Monday, February 27, 2006

Diving Deep Into Shallow Waters

Last Wednesday Samuel Koiba, the General Secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), voiced a concern against the depth of theological teaching in so-called megachurches. I have two observations:

First, there are certainly some megachurches that are less than theologically astute. These are easily seen also because of their visibility within their communities and their impact on the world in general. However, many megachurches are large precisely because they offer a depth of solid theological teaching and ministry opportunities that doesn't exist elsewhere in their local area. They often appear to be corporate-like with their business because they must necessarily keep their functions streamlined and their institutions effective. With a church filled with so many fallen people, so much could go wrong that the church must be adept at maintaining an unwavering focus on Christ, His purpose and His glory.

What we miss is the analysis of theological depth in smaller churches. What percentage of small churches is theologically deep versus the percentage of large churches that are theologically deep? I suggest that many small churches remain small precisely because a lack of theological depth fails to feed people spiritually. Many focus only on ministry to themselves because they lack direction, not because they lack resources. One small church I visited once in the impoverished Irish Channel in New Orleans was alive and well and sending several missionaries from their small congregation.

So, while there are some megachurches that lack theological depth, there are at least as high a percentage of small churches that lack theological depth.

Second, the WCC is no bastion of theological depth, despite their claims. Many of the WCC member denominations deny the Deity of Christ or the inspiration of the Holy Scriptures. Others have a traditional stranglehold on the capacity of their members to seek the scriptures on their own or provide a format where the scriptures can be studied and good theology developed in the hearts of church members. See this for yourself on the WCC's Website. On the website of the Fundamental Evangelistic Association you can read a slightly pejorative, but mostly accurate assessment of the WCC. As an example of the "depth" of the WCC, you can read about an example of their flirtation with outright heresy.

I would take any warning of poor theology from the WCC with a mega-grain of salt.

The Science of Origins Index

I have written regularly on matters of science and on the debate between Evolution, Intelligent Design and Creation in particular. You can see my links in the sidebar of this blog for Christian Apologetics that include some Creation material. But here, for your convenience, I have included an index of my posts addressing the subject to this point. You will find a diverse conglomeration of angles here because I have included commentary relevant to the debate with other subjects. One other thing: my posting is hardly exhaustive. In the near future I plan to put together a class for my church that will go more in depth with some aspects of this debate and I intend to include that material here for your digestion. Until then:

The Evolution of Gravity and Other Myths

What's At Stake In The Evolution Debate?

Science losing war over evolution?

The Evolution Experiment

Whose God Is In The Classroom?

Comments on " ID Verdict: The Ire of Judge Jones"

Oil and Genesis

The Rising Tide of Junk Science

Evolution, Intelligent Design, and Creationism

Friday, February 24, 2006

...And The Slumber of the Ignorant

They discovered that there were more complex mammals alive with the dinosaurs. This just blows all kinds of little theories.

I told you - scientists don't know any more than the weatherman.

What do you think you know?

The March of the Irrational

The Muslim rampage in response to the Danish cartoons continues...

...against Nigerian Christians?!?

Yes, Muslims are killing Christians in Nigeria over an issue that many of the Nigerians have no knowledge of. There is one of two scenarios here: Either the Muslims in Nigeria are completely irrational or they are just looking for an excuse to kill Christians. I suggest that both are true. Either way, I'm sure the Muslims in Nigeria are convinced that they are right to beat, maim and even kill people who don't believe what they believe. This is not rational, even if the Muslim who is doing the killing knows that it has nothing whatsoever to do with the cartoons. However, I doubt the Muslim realizes that it's not rational.

Now to be reflective. What do we do that we think is perfectly reasonable? Can we detect if we are doing things that are not reasonable when we think they are? There are so many examples of this in individual lives as well as in the culture at large. The challenge is to you who read this to examine your life; your attitudes, behaviors and beliefs; and try to determine any areas where you are irrational.

Violent Vulgarity

In the news today there are some stories regarding the use of vulgar language.

In the first article, a boy, on his second offense at school for using the F-bomb was punished by his family by standing out front of their home during rush hour with a placard declaring his sin. He had the time to do this because he is suspended. Another offense and the school promises to expel him. This is creative punishment meted out by his family. I wonder what they did after his first offense. The article doesn't say. He claims to agree with the punishment. I certainly hope it helps him to internalize the discipline.

The second article calls attention to advertising for Australian tourism. Apparently, vulgar advertising has proven effective for attracting tourists to the Land Down Under. First of all, I wonder if they desire the type of people that such advertising attracts. I suppose they conclude that as long as they generate revenue, it's alright. Second, I consider that this may be indicative of a psychological effect of using vulgar language and behaving in vulgar ways. More on this shortly.

The third article is about a school play that uses the N-word and a few others. Frankly, I remember when the N-word wasn't considered a very bad word. Mostly, white kids heard it when their parents could finally afford cable and we were exposed to HBO. But they heard it from black comedians. Then you had the rough white kids who sought status by regaling the average white kids with racial jokes that used the word. Of course, there were the likes of "Good Times" and "Sanford and Son" where we also heard the reverse derogatory word "honky". I don't know about anyone else, but it never had the desired effect of offending me.

So what about vulgarities? I know that some vulgarities are curses that one may call down on oneself or others. The word "curse" is the derivation of the word "cuss". Other vulgarities are simply words that were originally merely considered rude for no other reason than they sound like, or call to mind, an unmentionable bodily function. After a few generations, they have reached a similar status as a curse. There are other vulgar words that have been coined to refer to parts of the body or acts that one may do with these parts. The purpose for these words has not been so much the shock value of a vulgarity, but more the effect of filling the air with verbal pornography because it calls to the minds of hearers sexual sin. One other kind of vulgarity is the use of a reference to God as a mere exclamatory statement. This is sometimes in conjunction with and possibly derived from the act of cursing as I mentioned above.

There are light curses and vulgarities that have been widely considered acceptable, although I wonder if they really should be more acceptable. They serve the same purpose and have the same meaning as their unacceptable sources. Examples are: "darn", "Gee", "Jeez", "Gee whiz", "Golly", "Gosh", "good doogly moogly" and "doggone". Even lighter ones have been developed as substitutes and are still in use by old church ladies. Examples are "good heavens", "good grief", "Land sakes alive", "Holy Toledo", "Holy cow", "good gracious" and "fiddlesticks". Okay, I admit it, I use some of these myself.

