Monday, December 31, 2007

Are MP3's Illegal?

UPDATE: Based on this blog by LaShawn Barber, the Washington Post writer got the facts of this wrong and is mistaken. The RIAA does in fact allow copies of CD's for personal use. I therefore retract my mistaken statement on the matter.

The Recording Industry Association of America has argued in legal filings, "that 'when an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." Copying a song you bought is "a nice way of saying 'steals just one copy,' she said."

If this were to be enforced, the only way one could legally own Mp3 music is to buy the music online (a move that the RIAA was even hesitant to do in the first place) forcing people to purchase a CD as well as the MP3 versions of the songs for playback on a MP3 player or PC.

I am at a loss for words. It is the kind of outrageous claim you'd expect to see at The Onion--not the Washington Post. If ever there was a place for Civil Disobedience, this is it. What music enthusiast would actually inconvenience themselves enough to manually switch CD's when a program like iTunes will do the work for you?

The RIAA needs to join reality, not to mention the 21st century.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Mitt Romney for President

I am under no illusion that my endorsement for any candidate will contribute in a meaningful way for the candidate's success. Yet I know there are some loyal readers of this blog that may actually be interested in what I think about the presidential primaries. I know of at least one that has been pushing me toward Mike Huckabee. I at least owe my thoughts to him.

For a long time I have known in my gut that there is no other candidate that I could support but Mitt Romney. I have been hesitant to give him my support because he is a Mormon, but I have come to realize that he is the man most fit for the highest office in our land, in spite of his religious beliefs.

I do not believe a man's religious affections ought to have undue influence over my vote. I am issue driven--and do not believe a religious litmus test ought to be employed. Yet, I am not enthusiastic about a Mormon holding an office of such stature, knowing as Al Mohler has reflected, that a Mormon president will have a great effect over the nation's, and even the world's perception of Mormonism. I believe God is sovereign and He will not be handcuffed because a Mormon is President of the United States. Is this self-justification? Perhaps. But I firmly believe there is no other candidate as qualified for the Presidency than Mitt Romney.

Romney's opposition to abortion, stem-cell research, and other right-to-life issues is not as strong as I would hope for, but I am prepared to take him at his word on these matters. He knows his political future relies upon his commitment to life.

To summarize, Romney is right on all the major issues. I like his experiences, I like his convictions, and I like what I've seen of him. Here is a summary of sum of his views:
  • Romney recognizes the threat of Islamo-fascism and takes it seriously.
  • Romney supports a Federal Marriage Amendment stating that marriage is only between a man and a woman.
  • Romney opposes amnesty for illegal immigrants and will enforce our immigration law.
  • Romney opposes nationalized healthcare.
  • Romney wants more local control over education, rather than centralizing authority in Washington.
  • Romney wants to reduce federal spending.
  • Romney wants to lower taxes.
But why not Huckabee? I was enamored with Huckabee for a while, but the more I see and hear of him, the less enthusiastic I become of him. For a Baptist pastor, I have seen far too many ethical questions raised about him. I have also seen a lack of solid judgment and even lack of Christian conviction in speaking about evolution, Mormonism, and so on. I find it difficult to trust any pastor with the amount of money he seems to have, or at least have access to.

In short, Huckabee appears to me as an opportunist, and a man willing to obfuscate, much like the other guy from Hope, AK. Perhaps I am wrong on my assessment of Huckabee. I actually hope I am wrong. Even so, Mitt is my guy.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Global Warming Alarmists Are Socialists

Can there be any doubt that global warming alarmism is largely driven by those with a socialist agenda when they make statements such as, "A climate change response must have at its heart a redistribution of wealth and resources." So said Emma Brindal, a "a climate justice campaigner coordinator for Friends of the Earth."

A panel at the UN Climate Conference in Bali, Indonesia recently “urged the adoption of a tax that would represent “a global burden sharing system, fair, with solidarity, and legally binding to all nations.” Of course the lion’s share of the taxes would be paid by the United States courtesy of the “polluters pay principle.”

Granted, a team of one hundred “prominent international scientists” argue, “The IPCC's conclusions are quite inadequate as justification for implementing policies that will markedly diminish future prosperity. In particular, it is not established that it is possible to significantly alter global climate through cuts in human greenhouse gas emissions.”

But Al Gore in the same article is said to have “reiterated…his call to place a price on carbon dioxide emissions.” Of course not all global warming alarmists are socialists or have socialist intentions, but it is clear that this is a driving force behind the agenda.

Americans need to come to terms with what will be demanded of them if we concede that man is culpable for causing “global warming.” If we do not, we will be find ourselves being asked to surrender Constitutional authority to foreign powers. We need to stand firm in our resolve against the forces of socialism and environmental alarmism. We must not cede our autonomy in the name of a man-made crisis that men like Al Gore liken to a moral cause.

This is not to say that we should not take steps to find a new, more efficient, cleaner, more cost effective renewable energy source that will eliminate our need to rely upon middle east terrorist sponsor nations. I believe we ought to seek better fuel sources as well as be better stewards of our resources. But we must be careful to not grant the government authority outside the bounds of our Constitution—something we have already begun.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

One Reflection on the Mitchell Report

The Mitchell Report on performance enhancing drugs in baseball has been released. One of the observations that I was surprised to see is the recognition that human growth hormones do not seem to produce the desired effect. The report states,

"A number of studies have shown that use of human growth hormone does not
increase muscle strength in healthy subjects or well-trained athletes. Athletes who have tried
human growth hormone as a training aid have reached the same conclusion. The author of onebook targeted at steroid abusers observed that “[t]he most curious aspect of the whole situation is
that I’ve never encountered any athlete using HGH to benefit from it, and all the athletes who
admit to having used it will usually agree: it didn’t/doesn’t work for them.”

The primary attraction of human growth hormone for athletes seeking
performance enhancing effects appears to be that it is not detectable in any currently available
drug test. In addition, because human growth hormone stimulates growth in most body tissues,
athletes use it to promote tissue repair and to recover from injury."


I have seen this reported at Sabernomics several times, so the information is not new, but I did not expect to see this in the Mitchell report itself. Perhaps the perception of the media and even athletes have toward HGH will change as a result of the report.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Name This Favorite Hang-out Location

Ok guys, Google Maps' Streetview has hit Minneapolis/Saint Paul and I want you to name this favorite hang-out spot of mine, and probably of yours.

View Larger Map

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Sportswriters Get Paid for This, Part III

I have pondered in dumbstruck amazement about the things sportswriters get paid for--but this one might take the cake. Pioneer Press writer Bob Sansevere wrote a column in which he proposed that the Twins trade Johan Santana, Joe Nathan, and Carlos Silva to the Red Sox for Jacoby Ellsbury, Jon Lester, Jonathan Papelbon, Dustin Pedroia, and Clay Buchholz.

First of all, Carlos Silva is a FREE AGENT. Evidently even Twin Cities sportswriters are not aware of this.

And secondly, the Red Sox would have to be out of their minds to trade their five greatest young players for anyone.

Bob Sansevere is getting shelled in the comments, as he ought. But shouldn't the Pioneer Press hold him accountable for such shoddy journalism?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

N.T. Wright Interview

Trevin Wax, a student at Southern Baptist Seminary has recorded an interview with Bishop N.T. Wright. The audio is available online as well as a full transcript. I haven't listened yet, but judging from the topics discussed, it will surely prove worth listening to or reading.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Christians and Yoga, Part III

Priscilla Friedlander of Denver Seminary has written an excellent review of Nancy Roth's book titled, An Invitation to Christian Yoga. Friedlander writes that, "the problem with Roth’s book is the lack of a well-integrated Christian worldview behind her theology."

I commend the article.

HT: The Constructive Curmudgeon

Also See: Can Christians Practice Yoga? and More on Yoga.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Tired of Your Shaving Routine?

My first foray into shaving was probably just like yours. I had a cheap disposable razor that got the job done. I liked the feel of a good shave but thought of shaving as a chore. My parents gave me an electric razor as a gift which I enjoyed using in college since I could shave in bed and get the job done quickly--but it never gave me a close shave and I eventually began using a Mach III razor in my regular routine.

