to slice and dice people were not the ill, but the condemned. He spent years visiting prisons and corresponding with death-row inmates, seeking permission to conduct "obitiatric research" on those being executed.
  • If condemned people were not going to be made available for "unfettered experimentation on human death," perhaps he could gain access to experiment on sick and disabled people. His front would be assisted suicide. But his goal would remain human vivisection.
  • Of the known 130 or so suicides that Kevorkian facilitated, about 70 percent of the people involved were disabled and depressed, the majority of them women. This is not surprising given Kevorkian's disdain for disabled people. He once called quadriplegics and paraplegics who were not suicidal "pathological," and exposed his sympathy for eugenics in a court document, asserting: "The voluntary self-elimination of individual mortally diseased and crippled lives taken collectively can only enhance the preservation of public health and welfare."
It is disturbing that Hollywood wishes to portray this evil man as a hero. We live in a time of moral confusion when evil is lauded as righteousness, and justice is regarded as wickedness.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Prince Caspian

Narian fans rejoice--rumor has it that Prince Caspian has given a green light at Disney. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe's big weekend has given the studio confidence in a new Narnia film.

HT: John Miller

Friday, December 09, 2005

N.T. Wright and the New Perspective on Paul

N.T. Wright is a theologian that is frequently discussed in the blogosphere--usually maligned for his understanding of justification and his views on Paul. I have been intrigued by him for over a year now, reading and listening to him teach on Jesus, Paul, and the New Testament.

Justin Taylor has linked to an article in the Wall Street Journal on N.T. Wright that praises him, though the first comment and the accompanying blog post are typical responses to Wright from many in Reformed circles.

It is unfortunate that Wright is so ostracized as he has much good to contribute to biblical theology. Yet many approach him as they do Bishop Shelby Spong and other unbiblical church leaders.

I encourage you to read what Daniel Phillips says about Wright's beliefs on justification, and then compare them to what Wright himself says.

Phillips says Wright, "in effect denies that the Gospel is about how sinners can be "justified [forensically declared righteous] by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith" (Romans 3:24-25a) -- and he's still highly-regarded as a Christian scholar." He goes on to say, "But if I'm understanding Wright (and this article) correctly, Wright denies the Gospel. How, then, is he an "evangelical," let alone "the most influential biblical scholar in American evangelical circles?"

Wright says, "Justification is thus the declaration of God, the just judge, that someone is (a) in the right, that their sins are forgiven, and (b) a true member of the covenant family, the people belonging to Abraham. That is how the word works in Paul's writings. It doesn't describe how people get in to God's forgiven family, it declares that they are in. That may seem a small distinction , but in understanding what Paul is saying it is vital. "

Does that sound like false or heretical teaching? Ligon Duncan has a typical response to Wright here. See for yourself if Duncan's criticisms seem fair. Also, read Wright for yourself. I suspect you will find much agreement with Wright, as I have.

It is my contention that critics of Wright are threatened by his boldness in questioning whether or not the Reformation teachings on justification are what the Bible actually teaches. These pastors and theologians seem to be more committed to the tradition of "justification by faith alone" than they are to a fully scriptural understanding of justification. See for yourself how Duncan prefaces this article with the Shorter Catechism rather than the scripture. It is almost as though "justification by faith" has become the Protestant idol of "works righteousness."

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Quality, Not Quantity

Minnesota's school superintendents are encouraging the state to increase the school year by five weeks. The change is "intended to bolster competitiveness." The school year for most Minnesota schools range from 170 to 175 days. The change would increase this to 200 days. Teachers would work 230 days, up from 185. The additional days required for teachers would allow for more on-the-job training.

This proposal raises important questions. How were Minnesota schools competitive for the past fifty to one hundred years? The school year has always been as long as it is now. Why do we now need to increase the length of the school year? Were the schools not competitive before? What has changed that would require a longer school year? How would the curriculum be changed to fit a longer school year? Would the current curriculum be changed to draw it out over a longer period of time, or would more material be added?

Of course I would expect many of these questions to be raised by the legislature, should the proposal be made in the Minnesota House of Representatives. Yet, to me, the proposal seems to miss entirely the failings of the educational system. How would more school fix the problem? I can't help but believe that it would make the problem even worse. Perhaps it is school that is the problem--not the solution.

I'm not arguing that school is bad--what I'm arguing is that our schools as they currently exist are the problem, and that exposing our youth to more of it would exacerbate the problem. I graduated from high school in 1996--so I'm old enough to be able to look back with some perspective, but not too far out of school to be sentimentally naive about those years.

When will our educators understand that the programs and initiatives that they have adopted over the past twenty to thirty years are the problem--and not part of the solution? Self-esteem education, multiculturalism, relativism, anti-drug campaigns, sex education, movies in the classroom, and consumerism have all undermined the goals of the school system in the United States.

Schools are too often driven by the agendas of the National Education Association, the Federal Government, and political activists. The goal of the K-12 education ought to be the education of the next generation--not to improve the students self-esteem, diversity education, how to have safe sex, watch Braveheart, or even learn about intelligent design.

School superintendents need to give up on political correctness and personal agendas and supply their students with real education: reading, writing, mathematics, science, and history. Until this happens, our school system will continue its decline--regardless of how many days our students are in school.

What frustrates me the most, is that people that should know better, like Republican governor Tim Pawlenty, don't know any better. The Star Tribune article reports, "Gov. Tim Pawlenty likes the concept, according to spokesman Brian McClung, although he hasn't seen the specific plan."

Wake up, governor! You should know better! Be part of the solution--no matter how hard it will be to sell to our politically correct culture!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

First Names

John Derbyshire at the Corner on National Review has a link to a website that graphs the popularity of first names from the 1880's to 2004. It is a fascinating look at the trends in names.

You'll see that "John" has been on a steady decline since the 1880's, while my middle name dropped off in the 1970's. My poor father doesn't even register--at least not with the way he spells it. And my mom--it is no wonder people don't know how to pronounce "Lois" anymore--it has been practically non-existent since the early 1980's.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Indiana Jones IV

George Lucas is "now devoting himself full-time to writing and producing Indiana Jones 4," reports FoxNews. The movie has been slated to begin production after the Star Wars movies were completed. Let's hope that Lucas can do better with this series' conclusion than he did with the final Star Wars films.

The script was written by
Jeff Nathanson, who has written numerous screenplays including Rush Hour 2, Catch Me if You Can, and The Terminal. I'll let you make your own judgment of what that bodes for Indiana Jones.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Twins Trade for Luis Castillo

ESPN is reporting that the Minnesota Twins have traded two minor league pitchers for Marlins' second baseman, Luis Castillo.

