Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Wow! Great Review of "The Unforseen". Variety, no less! Earlier posts here and here.
Pangas in the Classroom. Mary posts on a well-armed student.

A couple of thoughts.

1) Can you imagine what the reaction would have been in an American public high school class with such a display?

2) If I were Mary, I would ask all the boys to bring a couple of pangas with them. Just keep them sheathed and out of sight.

(Apropos of my second point.)

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The American Iraq. Brilliant op-ed piece from the WSJ. (The link is to OpinionJournal, whch means one does not need to have a subscription to the WSJ.)
Answering my father's call

1) What's the most fun work you've ever done and why?

During Super Bowl XXX, the last time the game was in Miami, I hobnobbed with the Super Bowl corporate sponsers at their private reception. The Dolphins cheerleaders and I circulated through the room, and I would take Polaroids of CEOs posing with hall of famers and/or my cheeleader crew. The Kodak guy didn't appreciate my work. Why was that the most fun ever? I spell it o-n-e-h-u-n-d-r-e-d-d-o-l-l-a-s.

2) What's one thing you did in the past that you no longer do but wish you did?

I drank egg nog during christmas. I had a protein shake tonight, but it wasn't the same. It was more chunky.

3) Name one thing that you've always wanted to do but keep putting it off?

I would like to write one letter a day. I'm 0 for 30 so far, but I've got a good feeling about this year.

4) What are two things you would like to learn or be better at and why?

I would like to learn Russian and be better at guitar. Then I would audition for Gorky Park. Bang!

4b) Take a class from someone, learn etc

I'm losing steam here...letters to write and about Paul Brand - I'd learn how to be a doctor.

5) Three words friends would use to describe you

beets, tenacious, metal

5b) Two more words you wished described you

Zakk Wylde

6) Top three passions

The three things that I suffer over? learning, fulfilling commitments, being prepared for whatever comes.

7) Why do you roll so hard?

So I can make the meal, yo.

how's about the mom and little joint answer next.
Six Questions.

I was one of three people that Sean tagged to answer this list of questions.

1) What is the most fun work you've ever done, and why?

The summer between my junior and senior year at college, I worked as a research assistant for a history professor who was writing a book on Southern Christianity before the Civil War. I stayed in Durham for that summer. Why was it so much fun? I was very, very interested in that subject, and the professor and his wife, who was also a history professor, were young and fun to be with, and they liked the work I did and we had great talks about the subject. And I was nowhere near the girlfriends who kept my life in such turmoil during my years at college before I met Carol. (I met her at the end of the first semester of my senior year.)

2A) Name one thing you did in the past that you no longer do but wish you did?

Sing in a very good choir, with a fine director and equally fine choral music, and get a chance to solo now and then.

2B) Name one thing you've always wanted to do but keep putting it off?

Get the sort of sailboat that trailors easily, that is seaworthy, that will sleep two comfortably, and can sail right up onto a beach. Trailer it up the coast of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina and, from time to time, put it into the water and sail around for a few days. Then sail it back, trailer it again, and move up the coast to another inviting spot. I know the sail boat I would want for this, a Rhodes 22.

3A) What two things would you most like to learn or be better at, and why?

Hebrew. Greek. So I could read the Bible in the original texts.

3B) If you could take a class/workshop/apprentice from anyone in the world living or dead, who would it be and what would you hope to learn?

Wow, this is a hard one, because there are so many people I would want to choose. I mean, you would have to say Jesus first, and then St. Paul, and then St. Augustine, Calvin, Martin Luther, George Washington, Teddy Roosevelt, the first Duke of Marlborough, Shakespeare, Wellington, Michelangelo. The list would go on and on.

4A) What three words might your best friends or family use to describe you?

A little self-centered, funny sometimes, moody sometimes.

4B) Now list two more words you wish described you.

Entirely competent. Christlike.

5) What are your top three passions? (can be current or past, work, hobbies, or causes)

Carol, then the rest of my family, and thirdly my law practice.

6) Write and answer one more question that YOU would ask someone.

"Why do you think God put you here at this time and place?"

First, I am absolutely unique and God wanted someone just like me at this particular point in the space-time continuum to love him and to be loved by him. Second, somewhere in the scheme of things, I fit into a larger plan that is so wonderful and beautiful that I can only dimly and mostly incompletely imagine it. As to my particular part of that plan, it has to do with being the husband to my wife, father to my children, grandfather to my grandchildren, son to my mom, friend to my friends, lawyer to my clients, and a member of the church, visible and invisible, local and globa. - all the things I am doing now. I feel pretty much within God's will presently but with too many major, major exceptions that have to do with my inability always to do the right thing and think rightly.

OK, whom do I tag? I tag the Beetz!!!
Some Really Sad News from Kenya. (Revised) A retired PC(USA) missionary and her daughter were murdered near Nairobi last week.

Our pastor Van went to seminary and is good friends with a missionary in Pakistan, Paul Stock, who is the nephew of the older woman who was killed and the cousin of the younger. At the deacon's meeting at our church last night that Carol attended, Van said that he received an email from Paul Stock telling him of this loss. Paul wrote, among other things, of the great love that the women who were killed had for the Kenyan people. (Van also said that Paul may be visiting our church this summer.)

Mary said that the younger woman was an RVA graduate. We pray for their families, and for the safety of other missionaries.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Jimmy, It's seriously time for you to hang it up. (But thanks for the compliment.) The former President takes a "Presbyterian Christian" for a Jew.

My friend, Sam Ullman, thinks this is a "scary thought".

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Just How Far Did that Apple Fall from the Tree? "Friends of God", the younger Pelosi's Documentary on American Christianity. Nancy Pelosi's daughter Alexandra is a documentary filmmaker and her recent documentary on Christians in America is getting a lot of ink. Any guesses on how Nancy Pelosi's daughter would film American Christianity? Here is one answer.