After college I began shaving every day with my Mach III. I didn't enjoy the shave, but I enjoyed a clean-shaven face. But in the fall of 2004 I began getting razor burn, bumps, and skin irritation. I decided to start shaving three days a week to allow my face to heal. I tried various creams and aftershaves with no effect. I figured that my skin was too irritable to be able to shave every day.

Finally I read a blog about wetshaving--shaving the way our grandfathers did. I read stories about how many men were throwing their disposable cartridge razors away and using the old fashioned safety razor and were able to shave every day without irritation--and even getting a better shave.

I was hooked. I read a great deal about it and finally bought an old safety razor on eBay and found some blades at Walgreens. I started slowly by just switching from my Mach III and Fusion razors to the GEM Micromatic single edge razor. I marvelled at how close my shave was and the skin irritation was greatly reduced.

The next step was to add a shaving brush and real shaving cream--not the standard goop in a can. I went to Crabtree & Evelyn at the mall and bought a badger hair shaving brush and some Nomad shaving cream in a tube.

Just last night I received my first shaving soap and used it this morning. I can tell you in all honesty that I am now disappointed when the morning shave is over. Shaving is now a delight--a routine that I look forward to each morning and that begins my day well. The smell of a good lather, the swirling whisp of the brush on your beard, and the scraping of the razor slicing through your stubble is truly a sublime experience.

If your shaving routine could be enhanced, I highly recommend pursuing the traditional wetshave experience. There is an abundance of material available online to get you started. I chose to write this because I wished that I had known of this years ago and thought it might be a benefit to many of you.

Here are some good places to start:

How to Get That Perfect Shave - An article about switching to wetshaving.

Leisureguy's blog - He has actually written a book on wetshaving which has a great deal of helpful information.

Leisureguy's list of Vendors - Here is a great list of places where you can buy wetshaving gear.

Shaveblog - A blog with a lot of good information about wetshaving.

Videos - Wetshaving on the Today Show.
- Wetshaving Videos on YouTube

For what it is worth, here is a list of what I'm using:

GEM Micromatic single edge razor (Most people prefer a double-edge razor. The Merkur HD is the recommended razor for beginners.)
Crabtree & Evelyn Pure Badger Shaving Brush
Honeybee Shaving Soaps
Crabtree & Evelyn Nomad Shaving Cream

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Are the Red Sox the "New" Yankees?

Yesterday, my friend Tom tried to persuade me that the Boston Red Sox are just as "evil" as the New York Yankees. It is an accusation that has been a trendy recently. I defended my Sox and I believe, rightfully so.

The accusation regarding the Yankees has been prevalent for years now. During and after the Yankee dynasty of the '90's many baseball fans, myself included, began to loathe the big-city, big-spending Yankee organization. With the huge payrolls, superstars, loud and obnoxious fans, and New York media machine on overdrive it was easy to despise them.

The Boston Red Sox in the meantime were everyone's darling because they were perceived as the cursed franchise unable to topple Goliath despite its also deep pockets. These two teams, locked in one of the greatest sports rivalries battled year after year with the Yankees always on top and the poor Red Sox were sent packing each October.

Of course, 2004 came and they were a Cinderella story. Now that the Red Sox have secured another World Series Championship many are calling the Red Sox "the new Yankees." Well, I think that is silly, and I'll tell you why.

The Red Sox 2004 roster had two home-grown talents who made significant contributions to the team--Kevin Youkilis and Trot Nixon (Nomar Garciappara is borderline here, having only played in 38 games).

Most of the team was acquired by trade or free agency. Significant contributors here include Jason Varitek, Kevin Millar, Mark Bellhorn, Bill Mueller, Pokey Reese, Manny Ramirez, Johnny Damon, Gabe Kapler, David Ortiz, Orlando Cabrera, Pedro Martinez, Derek Lowe, Curt Schilling, Bronson Arroyo, Tim Wakefield, Keith Foulke, Mike Timlin, and Alan Embree.

The 2007 roster is very different, and demonstrates the Red Sox organization's move towards building the franchise from the inside. Home-grown talents on the 2007 roster include a much larger contribution by Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jon Lester, Jonathan Papelbon, Manny Delcarmen, and contributions from two minor leaguers that combined for 10 starts between Clay Buchholz and Kason Gabbard.

Free agent signings and trade acquisitions included Jason Varitek, Mike Lowell, Julio Lugo, Manny Ramirez, Coco Crisp, J.D. Drew, David Ortiz, Alex Cora, Eric Hinske, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Tim Wakefield, Josh Beckett, Curt Schilling, Julian Tavarez, Hideki Okajima, Javier Lopez, Mike Timlin, and Kyle Snyder.

So home-grown talent on the 2007 increased to 8 from 2 in 2004; and free agent/trade acquisitions remained the same at 18 both seasons. So, what has changed? Well, I suspect the differences are perceptions, not reality. Boston made three big free agent signings in the 2006 off-season that is likely responsible for the mis-perception--Daisuke Matsuzaka, J.D. Drew, and Julio Lugo.

Team payroll increased by a couple million dollars according to what I found at Baseball Reference. Of course the posting fee paid for Daisuke Matsuzaka is not reflected in that number. But payroll really didn't change significantly.

If you are interested further in the Red Sox, I commend the recent three part series written at Baseball Analysts (Part I, Part II, Part III)about the future of the Red Sox. It is clear to me that the key to Boston's success in 2007 and their continuing success will be based upon their ability to scout quality players for their minor league system and leverage their financial flexibility to sign key free agents to fill their needs. In essence, the Red Sox are becoming the kind of organization that every baseball fan hopes their own team to become--smart and savvy.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Presidential Candidate Calculator

I came across a neat little calculator to determine what presidential candidate is most closely aligned with your stance on key political issues.

I was a 100% match to Congressman Tom Tancredo of Colorado. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney was the closest of the major candidates with an 88.57% match.

The candidate with the lowest match rating was moonbat Congressman Dennis Kucinich with a 8.57% match. I am a little concerned that I share any political stances with him. I even had a 25.71% match with both Hillary Clinton and John Edwards. Time to dial up the conservativ-o-meter again!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Profile on Dr. James Andrews

Those that follow sports closely know the name of Dr. James Andrews well. He is perhaps the most famous sports surgeon in the nation. His list of patients is a who's who of professional sports. John Helyar has written a good article about him on ESPN. I commend it to any sports fan.

More on Yoga

My friend Bob has responded to me about Christians practicing yoga. I left a comment for him on his blog and thought I'd post it here as well:

My critique of Pagitt stems not from MacArthur’s arguments, but rather from Doug Groothuis’. Groothuis’ opposition to yoga stems not from neo-Platonism, but rather from opposition to idolatry. He writes on his blog,

“Yoga, deeply rooted in Hinduism, essentially means to be “yoked” with the divine. Yogic postures, breathing, and chanting are designed not to bring better physical health and wellbeing (Western marketing to the contrary), but to bring union with God Brahman (a Hindu word for God). This is pantheism (all is divine), not Christianity.”

While you’ve got a point about Christian’s re-appropriation of Easter and Christmas, yoga is a much different matter. Yoga, as Groothuis argues is not simply changing the name of something or of a mere distraction, but about worship and faithfulness to serving the One True God.

In a lecture available online Groothuis does make a distinction between using yoga positions and exercises apart from the chanting and otherwise religious aspects of it. Without knowing how Pagitt practices yoga, or how the class at Solomon’s Porch is taught, it is impossible to make a judgment about the class. But it is very important that Christians make a clear distinction between yoga and simple exercise. This distinction is not made clear by Pagitt, and is only alluded to by MacArthur in the CNN video.

“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.” Matthew 6:24

Monday, September 17, 2007

Why Did Terry Ryan Resign as GM of the Twins?

