Monday, December 18, 2006

Sympathy For Criminals

The Star Tribune (unsurprisingly) wants us to sympathize with illegal immigrants. In an article entitled, "A Helping Hand After A Week of Fear," Dan Browning reports that about one hundred people gathered at a union hall in Worthington, MN "seeking advice in the wake of last week's immigration raid at the Swift & Co. pork processing plant and helping to distribute more than seven tons of food, blankets and other necessities collected in Twin Cities."

The article goes on to list those involved in organizing and collecting the help for families affected by the recent raid on illegal workers at the Swift & Co. plant. The article seeks the sympathy of its readers by reporting on wives whose husbands have been deported, and have no way to pay for rent, or Christmas presents for their children.

Browning adds that, "Most of those affected are Hispanic and some speak no or little English, Espejel said. They reported communication difficulties with customs officials, and had trouble locating detained family members."

Browning neglects to mention that the recent Swift & Co. raids were the result of investigations into identity theft. These illegal immigrants have been exploiting stolen identities and ruining the lives of countless American citizens all for their own gain. Where is the outrage for innocent American lives ruined by stolen identities?

I am sympathetic to the plight of these immigrants. How could one be unaffected by their situation? They want a chance at the American dream, as many around the world do. But many are guilty of destroying the lives of American citizens in the attempt at establishing themselves in America. Not only that, but they are coming to America illegally. Do these illegals have an entitlement to break the law with impunity? Browning at the least believes we owe them sympathy.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Fisking Piper's Assertions on the New Perspective

Mark Horne has been taking Piper to task for his recent column concerning N.T. Wright and the New Perspective on Paul. His most recent post on the matter questions how Piper can assert that men like Wright are denying or obscuring the testimony of Jesus.

By showing that Piper, "makes amazing accusations without any basis whatsoever," Horne demonstrates that Piper's allegations are merely rhetoric and are not substantiated with an argument.

Horne argues that there is some merit to Wright's statements and that they are not to be dismissed with simple rhetoric, but dealt with seriously and evenhandedly.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Realizing "A Christmas Story"

Brian Jones has an obsession with A Christmas Story. He purchased the house used for exterior shots in the film for $150,000 in December 2004, manufactures and distributes the leg lamps featured in the film, and purchased a house across the street to make it into a museum and gift shop.

Read the New York Times article--it is fascinating how seriously people take the movie.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Clear, Expressive English

Between Two Worlds linked to an important article by Joseph Epstein about Vocabula Review writer Robert Fiske that argues that, "without careful language there can be no clear thought." Here is a good sampling of the article:

Mr. Fiske's own characteristic tone is perhaps best caught in his Dimwit's Dictionary. In that 400-page work a vast body of words and phrases are shown up for the linguistic ciphers they are. He has established a number of categories for "Expressions That Dull Our Reason and Dim Our Insight." These included grammatical gimmicks, which are expressions (such as "whatever," "you had to be there") that are used by people who have lost their powers of description; ineffectual phrases ("the fact remains," "the thing about it is," "it is important to realize") used by people to delay coming to the point or for simple bewilderment; infantile phrases ("humongous," "gazillions," "everything's relative"), which show evidence of unformed reasoning; moribund metaphors ("window of opportunity") and insipid similes ("cool as a cucumber"); suspect superlatives ("an amazing person," "the best and the brightest"), which are just what the category suggests; torpid terms ("prioritize," "proactive," "significant other"), which are vapid and dreary; not to mention plebeian sentiments, overworked words, popular prescriptions, quack equations, and wretched redundancies.

There are so many cliched and overused words and phrases that convey little meaning and expose the mindlessness that so many of us are guilty of using in our vocabulary. We hear the phrases in the news and media and become puppets repeating them without thinking for ourselves.

Here are a few I would add to Fiske's list:
  • troops/commanders "on the ground"
  • "I could care less."
  • pluralizing names as a way of typifying a sort of individual (such as, "the Mark Redmans, Tomo Ohkas, and Miguel Batistas of the world.")
  • "move forward"
  • "take this off-line"
  • "synergy"

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Groaning at Piper

This blog has recently turned into an apologia for N.T. Wright and the New Perspective on Paul. I will again be turning my attention to the NPP after reading an article by John Piper.

Piper is baffled by Wright's assertion that boasting in passages like Romans 3:27 are not moral boasting but racial boasting (Jew vs. Gentile). Piper writes:

"Wright’s statements are baffling in several ways. One way is that the Jews of Romans 2:17-24 do indeed claim to be successful moralists. They teach morality, but do not teach themselves (v. 21). They preach against stealing, but steal (v. 21). They oppose adultery, but commit adultery (v. 22). They denounce idolatry, but commit idolatry (v. 22). They boast in the law, but dishonor the law (v. 23). And in all this, they cause the Gentiles to blaspheme God (v. 24). How Wright can use this paragraph to distinguish moral boasting from racial boasting escapes me (as does the distinction itself)."

Romans 2:17-24 doesn't seem to point at a specific group of Jews. Piper makes it sound as though a specific group of Jews (Pharisee's perhaps?) are in Paul's mind as he writes. He also seems to paraphrase Paul poorly. He shows that these Jews are hypocrites, preaching moral purity, yet being guilty of each moral impurity themselves.

Paul is more hypothetical than Piper seems to allow for. Paul's actual argument seems to have in mind the same thing James does when he wrote, "For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it."

Paul is saying that if you are better sure you are following the law in every way, and not failing in any single facet, for if you don't, "your circumcision becomes uncircumcision"--you lose your inheritance as a son of promise. This is in fact the argument that follows Romans 2:17-24. The argument about law keeping becomes an argument that covenant is now for all--gentiles as well as Jews. Paul writes, "But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter." One's status with God is not determined simply by one's status as a physical Jew, but by whether or not one is a Jew inwardly.

What is baffling is Piper's inability to see the racial elements of Romans. Paul uses the word "gentile" more than twenty times in Romans. The letter is full of Jew and Gentile language.

I want to be respectful Pastor Piper. He has far more theological and biblical credentials than I, but it seems plain to me that there is a strong racial element in Romans (and Galatians for that matter) but he doesn't see it, or his systematic grid hides it from his eyes.

What is so troubling is that Piper is so distressed by the NPP. He writes:

"The only explanation I can find for such amazing statements is that the testimony of Jesus is denied or obscured. It is my impression that evangelicals enamored by the NPP have not reckoned seriously enough with the fact that the origination of the NPP seems to have taken place in the halls of such denial or obscuring."

This is no small thing for a man like Piper to say. He is seemingly putting proponents of the NPP outside the camp here. Yet, Wright and others are surely getting used to being on the end of such onslaughts. They have been getting it for years. I pray that we would read theologians like N.T. Wright with more charity and discretion. Wright has far more in common with Piper than Piper could ever imagine.


Monday, December 04, 2006

N.T. Wright on War, Looting, and Terrorism

I have just finished reading N.T. Wright's Simply Christian. The book is well written, argued, and is very helpful in most everything he says. But one of the most glaringly faults of the book is Wright's view of war, criminals, and terrorists.

On page 225, Wright asserts, "When people with power see things happen of which they disapprove, they drop bombs and send in tanks. When people without power see things happen of which they disapprove, they smash store windows, blow themselves up in crowded places, and fly planes into buildings."

