Monday, December 26, 2011

Sunday, December 25, 2011

How One Handles a Sneeze as a Sign of God's Calling

Yesterday Mary described scrub protocols in the operating room. She said that surgeons learn to "swallow" their sneezes. (We asked her about itches and runny noses, but those are distinct subjects that require their own posts, respectively. This post is about sneezes.)

I inherited Juanita's explosive sneeze. Here was a college educated, Southern lady, who, when she sneezed, raised the roof. Those sneezes echoed around our neighborhood. Dogs started barking. When cars began to come with alarms, the alarms went off. People who knew the source, usually laughed. The uninformed were astonished.

Carol's sneezes make hardly a sound. Imagine a chipmunk sneezing, and there you have it. But Carol can't stand the sight of blood.

I don't mind the sight of blood so much, but I have do have Juanita's sneeze.

Mary's doing well with the sight of blood and she sneezes quietly. Well, then, there you have it. Surgery.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve Breakfast at Crandon Park


Temperature in the mid 70s, a very light breeze, soft, bright winter sunlight, and two of my very favorite people.

Friday, December 23, 2011

"It's just math."

P.V.T surface model for water.

As Mary is fond of saying, "Physics is just math." (Does she quote Koski?) The model is simply a three-dimensional graph.

In fact, everything is just math. Like this is just physics, is justmath, (More on the new particle here.)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Romney's Right Answers on Iraq

A journalist named Byron York wrote this article entitled "Romney changes stance on Iraq." York writes for the Washington Examiner, a conservative counterpart to the Washington Post. As the title to the article indicates, York's thesis is that Romney changed his position on the war in Iraq over the course of a couple of interviews during the past week or two. (Instapundit links this article.)

But a careful reading of the article doesn't show the changes that York contends occurred. I find Romney's answers consistent and forthright about whether it would have been appropriate for our country to have have gone to war in Iraq had it had the proper intelligence concerning WMDs. Furthermore, his answers are valid.

What good is history if we don't learn from it?

The narrative of the war quickly turned to that of "nation-building" when our armies found no WMDs. The Constantinian idea of imposing a healthy national culture from the top down is more evidence that politicians ignore their history at the peril of the rest of us.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Market Will Get after Red China, Just as it Did the Soviet Union

And probably faster, as China has danced with it with such apparent success.

But there is the piper to pay.

Instapundit links this, as it did this six years ago.

Rant in the Middle of the Night

As for [University of Connecticut's president Susan] Herbst’s claim that the humanities “teach us how we’re supposed to live,” this is true; rather, it was true, up until about 50 years ago. The last two generations of college students have been taught by their humanities and social-science professors that principles regarding “how we’re supposed to live” are merely “values,” and that all values are as good as any others. Moral and cultural relativism are the thin gruel that the universities feed their students’ hungry souls.

-from "The Humanities Real Enemies," by Thomas K. Lindsay, linked to by Instapundit.

This cultural relativism like the plague infects PC(USA). What pushed me over the edge happened about a 9 months ago when a freshly minted seminary grad was admitted to Presbytery on a split vote after she, during examination, said something like, "Jesus is the Savior for me, but for others . . . "

Please wash my mouth out with soap the next time I say "my tradition holds that . . . "

The Creed begins "I believe in God the Father Almighty , , ,," not "I believe in a god, I call Father Almighty . . . " He is not God the Father Almighty to me, he is God the Father Almighty period. When I speak the Creed, I'm telling you "I get it," like "I get calculus" (or once I did, anyway). I'm not telling you how I feel. Whether I get it or not, God the Father Almighty or calculus, has nothing to do with the authenticity of the fact.

And speaking of the Creed and relativism, don't you hate "Holy Christian Church" when it's "holy catholic Church." Give me a break.

Monday, December 19, 2011

And the Answer?

The 5-foot, 6-inch arthritic, diabetic man weighed 185 pounds the first day of his [plant-based] diet on July 28. Today, he's an energetic, nonmedicated, 140-pound feel-good guy on a mission.

-From the Oklahoman.

When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, "Do you want to get well?"

-From John 5: 1-9.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sing and Make Music in Your Heart to the Lord!

I Thessalonians 5:16-18: Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4: 4-7: Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 5: 19-20: Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

"Social Skills"

Glenn Reynolds links to this post at the Penelope Trunk Blog - Advice at the Intersection of Work and Life. One of the "Social Skills" Penelope lists is "Paying Attention to Personality Types." She refers to the granddaddy (my description, not Penelope's, but should I say "grandmother?") of personality tests, the Myers-Briggs. (Penelope's blog is worth a regular look, by the way.)

At our men's breakfast yesterday morning, we read 1 Samuel 11. We began talking about leadership skills, because the scripture describes Saul's leadership in response to a crisis. (He is empowered by the "Spirit of God," a small detail). That discussion lead to a discussion of personality tests. (Do you suppose we may have missed the point?)

Coincidentally, at our firm we have recently undertaken personality assessments with the help of an HR consultant. I am again reminded of what an odd fellow I really am.

Come, Holy Spirit.

Staying or Leaving

My personal calculus is this: I can envision no likely circumstances under which my theologically diverse congregation in Washington, DC, would leave the PCUSA. I have deep ties to that congregation, going back to my maternal grandmother, and I believe God has planted me there for his purposes. I have taken vows as a member, deacon, and elder within that congregation and the PCUSA. I see nothing that prevents me from fulfilling those vows, and carrying out the ministries to which God has called me, within that congregation. So I will be staying.

Yet others face a different personal calculus, and they will choose to leave the PCUSA. Can we still bless one another, as Esau and Jacob blessed one another in their maturity (Genesis 33)? Can we allow the possibility that God may be calling different ones among his servants to serve in different places?

-Alan Wisdom (last June) of the Institute on Religion and Democracy

(Yes, to his two questions, although most of the members at FPC Miami Springs, I believe, will vote to leave.)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Away in a Manger? No, at Home in the Manger.

In traditional Middle Eastern villages, one would find mangers in the typical one or two room homes, one room being the "family room" and the other, if there were another, the "guest room," according to Bailey. At one end of the family room, immediately at the single door through which one entered the little house, the family's animals entered too. The family brought them in at night. The animals stayed there, at ground level adjacent to the door, safe from thieves and providing warmth with their body heat. There were no "barns" or "stables," no separate quarters for animals.

The family slept in the same room, but on a sort of dais or raised floor. The floor slanted slightly, toward the end of the room where the animals stayed at night, so that when the floor was cleaned and washed, the water drained to the lower portion by the door. (There were steps from the raised floor, down to the part where the animals stayed.)

On the raised portion of the floor, next to the part where the animals stayed, the builders would have made two bucket-like holes, accessible to the animals. They were the mangers, kept filled with straw, so the animals would have something to eat. That's where Mary laid baby Jesus. (Some houses may have had mangers fashioned from wooden boxes.)

There were no "inns" in Bethlehem. That word should have been translated "guest room," the second room that some houses would have. In the particular home where Mary and Joseph stayed, there was no room for Mary and Joseph in the guest room. It was occupied. So they stayed in the family room, with the family that owned the house.

No self-respecting village would have refused a pregnant woman hospitality. Besides, Mary and Joseph were "royals," Bailey writes. They were of the house and lineage of David. And Bethlehem, after all, was the City of David.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes; the PC(USA) Through Middle Eastern (African, etc.) Eyes

Alec Hill sent us three IVP books after his visit to our home. One of them is Kenneth E. Bailey's Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes: Cultural Studies in the Gospels. We've heard of this book, are simply delighted to receive it, and sadly reminded of what Dr. Bailey said about the PC(USA) and the Article 10-A decision.