It appears that the Twins have gotten an established gold-glove caliber second baseman. He should fit well at the top of the Twins' lineup--with a high lifetime on base percentage and speed.

The Twins have many great pitchers already, which makes Tyler and Bowyer expendable. The Twins now need a good third baseman and a power hitting designated hitter. Rumors have been swirling about the Twins seeking Frank Thomas.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Inevitable Winter Weight Gain

Thanskgiving to Easter marks one of the most difficult periods of the year for me to maintain my weight. Our bodies crave comfort foods in the winter--foods like mashed potatoes, pasta, bread, creamy soups, fresh baked cookies, and so many other high-calorie foods.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune has an article on interval training that may be a good way to help fend off some of that inevitable winter weight gain. I've not tried this myself, but have read numerous articles over the years that have praised this method as the best way to get into and stay in shape.

There is an accompanying article with three interval training plans. I plan on beginning one this week!

There is another article arguing that weighing yourself daily helps keep your weight in check. There are some other good tips there as well as some good links.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Michael Jackson Goes Off the Deep End. Oh, Wait...

In all seriousness, Michael Jackson has sunk to a new low in blaming "the Jews" for his financial difficulties. Maybe it is more a result of his delusional Neverland Ranch.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Video Church Part II

Steve McCoy at Reformissionary has thoughts on video church at his blog. They are worth reading. I've written on video church before, you may recall.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Walk the Line

The Johnny Cash biopic, Walk the Line opens today. The reviews I've read are all positive--I'm pretty excited to see the film. Roger Ebert has an interesting article on the film's background. One of the most interesting things in the article is the revelation that Phoenix and Witherspoon's voices are the ones in the film--it is not Cash and Carter as many have assumed.

Reviews:

Roger Ebert Chicago Sun-Times

Colin Covert (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Russell Moore (Southern Baptist Theological Seminary)

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Kazakhstan: We Have No Sense of Humor

I first witnessed the hilarity of Sasha Baron Cohen's "Borat" character in England in 2000. Borat is a character used in "Da Ali G Show" to expose people at their worst. The show began in the UK and has now gained a foothold on HBO in the United States.

Kazakhstan, the home nation of the fictional "Borat" is threatening to sue Cohen to "prevent new pranks of the kind." I suppose it is natural for them to not appreciate the humor. It is unfortunate that they are taking him so seriously.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Deliverance

My parents have been cleaning out their house to make room for their stuff--and getting rid of the childhood belongings of my brother and I. In a recent delivery, my mom gave me a bag of books that I'd read in high school.

I'm embarrassed to divulge the titles of the books in the bag--with one exception. James Dickey's Deliverance was the one book in the stack worthy of keeping and re-reading. I'd read the novel in high school, not long afer watching the film adaptation done by John Boorman.

Dickey wrote the screenplay to the film, so it is very true to the novel, though there are a few key differences between them. The novel is more reflective and psychological--putting more flesh to the story than a two hour retelling can.

The novel is number forty-two on the Modern Library Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century. One of my life goals is to read every book on this list. (To this point I've read thirty-six of them.)

Deliverance is a short, rewarding, yet disturbing read. Perhaps you have heard of, or seen the film. It is a compelling story that will challenge your view of the law, human nature, guilt, and sin.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Live Wilco Album

My favorite band, Wilco, will release their first live album on Tuesday November 15th. You can listen to four of the tracks from the double album at their website.

If you have not yet listened to, or heard of Wilco, I strongly encourage you to listen to these four tracks. My introduction to Wilco was with Summerteeth, in 1999. Since then I have seen them live three times, purchased all their albums (including both Mermaid Avenue albums). I have also seen lead singer, Jeff Tweedy live at the Guthrie Theater.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

ESPN's MLB Power Rankings

ESPN.com has already released their power rankings for next season. Interestingly they have put Cleveland in the top spot above the World Series Champion White Sox. It is not a bad move. Considering how Cleveland played after May they are clearly a strong team with great balance. I don't think their current pitching staff has the quality of the White Sox, but their offense is more balanced and reliable.

The White Sox starting rotation will get stronger with Brandon McCarthy as their fifth starter. If they can get a year like this year from Garland, they'll be in the hunt for another pennant.

My hometown Twins are ranked 14th. They should have some money to spend, especially if they let Jacque Jones go. Joe Mays' huge contract will be off the books too. They need a power hitter in the middle of the lineup and more production from their infield before they will compete again. Let's hope it is this year. I am eager to see Jason Kubel in the outfield, though I expect his bat will be very rusty after losing this entire last season to injury.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Democratic Abuse

Nevada Senator Harry Reid invoked senate rule 21 which closes the senate to the public on Tuesday afternoon. Illinois Senator Dick Durbin seconded the motion. This is all that is required to essentially shut down the United States Senate.

Senator Reid grandstanded for several minutes about his fear for his family and for our country in light of high gas prices, the war on Iraq, and the Libby indictment before invoking the rule.

Democratic Senators claim that the move is meant to force GOP Senators to answer questions concerning pre-war intelligence. But the move is truly a political stunt, meant to put the GOP in an awkward position and to draw further attention to their anti-Bush cause.

It is difficult to not be cynical and see this as yet another maneuver that the Democrats can use to disrupt the business of the senate. Like their filibustering judicial nominees, this is an abuse of senate rules.

They claim that they have invoked rule 21 to ensure confidentiality regarding intelligence matters, but it is being used in such a way that "hijacks" the senate, as Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee stated in a press conference this afternoon.

The Democratic minority has again decided to have a temper tantrum on the floor of the United States Senate. Will the American people put up with this come the midterm elections in 2006?

The Brothers Karamazov: Complete

I finished reading The Brothers Karamazov this past weekend. It took me approximately two months to read it, which isn't bad considering how long it is and how little time I actually spend reading these days. (I have written on the book here and here.)

The book is not at all what I expected it to be. As I have stated before, I was somewhat familiar with the book and knew generally what to expect, particularly since I've also read Crime and Punishment. I was expecting more theology and less story.

The early chapters dealt with philosophy and religion and the latter portions of the book were story-driven and not as overtly philosophical. But that is not to say that the end is not provocative.

Like many well loved novels of the 19th century, The Brothers Karamazov is a long book that demands patience from the modern reader. Characters are developed slowly and thoroughly and the climax is slow in coming. But what a climax Dostoyevsky brings us!