Nihilist in Golf Pants offers eleven reasons why:

11. Needs to start training now if he hopes to be the Twins DH next year.

10. To continue his search for the real Ramon Ortiz.

9. Took a new position with the Sunshine Carpet Cleaners.

8. Bert Blyleven's hair plug guy told him he'd need at least a year off for recovery.

7. He saw an x-ray of Joe Mauer's knees.

6. He saw an estimate of Johan Santana's next salary demand.

5. He got a look at Nick Punto's batting average.

4. Wants to devote all his attention to scouting for more weak-hitting utility players.

3. Could no longer tolerate the fact Wally the Beerman earns more than he does.

2. Had to quit because doing donuts in the parking lot with the ‘87 World Series trophy tied to the back of his car wasn’t enough to get fired.

1. After winning all those division titles, what more was there to accomplish?

Can Christians Practice Yoga?

Doug Groothuis, professor at Denver Seminary, and The Constructive Curmudgeon, has responded to a recent piece on CNN on whether or not Christians can practice Yoga. The piece includes contributions from pastors John MacArthur and Doug Pagitt. MacArthur argues that the practice of Yoga is not compatible with the Christian life. Pagitt on the other hand practices yoga himself and seems rather intent on continuing to do so.

Groothuis is very critical of Pagitt and states, "he has little spiritual discernment and is oblivious to the realities of spiritual warfare." I'm inclined to agree with Groothuis here. Groothuis has recently lectured on Hinduism and explicitly states in the lecture that to practice Yoga is to practice Hinduism. He has also recently republished an article he had contributed for Christianity Today concerning the practice of Yoga.

Pagitt seems to be naive, as I had been prior to learning about the relationship Yoga has with Hinduism. He too seemingly dismisses the notion that the two may be contradictory. It is cause of concern when Christians so willingly embrace one of the forces of darkness, yet it is even more disturbing when a Christian pastor takes the side of yoga in a public debate as he did on CNN.

We Christians need to critically evaluate the culture and especially the practices of paganism, rather than pragmatically embrace things that are initially perceived as promising benefits. I pray that Pagitt reevaluates his position on the practice of yoga, because as this Hindu writer states, "The effort to separate yoga from Hinduism must be challenged because it runs counter to the fundamental principles upon which yoga itself is premised, the yamas (restraints) and niyamas (observances)."

HT: The Constructive Curmudgeon

Friday, September 07, 2007

Osama bin Laden: Political Scientist

What must the Democrats be thinking now when terrorist Osama bin Laden is spouting liberal, anti-war talking points in his latest video? Read some of these quotes--they are amazing! Where have we heard these things said before?

He talks of "neoconservatives like Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Richard Perle."

He says we have, "made one of your greatest mistakes, in that you neither brought to account nor punished those who waged this war, not even the most violent of its murderers, [former Defense Secretary Donald] Rumsfeld…"

"You permitted Bush to complete his first term, and stranger still, chose him for a second term, which gave him a clear mandate from you -- with your full knowledge and consent -- to continue to murder our people in Iraq and Afghanistan. Then you claim to be innocent! The innocence of yours is like my innocence of the blood of your sons on the 11th -- were I to claim such a thing."

"People of America: the world is following your news in regards to your invasion of Iraq, for people have recently come to know that, after several years of tragedies of this war, the vast majority of you want it stopped. Thus, you elected the Democratic Party for this purpose, but the Democrats haven't made a move worth mentioning. On the contrary, they continue to agree to the spending of tens of billions to continue the killing and war there."


Osama bin Laden is saying the very same things the anti-war left is saying--what should that tell us? Clearly Bin Laden is attempting to persuade the US Americans (sorry, I couldn't resist) that Bush and his policies must go, and that the anti-war left must win the battle of ideas and we must abandon Iraq and the "War on Terror."

Of course, Bin Laden assumes we aren't bright enough to realize we should never trust him and that he, like the anti-war left would lead us to destruction.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Reflections on Mother Theresa

Rick Phillips of Reformation 21 has written a very good article on Mother Theresa's recently released memoirs, Come Be My Light. The memoirs reveal an inner despair and spiritual struggle for her years of ministering in Calcutta.

Phillips writes that, "her faith was not rooted in the Word of God, but in experiential ecstacy. In this, parallels can be seen between Mother Teresa and Christians of many stripes -- many of them evangelicals -- whose faith is driven by spiritual experiences instead of by the truth of God's Word."

In one of his more powerful reflections he writes,

"
from an evangelical standpoint, Mother Teresa's terminal case of spiritual darkness would have sullied her outward testimony beyond repair. An evangelical understanding of faith (a biblical understanding of faith) is incompatible with the ceaseless dirge of Mother Teresa's inner despair. She speaks of the total absence of God from her inner life: "Empty... no faith... no love... no zeal," she is described by one intimate. Imagine a postumous biography of Billy Graham, D. James Kennedy or Rick Warren revealing such a persistent spiritual state. The effect would be to obliterate their influence in evangelical circles. Jesus said, "Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life" (Jn. 8:12). Simply put, the spiritual testimony of Mother Teresa is directly contrary to the depiction offered by Jesus in the Bible."

I commend the entire article to you as it speaks very well to the differences between the Roman Catholic Church and Evangelical Protestantism. But not only that, it speaks to the transforming power of the gospel, given to us in the Holy Scripture.

HT: JT

Missed Memo

According to Reuters the controversial film Brokeback Mountain is a "gay cowboy classic." As I see it there are two problems with this label.

Firstly, how many gay cowboy movies are there? This is the first that I am aware of, so to call what may be the only film in a subgenre a classic is a rather silly acclamation.

Secondly, to label a film that is only two years old a "classic" of any variety smacks of presumption and gall on the part of the critic.

Evidently I have missed the memo on Brokeback Mountain. As many of you might imagine, the thought of me watching this film would (and should) provoke laughter. I am a fan of "classic westerns" but to suddenly install Brokeback into that genre is ridiculous and will not be well received by this critic at least.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Sleep Runners

Doug Groothuis, the Constructive Curmudgeon has a great reminder for those of us stuck in the digital age. He has written a poem that exposes us for who we are:

Sleep walkers are passe.
Sleep runners rule the day.

Don't know where they are going,
What they are doing,
But they are moving.

Plugged in, jacked up, spaced out.
Proving their connections,
Never minding their defections.

Ear buds in.
Cell phones on.
Text messages out.
Never any doubt:
This is not sin.

Running to their portals.
Running with their portals.
No more mere mortals.

They are the wired wonders,
Souls torn asunder.

Sleep runners sparked by electronic speed.
Stimulation their obsessive need.
Never paying any heed
To any outworn Creed.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Minnesotan's Bi-Polar Merging Phenomenon

This article I discovered on WCCO.com (or WDFL as some of us call it) finally ends the argument over traffic merging when a lane ends. Amr Jabr works at the Minnesota Department of Transportation and states, "We all want to be nice guys and merge right away but that's not really what we want. Merge at the very last moment possible."

This goes counter to what many Minnesotans do and is clearly an unpopular thing to do. According to the WCCO article, "MnDOT's research shows that 34 percent of us merge immediately, 62 percent wait for an opening and just 3 percent merge at the very end."

Who of us has not witnessed the meek Minnesotan merging as soon as possible and then getting into a rage when someone merges at the last possible moment? Minnesotans are bi-polar on the road--too meek to actually do what MNDOT wants us to do, seemingly out of courtesy; but when someone follows MNDOT's plan, but gets in front of the previously meek driver--you'd better watch out! That meek driver just became your worst enemy.

HT: Prof. S @ Roadguy

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

New Twins Ball Park Webcam

The Minnesota Twins have a webcam up and running looking down at the site for the ballpark which will begin construction on August 2nd. It will be interesting to monitor the progress over the next three years. Enjoy!

HT: Metroblogging Minneapolis

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Blind Side

I recently finished reading Michael Lewis' The Blind Side after a strong recommendation from J.C. Bradbury on his blog, Sabernomics. Lewis is famous for Moneyball, his book on baseball. Bradbury does a great job summarizing the book, so I don't feel the need to restate what he's already written. But I do commend the book.

