Perhaps it may turn out a sang,
Perhaps turn out a sermon.

-- R. Burns Epistle to a Young Friend

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Shout triumphantly to the LORD,
all the earth.
Serve the LORD with gladness;
come before Him with joyful songs.
Acknowledge that the LORD is God.
He made us, and we are His –
His people, the sheep of His pasture.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving
and His courts with praise.
Give thanks to Him and praise His name.
For the LORD is good, and His love is eternal;
His faithfulness endures to all generations.

Psalm 100

These two polar bears walk into a Japanese zoo...

Zoo solves mystery of celibate polar bears

Puzzled zookeepers in northern Japan have discovered the reason why their attempts to mate two polar bears kept failing: Both are female.

Top ten responses from the zoo officials:

1) Not that there's anything wrong with that.

2) Well, the water is really cold.

3) Do we have any bi-polar bears?

4) It worked at the San Francisco Zoo.

5) Our DVM is an Aggie.

6) Maybe if we give her a crewcut ...

7) Think it would work better with two males?

8) Icicles

9) Don't Ask, Don't Tell

10) They're polar bears, would YOU want to check?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Jesus Practices Affirmative Action

By the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem there is a pool, called Bethesda in Hebrew, which has five colonnades. Within these lay a multitude of the sick – blind, lame, and paralyzed [-- waiting for the moving of the water, because an angel would go down into the pool from time to time and stir up the water. Then the first one who got in after the water was stirred up recovered from whatever ailment he had.] One man was there who had been sick for 38 years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew he had already been there a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to get well?”

“Sir,” the sick man answered, “I don’t have a man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I’m coming, someone goes down ahead of me.”

“Get up,” Jesus told him, “pick up your bedroll and walk!” Instantly the man got well, picked up his bedroll, and started to walk. – John 5:2-9

The bracketed part about the angel is missing from some manuscripts. Whether John wrote it or it was added as a commentary doesn’t matter, for we can see that those sick people who lay in the porches around about the pool were there waiting for something to happen. According to the text that is in all the manuscript versions, the man explains to Jesus that someone always got into the water ahead of him, thereby denying him the opportunity for healing.

“Do you want to get well?”

The wisdom of Jesus is such that He does not simply assume a sick man wants to be healed. I wonder what I would say if Jesus walked up to me and asked, “Do you want to be whole? Do you want Me to break that chain? Do you want to be free of that habit? Do you want liberty? Do you want peace?”

God is not going to push His favor upon us if we prefer something else. If I want ugly ersatz instead of the genuine for the same price, He will not snatch the imitation from me and force me to embrace the real and the beautiful. Some of us seem to like being victims. After all, we can’t all be here to “help others” – some of us have to make the sacrifice and be helped. Children will sometimes have a problem that gets them more attention and special treatment. Why get rid of it? Adults often do the same thing in relationships. Some groups take advantage of their special victim status on a national scale.

This man’s answer to Jesus’ question tells us about expectations, “I don’t have anybody to help me. Somebody else always gets there first.” There are many who think because they don’t have the “advantages” they cannot overcome their difficulties and circumstances. Jesus says this is not true. To overcome I do not need someone else to help me – I need to respond to Jesus.

If you read on in this passage you will find that Jesus commanded this man to get up, pick up his bed and walk on the Sabbath. The healed man was then confronted by the religious authorities, and, when asked who had told him to “work” on the Sabbath, he admitted he did not know. In fact, only later was the man able to positively identify the Man who had healed him as Jesus.

If you’ve ever heard Christians who believe in healing talk about it, you will hear a lot about faith, and seeking and fervent prayer. This man had no faith in Christ; he had no idea who He was. The sick man was not seeking God – he was hanging around in the shade waiting for another person to help him get into the water. I suppose you could say he was seeking a healing and had some faith in the miraculous nature of the pool, but it was not necessarily a belief that looked to God.

I have never understood why Jesus picked this man out and healed him. Neither have I ever understood how this person who comes off as rather indolent and dismissive of God received a healing.

