Monday, February 28, 2005

The Tax-Gap.

"The National Taxayer Advocate's 2003 Annual Report to Congress estimates that, in the year 2001, the amount of tax voluntarily and timely paid by taxpayers was approximately $311 billion less than the actual tax liability of taxpayers. The Report attributes the tax gap to underreporting ($249 billion), underpayment ($32 billion) and nonfiling ($30 billion). The Report indicates that the tax gap is growing and, as a consequence, law-abiding taxpayers are being asked to pay more than their fair share of taxes to make up for the resulting revenue shortfall. In addition, the Federal Budget deficit is projected to be $477 billion for fiscal year 2004."

- from the February 26, 2004, letter to Mr. George K. Yin, Chief of Staff, Joint Committee on Taxation, from Senators Baucus and Grassly, Ranking Member and Chairman, respectively, of the Joint Committee. In the letter, the Senators ask the staff to come up with proposals to reduce the size of the "tax gap". That report was given by the staff recently.

The report, IMHO, will not collect appreciably more taxes but make it even less fair on citizens who pay their taxes, by increasing and making more complex reporting requirements, making penalties more severe, and taking away deductions and exclusions that serve one social tax policy or another. The problem is that (a) people think government does a poor job of handling its money and are justified in cheating, and (b) their sense of duty is, in any event, eroded by their upbringing.

I refer the reader to Jesus' parable of the Widow's mite. He praises her for her faithfulness to an institution, the Temple, which was largely unfaithful.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Colo-blogging
Not to be confused with "colon-blogging"

After a week in Chapel Hill interviewing prospective InterVarsity staff, I'm on vacation for 4 days in Colorado. I've joined the party already in progress, as Doug, Sue, Justin, Kristin, Noah, Caleb, Walter, Morgan, Kellsey, and Aidan were already here.
Aidan, as you can see, was well prepared for the cold weather.


I've been catching up on my blogosphere favorites, and came across this piece in the Chicago Sun-Times via Instapundit.
Most administration officials subscribe to one of two views: a) Europe is a smugly irritating but irrelevant backwater; or b) Europe is a smugly irritating but irrelevant backwater where the whole powder keg's about to go up.

For what it's worth, I incline to the latter position. Europe's problems -- its unaffordable social programs, its deathbed demographics, its dependence on immigration numbers that no stable nation (not even America in the Ellis Island era) has ever successfully absorbed -- are all of Europe's making. . . .

Until the shape of the new Europe begins to emerge, there's no point picking fights with the terminally ill. The old Europe is dying, and Mr. Bush did the diplomatic equivalent of the Oscar night lifetime-achievement tribute at which the current stars salute a once glamorous old-timer whose fading aura is no threat to them. The 21st century is being built elsewhere.
I wonder: What does Sean Meade, my favorite Tom Barnett interpreter (of The Pentagon's New Map, fame) think of this article? And, WWTBS? (What Would Tom Barnett Say?) (See here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here, for Sean's major Tom Barnett posts during the past 3 months. And while I'm not quite yet a convert, it's still good reading!)

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Dave Seivright and Redeemer PC.

Dave Seivright is a London trained lawyer, born and raised in Jamaica, who came to Christ as a young man and went into "full time Christian service", as folks used to say at Central Baptist Church where I was raised. He has an M.Div., ordained in the PCA, planted a PCA church here Miami-Dade, and for many years under the Campus Crusade umbrella has evangelized and discipled professionals in South Florida and, over the last few years, in Munich to which he commutes from time to time from Miami.

I am on his email list-serve (is that the right terminology?). Here is what he wrote recently.

"Recently in describing our ministry I used the words "genuine relationships, honesty and authenticity" to characterize what God is doing through our ministry both here in Miami and also in Europe. Now I see an article using some of these very same words to describe a new movement of the Holy Spirit in some of the churches.

"My visit to Redeemer Presbyterian Church in NYC in December has proven to be life-changing for me. It was not the old traditional church with forms and structures which seem irrelevant to the young people I hang out with, nor was it the modern entertainment slick seeker-sensitive manipulative program-driven model, but it was something very different which had no frills and seemed to have more emphasis on Worship and the Word ... not being shouted at anyone but being taught in a conversational style which obviously valued relationships and the questioning intellect of the hearers.

"This article captures what God seems to be doing."