The fact is, any of these words from the harshest curses and lewdest verbal pornography to the nicest, yet unwitting, calling down blessings on people are merely modulations of sound waves. But, of course, I'm no mere naturalist. Therefore, I recognize that these sound waves carry with them spiritual intent. Most of the time our vulgarities are merely flippant mutterings, but there is an effect on hearers that we must take into consideration. I have no problem being called a "honky", but I have brothers and sisters in Christ whose spirit is harmed by the use of the N-word. It is not enough for me to say that they should just get over it. That's not biblical. I must take the spiritual weaknesses of my brothers and sisters into consideration. For all the words that are considered unacceptable, I must not use them. This sets me apart from people who do not know Christ and have no qualms about using such vulgarities.

The reason vulgarities appeal to some is that there is a spiritual element to them. We know that there are sociologically acceptable things to say and that there are also sociological taboos. Expletives are rebellious. Therefore, the appeal is one of overtly rejecting the teaching of morality for the purpose of self-justification. One never uses vulgarity to reject social immorality. This is why the use of vulgarities often accompanies demonic manifestations. The use of vulgarities is that of violent aggression against the minds of listeners. Sticks and stones may break bones, but words may break my spirit. However, the original rhyme is meant to encourage children to resist the violence by disciplining their minds against it. Adults are no different.

It is good that the boy is disciplined so radically, Australia should not use such a vulgar attitude in their advertising and the school play should clean up its act; this to reduce the violence against our minds.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The United Arab Emirates: Friend or Foe?

I've been mulling over this issue with the port terminal sale to the UAE, and was prepared to write that I didn't have enough information to come down on one side or the other. However, as I have typed, I have had to go back and re-write because some elements of this discussion have become clearer to me. Some of the things I know:

  1. The company is owned by the government of the UAE.
  2. All the terminals in US ports are owned by foreign companies, some of which are government-owned. (Due to regulations, I suppose, it's not cost-effective to base a shipping line in the US. For this reason the US has no significant international shipping lines.)
  3. The UAE company is not buying entire ports in the USA. They are buying terminals in some of the ports.
  4. If the deal goes through the UAE, they will own one of the largest shipping lines in the world.
  5. The Bush Administration made a confidential deal with the UAE company.
  6. Such deals are normal (trade secrets) and rarely made public.
  7. The security at the ports will continue to reside in the hands of the Coast Guard.
  8. The potential for UAE terminals to facilitate terrorist activity is no different than with any other terminals.
  9. The UAE company will pay taxes to the US.
  10. Some terrorists have been UAE citizens.
  11. Some terrorists have been USA citizens.

My analysis based on this information:

  1. It's not wise to give the enemy quarter in your own country. However, the UAE is not our enemy. They don't have a spotless track record of support for the US, but neither has France or Germany.
  2. Having the one of the largest shipping lines in the world, it would not be wise for the UAE to compromise their standing among the nations in order to use their terminals to attack the US. The world would be immediately galvanized against them. In fact, it would behoove them to police themselves.
  3. Accusations that the Bush administration had a "secret" deal with the UAE are misconstrued. It is normal for a company buying such important access to bring their offer to the US executive branch to negotiate terms of operation. The results of these negotiations are classified, not for national security, but to protect private industry strategy. The President himself is not normally directly involved in such matters: he has people to handle these things. This is why President Bush didn't know about it right away.

While I'm cautious about this, it doesn't appear that the UAE is not interested in compromising the security of the USA. Otherwise, their strategy would not be to cooperate with and invest in the success of the USA. Shipping is a significant source of the national gross domestic product of the UAE. To compromise our security would be to compromise their own economy. Therefore, they are investing in the security of the USA, not trying to compromise it. If they wanted to sneak stuff into the US through our ports, the way to do it is to bring in supplies from a third location like many illegal drugs are brought in. They would then invest in those who would benefit financially from the damage they were about to create. I don't see this happening. Honest trade should be encouraged, not hindered.

From an economic standpoint, we need the terminals to run. Imports have increased and our active terminals are running at capacity. If the UAE doesn't run them, we need someone to, and regulation has been too high for a US company to start up. With the UAE joining the services avaiable in the US, our shipping destinations will increase and our capacity for creating wealth through international trade will improve. Hopefully, some of these will be exports, which will work toward balancing the trade deficit. This is what the UAE has invested in. This may be why the liberals are suddenly all about "national security". The congressional Republicans may be merely concerned that the liberals will take away their fire about "national security" and are proably just looking for a token "congressional oversight" in order to maintain their status as being strong on national security.

My conclusion is that the deal should be allowed to happen with a few stringent controls.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

News Swamp: February 22, 2006

Once again, I’m overwhelmed by recent news, so I offer my commentary in one single post on selected items of interest.

First, the President of Harvard University announced his resignation yesterday. He is bowing to pressure over comments he made relegating the disparate under-representation of women in math and science courses of study to notable differences in the nature of men and women. He merely told the obvious truth. There are women who are gifted in math and science. They are under-represented because there are simply much more men who are gifted in math and science. The reason is because men tend to be builders where women tend to be crafters. This is why men tend to be stronger and women tend to have greater dexterity. Men tend to by under-represented in crafts. We just don’t complain about it. My argument is that the President of Harvard is leaving because he said what we all know to be true: that men and women are different. It makes me wonder what they aim to teach students at Harvard.

The homosexual movement has seen a few small items in the news lately. It’s just overshadowed by other things. First, students at high schools across the US are participating in a “Day of Truth” to counter the homosexual “Day of Silence”. Second, the homosexuals retaliate by protesting at a Christian conference on homosexuality in St. Louis. In an international twist, Russia’s first Homosexual parade is loudly protested by Russian Muslims. (If the “enemy of my enemy is my friend,” then which one is which in this case?)

There is much about the sale of US ports to the UAE company.:

Miami Herald

I heard the rumor that our real purpose was to sell them New Orleans.

In other terror news, the school paper of the Canadian Victoria University printed a cartoon of Muhammad and Jesus kissing. I suppose we should riot and burn down the Canadian embassy, but I’ll leave that to the children.

One argument against Intelligent Design is that all scientists acknowledge evolution as incontrovertibly true. Well, it’s really that argument that is incontrovertibly false. The list of serious scientists with their signatures on a document stating their dissent from evolution has grown to over 500.

The anti-lifers have a weak advocate in Jimmy Carter’s son, Jack. He said, “I'm pro-choice as far as a woman choosing, but I'm against abortion." That’s as meaningless a statement as John Kerry’s “I voted for the war in Iraq before I voted against it.” (Or was it the other way around? Who cares? It’s meaningless anyway.) The slippery slope that pro-lifers have been warning about is demonstrating itself with frightening accuracy. In Holland, Alderman Marianne van den Anker of the Leefbaar Rotterdam Party is arguing that forcing women to have abortions will prevent gangs of unwanted children. Is it just I, or is the problem not obvious to others? If you kill off unwanted children, then on what principle will a secular society want the children they don’t kill? The problem lies not with the children but with the parents.