The man is questioned by the authorities, says he doesn’t know who told him to get up and walk, then look what happens:
After this, Jesus found him in the temple complex and said to him, “See, you are well. Do not sin any more, so that something worse doesn’t happen to you.” The man went and reported to the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well.

Can you believe that? He had to know that this would cause Jesus trouble. I don’t like this guy. I never have. He wallows in his victim status. He whines that he doesn’t get any help. He is miraculously healed without really any effort on his part, and then he rats out the Healer. What an ingrate!

As far as I can remember this is the only time the Gospels report Jesus seeking someone out after the fact and telling them to be avoid sinning, and tied sin to physical disease in just this way. He did tell the woman taken in adultery in John 8 to “go and sin no more”, but the circumstances were vastly different.

Like this man beside the pool, people hear God’s voice all the time. They benefit from responding, but they have no idea who is talking to them. People are directed by God, blessed by God, and even do God’s work without ever realizing the Source of their inspiration. For His part, as Jesus demonstrates here, God is no respecter of persons. He is good to everyone, even those who do not know Him.

The man at the pool of Bethesda did not even give a straight answer about wanting to be healed. The only thing he did right was stand up. When he heard Jesus tell him to get up, he got up. He obeyed.

Sometimes, that’s all it takes.

Bathroom Break

Space Station Urine Recycler Passes Key Test

That's the headline from All I can say is, "Ouch."

Monday, November 24, 2008

Put the Load Right on Me

Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light. – Matthew 11:28-30

I want to say that is my favorite verse in the Bible, but I’ll probably say that about another passage sooner or later, so it seems kind of silly. It is a comforting statement. It is a distillation of the mission of Christ.

Imagine living before Christ. Whether you lived under the demanding but clear constraints of the Law as the Hebrews, or under the capriciousness of the pagan gods as the Greeks, what would it have meant to hear someone say, “Come and rest your soul.” This rest is what we all seek. Atheists seek rest for the soul. They do it by denying the soul, by saying that what we call “soul” is some sort of brain-body gestalt, a sort of simulacrum, perhaps, but still and all an illusion is still an illusion even if it is useful. Their rest is the rest of the paralytic, if not the rotting corpse, an illusion of rest for the illusion of their soul.

I think we notice it more during this season of the year, when we are harried by the hounds of the holidays. We need this promise. Rest for the soul means deliverance from fear, the meeting of every need, and the fulfillment of every desire. The promise Jesus makes is immediate, “Come to Me ... I will give you rest.” He offers those who would trust in Him relief right now, release like the flipping of a switch. In a moment, the believer can go from restless to resting.

There is another aspect that is delayed. “Take My yoke … learn from Me … you will find rest.” In the Gospels we are told of those like the woman with the issue of blood who merely touched Jesus and were instantly healed. Yet there were others who followed Him every day, abiding with Him, sharing His life, and learning from Him. Jesus gave those who touched Him rest; those who followed Him found rest.

He calls us to receive from Him immediate rest, but He also calls us to be His disciples. He calls us to wear a yoke and bear a burden, to work. Yet in that we find an abiding rest that will not depart.

The difference between working for the man and working for the Man is in the yoke and the burden. For man, everything is one-size-fits-all, and you are on your own, baby. With Jesus the yoke is tailor-made, perfectly fitted, just your size, and, if you look to your right, you will see that you have a partner. Yes, you still have a burden to bear, but it, too, is perfectly sized for your frame. A well-fitted harness and an appropriate load are not hard to bear. I think, in fact, we need a burden.

I see the Amish going along the roadsides. Most of the time the horses have their heads up and seem to be enjoying the trip themselves. A hound on the trail, no matter how hard the run or elusive the quarry, is a happy hound. The hound is not content in the pen. A horse is not content in the pasture. A man is not content without a burden, a purpose, a reason for being here.

Rest comes first from the yoke. Put a poor-quality, ill-adjusted pack frame on and you will suffer carrying ten pounds. With a good pack, well-adjusted, I might carry five or even ten times that and not suffer as much. God knows not only what we can bear, but how best for us to bear it.