Monday, February 21, 2005

Oops

From the WSJ 2/17/2005:

"A week after Hewlett-Packard Co. directors ousted former Chief Executive Carly Fiorina, the computer and printer maker posted better-than-expected revenue for its fiscal first quarter and offered a relatively strong sales outlook."
Regulating Away the Opportunity for Good.

I meet with a group of Christian lawyers (oxymoron?) every Friday for breakfast and informal Bible study.

In the group is Frank Valladares, who has a busy trial practice but also, with his wife, has a ministry work going in the Dominican Republic. The ministry takes care of orphaned children with birth defects. Its a great work. Frank and his group are doing lots of good. There are set backs from time to time, but everyone is energized. The environment in the Dominican Republic is completely unregulated.

Now switch to Miami.

I had lunch with a financial advisor whose wife works with disabled children in the public school system. She is three years away from retirement and can't wait. She comes home every day, completely worn out. The financial advisor says that most of the time she is dealing with paper work and bureaucracy. The children get whatever time is left-over, which is not much.

We are so regulated around here, we can't even do good, much less do business (which is a good). We are teaching the rest of the world about "free enterprise" and regulating ourselves into paralysis.
George Inhaled. We always knew that W smoked marijuana. He never denied it. He just wouldn't talk about it. He thought it was irrelevant to his political gifts and objectives. The tapes confirm what we already knew. Big deal. What concerns me about W these days is (a) why he pushed through the Medicare drug benefit; (b) why he wants to raise the cap on Social Security; and (c) how he goes about deciding who his friends are.

Now we have two Presidents who smoked marijuana during their lifetimes. (I prefer W's approach to dealing with his drug history to Bill's. Come on, Bill. You didn't inhale? Is that like not having sexual relations with that woman? Please.) (And, for that matter, Bill, why didn't you inhale? Why didn't you have sexual relations with that woman? Are you a weenie or what?)

Maybe we should lighten up on pot. I know all sorts of aging Yuppies who are successful people, good family men, who smoked pot at one time or another. If you want to tax something, let's get pot in a position to tax it.

Sunday, February 20, 2005


Quoted in The Challenge of Command by Roger H. Nye
The nation that will insist on drawing a broad line of demarcation between the fighting man and the thinking man is liable to find its fighting done by fools and its thinking done by cowards.
-- Sir William Francis Butler, Charles George Gordon (London: 1907, 85).
But I Never Inhaled.

The DVD of the movie "Super Size Me" has a "bonus" feature, an interview with Eric Schlossser, who wrote "Fast Food Nation". He more recently wrote Reefer Madness, which I am reading right now. Reefer Madness addresses marijuana use, illegal immigrant labor, and the pornography industry. I just finished the section on marijuana.

From the conclusion of that section:

"According to Michael D. Newcomb, a substance abuse expert at the University of Southern California, "Tobacco and alcohol are the most widely used, abused, and deadly druges ingested by teenagers." American children aged eleven to thirteen now drink alcohol almost four times as often as they smoke marijuana. Drug education programs should respect the intelligence of young people by promoting healthy lives without scare tactics, lies, and hyporcrisy. And drug abuse should be treated like alchoholism or nicotine addiction. These are health problems suffered by Americans of every race, creed, and political affiliation, not grounds for imprisonment or the denial of property rights."

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Aidan Update
New hair: Check.
4 more immunization shots: Check.
Baby Babble: Check.
Head Control: Check.
Arm, Leg & Torso Control: See for yourself.

Thanks to: U2 for their music, and Scott for the inspiration.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Fun with Macs
I found a neato program that allows Mac users to broadcast (for lack of a better term) their own screensavers. So, if you're interested, and are using at least Mac OS 10.2 you can subscribe to my screensaver of (what else) the latest Aidan photos.

To subscribe to my slideshow: (you do not have to have a .mac account)

1. Make sure you have Mac OS X version 10.2 or later installed, and you're connected to the Internet.
2. Open System Preferences and click Screen Effects.
3. Select .Mac in the list of available screen savers.
4. Click the Configure (or "Options") button and enter "citostokes" (that's my .mac username) in the Member Name box. Then click OK.

The slideshow will appear the next time your screen saver is activated. The coolest thing: When you are connected to the Internet, you'll automatically receive any updates I've made to the slideshow. I'll keep the slideshow current to the photos taken of him in the latest 5 weeks.

Oh, and in case you think this is me slacking off in producing a new Aidan video: We're in pre-production right now, and are scheduled to begin principal photography tomorrow. (I learned all kinds of video-words watching LOTR Extended Editions.)