The epigraph to the novel is from John 12:24 and summarizes the novel well: "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit." The novel is wonderfully constructed upon this single verse. If you haven't yet read the novel, I suggest you stop imagining all the Dosteyevsky could do with this verse and read the book.

Dostoyevsky challenges us to understand what is truly meant by Jesus when he speaks of a dead grain of wheat bearing much fruit. It is not something that modern readers will take lightly. It gets to the heart of God's sovereignty over creation and his mighty work in salvation.

What does it mean for that grain of wheat to die and remain alone? Is the fruit of that worth the grain of wheat perishing? These are questions that Dostoyevsky asks us. These questions are at the heart of Christian faith. For it is Christ, who was born into this world fully divine and fully human, suffered on the cross unto death, that by it he might give us eternal life.

The Christian believes that true life comes only through death. We die to sin and are born into Christ. Dostoyevsky understands this mystery and his novel fleshes it out and helps us understand the implications.

I highly commend The Brothers Karamazov to you. It is a provocative and rewarding novel--one that I will continue to ponder and reflect upon throughout my life.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Fire Joe Morgan

All you baseball fans that are constantly amazed at the inanity and hyperbolizing of sports writers and commentators take heart. You are not alone. Fire Joe Morgan will give you a dose of cynicism and affirm that you are justified in your criticisms. I lament that I only discovered this blog today and not in April.

Beware, there is some foul language in the blog.

HT: Billy-Ball

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

More Wisdom From the iMonk

Michael Spencer is becoming an indispensible blogger to me. He has written a new essay on worship and its role in molding the megachurch and how it has destroyed small congregations.

I heartily implore you to read the article. We need more thinkers like Spencer, and more Christians to understand what is happening to the church.

He writes, "Allowing the cause of “keeping the young people/young families interested” to run a church is a dereliction of leadership. Someone get a grip."

Amen, Michael. Amen.

George Galloway's Senate Perjury

According to the Times Online, George Galloway, a member of the British Parliament, and his now estranged wife received money from the Iraq Oil for Food program. These are allegations that he has denied many times. In response to this report he said, "I’ve already comprehensively dealt with these allegations — under oath in the High Court and the US Senate — to the Charity Commission and in innumerable media inquiries."

But, Mr. Galloway, these are new and specific allegations that you can't simply deny by saying I've already denied them. Your wife has money from the Oil For Food program in her bank account. How can you account for this?

Galloway famously attacked the War in Iraq in his senate testimony in May. He recently went on a book tour for his book Mr. Galloway Goes to Washington. Galloway is no hero of the anti-war left (or maybe he's just their kind of hero?). He is a Islamofascist apologist and war profiteer, not to mention a scoundrel.

Update: Galloway is brazenly challenging the Senate to charge him with perjury.

Update 2: Christopher Hitchen's, Galloway's nemesis, has written a condemning piece at Slate.

Monday, October 24, 2005

iMonk Must Read

Michael Spencer has penned a must read article at Internet Monk. It is a beautiful and touching piece on life, death, and the mercies of Christ.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Simmons: On Blowing It

With each Bill Simmons column I read, I become more and more a fan of his. His writing is witty and pointed. He has become one of my favorite sports writers. This column is on the Astros blowing the lead in game five.

I think it is early to say that the Astros are done, but it is still a fun read--especially once he gets to "random thoughts about the baseball playoffs."

Enjoy!

Monday, October 17, 2005

We Are All Vikings

Katherine Kersten has a good editorial on the Minnesota Vikings boat scandal. She is absolutely right in her analysis. Pornography and sexuality permeate our culture and to be outraged by the Vikings behavior is to merely indict our broader culture. We have created the environment in which these players were raised, matured, and taught.

The question we each need to ask ourselves, is are we a part of this culture or are part of another culture--opposed to it?

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Star Tribune Misinformation and Deceit

The Minneapolis Star Tribune has once again outdone itself in disseminating lies and half-truths. This time it is in regard to the "morning after pill," which is evidently being marketed as "Plan B."

Plan B, we are told, "is emergency contraception that prevents pregnancy after unprotected sex." This is patently false--either a result of misunderstanding pregnancy or a bold lie. What Josephine Marcotty doesn't say, is that Plan-B not only works to prevent ovulation, but it makes the woman's womb so inhospitable to a fertilized egg that it is almost impossible to implant along the endometrium.

What is the big deal here? That fertilized egg is the beginning of pregnancy--in creating a human life. Pregnancy begins the moment that a sperm and an egg join. Any process that articially interrupts that process is abortive by definition. So the morning after pill is what is called an abortifacient drug-- a chemical abortion.

Contraception is by definition something that prevents the sperm and the egg from conceiving. One can accurately state that the morning after pill is a contraceptive--but to hide its abortifacient nature is to deceive. If a woman has already ovulated and then takes the morning after pill, or ovulates despite taking the morning after pill--the drug can only act as an abortifacient.

So when Emily Watson, a "health educator" at the University of Minnesota says of the morning after pill, "I think people regard it as a lifesaver," she is perpetuating a lie, naively or not. The morning after pill is anything but life-saving--it is merely the easiest, cheapest, and freely available abortion.

Throughout the article, Marcotty has nothing but praise for the drug. She quotes Sarah Stoesz of Planned Parenthood, "All women of reproductive age should have emergency contraception in their medicine cabinet." The fact of the matter is, that if you've already had sex--it is too late for contraception.

But even in her criticism, she fails to mention or understand the abortive nature of the drug. The criticism she cites focuses on the fact that the drug does nothing to reduce the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. She only mentions that "many religious and abortion opponent groups promote abstinence until marriage as the only moral form of birth control." She uses the extreme end of the spectrum in decrying all forms of birth control. This is a typical tactic of abortion advocates.

In fact, Marcotty writes, "Experts say it's about time. Half of the country's 6.3 million pregnancies each year are accidental. Of those, half end in abortion." She seems to believe that Plan-B would reduce the number of abortions. In writing this, she is perpetuating the lie that Plan-B is not abortifacient.

Marcotty clearly believes that women should have easy access to Plan-B. She concludes with a quotation from Dr. Marilyn Joseph, head of the university's women's clinic, "We feel so strongly about how important this is," referring to the availability of Plan-B.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Yankee Schadenfreude

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you probably know I hate the Yankees. Of course, that blog entry was a long time ago--and the Yankees did win the division. But this season has been a trial for them--one that I take pleasure in seeing it end as it did last night.