Another take on the film appeared in a WSJ journal article Friday. In this one, the writer admires the spare way in which Alexandra narrates the film, as if a camera without narrative is an objective look at any subject. The article also comments on a portion of the film where Ted Haggard is interviewed. (In a happy coincidence for Alexandra, she filmed her visit to Haggard and his church before the scandal.) According to the WSJ, Alexandra in this segment focuses not only on Haggard's views on homosexuality, she includes interviews with men in his church who comment on how often they have sex with their wives.

Right, we talk about that subject all the time at our Men's Bible Study.

Look for this film to be played up just about everywhere.
The SuperBowl in Miami. Dave Barry comments.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Still More on Mary, the Dinka Woman.

I have been in email touch with Audrey Walters, the Communications Director for Make Way Partners, and I told her about the visit that Carol, my Mary, and I made to Kijabe Hospital with Mark Buhler, the assistant superintendant of RVA, and his daughter April when we met Mary, the Dinka Woman. Audrey sent me a copy of this email that the MWP home office received from Kimberly L. Smith, the WMP executive director, who is presently in Kenya:

I can think of no more joyful news to begin ’07 than the news of remarkable recovery for our Mary in Nyamlell, Sudan. As you know, in partnership with Voice of the Martyrs and Bethany Kids, we were able to medi-vac Mary to Kijabi, Kenya for surgery on her arms. I went to see her in December. The following link includes new photos of her - post surgery:

James, Stephen (from Voice of the Martyrs) and I rode deep into the Rift Valley winding our way through steep mountain roads on our journey to Kijabi’s hospital to visit Mary. Dr. Dick Bransford of Bethany Kids, had agreed to perform Mary’s surgery without ever having met her. Once Dr. Bransford heard her story and saw her photos, he took her case.

All along the ride to visit Mary, as I took in the breathtaking beauty of God’s handiwork in the Rift Valley of Kenya, I marveled at yet another miracle he had done to get Mary to Kijabi Hospital. Mary has no passport, no birth certificate, and no legal papers of any kind. Stephen confessed how nervous he was putting her on the chartered plane. He had created letters explaining what he was trying to do, but what if the Customs Agent wouldn’t let Mary into Kenya? Stephen knew the Customs Agent well; this agent was a drunkard known to be unreasonable and hot tempered. If there was a problem, Stephen would have to put Mary back on the plane and send her home without an explanation because he couldn’t speak Dinka and Mary couldn’t speak Kiswahili. Stephen prayed the whole way through. This day the Agent offered little resistance, Stephen paid a small fee and Mary was granted a temporary Visa. Praise God!

Many of us have been praying for Mary’s recovery for sometime now. As I rode to Kijabi, I wondered how getting on a plane for the first time, riding on paved roads for the first time, being in a hospital for the first time, and the doctor not being able to explain to her what he was about to do or what she could expect would affect her.

Once in Kijabi, as Mary saw me coming toward her, she jumped up and ran to me raising her arms high into the air. For the first time, Mary was able to truly embrace me; we both cried. She was like a child excited with a long-awaited toy, wasting no time to show me how she could pump her arms up and down and stretch them nearly straight out. With rapid succession, Mary would alternately hug me then raise her arms in joy only to firmly hug me once again.

Finally we sat to talk. She was desperate for news of her children. We assured her that they were doing well in school and were being well cared for. The news was visibly comforting to her.

Through conversation about Mary’s return to Sudan, I asked her what she or her children might need. I wondered if she would ask for clothing or some essential item for her children; they have only one set of rags which they wear every day.

Mary said, "I don’t have a Bible. I couldn’t read it even if I did since I don’t know how to read. Still, I know Jesus has been with me all the way! But I want to know more about Him. Please teach me and the other women more about Jesus."

Mary has become a leader to Christians, Muslims and women who have lost all hope in any religion through this unholy ‘holy war’. Her desire is to start a Bible study with these women.

When I return to Sudan in a couple of weeks, helping Mary to deepen her ministry to the Christians, Muslims and former slave women in her community is one of my goals. You can make a donation for this specific purpose at:

Lastly, thanks to your generous yearend giving, the dormitory construction will continue. Our goal is to have Phase I complete by April and the first children will begin moving in. However, much work is ahead of us and the children need your continued support. Please continue to tell everyone you know how they can help these precious children through Make Way Partners.

Kimberly L.Smith

Executive Director

Update: I fixed the links, but I cannot get the photos on the link to the photo gallery to load on my computer. Maybe they will work for you.
More News on Laura and her film. Here. (Bringing you up to date on my earlier post.)

Thursday, January 25, 2007

More on Mary, the Dinka Woman. When I was blogging from Kenya, I posted about a visit to the Kijabe Hospital and described meeting Mary, a young woman from the Sudan who was a patient there. My Mary (Mary Stokes) told me that the Mary we met at the hospital is from the Dinka tribe, and so I will refer to the Mary we met as "Mary, the Dinka woman."

I have told the story of meeting Mary, the Dinka woman, to a number of people since Carol and I returned. Many of them were as moved as Carol and I were at this woman's story of faithfulness in the midst of profound terror and persecution. Because I was simply repeating the story as I had heard it second or third hand (I did not hear it directly from Mary, the Dinka woman), I asked my Mary if she would get me more details on the story. She researched the issue and was referred to an article about Mary, the Dinka woman, in a publication of the Christian organization that was involved in her rescue. The organization is Make Way Partners Corporation. The article appears in the organization's June 2006 newsletter, beginning on page six.

As you will read, the story ends before the funds are collected to send Mary, the Dinka woman, to Kijabe Hospital. So we have "the rest of the story", at least in part.