I posted on what Dr. Bailey said this past September. It's worth linking again to his article for PFR, and reposting this quote from that article:

The recent decision to change our ordination standards is a rejection of Scripture and tradition as understood by more than one billion Roman Catholics. It is also an offense to more than 300 million Eastern Orthodox in their various communities in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and around the globe.

Western Christianity has been the “superpower” of the Christian world for more than a thousand years. Across the centuries we were able to define what it meant to be a Christian. This is no longer the case. As is well-known, the numerical center of the Christian world has moved South and East. That “global South” is becoming more and more important for the larger body of Christ and they (along with the Catholics and Eastern Orthodox) will see us as having departed from Scripture and tradition as the Church everywhere has known it for two millennia. Our relationships with them are now freshly damaged.

Be an "Obstinate Christian"

Carol took note of Pliny's complaint about "obstinate" Christians in the quote in my post immediately below. Some of the Christians that fell into his clutches refused to renounce Christ and worship the Emperor, and some did not refuse. The compliant ones he simply let go. The "obstinate ones" he killed. We don't run such a risk these days. There's no good reason not to be obstinate about holding on to our faith.

Christians and Sexual Immorality

Eighty percent of young, unmarried Christians have had sex. Two-thirds have been sexually active in the last year. Even though, according to a recent Gallup poll, 76 percent of evangelicals believe sex outside of marriage is morally wrong.

-Relevant Magazine, September/October 2011 Issue.

22 Then the apostles and elders, with the whole church, decided to choose some of their own men and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They chose Judas (called Barsabbas) and Silas, men who were leaders among the believers. 23 With them they sent the following letter:

The apostles and elders, your brothers,

To the Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia:

Greetings.

24 We have heard that some went out from us without our authorization and disturbed you, troubling your minds by what they said. 25 So we all agreed to choose some men and send them to you with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul— 26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 Therefore we are sending Judas and Silas to confirm by word of mouth what we are writing. 28 It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: 29 You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things.

Farewell.


-Acts 15:22-29

But Pliny [the Younger, Roman governor of Bithynia, a region on the north shore of what is now Turkey, persecutor of Christians during the Second Century] considered himself a just man, and therefore felt obliged to find out what crimes, besides sheer obstinacy, Christians committed. All he could learn was that Christians gathered before dawn to sing to Christ "as to a god," and to join in an oath not to commit theft, adultery, or any such sins . . .

-Gonzalez, The Story of Christianity, Vol. 1 at page 40 (1st ed. 1984)

What Carol and I have seen is that this sort of disobedience is not confined to "young, unmarried Christians," but to unmarried Christian adults of all ages. Such conduct has seriously weakened our local church and its mission. I suggest that this problem is at the heart of the movement under way of many PC(USA) churches out of that denomination. It is not about homosexuality, it is about sexual immorality, regardless of how one self-identifies concerning "sexual preference." It is a good reason to leave, as much as I would prefer not to concede that it is.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Our Brothers, the Roman Catholics, Have a New Missal

Deacon Greg Kandra writes about it.

Yesterday at our Men's Breakfast, Gary Cameron, Area Director for InverVarsity, said that he thinks that the RCs may right now have a better grasp on what it means to live the Christian life than the Protestants.

A Thoughtful Article on Tebow in the WSJ


It's here, but you probably need a subscription to view it on the WSJ's online service. (Sometimes I can find full copies of WSJ articles at other websites, if I google it. I'm not sure why.)

An interesting quote from that article I can reproduce:

At the national level, however, big-time sports is big business, with billions of dollars at stake, and Americans tend to be cynical about the whole show. In this world, Mr. Tebow's frequent professions of faith can come across as a discordant note, equal parts over-earnestness and naïveté. It's hard to resist the thought that, eventually, a darker reality will show through.

Mr. Tebow may indeed turn out to be a hypocrite, like other high-profile Christians in recent memory. Some of us might even want that to happen, because moral failure is something we understand. We know how to deal with disappointed expectations, to turn our songs of praise into condemnation.

What we are far less sure how to do is to take seriously a public figure's seemingly admirable character and professions of higher purpose. We don't know how to trust goodness.

And who can blame us? We don't want to be fooled again.


Patton Dodd wrote the article. The WSJ editors describe him as follows: "Mr. Dodd is the managing editor of the website Patheos [worth looking at] and a former senior editor at Beliefnet. This article is adapted from his e-book, "The Tebow Mystique: The Faith and Fans of Football's Most Polarizing Player."

The article refers to a link called Tebowing.com, which is sympathetic to Tembow. (Somebody might buy me a T-shirt from that site for Christmas. I'm buying Sam one.)

Friday, December 09, 2011

Straight No Chaser: 12 Days of Christmas

From Writing-it-Out/Keyboard to Dictation/Keyboard to Dictation/Dragon: Part I

By the time I graduated from law school, I had done a lot of writing. My tools were the pencil, writing paper, a portable electric type-writer from Sears that I acquired at the end of my senior year in high school, index cards, scissors, scotch tape, and, toward the latter part of my student career, photo-copy machines. I didn't do very well using the type-writer directly. Instead, I usually "wrote-out" a first draft, made some annotations and changes directly on that draft, and then transcribed that draft to a type-written text. As I typed I would make more changes.

Next, on the clean type-written draft, I made more changes and corrections with my pencil. I would make more changes until the draft became messy, at which point I typed another transcription. I might go through several cycles of typing and hand-writing on the typed transcript. During these cycles I would often cut up the manuscript into paragraph pieces, rearrange the paragraphs, and then tape the thing together.

When the paper involved research, as it often did, I had index cards on which I wrote quotations from various sources. I would scotch tape the index cards into the right place during the cycle. Photocopy machines were just coming in, and Duke had a copy center, so I began to take books over to the center, especially library books, to get copies made of certain pages. I would take the scissors to those pages and scotch-tape slices to the current draft.

When I was working on a big paper at Duke, I used a type-writing service. There were secretaries in the administration offices who would take one's draft home and type it up for a fee. So as I was cycling through the process of producing the paper, I might get to the point where I would take my last type-written draft, one on which I had made relatively few and legible changes by hand, to one of these secretaries for a close-to final draft, get it back, decide whether it was good enough (it was never good enough on an absolute basis, but it was often good enough in terms of the time had left before I had to turn it in), and then either use it or cycle back one more time to the secretary for the final. One advantage to the secretary was that I could get away from the paper for awhile, and then get back with my mind refreshed to a nice, clean, professionally produced manuscript.

Dragon for the Mac

I've had success with with Dragon Naturally Speaking via my desktop at the office, which is a PC. There is a Mac version of this product, Dragon Dictate.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Tebow and Denver beat the Vikings

What Tim Tebow is doing for the Denver Broncos must be considered the top story in the NFL this year. After enduring incessant criticism and hatred from the media and so-called NFL experts, Tebow has now led the Broncos to first place in the AFC West.

-Patrick Michael at Yahoo Sports.

Bronco's defense not available for victory attribution this week. So what (that is, who) is the common denominator here?

More from Patrick Michael at the Yahoo link:

In fairness to the Broncos defense, they also forced two huge interceptions. And RB Willis McGahee rushed for 111 yards. However, Tebow was impressive as a… (Dare I say it?) passer! Gasp! On the day, Tebow was 10-15 for 202 yards and two TDs. More telling is fact that Tebow only rushed for 13 yards on four carries.

This leads to a startling potential conclusion. Could it be that Tebow is actually improving as a passer? Is it possible that NFL defenses will have to start game planning for Tebow the passer and runner? Could it be that John Elway better start scouting WRs instead of QBs? The critics may lose their minds.