Next we learn from Jesus. This is not a singletree, it is a doubletree, and on the other side, helping us pull the load is Christ Himself. He says, “Learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart.” Team the wise horse with the one you want to break to the harness – let the knowing one gently instruct the inexperienced not to fight the yoke, not to get too far ahead, not to overreach, but settle in to the pull, be steady and patient. To learn from Jesus, we need to abide in Him. Partake of His nature. He’s not going to push us too hard. He’s not standing behind us with a whip. He’s right here beside us. Our difficulty and pain come from our own failure to emulate Him, to be also gentle and humble in spirit.

It requires a certain amount of surrender – no, that’s wrong. It requires a full surrender. Surrendering some of my life to Christ is worse than surrendering none.

My granddaughter has become a fan of rollercoasters. I ride them with her because her grandma just can’t handle it. The first thing you learn about a rollercoaster is that you are not in control. You can’t stop it, and you can’t get off. The next thing you learn is that as long as you stay where you are until the end, you will be fine. Sure, you may puke up a corndog, but it’s not fatal. Just hang on and enjoy the ride. In other words, surrender.

Probably no one else is stupid enough to have tried this, but I know from painful personal experience what it is like to do some things my way. Not that I was ever an especially agreeable person, but struggling to run things myself makes me even more irritable and unpleasant than normal. I am mean, ugly and in a rage – all the while claiming to be a Christian. It is not a pretty sight.

Far better to trust God completely, to be – not indifferent, but accepting. That’s an important distinction. God does not want me to say, “I don’t care.” He wants me to say, “Thy will be done,” and to believe that it will. God forgive me for the hours I spent trying to change His mind and get Him to say, “Your will be done.”

No, prayer is to lay out my situation before the Lord and say to Him, You do what’s best. This is my prayer of rest:

Lord, this is what I’d like to see happen, but, I’ll happily (honest, Lord, happily) accept what You do. And now that I have prayed, I am confident that what comes to me will be, indeed, Your will. So that’s cool.

I don’t think you have to add “in Jesus’s name” because I’m fairly sure if you can pray like that with sincerity and a straight face, it is in His name. You can leave the “amen” to Him as well.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Perfect Love Casts Out Fear (but it scares you to death in the process)

Nothing is inexorable but love. Love which will yield to prayer is imperfect and poor. Nor is it then the love that yields, but its alloy. For if at the voice of entreaty love conquers displeasure, it is love asserting itself, not love yielding its claims. It is not love that grants a boon unwillingly; still less is it love that answers a prayer to the wrong and hurt of him who prays. Love is one, and love is changeless.

For love loves unto purity. Love has ever in view the absolute loveliness of that which it beholds. Where loveliness is incomplete, and love cannot love its fill of loving, it spends itself to make more lovely, that it may love more. It strives for perfection, even that itself may be perfected – not in itself, but in the object. As it was love that first created humanity, so even human love, in proportion to its divinity, will go on creating the beautiful for its own outpouring. There is nothing eternal but that which loves and can be loved, and love is ever climbing toward the culmination when such shall be the universe, imperishable, divine.

Therefore all that is not beautiful in the beloved, all that comes between and is not of love’s kind, must be destroyed.

And our God is a consuming fire.

If this is hard to understand, it is as the simple, absolute truth is hard to understand. It may be centuries of ages before a man comes to see a truth – ages of strife, of effort, of aspiration. But when once he does see it, it is so plain that he wonders how he could have lived without seeing it. That he did not understand it sooner was simply and only that he did not see it. To see a truth, to know what it is, to understand it, and to love it, are all one. – George MacDonald, excerpt from sermon, “The Consuming Fire”

I’m a little short on time for the next few days, so, like yesterday, I may not be blogging much.

A short description of MacDonald might be to say he was a person who had rejected Calvinistic determinism but clung to the beautiful truth of God’s sovereignty. Here he is depicting the Lord as that perfect Bridegroom, likewise described in Ephesians 5:27, as presenting his Bride “to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, holy and blameless.”