My Mary tells me that Mary, the Dinka woman, has been discharged from Kijabe Hosptial, but she does not know where she has gone. But Mary says she will try to find out, and when she does we will let you know.
Turn-around in Baghdad? I doubt we'll hear about this on NPR.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Jesus Presented in the Temple.

Last Wednesday our Men’s Bible Study at church recommenced after several weeks off for the holidays, and we picked up again with Luke. We read the Christmas story, which was interesting in light of the holiday just having passed and everyone sort of picking up the pieces. (My life flies apart between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. It’s a time of high stress, lots of great experiences, but over-all exhausting. I think we need more balance, more Sabbath time during that period, but it is very difficult to find it. For me, it seems to be more difficult each year.) I’m not sure that we achieved any fresh insight as we considered Luke 2: 1 through 20, but we enjoyed the irony of reading how Caesar Augustus (meaning Caesar the Exalted One) and his census pushed Mary and Joseph into Bethlehem for the birth, thus fulfilling one of the Messianic prophecies in the OT.

One of the points often made about the story is that God chose poor people to be the parents of Jesus and chose mere shepherds, rather than high priests and the other ruling elites, to whom to make the angelic announcement. In other words, the point is made that God bypassed the religious structures and went right to the people with this Savior.

The next section of Luke, "Jesus Presented in the Temple", makes me think that we make too much of that point. Because in verses 22 through 39, we see Mary and Joseph carefully observe the rituals that attend the birth of a child, the circumcision on the eighth day thereafter, the "purification" of Mary from her being ritually unclean as a result of childbirth and, finally, when she and her family are appropriately prepared, the "presentation of the first-born" several weeks later at the Temple.

We could argue that no Jewish child is really a complete "person" until the circumcision, because it is only then that he becomes part of the covenant community. In fact, we read that Jesus doesn’t even have a name until that ceremony, because only then is the name of a Jewish child conferred. So we could say that Jesus really does not come into the Jewish world until his parents appropirately prepare him and themselves and then bring their newly named, first born son to the Temple, there to comply with the rule that the first-born male must be presented to God, that is "consecrated." in remembrance of the grace of Passover and in obedience to God's command in respect of first-born males in Exodus 1:2.

So the events in verses 22 constitute a sort of Second Nativity, and it is profoundly Jewish and profoundly respectful of the Law. And, after all, the Gospel is for the Jew first, then to the Gentile. (Rom. 1:16)

There is great irony in Jesus being presented at the Temple, because the event goes largely unnoticed, except for a couple of old people to whom no one apparently pays a great deal of attention, except the parents themselves. This is where I think one of the lessons lies.

Here we have the Temple, with all its bureaucracy and ritual, one of the avowed purposes of which is to await the Messiah. And then, with two exceptions, they completely miss him. It makes me wonder what I am missing. What is going on in God’s economy, right in front of my eyes, that I am completely missing because I am so busy doing life? What is First Presbyterian of Miami Springs missing that is going on in our town, because its people are busy doing church? What is the Western Church itself missing?

Simeon and Anna give us a clue about how not to miss what is there for us to see. Each had committed himself or herself to a life in which they waited upon God. When God's good time came, he sent them spiritual gifts so that they could see who this child before them really was. The passage expressly states that the Holy Spirit caused Simeon to recognize Jesus. And it describes Anna as a prophetess. Here is man waiting patiently, and God finally revealing and equipping. May all of us be able so to wait and, when the time comes, be so blessed by God.
"The Unforseen". Laura's film at Sundance. Good luck, Laura!
Map of the Historical Spread of World Religions. Clever graphics.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Deep Religious Truths.

According to one of my Jewish friends and brothers:

In these serious times of this world, it is important for all of us of all faiths to recognize these Four Deep Religious Truths...............

1. Muslims do not recognize Jews as God's chosen people.

2. Jews do not recognize Jesus as the Messiah.

3. Protestants do not recognize the Pope as the leader of the Christian World.

4. Baptists do not recognize each other at Hooters

I wish this would be the speech
GWB would give:
"The State of the Union is a disaster."

This is a war, not a police action. C'mon all you classics majors out there! :-) Doesn't this go all the way back to Thermopalye? To (side) arms, citizens.

Also, required reading: the bio of Winston Churchill during the inter-war years. He was one of the very few who declared the Nazis to be the true threat that they were, and was outcast for it.
"Mutually assured destruction is not a deterrent to Ahmadinejad, but an inducement."

So says Bernard Lewis at a conference in Israel that he and James Woolsey, the former CIA Director, recently attended. Woolsey also spoke. Read further about what they said here.
More on Balancing our Freedoms with the Matter of Dealing with Terrorism. There are some interesting comments on the Gingrich post below. (I never know what will provoke discussion, and it's interesting to see what does.)

The discussion reminds me of what my criminal law professor, Norval Morris, said about the crime rate. He said that the optimum crime rate is not zero. He said that to get to zero, one would need a police state.

Would he say, then, that the optimum terrorism rate is not zero? If it is not zero, then what is it? A 9/11 every so often? Is the terrorism rate in Baghdad not optimal, but the terrorism rate in London about right?

Many would answer the Morris proposition by pointing out that we are not dealing with criminal activity. We are dealing, rather, with a sort of warfare. We have always suspended civil liberties to one extent or another during war. Then we win the war and, thereafter, restore those liberties, and luxuriate in regret.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Newt Gingrich, the Second Amendment, and Terrorism.

Newt Gingrich gave a speech in New Hampshire before Christmas that has gotten a lot of attention. Here's one report.