Thursday, February 17, 2005

"Fall Slow Tears" Revisited. I posted earlier about this beautiful choral piece that I heard at Westlake Hills PC last month. I emailed the composer, and she told me where to find a complete mp3 of a choir performing the number. Listen to it here.
Photoblogging Davidson
This afternoon I attended a Career Services Seminar called "Major Decisions" in which Career Services invites alumni in a particular major to sit on a panel and talk about why they chose that major and how it helps them in their life after college. I was interested to see if any students would show up for such a thing, especially for a major as sexy as Philosophy. As it turned out, there were about nine interested students.

It was a pleasure to talk about the Philosophy Major as it was something I really enjoyed about Davidson. I'm periodically invited to Davidson events: "Local" alumni gatherings in Charlotte, "young" alumni gatherings, ongoing career-development seminars, Lilly Endowment "what-is-vocation" retreats. None of these hold any interest for me. (In fact, it would be difficult for me to care less about them than I currently do.) But here I was driving up to Davidson to sit on a panel in front of nine students to talk about the Philosophy Major. And I was excited about it. Geeky. I know.

Of course, no visit to Fair Davidson is complete without sipping a tasty hot beverage at Summit Coffee. I had an excellent double espresso and shared a table with Mary's friend, Beth, who is wonderful company and engaged to Tim, the proprietor. Among other things we talked about her upcoming wedding, her shiny new iBook, and the glory of picking up the unencrypted WiFi network being broadcast by the Davdison Town Hall down the street. Which, I might add, changes everything. (Incidentally, Beth & Tim raved about AWS Cribs!.)

I took some pictures on my walk over so you could see the campus on a beautiful February day.


To save loading time, I didn't put them all inline. Here are two more:
Old Classrooms
Chambers

Monday, February 14, 2005

A love poem by George Herbert.

Love (I)

Immortal Love, author of this great frame,
    Sprung from that beauty which can never fade,
    How hath man parcel'd out Thy glorious name,
And thrown it on that dust which Thou hast made,
While mortal love doth all the title gain!
    Which siding with Invention, they together
    Bear all the sway, possessing heart and brain,
(Thy workmanship) and give Thee share in neither.
Wit fancies beauty, beauty raiseth wit;
    The world is theirs, they two play out the game,
    Thou standing by: and though Thy glorious name
Wrought our deliverance from th' infernal pit,
Who sings Thy praise? Only a scarf or glove
Doth warm our hands, and make them write of love.
After a brief hiatus I'm posting again at Coast & Crown. (Thanks for the encouragement to do so, Walt.)

If you click through, you'll read about our latest Cornerstone Conference. The speaker, Jeff Keegan, has a son, David, who attends SCAD. David wowed the admissions folks there with his self-taught knowledge of Maya and the number of scripts that he wrote himself for that program. You can check out his creativity on his website. I've looked over Jef Sewell's shoulder has he's worked on Maya and I know what kind of cool things you can make with it. Perhaps Amplifier Creative needs to keep an eye on this guy?

Edited by Macon: to indicate I meant Jef Sewell, not to be confused with Jeff Keegan.
GTD: Organizing III

Before GTD, I had an file organizer holding folders of "Current Projects" on my desk. At first it was populated by a few folders, but as the weeks went by, more and more folders were added to the organizer. I realize now that this was because I have a large number of projects that are "current"! The folders in the organizer held everything that I needed to do the project, and for some projects, this meant having 4+ folders jammed into the organizer. Plus, after a while, I avoided looking at the growing mess that represented my current projects. It was no longer helpful to me, but I didn't dare remove it from my desk, as I'd put those folders on my desk because they were supposed to remind me of the work I needed to do in each project. I was afraid that if I re-filed them into my filing system, they'd be out of my sight and I'd completely forget that I needed to do anything with them. This is the problem that comes when you don't separate your Next Actions from your Support and Reference materials.

Now I have Project Support Materials and General Reference Material labeled, sorted, filed, and put out of the way until needed. I also now have two file organizers on my desk, this time one is filled with my 43 Tickle folders, the other with my ASAP folders (enumerated in a previous GTD post). So I'm all set to Get Things Done, and I realize: I have alot of work to do. Before GTD, I suspected that I had this much work to do, but now I can see it all in one place, and I'm daunted. (This is not the first time I'm daunted in the GTD process!)