That is an alarmingly simplistic view of the world for a writer of Wright's caliber. In a world with a war in Iraq, post-Katrina looting, and 9/11, these are the inescapable allusions he is making.

Wright commits the sin of moral equivalence by treating President Bush and Tony Blair with the same (extreme by comparison, yet mild by inference) scorn as he would looters and terrorists. It is appalling that he actually believes this. I deeply admire much of Simply Christian and Paul: Fresh Perspectives, but this amazes me. How does one that should understand and recognize the depths of human sin find such reprehensible comparisons between the Christian leaders in Bush and Blair and Katrina-criminals and mass-murderers?

As I have said before, Wright is not a perfect scholar or theologian. He has his blind sides, just as we all surely do.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

When Your Money Isn't Yours

Now that Minnesota has recorded a record $2.2 billion budget surplus, liberals are telling us that the surplus shouldn't be returned to the fleeced tax payers, but instead should be spent or saved.

The Star Tribune has an editorial today trying to convince its readers that the surplus "isn't as big as it looks." The editorial's goal is clearly to persuade Minnesota taxpayers that they haven't been cheated, and that we have no claim on the little bit that is there, because we won't be able to pay enough taxes in coming years, so it is best served as a financial reserve.

Their ridiculous claim flies in the face of reason. The surplus is tantamount to robbery. The government has overtaxed us by over $2 billion dollars, and many don't want to give the money back. The budget has ballooned in the past decade and we need to exercise responsibility. Taxes should be cut to ensure this kind of surplus doesn't happen again.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Battle Resumes

The war on Christmas has continued and this time the city of Chicago is protesting a Christmas festival's planned use of the film The Nativity Story as a part of the festival. There is a movement underway that seeks to remove Christianity from the public square. We've seen it for years and it is not isolated to Christmas. Easter is under attack as well.

The anti-Christian movement seeks to eradicate Christianity from our collective memory, and by doing so eliminate all condemnation of sin and judgment from the lives of those who reject Christ as messiah.

But as Paul Braoudakis, spokesman for the Willow Creek Association, is quoted in the article as saying, "The last time I checked, the first six letters of Christmas still spell out Christ. It's tantamount to celebrating Lincoln's birthday without talking about Abraham Lincoln."

It is not so unreasonable to expect at some point, the very name of the holiday will be changed to something more palatable to our increasingly pagan nation. In fact it is more likely with each passing Christmas holiday.

The Truth About the "Praying" Imams on US Airways Flight 300

Like most, when I first heard of the six imams that were detained after raising suspicion on US Airways flight 300 from Minneapolis to Phoenix, I was confused. Was their only crime praying as Muslims do? What was it that they had done that made US Airways refuse to sell tickets to them for their return flight to Phoenix? Were those on-board so bigoted as to refuse passage to six meek Muslim imams?

Well, it seems it wasn't quite as simple as that. There is much more to the story than was first told by the media. While true that they raised suspicion by "praying very loud," the most disconcerting thing they did was to switch their assigned seats "to a pattern associated with the September 11 terrorist attacks and also found in probes of U.S. security since the attacks -- two in the front row first-class, two in the middle of the plane on the exit aisle and two in the rear of the cabin."

As an anonymous federal air marshall stated in a Washinton Times article, "That would alarm me, they now control all of the entry and exit routes to the plane." The men also asked for seat belt extenders, though two flight attendants claim the men were not oversized. Rather than use the extenders for their intended purpose, they put them on the floor of the plane. Witnesses also stated that the imams criticized "the war in Iraq and President Bush," and talked "about al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden."

Robert Mclean, a former air marshall is quoted in the article as saying, "They should have been denied boarding and been investigated. It looks like they are trying to create public sympathy or maybe setting someone up for a lawsuit."

Since the six imams were removed from the plane in handcuffs, a wave of publicity has surrounded them as they have had press conferences, protests were held in Reagan National Airport in Washington D.C.

The eye witness accounts all seem to demonstrate that US Airways officials used wisdom and due diligence in protecting for their passengers and employees. This no longer appears to be a case of bigotry, but a proper response to suspicious behaviors.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Baby News!

There is exciting news in the Caneday household! Naomi and I are expecting our first child. We had an ultrasound performed last Wednesday and learned that we are going to have a girl! She is due on April 14th. She is doing well--currently weighing 14 oz. and is approximately 10 inches long.

For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there were none of them.

Psalm 139:13-16

Thursday, November 16, 2006

N.T. Wright, Evil, and Terrorism

I hope I am not boring my readers with yet more on N.T. Wright, but I have not adequately responded to Wright's understanding of evil. Wright states in his recent lecture, "the leaders of the western world have adopted an incredibly naive and shallow analysis of the problem of evil itself."

Wright believes it is naive because they "act as if they’d assumed that the world’s problems were basically solved, that all we needed was a bit more free trade and parliamentary-style democracy, and then any remaining pockets of evil would wither away." Wright believes that western leaders (i.e. Bush and Blair) believe we can legislate or annihilate the world's problems away.

This is not a flattering picture of American hawks to say the least. Speaking as a hawk myself, I fully understand the doctrine of original sin, and understand that humanity is fallen and will never attain perfection or harmony while sin reigns in this world. Yet at the same time, I do believe, that just as World War II rid the world of a fascist and evil dictator, we too can rid the world of the Islamofascist threat through war and the spread of democracy.

Is that a naive belief? I hardly think so. I don't pretend to think we will ever rid the world of all terrorists, but I do believe that the threat can be mostly eliminated and then controlled through intelligence operations and the spread of capitalism. Of course someone like Wright would probably be appalled that my solution is the spread of global capitalism, as that is currently represented by the "American Empire," Wright's unconvincingly thesis.

Wright believes that roots of terrorism "are more complex than politicians and the media often imply." Yet his explanation is the very one that I hear the most frequently in the American media at least, "Terrorism arises principally and obviously because individuals and groups sense themselves to be alienated from ordinary process, unable by any imaginable means to effect changes for which they long, locally or globally."

Wright even mocks those who believe terrorism can only be eradicated by killing them, by saying, "But the way to make sure that the causes of terror are diminished and if possible eliminated altogether is not – of course it is not! – to drop bombs on potential terrorists until they get the point. That is to fight one kind of terror with another, which of course not only keeps terror in circulation but tends to stir up more." It is all so clear to Wright, we are so foolish to believe that killing terrorists is the answer.

Strangely, but purposefully, I believe, Wright says "potential terrorists" rather than simply "terrorists." I don't want to put words in his mouth, but I suspect he believes American and British bombs are intentionally being dropped on innocents.

Then Wright gives us his answer to solving the terrorist problem--to talk to and understand the terrorists. We ought to, "work together, to talk together, to discover what makes people tick within worldviews quite unlike our own." If we can understand the terrorists' worldview, and they ours, we would be at peace. Now who is naive? I thought Wright said "evil is more radical and powerful than" bombing terrorists away, yet it is still simple enough to negotiate over?

Wright doesn't see terrorists as mass murderer's, but rather as freedom fighters--revolutionaries. In essence, he seems to view terrorists in a nuanced manner. The evil in their hearts is too complicated for the violent to comprehend, but simple enough for the disinterested observer to see right through.