Friday, December 02, 2011

"Covertly Conscious"

Three hospitalized, brain-damaged men who were unresponsive and apparently unconscious of their surroundings caught observers by surprise when they repeatedly responded to commands by researchers. Although the men, diagnosed as vegetative, couldn't physically move or speak, a headset of electrodes measured their brain activity after neurologists asked them to imagine wiggling their toes or clenching a fist. One of the patients responded over 100 times, the researchers reported in The Lancet, a British medical journal. Roughly 20,000 Americans are living in a persistent vegetative state—a condition of being awake but presumably unaware. That condition led to a national outcry over the late Terri Schiavo, whose feeding tube was removed in 2005. The results of the new study suggest one-fifth of these patients might actually retain consciousness. A brain scanning system could enable them to communicate with their families.

-from World magazine's December 3, 2011 issue, p. 10

The abstract from The Lancet article is here.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

"The Issue is One of Solvency, Not Liquidity"

Mr. King said provisions of liquidity — such as the concerted central bank action taken by the BOE [Bank of England], U.S. Federal Reserve and other major peers Wednesday — won't solve the euro zone's problems in the long term because the issue is one of solvency, not liquidity.

-from today's WSJ. Mr. King is Governor of the Bank of England.

The market brought down the Soviet Empire. The euro zone is a bump in the road next to that. The US is a bit more than a bump, but it has no special exemption either. The British, according to the article, are getting ready for the zone's fall. I trust we are as well, even as we, along with the BOE "and other peers," are throwing more money at the crisis. I suppose those actions are window dressing, so that when the zone finally goes down, we can say that we tried.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Hooray the Allen Institute

"Open Science" and the brain. (I posted on the Allen Institute previously.)

Cain May Drop Out. Blue Dog Alternate.

It seems to me that any Republican Presidential contender who thinks that his sexual immorality will escape the avid attention of the media, is really not smart enough for the job anyway.

Speaking of politics, which I don't do much anymore since the near demise of the Blue Dogs (although Heath Shuler hangs in there big time), I liked this post on Ann Althouse' blog.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tebow Takes Denver within Striking Distance of the Playoffs


He's 5-1 since he started.

Tonight I heard Troy Aikman discuss Tebow on ESPN radio. He gave the credit he must give TT for his record to date, but stated that Tebow's "mechanics" will finally doom his team never to achieve the ultimate championship. Aikman also mentioned how well the Broncos' defense is now playing, a point detractors are lately making in their attempts to understand what has happened to Denver. (All the detractors are careful to say how much they "like" Tebow.)

I haven't heard anyone state that Tebow may have developed a different way to play the game successfully. That's my friend Sam's view, however. Sam is a student of Gator football and, naturally, has followed Tebow from the beginning. I think Sam may be right.

Spending Time with Some Giants.

Today I had the pleasure of spending the greater part of the afternoon with Bill White, pastor of UBC, and our pastor, Van Lahmeyer.

This evening I had dinner with Alec Hill, President of Intervarsity Christian Fellowship and with Gary Cameron, Area Director of the Graduate and Faculty Ministries ("GFM") of Intervarsity. Alec is spending the night with us tonight during his trip this week to South Florida.

The Kingdom is in good hands. It was a wonderful day.

Repeat, Reassure, Resume

Juan and I discussed a particularly difficult client yesterday, someone who likes to control any agenda he comes near. The client's strategy of choice is to ask questions about whatever issue pops into his mind, especially if it is not related to the particular issue presented by the lawyer. This kind of a client is a troubling one for Juan and me, because we tend to be "pleasers." Clients don't need us to be pleasers, they need us to be lawyers.

Juan spoke to his father about this kind of client. Juan's father is a very experienced and successful real estate broker. His father described "the Three R's" as his way of dealing with these kinds of situations: Repeat, Reassure, and Resume.

Thus, when one is presenting the matter at hand to the client and the client wants to talk about something else, then the lawyer repeats the point he or she has made. Then the lawyer reassures the client that his question is an important one and that it will be addressed some other time. Finally, the lawyer resumes the discussion of the matter at hand.

This cycle may go on for quite some time and doesn't necessarily get things back on track the first time around. Or the 12th time.

Obviously, this approach would be useful in relationships in addition to the attorney-client or broker-customer relationships where one stands in any sort of fiduciary relationship with another.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Herzlich Starts for the Giants Tonight

Against the Eagles.

He is the rookie cancer survivor.

UPDATE: The Giants lost, but Herzlich had four tackles.

Living Water. Dead Water. Mel Gibson as Bible Authority

Today our Sunday School class addressed John 4:1-15, the first half of the meeting between Jesus and the Samaritan woman that commenced at Jacob's well.

After the class, several of us lingered and discussed the question of whether Jesus spoke Greek (and, by extension, whether John the Apostle spoke and perhaps wrote in Greek). This was important because I had during the class noted that there were two Greek forms of the word “well” (as in Jacob’s well) in the first 15 verses in Chapter 4 of John. (I’m using the 1984 NIV version here, as I do in the class.)

I observed that the Greek word for “fountain” or “spring” is used each time that the word translated “well” in English appears in verse 6. In verse 6, John, the author, is setting the stage for the meeting between Jesus and the Samaritan woman.

The Greek word for “fountain” or “spring” is used again in verse 14. In that verse we have a direct quotation of Jesus.

On the other hand, the Greek word for “cistern” is translated “well” in verses 11 and 12. Here the word appears when John quotes the woman.

The Scholars that I read in preparation for the lesson note that this distinction is very important. Water from a fountain or spring is healthy, life-giving, and continuous, like the Spirit, like the river of water in Psalm 1. That is what Jesus offers. It is “living water.” It is water that doesn't run out.

Water drawn from a cistern, a closed container where water is collected from another source, rain for example, is often dirty, scummy, unhealthy, unsatisfying. It is dead water.It is also a limited source of water. It will run out, especially in a time when you might need it most, a drought for example.

During our discussion after the class, one of us expressed the view that Jesus spoke in Aramaic and not Greek. He suggested that this distinction may not have been in the original conversation between Jesus and the woman at the well. It might have been introduced by whoever may have translated this into Greek. His source for the idea that Jesus spoke Aramaic was the film, The Passion of the Christ. I replied that I had read that Mel Gibson’s film had been criticized by scholars for having Jesus speak in Aramaic and that it was my understanding that the characters in the NT spoke “market-place Greek” or Koine.

This afternoon I went over my notes and I found the source that discussed Mel Gibson’s film. Craig L. Blomberg, in The Historical Reliability of the Gospels (Second Edition) (IVP 2007) writes as follows on page 16:

"In 2004, Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Cross, enthralled viewers around the world. The film was based on some serious research but it, too, contained some glaring errors, most notably the exclusive use of either Aramaic or Latin on the lips of Jewish and Roman characters who would have communicated with each other almost entirely in Greek! [italics and exclamation point are Blomberg’s]"

The quote from Blomberg has a footnote: “For a thorough analysis, see Corley and Webb, Passion of the Christ.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Broncos 17, the Jets 13 (Updated w/ Video)


Said Broncos coach John Fox: "He's just a competitive dude. He's super competitive. He never lays his sword down. He's going to fight you to the death."

-On Tebow's 20 yard touchdown run, in the last 50 seconds of the game, to beat New York!

Link to video.

Here's an interesting analysis
of TT from sportswriter Martin Manley of the Kansas City Star.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Children at Risk Because of the Standard American Diet

A new analysis of federal data provides a dismal picture of children's cardiovascular health that suggests the current generation of teenagers could be at risk of increased heart disease.