God will never give up on us, but that also means He will never really let up on us. In the end we will get right. Can something be absolutely terrifying and joyously hopeful at the same time?

Well, there was this Cross …

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

In Search of Martyrdom

He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or periods that the Father has set by His own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” – Acts 1:7,8

A witness is a martyr, or it might be better to say that our word martyr meant witness. This is just a guess on my part, but I doubt that there is a similar word in the Islamic lexicon. The West has adapted martyr to fit the perversion that is suicide/homicide bombing, but such actions could only in the most inverted sense have anything to do with the word as Jesus used it.

The association between being a martyr and dying came about because of the persecution of the early Church. It was necessary as a part of being a witness for Christ to endure suffering, imprisonment, torture and even death. Frankly I find it offensive, not just to myself, but to God, to call some half-wit who blows himself up in order to kill innocent little children a martyr. He is a murderer. If he is “witnessing” for his god, then his god is a murderous and despicable entity. In fact I would equate such a god with “the god of this world” of whom Jesus warns us.

Let me hasten to add that not all of Islam holds to such a belief any more than all Christians are like Jim Jones. The terrorist thugs of Syria, Palestine, Iran, and Saudi Arabia are likely as much an offense to the decent Muslims – Sufis and others – as they are to me.

Jesus said that the believer will be clothed and infused with a spiritual power, like plugging a light into an electrical outlet. It is this power than enables me to be a martyr – if I might be allowed to reclaim a valuable mot. This goes beyond any kind of formal or traditional “testimony”, beyond preaching or public displays. To be a martyr in the sense Christ intended is to illuminate my own soul and the spiritual environment wherein I live and move and have my being.

To be a martyr is to bring God into contact with the world.

I don’t get extra credit for this. I don’t get special privileges in heaven, or a heavenly maid who looks like Ava Gardner. It does not involve going out and provoking persecutory responses from the heathen. Being a witness does not necessarily mean that I hand out tracts in the promenade or pester passers-by by singing into a bullhorn. I don’t have to annoyingly knock doors on Saturday mornings.

A martyr’s calling is to live. “The one who believes in Me,” Jesus told those at the graveside of Lazarus, “even if he dies, will live.” The zombies and the vampires won’t like him, and may well make his life tough, attempt to kill him, or even think they have killed him. Nevertheless, he lives.

The martyr’s reward is life – real life, the life of God, being eternal or everlasting in quality and nature.

Church is not the place where Christian salesmen gather to learn the latest marketing scripts. It is the place where martyrs gather to celebrate and renew life in communion. To use the image from the Motel Zero link, it is where we mend our broken cords if need be and get plugged back into the power.

This next point seems important to me, but it may be important only to me. I don’t think the martyr needs to concern himself with who might be watching him. Hebrews chapter 11 talks about the many faithful who had gone before: the patriarchs, the judges, and the prophets. The chapter concludes with these words -- “All these were approved through their faith, but they did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, so that they would not be made perfect without us.” Then the twelfth chapter begins with this:
Therefore since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us, and run with endurance the race that lies before us …

Sometimes I feel just like that light in Robin’s picture. I am forgotten, stuck to a lost wall and useless. Why should I bother? How is my light going to benefit anyone here?

The martyr’s calling is never to the derived temporal world, but, always, his witness is to the eternal realm of the spirit. It may be reflected in the world, but the reality is always a heavenly one. This journey is of necessity one of separation and isolation to a degree. I think if we could see behind the veil it would be a great and terrible sight. Where we walk in shadows there is a blazing light. Where we stand alone there is a vast host.
When the servant of the man of God got up early and went out, he discovered an army with horses and chariots surrounding the city. So he asked Elisha, “Oh, my master, what are we to do?”

Elisha said, “Don’t be afraid, for those who are with us outnumber those who are with them.”