Fortunately, in the states the Supremes are looking into revisiting the constitutionality of banning doctors from pulling babies out of their mother’s wombs feet first so they can leave their heads in the birth canal and suck their brains out through a hole made by jabbing a scissors into the back of the babies’ heads. Oh, you may know this as “partial birth abortion.”

My mom took my brother and me to a church in the historically peaceful Anabaptist tradition. She taught us not to empower bullies by reacting they way they wanted us to react. But when, in the first grade, a bully once pursued me anyway, she taught me to stand up to him. When we moved to North Carolina from Ohio, I was given the opportunity to put this into practice. One afternoon, after a day of being hounded by a bully in class, the teacher left the room or a moment. Once again, the bully was at my desk. This time I stood and quickly wrestled him into a headlock. When the teacher returned, she sent him to the office and had me wash my face. She told me she had noticed me trying to ignore the bully all day. This is the way we deal with bullies. My mom would roll over in her grave if I sought to sue him years later. Apparently, this is to be the practice now starting in the UK. Frankly, the world would have more peace if people stood up to bullies more often. It’s the same principle that drives down crime rates in states that allow for concealed weapons.

George Bush has spent some time recently looking at some new energy innovations. Burning oil is fine, but the technology is outdated. Speaking as one trained in physics, there is so much potential out there to do better. Keep your eyes open. I suspect that there is some revolutionary advancements in energy transfer on the horizon.

Liberal Democrats are trying to stop ads providing an apologetic for the war on terror that features troops and their parents. I thought liberals were all about the freedom of speech? You can see these ads here.

Were you expecting me to comment on the verbal whipping that Mary Matalin gave David Gregory on Meet The Press over his poor attitude about Cheney’s hunting accident? *sigh* It’s a news story about the news people. There’s nothing newsworthy there.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The Not-So-Global Warming of Evangelicals

Evolution pundits have accused Evangelicals of not being scientifically savvy for believing that God created all this instead of it happening by chance. These same pundits, for similar political reasons hail global warming as an excuse to savage the capitalist economy. Interestingly, a considerable percentage of Evangelicals agree with the pundits on global warming. So, on the one hand, Evangelicals are a bunch of superstitious dolts and on the other, they're apprehensively hopeful. There's actually a bit of a debate among Evangelicals and the libs are a little amused by it. Here are some of the more fruitful references I've come across in researching this:

Christian references:

Liberal References:

As for the "science" involved in global warming, two things are certain. First, we are polluting the air. Carbon dioxide has increased in the atmosphere beyond what it has been historically. We also know that carbon dioxide is fresh air for plants. It's just not fresh air for animals. For this, we need to look into what constitutes a proper balance. The second thing we know is that overall climatological temperatures have been increasing in recent decades. There is one thing we do not know. We do not know that there is a correlation between increased carbon dioxide or any other gaseous pollutants in the atmosphere and increased climatological temperatures. There are too many factors not being taken into consideration like the rate of transfer of heat from the earth's core through various volcanic activity, the means and rate of transfer of heat from the atmosphere into outer space, the effect of various atmospheric elements on the percentage of electromagnetic radiation from the sun reflected back into outer space, and the fluctuations in emissions of electromagnetic radiation from the sun. This is where the global warming issue gets its "junk science" moniker. It assumes the relationship to be true because carbon dioxide has a greater potential to retain heat. What does this mean? Water changes its temperature slower than anything else for the same amount of energy transfer. Would humidity, or lack thereof, not be a greater factor than carbon dioxide? Could it be that the energy level of the atmosphere has remained the same while the temperature rose because of a difference of elemental structure? If so, then the answer may not be to concern ourselves with the temperature because the energy is the same. My point is, we just don't know. And I doubt that it has all been taken into consideration.

So, I'm all in favor of cleaning up our emissions and working to determine the limits of a balance of elements in the atmosphere and developing good practices to keep it that way. However, I'm not so alarmist as to think that a fluctuation in climatological temperatures that is well within historic parameters is detrimental to the earth - or that we could have much of an effect on it.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Black History Month Meets The Segregation Of Church And State

Lloyd Marcus grew up in an era where faith was all some people had. Certainly it's true today, but this month is set aside to remember the contribution of African slaves, immigrants and their descendants to the melting pot of American history. Due to racism, many elements of this history would be forgotten. Fortunantly, people like Mr. Marcus can help us remember. I work with a man whose wife is of African descent. She is a prolific painter and paints scenes from her childhood out of the images of her memory. This is what Mr. Marcus does as well. Many of the elements are the same between these two artists. One of these common elements is a Christian faith most likely gleaned from some of the more benevolent slave owners.

It is this faith that is the both ancillary and foundational to Mr. Marcus memories. As such, it shows up in his paintings. It is a matter of fact that the faith that slaves shared was the source of community where families were broken up to be sold to different owners. It is a matter of fact that Christians were instrumental in the underground railroad. It is a matter of fact that black communities were cemented together by local churches after the abolition of slavery. It is a matter of fact that churches not only cemented black communities together, but provided a common ground for fellowship between blacks and whites. (Sadly is also been a matter of fact that this has not grown much beyond a cursory relationship among much of Christendom.) It is a matter of fact that there are still those who remember these facts and remember them as integral to the history of America.

It is also at this point where Mr. Marcus has discovered the new bigotry - not of white against black, but of secularists against Christians. Ostensibly it's all about non-establishment, but it turns into a denial of the facts of history to the point where faith in Christ is to be excludeded from any public consideration, including that of history. Officials in Deltona, Florida, a suburb of Orlando and Lloyd Marcus' home town, have banned his paintings from a special Black History Month display at Town Hall. Well, they're not banned here. For your consideration, Lloyd Marcus' controversial art:

Just For Fungible

Scott Adams is skilled at truistic humor. Unfortunately, Sunday's Dilbert strip exemplifies this. International politics is so nuanced as to most often defy the sophomoric analyses offered by the pixilated "experts" paraded through our living rooms by the not-so-news networks. International politics is like playing chess on a board with a hundred opponents. Analysis of the game is easier than actually playing the game. Don't miss the fact that the media moguls are players and are not interested in disseminating news that compromises their game. Don't miss that they desire us, as their consumers, to be their pawns.

With all this, it is easy to lose hope of being able to understand international politics. However, game play can be easily analyzed by simple principle. It helps to understand strategy, but if we know that no one has power that is not granted by God and we know that God has issued a simple set of moral commands to live by then we can have a working understanding of the game. More importantly, we can have a working relationship with the Game Master Himself. And that's not fungible.

What's At Stake In The Evolution Debate?