If you're at all interested in football, life in the inner-city, sociology, or just like a good story, you can't miss with The Blind Side.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Looking For Legalism

I came across a very helpful article concerning legalism in the New Testament's historical books. Derrick Olliff is the author, and has many well reasoned arguments.

His main thesis states that "there was no significant criticism of Israel or the Pharisees for merit legalism." He adds that, "Israel and the Pharisees were consistently and significantly criticized and judged for other things: antinomianism/hypocrisy and unbelief." And oddly enough he writes, "The views that sound the most like merit legalism to us came from Jesus, and the New Testament records a number of instances where Jesus taught such views."

I especially appreciated this prophetic statement,

"if a Protestant today said some of the things that Jesus said, he would have some splainin' to do. In fact, I have heard talks from Reformed Christians that either included material quite similar to Jesus' words above or that were less easily confused with merit legalism, and those talks have been condemned for supposedly advocating works righteousness, justification by faith plus works, or something similar."

Olliff's study of the gospels and Acts is a very helpful one and does a remarkable job of recalibrating one's understanding.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

BOOF

Stats, Inc. has profiled Minnesota Twins pitcher Boof Bonser and give him very positive reviews. They rate all four of Bonser's pitches very highly and believe he has the potential to be a star.

Incidentally, Elizabeth named her stuffed brown dog Boof. As you might guess, she's a big fan.

A Parable of You and Me

JD at Get Rich Slowly has a fascinating parable of human nature. The story centers around Gillian, a friend who came to him seeking financial advice. She says,

“Tom and I are working all the time, but we’re always broke. He just wrecked the car, but we don’t have money to get it repaired. We’ll have to use the credit cards again. We don’t have any other choice. There’s never anything left at the end of the month,” she said. “I need some help budgeting so that we don’t keep having this problem.”

JD probes into where their money goes each month and learns the root cause of the problem and discovers he can't help them. Gillian spends $200 per month for a house keeper. When JD suggests that is an easy way to save some money she responds, "I don’t want to clean the house. It’s too much work."

He asks if they both really need cell phones. Gillian states, “I don’t know what I’d do without one. And Tom needs one for work. I need to be able to reach him.”

Finally he inquires about their cable bill. Gillian responds, “Oh, we can’t get rid of cable we watch TV all the time.”

Toward the end, Gillian confesses she doesn't have time for a garden, something JD prioritizes and is one of his ways of living frugally. She doesn't take the time to clean her own house because "it is too much work." She won't get rid of her cell phone because she doesn't know what she'd do without it. And cutting out cable is out of the question because they "watch TV all the time."

It is easy to pick on Gillian and see how ridiculous her situation and reasoning are. Yet I bet that we all have our own idiosyncrasies and self contradicting positions. This is bigger than budgeting and spending money. We all have our stubborn tendencies, we all justify things that are indefensible and irrational. We all feel entitled to some things that we are not entitled to. We all believe we are right and are unwilling to sacrifice those things that have become idols to ourselves. It is articles like these that should challenge us all to self examination.

I encourage you to read the whole article.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

If There Was Any Doubt Left...

Jimmy Carter has continued his abominable reputation as an apologist for Islamic terrorists by demanding that the United States and the European Union recognize Hamas, the terrorist organization and political faction in Palestine, as a legitimate government.

If only Carter would fade into oblivion rather than spout his naively foolish Middle East policies and undermine the efforts of President Bush.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Why Listen to What the New Perspective Has to Say?

One of the topics I most frequently write about on this blog concern N.T. Wright and the new perspective on Paul. The issue seems to be getting more and more attention in evangelical circles and this post is an attempt to introduce my readers to why I find the new perspective on Paul helpful.

I am still sorting through the new perspective and am not an authority on it by any means. I have been studying it for a only couple years now. I have read two books by Tom Wright ( Paul in Fresh Perspective and Simply Christian) though I have read many essays by him and listened to numerous lectures that he's given.

I have never really found the more "traditional" reading of Galatians and Romans fully persuasive. The presupposition that Paul is writing primarily and explicitly against merit legalism strikes me as doubtful. To me the two books seem primarily interested in what it means that Christ died for Jew and Gentile alike--that the unity and truth of the gospel as the testimony of God's faithfulness to his promise to Abraham is at stake. These two books seem ultimately concerned that both Jews and Gentiles fellowship together by properly understanding the purpose of the old covenant and the freedom and unity to be found in the new.

The so-called new perspective is broad, and my interaction with it is limited to primarily Wright, and a couple influential articles by Tim Gallant and Derrick Olliff. I have read and listened to a great deal of criticism of Wright and the new perspective on Paul (NPP) trying to understand the reservations of those whose opinions I respect in other matters--including John Piper, Al Mohler, Ligon Duncan, Sinclair Ferguson, and so on. While I respect the opinions these men have on most matters I am typically left disappointed by the manner in which they dismiss and criticize the NPP. They don't seem adequately interested in dealing with the substance and are too quick to object to it.

I have struggled in the way I respond to the NPP and its critics because much of the NPP doesn't seem to be that great of a departure from what we learn from the traditional view. That is why I am so perplexed by critics of the NPP. There is so much common ground--at least with the NPP proponents that I've spent time studying that I really don't understand what everyone gets so upset about, if one reads the literature with care and without imputing other ideas and beliefs to it that the writers don't likely hold to.

One of the most helpful things I have learned through studying the NPP is that in the traditional view on Paul there is a danger that "faith" can be turned into a sort of meritorious work. It seems to me that in preaching so strongly against works righteousness and stressing the importance of faith, faith itself it becomes a sort of work. In stressing the importance of faith many are led to elevate faith in a way outside and above its proper biblical function. This may seem bizarre, but I do not believe that I am the only one to struggle with this. I have seen people who are always anxious that they do not have enough faith--and I don't mean in a simple, humble way--but in a neurotic, self-loathing kind of way that is unhealthy for the Christian.

I doubt I explained that adequately, but when I realized this, I felt as though I'd been freed from a sort of bondage--a bondage to the exaltation of "faith." What I find in the way Wright and others read Romans and Galatians is the stress upon grace. God's grace is liberating because it frees me from anxiety that I might fall out of God's favor. Grace leads to trust and to deeper faith. Through a greater understanding of God's grace, I have found greater contentment and joy in Christ.

The way I see it, faith is not new to the New Testament--something that one might infer from most commentaries on Romans or Galatians. The covenant given in the OT is one of God's unmerited grace. The ten commandments begin with the words, "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery." God called a people to himself out of slavery and bondage by his grace--not because of who they were, but because of who God would make them to be. In his goodness he demanded that his people Israel follow the law he would give to them. Yet Psalm 119 and many others are full of language like "I will delight in your [God's] statutes."

So just as the Jews were given a covenant of grace and were called to good works, so to are we as Christians given a (new) covenant of grace and are called to good works (Matthew 5:16, Ephesians 2:10, Titus 2, etc.). Yet as Paul makes clear in Galatians, we know that it has always been that, "it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham," and again in Romans 4, "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness." The way in which people get into covenant with God has not changed--it has always been by faith. But before Christ that meant that Israel, the covenant people of God were identified by belonging to Torah--not as a means for salvation, but as the covenant that defined them as God's people. "Now," as Paul writes, "that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith." We "all"--meaning Jew and Gentile, are sons of God, not through flesh/works of the law (circumcision, dietary laws, etc.) but through faith--Christ's faithful fulfillment of the old covenant. The old covenant has served its purpose. It is obsolete and no longer in force. To require Gentile believers to follow Jewish law is to spurn Christ and declare his once for all sacrifice is insufficient, and that salvation is to be found through the old covenant, not the new.

I don't know how accurately the above statement would reflect N.T. Wright, or any of those aided by the NPP, but I think it is a good summary statement of what I have come to learn through studying Wright and others.