It will be interesting to see what the Yankees can do this off season. They will no longer have Bernie Williams' mediocrity and Kevin Brown's dead weight and bloated contract. The two alone will free up $28 million for next season.

The Brothers Karamazov

I am still working my way through The Brothers Karamazov. I wrote about this earlier, when I was only through book three. Sunday evening I completed book eight, and I am now a little more than half way through the novel.

I found that as the novel progressed through the first several books that the philosophy became an even more integral part of the story. Yet now that I have reached a point in the novel where the story has really taken off and has put philosophy in the back seat, at least for now.

The book has taken a while to grip me--but it has finally done so. I found book eight to be very compelling, tense, and thrilling. It has been difficult to put down.

In book five I encountered the chapter entitled, "The Grand Inquisitor." It is a chapter often referred to, and is a portion of the book that many read out of the context of the novel itself. The Grand Inquisitor tells the story of a Spanish Cardinal who captures Jesus during the Inquisition and questions him, and denies his authority, giving the Roman Catholic Church power over him.

I found it to be an interesting chapter, though I found it to be an uncompelling diversion. The Cardinal seems to only be interested in the church as a means to power--and Christ as an obstacle. As a protestant, I deny the authority of the Catholic Church, as Ivan would, but I uphold the authority of Scripture alone, unlike Ivan.

It is nothing new to me, to encounter an author or a character of his, who hates Christianity. In fact, I find it to be very passé. So even Dostoevsky weighing in on this does little for me. It would likely have been scandalous at the time but quite in vogue in our post-Christian culture.

I'll likely revisit this chapter upon completion of the novel. I am reading the Norton Critical Edition which includes several essays on the novel, which I plan to read upon completion.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Nick Coleman Surprise

I've lambasted Nick Coleman before on my blog, but I feel it my duty to praise him for his most recent column in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. He praises Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty for his foul slip of the tongue at the Minnesota Wild opening night.

Coleman's decision to relinquish the opportunity to excoriate the governor for this slip-up demonstrates that he has at least a measure of good character. Good work, Nick.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Mr. Gore: You DO Live in an 'Alternate Universe'

Former Vice President Al Gore is at his bizarre best again. Gore spoke at the We Media Conference in New York yesterday. The reports that he tore his clothes and beat his breast are unfounded. ;)

Gore and the hard left are so blinded by their fury towards President Bush, Fox News, and Bloggers that they forget they are living in the freest and most tolerant nation in the world.

I can't help but snicker at a man who ever credited the television news media with, "normal good sense and judgment." I think Gore needs to spend more time at The Media Research Center than at the incurably partisan Media Matters.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Albert Mohler on Denominations and the Totality of Scripture

I enjoy listening to Albert Mohler's radio program via mp3. I have been catching up on the past couple weeks and just listened to "Ask Anything Wednesday" from September 21st. One of Mohler's responses to a question from a caller was a helpful defense of church denominations and the importance of the entirety of the Bible. It is also very helpful in light of Bethlehem Baptists' Amendment on Baptism and Church Membership.

I have transcribed the conversation from the mp3 of the radio program. The conversation begins at 30:30 in the show and goes until 34:00.

Nathan in Indiana:

Yeah, I grew up Assemblies of God, and in a Baptist church. When you are talking about the difference in denominations and things, you are talking about doctrinal beliefs. My opinion on it has always been on it is that it boils down to is where your salvation lies. The Bible says, regarding Jesus, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” According to that scripture that is the bottom line. And by what you are saying about scripture being the bottom line—then that is the bottom line scripture of all scriptures. So if doctrines of faith on that bottom line everything else is insubstantial—it doesn’t even matter what else is involved there as long as the bottom line is that you believe Jesus Christ is the soul of your salvation—the bottom line of your salvation, therefore nothing else really matters.

Mohler: Nathan, I agree with half of what you said. And that is, I certainly agree with you that the bottom line is salvation through Jesus Christ, salvation promised through Jesus Christ, salvation accomplished through Jesus Christ, and salvation applied to us through the work of the Lord Jesus Christ. I agree with that emphatically. No conditions on my agreement with you there. What I can’t agree with is the next statement that all other things are then unimportant and that they don’t matter. I think they do matter. I think every word of scripture matters. I think all matters of Christian belief matter—that is why we have denominations. It’s not that we are saying people in other denominations aren’t Christians, it’s that we’re saying that we need to embrace the totality of biblical truth as best we understand it. And Nathan, it comes down to the fact that if you’re in a local church you’re either going to baptize infants or not, you’re either going to believe in believer’s baptism by immersion alone, or you’re going to believe in infant baptism, or you’re going to believe in some mixture of all these things.

The fact is that there are disagreements on how to interpret a lot of scripture and how to put all this together. We should not anathematize each other unless we violate the gospel. And I would go on and say that even what we say, even where I said I agree with you, we still have to explain how that happens. And so I have to come back and say you could also look to a text like Romans 1:17 where it makes very clear that we are justified by faith alone, and we understand that that too is the essence of the gospel. And so I agree with you that it is salvation through Jesus Christ alone that is the very bedrock of the gospel. No question there whatsoever. But you really have to explain even what that means and as soon as you do that, you’re going to find that there are some disagreements that take institutional and organizational forms in different churches and different denominations. And as soon as you try to figure out how do we obey Christ in this area, how do we obey this scripture, you’re going to have churches going in some different directions.

Now here’s the deal: I’m perfectly convinced that all of us are going to face on that great day of judgment, when we see God face to face, we’re going to face a big theological correction on some things we misunderstood. Our responsibility in this life is to be as honest, as credible, and as faithful as possible to live out the totality of what God has given us in scripture. Without apology I’ll tell you what I believe and why I believe it. But I can’t say that those other things are just unimportant, they may even be of secondary importance, but all truth is important.


Friday, September 30, 2005

Red Sox v. Yankees

Bill Simmons has a great article at ESPN.com on this weekend's showdown at Fenway and the eternal rivalry between the two clubs.

This will be quite a weekend with the AL East Title and Wild Card in the balance.

More on Baptism and Membership

Bethlehem Baptist Church, has at long last released the audio from Pastor Piper's presentation of the Baptism and Church Membership amendment.

You can read more about the amendment at Woodchips and Text Musings in several places. I recommend these:

Two Baptists write on the matter.

Does Baptism Fit in Romans 14?

Can a Church Preach Believer's Baptism and Yet Not Hold to it?

Can We Concede Ground on Baptism?

Why Concede to Pedobaptists Now?