The following is the transcript of a section of that speech, according to an email from a friend of mine who follows these things:

NEWT GINGRICH: The third thing I want to talk about very briefly is the genuine danger of terrorism, in particular terrorists using weapons of mass destruction and weapons of mass murder, nuclear and biological weapons. And I want to suggest to you that right now we should be impaneling people to look seriously at a level of supervision that we would never dream of if it weren't for the scale of threat.

Let me give you two examples. When the British this summer arrested people who were planning to blow up ten airliners in one day, they arrested a couple who were going to use their six month old baby in order to hide the bomb as baby milk.

Now, if I come to you tonight and say that there are people on the planet who hate you, and they are 15-25 year old males who are willing to die as long as they get to kill you, I've simply described the warrior culture which has been true historically for 6 or 7 thousand years.

But, if I come to you and say that there is a couple that hates you so much that they will kill their six month old baby in order to kill you, I am describing a level of ferocity, and a level of savagery beyond anything we have tried to deal with.

And, what is truly frightening about the British experience is they are arresting British citizens, born in Britain , speaking English, who went to British schools, live in British housing, and have good jobs.

This is a serious long term war, and it will inevitably lead us to want to know what is said in every suspect place in the country, that will lead us to learn how to close down every website that is dangerous, and it will lead us to a very severe approach to people who advocate the killing of Americans and advocate the use of nuclear or biological weapons.

And, my prediction to you is that either before we lose a city, or if we are truly stupid, after we lose a city, we will adopt rules of engagement that use every technology we can find to break up their capacity to use the internet, to break up their capacity to use free speech, and to go after people who want to kill us to stop them from recruiting people before they get to reach out and convince young
people to destroy their lives while destroying us.

This is a serious problem that will lead to a serious debate about the first amendment, but I think that the national security threat of losing an American city to a nuclear weapon, or losing several million Americans to a biological attack is so real that we need to proactively, now, develop the appropriate rules of engagement.

And, I further think that we should propose a Geneva convention for fighting terrorism which makes very clear that those who would fight outside the rules of law, those who would use weapons of mass destruction,and those who would target civilians are in fact subject to a totally different set of rules that allow us to protect civilization by defeating barbarism before it gains so much strength that it is truly horrendous.

This is a sober topic, but I think it is a topic we need a national dialogue about, and we need to get ahead of the curve rather than wait until actually we lose a city which could literally happen within the next decade if we are unfortunate.
Bird's Eye View of Kijabe Hospital.

Read about it here.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Home Again

Senator Smathers Died. When I started practising law in Miami 1972, it was with the firm of Smathers & Thompson, the senior member of which was George A. Smathers. I first met him on the steps of the Capitol, when in the sixth grade I visited Washington DC with a group of patrol boys and girls from South Florida. (We traveled there by train to a national convention of "patrols". It was a great trip.) The Senator had came to greet the Miami contingent, and I have a photo someone snapped of the Senator, Dante Fascell, the member of the House of Representatives from Miami, and me.

He was very well known in our household as I grew up, and had a TV show every Saturday at Noon \n, right after the cartoons, Captain Midnight, and Sky King, and I always hung around to watch it. He was simply a "talking head" in those filmed programs, sitting at a desk with a picture of the Capitol in the bacgroun, the US flag on one side of the desk, the Florida flag on the other, but he described simply and intelligently what was happening in Washington and how it affected the country in general and Florida in particular. I was fascinated.

During the summer of 1970, after my second year of law school, I worked as a law clerk at Smathers and Thompson and met him again. By this time, he had retired from the Senate and divided his time between his Miami firm, composed of about 22 or 23 lawyers, and a separate firm in Washington, with only a couple of lawyers who were mainly his assistants, from which he did his lobbying. (It was a mattere of great disappointment to the partners in the Miami office that he shared no fees from the Washington firm. But he was clearly the rain-maker for the Miami office.) At the end of my summer with his firm, he took me to lunch and offered me a full-time job when I graduated from law school. I took a detour to NY to clerk for a federal judge, but after that year, I came back and went to work for the firm.

I started out as a litigator at the firm in 1972. That is what most of the lawyers did at the firm, but in the mid 70s the firm began to diversify seriously and had hired a Wall Street lawyer to come down and develop a trusts and estates practice. But in late 1979, this high draft pick, who had always been a free agent, went to a larger Miami firm with a well established T&E practice. He had become weary of the litigators at Smathers & Thompson, who were not sure that someone who practiced T&E really practiced law. By that time I was a partner, and the firm asked me to be on a search committee to go to NY and find another one like the one who had just left. After a couple of months of unsuccessful interviews, I said I would take the job, and made a "lateral move" into trusts & estates. (There is more to that story.)

As the new T&E lawyer, I immediately obtained a new client, Senator Smathers, whom I had already gotten to know some, but who became a friend over the next 20 years. He was the most charismatic man I have ever met. Think of John Wayne without the swagger, and you have the sort of charisma I mean. He was utterly charming. His charm and good looks were unusual in that they captivated both men and women. The Senator actively promoted my praactice and sent me many important clients, many of whom to this day I continue to serve.

During the 80s, the Miami firm and the Washington firm prospered. (Those were boom years for law firms.) For several years, the Senator and his wife would host the annual Christmas party for the lawyers and their spouses. They lived on Key Biscayne, and so they would have the parties at the Key Biscayne Hotel. Those fetes were beautiful, sort of Florida-elegant. At one of them, the Senator stood up during dinner to greet everyone and to say that he had a special guest to present. At that point, Billy Graham walked in and gave a short message about what Christmas meant. What a magic moment that was for everyone. I think even our Jewish partners were transfixed.