Internally I experienced resistance to starting to work. One by-product of reading David's book is that he spends alot of time talking about why we do or don't do work. So, he's gotten me to start thinking along those lines as well: Why don't I want to start working through my ASAP Next Action Items? Well, for one thing, I can't see how I'm going to have time to do it all, so maybe I shouldn't even start. That is, if I'm going to (apparently) fail to get it all done, I'd rather not start, that way, I won't fail. Heh.

Another thing I find in myself is a strong aversion to just looking through the ASAP Next Action Items. Now, this is an essential discipline in GTD. In fact, it's the whole point in getting all the action reminders together: so you can see them all at once. I realize that I'd rather deny that I have all this work to do. Previously, I enabled this behavior in myself by being so disorganized that I couldn't possibly have looked at everything at once if I'd even wanted to! But now I realize that I'm physically chickening out of looking through it, which galvanizes me to action. I look through everything.

That didn't take as long as I thought! And I feel better about knowing all that I have to do. I even now know what I ought to be doing at this very moment, and I pick out some Next Action Items. But now a new temptation arises: sit down to work and don't stop until everything is done - eat at my desk, take only bathroom breaks, go to bed late, come right to the desk as soon as I brush my teeth in the morning. That is, become a workaholic. The thing that breaks me out of this reverie is the fact that I have a beautiful wife, a spectacular son, wonderful friends, and one or two hobbies, and I'd miss all that if I never left my desk.

So, if my first two responses (denial & workaholism) to having more work than time in which to do it are wrong, what's the right response? I think David would say something like, "Oh, you'll get it done eventually, that's why I created my system. Trust me!" And, you know, I think he's right at a certain level. I'm beginning to see the usefulness of his approach, and as I use it, I do see that I'm going to be more efficient at my work and do things faster & better. But at the end of the day, it makes me uncomfortable to trust the system, because I know that I'm at the center of it and I'm remarkably flawed. (I know this to be true. I've heard people remarking about my flaws.) So it seems to me that the alternative to denial & workaholism is actually Faith. Faith in the Heavenly Father who brought me to this work and gave me the blessings of my family, friends and even my hobbies. I come into my office in the morning and look at the pile of Next Actions and think, "Well, I can't do it all today, and probably not even in a month, but I'll do what I can and trust the rest to God." And since this god I follow is a Good one, I can mentally rest about the stuff that isn't going to get done.

Not that Faith is ever a static place (for me, at least). I usually ping-pong between denial, workaholism, and faith.

Previous GTD post | Next GTD post

Sunday, February 13, 2005

"Super Size Me.". Last night was date night, so Carol and I went to Chevy's, a Tex-Mex, jeans, and family sort of restaurant that is on our top five dining establishments. (What does that say about us? At least it wasn't Publix this tiime.)

We came home and watched a video, Super Size Me, which, having seen it, I would name as the Upton Sinclair work of our generation. It had good "bonus" material on it, particularly the interview with Eric Schlosser.

Christianity Today reviews the movie. And there are many more reviews on the net,

Here are some nice pictures to consider as we reflect on the fast-food issue.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

"Fall Slow Tears". I enjoy a contemporary worship service, and I like the praise songs that go with it. But I also like "traditional", and it was a blessing to attend the "traditional" service at Westlake Hills Presbyterian Church in Austin on January 30 with Walter and Morgan.

Recognizable in the order of service was a Reformed liturgy, including a Prayer of Confession. Immediately after the Prayer of Confession, an actual choir sang: they sang in four parts, they wore robes, they were well rehearsed, they had fine voices - and those were the voices of believers singing. To me it was a bit of Heaven.

The choir sang a choral piece I had not heard before. "Fall Slow Tears" by Ruth Elaine Schram. It is based on Psalm 51. Here are the lyrics:

Fall slow tears and drown all my doubts and fears
And wash away my sin and shame in the flood of forgiveness and mercy.
Weep, sad eyes; my soul in repentence cries.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit withiin me.
Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.
Take all my iniquities upon You.
Have mercy on me, have mercy on me.

I found a place on the 'net where you can hear an excerpt of this anthem if you have RealPlayer. Find it
here.
Lenny Kravitz and "Baptism".

On NPR this AM I heard an interview of Lenny Kravitz that was interesting. Kravitz, who had a culturally Jewish father and similarly Christian mother, has a new album that has some "spiritual" content. Called "Baptism".