Wright's understanding of evil is wholly inadequate. Yes, there is evil in the hearts of all humanity, but Wright seems to disregard the evidence demonstrating that there is more evil in the hearts of some.

N.T. Wright and the Theology of the War on Terror

I have previously discussed the politics of N.T. Wright and the War on Terror, but a larger questions looms: what is the theology driving Wright's politics? Denny Burk believes that Wright's "Fresh Perspective on Paul" "amounts to a theology of anti-Americanism," but is it this "Fresh Perspective" that drives the anti-Americanism, or is it derived elsewhere? Again, I will be examining Wright's lecture, Where is God in the War on Terror?, recently given in Durham Cathedral.

Wright correlates modern America to the Roman Empire of the early church. Wright compares the aims and intentions of Pagan Rome to what he would argue is an American Empire. Just as Rome, America claims they, “possess justice, freedom and peace and that they have a duty to share these things with everybody else.” As Rome, America is willing to believe that “violence can be redemptive,” and aims to “restore the town, the country, the world to its proper state.”

He believes that America has found its new Cold War, “with Islam taking the place of communism—an idea embraced all the more eagerly because some Islamic nations just happen to possess oil.” It is this pragmatism, he writes that is at the heart of our motive, though we use “the old ‘just war’ theory” as our moral basis for war. We claim to have God on our side, but Wright glibly counters “that human wrath does not bring about God’s justice.”

Wright is correct in one regard. Indeed Romans 12:19 states, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” But while he affirms that, he neglects or ignores Romans 13:2-5. Paul writes,

“Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience.”

This is in fact the passage that Denny Burk states that Wright somehow manages to neglect. I am curious what Burk will argue in his paper, which he will be presenting at the Evangelical Theological Society on Friday.

Wright argues, correctly I believe,

“The early Christians, and their Jewish contemporaries, weren’t particularly concerned with how people in power came to be in power; they were extremely concerned with speaking the truth to power, with calling the principalities and powers to account and reminding them that they hold power as a trust from the God who made the world and before whom they must stand to explain themselves.”

He also states, “With Jesus’ death, the power structures of the world were called to account; with his resurrection, a new life, a new power, was unleashed upon the world.”

The early church was taught by Paul, at least, that the emperor’s authority was derived from God, instituted by God, and was God’s servant for their good. Paul clearly taught that governmental authority is to be obeyed, and only feared by the wrongdoer. I also think that John Piper is right (and seems to argue in parallel to Wright) to assert that Paul’s letter to the Romans was written not just to the church, but to Caesar himself.

Piper argues,

“The confession “Jesus is Lord!” was a political statement. His lordship is over Caesar's lordship. This is why Jesus was killed. The crowds intimidated Pilate with the words, “We have no king but Caesar” (John 19:15). “These followers of Jesus, they have another king! They are subversive, treasonous.” And when he was raised he became known as “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Revelation 19:16; 17:14) that is, King over all earthly kings. So when Paul says, “There is no authority except from God,” he is talking not just about God the Father but also God the Son. Christians know that whatever authority is given to man has first been given to Jesus Christ.”

The language is similar to Wright—and I don’t think it is an accident. It is solid biblical exegesis. Perhaps it is reductionistic to think that Piper and Wright have more in common than they might think, but here it seems that they do.

Wright has much good to say, even in this lecture on the War on Terror. Much of his exegesis is spot on. His anti-American theology, as Burk calls it, does not seem to be derived by the “Fresh Perspective” on Paul, but by neglecting or misreading Romans 13. This is what is so distressing about N.T. Wright’s political leanings. Rather than the perceptive and highly original thinker his readers perceive after reading much of his theology, Wright comes off like most of the Democratic Party—willfully blind to reality.

To answer my original question, it seems that it is not Wright's theology that drives his politics in this regard, but his politics that has managed to drive his theology. Perhaps it is helpful to remember that N.T. Wright is human, and hence, fallible. We all think wrongly in many ways and on many topics ourselves. Wright’s politics seems to be a prime example of this.

N.T. Wright and the Politics of the War on Terror

I came across a recent lecture by N.T. Wright entitled, Where is God in the War on Terror? via N.T. In the lecture, Wright criticizes America and Britain for their heavy handed approach to the War on Terror. The lecture is fairly long, and a full response would be nearly as long, so I will begin by addressing Wright's politics and his perception of the War on Terror.

A cursory reading certainly supports Denny Burk's position that Wright's theology is anti-American. Clearly Wright has received that criticism frequently, and near the end of the lecture he states,

"I have said it before and will say it again: I am not anti-American when I criticise some policies of some American leaders, any more than I am anti-British when I criticise some of the policies of my own elected leaders. To suggest otherwise is simply a cheap way of avoiding the real questions; and when I said similar things to this in America a couple of weeks ago I found a great many Americans eager to agree."

I must disagree with Wright on this point (and many others). He is most certainly anti-American. His entire lecture is anti-American from start to end. In fact he is just as anti-American as the American left that we conservatives so rightly condemn.

Wright says of America, "the angry superpower, like a rogue elephant teased by a little dog, has gone on the rampage stamping on everything that moves in the hope of killing the dog by killing everything within reach. In his conclusion, Wright states that, "...we must work from every angle either to enable the United Nations and the International Courts of Justice to function as they should, or to replace them with something else that can do the same job better." Wright goes on to argue for internationalism--just as the American left. Again, he fails to recognize that America is the only Democratic nation suited for war.

Wright uses the precise rhetoric of the anti-American left in America and abroad. Wright can take the position that to label him as anti-American as "a cheap way of avoiding the real questions," but what he defends is most certainly anti-American.

It is clear there is a great political chasm between America and the rest of world. Wright does not have the conscience of an American and could never understand how offensive the notion of an "International Courts of Justice" is to us. Perhaps America's greatest challenge in waging the War on Terror is that no other nation can fully understand the threat posed by Islamo-fascism because their primary target has always been America. But I digress...

Not only does Wright state that, "The only way we could have done something wise in Iraq would have been for a force, with the energy of the whole international community behind it," (Doesn't that sound familiar?) but Wright also states, "Terrorism arises principally and obviously because individuals and groups sense themselves to be alienated from ordinary process, unable by any imaginable means to effect changes for which they long, locally or globally."

Wright continues with the Democrat talking points,

"The roots of present terrorist movements have been much studied, and they are more complex than politicians and the media often imply. But the way to make sure that the causes of terror are diminished and if possible eliminated altogether is not – of course it is not! – to drop bombs on potential terrorists until they get the point. That is to fight one kind of terror with another, which of course not only keeps terror in circulation but tends to stir up more. The way to eliminate the causes of terror is to seize every opportunity to work together, to talk together, to discover what makes people tick within worldviews quite unlike our own, and in short – as has been said within Iraq, but without much visible effect – to win hearts and minds not necessarily to a Christian worldview, certainly not to a modern secular western worldview, but to a shared worldview of common humanity, incoporating what the great majority of human beings want, genuine justice and genuine peace."

So rather than annihilate terrorists, we are to "work together, to talk together, to discover what makes people tick..." It amazes me how such an intelligent Christian leader can be so naive about the evil in the hearts of terrorists.