Then Elisha prayed, “LORD, please open his eyes and let him see.” So the LORD opened the servant’s eyes. He looked and saw the mountain was covered with horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. -- 2 Kings 6:15-17

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Call of the Hunter

I recommend you click the link and read Uncle Orson's review of the movie Eagle Eye. Card begins by mentioning some films he has watched at home recently, and discusses the advantages of staying home versus going to the movie theater these days. You can skip the first section if you like but by all means read what he has to say about Eagle Eye, surveillance, and computers.

As a software engineer, with databases being my specialty, I've said more or less the same thing to people dozens of times, but Card gives a clear, non-technical, yet correct and compelling treatment of the question.

In a prior review, OSC recommended the books of the author writing under the pseudonym of K.J. Parker. I picked up Devices and Desires, Book One in Parker's Engineer Trilogy, last week and I've had time to read about a third of it. So far I'd say it is well-written and a welcome departure from the typical medieval-type fantasy. The characters and the setting have depth. The conflicts are complex. My complaint is there's a certain flatness of affect that I have been unable to shake -- but it could be a personal problem. None of the characters strike me as particularly likable at this point. I only mention it now because of the following quote:
The truth is, Valens realized, you can only hunt what you love. Chasing and killing what bores or disgusts you is just slaughter, because you don't want to understand, get in its mind.

You only hunt what you love.

No one loves the animal more than a real hunter. Sure, there are people who seem to only care about heads and butchery, but they aren't hunting deer or elk or moose, they are hunting bragging rights, prestige, or status. They are hunting to impress others with their prowess.

The true hunter is hunting for himself, to know himself by knowing and understanding the game he pursues, whatever it might be. Using Parker's definition it is easy to see hunting isn't limited to going after something with a gun, a bow, or a flyrod. The artist, the poet, and the musician are all hunters. They are trying to capture what they love. Inevitably, and necessarily, something is lost in the taking of the quarry. It exists only in that moment when the shot is made or the net enfolds. By its nature it is as transient as it is transcendent.

What is the saint doing except hunting God? As always, there must be loss.
But everything that was gain to me, I have considered to be a loss because of Christ. More than that, I consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of Him, I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them filth, so that I may gain Christ, and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own from the law, but one that is through faith in Christ -- the righteousness from God based on faith. My goal is to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His suffering, being conformed to His death, assuming that I will somehow reach the resurrection from among the dead.

Not that I have already reached the goal or am already fully mature, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I have also been taken hold of by Christ Jesus. Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God's heavenly call in Christ Jesus. -- Philippians 3:7-14

I'm on the hunt.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Thoughts About Bad Investments

We may start hearing more and more about AIG, the insurance giant that needs additional government money to keep it afloat. Michelle Malkin has a roll-back-the-bailout thread going today. Pay particular attention to her quote of a letter from SC governor Mark Sanford, who is evidently one of us.

The federal government is about to dump another $150 billion into AIG to try and save it. This isn’t rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic – this is handing out solid gold lifejackets. Think about it.

AIG has been a troubled company for years. Corruption and scandal do not appear to be strange to it. This is from the International Herald Tribune dated Jan 7, 2008:

The billionaire investor Warren Buffett has long been revered in the business world, but his importance at a trial involving the world's largest insurer is hotly contested.

The trial started Monday in federal court in Hartford for four former executives of the Berkshire Hathaway General Re unit and a former executive of American International Group who are charged with participating in a plan to manipulate AIG's financial statements.

Some of the executives say they believe Buffett was involved and supported the deal that led to the charges. Buffett leads Berkshire Hathaway, drawing at least 25,000 people to his annual shareholder meetings.

Buffett, a big Obama supporter oddly enough, is generally viewed positively. He is a favorite of Charlie Rose. He’s got the ‘I’m-from-Omaha’ thing going for him. He has made his money purely by investing. Berkshire Hathaway, like AIG and many other American corporations produce nothing directly. That doesn’t mean they are unproductive because they do provide capital and other services that allow production to take place. The trouble such companies usually get into involves manipulating their stock prices through accounting tricks. The article continued:

Buffett, who has not been charged with any wrongdoing, has said he was not briefed on how the transactions were to be structured or on any improper use or purpose of the transactions. His attorney, Ronald Olson, said in a recent statement that Buffett "denies that he passed judgment in any way" on the challenged deals.