On the NPR site you listen to a couple of the cuts off the album. I also listened to some excerpts on the Wal-Mart down load site. The ones not on the NPR site has cuts that are profane in parts. (What is it about the word "f**king" that fascinates these guys so?)

But it appears to me that the Hound of Heaven must be after young Lenny. Good. I hope he catches him soon.

I am thinking about searching the new Album to see if there was something I could risk singing at church.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Davidson College Moves Away from the Church. This article on Davidson in Christianity Today indicates a change that I am sorry to see. Or maybe it is simply conforming the form to a reality that is already there.
Getting Things Done - Hard Style

Macon gives his updates, so I'll give mine, too.

Just finished the 4th week of the challenge. For the first time, we sweat it out twice in a week.

I felt good coming off of Tuesday. Today tested and crossed the limits.

25 reps of the two-arm swing with a 24kg bell was enough to send me to the little boys room for a spell. Lighter, I returned to finish strong.

I would have some pictures to post of my progress, but I didn't have my wide lense.
A Prayer for Revenge. I am on several email address-group lists with other Christian attorneys and business people. Now and then, someone sends out an email raising a question, and then things start going back and forth. It is great fun, and I wish I could somehow post these conversations easily on the blog. Here is one that has started this morning that I will paste up. If it develops more threads, I will come back and revise this post with them.

Initial email:

Is this really a prayer for revenge?

Psalm 41:1 For the choir director: A psalm of David. Oh, the joys of those who are kind to the poor. The LORD rescues them in times of trouble. 2 The LORD protects them and keeps them alive. He gives them prosperity and rescues them from their enemies. 3 The LORD nurses them when they are sick and eases their pain and discomfort. 4 "O LORD," I prayed, "have mercy on me. Heal me,for I have sinned against you." 5 But my enemies say nothing but evil about me. "How soon will he die and be forgotten?" they ask. 6 They visit me as if they are my friends, but all the while they gather gossip, and when they leave, they spread it everywhere. 7 All who hate me whisper about me, imagining the worst for me. 8"Whatever he has, it is fatal," they say. "He will never get out of that bed!" 9 Even my best friend, the one I trusted completely, the one who shared my food, has turned against me. 10 LORD, have mercy on me. Make me well again, so I can pay them back! 11 I know that you are pleased with me, for you have not let my enemy triumph over me. 12 You have preserved my life because I am innocent; you have brought me into your presence forever. 13 Bless the LORD,the God of Israel, who lives forever from eternal ages past. Amen and amen

First comment:

I think it is such a prayer [of revenge]. But that doesn't mean that it is a model for us or that God will answer the prayer in quite the way that the person making the prayer is asking. (The model, of course, is the Lord's Prayer: "forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.") What it does show is what a great book the Bible is. It shows a decent man who is honest with his God about what he really wants, whether what he wants is quite the right thing or not. I just love it.

Next comment

I agree completely with [the first comment]. Part of the uniqueness of the Bible and one of the reasons it is truly disingenuous to classify it as mythological literature, is that its hero's are not mythologized, but rather, presented warts - failings - and all. The interesting thing is how God would respond. Remember that it is scripture that interprets scripture, and you have to look to the theological passages to interpret the historical passages. See Leviticus 19:18 "Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord" and Romans 12:19-20 "Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written" 'It is mine to avenge; I will repay,' says the Lord. On the contrary: If your enemy is hungry, feed him: ..."
Proud of my Partner. My partner, Jane McMillan, took on a pro-bono case last year, under a program that the Dade County Bar Assocation sponsors called "Put Something Back". She had a successful result, and the project coordinator asked her to write a summary of what she did. I have reproduced it below. Jane's a Christian and a blessing to have as a partner. (I have changed the name of the client.)

"You asked for an outline of the case. Mrs. Garcia and her sister came to us for help in getting title to their deceased mother’s house into their names. We opened a probate proceeding so we could publish notice to creditors. Because there were no estate assets other than the homestead and some exempt personal property, we were able to have all claims stricken. We also obtained an Order Determining Homestead in favor or Mrs. Garcia and her sister. Finally, we assisted Mrs. Garcia and her sister in dealing with their mother’s housemate, who made claims concerning both the house and the personal property, in obtaining new homeowners insurance for the house and in dealing with the mortgage company holding the mortgage on the house to forestall foreclosure and obtain a novation agreement for Mrs. Garcia and her sister."