I would often go to lunch with the Senator at the Miami Club. We would have great talks and the talk frequently included religion. His mother had been a Christian Scientist, and I think that accounted in part for his positive outlook (not that having gifts of good looks and a great mind didn't help). He was not sold on evangelical Christianity, although he was a great friend of Graham. At one of those lunches he said that someone on a recent visit had told him that he needed to kneel down on his knees, ask God to forgive him for all of his many sins, and accept Jesus Christ as his savior. That really annoyed him. He said he thought that he was a Christian and believed in Jesus.

I remember asking him what he thought of Ronald Reagan. At that time Reagan was running for the Republican nomination for President a second time. (The first time he lost the race to Ford.) He told me that Reagan had a "good gut". I asked him what that meant, and he said that it meant that Reagan had good instincts. He admired Reagan even then.

The Senator of course was not a perfect man and made many mistakes, and I was privileged to know him well enough to become acquainted with him in all his imperfection. But I celebrate his life today and I thank God for the privilege of knowing him and for the blessing of being his partner and his lawyer.
Honor's Faces
Seemed like it was time for her to have her own video.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

A Baby Born, A Baby Saved. The lives of two unborn babies intersected with mine this week. One of them was an unborn girl who is as well known to me as an unborn baby could be to her grandfather: Honor, to whom Macon’s wife Kellsey gave birth on Thursday.

The other unborn one is still unborn today, but the baby is well too. She came close to dying this week, but my friend John Ensor helped her mother make a decision not to abort. And because I am on the board of a foundation that gave John’s organization a grant to help starts its good work in Miami this year and because Carol and I give a little bit to his organization each month, I feel a sort of “ownership” of that little life too.

John, a Baptist minister from the Boston area, has been detailed by Heartbeat International to Miami-Dade County to breathe some life into the pale pro-life efforts of Christians in this area. Our churches here are pre-occupied with themselves staying alive, without much attention to spare to those outside of their core congregations, as if God would let any of his local churches prosper when they were pre-occupied with themselves. John’s organization sent him down here because Miami has one of the highest abortion rates in the country, maybe the highest ratio of abortion parlors per thousand in the country, and probably the lowest ratio of women’s pregnancy counseling centers. He has pulled the fragmented pro-mother efforts we do have in this area into an affilated oranization called Heartbeat of Miami.

John had spoken at one of our Wednesday night suppers about six months ago, which is when I first met him. And he was back in town this week and came by for supper at church this past Wednesday. He told us this story.

That very morning, he received a telephone call on his cell phone from a local church that he had visited during an earlier visit. It was the church secretary who told him of a young, pregnant woman, a woman who already had several little children, who had called the church, weeping, and said that she needed to talk to a minister because she had an appointment at a pro-abortion center to set up the termination, and didn’t feel good about it. All of the pastors of that church were out for the day, and so the church secretary called John.

He spoke and then met with the young mother. She told him that she had been driven to her decision by the fact that her landlord was going to evict her within a day or two; she had no money, and felt that she could not handle the rest of the pregnancy or deal with her already born children and face homelessness. John asked her how much she needed not be evicted, and she said (as I recall it) around $280, one month’s rent. John said that he would get her the money. He immediately called the landlord, who was unmoved by the fact that John said he was a minister and would write him a check for what was due. So John made arrangements to wire the funds to this man, despite the best efforts of Western Union to frustrate his efforts. The young woman was not evicted, and John no doubt will connect her with some believers who will help her further.

It was a great week for grandfathers.
Aidan responds to Honor

Not so much, yet. He likes to hold her for a little while, he's very gentle with her, but mostly when he comes to visit, he plays with his cars & eats our treats.


updated, cause I was fiddling with settings at youtube

Thursday, January 18, 2007

[bumped] Final Update of the Day 10:40 pm CST: (Macon)
Today's Visitors:

What fun! We're tired now. Time for Macon to pull open the fold-away, Honor to go to the nursery, and Kellsey to flatten out the Craftmatic2 Adjustable Bed. See you tomorrow.

Update 3:55 CST: (Macon) Honor's first video.

Update 1:45 CST: (Macon) as Lindsay notes, Honor 18.5 inches long is the official measurement. :-) 7lb 9oz.

Here are the morning events, in pictures.

Unlike Aidan, Honor didn't give her daddy a head-fake and make him stand up too early.

Beautiful Girls!

also: Our hospital has free wi-fi. So awesome! I love technology.

Further update from Paul at 1028 EST (0928 CST): 18 inches long. Macon said "Shorter and chubbier", comparing her to Aidan. We spoke to him from Kellsey's room - Honor was getting cleaned up and Kellsey just ready to leave the recovery room. Doug was with Macon. Macon rang off as Kellsey was being brought back in. Stay tuned!

Update from Paul at 0922 EST (0822 CST): Carol just called me and had just spoken with Macon. Honor is here and everyone is well! She weighs in at 7 pounds, 9 ounces.

4:30 AM CST, (Macon) We're up and on our way to the Hospital!
Keep checking here for updates on Baby Stokes #2.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

A Favorite Quote. From Frances Bacon, lawyer:

Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Way to go, Sean! Tom Barnett says some nice things about Sean.
Snow Day!

Technically, it's a Wintry Mix Day.

And, as Walter noted, it's brought Austin to a screeching (sliding?) halt.

But that didn't keep Aidan from enjoying an extra day of I'm-the-only-kid-in-this-family freedom.

You can see a few minutes of video here.

The worst storm in ten years plagues Austin.

What you won't see in the main stream media:
(click on image for troubling detail)
Another Book.

The White Masai: An Exotic Tale of Love and Adventure. A woman writes about "falling for a Masai warrior while on vacation in Kenya". Non-fiction. Wow.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Hard Style/Soft Style

Here is a shot of part of Kells' & my bedroom. Kettlebells, Medicine Ball, Changing Table: The tools of the 21st Century Man.
Cowboy Aidan. (Thanks Sue-Sue!)