The study, which examined children between 12 and 19 years old in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found that the adolescents performed poorly overall on a set of seven criteria set by the American Heart Association for ideal cardiovascular health.

Diet in particular was a problem, with not one of the 5,450 children randomly selected for the survey from the U.S. population meeting the standards for diet. Taking out the diet measure, still just 16.4% of boys and 11.3% of girls were rated ideal on all of the other six criteria, which included smoking, exercise, weight, cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar.


-From today's WSJ and an article on page A3 entitled "Kids' Heart Health Is Faulted:
Analysis of Federal Data Finds Shortcomings in Diet, Exercise, Cholesterol Levels."


After Carol read the article, she had the following comments:

This goes along exactly with what they said at our Engine 2 Immersion weekend. They said virtually the entire US population – including children – now show signs of heart disease. (They figure this out by doing autopsies of children and young adults who die in accidents or by some kind of trauma.) During WWII when they autopsied young men killed in the war there was a good percentage whose arteries were not diseased, but by the time of the Viet Nam war all the young men were showing signs of heart disease. And now, they said, even children were showing those signs.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Carol Makes a Vegan Lasagna!

Uncle Sam as Baal


The November 19, 2011 issue of World Magazine addresses the increasing dependency of Americans on government, especially the federal government. "Trends suggest that half of American children will use food stamps" states the cover, and there is much more inside.

The cover, by the way, is really clever, and worthy of a GlennzTees tee-shirt at least, if not a Despair poster that might say "Hello, I'm from the Government and I'm Here to Help You." (Note the lower left hand corner of the photo.)

Monday, November 14, 2011

"The Screwtape Letters"- the Show

Carol and I saw Max McLean's performance of the Screwtape Letters on Saturday. Thus, I became reacquainted with the classic little book by C.S. Lewis in a very entertaining, even profound way. An added treat is that Mr. McLean comes back on stage after the performance and answers questions from the audience. He is very good with his answers.

The show is coming to Dallas this coming Saturday.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Friday, November 11, 2011

Succession Non-Planning

Today at our breakfast, we considered 1 Samuel 8. The NIV section heading that covers chapter 8 is "Israel Asks for a King." Indeed, whenever I have heard a sermon or lesson on chapter 8, the discussion centered on the matter of Israel asking for a king, and God acceding to that request even though God tells his people through Samuel that it won't be good for them.

At the very beginning of that chapter, however, we see that the real problem is "succession planning" on the part of Samuel. Samuel "grew old" as it states in verse one, and appoints his sons as judges. His sons have turned out to be corrupt, just as did the sons of Eli. In fact, Samuel adopted Eli's succession plan and, again, that plan utterly fails.

This made me think of Joe Paterno and the monstrous problem now facing Penn State. The man is 84 years old, for crying out loud. His succession plan was apparently to live forever, and Penn State bought into that.

As alleged, Joe was told of the despicable act that Sandusky committed in the football team's shower room in 2002. His response was to tell an assistant to take care of the problem. That's what you might do if you are 74 years old, it's at the end of the day (or the middle of the afternoon), and the problem is not one that you feel like facing yourself. After all, you're tired and this is messy, so let one of the younger people deal with it, one of your "sons", so to speak.

What would Joe have done had he been 54 or 44? I think he would have gone to Sandusky's office, beat him to a pulp, and thrown him on the street. And then called the police.

That's why, when one gets into middle age and older, one deals with oneself and one's responsibilities differently, with due regard for the passage of time and its effects on one's body and spirit. Every organization, whether business, church, or family, needs to deal with the problem of the father or the father-figure beginning to fade, fading, and disappearing. Penn State failed at that. Israel failed at that. There is nothing new under the sun.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Traffic Jams Jamming Brain Development in Children

According to today's WSJ, "Scientists increasingly link vehicle exhaust with brain-cell damage, higher rates of autism."

Among other things, the article cites a New Jersey study that found that

Premature births, a risk factor for cognitive delays, dropped 11% in areas around highway toll plazas after the introduction of E-ZPass, which eased traffic congestion and reduced exhaust fumes.

Caffeine: the Final Frontier (Updated)

The other thing I ask people to think about is coffee with caffeine. There’s a significant study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, that took a group of young adults and half got coffee with caffeine and the other half had coffee without caffeine. The group that drank the coffee with caffeine had injury and impairment to the lining of their arteries and their blood vessels. So, you can still have coffee, but we would prefer that it be without caffeine.

-Dr. Esselstyn, here.

Here is the study to which I think Dr. Esselstyn refers. Here are the conclusions of that study, at least in what I take to be the abstract:

CC [caffeinated coffee as distinguished from decaf] acutely induced unfavorable cardiovascular effects, especially on endothelial function. In the fasting state, insulin secretion is also likely reduced after CC ingestion. Future studies will determine whether CC has detrimental clinically relevant effects, especially in unhealthy subjects.

What is "endothelial function?" Wikipedia describes endothelial dysfunction in part as follows:

Endothelial dysfunction is a systemic pathological state of the endothelium (the inner lining of blood vessels) and can be broadly defined as an imbalance between vasodilating and vasoconstricting substances produced by (or acting on) the endothelium.[1] Normal functions of endothelial cells include mediation of coagulation, platelet adhesion, immune function and control of volume and electrolyte content of the intravascular and extravascular spaces. Endothelial dysfunction can result from and/or contribute to several disease processes, as occurs in septic shock, hypertension, hypercholesterolaemia, diabetes, it can also result from environmental factors, such as from smoking tobacco products and exposure to air pollution.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Mary Pops Popcorn in a Brown Paper Bag

Mary makes popcorn in a brown bag. She puts 1/4 cup of loose popcorn kernels in a 5 1/8 x 3 3/8 x 10 5/8 inch brown paper bag, a lunch bag that you buy in a package of 50. After adding the popcorn to the bag, she folds over the top a couple of times, and sticks it in the microwave. If you want oil, you can pour a little into the bag over the corn before you close up the bag and pop it. But I don't pour in the oil anymore.

I used to think that I was fine with the microwave popcorn packages that came in boxes that said "94% Fat Free Butter." But I don't anymore since Carol got back from Austin about 6 weeks ago.

Six weeks or so ago, Carol attended an Engine 3 Immersion program in Austin with Mary Ann. She learned that you shouldn't eat oil at all, whether plant-based or not. She also learned not to trust what's written on the front of boxes containing food. She said you had to read what is on the back of the box or package.

On the back of the Act II 94% Butter-Free box, I learned that it doesn't really say what "94% Fat Free Butter-Free" really means. What is the math all about here? Instead, I looked on that little label on the back, which a Democrat Congress sometime in the dim past probably required the food industry to apply, and it indicates that there is a good deal of fat left in the packages. So now I fix popcorn in the form of loose kernels in a brown bag as Mary does, and I don't use any oil.

(It's probably unfair to say that but for the Democrats, food labels would be a complete pack of lies. What I really think is that it was a compromise. The politicians, both Republican and Democrat, told the food industry that they could say whatever they want to say on the front of the box, provided that they at least approach the truth on the back. There is even trickery on the back of the box, but if you know the tricks, then you can pretty much figure it out, as Carol and Mary Ann learned in Austin.)

As I go through yet another of these food sea-changes in my life (not sea-food changes; I don't eat sea-food anymore. I'm talking about popcorn here.), I thought I would read about how much popcorn cost. Carol would bring home from Publix for Mary's visits Orville Redenbacher's Original Popcorn Kernels, in the 30 oz. Jar, plus the paper bags. One would think that he could certainly trust Orville to be fair on the cost side.