"Intelligent Design" remains in the news. A fair analysis of the controversy was written by Bruce Lieberman on He obviously leans toward evolution in the article, but he investigates some of the philosophical roots. He quotes UC San Diego biologist Ajit Varki as saying, "Everybody can have their own view of faith and origins and so on. But when it comes to science, you've got to deal with facts.” Then responds by writing, "Although researchers such as Varki embrace evolution, polls show that nearly half of the American public rejects it..." The reason is because it doesn't pass the "smell test". In other words, much of the public gets the feeling that scientists don't deal with all the facts. After all, the meteorologists get it wrong all too often. Also, we're told that coffee is bad for you, but helps prevent cancer; or we're told that peanut butter causes cancer, but then we're told that it prevents cancer; or dozens of other examples. When the public is faced with glaring inaccuracies by scientists eager to earn more grants, a natural cynicism about scientific discovery becomes part of the nation's fence talk.

Now we're faced with some intriguing discoveries. In New Guinea a "Lost World" of undocumented species has been discovered. How did they get there? Did they "evolve" separately from the surrounding populations? Were they trapped there after an ice age or something and couldn't migrate with the rest of the world? How about the recent discovery of giant apes in DR Congo? Why haven't we seen these before? Most recently there's been news of the colony of "Bigfoot" in Malaysia that has been studied by the Johor Wildlife Protection Society. In the news also has been the debate over how the dinosaurs became extinct. It's no wonder people should ask why, if scientists know so little about the particulars, they are so dogmatic about evolution.

Lieberman also writes in his column that "at stake are decisions on how public schools should teach children about the origin of humans, religion's place in public life and whether Americans believe in the ability of science to describe the natural world." That's not the only thing at stake. The system of classification of organisms that we are all so familiar with is also at stake. Sure, we can look at two different birds and make observations about their similarities. But the system of classification requires the scientist consider them not far removed in the whole scheme of evolution. While a scientist who adheres to Intelligent Design may use the classification to demonstrate similarity of design between animals, the classification system gets fuzzy at points. We have birds that swim (penguins), fish that fly, mammals that look and act like fish (whales) and other animals that don't seem to fit into a classification very well (platypus). Scientists guess at evolution in order to classify them. The IDer currently has no other structure of classification to use. This is one reason why evolution has such a foothold. To consider anything else is to propose that the way biologists classify the world must be changed. That's no small amount of work, and it could set new discovery back by years if not decades in order to reclassify everything and teach whatever new method of classification is developed. But the real challenge is for scientists to search their own motivations for touting an unlikely theory. Is it worth continuing to misclassify organisms within an evolutionary framework if evolution isn't true?

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Whistling the Teens Away

When I was young, my dad could call us home by whistling very loudly. He could walk outside, stick his fingers in his mouth and we would come running from inside anyone's house in the neighborhood. For us, it was a great attractant. Of course, we knew that if we didn't come we would get it when we decided to finally come to the house.

I've inherited a bit of his mighty whistle. I've used it to get the attention of kids, and it works. I wrote before that I'm not gifted as a leader. My own kids listen to me and are obedient, but when I've had to command the attention of a room full of kids in the past, the scenario has been quite different.

As I enter the room the little angels ignore my presence continue their reign of terror against each other. I may smile and say, "Please sit down and be quiet. We have work to do."

The little angels continue their reign of terror.

I'll say a little louder, "Stop what you're doing and sit down. It's time to begin."

The little angels continue their reign of terror.

I'll speak a third time exclaiming, "Excuse me!"

The little angels continue their reign of terror.

I'll rare back and let out an ear-piercing whistle.

Silence... at last.

Then, I'll smile and say, "Please sit down and be quiet. We have work to do. If you don't, I'll whistle again."

The Brits must've heard me from across the pond. They've invented a device that emits a tone that is pitched too high for most adults to hear, but is audible to most children between 12 and 22. However, instead of attracting kids or getting their attention so that you can work with them, they are using it to repel them. Shop owners are using it to prevent teens from loitering in front of their establishments. Apparently it has met with great success.

You can find this item on the "What's New" page of Grumpy Old Men Quarterly.

Governments Courting Religion

Italy is a Democratic Republic these days, slightly more liberal than the US. Unlike the US, separation between church and state is constitutionally codified. (The US has only a non-establishment clause intended to limit government's influence over the practice of religion, not to limit the influence of religious people in government any less than anyone else has an influence in government.)

The jurisprudence of the US Supreme Court has changed in recent years in that recent rulings have referenced the decisions of foreign courts. Given that the Italian constitution more severely limits government interaction with religion than the constitution of the US, the following should make the Supremes take notice:

Italian courts have ruled that it is perfectly legal to display a crucifix in a public classroom. not only that, but they recognize it as education since the Christian tradition was instrumental in the foundation of the country as we know it today.

Meanwhile, back in the US the Boy Scouts are being called a "religion" for the sake of denying use and maintenance of a piece of public land. Therefore, there is a trend toward calling anything religious that merely acknowledges some sort of a "God". At stake will be the definition of "religion". If this ends up in the Supreme Court (it really should be a legislative decision) I wonder if they will reference the recent trends in Italian courts.

News Swamp

There is much in the news lately and so little time to write about it, so I'll do a single Rapid-fire post that covers my thoughts on some key news threads.

The liberals have made the assertion that Saddam Housein had no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. We know for a fact that he had some at some point. The mass graves and Kurdish ghost towns are evidence of it. One reason the liberals have made this assertion is not because they are against the war as much as they are against George Bush. Prior to Bush making the move to liberate Iraq, liberal politicians including Bill Clinton, John Kerry and Ted Kennedy made the case for weapons of mass destruction there. It was one reason among many for taking Saddam to task for his destructive regime. Now we have the tapes of him discussing the weapons of mass destruction as well as another of his top officials revealing that he sent tem to Syria so the coalition forces wouldn’t discover them.

I wrote earlier about how Oprah excluded homeschoolers from her essay contest. Now, after the deadline for the contest, she finally acknowledges homeschoolers.

Wal-Mart has been in the news for refusing to stock the morning-after pill in Massachusetts. It seems like the anti-lifers have won the battle for now. Wal-Mart has been faced with litigation in order to force them to stock it. In other words, one can’t run a private pharmacy in Massachusetts without being forced to help women kill their children. I’d overprice it.

Speaking of killing babies, Krishna Rajanna, an abortionist in Kansas City, has been eating his victims. They didn’t arrest him because apparently there’s no law against it. However, they raided his abortion clinic due to his lack of ability to keep it sanitary enough to kill the babies.

If it’s okay to raid a clinic on account of poor sanitary conditions where half the patients are supposed to die, then fast-food restaurants should be raided as well. A seventh grader in Tampa, Florida, has discovered that the ice in fast food restaurants is dirtier than the water in the restaurants’ toilets. Can I have that soda without ice, please?