Again, as Burk argues, Wright's politics are anti-American despite his protestations. Wright has an altogether different perspective than conservative Christians in America on the motivation of terrorists, governmental power, internationalism, and the purposes and effects of war. But Burk has posed that it is Wright's "Fresh Perspective on Paul" that is the motivating factor in Wright's anti-American theology. Next, I will investigate Burk's claim.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Denny Burk on N.T. Wright

Denny Burk is running a series on the anti-American nature of the writings of the proponents of the Fresh Perspective on Paul.

His first post asks the question, "Is the Apostle Paul Anti-American?" He uses two quotes from N.T. Wright and one from Richard Horsley that demonstrate the anti-American nature of their writings. It is clear that neither writer is enamored with virtues of America and especially its foreign policy.

He concludes the first post by writing, "Over the next couple of days before I present my paper, I am going to introduce what this “Fresh Perspective” on Paul is and why it amounts to a theology of anti-Americanism."

His second post explains why he believes the theology behind the Fresh Perspective's is so anti-American. He explains N.T. Wright's position from Paul: Fresh Perspectives well, at least from my memory. It is a position I found very convincing, though I found Wright's anti-Americanism disturbing from one who is so otherwise rational and fair-minded.

I look forward to reading Denny's next entries, and perhaps his paper on the matter. But it seems to me that he is too generous in linking the theology of the Fresh Perspective to anti-Americanism. I am not so generous, and am inclined to believe that the bias existed prior to any textual or theological discoveries.

N. T. Wright on the whole seems to get much right, at least in my limited interaction with his writings. But his politics leaves much to be desired. He has a rather low view of we Americans, and an altogether too high view of loathsome characters such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu among others. Wright, like all of us, has his blind spots, and this is one of them.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Terrorists Love the Democrat's Victory

This would be funny if the situation wasn't so serious.

Al Qaida in Iraq said, "it welcomed the Republican electoral defeat that led to the departure of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, and it added that its fighters would not rest until they had blown up the White House."

Rush and others have been saying this for years, but when terrorists give Democrat talking points, and praise Democrat victories, one ought to be able to make the connection that the Democrats are not taking the War on Terror seriously.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

When Democracy Kicks You in the Teeth

After years of Republican dominance we are now getting a taste of what Democrats have been feeling for the past twelve years. Republicans had a good run in power, but things have shifted and now it is time to figure out what went wrong.

As I write, Democrats are poised to sweep all state offices. Amy Klobuchar is getting her chance to thank her supporters and it is on every stinking channel. Oh the humanity! I thought that Mark Dayton was hard to listen to. My goodness, I think this woman is going to give Hillary Clinton a run for her money as the most annoying person in the United States Senate. Her smarmy populism and waxy smile are going to induce six years of nausea.

It doesn't end there, but if the trend continues tonight and Republicans lose the House and Senate, we're going to have two years of Congress harrassing President Bush, ridiculous investigations, and Democratic moralisms.

We're getting whipped most everywhere this time around, but I am optimistic that two years of the Democrats will turn everyone back to their senses. I just hope they don't do too much damage in the time they've been given.

It would be ironic if Republicans kept the more liberal Senate but lost the more conservative House. If trends continue, that is precisely what will happen.

It is disheartening that in twelve years of Republican power in both houses of Congress, we have done so little. We caved in on so many issues and did many things just like the Democrats had done when they were in power.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Liriano to Have Tommy John Surgery

The worst case scenario for Francisco Liriano is now reality. He will undergo ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction surgery on Monday. He shouldn't pitch at all in 2007, but if the surgery and recovery go well he should be in great shape for 2008.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Kerry Unapologetic

John Kerry's knock on the troops in Iraq as uneducated has put him under a great deal of criticism. Many have called for him to apologize--something he said earlier he would not do. He has stood by that statement. The "apology" the press is telling us he made is in fact not an apology. They are accomplices to Kerry and the Democrats in trying to sweep this whole thing under the rug and let us forget what Kerry said so it doesn't haunt them on Election Day.

Kerry's statement reads:
"As a combat veteran, I want to make it clear to anyone in uniform and to their loved ones: my poorly stated joke at a rally was not about, and never intended to refer to any troop.

I sincerely regret that my words were misinterpreted to wrongly imply anything negative about those in uniform, and I personally apologize to any service member, family member, or American who was offended.

It is clear the Republican Party would rather talk about anything but their failed security policy. I don’t want my verbal slip to be a diversion from the real issues. I will continue to fight for a change of course to provide real security for our country, and a winning strategy for our troops."

This of course is a non-apology--something our society is notorious for and that countless politicians are guilty of making.
It is typical that rather than humbling admitting wrongdoing, it shifts blame onto those who "misinterpreted" him. His "sincere regret" is only that people misunderstood him. It is only after that statement that he apologizes to those who were offended.

So he is only apologetic because we were so foolish as to misinterpret him. Not only that, but he then shifts the focus from his offensive remarks to the Republican's "failed security policy." He couldn't make the statement without taking a shot at his political opponents.

John Kerry is not the least bit broken or humbled by the experience, but rather is as arrogant and condescending in his non-apology as he was in making the statement in the first place. What a jerk.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

New Kubrick Film in the Works

The New York Times has a story today about a new Stanley Kubrick film that will hopefully begin production soon.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Star Tribune Shows Its True Colors

For those who have yet to realize that the Minneapolis Star Tribune is overtly liberal, take a look at some of the candidates they have endorsed in recent editorials.

1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th District Congressional Races - Four Democrats

5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th District Congressional Races - Three Democrats and their token Republican, moderate Jim Ramstad

Attorney General - Democrat

It is pretty clear, where they stand isn't it?

Update - 10/30/06:

The Star Tribune has continued its leftist agenda by endorsing Democrats Amy Klobuchar (for Senator), Mike Hatch (for governor), and Kathy Saltzman (for State Senate District 56). And if that isn't enough, they have decided that the war in Iraq needs a new strategy--shocking, I know.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Mohler on Books and Libraries

Al Mohler has a good blog entry about how, "the books we collect, display, and read tell the story about us."

He writes, "When I think of my closest friends, I realize that I am most at home with them in their libraries, and they are most at home with me in mine. Why? Because the books invite and represent the kind of conversation and sharing of heart, soul, and mind that drew us together in the first place."

As one who finds it difficult to part with any book that I've read, I understand Mohler's view on books and reading. He is on the mark when he says, "The books we collect, display, and read tell the story about us."

Ashcroft on the 9/11 Commission

Former Attorney General of the United States has lambasted the 9/11 Commission by saying the commission hearings, "were not so much about discovering the truth as they were about assessing blame and grandstanding."

Of course he is and will be heavily criticized for stating the truth about the matter. The 9/11 Commission came about primarily to blame someone--specifically George W. Bush. The commission was the kind of thing that we postmodern Americans are good at--seemingly good gestures with a hidden and subversive agenda that turn goodwill into a political statement.

The 9/11 Commission was a joke and I'm glad that someone from the Bush Administration has finally said so.

Thursday, September 28, 2006


The Star Tribune has an interesting article about the Minnesota State Apple. The honeycrisp apple is without peer in taste and texture. The best thing about fall is apple season--meaning apple pie, apple crisp, and caramel apples.