At issue are two reinsurance transactions between AIG and General Re of Stamford. Reinsurance policies are backups purchased by insurance companies to completely or partly insure the risk they have assumed for their customers.

Prosecutors said the transactions were initiated by an AIG senior executive to quell criticism by analysts of a reduction in AIG's loss reserves in the third quarter of 2000. The indictment alleges that the aim was to make it appear as if AIG increased its loss reserves by about $500 million in 2000 and 2001, pacifying the analysts and investors and artificially lifting the company's stock price.

The former General Re executives charged include Ronald Ferguson, a former chief executive. Ferguson and the other defendants have pleaded not guilty.

The trial could shed light on what AIG's former chairman and chief executive, Maurice "Hank" Greenberg, knew about the transactions. Allegations of accounting irregularities, including the General Re transactions, led to Greenberg's resignation in 2005.

This is not, unfortunately, at all uncommon. It very often works and stockholders make a lot of money. As an investor myself I have benefited from it, I’m sure. Accounting is not all that different than witchcraft, except accounting actually works. Both involve selling one’s soul to the devil.

Another problem I have with corporations is that CEO’s and directors are kind of like managers in baseball or head coaches in football. No matter how badly they screw up they can probably hang around and get picked up by some other team. A winning college coach may have a graduation rate of 0%, but if he has more wins than losses in his tally, he will keep moving ahead to bigger schools. Missouri didn’t have a problem with Quinn Snyder’s recruiting tactics or his players’ behavior until they missed the NCAA tournament. The same is true in corporations. A CEO is only frowned upon if he doesn’t make money for the stockholders. He will only be hauled into court when the stock prices fall and the investors lose money.

Even then, they sometimes manage to hang around, as in the case of the aforementioned Hank Greenberg.

Back in April of 2005, CNN Money reported that Greenberg had given his wife a gift of AIG shares then valued at $41 million three days before he “retired” because of accounting irregularities. Those irregularities between the Berkshire Hathaway reinsurance unit and AIG falsely inflated AIG’s loss reserves and boosted the stock price.

Let’s move up to October 1, 2008 where we find reporting that Greenberg is seeking to buy some of AIG’s assets.

Maurice “Hank” Greenberg, former CEO and AIG critic, has asked the company’s CEO for the opportunity to bid on any assets the insurer plans to sell, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Greenberg made the request to Edward Libby, who took over AIG two weeks ago when the government agreed to let AIG borrow up to $85 billion in order to help it avoid a possibly bankruptcy filing. As a result, the United States government will control 80 percent of the company.

In his letter, dated September 29, Greenberg wrote, “now understand that the company has begun to liquidate itself by selling assets in privately negotiated transactions without transparency and without providing the opportunity for the participation of alternative purchasers."

Greenberg added that he wanted to formally request to have the opportunity to submit an offer on any assets that the company intends to sell. Greenberg left AIG amid an accounting scandal in 2005 and is currently fighting civil charges related to his time at AIG.

A spokesperson for AIG said that the company is open to all reasonable expression of interest in the assets AIG plans to sell, according to WSJ.

I have no idea from the story what "assets" Greenberg would be buying. My guess is that it would be one or more specific insurance portfolios. I would assume that Greenberg has some kind of company set up to service these portfolios. Since he was an insider, he is likely cherry-picking in order to leave AIG and, thus, the government -- ultimately the taxpayers -- with the weaker assets.

By the way, if you go follow the link, you will see an ad for a “Boardroom and Economic Forum” featuring Michael Oxley and Barney Frank. It’s the “annual global gathering of leading board directors and corporate governance influentials”. I’m sure Congressman Frank will reassure the corporations that he will help them out, just like he has AIG, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, et al.