Orville's popcorn on Amazon costs about 21 cents an ounce, if you are a Prime customer and don't have to pay postage.

Amazon also carries, however, Arrowhead Mills Organic Popcorn, sells it in a pack of six 28 oz. packages , and the cost of the corn is about 11 cents an ounce. Plus the popcorn pops into bigger popped kernels, there are significantly fewer unpopped kernels left in the the bag, and it tastes better than Orville's.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Unlikeable Sagal a Bandit

The popular NPR program "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me!" pokes mean fun at people, mainly those with middle-class values. Their clever creator and host, Peter Sagal, is mostly smart, very fast-witted, irreverent, and, at least to Carol and me, we of middle-class values, thoroughly unlikeable. A couple of years ago I was simply amazed to attend a grand dinner given in Orlando by Bessemer Trust for estate planning lawyers and find him to be the speaker. Unlike his performances on NPR, he was unprepared, unfunny, and boring. (What in the world was Bessemer thinking?)

Today's WSJ reports that Sagal is one of those people who runs in a marathon but will not pay the fee. According to the WSJ article (access to which does not require a subscription), these sorts of people are called "Bandits" in the world of running-event sponsors. I'm surprised he is a runner, but am not surprised that Sagal does this sort of thing if he is. (But, yes, how bourgeois of us to think so.)

Florida Republicans Sell-Out on Gambling

Disgusting.

The[Genting] company must want to accelerate the project, because it has hired a team of lobbyists that includes fundraiser Brian Ballard, who is close to Scott; former U.S. Rep. Lincoln Diaz Balart; and Orlando lawyer and businessman Harkley Thornton, a close friend of House Speaker Dean Cannon.

Last night, Helen Ferre interviewed Lincoln Diaz-Balart on Channel 2. I couldn't believe it. I thought I had been transported to New Jersey. (As soon as the video of the interview is up on the WPBT website, I'll link it.)

Friday, November 04, 2011

"Oversigning": Survival of the Fittest in the SEC

From the perspective of a Buckeye . . . , a Buckeye . . ., uh, a Buckeye person.

The WSJ has an article on it today, entitled LSU-Alabama: the Superbowl of Oversigning, in commemoration of the game of the young century tomorrow night.

Oversigning is a terrible, terrible thing.

Terrible.

But seriously, do you suppose there is a connection between the performance of the top SEC teams and the practice of "oversigning?" People I know who seem to understand college football tell me that the main problem that college football coaches have is of keeping the players motivated from week to week. The Herald wrote this week of Coach Golden's problems with the Hurricanes in this respect. Knowing that there is someone on the sidelines ready to eat my lunch would probably keep me focused.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

"Prayer" by Marie Howe

Every day I want to speak with you. And every day something more important

calls for my attention—the drugstore, the beauty products, the luggage

I need to buy for the trip.
Even now I can hardly sit here

among the falling piles of paper and clothing, the garbage trucks outside
already screeching and banging.

The mystics say you are as close as my own breath.
Why do I flee from you?

My days and nights pour through me like complaints
and become a story I forgot to tell.

Help me. Even as I write these words I am planning
to rise from the chair as soon as I finish this sentence.

(More of and about Marie Howe here.)


But compare:

Romans 8:26: In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Glenn Strikes Again!



GlennzTees

"[A]s soon as he knows better the orthography of the language"

So Carlos and Caryn, friends of ours, our family, and our church, a Wycliffe missionary couple in Niger, write of their friend "H," who is helping with the translation:

Last month’s workshop on translation principles was a great help to the team. We recently loaded the translation software in 'H's' computer, so that he can work on translation as well (as soon as he knows better the orthography of his language). Up to now, 'H' has only worked on back translations into the official language, in preparation for meetings with a consultant. However, this would be the first time that he does actual translation. In principle, having two translators working at the same time on different passages will help the work to move along faster. In any case, please be in prayer that 'A' and 'H' would learn the orthography of their language quickly, and that they would work well together as a team.

I will be in prayer. But I am fascinated by the word "orthography." What does it mean?

Ortho, my office Webster's New International Second Edition Unabridged ("WSI") tells me, is from the Greek "orthos meaning straight, upright, right, true, hence, also correct, regular."

Thus, ortho-doxa, orthodox, a right opinion; ortho-dontia, straight teeth; finally, ortho-graphy, writing correctly, or as WSI continues:

"1. The art of writing words with the proper letters, according to standard usage; correct spelling; also, mode of spelling; as vicious orthography. 2. The art of grammar which treats of the letters and the art of spelling. 3. A drawing in correct projection, esp. and elevation."

I know a lot of people who treat spelling viciously. As for my own gifts, I think the "art of spelling" fits nicely.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

What Free Market?

Friday's WSJ front-page headline reads "Cheers and Skepticism Greet European Deal." I took a deep breath this afternoon and read both of the articles linked to this headline, one datelined Berlin and the other Brussels. More required reading lives inside Section A of the paper (yes, I still prefer that hard copy. Sorry.). There I learned again of Credit Default Swaps or CDSs. These are financial instruments bought and sold in what the WSJ calls a "default insurance market," a "vast market in which banks, hedge funds and investors trade insurance against debt defaults." Debt like Greek government bonds.

The deal worked out by "euro-zone leaders" games the CDSs by skirting the technical definition of default in these contracts by defining the principal reduction that is required of lenders as "voluntary." So, then, your house is burning down and the government and your insurance company are making a deal that will give you pennies on each dollar of insurance you thought covered your risk. And you had better take it voluntarily, or find your government not very helpful in providing the permits to rebuild your home, assuming you otherwise have the money to do so.

The price that banks charge for their loans is less expensive where they can hedge in an unhindered default insurance market. Now that the market has been gamed, it will be more expensive for borrowers to get financing for ventures that will grow the European economy. The economy may grow again. Someday. But it will be much slower.

Meat Glue, the McRib, and Other Reasons To Eat Plant-Based

Even bacon-loving Glenn Reynolds is getting concerned.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Kevin Burke, Irish Fiddler

Just click on his website, sit back, and listen to his music.

Rebuilding Soldiers and Marines

Terry Gross of NPR's "Fresh Air" interviews veteran combat reporter David Wood about the catastrophic injuries suffered by our soldiers and Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan and the remarkable ways in which some are "rebuilt" and, sadly, some are not. The interview is fascinating and moving. The link takes you to an amazing podcast and related resources.

Looks Like Mary is in for Some Weather this Weekend

But maybe she's out of the direct path of this storm.

Post-Christendom vs. Post-Christian

I used "post-Christian" with Gary Cameron of IVCF at our Friday morning breakfast, in referring to our culture. He prefers "post-Christendom" rather than "post-Christian." Is that a distinction with a difference? He thinks so. Does "post-Christendom" refer to a loss of cultural hegemony, where "post-Christian" simply means the culture no longer has a certain proportion of Christians in it? I'm not sure about the distinction.

Friday, October 28, 2011

"Thy Will be Done"

It struck me this morning what this part of the Lord's prayer is about.

For my entire lifetime until now, I thought it meant that somehow my prayer was facilitating God's will being done.

This week, however, I have been thinking a good bit about God's sovereignty. This morning the light bulb finally went on about this part of the prayer. It is an expression of one's submission to God's will. Because God's will will be done, whatever I think or I pray. That's not the issue being addressed, whether it will be done or not. The issue is whether I will acknowledge him as truly, thoroughly, absolutely God and will therefore acknowledge my submission to his will.