We're Not the Problem

National Review has a good response to the recent intelligence leak that believes the war in Iraq will fuel terrorist recruitment. In one of the best lines in the article Goldblatt writes, "we must get past the idea that a suicide bomber is just a peace-loving Muslim who, if we hadn’t set him off, would be growing figs and building sandcastles."

Friday, September 22, 2006

Harkin Says What Liberals Are Thinking

Iowa Senator Tom Harkin said yesterday what most liberals are surely thinking about Hugo Chavez's UN diatribe--even though they might say otherwise. He is quoted as saying,

"Let me put it this way, I can understand the frustration, ah, and the anger of certain people around the world because of George Bush's policies... We tend to forget that a few days after 9-1-1 thousands, thousands of Iranians marched in a candlelight procession in Teheran in support of the United States. Every Muslim country was basically on our side. Just think, in five years, President Bush has squandered all that."

Harkin evidently didn't get the memo that most everyone else did, including Jesse Jackson, Nancy Pelosi, Charles Rangel, Chuck Schumer and others.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Reflections on Home Ownership

I am of the age where many friends and acquaintances are buying their first home—some of whom are single. I took the first leap in home ownership myself in the summer of 2004, and again in the spring of 2005. I am certainly not an expert in home ownership, but I am probably more experienced than many my same age. I have purchased two homes and sold one of them, so I have seen all sides of home ownership. Every time I hear of a friend buying a home, I get excited, but I also cringe at the uncertainties they are getting into.

Once my first house was listed for sale I felt obligated to share my home ownership experiences with others to ensure all facts are known and to avoid mistakes. Home ownership is never a simple thing. The first time home buyer can be lulled into thinking that it can’t be that different than renting—but the two are incomparable.

Before buying a house, especially singles, ask yourself these questions:

Are you ready for a mortgage?

Most first time home buyers do not have money for a down payment and must finance the entire cost of the home. This is not necessarily bad, but it does increase the risk when selling the house. Selling a home isn’t just a matter of giving two months notice. It costs money—a lot of it. Selling fees without an agent commission will be two to three thousand dollars, depending on the value of the house. Using a real estate agent to sell the house will cost another four to seven percent of the sale price of the house.

A house payment almost always costs more money than renting when you include things like taxes, insurance, and association dues if applicable.

What is the minimum amount of time you’ll own the property?

Those not committed to owning the house for more than a few years take upon great risk when buying a home. Financing the entire cost of the house, interest only mortgages, or worse—both will increase risk significantly. Mortgage payments are front-loaded with interest payments. This means that after five years paying a mortgage, one will have paid five times as much in interest as principal.

For example, after two years of mortgage payments on a $200,000 mortgage will only net approximately $10,000 in equity, depending on interest rates. If the housing market is stagnant or declines over those two years, selling the house could cost a great deal of money.

Beware of Adjustable Rate (ARM) and Interest Only Mortgages!

Adjustable rate mortgages offer the buyer more flexibility in buying a more expensive house than could be afforded on a fixed 30 year mortgage. But once the fixed term is over, the rate will likely go up—along with the cost of the mortgage.

Interest only mortgages are even more speculative and risky. Selling a home with no equity leaves the seller in a position where the home needs to sell for more money to be profitable than a seller with equity stored up.

The two together create an extremely risky endeavor and are to be avoided under most all circumstances.

How much can you afford to pay each month?

How much financial flexibility do you have? Stretching your budget each month to make a mortgage payment is an unwise decision. It will cramp your lifestyle and leave you vulnerable. Renting can be wiser than buying. Save money for a down payment before buying—it will save a great deal of stress and anxiety.

Singles should avoid any situation where one must rely upon rent checks to make a mortgage payment each month. This too will save a lot of anxiety and avoid undue risk.

Can you afford closing costs?

Closing costs will generally cost approximately three percent of the value of the home. This is simply what it costs to have the honor of becoming a home owner. These are all “sunk costs” and cannot be recouped. Wrapping closing costs into the mortgage requires the home appraisal to exceed the value of the mortgage or mortgages. It will also increase the mortgage payment. This means the buyer may have to pay the original closing costs when selling the home, if the sale price does not exceed the purchase price.

Can you do home repairs yourself, or afford to pay someone else?

Are you a handyman? Do you know one? Will that person be willing to help you—perhaps at a moments notice? If not, then be prepared to pay a professional at great expense. Even newer homes can, and will have problems. Be sure to have enough money left over each month to be able to pay to fix any potential problems.

Disingenuous Democrats, Part II

The Democrats, disingenous? Again? Democratic Minority House Leader Nancy Pelosi and New York Congressman Charles Rangel have lambasted Hugo Chavez for his speech yesterday at the United Nations.

Why, one might ask do I believe them to be disingenous on this? Pelosi and Rangel waited until today denounce Chavez. If they were truly outraged, as I clearly was, they would have denounced this yesterday.

Pelosi and Rangel are right, Chavez is a "thug" and Chavez's speech should not be tolerated, but for them to rise to the defense of the President a day late reeks of opportunism and CYA.

Disingenuous Democrats

House Democrats voted 192-4 today against requiring identification for federal elections. The bill passed because Republicans voted 224-3 in favor. The bill is a result of the bi-partisan Commission on Federal Election Reform. This is not the first time Democrats have opposed this type of legislation.

Why don't Democrats want to require identification? Is it truly because they believe it "would place an insurmountable burden on voters and infringe upon their voting rights?"

Democrats oppose the bill because their constituencies are full of illegal aliens, dead people, and imaginary people. It is that simple. Their argument is fallacious, specious, and outrageous.

Not surprisingly, Democrats have compared the legislation to "segregation-era measures aimed at disenfranchising Southern blacks." Typical.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

This Madness Must Stop

The United Nations is a ridiculous and morally indefensible institution that today has once again outdone itself. It allowed a scoundrel like Hugo Chavez refer to the President of the United States a "the devil."

When we this nation awaken to the fact that the United Nations--an institution which can only exist through our support--should be dismantled? When will we stop funding the United Nations? When we will send the ambassadors, diplomats, and dictators packing? When we will terminate the lease on the United Nations' buildings?

The time has come. This is too much. They have long since worn out their welcome. The U.N. must go. Now.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Greg Boyd Again

Woodland Hills pastor Greg Boyd was back in the news over the weekend. This time the Minneapolis Star-Tribune covered Boyd and his new book The Myth of a Christian Nation. Boyd, as many know is a generator of controversy.

Boyd's book is one more attempt for the political left to reclaim moral authority from the Christian right. On the surface, Boyd's book looks like a fair and even-handed critique. Yet this quote gives insight into the nature of the critique and makes me suspect of Boyd's motives:

"Chuck Darrell, communications director for the Minnesota Family Council, said he sees flaws of logic in Boyd's book... "I am concerned that his book, perhaps unintentionally, demonizes government and the Christian right by associating their efforts with Satan, the slaughter of Native Americans and slavery," Darrell said. "This kind of sensationalism, spread by an obliging media, is exactly the kind of 'power-over kingdom of the sword' the book seems to abhor."