Helpful Resources Online:
The N.T. Wright Page
The Paul Page
N.T. Wright - The Shape of Justification
Tim Gallant on Galatians
Derrick Olliff on Galatians
Derrick Olliff - Looking For Legalism

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Groaning at Piper, Part II

John Piper has again baffled me in his understanding of N.T. Wright. I wrote earlier on Piper's upcoming book critical of N.T. Wright. Now that he has released the conclusion to the book which is called The Future of Justification: A Response to N.T. Wright.

Clearly there may be more to the critique than is inferred by the conclusion, but the conclusion itself relies upon the typical strawman arguments that Wright's critics like to create.

Here are some of the quotes that imply wrong things about Wright:

"
God has not ordained that living the Christian life should be the basis of our hope that God is for us."

"Our own works of love do not create or increase God’s being for us as a Father..."

"There would be a double tragedy in thinking of our works of love as securing the fact that God is completely for us. There would be a double tragedy in thinking of our works of love as securing the fact that God is completely for us. There would be a double tragedy in thinking of our works of love as securing the fact that God is completely for us."

These three quotes all seem to imply that Wright must believe that works are in some way a "basis of our hope," "create or increase God's being for us as a Father," or that "our works of love secure[ing] the fact that God is completely for us."


All three of these quotes if meant as they appear to, wrongly impute ideas to Wright. Wright does and and never has argued that our good works do any of those things. The fact that Wright and the new perspective believe "justification" needs to be redefined and re-understood does not mean that they believe in justification by works, nor does it mean they place an unhealthy or inappropriate stress upon works. Wright is attempting to give passages concerning works their proper place--something that is too often lost.

I fear Piper's book on Wright is going to be yet another example of a misreading and misinterpretation of him.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Oh, Germany!

I would be cross too:

"It's absolutely outrageous that beer is getting even more expensive," Glutsch said, gulping down the last swig of his half-liter dark beer at lunch. "But there's nothing we can do about it — except drinking less and that's not going to happen."

The price of beer is going up in Germany due to the politics of global warming. Farmer's are giving up growing barley and are growing other crops used for biofuels. The effect has left a high demand for barley causing the price to double. Naturally everyone, including brewers must raise their prices to cover the costs.

This of course is what the global warming crowd would have us do: pay more for everything or forgo conveniences in the name of the environment and the children.

Friday, May 25, 2007

This is Unbelievable

You've got to see this picture to believe it. The hog weighed over half a ton. After mounting the head, they are going to make sausage from the rest of it--500 to 700lbs. worth of meat! Amazing.

An eleven year old boy shot and killed the hog after a three hour hunt--finally killing it with a point blank shot.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Bait & Switch at Best Buy?

Richard Blumenthal, Attorney General of Connecticut, has announced a lawsuit against Best Buy, stating, "Best Buy gave consumers the worst deal — a bait-and-switch-plus scheme luring consumers into stores with promised online discounts, only to charge higher in-store prices."

The Startribune article states,

"Blumenthal opened an investigation into the Richfield, Minn.-based retailer in March. About 20 customers complained to his office after a columnist for The Hartford Courant reported the experience of one Connecticut man who found a laptop computer advertised for $729.99 on BestBuy.com, then went to a Best Buy store where an employee who seemed to check the same Web site told him the price was actually $879.99."

I didn't think much of this at the time, though I suspected it was an honest mistake on behalf of the salesman. I worked at Best Buy for over four years and understand how mistakes like this can be made. But I have now experienced a similar kind of bait & switch firsthand.

May 15th the new Wilco album was released. I saw that it was advertised as $11.99 on the Best Buy website. I mentioned this to my wife, who went to the store to purchase it for me. When she arrived, she was confused because the very same CD cost $13.99. She asked customer service about it--including a manager. They insisted that the price was correct.

She called me after she bought it, telling me about the discrepancy. I was confused myself, and double-checked the website. Sure enough, the CD was still $11.99. I bought it on-line and opted for in-store pickup. In the meantime my wife ran some more errands. When she got back to Best Buy she returned the CD that she'd paid $13.99 for and picked up the one I'd purchased on-line for $11.99.

She discussed this with the same manager and customer service personnel. They said that they would have honored the web pricing had she stated the price she saw on-line, though she hadn't because she didn't do it confidently, having not seen it herself. They did not understand her frustration and the confusion this raised. They did nothing to make her a happy customer.

I got my CD, paid the lower price, and am now listening to it in my car--to and from work. But it was a hassle that could have easily been avoided. I doubt that Best Buy has any malicious intent on having different prices in their on-line store than in-store. It might be a wise business decision to advertise different prices on-line than the in-store prices--but it seems like a bad public relations decision. Now they'll be paying their lawyers to defend the practice.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Jimmy Carter's Non-Apology

Over the weekend, former President Jimmy Carter said,

"I think as far as the adverse impact on the nation around the world, this administration has been the worst in history. The overt reversal of America's basic values as expressed by previous administrations, including those of George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon and others, has been the most disturbing to me."

Naturally it has been pointed out by others the irony of Carter's statements, and he is now backtracking. Enter the "non-apology apology:"

"... my remarks were maybe careless or misinterpreted. But I wasn't comparing the overall administration, and I was certainly not talking personally about any president." Carter claims he was comparing Bush's foreign policy to that of Nixon--not every president in history.

Carter's "non-apology apology" comes after the likes of Dick Durbin, John Kerry, and Mike Nifong. But none can top the master--Bill Clinton.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

What We Can All Learn From An Environmentalist

Get Rich Slowly linked to a site named "No Impact Man" a week or two ago. I have since become a fascinated, but highly critical reader of the blog. However his latest entry is one that I resonate with deeply.

No Impact Man labels himself as, "a guilty liberal [who] finally snaps, swears off plastic, goes organic, becomes a bicycle nut, turns off his power, composts his poop, and while living in New York City generally turns into a tree-hugging lunatic who tries to save the polar bears and the rest of the planet from environmental catastrophe while dragging his baby daughter and Prada-wearing, Four Seasons-loving wife along for the ride."

Well, clearly this is a man with whom I do not see eye-to-eye with on most anything. However, the experiment is a fascinating one. I disagree entirely with his world view, yet we share common ground, it seems.

In his most recent entry he writes:

In my imagination, people used to live like this: you had most of the bare necessities but then every so often a relative managed to get hold of, say, some coffee or some salt and pepper or a guava fruit. That day that it came would be special. These things were called “luxuries” or “delicacies.” If guests came over you’d say, “Hey, you know, cousin John sent us some coffee beans. Shall we have some for a treat?”

This is one of the perspectives on life that I have gained in recent years as a result of closely examining my diet and realizing that it is not possible to live a healthy and satisfying life eating in the way I had been. We in America, and surely throughout the West have been so transformed by instant gratification and abundance that we have fallen into the trap of decadence and over indulgence.

Treats like cakes, cookies, candies, chocolate, pastries, and even sugar itself were not always such integral parts of the human diet. With their abundance in the late 20th century we have integrated them too much into our diets and of course we are fattening up as a result.

There are scenes in westerns (two off the top of my head) in which white cane sugar--the same kind that sits untouched in our kitchens today until used for baking is a rare commodity and itself a treat. I can't help but think this kind of ethic today would result in fitter bodies for us all.

Of course this principle can be extended beyond culinary pursuits, as No Impact Man himself argues. I'm not a Luddite, and perhaps No Impact Man isn't either, but I do believe in technological progress. However, it is not something we should take uncritically. Much has been lost as a result of the way our lives are changed by progress.

In fact while we "progress" much is lost, and we do even regress in many ways. Community is lost when our entertainment is recorded and rebroadcast over multiple mediums such as television, movies, and the Internet. Community is lost when the television is the thing around which the family gathers.

So No Impact Man has made a valid point, one which we need to hear more often in our culture.

Monday, April 23, 2007

The Newspaper as Socialist Advocate

The Minneapolis Star Tribune editorializes today that the Minnesota gas tax ought to be ten cents more than it currently is. The editorial states in very clear terms that the newspaper does not believe that gasoline should be part of the free market, but ought to be regulated.