Books I've Read About and Would Like to Read.

(I think having time to read all the books that seem so interesting is exactly the reason that God invented eternity and, therfore, a compelling reason to get saved.)

Cross-X. "The ups and dowsn of the real-life debate team from Kansas City' Central High School". (I'm not kidding. The review in American Way made this seem like a good one.)(All the books that I mention here I read about in the American Way magazine, except for the one Martha mentioned to me yesterday.)

Half of a Yellow Sun. A novel abut 1960s Nigeria.

There is No Me without You: One Woman's Odyssey to Rescue Africa's Children. The story of Haregeqoin Teferra, an Ethiopian woman who, one by one, is saving the lives of children orphaned by AIDS. Written by Melissa Fay Greene.

The Girls: a Novel. A novel by Lori Lansens. (Although I don't know why I would want to read a novel about girls. They are so uninteresting to me, especially the big ones.)

The Last Season. "Author Eric Blehm collected a mountain's worth of infomration during his quest to find out what happend to Randy Morgenson, a backcountry ranger in the Sierra Neveada Mountains who seemingly just disapperaed." I have to list this one to balance the one about girls.

Now They Call Me Infidel. Why I Renounced Jihad for America, and the War on Terror. An educated Egyptian woman who came to the US writes about her journey out of Islam. My friend Martha told me about this one yesterday at church. She heard the author interviewed on NPR and wants to read the book. I hope she gets it and then loans it to me when she finishes.

A Keeper of Bees: Notes on Hive and Home. " . . . a sweet explanation of all things bee."

More later. I have to go to work.
The Snoop Next Door. Friday's WSJ has an article on people who expose on the internet rude people and their behaviors. The lead-off example was that of a man who caught his neighbor on video stealing his morning newspaper. (Be sure to read the text that accompanies the YouTube video.) The article lists websites where one can post the names and behaviors of minor league miscreants.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Children of Men

I went into Children of Men reluctantly, but all my prejudices against it were unfounded. I really enjoyed it. tremendously.

It's based on a book by PD James, which probably scores big points with my mom and would have with me if I'd known it prior to the closing credits.

Most dystopian stories end with man consuming himself in his depravity. then there are those pseudo-dystopias where everything is lost until man and his will triumph and there's usually some cause filled with great-hearted individuals behind the success. Children of Men has neither - Man's hope comes from without here, and it's so compelling. both the institution and the revolution are completely broken and depraved. Only relationships and specifically familial relationships are sacrificial and even these require intervention for salvation. it was awesome.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

"Brothers": The name of a film from Denmark that Carol and I viewed last night. Shot on high-definition video, it was a Sundance Film Festival award winner, I think in 2005. I would call it a sort of modern Jacob-Esau story, and would recomment it highly. I thought of linking to some reviews, but I suggest that you view it without any idea of what will happen, which is the way we saw it. I will share one aspect, though, and that is its presentation of how civilized are the Danes. I have had two Danish clients in my career, both beautiful women. The actress in this film, who plays a wife and mother, is stunningly beautiful. (Connie Nielsen, who played Lucilla in Gladiator.) Watching this movie made me sad to contemplate what is happening in Europe with the rise of Islam there. Interestingly, the "clash of civilizations" is an element in the plot too.

Friday, January 12, 2007

"I am Pro-Life" . . . but.

This on abortion from Mitt Romney's website:

"I am pro-life. I believe that abortion is the wrong choice except in cases of incest, rape, and to save the life of the mother. I wish the people of America agreed, and that the laws of our nation could reflect that view. But while the nation remains so divided over abortion, I believe that the states, through the democratic process, should determine their own abortion laws and not have them dictated by judicial mandate."
(Boston Globe, Mitt Romney Editorial, July 26, 2005)

First, this description of his position on a volatile issue is sloppy at best. Looking at the first sentence, does he mean that "in cases of incest, rape, and to save the life of the mother" abortion is the right choice? Surely not.

I think it is a reasonable argument to make that in the case of actual rape, a woman should have the opportunity to make an informed choice about whether or not to abort. I am not saying that I would agree that she should choose abortion, but I am saying it is not unreasonable to think that she should have the choice. I would not make it a crime for an abortion in those circumstances to be performed.

I am talking about an informed choice on the question of abortion in the case of actual rape.

There is a problem here because "rape" includes "statutory rape". That is, the rape of an underaged woman. There is not necessarily in this case the violence that one associates with rape nor the lack of actual consent. The situation with this sort of rape requires very, very great care. The big problem is just who is going to make the decision about whether or not to abort. If we say that the underage woman is to make the decision, then we are not being consistent with the idea that the reason we call consensual intercourse "rape" is that the woman is underaged. We call it rape because we presume that the young woman lacked the maturity to give effective consent. But are we, then, to say that she has the maturity to make the decision about whether or not to abort?

"Incest" is somewhat similar to statutory rape, because it carries the presumption that there was a sort of involuntary aspect to the event or that the woman was in a confidential relationship with the male, which the male violated by engaging in intercourse. But where we are dealing with underage women, we have the same sort of problem as statutory rape. If we are dealing with women who are adults in cases where there was consent, then what is the basis of allowing abortion at all, other than moral repugnance? If there was no consent, then we have rape, whether or not there was incest along with it. So I am not ready to include "incest" without actual rape as permitting a choice.

Finally, if we are talking about "saving the life of the mother", then we are in a radically different situation, if we are truly limiting the category as described. In that case, certainly the mother should have the choice, if she is competent to make the choice. This will probably make some people unhappy, but I would say that even if she chooses not to abort, the husband, if she is married, should be brought into the question and if he believes an abortion should be performed to save the life of the mother, then his view should have great weight and, in certain circumstances, control.