Friday, September 23, 2005

Mark Dayton the Buffoon

Mark Dayton endorsed legislation to create a U.S. Department of Peace and Nonviolence. I believe this is an instance where any commentary on my part would be superfluous. Dayton's bill is being sponsored in the House by Minnesota representatives Betty McCollum, Martin Sabo, and Jim Oberstar.

I'll merely say, "What fools."

On an entirely different note, I have been unable to post this week as I've been very busy. I don't have power at my house either. We have been without power since the thunderstorm on Wednesday evening. We can't expect to have power for several more days. Yet, I don't want to complain, because we didn't get hit by the tornado that destroyed many houses in Coon Rapids and Blaine.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Baseball Anomalies

This Jayson Stark article is yet another reason to love baseball and all its quirks. It is unfortunate for Placido Polanco, but it is fun history. I especially like how Eddie Murray had the highest batting average in the majors in 1990 but didn't win the batting title.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Governor Swann

ESPN.com has an interesting piece on Lynn Swann's potential run for the governorship of Pennsylvania. Of course I'm too young to know of Swann as the Steeler's receiver, but I have formed a favorable impression of him over the years as a football analyst.

Is Delay a Democrat?

I am usually one to defend Tom Delay, congressman from Texas, in most matters. But his remarks that the budget is "pared... down pretty good" are remarkably Democratic in the vision of the size of government.

The budget has only grown under Republican leadership--how can he possibly defend this record as one of cutting--not ballooning? I agree with Rep. Jeff Flake of Arizona who is quoted as saying, "This is hardly a well-oiled machine. There's a lot of fat to trim. ... I wonder if we've been serving in the same Congress."

Delay even defends the pork-filled highway bill, calling it, "important infrastructure."

I hope Rush excoriates Delay on this--he ought to. This is precisely the concession to enormous government spending that Republicans have been condemning in Democrats for years. I expect better of House Republican leadership than this.

Update: Andrew Stuttaford at The Corner has a funny bit about Delay. He alludes to George Orwell's Animal Farm, "No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which."

Update 2: Rush thinks Delay's move is brilliant. He believes it is a tactic to draw out more budget-cutting from House Republicans. He stated that if no one has any recommended cuts, then they must have attained victory. It isn't a bad theory, but I'll believe it when I see it.

Meanwhile, Ramesh Ponnuru has a list of government pork, also at The Corner.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Role Models?

Kansas City Chiefs' running back Larry Johnson was arrested Monday night for an altercation with his girlfriend. He is one of many Kansas City Chiefs players in legal trouble already this season.

That isn't the only problem: he was on a date with another woman other than his girlfriend. It is so sad to hear of men who cannot even be faithful to a woman when dating. What possibility will there be that he will be faithful to her as a husband?

When these men are idolized for athletic prowess on television they are put on a pedestal they cannot possibly live up to. Yet too many of them crumble to terrible depths as Larry Johnson.

When I have children some day, Lord willing, I will be very clear about admiring and esteeming men whose sole claim to fame is athletic prowess, celebrity, or talent. Admiration should be reserved for parents, family, teachers and the like.

Update 01/18/06 - The case against Larry Johnson has been dismissed. He did enroll in a "domestic-violence diversion program," and was ordered to "stay out of legal trouble for two years." Evidently after two years he can get back into trouble.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Baptism and Church Membership

I apologize for my lack of posting, but much of free time has been spent researching and pondering a constitutional amendment proposed by the Bethlehem Baptist's Elders. I am a member of Bethlehem Baptist Church and am very interested in the outcome of this amendment.

I have encountered a few blog entries on this amendment. It is clear that there are people watching this process from afar. Matthew Hall has commented on Piper's introduction to the amendment and has many comments as well.

Alex Forrest was the first to blog on the issue. The Society of Dead Theologians has a number of comments on the issue, as does Evil Babies & Thinking Men. Justin Taylor, Director of Theology at Desiring God Ministries a post concerning the amendment with comments.

But the most interesting thing I've found so far is a lecture from Mark Dever at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, also linked to by Justin Taylor. He dug up the lecture from three years ago. Dever lectures on John Bunyan's position on baptism--which is referred to in the elders' case for the amendment. Several Southern students and professors ask questions, including Al Mohler. The lecture is directly relevant to the amendment, despite predating it.

It is well worth listening to for anyone interested in the role of baptism in the church. For now I will not comment on the amendment. I believe the matter will be best handled within the church. It will be interesting to see the outcome of this, as Piper acknowledged when introducing the amendment to the congregation this past Wednesday evening, the eyes of the evangelical world are upon us.

Update: I ran across Steve McCoy's take on the amendment which includes many comments.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

More Deck Building


Karsten, Reed, and I spent several hours working on the deck on Labor Day. You can compare it to an earlier post. As you can see most of the railing is complete. One top beam needs to go across the railing yet. We also need to build the stairs where the cinder blocks currently reside.

Building our deck has been quite a project for a couple amateurs. It has been fun to be sure. A few weeks ago we had a barbecue and put the deck to its most rigorous test. Eight to ten of us sat on the deck along with the grill. So it seems that the deck will make it!

Friday, September 02, 2005

This is Creepy

This 2004 National Geographic article eerily predicts the after effects of a hurricane in New Orleans.

HT: K-Lo at The Corner.

Weight Loss Tips

My friend Scott, who is beginning a weight loss regimen has inspired me to list my top ten weight-loss tips. Many of you know that I lost over forty pounds over the course of the summer of 2002 to 2003. Hopefully anyone looking for information on how to lose weight will find this helpful.

1. Desire. You must want to lose weight. You must want it more than anything else. Without the desire, you will never succeed in losing weight.

2. Discipline. Weight loss can only be accomplished through disciplined eating and exercise. There are no quick and easy ways to lose weight. You must limit your caloric intake and exercise regularly.

3. Limit Carbohydrate Intake. Many people thought I was on an Atkins diet because of how I ate around them. I did not do that. I simply ate all my carbohydrates before dinner. Carbohydrates are an essential part of every diet--even those not aiming to lose weight. Eat carbs at breakfast and lunch, and even some as snacks throughout the day.

4. Eat whole grains, not refined and simple carbs. Replace all bread with 100% whole grain breads, whether that means 100% whole wheat, rye, or whatever. Refined flour found in 99% of all breads is not good for your blood sugar level--which helps regulate fat storage.

5. Eat a lot of protein. Protein will make you feel full and you won't eat as much other stuff. Eat lean meats such as chicken, fish, lean ground beef, and even pork.