The Star Tribune also has an interview with Randall Balmer, professor of religious history at Columbia University. Balmer has also written a book entitled Thy Kingdom Come: How the Religious Right Distorts the Faith and Threatens America: An Evangelical's Lament.

The Star Tribune seems all too eager to promote the hip notion that one can be a political liberal and traditional evangelical Christian. When a liberal paper like the StarTrib promotes evangelicals, one should use greater care in reading them than would be customary.


Not often will one find comedy in the 9/11 attacks, but I can't help but giggle in delight at the news of Bill Clinton and former administration officials being upset at how they are portrayed in ABC's upcoming 9/11 movie.

Clinton is finally getting a taste of what it is like to be a conservative. Does anyone remember the CBS movie on Reagan that made him look inept?

The truth is that 9/11 could have been avoided had the Clinton administration done more to capture bin Laden and fight Islamic terrorism.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

My Cute Niece

For those of you that have not already heard, I am now the proud uncle of a cute little girl.

My brother has a new photo blog with pictures of his daughter Anna Katherine, who was born on August 11th.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Charity on the New Perspective on Paul

Woodchips and Musings has a good call for charity and even handed criticism of both the New Perspective and its critics. Rarely will you find such calm and reasoned criticism of both sides of the argument.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Greg Boyd on Politics in the Pulpit

Greg Boyd has been getting noticed recently for tackling politics and the church. The New York Times published an article about Boyd this past Sunday. Between Two Worlds has already blogged on the issue, as has Woodchips and Musings.

It is difficult to disagree with much of what is written in the New York Times article or even Nick Coleman's Star Tribune editorial on the matter. Yet, like Jim Wallis, I fear that Boyd's purpose is to liberate conflicted liberals and condemn proud conservatives. Of course both Boyd and Wallis would think that accusation outrageous, but their intentions are transparent.

Evidently Greg Boyd believes we've all forgotten his beliefs concerning abortion. You'll find he took a great deal of heat in January 2005 in response to his wishy-washy beliefs on abortion.

On a side note, I can't help but chuckle when Boyd defines himself as a conservative theologian. The idea is, of course, preposterous. If you don't believe me, read criticism on Greg Boyd's open theism.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Twins Rotation Rollercoaster

The Twins have optioned Boof Bonser to AAA Rochester. They have not announced who will take his place on the roster, though the Star Tribune anticipates it will be Pat Neshek.

The unfortunate news is that Kyle Lohse is expected to take Bonser's place in the rotation. Lohse has not done much of anything to increase his trade value, so it seems the Twins are willing to take the chance that he will redeem himself in the rotation.

Lohse is a better pitcher than he has shown this season, so there is some hope. But Lohse could make it even more difficult for the Twins to make up ground on the Tigers and White Sox.

Scott Baker is the better fit for the rotation. Neshek should take Willie Eyre's spot in the bullpen. These two moves would make the Twins even more competitive and threatening to opp

Friday, June 30, 2006

Bush Derangement Syndrome Infects the Supreme Court

Conservatives have labeled the unreasonable, mentally unstable mania against the Bush administration "Bush Derangement Syndrome." BDS has infected many, particularly the media, and Congress.

But the infection has now spread to the Supreme Court. In yesterday's Supreme Court Hamdan decision, the Supreme Court of the United States has taken the official position that captured terrorists have the same judicial rights as American citizens.

The Supreme Court, which should be free of political rankings, is now an active participant in fighting the Bush administration's ability to wage war upon the terrorists that would destroy us.

Mark Levin is absolutely correct--this is outrageous. The Supreme Court has essentially made itself an enemy of the nation's national security. It has usurped authority the Constitution never gave it. Wars are to be waged by the President and the executive branch.

Hamdan and Kelo are two of the most egregious Supreme Court decisions in recent memory. Our nation and its leaders must ensure that the Supreme Court is filled with competent judges, free of political ideology, and who take the Constitution seriously.

Update: National Review has an editorial on the Hamdan decision that seems pretty much on target. They write, "the Court... has effectively signed a treaty with al Qaeda for the protection of its terrorists..."

Thursday, June 22, 2006

WMD's Found in Iraq

A newly declassified document reports that the United States has found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Critics of the war have been calling President Bush and his administration liars, and charging them with lying to the American people and the world in an effort to go to war.

Despite the administration having been vindicated, I have absolute confidence that liberals and the media (am I being redundant?) will downplay this report, and may even attempt to discredit it.

Monday, June 19, 2006

I Have Never Listened to Derek Webb...

I went through a brief phase in my youth, when I listened to "Christian" music--which is to say Michael W. Smith. I have all of his albums from The Michael W. Smith Project to Change Your World. I gradually stopped listening to him as my musical tastes expanded and developed. I haven't looked back--I haven't purchased a "Christian" album in years.

Even at the insistence of friends, telling me that Derek Webb is different--I have resisted listening to Christian musicians. I cannot escape the fact that "Christian musicians" are inferior to "secular" musicians.

But I just came across an interview with Derek Webb that grabbed my attention at Denny Burk's blog. The tag line, "The whole secular/Christian thing…is a total fiction…" grabbed my attention.

Webb argues that what is labelled as Christian music is not inherently Christian. Music labels promote bands they believe will sell above other concerns. He is not afraid to proclaim Christian music as "poor art." You can read the interview for yourself, from Relevant Magazine.

Webb has it right when he says, "We should learn how to chew on the meat, spit out the bones, to discern the truth and beauty, to commend that..." Secular music challenges the listener more than Christian music. Those who listen to secular music must listen carefully and critically--never accepting everything they hear as truth. In the words of Webb, they must always be "chewing." Those who listen to Christian music primarily are lulled into a false security--digesting the music uncritically and without hesitation.

Perhaps the most worrisome result of the Christian music industry is the blurring distinction between music for entertainment and music for worship. As soon as Christian musicians gained a foothold in Christian stereos, the same music was introduced into church services, and has since become fully established as a part of the worship of a large majority of Christian worship services.

Hence, Christian worship has become entertainment, and our worship has become something that we do to please ourselves, not exalt our God.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

The Twins Season Summarized in One Box Score

I didn't watch the Twins' game tonight, but simply by looking at the box score, I can imagine what it must have been like to watch it. In fact, it seems to nearly summarize the Twins' problems this season almost perfectly.

Carlos Silva (who pitched well last year, and probably above his head) got beaten around like a pinata. 6IP 10H 5R 1BB 2K 94 pitchesThat line is ugly--just ugly.

Then a frustratingly inept former pitcher, relegated to the bullpen does even worse--Kyle Lohse.
2.2IP 4H 4ER 3BB 3K 64 pitches.

Willie Eyre was brought in just to put everyone out of their misery and put an end to the game. He got an out in 3 pitches. It took Lohse an average of 8 pitches per out!

The hitters are just as frustrating. They hit 13/35 for an average of .371, and walked 8 times. On the surface, you'd think they did well. But they left 25 men on base. Hunter alone, left nearly a third of those on base himself.

Of course, third baseman Tony Batista was his usual self--1/5. And Juan Castro went 0/4.

Naturally, Joe Mauer was 2/3 with two walks. But he did so without leaving any runners on base.

I can only imagine the frustration those who saw the game must have felt. It epitomizes the plight of the team this season.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Where, O Death is Your Sting?