"Toddler Hit by Truck and Ignored Sheds Light on China's Moral Dilemma... "


From a blog post by Carlos Espinosa. Carlos is one of Juan's friends at Little Flower Catholic Church, where Juan and his family attend. The video is really tough to watch, but you can get the point from what Carlos writes about the matter.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Hooray!

The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released its first estimate of third-quarter GDP growth. The economy expanded at an annualized rate of 2.5 percent. Certainly, considerable headwinds remain, but the recovery is intact.

It pays to keep a clear head and stick to the actual data. For several months now, while panic has reigned in the streets and markets, we have been saying that the U.S. economy is sound and that there was little chance of a recession any time soon. Our proprietary business-cycle indicators have consistently painted a picture of slow but continuing growth.


-from an email I received today from the AIER.

Miami as Modern Day Ephesus

A casino bigger than the ones in Vegas.

Tony Villamil, an economist hired by Genting [the Casino firm], noted the company plans to let guests use casino debit cards at restaurants and other businesses off the Resorts World property. “It’s not a box where you simply put a casino,’’ he said. “It’s tied in and integrated to the rest of [the] community.”

"[T]ied in and integrated to the rest of the community?" That's just great!

Fixing Man's Brokeness with Economic Policy

"Nobody should take for granted another 50 years of peace and prosperity in Europe. They are not for granted. That's why I say: If the euro fails, Europe fails," Merkel said, followed by a long applause from all political groups.

"We have a historical obligation: To protect by all means Europe's unification process begun by our forefathers after centuries of hatred and blood spill. None of us can foresee what the consequences would be if we were to fail."

"It cannot be that sometime in the future they say the political generation responsible for Europe in the second decade of the 21 century has failed in the face of history," the chancellor continued.


-Germany's Merkel

(When I was a teenager, it was already "post-Christian Europe" among Southern Baptists. Did I say Southern Baptists? It was post-Christian Europe among the Pilgrims.)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My Nomination for the Nobel Least Self-Aware Prize for this Century

Who else.

The Theology that Conquered the American Wilderness

[Solomon] Stoddard [Jonathan Edwards' grandfather] put the case for an absolute divinity who chooses one man rather than another solely because He pleases, and who still would be a God of mercy "if it had pleased him never to have exercised any."

-from Perry Miller's Jonathan Edwards, which I read in college and which I am reading again.

Jensen Farms Cantelope Outbreak Kills 29

Twenty-nine dead (including a miscarriage); 133 confirmed ill; 98% of victims hospitalized, according to the latest CDC figures released yesterday (October 25th).

-More here.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Mmmm! Carol Served This Tonight!

Eatloaf

Eatloaf
.

French Ambassador to Britain Calls Israel a "Shitty Little Country"

More evidence that two and a half centuries of war and emigration have essentially bled out a once great nation.

Glenn, so Funny!



Here at Glennz.com.

So what's the real story here? Maybe what happens to an American child when his parents see that he is interested in detonating water balloons. Or what the government will soon require of parents to protect their children from dangerous water balloons.

Electromagnetic Communication Between Brain Hemispheres (Updated)

Even when not connected. (Thanks, Kurzweil)

Will my brain, then, communicate with Carol's? They are often in close proximity as they are with the brains of no one else. And what about a mother with her new born or her pre-born? What about twins in the womb? Mary in Rochester and I in Miami? What if we live in a sea of thoughts?

And what about James 5:16b?

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Prophet at the Miami Herald

Before the onside kick ever bounced off the grass, off a Dolphin, back onto the grass and into the arms of a Denver Bronco, Tim Tebow and his receiver Demaryius Thomas talked and prayed.

Prayed just for the opportunity to win the game against the winless Dolphins and avoid torturous embarrassment for at least a week.

“We sat together on the sideline, talked and prayed,” Thomas said. “I just saw it in his face, his want-to.”

That prayer, of course, had no bearing on how the football bounced.


-Israel Gutierrez, Sportswriter for the Herald, writing about Denver's victory over the Dolphins yesterday.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Tebow!

Denver beats Miami in overtime!

Of course I like the Dolphins, but their season is toast. They would do well to lose the rest of their games so they could get a franchise quality quarterback in the draft.

As to Tebow, unbelievers remain (and understandably so).

Did you wince when, during the still-on-the-field post-game interview, he said, "First, I would like to thank my Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ"? Then he immediately thanked his teammates and down-played his own role.

What if he had said, "First, I would like to thank [insert any of the following numbered alternatives or your idea of another source of success to which he could point]?"

1. His intrinsic moral worth
2. His genes
3. His parents
4. Natural Selection
5. The Fates
6. Random circumstance
7. God
8. Chaos

Compared to these alternatives (or your alternative), just what would be wrong with crediting Jesus, if you were looking at matters objectively. That is, from the standpoint of the authority to which or to whom you would want successful sports figures to point, what would be wrong with Jesus? I'm not asking what is wrong with the history of Christianity, the Hundred Years War, the Crusades, the Inquisition, Colonial Salem, or Ante-Bellum, Southern Presbyterian slave-owners. I am not even asking what's wrong with Christians. I'm asking about what's wrong with Jesus. What would the world be like if other leaders in our culture thought that Jesus was a model for them and a source of their success and they behaved in a way that is consistent with their model?

Christians, at least, dare not wince.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

FL's Hurricane Fund $3.2B Short

The Herald reports that if a major hurricane hits Florida (or several smaller ones), the government sponsored insurance fund will not have nearly enough money to keep its promise to pay for the damage. Private insurance companies have pretty much withdrawn from the market or at least limited whom it will insure, because the state government limits what a private company may charge for premiums or otherwise interferes with coverage design.

The insurance coverage problem has been the case since Hurricane Andrew. What is "news" about the Herald report is that some experts looked at the problem anew and, lo and behold, it is even worse now.

Part of the problem is that the banks will not finance the acquisition of real estate without the coverage. The banks make money loaning money, however, and the state government wants Florida's real estate market to thrive. So, then, let's pretend that we have an insurance company of some sort that will supply that coverage.

There are a number of "let's pretend" games that our corporatist governments, state and federal, play. For example, let's pretend that real estate values will only go up; let's pretend that the key to social and economic success at the individual level is that a person "owns" his own home; let's pretend that owning one's home is the same as owning a small and volatile slice of equity in one's own home; let's pretend that people will tell the truth on their loan applications and that the bank's mortgage agent will not turn a blind-eye to the lies (after all, the loans will be packaged and sold to people in the rest of the world, like China sells its sickening wallboard). Government is full of "let's pretend" games. Furthermore, it's OK to play these games, because the taxpayer will indemnify any losses that occur.

PS: The Florida legislature has been dominated by the Republican Party for years and the Governor's mansion occupied by people from that party, not that the Democrats would have done any better. It's not the party, however, regardless of the posturing by the Republicans. It is the space in our economy we permit these people to occupy. As Pogo says, "We have met the enemy, and he is us."

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

477 of Yours for One of Ours

That just about says it all.

Glennz Hits Another Home Run



Glenn entitles this "Outfished," and that's clever enough.

It is even deeper (pun intended), of course. It is a marvelous metaphor for the perils of not watching your back (and right side, left side, the over, and the under). Or of being mistaken about just who it is who benignly seems to be backing you up or, as we might say, "behind you." Or of thinking that where you "are" is an unconditionally safe place, one without risk, a place in which you need be aware only of the next item of gratification that seems so near to your mouth.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

"The 'Monumental Stupidity' of Alternative Medicine"

You mean Steve Jobs didn't have to die?

When I was being treated for NHL, I learned of a missionary home on leave with the same diagnosis. A contemporary. I went for CHOP (the standard chemo at the time - monoclonal antibodies were just in the experimental stage) and prayer. He went for "macrobiotics" and prayer. He died. I lived.