6. Don't drink calories. With the exception of milk or a small glass of orange juice at breakfast--don't drink calories. Skim milk is good as calcium is an important mineral and there is protein and vitamins in milk. Absolutely do not drink fruit juices--they are full of sugar.

7. Eat fruits and vegetables. You can't take weight loss seriously without incorporating a lot of fruits and vegetables into your diet. I have always loved vegetables but loathed fruit. I continued eating a lot of vegetables but had to teach myself to like and to eat fruit. I hadn't eaten a grape in my life until I committed myself to weight loss. Eat fruit for snacks throughout the day. Find fruits you like--teach yourself to like fruits. You'll come around--I did.

8. Plan what you eat and eat only what you plan. Plan out what you are going to eat throughout the week before you get groceries. Buy enough food ahead of time that you don't snack on candy or unhealthy foods when you've got a craving. But obviously, follow the above rules when buying food.

9. Eat when you are hungry. You will get hungry frequently if you are on a diet. Your body is used to getting far more calories than you should eat while trying to lose weight. Don't fight the urge--eat. Just eat what you planned for in #8 above. Eat some fruit, vegetables, nuts (not honey roasted or sweetened though) or a whole grain snack.

10. Exercise. Exercise is last for a reason--it is the least important component in my opinion. Your diet will be a much better way to control your weight--particularly once you have reached your goal. You will need to lift weights to get your metabolism into shape and to improve its performance. Cardio is much less important, but will help burn calories and help your heart.

It is good to have a goal too--and some accountability to someone who either has good health habits already, or is also working to lose weight. The best book I've seen on weight loss is The Men's Health Belly-Off Program. It essentially fleshes out the things I listed above. If you are serious about weight loss, you need to read this book or about the program online.

And if you are really serious about getting into and staying in shape--you must weigh yourself regularly. I recommend at least once a week. This will help you learn more about how your diet and exercise affect your weight and will help you control it by keeping things from spiraling out of control.

The Blog Links on the Sidebar

I think it is high time that I supply my readers information about the blogs listed on the side bar. They are mostly blogs by friends.

Woodchips and Musings
This is my father's blog. His blog is a great source of biblical wisdom. Highly recommended.

Between Two Worlds
This is Justin Taylor's blog. Justin is John Piper's right-hand man. His blog is a great source for theology and political discourse.

Mike's Unemployed Blog

My friend and former roommate, Mike Anderson blogged from Europe (and farther afield) while he studied in London and continued after he returned and began looking for a job. He'll soon have to change it though now that he is again gainfully employed.

Al Mohler

I wish I was Al Mohler's friend. He is a wise Christian thinker. I listen to his daily radio program and his commentaries are daily must-reads.

Tom's Stadium Quest
My friend Tom Coyer is an even bigger baseball fan than myself. His goal is to visit every major league baseball park.

As Sorrowful, Yet Always Rejoicing
Charlie Evertz is a friend from church who has a strong passion to proclaim the gospel. Charlie is new to blogging this week. I look forward to seeing where he takes his new blog.

Energy, Environment, and Cycling
Scott Knoepke is a friend from high school who now lives in Chicago. He just started his blog yesterday. A primary motivation for his blog is public accountability as he strives to lose weight and get into better shape--for the second time.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Hurricane Must-Read

This is a must read as we humbly and thoughtfully reflect upon the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

Environmentalism as Religion

Yesterday I compared Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to Pat Robertson--saying that they both have blamed great disasters on the wrong people for "political and theological sins."

Today Jonah Goldberg unpacks the notion of environmentalism as religion. He argues:

"They could start by getting their own theodicy, one that would try to reconcile natural disasters with their faith that Mother Nature is such a nice lady. Rejecting Tennyson's description of nature as "red in tooth and claw" they opt for a nurturing but wounded Mommy Nature. Were it not for man's folly, she would be rocking us to sleep in her gentle arms every night. God, it seems, is a deadbeat dad in this whole scheme and man ultimately has all the power. Indeed, George Bush (with the aid of Haley Barbour, of course) could eliminate catastrophes with the stroke of a pen."

He girds my thesis that, "
The left blames Bush and company because they haven't a satisfactory theology to understand that hurricanes occur because the earth has been subjected to sin and death."

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Give Them What They Want

The Star Tribune published an article that grabbed my attention this afternoon. A Pew Forum poll says that most Americans believe Creationism should be taught along with evolution in school.

I say, give the public what it wants! Evolutionists have had too much say over what ought to be taught in schools for years. Let's have competing ideas in the schools.

What I'm Reading

I mentioned in an earlier post that I was reading The Golden Ass: The Transformations of Lucius. I found the book very amusing though at the end, too full of pagan theology. But the story was ultimately one of redemption and religious piety. Such stories are usually well worth the reading.

Before getting married I was part of a book club that has read books such as The End of the Affair, The Winter of Our Discontent, and Right Ho, Jeeves! I was unable to read Catch-22 with them, though I have read it twice, and it is one of my favorites.

Their latest selection is The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. This is a book that I read many sections of during my Senior Seminar at Bethel College (now University). So I am somewhat familiar with the story, though I confess I remember practically nothing of what I read six years ago.

The book is one that is highly praised--particularly by Christian intellectuals. The book is reminiscent of the works of Aldous Huxley who often wrote novels with characters with competing philosophies and ideologies. The Karamazov family is a Russian family made up of three brothers that have different worldviews but all suffer from the same passions and lusts.

To this point I am struggling with the book, honestly. I am in Book Three right now, which is still very early in this long book (probably a sixth into the novel). It is clear that the book is interacting with significant issues of modernity, faith, atheism, politics, sin, and many more. The book is nothing if not ambitious in its scope.

One of the most striking things I have found in the novel is the mysticism and superstition of The Eastern Orthodox Church. I am troubled by Zossima the Elder's extra-biblical philosophy and theology. I keep telling myself to not let myself focus on that though. There will be much to reap from the book despite some theological misgivings.

Katrina's Damage

The Minneapolis Star Tribune has a very good gallery of photos of the hurricane's damage. I highly recommend it to those who watch little television and haven't seen the stirring images.

More Leftist Hypocrisy

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. writes that Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour (and implicitly--Bush) is to blame for Hurricane Katrina. He tells us how he was intricately involved in "derailing the Kyoto Protocol and kiboshing President Bush’s iron-clad campaign promise to regulate CO2."