The Trib argues that gasoline prices are, "way too low considering the grave geopolitical and environmental challenges facing this country and this planet. Note that this is not an economic study concerning whether or not the free market has over or under valued the price of gasoline, but is placing the debate within the realm of "geopolitical and environmental challenges." Clearly the StarTrib is arguing that the free market is not only not working, but should be disregarded when setting the price of gas.

Go on and read the editorial. It is amazing that a "mainline" newspaper can spout such socialist tripe and maintain any kind of credibility. Of course, many of us give the Star Tribune no credibility, but somehow the paper still holds sway in Minnesota.

The environmentalists warning us of global warming want us to change our lifestyles and way of life. They are committed to the belief that they, and the government are better suited to make decisions for us. The Trib puts it plainly when they write that raising the gas tax would, "deter excessive driving."

Evidently we Americans are driving too much. But what is too much? On what basis is this claim made? They believe it is the responsibility of the government to place an added burden upon Minnesotans to, "reduce harmful carbon emissions, encourage and hasten the market for alternative fuel technologies and remove oil as a favorite weapon of our enemies around the world."

I'm not going to attempt to tackle the politics of carbon emissions (I believe this is more of a political issue than a scientific one) but they are willing to rely upon the market for alternative fuel technologies--but only when they are the ones encouraging it--not a free market.

I also find it interesting that the Trib is making an anti-terrorist stance regarding gasoline. I believe this demonstrates their appeal to conservatives, but they also hope to demonstrate that their method of fighting terrorism is superior to that of the Bush administration. The article goes on to argue that, "raising taxes on gasoline and other carbon-based fuels may be the most effective way to fight terrorism."

Excuse me for my skepticism, but this argument is hypocritical, naive, and simplistic. I certainly don't like the fact that so much of the world's oil reserves are in the middle east, but this is no argument for raising the tax on gasoline. Let's deal with terrorists seriously and not in token gestures.

Again, the Star Tribune is pompously and self-righteously calling for the legislature to put interest of the state's socialists before the citizens of the state.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Joe Mauer Profile

I used to read NWA World Traveler magazine on a regular basis. As a NWA Platinum Elite member I put in many hours on Northwest Airlines planes. Those days are far behind me now. But I stumbled upon one of the most interesting articles I've read in the magazine--a profile of Joe Mauer.

It is an interesting read--the kind of article meant to appeal to a wide audience--not simple baseball fans. The article states that his older brother, Jake, who was drafted in 2001--the same year as Mauer, is now a coach in the Twins minor league system.

Jake even has a funny story about Joe's ability to play golf as a rightie. It sounds like Joe is the kind of guy we all envy--he's good at anything he does even if it is the first time he's done it.

I commend the article to you.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A Measure of Morality and Propriety

The United States Supreme Court today upheld the 2003 law banning partial-birth abortion. Justices Kennedy, Scalia, Alito, Thomas, and Roberts ruled in favor of the Constitutionality of the ban.

This is a big win for the unborn, yet the AP article states,

"Abortion opponents say the law will not reduce the number of abortions
performed because an alternate method - dismembering the fetus in the
uterus - is available and, indeed, much more common."

So our nation has a measure of shame and decency, yet it is appalling to me that it is still legal for babies to be willfully destroyed in their mother's womb--regardless of their gestation.

God help us!

What Could Have Been

Of course in the aftermath of a tragedy such as the massacre at Virginia Tech this week it is easy to look back with clarity and regret. Yet this is often a very necessary response--one that can lead to learning from mistakes and taking corrective action.

Uncorrelated link to and comment on a powerful editorial that demonstrates the need for more discussion about self defense and deterring other would-be mass-murderers.

What could have happened had someone in that building had a gun of their own? What if someone from within the building were able to respond with a handgun rather than flee for their own lives and wait for the police to arrive?

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Terry Ryan Unplugged

Shores' Baseball Blog has a great piece reporting on Terry Ryan's recent talk with a group of University of Minnesota law students. It is a fascinating piece and gives insight into Terry Ryan's role in managing the Twins organization. I highly recommend it.

HT:Seth Stohs

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Imminent Ramon Ortiz Implosion?

Stick and Ball Guy has some enlightening data concerning Twins pitcher Ramon Ortiz. He has had three great games thus far and appears to have gotten back on track. Yet there are some very strong indications that he has been lucky so far and is due for an implosion.

Here are the concerns:
  • First pitch strikes. Last year, Ortiz threw a first pitch strike 58%
    of the time. So far this year, just 50%. (League average 57%.)
  • Missing bats. Last year, hitters made contact 82% of the time they
    swung at a Ramon Ortiz offering. So far this year, they’ve made contact
    84% of the time. (League average 80%.)
  • Overall control. Last year, Ortiz threw 64% of his pitches for
    strikes. So far this year, he’s thrown 58% of his pitches for strikes.
  • He’s allowed a ton of fly balls (only 33.3% GB% so far), and he has yet to get punished with a HR.
  • Ortiz has always been hurt by home runs, and it is really luck that has kept those fly balls from becoming home runs.
Do not be surprised when the wheels start falling off.

Monday, April 16, 2007

More Mark Horne on N.T. Wright

Mark Horne is one of the more vocal critics of N.T. Wright critics. He has posted yet another blog concerning the way too many evangelicals read and criticize N.T. Wright.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Another "Non-Apology"

Durham prosecutor, Mike Nifong "apologized" to the three Duke lacrosse players today--or at least that is what the media will tell us.

His words bely his true intent:

"To the extent that I made
judgments that ultimately proved to be incorrect, I apologize to the
three students that were wrongly accused.
I also understand that whenever
someone has been wrongly accused, the harm caused by the accusations
might not be immediately undone merely by dismissing them. I
t is my sincere desire that the
actions of Attorney General Cooper will serve to remedy any remaining
injury that has resulted from these cases."

Nifong of course used the case to propel his re-election as a district attorney. He is now under review by the North Carolina board for his mis-handling of the case.

Mr. Nifong, your so-called apology will do nothing for you, I'm afraid. Your goose is cooked, and it was you that lit the match.

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Top 11 Changes, Slogans, and Signs for Saturday's National Day of Climate Action

Nihilist in Golf Pants has the top 11 again for this silly rally:



11. Regulate us back to the Stone Age!



10. Progress Kills!



9. Happy to pay more for a colder Minnesota



8. Turn out the lights, the party's over!



7. Give poverty a chance!



6. Pro-Choice (Except for anything related to the use of carbon based fuels)



5. No offsets, no heat!



4. Hey, hey, ho, ho, listen to Leonardo DiCaprio



3. We're here, with fear! Get used to it!



2. Make love, not warmth



1. Regular Bathing = Genocide





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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Eminent Domain Abuse in Minneapolis

The Hennepin County Board voted today to take possession of the land to be used for the future Twins Stadium. The Star Tribune article did not state what rationale the board used for the seizure. It does state that, "he site's purchase price will be worked out later." The article went on to state,

"To settle on a price, a three-person court panel is expected to hear
arguments next month and issue a decision in June, said developer Rich
Pogin of Landowners II, the group that owns the site. Either side can
appeal the panel's decision, and a price would then be decided after a
jury trial, he said."

So there is hope that the landowners will get a fair price, but this land seizure appears to be nothing short of a scandalous abuse of eminent domain. We can all thank the Supreme Court's decision of Kelo vs. The City of New London for strengthening the hands of those already in power and overrunning the rest of us in the name of "economic development."

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Friday, March 30, 2007

Comforting the Enemy

Some may recall the news story concerning the six imams removed from a US Airways flight last fall. The imams filed a lawsuit against US Airways and the passengers who complained to the airline about the imam's suspicious behavior.

Only in America would these wicked men devise a scheme so ruthless and find support in their host government. Not only did these men clearly have a plan on how to instill fear into their flight crew and fellow passengers, but their scheme is much more elaborate. They wish to instill fear, guilt, and helplessness into all airline passengers.

Their scheme may be more than blackmailing US Airways and their passengers, but they may actually desire to aid and abet Islamic terrorists by creating the precedent that airline passengers cannot and should not notify flight crews of suspicious behavior.