But the left has blurred the limits of "saving the life of the mother" so that this exception is decribed something like "safeguarding the mother's health", health including physical, mential, emotional, etc. It is a huge loophole.

Romney wants the states to determine the abortion issue and get it out of the national arena. Jutice Scalia likes that idea as well. The implication of that view, however, is that the life of an unborn baby is something of less value than the life of a born baby. The unborn baby is not a citizen. The born baby is. I doubt that the Supreme Court would countenance a federalism argument that the states ought to be given the right to permit infanticide. But in the name of federalism some otherwise conservative people say that the states should be able to regulate fetuscide. (Of course, one could argue that my exception to outlawing abortion where there has been an actual rape also compromises the idea that an unborm baby is just as worthy of protection as a born baby.)

While the politicians thrash this out, Christians have plenty of room to address the issue in a helpful way, principally by supporting mothers, wed and unwed, who are considering abortion for economic or social reasons. The "Women's Preganancy Center" movement is effective, even if it is considerably undersupported.
A little soft around the edges? Romney on the "jihadists" threat, from his campaign website:

The defeat of this radical and violent faction of Islam must be achieved through a combination of American resolve, international effort, and the rejection of violence by moderate, modern, mainstream Muslims. An effective strategy will involve both military and diplomatic actions to support modern Muslim nations. America must help lead a broad-based international coalition that promotes secular education, modern financial and economic policies, international trade, and human rights.

"Romney wants the public to know that Jihadists are not an 'armed group of crazed maniacs in the hills of Afghanistan.' Rather, Romney says the United States is facing a 'far more sinister and broad-based extremist faction' with a 'very 8th century view of the world.'"

(ABC News, April 30, 2006)

By "soft around the edges", I point to the idea of "moderate, modern, mainstream Muslims". If they are "moderate" and "modern" and if they are "mainstream" in the sense of being in the mainstream of Western Civilization, then I question whether they are really Muslim. But, hey, this interesting species can call themselves whatever they want.

I'm also a little concerned about the idea of "a broad-based international coalition that promotes secular education, modern financial and economic policies, international trade, and human rights." If he is talking about pulling together an alternative to the UN, I am interesetd. If he is talking about working through what we have now, then I would question whether he is really any different from the rest of the politicians we seem to get from Massachusetts.
Romney. My friend Charles sent me a link to a post at a blog called "Flopping Aces", as we exchanged emails about the media. The subject matter of the post is interesting (how the AP messed up it's report on the bombing of a mosque), but what is even more interesting is that there is an ad for Mitt Romney's campaign on the blog. Elsewhere I've read that Romney is blog savvy and raising a lot of money. He's a pretty interesting candidate, don't you think?

Thursday, January 11, 2007


Jefferson and the Koran. Just why would Thomas Jefferson have a Koran in his library? (Thanks to my friend Charles for bringing this to my attention.)

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Challenging the Use of AIDS Drugs in Sub-Saharan Africa. Professor Posner. But why the reluctance to concede that an abstinence element in an AIDS educational program has some utility? For an affirmative view see, for example, this consideration of the "ABC" approach from a Harvard researcher.
Programming Idea of the Century . . . or Maybe the Afternoon. On Wednesdays we have our partners' lunches at a local restaurant. It is great fun when one of us is gone, which gives the three of us remaining the opportunity to discuss the absent member of our eminent firm. And Jane is gone this week (at a CLE event we should all be attending - she's so good, Jane is), so the lunch had a lot of potential.

Anyway, we actually didn't get to Jane, speaking of missed opportunities, mainly because we have a new associate, Kimberly, and she is young, new, eager, good looking, much too bright, really a great target to discuss. So we talked about her for awhile.

Then we got to an important subject: sending emails to the wrong person or sending emails to the right person, but sending an email you should not have sent to that person and that, about 10 seconds later, you deeply, deeply regret.

We came up with two possible solutions, other than paying attention or otherwise using your head when you are in email mode.

1. Have something pop-up when you hit the "send" key that says "do you really want to send this, you turkey?" These kinds of things are always popping up when I want to delete something or when I want to go somewhere strange on the internet. Why not something that will protect me when I'm in e-mail mode?

2. Have all your ourgoing emails held in a sort quarantine until the end of the day. At the end of the day, you get a chance to revisit them one more time before sending them out.

I'm worried that Google will read this and snap this idea up. But if not, I lay this all out for you in the community. Send me an iPhone when you strike it rich.
Internet Radio Services. I know. Where have I been? Sorry, but I've been busy. Anyway, on the way to somewhere in December and desperate for something to read (I had just finished the latest Hillerman novel), I picked up the American Way in flight magazine and read an article on Internet Radio Services.

Well of course it isn't radio. My gosh, I know what radio is. But it is a reasonable facsimile, it's mostly free, and there are no commercials. This is, of course, way too much pony. There must be some you-know-what in here somewhere (rhymes with pepsodent, sort of). I haven't found it yet, but you know I am somewhat behind the curve. (For example, in a comment to an earlier post by number one son, birth order speaking, I raised an eyebrow at a $599 cell phone from Apple. 'Way behind the technology curve; I will concede that. But 'way over another curve, a hill-like curve. $599 is a lot of money. My Elecraft cost that much, after all. Plus you don't get to build the iPhone.)

Anyway, for those few of you who don't already know where these Internet Radio Services are, I will give them to you, straight from the American Way magazine of 12/15/2006:

Shoutcast. It's free. On our Apple, I am listening to a classical radio station that specializes in flamenco guitar music. All of this music is streamed. None of it downloaded, so there's no copyright problem.

Pandora. Also free. But if you pay something each year, it is free of ads. I don't know how annoying the ads are, because I haven't sampled it yet.