Just correlations maybe. His NHL may have been far worse than mine from the outset.

Still.

(I do remember absolutely despising the way the prednizone made me feel. Prednizone is the "P" in CHOP. A lovely woman in my support group suffered heart damage from the chemo. People died in the group - half of them, which was about what the 5 year survival rate was then.)

"Gender Reassignment" Costs and the Tax Code

The United States Tax Court held last year that "gender identity disorder" is a disease and that the costs of hormone therapy and sex reassignment surgery were medical expenses under Code section 213(a), thus qualifying for an income tax deduction and, if a third party pays those expenses, exclusion from the gift tax. (However, the court held that the cost of breast augmentation surgery was not covered because there was a lack of evidence in the case in question that such surgery treated the taxpayer's gender disorder.)

Here's a post on the case at the TaxProg blog. There is a link to the actual Tax Court opinion at that post.

Perhaps this strikes you as outrageous. Perhaps not. But this is simply another example of social engineering that is all over the Internal Revenue Code, its Regulations, and the court cases that apply the Code. We can differ, of course, on whether the engineering is benign or not in a given case. But why should there be any at all, since so much of it (if not all of it) is value driven? Let's get such engineering out of the Code, both "good" and "bad."

But what about the charitable deduction I get for my tithe? My mortgage deduction? What about the pastor's housing allowance? Etc.

What about it, I say. Why should all Americans, regardless of regious affiliation or none at all, subsidize my religious choices? Or renters my housing choices?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

But What About Fish?


Today I had a business lunch and one of the people with whom I ate noticed what I ordered (pasta primavera, whole wheat pasta with a tomato sauce and as little oil as possible and all the fresh veggies the kitchen had mixed in). She asked if I was a "vegetarian" and I said "vegan." She said that "for protein" she mainly eats fish, and I said something nice. Empty. But nice.

My concern with fish - other than the problem of it not being plant-based - is the problem of mercury contamination.

Today, the Forks over Knives facebook page linked to this article. It lists nine other reasons not to eat fish, in addition to the mercury problem. It grossed me out pretty much.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Clever App!

WeBIRD. (Thanks, Ann Althouse!)

It's All Coming Together

Tebow is starting for the Broncos at their next game. The Broncos have a by-week this week. Their next game is against the Dolphins on October 23, here at Joe Robbie ("Sun Life") Stadium.

That is the very game during which the Dolphins organization will, during half-time, recognize the Gators and their 2009-2009 National Champion football team. Tebow was the quarterback on that team.

The Miami Herald reports that Tebow "will not be asked . . . to participate in the half-time ceremony."

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Mark Achtemier's Presbytery Ordains Practicing Homosexual

We became acquainted with Elizabeth Achtemier, the Presbyterian minister and denominational leader, not personally but through our many years of attending the Christian Life Conference in Montreat. Now deceased, she was the sort of solid, orthodox person who helped maintain the backbone of the fading PC(USA). Her son, Mark, another PC(USA) minister and a teacher at Dubuque seminary, seemed to be similarly orthodox and to give some hope for the future of the denomination. But in 2009, the Presbterian Outlook celebrated his "surprising" affirmation of the legitimacy of the homosexual alternative in an article that included the following:

Mark Achtemeier, an evangelical theology professor from Iowa, is in many ways an unlikely candidate for radical change. He’s a white, middle-aged Presbyterian father and husband who grew up in the church, the son of Biblical scholars.

But Achtemeier, to his own surprise, has made a trek through uncertain land over the last eight years, a journey from life-long certainty that homosexuality is “a kind of destructive addiction” to what he is today: a man who sees the Holy Spirit leading the church to “a new and better place,” and who thinks that gays and lesbians should be able to marry and be ordained.

In the kick-off plenary of the 2009 Covenant Network of Presbyterians meeting last month, Achtemeier gave his testimony, telling the story of his journey in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), from a man who grew up sure that homosexual practice was wrong to one who now sees God working in the committed relationships of his gay and lesbian friends and in the faithfulness of their lives.

Yet some things have not changed.

“If there is one thing I want to emphasize above all else in this testimony, it is that this journey has not involved any kind of retreat or qualification of my strong commitment to the authority of Scripture, the Lordship of Christ, and the belief that God calls people to lives of personal holiness,” Achtemeier told the Covenant Network. “I come to you today as an out, self-affirming, practicing conservative evangelical.”

But Achtemeier, who was a member of the PC(USA)’s Theological Task Force on the Peace, Unity, and Purity of the Church — told of a journey both personal and theological, and to him deeply surprising.

“I cannot get around the fact that it was a God thing,” he said during a question-and-answer period.


This morning the Sun-Sentinel ran in its print edition, an article published yesterday in the LA times, under the headline "Presbyterian Church to Ordain First Openly Gay Minister." The article states in part:

[T]oday, [Mark] Achtemeier will deliver a sermon at the ordination of his friend, Scott Anderson, who will become the first openly gay minister in the church after the very restrictions Achtemeier once advocated were abolished.

In July, the Presbyterian Church USA amended its constitution to allow gay and lesbians to serve as ministers and lay leaders. With the move, the 2.3 million-member church became the fourth mainline Protestant denomination to allow gay ordination, following the Episcopal and Evangelical Lutheran churches and the United Church of Christ.


I checked Google News and found that the LA Times article is being republished by newspapers across the country. The left has anointed a poster-child for PC(USA) ordination and it is not the person being ordained by a commission that includes Mark Achtemeier. It is Achtemeier himself. This diabolical strategy (a phrase I use advisedly) seeks to replicate Achtimeier's "journey" or transition from a middle-class, white, cradle Presbyterian, and Orthodox believer to something else again.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Japanese Commuters Moving to Bicycles

I like the "high-end park-and-shower" facilities that are helping this trend. (Thanks for the link, Instapundit.)

(Maybe Austin is a place to introduce a business like this.)

Years ago, I seriously considered this option. The shower problem and the sheer danger discouraged commuting downtown, but I did bike to the Metro-Rail station for years.

Think about how transformative a significant adoption by Americans of plant-based diets and greater bicycle use would be.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

GIANT ALIEN SNAILS INVADE MIAMI-DADE!

I am not making this up.

From the article: "Florida is the land of opportunity when it comes to invasive exotics," Mr Gaskalla said.

Well, yeah!

Monday, October 03, 2011

Surprise!

The WSJ reports this morning that a "Senate Panel found that the U.S.'s three largest home-health companies tailored the care they provided to Medicare patients to maximize their reimbursements."

What till you see what the "largest" medical service delivery companies/insurers, etc., will do with ObamaCare.

At the risk of resurrecting a tired old slogan, why don't we think about restoring power to the people to make their medical decisions. And then letting people bear the consequences of those decisions, so that it is a real decision and not make believe.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Sick Employees Cost Us

Dr. McDougall's latest newsletter has an article that argues that the Standard American Diet compromises our competiveness on the world stage, because it makes us sick and less productive. So, then, it is not just the high cost of group health insurance premiums. It's those lost days and inefficient hours on the job.

This is certainly our experience at our law firm. That is, we have had employees over the years whom we like very much, who are faithful and smart, but whose illnesses have compromised their productivity. We know what they eat, and they don't eat well at all. There are other things in their lives, but this is a very obvious factor.