The imam's lawsuit is an outrageous abuse of the judicial system. These men ought to be laughed out of court and their names added to the terrorist watch lists for future air travel.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Minnesota Tax Outrage Continues

The newly elected Democratic majority in Minnesota continues to assault Minnesota taxpayers. Their most recent Socialist scheme is to raise state income taxes across the board by $900 million dollars. Evidently they are so brazen as to assume that none of us either remember the details of the $2.2 billion budget surplus or they are arrogant enough to think we bought their silly obfuscations about it.

The Star Tribune states,

"Money raised would allow the Senate to nearly double its K-12 spending, with funding not only for special education, but also for general classroom formula increases to districts across the state. Bakk said there also would be funding for early learning and tuition relief for higher education."

How is nearly doubling the state's education budget responsible fiscal policy? Were this in The Onion, I would be laughing. Because it is in the state's biggest newspaper, I'm outraged and angry.

Senate Taxes Chairman Tom Bakk says, "We need to be honest about the fact that the (2000) tax cuts were unsustainable." Pardon me, Senator, but if the tax cuts are "unsustainable," how can it be that we now have a $2.2 billion budget surplus?!

"The alternative, he said, would be bare-bones education increases and paltry property tax relief." Excuse me, but what is wrong with that? Is "Big Education" guaranteed huge spending increases each budget cycle?

The article continues, "'There is no money for what we need to do' without a general tax increase, he said." Bakk seemingly believes that the Democratic takeover of the Minnesota legislature has ushered in a Socialist mandate.

Once again, thank you, Minnesota voters. Were I and my family to not bear these burdens along with you, I would tell you that you get what you voted for and laugh at your sadism.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Elizabeth Rose



Elizabeth Rose Caneday was born on March 13th at 9:02am. She weighed 7lbs. 4oz. and was 19 3/4" long. She came a month early and had some difficulty breathing and eating for the first few days. After six days in the hospital Naomi and I were able to bring her home with us.

What a beautiful little girl the Lord has given to us! We rejoice at the gift of life, praising our creator God.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Islam and the West in Focus

The UK Times has a fascinating and insightful article concerning "the largest practitioner of both sexual and religious apartheid in the world." The authoer, Phyllis Chesler, is Emerita Professor of Psychology and Women’s Studies at the City University of New York. She married an Afghan man and moved with him to Afghanistan. In the process she discovered it to be a "bastion of illiteracy, poverty, treachery and preventable diseases."

It is a fascinating read--one more people in the west need to read.

HT: Uncorrelated

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Was Justice Done?

Lewis "Scooter" Libby, former counsel to Vice-President Cheney was found guilty of perjury and obstruction of justice. I imagine it will be hard to miss, unless one lives in a cave. But a spokesman for the jurors has made it clear that at least a portion of the jury convicted Libby for political reasons.

Editor and Publisher quotes the spokesman,

"a number of times" they asked themselves, "what is HE doing here? Where is Rove and all these other guys....I'm not saying we didn't think Mr. Libby was guilty of the things we found him guilty of. It seemed like he was, as Mr. Wells [his lawyer] put it, he was the fall guy."

The perjury case against Libby came down to credibility--who was more trustworthy--Russert and others in the media, or Lewis Libby? Is that how perjury cases should be argued? Shouldn't there be proof beyond any reasonable doubt of his guilt?

I have no legal training, but these admissions from the jury ought to help Libby in his appeal. It does not appear that justice was served today.

Tax and Spend

As many are aware, Minnesota has a $2.2 billion budget surplus. So what do the Democrats propose? Why, tax increases of course!

Minnesota State Representative Mindy Greiling has proposed a tax increase that would reportedly confiscate an additional $252 million. The bill would increase the top income tax rate from 7.5% to 8.5%.

Democrats are certainly consistent in their desire to tax top wage earners and use the money for everyone else who didn't earn the money. This is so customary that it almost isn't newsworthy. But of course, those of you who voted Democrats into power across the state (and nation) are now getting what you deserve, and irritating the rest of us with your naiveté in buying into the liberal utopia.

Monday, March 05, 2007

"The Great Global Warming Swindle"

Channel 4 in the UK will be airing a documentary that argues that the earth's climate changes due to solar radiation rather than because of man-made greenhouse gases.

Here are some choice quotes from an article on the documentary:

"In fact, the experts in the film argue that increased CO2 levels are actually a result of temperature rises, not their cause, and that this alternate view is rarely heard. 'So the fundamental assumption, the most fundamental assumption of the whole theory of climate change due to humans, is shown to be wrong.'"

and

"Finally, the film argues that restricting CO2 emissions could actually be damaging for people in the developing world. James Shikwati, Kenyan director of the Inter Region Economic Network, says: 'The rich countries can afford to engage in some luxurious experimentation with other forms of energy, but for us we are still at the stage of survival.

'I don't see how a solar panel is going to power a steel industry, how a solar panel is going to power a railway network, it might work, maybe, to power a small transistor radio.

'The thing that emerges from the whole environmental debate is the point that there is somebody keen to kill the African dream, and the African dream is to develop. We are being told don't touch your resources, don't touch your oil, don't touch your coal; that is suicide.'"

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Gore's Energy Bills Explained

I wrote earlier this week about Gore's hypocrisy regarding energy consumption, but Nihilist in Golf Pants has eleven reasons why Gore uses so much energy:

11) Suspects Leonardo DiCaprio may be stalking him, sleeps with lights on

10) Cooking for frequent houseguest Michael Moore

9) Attempting to create a habitat for polar bears displaced by melting icebergs in spare bedroom

8) Refuses to insulate servants quarters

7) His refrigerator door is opened way too much

6) Allows his Hollywood friends to use his outlets to charge their electric cars

5) Aspires to the lavish life of John Edwards

4) Hydroponic "vegetable"-growing hobby in basement

3) The radar jamming equipment used to thwart Bush and Cheney’s mind control attempts draws a lot of juice

2) Does his best thinking about global warming while in the sauna

1) Dozens of supercomputers running 24 hours a day in hopes of creating a virtual personality

The Resurrection of Christ

In the face of the claims by some that Jesus Christ died along with his family, John Piper has eight reasons why he believes that Jesus Christ did in fact rise from the dead:

Summary:

1. Jesus himself testified to his coming resurrection from the dead.

2. The tomb was empty on Easter.

3. The disciples were almost immediately transformed from men who were hopeless and fearful after the crucifixion (Luke 24:21, John 20:19) into men who were confident and bold witnesses of the resurrection (Acts 2:24, 3:15, 4:2).

4. Paul claimed that, not only had he seen the risen Christ, but that 500 others had seen him also, and many were still alive when he made this public claim.

5. The sheer existence of a thriving, empire-conquering early Christian church supports the truth of the resurrection claim.

6. The Apostle Paul’s conversion supports the truth of the resurrection.

7. The New Testament witnesses do not bear the stamp of dupes or deceivers.

8. There is a self-authenticating glory in the gospel of Christ’s death and resurrection as narrated by the biblical witnesses.

Read the complete article.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Gore's Hypocrisy

Al Gore wants you and I to reduce our "carbon footprint" and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and so on, yet he uses more energy in one month than the average American househould does in one year!

A Gore spokeswoman responded that the Gore's drive a hybrid SUV, use compact fluorescent bulbs, and are installing solar panels. That is fine, I suppose, but how can one such as Gore demand everyone else reduce their energy usage yet he himself use so much?

This is of course typical of the left. They demand of everyone but themselves, "the elite," or "privileged." They are the only ones immune from their own demands. It is utterly ridiculous, and this demonstrates that Gore himself isn't willing to sacrifice as he calls others to do. How serious a threat is global warming when one of its high priests won't even live by his credo?

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Ms. Pelosi's Cake

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is upset with Vice President Cheney for his remarks in Tokyo concerning the Democrat's Iraq policies. Cheney said,

"I think if we were to do what Speaker Pelosi and Congressman Murtha are suggesting, all we will do is validate the Al Qaeda strategy. The Al Qaeda strategy is to break the will of the American people ... try to persuade us to throw in the towel and come home, and then they win because we quit."