The death of Abu Musab Al Zarqawi has once again reminded the west of the evil of Islamo-fascism. Responding to the death of Zarqawi, Al Qaeda in Iraq has said,

"We want to give you the joyous news of the martyrdom of the mujahed sheik Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The death of our leaders is life for us. It will only increase our persistence in continuing holy war so that the word of God will be supreme."

This is evil, pure and simple. These terrorists and their supporters prize death rather than fear it, or lament it. There is no sting in death for the Islamic terrorist, rather there is perverse adulation. The silver lining in this for the west, is that a culture of death will eventually kill itself. Where death reigns, no life will be sustained. The culture of Islamo-fascism is an inherently self-defeating one. The west will have its victory--but at what cost to us?

For more on the Zarqawi love-fest, read his family's reaction to his "martyrdom."

Friday, June 02, 2006

A Perfect Commentary on America

Britney spears has a "manny"--that is a male nanny to "do all the things her husband Kevin Federline did before he reportedly flew the coup recently." If I wasn't so cynical already, this would probably make me cry.

Spears, of course is married to Kevin Federline, a despicable type of man, who impregnates women and abandons them. It seems that Federline has walked out on Spears (who wouldn't?), and attempting to fill his void, she has hired yet another emasculated man, to do what her husband should be doing.

But Spears is the emasculating type. What kind self-respecting man, could ever marry such a woman as Spears? Not only that, but she seems to have trouble being the maternal type as well. What an upside-down world we have made for ourselves!

Funny '80's Videos

I found this video of Darth Vader telling Emperor Palpatine that the Death Star blew up on The Corner.

And a friend sent me this video of a live-action version of the first level of Super Mario Brothers.

What did we ever do without the Internet?

Friday, May 26, 2006

Baseball Blog

I have begun a SportsBlog with a couple of friends.

The blog is titled Tripl3 Play.

Check it out.

Moral Insanity

I've written on George Galloway a couple times in the past year, but this new admission by George Galloway takes the cake--by a long shot. In an interview with GQ magazine, Galloway responded to the question, "Would the assassination of, say, Tony Blair by a suicide bomber - if there were no other casualties - be justified as revenge for the war on Iraq?" by saying:

"Yes, it would be morally justified. I am not calling for it - but if it happened it would be of a wholly different moral order to the events of 7/7. It would be entirely logical and explicable. And morally equivalent to ordering the deaths of thousands of innocent people in Iraq - as Blair did."

Now, Galloway is a moonbat, granted, but a man in the British Parliament should never--ever be able to get away with such an irresponsible, morally insane, and wicked statement. Galloway needs to be held accountable for what he says and what he does. Does the UK have the intestinal fortitude to do it? Not likely...

Friday, May 19, 2006

Paul: Fresh Perspectives

I recently finished reading N.T. Wright's Paul: Fresh Perspectives. It is a book that I cannot recommend highly enough. Wright masterfully ties together the Old and New Testaments to contextualize Paul's conversion, ministry, and times.

He shows us that there is much more to Paul than we'd ever imagined. Rather than place Paul in the context of the Reformation thinkers--he uses the Old Testament and Paul's own words to recast Paul's theology in hopes of creating a foundation for post-modern ministry.

I have had fairly limited interaction with Wright, as I have only read essays and listened to lectures by Wright until reading Paul. But I am very aware of the controversy surrounding Wright and the New Perspective on Paul.

Perhaps I am naive, but Wright seems to have spent little time in the book arguing for what others would label controversial. His intent seems to be demonstrating an understanding of orthodox Christianity, and showing that to decontextualize Paul from Second Temple Judaism, is to do violence to both the Bible and Paul.

Unless you're the type to read The New Testament and the People of God sometime soon, get this book!

When Bad is Good and Good is Bad...

Ever feel like you need a pick-me-up at the end of the week, after absorbing never ending negativity from the mainstream media? Victor Davis Hanson is your cure for the Friday blues.

Rather than libel America as so many others do, Hanson demonstrates that it is not us that are agents of evil, but that the world itself is upside down.

He begins his column today by attempting to answer his own question, "How does the United States deal with a corrupt world in which we are blamed even for the good we do, while others are praised when they do wrong or remain indifferent to suffering?"

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Our National Funk

In the spirit of Justin Taylor's post on American Pessimism, I give you the Top 11 Liberal Complaints About the Economy, as written by Nihilist in Golf Pants.

11. Record level Dow Jones Index makes it hard to buy low

10. Low unemployment could trigger inflation

9. Teachers make less than NBA players

8. Gas taxes should be higher and gas prices should be lower

7. Not everyone is willing to pay for a better Minnesota

6. Women on maternity leave don't get equal pay for no work

5. President Bush probably doesn't know what a gallon of milk or a loaf of bread costs

4. Someone out there is still making more money than me

3. Although he's less scary than Alan Greenspan, Ben Bernanke is still pretty scary

2. Modern art is too expensive

1. The free market doesn't price all goods and services at exactly the level I think they should be, so we need to invoke government power to correct that error

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Studio Church

I have written on Video Church in previous posts, but this story from CNet writer Greg Sandoval is even more horrific. Here is the lead to the story:

Companies such as Sony, Panasonic, Avid and Hitachi are helping churches spread the gospel as part of an effort to cash in on an exploding market known as "house of worship technology."

It only gets worse from there. Church is steadily becoming a form of entertainment:

"Let's face it, we've all experienced the occasional sleeper on Sunday morning," says an Internet advertisement from Audio Visual Mart, an online media tools store. "But it doesn't have to be that way. Technology can inspire your congregation in new ways."

What we are beginning to see is a new manifestation of Finneyism--a brand of "evangelism" that focuses on results and the means to those ends. Churches are becoming like theaters or arenas--no longer places of reverent worship and communion.

Emotions are tugged, theatrical techniques, dramatic lighting, and sound equipment are all designed to supply an emotional experience to the churchgoer. The artificial is used to create an illusion of the real. Sandoval writes, "Sometimes special lighting and sound can turn a larger venue into an intimate setting, said technicians."

How long will it take for the church to realize that technology does not come without strings attached? How long will it take for us to recognize the dangers of technologizing church?

I haven't read Mark Dever and Paul Alexander's The Deliberate Church yet, but I have heard some good things about it. Perhaps books like these will bring true revival to our Lord's church.


Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The Sun Also Rises

Yes, it has been a while since I have posted about books. That is because I have done what I mock others for doing. I have been reading multiple books concurrently. As usual, this makes it difficult to finish one book, let alone all of them.

The most recent book club selection was Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises, which followed J.D. Salinger's Franny and Zooey. I read The Sun Also Rises in my 20th century literature class in college, so I was familiar with the novel, though I'd forgotten much of the story. That book led me to read all of Hemingway's important novels in the span of a few years, including For Whom the Bell Tolls, Farewell to Arms, The Old Man and the Sea, A Moveable Feast, and the recently released True at First Light. So it had been several years since I'd read Hemingway.

I remembered the novel sentimentally, as I was planning on participating in Bethel's England Term program the following year. I was to study abroad for a semester in England and continental Europe. I remember thinking how wonderful it would be to travel Europe as Hemingway and his friends.