Dr. McDougall writes, in part:

The downhill spiral for the American worker must be stopped, and there is no better place to start than at the dinner table. Replacing the current animal-food-based diet with a starch-based diet will return workers to a productive state of health, almost overnight. You, personally, do not have to wait to be saved by another government-sponsored stimulus program. Take control, get back your health, get off medications, and away from frequent visits to doctors, laboratories, and hospitals. Switching from beef and butter to beans and barley will cut your personal food bill too, from $14 to $3 a day today. That would mean a $44 a day savings for a family of four, which equates to an extra $1,300 a month saved on food alone.

That Bad Government Loan Aside, What Happened to Solyndra?

The market happened to Solyndra, as the prices of the competing, standard solar panel, built in China and heavily subsidized by its government, simply plunged during the recession. (The price of high-grade silicon, according to the linked-to LA Times article, went from $1,000 a pound to less than $100.)

If our government is going to subsidize industry, then I suggest that it retain as consultants the masters of the technique, the Chinese government itself, import docile, subsistence wage labor (actually we tend to do that with our easy border access, the genius of which approach is that the people who use that access are "illegal" so that they do not qualify for government benefits, making them - and us - more like the Chinese than we might like to think), and create a free zone of government regulation of all sorts, including but certainly not limited to environmental and safety regulations. We might also think about taking the lid off the small number of visas we extend annually (via lottery) to highly qualified people from other countries who want to come and live here or foreign graduates of our universities, which institutions we also subsidize, who would like to stay.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Carol and Mary Ann at the Engine 2 Immersion Weekend with the Esselstyns


The gentleman on the right, Caldwell Esselstyn MD, is the father of the gentleman on the left, Rip Esselstyn.

Caldwell Esselstyn MD is 13 years older than I. I want to look like him 13 years from now.

I want to look like him 7 years from now.

I want to look like him right now.

I'm going to lose 5 pounds. Then I may lose 5 more. Then I may lose down to my weight when I graduated from high school.

(By the way, Carol and M.A. already look great! Keep on the journey!)

"The Science of Shacking Up"

The title of CT's review of the new book, The Ring Makes All the Difference: The Hidden Consequences of Cohabitation and the Strong Benefits of Marriage.

The CT review is actually an interview of the author, Caryn Rivadeneira. I love her comment on the popular idea that cohabitation helps people marry the "right person," especially what she says about Hauerwas' view:

Stanley Hauerwas, an ethicist at Duke, says that we always marry the wrong person. The sooner young couples can understand that, the better off they'll be. I hear young couples say, "You mean you don't want us to be soul mates?" But nobody marries his or her soul mate. You become soul mates by living life together through those years.

So often cohabiters are looking, in the first year, for what comes only after years—decades!—of life together. You are setting yourself up for dramatic disappointment if you think life works that way.


(More on Hauerwas on sex, marriage, politics, and love here.)

Billboard in Green Bay



I think the word is Chutzpa.

(Click on the photo to get a clearer view.)

This is from the website of the Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Get Out the Kleenex

Best Apples for Baking

Here is a post that mentions "Lady Hamilton" apples. Two weekends ago we visited Mary in NY, took a road trip and picked some delicious apples at a grove just to the west of Lake Seneca, up the slope from the water. I thought the person at the grove with whom we dealt said the apples in her grove were "Hamiltons." Carol remembers Mary saying they were "Burgandies." In any event, they were simply delicious and we picked a peck of them. I'll post a photo soon.

Groceries vs. Food

Here.

You have to understand: they really are out to get us.

(Thanks, Carol)

Politics vs. the Administrative State

Great article from the September 2011 issue of Hillsdale College's "Imprimis" by Edward J. Erler, professor of political science at California State University, San Bernadino.

From the article:

One of the proofs offered in the Declaration of Independence that King George was attempting to establish an “absolute Tyranny” over the American colonies was the fact that “He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.” Obamacare certainly fits the description of the activities denounced in the Declaration. The number of regulations and the horde of administrators necessary to execute the scheme are staggering. We have only to think here of the Independent Payment Advisory Board. It is a commission of 15 members appointed by the President, charged with the task of reducing Medicare spending. This commission has rule-making power which carries the force of law. The Senate, it is true, will have the power to override its decisions—but only with a three-fifths majority. There are no procedures that allow citizens or doctors to appeal the Board’s decisions. The administrative state—here in the guise of providing health care for all—will surely reduce the people under a kind of tyranny that will insinuate itself into all aspects of American life, destroying liberty by stages until liberty itself becomes only a distant memory.

Leaving the PC(USA)?

Van is set on our leaving the PC(USA). For one thing, the strong, more conservative churches in our Presbytery all appear to be leaving. What will Presbytery look like when that happens, the question is posed. It can't be good, the answer is given. Our little church would find itself in a "liberal" Presbytery and in a denomination where the Left has finally triumphed after decades of struggle. We had better get on board.

Probably similar preparations to leave are being made by more orthodox churches all over the denomination. The thinking among these churches, as Van tells it, is that they need to come out now, before the next General Assembly meeting, when the ability of individual churches to leave will be further restricted.

On Tuesday of this week I attended as a commissioner the September meeting of our Presbytery. The main agenda item was the adoption of a procedure providing for a "gracious" (easy) method for a church to leave our Presbytery "with its property." Since there is still a majority of conservative churches in our Presbytery, the measure would surely pass, and it did. The commissioners from churches already intending to leave were not disqualified from voting. In any event, the measure passed with only one delegate voting against it. What were the other churches thinking?

The most interesting parts of a Presbytery meeting are the conversations at the site before the session begins, during lunch, and thereafter, before we go home. At the lunch, I sat with two black delegates with whom I have served on COM for several years. After everyone else at the table left, we continued to sit together; we talked about what is going to happen to our Presbytery. (Mainly I listened.) The more outspoken of the two described what was about to happen as "the rich white churches are pulling out, leaving the poor minority churches behind." (She prefaced these words with "Apologies to Paul, but . . . ") I said to her, "Arlene, you know our church has people of color" and she said something like, "Paul, I'm not including your church in all this."

But I must say that it was instructive to see how the movement of the conservative churches out of the denomination is seen by this African-American. She remarked on how few if any of the "big, rich, white churches" had any people of color in them, especially none in leadership.

After the Presbytery meeting, I spoke with the pastor and two elders of a Cuban-American church in Miami-Dade. I knew them and their church pretty well, because I had been the COM's liaison with them as they were rebuilding, following a tough several years. I represented the COM at the installation of their new pastor a couple of years ago. I sat through several of their Session meetings, conducted in Spanish of course. (Every few minutes a speaker would stop and ask me if they needed to translate what had just been said. Sometimes yes.)

I asked them what their church intended to do, but I already knew that the Latin churches would be staying in. The three confirmed that. Then the pastor said to me, "Oh, Paul, don't go. We need to be a prophetic voice for this denomination." This pastor is about 50 years old, and had been a minister in Cuba. She said that when Castro came to power, the church organizations were taken over by the Communists and many of the pastors joined the Party. A number of Christians left the organized church, "but, she said, there was a group who decided to stay in, to be a prophetic voice, and they were that voice."

We had a special meeting of our Session that evening to discuss the matter of our church leaving. I told these two stories. As to the second one, Van said something like, "Being a prophetic voice is a special call. One needs to be very sure that God is making that call."

So is the presumption that we don't usually get such calls? Is the burden, then, upon the believer to establish that there is a call? Is it that if one believes he is called to something special, especially if it against what the crowd has decided to do - then he must be very, very sure that it is really God doing the calling? That may be so. But if so, what is the weight of evidence required to rebut that presumption? Are two stories from Presbytery, a history of flourishing in a denomination already condemned as apostate by many evangelicals, and an emotional bias toward staying in place enough?

Doing a lot of praying here.