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

From The Onion.com:
180 Trillion Leisure Hours Lost to Work in 2004

What would the Puritans think?
The Eternal Sunshine of the Garden State

I don't understand the hype.

If I had 4 hours and Eternal Sunshine and Garden State on DVD, I'd watch Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind twice.
Bill Mallonee

One tremendous reason to live in Austin:

A two-hour Bill Mallonee (of Vigilantes of Love) set with 20 other folks in attendance in a small club built between floors 1 and 2 of a parking garage.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Following Up on the Gay Culture issue. I am challenged by Mathewes-Green's "gay rights" approach, which I discuss in the immediately preceding post. In another section of her Gender book, she refers to efforts she made to dialog with Pro-Choice advocates. She either created or promoted a group called "Common Ground" that sought a dialog between pro-life and pro-choice advocates. She apparently had some success with this.

In a recent talk that I heard Steve Covey make, he also talks about productive dialogs between pro-life and pro-choice advocates.

All weekend I was thinking about whether a similar dialog could be set up between "evangelical" Christians and "gay rights" advocates. (I put "evangelical" in quotes, because I am about to think that the word has no real utility any more, if it ever did. What's the matter with the descriptive of simply "Christian"? I remember 15 years ago thinking "born-again Christian" was either redundant or divisive, and I'm glad that this moniker has mostly passed out of usage. I am about to think "evangelical Christian" is similarly useless or even unhelpful and divisive.)

I know a lawyer here in Miami who is quite prominent in roughly the same area of law in which I practice. I have known him for many, many years on a professional basis. We are friendly, but the relationship is not one of friendship (or enmity). We just know and respect each other professionally. (Which, when I think about it, is no small thing.) This lawyer is prominent, even a leader, in the gay community. (I don't like the descriptive "gay" either. But "they" seem to like it. Maybe its Christian to refer to "them" with a descriptive that "they" are comfortable with. Wow - this word-choice matter is one to approach with great care, no?) My thinking is to call him up and suggest that we have lunch and see if there is any "common ground" as Mathewes-Green would say. This lawyer is culturally Jewish too.

I will post my progress.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Bookshelf Sightseeing. One of the many pleasures of visiting our children is the opportunity to look at the books on their bookshelves. Carol and I visited Walter and Morgan in Austin last weekend, and had such a good time. And I got to look at their books. Two of them I borrowed and brought home with me, both by Frederica Mathewes-Green. One is Gender: Men Women Sex Feminisim, which was published in 2002, and the other is Facing East A Pilgrim's Journey into the Mysteries of Orthodoxy, which was published in 1997. I read most of Gender last weekend and finished it today, so I'll discuss it briefly. (I'm looking forward to Facing East.)

I feel like I know Frederica, not only because of the honest and friendly way she writes, but we apparently are about the same age, both went to college about the same time, both are married for a long time, both have thought about the same issues as we grew older (she much more profoundly, obviously). I would really recommend Gender, not only because of the way she approaches headline issues - feminism, abortion, sex, children, marriage, homosexuality, but also because she is an articulate representative of our generation.

The Gender copy I just finished reading is Morgan's, and so I had the benefit of her underlinings. Its not like picking up and using someone else's toothbrush, but to read a book that somone else has obviously poured over and annotated is almost like sharing the reading experience. Time and time again, when I read a sentence of Frederica's that seemed so right about an issue, Morgan had underlined it. Carol and I are so blessed in our daughters-in-law!

Here are some things Frederica writes about:

Women have "the right to have our bodies left whole and healthy, unlatered for any goal of social engineering or impossible idea of beauty."

Women have "the right to be different from men". Not only that, she writes, "it seems more likely that gender differences are meant to fit together [as distinguished from being in conflict]." What a wise woman!

"[T]he fight against legal abotion cannot stand alone. If we could padlock all the abortion clinics tomorrow, we'd see the next morning a line 3200 women long, pounding on the door. We wouldn't have solved the problems that make their pregnancies seem unbearable. We wouldn't have changed the context that normalizes promiscuity and undermines a woman's authority to say no. We wouldn't have restored respect for the profession of mothering, or respect for fathering for that matter, so that men would be proud to love the moms and support the children whose lives they begin."