What Speaker Pelosi wants is freedom of accountability. She complained about Cheney's comments to President Bush by saying,

"You cannot say as the president of the United States, 'I welcome disagreement in a time of war,' and then have the vice president of the United States go out of the country and mischaracterize a position of the speaker of the House and in a manner that says that person in that position of authority is acting against the national security of our country."

Is Cheney wrong in his assessment? How can a troop pull-out be seen as anything other than surrendering to the Al Qaeda strategy?

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Top 11 Honorary Degrees the University of Minnesota is Considering In Addition to Doctor of Climatology for Al Gore

Nihilist in Golf Pants has an hilarious list of honorary degrees that the University of Minnesota plans will confer after giving Al Gore an honorary doctorate.

11. Britney Spears, Doctor of Hairdressing

10. Vox Day, Masters of Women’s Studies

9. Judi Dutcher, Masters of Bio Based Sciences

8. Kate Parry, Doctor of Child Psychology

7. Anna Nicole Smith, Doctor of Mortuary Science

6. Paul Reubens, Masters of His Domain

5. Amanda Marcotte, Doctor of Religious Studies

4. Brad Childress - Doctor of Game Theory and Strategy

3. Al Franken, Doctor of Pharmacology

2. NIGP, Associates' Degree in accounting

1. Barak Obama, Doctor of Audacity

Pat Neshek Interview

Seth Stohs has an excellent interview with Twins relief pitcher Pat Neshek. The most revealing bit of information in the interview is that Neshek is working on a new pitch during spring training. Here is what he writes,

"I think I'm going to go back to a pitch I threw a little in 2004. It's basically a submarine fastball, kind of like Chad Bradford, Wes Littleton or Cla Meredith's. All my pitches are thrown from the side and this one is coming from under…I throw it as hard as I can and it sits around 84-86 with a lot of sink. I'm going to use this for lefties and it'll get a lot of groundballs hopefully. This will be a big pitch if I can master it."

If Neshek can pitch better against left handed hitters, he will be even more dominant. Last season righties hit .140 against him, but lefties hi .244. He also gave up four home runs to lefties in 12IP, versus two home runs to righties in 25IP.

Raise the Gas Tax?

Minnesota Congressman Jim Oberstar wants Minnesota to raise its gas tax to meet requirements for matching federal transportation funds. Is it not these same Democrats that decry oil companies for gouging consumers each year? Yet now, they want a piece of the pie, without any accountability!

It is utter hypocrisy to investigate oil companies for making money while the government is responsible for a federal $0.184 per gallon tax in addition to a Minnesota $0.20 per gallon tax. That is evidently not enough.

Will Democrats like Oberstar demand that we increase gasoline taxes each time the federal government increases requirements for matching funds? Isn't he responsible for the federal requirement in the first place?

Mr. Oberstar, you are a hypocrite and lack fiscal integrity. Do yourself (and the rest of us) a favor and retire already.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Spring is on the March

The snow has begun to melt here in Minnesota and forty-degree temperatures are upon us. More snow and more cold is in the forecast yet, but now that spring training is here--there is little the weather can do to dull the optimism baseball fans now possess.

The long awaited sights and sounds of spring and the baseball season have arrived. Pitchers and catchers have all reported to their spring training facilities and position players must arrive by the end of the week. Soon exhibition games will be played and rosters will be set.

I for one can hardly wait for the first pitch to be thrown, for scouring the box scores from the previous night, for looking for the diamond in the rough on my fantasy league waiver wire, for Johan Santana to strike out the side, for Joe Mauer to hit another clutch home run, and for another Twins pitcher to prove himself like Francisco Liriano last season.

Play ball!

Friday, February 09, 2007

Pastoral Search

The church where my wife and I attend, All Nations Christian Fellowship, is currently looking for a preaching pastor to join us. We are a church plant located in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota that came from Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis. The job description is posted on the church website.

If you know a man that would be a good fit, please send him a link to the job description.

Many Thanks!

I'm Speechless...



I would have needed a diaper.

HT: Deadspin
Youtube

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Strange as Fiction

Sometimes life has a way of defying logic and believability:

BANGKOK, Feb. 7 (UPI) -- A woman who boarded the wrong bus on an attempted shopping trip from Thailand to Malaysia has returned home after 25 years.

Jaeyana Beuraheng told her eight children she accidentally boarded a bus bound for Bangkok instead of Malaysia, and once there she boarded a second incorrect bus because she could not read or speak Thai or English, The Times of London reported Wednesday.

Beuraheng, who speaks only the Yawi dialect used by Muslims in southern Thailand, said the noise and traffic of the big city confused and disoriented her, leading her to board the second wrong bus to Chiang Mai, near the border with Burma.

The woman said she spent five years begging on the street in the city and was often mistaken for a member of a hill tribe because of her dark skin tone.

She was arrested in 1987 on suspicion of being an illegal immigrant and was sent to a social services hostel when authorities were unable to determine her origins.

However, last month, three students from her home village arrived at the hostel for training, and they were able to communicate with Beuraheng and help her find her way home.


No, this isn't a story from The Onion. It is an AP story posted by Drudge!

Solomon's Porch Video



I came across an eleven minute video about Solomon's Porch via Reformissionary. The video was originally posted at Tony Jones' blog. It is fascinating to hear about the church from the inside. I have a friend who goes to Solomon's Porch (and will hopefully comment on this post) and have heard about the church through him and other sources. So to actually see it was helpful.

I applaud the efforts of Solomon's Porch to build Christian community because evangelicalism is moving away from the intimacy of community churches to the alienation of mega-churches. Churches need to stress community, and Solomon's Porch has that at its core.

Steve McCoy asked commenter's to "do more than just react" and to "be generous." That is a helpful reminder--and one I hope I adhere to in my response.

The few things I have read, heard, and seen on the emerging/emergent church are exceedingly difficult to follow. So much of what they have to say is nearly incoherent to me. I am not at all versed in post-modernese. I don't have their vocabulary down. I simply cannot speak in broad language and brush around topics, and "converse" like they do. Maybe that is a shortcoming of mine in ministering to a post-modern culture, but in any case, I simply can't make much sense of what Doug Pagitt says in the video.

In the beginning of the video, Pagitt says that Christianity has become like a restaurant with value meals that you can't pick and choose from. He never clearly states what he means by the metaphor. So often critics of the emerging church put words into the mouths of the emerging leaders, and it is clear why this happens--they want to be able to interact with ideas, and without them, they will argue against what they believe leaders like Pagitt mean.

What does Solomon's Porch stand for as a church? If they don't have a statement of faith, what are they organized around? What is their mission and why? How ecumenical are they willing to be? These are the kinds of questions that are often asked without adequate answers.

One of my biggest concerns about church's like Solomon's Porch is the things they emphasize. Clearly and eleven minute video is not going to do a great justice to the church's vision, but I heard little about the good news of Christ in the video. The video, and perhaps the church by implication seems more concerned with differentiating themselves from other churches. Perhaps this is an unfair criticism, but were an eleven minute video made of my church, I would hope that the gospel would be a central theme.

I am concerned that those who attend Solomon's Porch and others like it bring their own ideology to their faith, rather than allowing their faith to inform their ideology. I am specifically concerned with the portion of the video where a young woman discusses the "What Would Jesus Do?" trend. She states that if Jesus were alive today he would be concerned with things like "racism, the environment, globalization, and feeding the masses." It is not that I disagree with her, as clearly those are all important issues, but this also sounds like Democratic talking points, or a Jim Wallis essay.

My last criticism is more of a quibble. The same young woman also talks about how community forces people to build relationships which expose "imperfections." Perhaps this is an emerging/emergent way to speak of sin. Perhaps more time and more thought would help her develop the idea more, but I would hope that sin is spoken of in harsher terms at Solomon's Porch rather than simply labeled as "imperfection."

The video really seems to raise more questions for me than it gives answers. That seems to me the entire ethos of the emerging church.