Also, if an abortion clinic has to be clean, then the logic is that we should help people who want to harm themselves by providing them with sterile knives. The logic is the same. The Royal College of Nursing in Britain is advocating this. I suppose that this will decrease the amount of people who cut themselves as much as Roe vs. Wade decreased the amount of abortions.

One last item on abortion. Margaret Sanger, a contemporary of and sympathizer with Hitler, who also founded Planned Parenthood, explicitly intended abortion to reduce the number of such as Jews, blacks and southern Europeans by introducing abortion. In Australia, it is having the reverse affect. Apparently, due to abortion, the population of Australians of European ancestry is decreasing by 100,000 per year. One Muslim leader has done the math and arrived at the conclusion that at this rate, in 50 years there will be more Muslims in Australia than whites.

In Christian news, the Italian atheist who was suing the Roman Catholic priest for lying about Jesus lost his case. The judge threw it out. The man is planning to take it to a higher court. One day he won’t be able to appeal to a higher court. On the flip side, the Air Force Chaplain who can’t pray in Jesus’ name has had an empty victory. Now, he still can’t pray in Jesus name, but he’s not required to pray at all. Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family likes the new ruling. I just want to know: if you can’t pray to a specific God, what’s the point of praying?

In other news, Dr. Dobson and other relatively conservative Christians with high-visibility ministries are under attack. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force “is blaming a deranged teenager's violent rampage through a ‘gay’ bar in Massachusetts on ‘hatred and loathing’ fueled by Christian groups and leaders such as James Dobson.” I’ve heard these Christian’s and their messages and haven’t once heard them advocate violence against unrepentant sinners. In fact, the opposite is true. They typically advocate befriending them for the purpose of working through a friendly relationship to witness to them. I want to know where the outrage is against the Swedish imam and other imams like him who clearly advocate that Muslims rise up against non-Muslims and kill them.

I’m not a big sports fan. I didn’t even watch the Superbowl. Apparently, I’m in good company. The family of Seattle Seahawks Head Coach, Mike Holmgren, went to Africa on a mission trip instead of staying around to watch their husband and father lead his team in one of the greatest annual sporting events in the US. God bless ‘em.

And if you were expecting something on Dick Cheney's hunting accident, all I can say is that it's not newsworthy. If you happen to be hearing much about it from many news sources, they're obviously upset that the newspaper local to the incident was allowed to scoop them on it. Tsk, tsk, tsk.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Does the "G" in "G-Rated" Stand for Guys-Only?

A study done by a group called See Jane reviewed 101 G-rated movies released between 1990 and 2004. See Jane is a program of the advocacy group Dads and Daughters that ostensibly encourages balanced representation of genders in children's entertainment. The study included the films Finding Nemo, The Lion King, Monsters, Inc., Chicken Run, The Princess Diaries, Babe, The Santa Clause 2 and Toy Story. Of the ones they studied, they found that only 28% of characters with speaking parts were female and only 17% of people in crowd scenes were female.

As an initial observation, Toy Story had a considerable amount of characters in it and was about the toys that belonged to a boy. I have two sons and a daughter. If Toy Story had been about the toys in a girl's room, you would have a platoon of Barbies and a crowd of stuffed animals, and the action one could write with a set of characters would have made the movie appealing only to girls. This leads me to two conclusions:

  1. Studio execs looking to market these films will tend to pay for the movies that will have the greatest appeal to their target demographic. More girls will watch a "boy's movie" than boys will watch a "girl's movie".
  2. There are some "girl's movies" that I'm sure haven't made the list. There's a whole line of Barbie movies that are remarkably well done. I've sat and watched some of them with my daughter. (I screen the movies my kids watch anyway.)
To add to my second conclusion, I'm sure they didn't review the Disney classics that were re-released during this time period like Cinderella, Snow White and Aristocats. To be fair, they probably didn't include Veggi-Tails movies either which have mostly male vegetables. This leads me to another observation - a question really. While vegetable or animal characters can usually be discerned as male or female characters, can the loss of realism due to using non-human characters be truly counted as gender representation? For example, while Winnie the Pooh is male, he is never portrayed in a traditionally male role. In fact, the only character on Winnie the Pooh that is in a traditional gender role is Kanga, the only female. Feminists may argue that such traditional roles are not helpful to advance the feminist agenda. The trouble is that the feminist agenda is to suggest that women are better off acting like men. This goes against recent studies suggesting that boys and girls are different (which reasonable people have known for years).

This leads back to my first conclusion. Is it reasonable to expect boys and girls to behave differently than they are built to behave? Certainly parents can correct immoral behavior, but where the behavior involves preferences that are not morally conditional, like the type of movie one will sit and watch, then can we expect boys to watch movies that feature feminine content and girls to not watch movies that feature male content? The movie execs understand the marketing. The most watched movies feature masculine material that has elements or characters that have been toned down enough to attract girls. This is partially why we get the complaint that males have been emasculated by Hollywood. But it doesn't work the same to feature feminine content that has been juiced up with the intent to attract boys. Boys typically will reject such as weird. And it's not wrong; it's just the nature of things.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Science losing war over evolution?

Is science really losing the war over evolution as Randy Olson claims? Isn't it interesting how the Intelligent Design - Evolution debate is framed as a "war" waged by ignorant media-savvy rich people against the poor intelligent scientists who just don't know how to express themselves. Apparently the free exchange of ideas threatens people enough to use such phraseology. Scientists tend to express evolution poorly because they are each specialists in particular fields of study and evolutionary theory is really a theoretical conclusion wrought from a philosophical worldview, not scientific deliberation, that creates a framework in which to organize the results of true scientific study and explain observable evidence. Intelligent Design is the same, except that it is exceptionally more likely than evolution to be true.

The philosophical worldview that serves as the premise for evolution is naturalism. The problem with naturalism is that it requires two assumptions. The first assumption is that the world is as it ought to be. The second is that "natural" is only that which is observable and that there is nothing else. The catch with the second assumption is that it begs the question that we know all that is observable. Take Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML) for example. If you don't know much about how the Internet works, just click on "View" on your browser menu bar and click "source" in the menu that pops up. What you will see is a bunch of text that describes what you are looking at in your browser window. It may contain much of the text that you see in the window. It will at least contain code that accesses the source of the text. It also contains code that allows you to click on some text, images or buttons and go to different pages. Naturalism would claim that the only thing that is real is what is displayed in your browser window. It discounts that there is hidden text that describes what is displayed in your browser window. Intelligent Design, on the other hand, would allow for the possibility that there is hidden text that describes what you see in your browser window. The difference is that what is observable is debatable. In a browser we can click on the "View Source" menu option, but can we call what we observe in the browser window evidence that there is HTML code hidden somewhere? After all, observation is merely a subjective declaration on the reliability of evidence. If we observe something with our eyes, is it not merely light stimulating specialized cells in our retinas that is properly translated by our brains? Can we ascertain from this evidence that there is an object before us? This is the stuff of observation. To what degree can we determine that this world is merely the display with which we can observe something greater?