Getting close to home, she writes about the generation she and I share - raised as we were in the Ozzie and Harriet 50's. She points out that the fifties led to the sixties. "The kids that grew up in those tidy two-parent homes weren't out of their teens before they began doing all they could to overthrow that wholesome security. . . . Though there are many factors, one short response [to why we Yuppies turned out the way we did] might be: children received too much pampering attention."

She calls the process of child-rearing a "process of unlearning self-centeredness . . . a difficult, life-long one, elsewhere known as 'dying to self'. "

"Responsible parenting does not isolate children in a special protected sphere, but places them at Mom or Dad's knee learning daily the trades, chores, and skills of adulthood. . ."

Her chapter on the "gay threat to traditional marriage" (her quotes) is right on target. She sees homosexuality as a "spiritual hindrance for the people involved". But "if we [Christians] were so concerned about defending marriage, why weren't we talking about the most obvious threat: divorce? . . . And what about promiscuity?" She has more to say about the homosexual issue (for example, that it is an issue related to the transcendant issue of chastity and purity with which the hetereosexual community has so much difficulty). It it is so refreshing to read her evaluate this troubling matter. Its so good to move away with her from the "nurture vs. nature" arguments, the scriptural exegesis, the sort of judgmental positions many "evangelical" Christians take that seem so contrary to Jesus' example when he was dealing with those that his culture had singled out for special condemnation.

I could go on, but I will just end with saying that Gender is a book that is well worth reading. I am mailing Morgan's copy back to her this week. Maybe she will let you borrow her annotated copy.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Forgive me. But another self improvement story.

Back when the telegraph was the fastest method of long-distance communication, a young man applied for a job as a Morse Code operator. Answering an ad in the newspaper, he went to the office address that was listed. When he arrived, he entered a large, busy office filled with noise and clatter, including the sound of the telegraph in the background. A sign on the receptionist's counter instructed job applicants to fill out a form and wait until they were summoned to enter the inner office.

The young man filled out his form and sat down with the seven other applicants in the waiting area. After a few minutes, the young man stood up, crossed the room to the door of the inner office, and walked right in. Naturally the other applicants perked up, wondering what was going on. They muttered among themselves that they hadn't heard any summons yet.

They assumed that the young man who went into the office made a mistake and would be disqualified. Within a few minutes, however, the employer escorted the young man out of the office and said to the other applicants, "Gentlemen, thank you very much for coming, but the job has just been filled." The other applicants began grumbling to each other, and one spoke up saying, "Wait a minute, I don't understand. He was the last to come in, and we never even got a chance to be interviewed. Yet he got the job. That's not fair!"

The employer said, "I'm sorry, but the last several minutes while you've been sitting here, the telegraph has been ticking out the following message in Morse Code: 'If you understand this message, then come right in. The job is yours.' None of you heard it or understood it. This young man did. The job is his. "

Religious Freedom on Campus. The Christian Legal Society has established a new, separate web-site called campusfreedom.org to address the legal issues that arise from restrictions on free assembly the some universities and colleges have imposed on voluntary Christian groups.
Walter and Effort. I have to respond to this Russian weight lifting turn that Walter has just lately taken, and it needs more than a comment on the immediately preceding post.

Obviously, this entire thing is mystifying to Sean and it would be to any reasonable person who has not known Walter as long as I have. I think the best way to help Sean and other reasonable people is to tell one of many stories about Walter that we refer to for reference when he does something out of the ordinary, which is not infrequent. (My mind goes to his announcement during one of his Spring breaks that he was going to go to Khazakstan the following summer, but I digress.)

Once upon a time Walter had a soccer coach who was a former Navy Seal. I think Walter was in the 9th grade. This coach, who sometime later was arrested for raising marijuana in his house with an elaborate hydroponics system, had the team run wind sprints before each practice, run them, and run them, and run them. Walter not only ran them and ran them, he ran them with such heedless determination that he broke both of his legs, with stress fractures.

My prayers are that he will not drop one of those things he is now lifting up in the air on his head or his foot, that he won't compress one or more vertebrae, and that he won't decide to take on this Jason fellow in a friendly boxing match. Please join me in those prayers.


Thursday, February 03, 2005

The Russian Kettlebell Challenge

I'm getting too big for this blog.

My core muscles scream in unison for more iron.

the source of my inner strength.

Comrades, back me up here!

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Missing What's Really Important: The Greatest Problem with Iraq may be its Distracting Us from Crucial Issues. Thank goodness we have responsible journalists watching our backs while we are transfixed by things like Middle East elections and Social Security. See this and, especially, this.