So now the American left is joining European Leftists in blaming the hurricane on us. Not only is the science rotten, but this is the same kind of rhetoric that Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson spoke and endorsed post 9/11 when they blamed the attack on us for our nation's sin.

I see little difference in the two rhetorically. They both blame a great disaster on the wrong people for political and theological sins. Kennedy is a notorious environmental extremist.

It is typical of the radical left to politicize even a natural disaster. The left blames Bush and company because they haven't a satisfactory theology to understand that hurricanes occur because the earth has been subjected to sin and death.

UPDATE: Here is an excellent response to Kennedy. HT to National Review.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Limbaugh on FM

Twin City Dittoheads unite! Rush Limbaugh is moving to FM next year. We'll finally be able to listen to him live on the radio again. I have been listening to him online for years because KSTP 1500 airs his show on a one hour delay.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Gooden's Fall

Mike Lupica writes a sad sort of eulogy for Dwight Gooden, former baseball star. Gooden's fall was long ago--when I was still a kid. But I have often thought of his wasted talent and dysfunctional life as the years have gone by.

Many say that Gooden's career was lost due more to his body breaking down than drugs and alcohol--but no one will ever no for sure. But that isn't the worst of it. His lost career is something we all missed out on. But it is his lost life that is truly sad and heartbreaking.

Gooden is now a fugitive for evading police after a traffic stop. His downward spiral has continued into his 40's. Stardom brings much more than many can handle. It is something that not enough people learn to handle and it destroys body and soul.

I pray that God would work in Dwight Gooden's life that he might know him and redeem him from a life of despair.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The Most Important Thing

I don't know Milton Bradley, and I don't know who is right in his feud with Jeff Kent. But when he says, "Me being an African-American is the most important thing to me -- more important than baseball," it tells me that he is the one in his own world.

I'm not black, clearly, and can't identify with what it is like to be a black person, but there is something wrong when the most importnant thing in your life is your race.

Our culture places too much value on diversity--applauding Milton Bradley for valueing his race over other things. This is a bad thing and only broadens racial divisions. It is no wonder that Bradley has been a clubhouse cancer throughout his brief career. He clearly has a chip on his shoulder.

It is shameful that a young player like Bradely can call out a veteran like Kent. But of course, this is just another example where our culture misplaces its values. Elders ought to be respected--not publicly denounced.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Winning Hearts and Minds

Michael Barone reports that we are winning hearts and minds of Muslims around the world. Support for terrorism has been eroding--this is great news. This news is contrary to what liberals would have us all think--but it makes perfect sense to conservatives.

This is simply cause and effect. Terrorists are hunted down, killed, and captured demonstrating that morality and justice are on our side--not on murderers.

HT: Rich Lowry at The Corner

Thursday, August 18, 2005

The Greatness of Clemens

Roger Clemens is in the midst of his best season at the age of 43--that is astonishing. John Donovan from Sports Illustrated tells of Clemens and his marvelous career.

As of right now, I'd say that Clemens should win the Cy Young award again this season--though Chris Carpenter is hot on his tail. I'll also go out on a limb and say that Johan Santana will win his second consecutive Cy Young award in the American League this season.

This is Horrible

During my final year of college I traveled to Europe to study English literature. Our final week of traveling brought us to Taize, a Christian retreat community. Thousands of travelers from around the globe travel to Taize each year to devote their time there to meditation, prayer, and study of the Bible.

Brother Roger formed the community in 1940. He was a Nobel Peace Prize finalist several years ago. He was brutally murdered in one of the three daily prayer services on Tuesday. He was a man of peace, frail and old. It is an unimaginable way for a man like him to meet his Lord.

I have been very blessed by the music of Taize--both in my time there and in listening to a CD I purchased there. To paraphrase one of my favorites, "Jesus, remember Brother Roger when you come into your kingdom..."

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Cindy Sheehan: Political Hack

If you haven't seen this picture of Cindy Sheehan yet, you need to take a look. It is further evidence of her change of heart after meeting President Bush the first time.

Sheehan is nothing more than a political hack taking advantage (or being taken advantage of) a sympathetic liberal media looking to feast on President Bush and the War in Iraq.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Baseball Cheaters

These stories are what makes baseball such a great sport. What other sport could you even try to do these kinds of things in?

I don't condone the cheating done in the sport, but these are pretty funny stories to read about. One must wonder what is going on in our day besides steroids.

And speaking of steroids, why is it that everyone is so upset now about steroids, when players like Canseco and others were juicing up ten to fifteen years ago? Recently Cal Ripken, Ozzie Smith, and Jack Morris expressed outrage at players on roids. Were they ignorant of what was going on when they were still playing?

It seems to me that they had to have known. If they did, that makes their self-righteous posturing now ring hollow. It was the player's union that had always rejected steroids testing in the first place. If the players were really concerned about players juicing up, they could have addressed the issue themselves years ago.

The Star Tribune's Morality

David Brooks wrote an editorial earlier this week arguing that there is a moral revival underway in America. The Star Tribune released their own editorial rebuttal to Brooks.

The Star Trib's editors showed their true colors very clearly by defining morality in their own terms. What is so unsurprising, though still disappointing, is that they framed morality through their own liberal political agenda. The list was typical of what the left has been griping about for the last few years: an immoral war in Iraq, eliminate medical care for the poor, tax advantages for the wealthy, corporate scandals, homophobia, etc.

The left continues to refuse to learn that the American people know better what morality is than the Democratic National Committee. As long as the left continues to blindly and indignantly follow their own self-righteous ideological agenda, they will continue to lose power and credibility.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

A Never-ending Quest

My friend Tom has written that he has a life goal to visit every major league baseball stadium. So I thought it a bit humorous to read of another man's life quest. His seems much more trivial, perhaps more exciting, but much more fleeting.

I would love to do see every major league baseball park in my lifetime, as I would love to visit all the locales that Starbucks operates in--yet this makes you wonder what is really worthy of our questing.

Major league ball parks are popping up fairly rapidly--not quite as frequently as five years ago, it seems, but still fairly regularly. But just think of how many Starbucks coffee shops there are and how often they open up! How can this man do anything other than visit Starbucks?

What is it that you value so much that you would give up your life to experience or to do? What kinds of things are worthy of us devoting our lives to? Going to thirty stadiums is one thing--going to nearly six thousand Starbucks is another.

It is no wonder he says, "Every time I reach a Starbucks I feel like I've accomplished something when actually I have accomplished nothing.''