So naturalism, and thus evolution, inherently denies possible solutions. But Intelligent Design operates from the assumption that all possibilities are to be considered in order to arrive at truth. Understanding that all possibilities may not be known, it is reasonable to hold the position that while one may have calculated a high likelihood for a particular belief, there may be another possibility that could prove one wrong. For this reason, IDers generally do not disparage evolutionists like evolutionists disparage IDers.

Friday, February 10, 2006

To A Divided Church

A congregation in civil war resulted in half of them firing their pastor and having him arrested during a sermon for trespassing. I don't know the particulars of the problems within the congregation and I don't need to. Like too many Christians, they are simply ill-equipped to deal with each other's spiritual immaturity. I offer to any who find their church in this situation the following passage from Paul's letter to the Corinthians (NASB):

1 Corinthians 6:1-8

Does any one of you, when he has a case against his neighbor, dare to go to law before the unrighteous and not before the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? If the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life?

So if you have law courts dealing with matters of this life, do you appoint them as judges who are of no account in the church? I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not among you one wise man who will be able to decide between his brethren, but brother goes to law with brother, and that before unbelievers?

Actually, then, it is already a defeat for you, that you have lawsuits with one another. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded? On the contrary, you yourselves wrong and defraud. You do this even to your brethren.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Nuclear Threats 101

The article in the title link begins:

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has accepted an invitation to visit Cuba from President Fidel Castro, in gratitude for Cuba's support of Iran's nuclear program, the official Granma newspaper said on Tuesday.

I suppose Castro will regale him with tales of his success with aiming nukes at the US. Perhaps he will show him the great prosperity he has accomplished for his country. Right.

Okay, maybe it's enough for Castro to show the Iranian President that he managed to maintain a dictatorship all these years, despite his lack of success in these other areas.

It's Not About the Cartoons

As I type, Sean Hannity and Pat Buchanan are arguing about the use of political cartoons in Denmark depicting Muhammad. Neither one particularly approve of the cartoons. Hannity argues that we should expect the Muslims to be civil about their opposition to the cartoons. Buchanan argues that we should expect them to be violent. My argument is that it's not about the cartoons.

A Danish imam, Ahmad Abu Laban, is the source of the riots. While the cartoons were printed just over a week ago on the front page, the cartoons were printed as early as September of last year. At that time, Abu Laban faked some images of his own and toured the Middle East to work up anger against Europeans in order to force a call for Denmark to change laws to be more Islamic.

Thus, my argument: it's not about the cartoons. It could be about something else completely arbitrary that has been trumped up by the imam or other Muslims like him. While we must try to live peaceably with all people, we can't walk on eggshells if our would-be enemies are looking for any excuse they can manufacture in order to attack.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

I Think the Children Need a Nap

In the afternoon, sometimes, my children may become fussy, especially the 2-year-old. When this happens, I know it's nap time. Do you ever think that we live in a world full of children?

In September Denmark's Jyllands-Posten asked cartoonists to create satirical drawings of Muhammad. Apparently, the Danish media was fearful of criticizing terrorists due to politically correct sensitivities. It was supposed to be therapeutic, I suppose. The resulting cartoons were printed over a week ago. A few other European papers and some others around the world (Bulgaria, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Jordan, Spain, Switzerland, Hungary, New Zealand, Norway and Poland) picked up on the story and reprinted them.

Some Muslims responded not by simply expressing their misgivings peaceably. They responded in Syria by torching the Danish and Norwegian embassies in Damascus. They replaced the Danish flag with a green one inscribed with the Islamic pillar that states, "There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet." In Gaza, Palestinians took German and Danish flags from European buildings and burned them. A Hamas leader called for the death of Europeans. In Hebron, more Palestinians burned a Danish flag and called for a boycott of Danish goods. (I thought Palestinians were too poor to afford bullets. They can afford Danish imports?)

To be fair, there were some peaceful protests by responsible adults in Iraq (see, freedom works) and Turkey. In Turkey, however, one teenager murdered a Catholic priest over the cartoons. To their credit, Turkish authorities arrested him for the crime. For their primarily peaceful opposition, Europeans still look favorably on Turkey and still support their recent inclusion as members of the EU.

Not to be outdone by the childish behavior, the Russians have responded. Moscow is declaring solidarity with their European brethren by putting together an art exhibit featuring the cartoons.

For the most part, the European response has been to take a defensive posture. Riots in Afghanistan have swelled to the point where Afghan police have had to beat back attackers and NATO peacekeeping troops have exchanged fire with rioters.

The cartoons have been foresworn in the newspapers of some countries, including Belgium and Great Britain. Of course, Great Britain has no trouble displaying anti-George-Bush cartoons. (Do you think it civil to storm and burn the British embassy in DC? I think not. Civilized adults don't do such things.)

I wonder who has seen fit to pass the word about what's going on in Europe to Muslims around the world, as if to instigate their ire:

In Iran, the childishness continues. In a move reminiscent of "freedom fries" versus "french fries", Iran is renaming "Danish" pastries "Muhammedan" pastries. After having denied that the Holocaust took place, they are also having a "Holocaust Cartoon Contest". They apparently have their first contender: European Muslims have submitted a cartoon of Hitler in bed with Anne Frank. What I find interesting is that the term "Danish" is American English and the Muslim cartoon of Hitler and Anne Frank is also in English. If the beef is truly with the Europeans, and Danes in particular, then these childish maneuvers would be in some language other than English. When my kids have spats, they often speak to each other in order that my wife and I might hear them and that their argument might ultimately be an appeal (or a challenge) to us. This is no different. Their primary issue with the US, not the Danes. They are merely doing to the Danes what they want to do to the Americans - but can't... yet.

Apparently, the Lebanese agree that Iran is one of the instigators. Lebanese leader, Walid Jumblatt, also points a tattling finger at Syria. (He may fear American action in the Middle East, but Lebanon has done little to threaten the US and is generally held is high esteem relative to most other Middle East nations among Americans. He is in no danger.)

The cartoons are not the only depictions of Muhammad. If there are no others, how would viewers of the cartoons recognize him, other than some are labeled? Muhammad is also depicted in bas relief high above the justices' bench in the US Supreme Court, but this has provoked only minor legal action from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). The US Embassies aroad haven't been burned on account of it.