Orb. Somehow you load in your own collection and can listen to songs from that collection when you are on the road. It's free.

Mercora. "The two-year old music-sharing service lets people download a small software application to transform their PCs into servers for personal radio stations; stations broadcast only when the PC is on. DJs can create personal web pages where fans can leave messages for them or add them as friends." Well, that's cool.
Dave Barry calendar for Wednesday, January 10, 2007:

Quoting the great man:

There are vital reasons why guys are interested in technology, and women should not give them a hard time about always wanting to have the "latest gadget." And when I say "women," I mean "my wife." For example, as a guy, I feel I need a new computer every time a new model comes out, which is every fifteen minutes. This baffles my wife, who has had the same computer since the Civil War and refuses to get a new one because - get THIS for an excuse - the one she has works fine.
The Ad for This Book in the WSJ Says "Do Things Differently This Year". But what's different about this?

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Yes, Please.

Thanks for asking.
"This game proved once again that football can't be played without emotion." You are so right, Terry. Nor can anything else in life be played successfuly without it.
Bloody French. Mary links to this column from the Times.

Monday, January 08, 2007

AES Chief Exercises Options

I bet he did.

"The president and chief executive of electric utility AES Corp. exercised options for 299,600 shares of common stock under a prearranged trading plan, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing Friday.
In a Form 4 filed with the SEC, Paul T. Hanrahan reported he exercised the shares Wednesday for $2.20 to $19.50 apiece and then sold them the same day for $22.03 to $22.31 apiece."

In an unrelated story:

[Chavez's plan for nationalization] appeared likely to affect Electricidad de Caracas, owned by Arlington, Virginia-based AES Corp., and C.A. Nacional Telefonos de Venezuela, known as CANTV, the country's largest publicly traded company.

"All of that which was privatized, let it be nationalized," Chavez said, referring to "all of those sectors in an area so important and strategic for all of us as is electricity."
The Last Month of Pregnancy

So, my sister-in-law told me once that she had heard that God gave us the ninth month of pregnancy so that we would be willing to do absolutely anything to get the baby out.

Can I get an "Amen"?

UPDATED: for those who are wondering, the scheduled c-section is going to be next Tuesday, January 16 at 8am. I suppose I could go into labor sooner and then they would go ahead with the c-section then, but I'm not counting on it.

Also, for any who are wondering, I still have fears that this is not really going to be a girl and so I haven't yet washed anything!
Obama and Islam. Here is an interesting speculation about Obama's allegedly being born a Moslem and, as a child, educated in an Islamic school. According to this article, he is married to a Christian and a member of a church of the United Church of Christ.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Nick, God or Baal? Nick chooses Baal. What a sad example to the college athletes he is now going to mentor.

UPDATE: Here is a strongly negative opinion of Coach Saban.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Wow, the vitriol directed to Saban from down here is as corrosive as can be! I'm surprised my car radio hasn't melted from the sportstalk-show hysteria, not to mention the continuing spew coming from the Miami Herald. Anyway, here's another still negative view of Saban's departure from a sportswriter not from Miami.

My impression at this point is that Saban simply wasn't the man for the job, and that he yielded to the gold and Huizinga's salesmanship when he decided to come down to South Florida. And regretted it about three days after arriving. At which point he should have packed it up and left, but didn't. For a college coach, pro football coaching is simply another world, requiring a far tougher breed to succeed. Saban does not belong to that breed. Not even close.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Mostly for Mary
Aidan's Christmas, via a photocast: here. Warning. Most likely only interesting to his own parents. Use your favorite RSS aggregator to subscribe to this photocast updated as we take pictures and get around to uploading them to our compter. (I use netvibes as my RSS reader/aggregator.)

The feed is actually a photocast of pictures of Aidan taken in the last month. Since Christmas is in that range, voila, a Christmas photocast.

Feed is also conveniently located at the bottom of the right sidebar.
Kettle Bell Video. Walter sent me this video on YouTube. The most amazing thing are the jumps onto the table toward the end. But it's probably all amazing. (I loved the music in the background. How did we ever beat these guys? And, by the way, the second comment to the video on YouTube is most eloquent, really.)

Monday, January 01, 2007

Books on (Outer) Space. Here's a post on Instapundit about recommended books on this subject. The Michael Collins book looks interesting.
Christmas in Austin.

Links from Mary. We IMd this morning with Mary. She sent this link to a NYT article about the war in Somalia. I didn't like the part about the Islamists heading to the Kenyan border. More on all of that here.

She also sent this link about flooding in the Maasi Mara. We were very fortunate to have positively wonderful weather during our visit. The article refers to people being trapped out on the Mara and having to spend overnight there. Now that would have been fun!

"Not Ready for Marriage." While over on the Mars Hill Audio website, I saw this link to what appears to be an interesting podcast on the decline of courtship.
The Paradox of Modernity

"Why is it that a world dedicated to the pursuit of leisure and of machines that save labour is chiefly marked by its levels of rush, frenetic busyness and stress? . . . The paradox of modernity . . . is that however successful the understanding of time and space, the modern is less at home in the actual time and space of daily living than peoples less touched by [modern] changes. . . . Whatever the integration of space and time in science, in modern life there is at once cultural stagnation and febrile change, a restless movement from place to place, experience to experience, revealing little evidence of a serene dwelling in the body and on the good earth."

-- Colin Gunton, The One, the Three and the Many: God, Creation and the Culture of Modernity (Cambridge University Press, 1993). (Cited in the January 1, 2007 Addenda from Mars Hill Audio. Addenda is an email newsletter to which one can subscribe for free.)


The Mars Hill Audio quote made me think of this poem from Wordsworth:

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon,
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers,
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not.--Great God! I'd rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.