It is my sincere conviction that the only thing worthy of that kind of devotion is our Lord, Jesus Christ. There is nothing else of supreme value in or beyond this world, than our Redeemer and Friend:

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Life Imitating Art

This robbery reads as a recent caper out of Hollywood. If we're lucky, Hollywood will recycle this into another riveting script about high-tech bank robbers with a sexy assitant, worldy-wise ring leader, and smart-alec partner.

In all seriousness, it is impressive that they were able to pull this off. It is sad, however, that such ingenuity and engineering is spent in stealing--and not honest, gainful employment or entrepreneurship.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Video Church

I attend a church that has two campuses. The sermon is given live every other week in person, but the other half of messages are given via a video taped the previous evening. I was never keen on the idea, but accepted it as the direction of the church.

It began a few years ago as a way to serve a larger church body by "growing without growing." The message was broadcast for over a year before the pragmatists decided the expense was too great to justify keeping the sermon live when it was on a large screen anyway. So that is how it began to be a taped performance.

I never gave much thought to where this idea came from. I decided to look up "multiple campus churches" on google and found a few links that opened my eyes. This one in particular seems to advocate the idea of expanding your church via a "Video Venue."

Am I the only one shocked by this? Have churches abandoned traditional church plants as a way to manage church growth? Will video church truly make God's name great in the nations? Will non-believing, unchurched people really find value in going to a church to watch a video tape? Will they value worshipping with fellow believers enough to watch a video in church rather than their own home?

The cynic in me finds it hard to believe that a video church serves anyone besides those already attending church--those who value Christian community enough to accept the obstacle of taped sermons. And the coward in me struggles to invite non-believers to church to watch a video. It is rather embarassing to explain to someone why we have a pastor give a sermon on video tape.

I believe that the church exalts the pastor above the message by expanding via video. Afterall, aren't we telling the world that our pastor is important enough that we think everyone should hear him. We're not telling the world that our message is what we value. Our message is Christ crucified, not that we have the best pastor in town!

Are there critics of this recent movement? Has it gone on unquestioned by the church and denomonational hierarchies?

Friday, August 05, 2005

Twins' Offense

Tom Powers has a good article in the St. Paul Pioneer Press about the Twins' hitters. It seems that manager, Ron Gardenhire, has finally come to terms with the fact that some of his players simply aren't talented hitters.

I think he's right--guys like Michael Cuddyer and Lew Ford simply don't have what it takes to make it in the big leagues. Ford showed promise in 2004 but has slowly regressed since a hot April 2004.

I think it is safe to say that Luis Rivas is in this group too, though he is currently at AAA Rochester right now. The Twins' early promise this season was more than they could deliver on. Their hitters are too young and too inexperienced to make a serious run at the World Series, let alone the wild card.

And Powers is correct in summarizing that things won't likely be much better next season. We need a quality infield if we're going to challenge the White Sox for the division, and we don't have those pieces in place yet.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Bush Giving the Bird

I began reading this Nick Coleman piece thinking he was talking metaphorically about Bush. He links to an outside site that has video of Bush apparently flipping off the press. Not everyone believes that the upright finger is his middle one, but it sure looks that way to me.

As you can imagine, the left is in a tizzy about it--just look at all the comments below the video or continue reading Nick Coleman for evidence of this. I am saddened that Bush would use such an immature and vulgar gesture in any circumstance. He should know better than to give the left any fodder for charges of hypocrisy.

But the cynic in me can't help but take great pleasure in it. The media, Nick Coleman included in the above article, have been calling Bush a liar for years now. Of course Bush is going to hold the media in contempt.

Of course, Nick Coleman takes umbrage at Bush's gesture because that finger was meant for him too. That finger went up to everyone in the press--but especially the unabashedly biased liberal press.

Coleman takes himself and the media too seriously. The entire article is ridiculous. He knocks down Bush, and exalts himself by saying he'll use "more fingers than he did." Yet he is the one throwing around the word liar. Come on, Nick, give up the sanctimonious rancor. You're worse than Bush has ever been. You are a political hack as you claim Bush thinks you are.

He writes, "The real problem is the attitude of a president who flips the bird to representatives of the public -- however downtrodden, defeated and demoralized we press jackals might be."

So it is no longer Bush or our government that are representatives of the people, but the media! This is what is wrong with the media today--they are smug and arrogant, thinking they represent the people of this country. He forgets (or has chosen to disregard) the fact that President Bush has won two national elections as the people's representative. It is no wonder the media thinks he is an illegitimate president--their will was thwarted when he took office.

I also love how he claims, "But maybe it was only a thumb. I'd like to believe that." Yeah right, Nick. You take no greater pleasure than in writing of your contempt and anger at Bush.

Vikings Preview

It always saddens me to see baseball season fade into late autumn. But as a Viking fan, I am optimistic that the team may actually do well this season. John Clayton writes optimistically about the team--writing of the team's hopes to be a top five defensive team this year.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

More on Obesity and Hypocrisy

Following up on my original post, Obesity and Hypocrisy, the attack on Bush's health is not over. Democrats released a "fact sheet" today condemning Bush's health policies.

These arguments are ridiculous, of course, but the aim of the news wire is to deliver sound bites to the electorate planting seeds of doubt in the hopes that people will not read the full story, or that the media will play ball and distort the facts further bolstering the Democrats' claims.

The Democrats continue to demonstrate their willingness to attack Bush on anything and everything they think they can. As long as they can find something on which to disagree with Bush, they will attack him.

Palmeiro and Steroids

The last time I mentioned Jayson Stark, I thought he was over reacting and being sensational. This time around he is a voice of reason and restraint. I applaud him for the wisdom in understanding the fallout of Rafael Palmeiro's positive test for steroids.

He is absolutely correct--yesterday's revelation changes nothing in how we ought to think of Palmeiro. There is too much hysteria about steroids in sports. He is right about Gaylord Perry's cheating and he's right about the steroid era. The statistics can't be dismissed because we don't know anything--we can only speculate who was juiced and who wasn't. We don't know what Palmeiro took or for how long. We don't know what pitchers were juiced.

Let's not over react and dismiss the outstanding career of one of baseball's best hitters.

Friday, July 29, 2005

The Rest of the List

Here is the rest of the list, as promised yesterday. I am surprised he dropped Pedro onto this list. Pedro seems to have proven that he's got another year or two in him at least, so his win total will creep high enough to warrant easy election. He's already on pace to win his 200th game this season.

I don't see Schilling as a Hall of Famer. He's had some good--even great years, but there were too many unproductive years in between, and this year has been a complete loss. He's getting too old and his ankle makes me wonder how much he has left.