One last observation. France was one nation whose newspapers chose to reprint the cartoons. By the time rioting Syrian Muslims got to the Danish and Norwegian embassies in Damascus, the Eurpoeans there had already evacuated. However, when the Muslims went to the French Embassy, they were surprised to find that not only were the French still there, but they were ready to fight off the rioters (may wonders never cease). Police and troops barracaded the entrance. Not to be thwarted, the rioters broke through. However, they were quickly repelled by...

...are you ready for this?...

...water cannons.

That does it! Everyone out of the pool! Dry off and go to your rooms!

Monday, February 06, 2006

Why Hitler Was Not Conservative

A couple of days ago, Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela, in a speech designed to boost enlistment in the Venezuelan Armed Forces, compared George Bush to Hitler. He's not the only one. The NAACP last week said the same thing. It's actually been going on for a few years. George Bush is not the most conservative man in the United States, but he's been conservative enough to accomplish some important tasks on behalf of the people of the United States. I've seen US conservatism compared to Nazism before in debates I've been in, and the comparison is rather quite erroneous.

The word "Nazi" means "National Socialist". Hitler predicated it on such as the political formulations of Karl Marx in conjunction with the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche, the cultural contributions of Richard Wagner and the science of Charles Darwin. The Nazi party was the means Hitler used to sell himself to the German people. He used this to justify abortion, euthanasia and ultimately genocide. Some bought the lie, the rest were intimidated into it. Prior to Hitler, the Germans were a loose band of Germanic states. Hitler's goal was to change the status quo and unify the Germans into one nation in order to conquer other nations and establish himself as the dictator. This is not a picture of socialism, but there has never been a socialist state that has not ended up looking like a dictatorship or an oligarchy of sorts. for example, socialist Cuba has a dictator. The Soviet Union was run by a small party - a ruling class, even if they never admitted to it. China is the same way. There are more Christians in China than there are members of the communist party that runs it. "Nazi" is a lie - an ideal that the people have no leader, but lead themselves. "No leader," however, means "no representation" either.

The fact is, US conservatism is diametrically opposed to Socialism in any form. The US is a Representative Republic that uses democratic elections to choose representatives. The US has people who wish to replace the Representative Republic with "Democratic Socialism". This is the same lie. Political "Conservatism" in the US is defined as the political position that the country should be conserved as a Representative Republic. "Liberalism" is a position that has a double meaning. First, it means that government should grow to encompass all aspects of US life. This is thinly veiled socialism. Second, its meaning is to sell the lie to the people. In other words, "liberal" means that the government should provide all peoples' needs liberally.

Liberals accuse conservatives of being imperialistic. Conservatives desire to free people from powers that oppress them. This is not what Hitler did. Hitler sought to oppress people by conquering them. Instead, liberals desire that the US be overthrown by socialist forces in the UN or elsewhere: forces that are themselves imperialistic.

here is a quick list that will sum up some of the key indicators of Nazism and compare them to US Liberals and Conservatives:

  1. Hitler spoke fervently in order to play on the emotions of people. I wish I had sound bites, but the following Americans come to mind: Ted Kennedy, Hillary Clinton, Al Gore and Howard Dean. Rush Limbaugh doesn't have anything on the vitriol that these and others like them have used to rile up their supporters.
  2. Hitler wanted to nationalize the German States. Is it not Liberals who we have we heard from about nationalized healthcare, national education issues, higher national taxes, national welfare and social security? Granted, conservatives are strong on national defense, but this is a clear constitutional position.
  3. Hitler promoted abortion as well as euthanasia of the old, disabled or unwanted. These are modern liberal ideologies. Conservatives have consistently defined themselves according their opposition against these anti-life issues. For example, Republican Rudolph Giuliani is considered somewhat liberal because of his support for abortion.
  4. Hitler espoused Nietzsche’s atheistic existentialism which claimed that truth was entirely subjective and used it to justify genocide. The liberals haven't gotten to genocide yet, but they were the ones, through Hollywood, to move the US culture toward a nihilistic relativism identical to existentialism.
  5. Hitler created a program to indoctrinate youth with the socialistic and philosophical lies that he used to motivate people to follow him. Who has infiltrated school curricula in the US through national funding with an ideological agenda that denies key aspects of US history, science and literature? Conservatives serious about education typically fight for classical education versus the liberal revisionist education. Colleges and Universities are stocked with professors whose purpose it is to train up minds of mush into intellectually conflicted liberals.
  6. Hitler claimed to be socialist, but he sought a dictatorship. Who denies their ideological stance? Conservatives have no problem being identified as conservatives, but most liberals would rather call themselves "moderates."
  7. Hitler sought to subject people to his control. Liberals seek to subject the US population to the control of outside forces. Conservatives seek to free people from the control of others.

Hitler was not akin to today's US conservatives.

Do Homeschoolers Need Oprah?

In North Carolina, according to the state's Division of Non-Public Education, there are 31,530 home schools educating an estimated 58,780 students. Two of those are my school-age kids.

I haven't watched Oprah in years. Of course, I haven't watched much mainstream TV lately. If I had watched the Super Bowl, it would be the first game I've seen this season. I stick to such as the History Channel, Discovery, TLC, the Food Channel and Fox News. (Okay, I do watch Sci-Fi some - I admit it, I'm a nerd.) Oprah just hasn't been on my radar screen. So she has an essay contest. Homeschoolers love such things as essay contests. There's always word of something like this in which we can participate coming through the local homeschool organizations. I know there's no love lost by a few (tens of thousands of) homeschoolers who can't participate in Oprah's essay contest. However, the homeschool movement has been hardened in the political arena and as a result homeschoolers are inclined to react quickly and with much fervor when they believe they are not being treated justly. This behavior is a rare example of conservatives acting like liberals. Frankly, I don't need Oprah's essay contest for my kids.

Homeschoolers don't generally fit into a tidy political mold, anyway. A year or two ago, the now defunct K-mart in Statesville, NC, had a sale where part of the sales to individual customers went to the school of that customer's choice. The list of qualifying schools was predictably void of any home schools. Nevertheless, homeschoolers went to Kmart in droves and sent their money to the schools that their kids would have gone to willingly and intentionally without complaint. Why? Because homeschoolers, despite mischaracterizations, are not generally separatists. They don't sit around all day disparaging the public schools and shielding their kids from every kind of contact with the outside world. On the contrary, they are generally concerned about the problems in the public schools and are active in getting their kids out of the house and involved in various activities. They just don't think they should subject their kids to the problems in order to correct the problems. Besides, there are good reasons to homeschool even if the public schools were pure as the wind-driven snow.

This said, I'll offer some problems with the public schools and some benefits of homeschooling.