In my second reading, seven years later, I found a novel of despair, angst, and hopelessness. A more mature reading of the novel revealed the cycle of despair in Hemingway's novel--and has cast his body of work in a new light for me.

It was interesting to hear the reactions to the novel--particularly those of women. Naomi and another friend were both unable to "get" the novel. Of course the novel does not provide the kind of plot or story that many readers look for. The novel is meant to reveal the milieu of modern life and the human condition. We are told a story of several friends who drink wine like water and absinthe like wine, go to Pamplona, Spain for the fiesta and running of the bulls.

Hemingway's world is one of cold naturalism. Death and decay rule the earth. There is no renewal. Joy is found in overpowering nature by sport, alcoholism, hearing or telling a good story, and little else.

This is not the world we, as Christians know. Death and decay did rule the earth, but Christ has come to redeem and renew his creation. Joy is found in serving and delighting our King. By this, we live our lives, delighting in all God's creation, knowing that death has been defeated and there is new life found in Jesus Christ.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Delmon Young Knows How to Apologize

In an age where most do not know how to make an apology, Delmon Young still knows that humble craft. Delmon Young is one of the most highly touted minor league baseball players in America. He is also the younger brother of Dmitri Young of the Detroit Tigers.

Last night, Delmon flipped a bat at an umpire after being called out on strikes and being ejected from the game. Today, he made an apology for his actions. It is a true apology and not merely an expression of regret, a back-handed insult of the umpire, or revisionistic expression of misunderstanding.

Here is the apology as reported by ESPN:


"I sincerely regret my actions in the game yesterday," Young said in a statement released by the office of his agent, Arn Tellem. "Regrettably, in the heat of the competition my emotions got the better of me.

"My behavior was completely unacceptable. I want everyone to know that I recognize that it is never right to throw a bat and I certainly never intended for the bat to make contact with the umpire. Nevertheless, I owe an apology to my team, the fans and most importantly to the umpire, for the incident. I am sorry."


Mr. Young, I applaud you for apologizing and taking responsibility for your actions. You've already taken the first step toward redemption. Wouldn't it be wonderful if our politicians and other public officials could learn from Young?

Update 4/28/06 - Here is the video of Young flipping his bat at the umpire. I don't want to sound like I'm defending Young--I'm not. I am making a point about apologies. On the surface, it seems that Young is truly apologetic. I hope he is. What he did was truly indefensible.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Terry Ryan Unplugged

Minnesota Twins General Manager Terry Ryan recently spoke at Mondale Hall to a group of University of Minnesota law students. A blogger was there and has reported on the informal talk that Ryan gave.

HT: Aaron Gleeman

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Bush's Approval Ratings and Gas Prices

Is there a correlation between the price of gas and President Bush's approval ratings? This graph would seem to indicate there is one. However, I suspect that gas prices have reflected real and potential conflict and escalating tension in the Middle East including the war in Iraq, Palestinian terrorism in Israel, the Abu Ghraib controversy, Iran's nuclear ambition, the Mohammed cartoon controversy, and so on.

These news "events" are more likely to affect Bush's approval ratings and gas prices simultaneously--causing the two to appear to correspond to one another.

HT: JP at The Corner

St. Thomas' Traveling Cohabitation Policy

I have posted on St. Thomas' policies concerning professors traveling on school-sponsored trips before. My first post on the issue came when the issue arose in January. I later wrote about the school's response to developing a clear policy.

St. Thomas has now released an official policy that "will not allow employees who accompany students on university-sponsored trips to room together if they have a romantic attachment to each other and are not married."

President Dennis Dease says the policy is, "about the University of St. Thomas, in its institutional acts, being what it purports to be: a Catholic university."

This is a step in the right direction for the University, but if St. Thomas truly desires to identify with orthodox Catholicism they still have many strides to take. The issues has brought great division within the student body as well as the faculty. This speaks volumes about the university's distance from orthodox Catholicism.

Update 04/25/06 - Katherine Kersten has editorialized on this topic.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Illegal Aliens Voting in Minnesota

Katherine Kersten is a voice of sanity at the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Her column is one of the few things I appreciate about the Minneapolis paper.

Today she writes, "It's much too easy to vote illegally in Minnesota."

Here are some choice snippets from the article:

"Minnesota's voting laws are among the loosest in the country. We are one of only six states that allow same-day registration."

"Some states with same-day registration try to blunt fraud with "provisional" voting. Under this arrangement, election officials set aside the ballots of voters whose eligibility is in question, and count those ballots only after verifying a voter's eligibility. Not in Minnesota. Here we commingle all ballots. After the election, officials may discover that you voted illegally. But your vote has the same effect as any lawful voter's."

"In Minnesota, you can register on election day without showing poll workers one piece of paper. All you need is a "voucher" -- a person registered to vote in that precinct who is willing to sign a sworn statement that you live there.

Can't find a voucher? You can present a document such as a receipt for a driver's license learner's permit with a current address, but no picture. It might be yours, or you might have "borrowed" it from a friend. Poll workers have no way to know."


Let's hope our legislators work to change the law so that only American citizens votes count in Minnesota.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Worship Music

Wood Chips and Text Musings has a post with some good links about worship music. I highly recommend the post and Tim Challies' links in particular.

FYI: I have posted on worship music a couple times in the past.

Alistair Begg: Preacher and Actor?

Naomi and I watched Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius last night on DVD. I was surprised to learn that Bobby Jones designed Augusta National, home of The Masters Golf Tournament.

But I was even more surprised to find that the role of Jones' golf instructor was played by none other than Alistair Begg, pastor of Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio. I managed to find an article from Christianity Today that gives background to how Begg came to play the role.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Twins' Shortstop Situation

I generally believe Ron Gardenhire to be a good manager. He often leaves his pitchers in the game past their effectiveness, but I don't often have many criticisms for him. But the way he is handling the shortstop position leaves me baffled.

Jim Souhan tackles the issue well and comes to the same conclusion I do:

"Bartlett has shown enough promise that it is in the team's best interests to determine whether he is their shortstop of the near future, in the near future."

Gardenhire, in defending his decision to play Castro says, ""He just looks right out there next to Castillo," Gardenhire said. "He makes the plays. I really like the way they turn the double play."

Gardenhire's defense sounds like a flighty, emotional answer. Shouldn't he be more concerned who the better player is? Is Castro truly a superior defender? What does Bartlett have to do to win the starting job?

Nick and Nick have more to say at their blog on Gardenhire's baffling choice.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

House for Sale

A friend of mine and I have put our townhome on the market. It is a four bedroom, three bathroom townhome in the Minneapolis suburb of Richfield.

It is a great location with easy access to 494 and 35W, and is close to the Best Buy headquarters and the Mall of America. There are no association dues, so you will save yourself at least $150 a month.

The townhome was built in 1999 and features four bedrooms, lots of closet space, main floor laundry, two full bathrooms, a 3/4 bath, deck in the back, and an attached two car garage. The finished size is 1910 square feet with an opportunity to finish another room in the basement.

There are pictures and contact information are located at Craig's List.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Body Armor in Iraq

Uncorrelated has a good post about body armor's availability in Iraq, and the fact that soldiers don't want it. He demonstrates the Democrats used the body armor issue to their political advantage, rather than listening to what the troops actually say.