Some Problems with the Public Schools:

1. Politics. Everything from discipline to curriculum is subject to the political winds. Issues contrary to moral laws are being normalized according to political dictates.
2. Discipline. Too may parents, feeling guilty from having put their children off or too proud to admit their children need discipline, loudly protest any punitive action against their disobedient children. This has caused frustration among many teachers that is easily exploited by some students. In general it has led to a codified softening of discipline and a rise in the number of students diagnosed with ADD in order to medicate them into submission.
3. Student crime has grown to alarming levels. There have always been playground bullies, but sociological ills have given rise to a new breed of reprobates. Students are engaging in prostitution at school. security guards and metal detectors are used to try to disarm students as they arrive at school. In a discussion with a public high-school principal I discovered that he is required to report the number of students arrested from his school. So far this year only fifty-something students have been arrested at his school, and that's not a bad number compared to most other schools.

Other problems with public schools can be answered with...
Some Benefits of Homeschooling:

1. Curricula can be individualized to suit the student's needs. Problem areas can be addressed with remediation quickly without loss of credit hours. In the public schools, remediation may not be evident immediately and remediation unavailable until the next term. By the time remediation has happened, the student has fallen behind in requirements.
2. Behavioral patterns are learned from adults. In a classroom setting where children of the same age are lumped together, children learn behavioral patterns from each other more than they learn them from adults. There is an argument that homeschoolers don't get much needed socialization skills being separated from other children their age for much of the time. This is simply not true. Homeschoolers tend to learn to interact with people of many different ages and are better equipped to handle real-life situations because they have no trepidation with intergenerational interaction.
3. Children are better supported in the areas in which they excel. There may be high-level classes available for public schoolers, but only for those students who excel in all areas, and only in areas that are already offered. A homeschooler who is a year behind in his spelling may still work several grades ahead in science, or even take courses outside of systemic crediting (such as logic, philosophy, ancient languages or drafting) that could enhance his major later in college.
4. Children don't have to go through the trouble of learning a new set of teachers and fellow students each year. Learning can begin immediately.
5. There are no snow days and the schedule is flexible.

With all this, who needs Oprah?

Friday, February 03, 2006

E-Racing Church Culture

I am a white man and I go to a white church. That's putting it WAY too simply. Let me try again...

I am a US citizen of primarily European descent born and partially encultured in the Midwest and partially encultured in the southeastern midatlantic piedmont. I was baptized in a modern Anabaptist denomination, confirmed in the Lutheran tradition and have committed myself and my family to serve with a congregation of conservative evangelical Baptists. My cultural exposure includes the US military, British, Middle Eastern, South American, Texan and Cajun. (They even made me an honorary Cajun for sucking the fat out of the heads of boiled crawfish, which is quite tasty.) I am as comfortable in a Penthouse on Park Street as I am in a tent in the desert. I enjoy bowing to Japanese, eating matza with Jews and kebobs with Arabs, reveling with Brits in a pub, working with country boys in the fields, and trading stories with Russians. I've played in an R&B band, jazz combo, jazz orchestra, symphony orchestra, marching band, Dixieland band and brass quintet. I've led traditional Christian worship on a pipe organ, blended worship on a piano and contemporary worship in with a praise band. I've sang in jazz quartets, black gospel choirs, southern gospel trios, small church choirs and large church choirs. I enjoy every kind of music (but have no tolerance for bad lyrics). I can say in one sentence that the Civil War was as much about slavery as at it was a war of northern aggression against the economic freedom of the South.

...No one who knows me would call me "racist."

The article in the title link was printed in Christianity Today last year. It is a call for churches to be ethnically diverse. The crux of the argument is that racism is a sin. Whenever we talk about white churches and black churches, the issue of racism is touted as the big reason why more churches aren't ethnically diverse. The problem is that hatred of people who look different isn't the real issue. I'll get to the real issue after I investigate some terms.

There is a difference between race, ethnicity and culture (or sub-culture). We most often use the term "race" to refer to a person's ethnicity. Actually, there is only one race: the human race. Culture is a set of traditions and normalized behaviors that serve as a foundation for establishing homes and provide a context for communication; and not simply communication by words denotatively, but connotatively as well as providing a set of literary references and etymological foundations. Ethnicity is a combination of genealogy and culture.

For most of time in most ethnicities, culture has changed very slowly. Therefore, people have lived much as their grandparents lived. Because of advancements in technology, communication and social engineering we have experienced an increasing rate of change of culture throughout most of the world in the past century or two. This has caused this anomaly called the "generation gap". The effect it has had on the church is that we have a mix of preferences for church programs that either follow older cultural patterns or newer ones. It has also led to a rise in church culture experiments that border on the profane, disgraceful or outright blasphemous.

There are churches that have managed to successfully become transcultural. For the most part they are populated only with those who accept newer iterations of the culture. This is because as communication increases, cultures grow together. However, those who can only apprehend relationships in the older cultures are left to wither in slowly dying churches. This is the challenge of today's church as it attempts to become more ethnically diverse. Where homogeneous churches are faced with struggles over style, any attempt to become more ethnically diverse would only add to the cultural tension. This is the real issue that we must struggle with.

Despite my zeal for many different cultures and sub-cultures and despite my benign disposition toward different ethnicities, I am a white man whose primary culture is that of Anglo-Saxon middle-America. I can grow spiritually in my native culture, but would lack the cultural communication skills to grow as effectively in a foreign culture.

Nevertheless, I must and I will...

Messengers With A Message: Nate Saint Versus Chad Allen

There has been much hay made over Chad Allen, activist homosexual actor, playing the role of Nate Saint in the movie, "End of the Spear". The argument is that a Christian message is inextricably linked with the messenger. This is quite true. The only problem with this argument in this case is that there is no real Christian message. The motivation for what the missionaries did is not explicit in the movie, and the Christian message in this event IS the true motivation of the missionaries. The Motivator, of course, is the Holy Spirit, and the goal is to bring the news of what God has done for us through His Son. Therefore, the missionaries were messengers with a message, and they were inextricably linked. However, the primary motivation evident in the movie is humanitarian. In other words, the movie appears to indicate that the missionaries went to give the natives tools, some education, and to help them be less violent. (Sshh... *whispers* It's politically incorrect to talk about the... *looks around* ...g-o-s-p-e-l of you-know-who.)

Therefore, it's true that message and messenger are inextricable. In the movie, Chad Allen's message got across - it's just not the same message that Nate Saint bore. What the movie amounts to is a mere portrayal of an historic event. In this case, all it can do is give people who are not exposed to missions a slightly better idea of what many missionaries face. It might even make them ask why missionaries would do these things for mere humanitarian purposes...

...but it won't offer an answer.