Corporations and the federal government have far too much of an incestuous relationship as it is. Does it seem ironic to you that the FTC spends months if not years debating something like the merger of XM and Sirius, but it isn’t even in the loop when Uncle Sam, Inc. starts buying up banking and insurance stock to become the major investor in these companies? If the feds “take over” GM, who is going to be responsible for oversight? Is the buyer going to drive products and services, or will we get what our new Congressional Overlords think best for us to have? Uncle Sam Motors does not have to turn a profit, please the customer, or please its "investors". If it gets in trouble producing crappy vehicles, it just prints more money.

The bailout is a bad idea and getting worse everyday. I would rather have a severe recession than the lifetime of government control that currently threatens us.

Maybe it's time we got rid of the Separation of Church and State and went with Separation of Wall Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Cutting the Devil Down to Size

Vindicate me, God, and defend my cause against an ungodly nation; rescue me from deceitful and unjust man. For You are the God of my refuge. Why have You rejected me? Why must I go about in sorrow because of the enemy’s oppression?

Send Your light and Your truth; let them lead me. Let them bring me to Your holy mountain, to Your dwelling place. Then I will come to the altar of God, to God, my greatest joy. I will praise You with the lyre, O God, my God.

Why am I so depressed? Why this turmoil within me? Hope in God, for I will still praise Him, my Savior and my God. – Psalm 43

Since there has been some talk of angels on One Cosmos the last few days, I suppose it started me thinking.

Like the Psalmist, I have trouble with trouble. If, like me, you believe in God, then you probably have found yourself wondering, at least momentarily, if God has rejected you. I take things personally. If something goes wrong, I blame myself first. What did I do wrong? Where did I miss it? But it isn’t always my fault. Sometimes it can’t be. So I look around for someone to blame. Maybe it’s my wife’s fault. And so I go down the list.

We are told plainly that we do not fight against mere flesh and blood enemies. The Bible has no problem saying that there is an adversary of the Divine, an accuser of the brethren. We shouldn’t use the devil as an excuse, but we should recognize his presence and resist his efforts. In The Screwtape Letters Lewis warns of the two ways to err regarding the demonic. We can become morbidly obsessed with the devil, which is clearly wrong. It is, however, equally erroneous to dismiss demonic influence entirely.

The devil is real. You can call him an archetype; you can say it is a function of the human psyche; you can call it a mind parasite. It is real, and it is an adversarial force bent on destruction. No less an authority than Jesus Christ said that the devil was a liar and the father of lies. He compared him to a thief, coming to steal, kill and destroy. In fact, Jesus spoke about the devil and demons frequently. He told us that the devil not only deceives us but even attacks us physically.

The poet and artist William Blake did not believe that the soul and the body were really separate. He thought the body was a manifestation or emanation of the soul. The philosopher Anaxagoras said, “Appearances are a glimpse of what is hidden.” What happens, what we see in the physical realm is intimately related to what goes on in the spiritual. If that is the case, it is not surprising to find a physical disease or disability result from the enemy’s attack on the soul.

When we find ourselves laboring in darkness and oppression, what should we do? First we should call out to God. Come into the light and understand that in Christ we are released from all Satan’s accusations and indictments. Jesus paid it all. While I must deal with the consequences of my sin, there is no additional redemption in me suffering for my sins. I am no more delivered because I wallow in sorrow and suffer under demonic attack than if I stand upon my salvation in Christ and fight the devil. That is the whole point of Ephesians 6 as Paul tells us to deploy the shield of faith lest we be pierced by the fiery darts of the adversary.

I may chose to endure suffering and hardship, or I may make a sacrifice to benefit another person, but I should give no ground to the devil. God has not rejected us any more than He has rejected Christ the Son. We need not “go about in sorrow because of the enemy’s oppression”. Instead, light and truth can lead us into God presence where we find genuine acceptance and joy. The writer of Psalm 43 touches on one, possibly the primary way to throw back the assault of the enemy, and fully enter God presence: praise.

To me, that has always sounded like pure cornball flakiness. Yet, the longest book in the Bible is the book of Psalms. David, called the man after God’s own heart, with all his faults, was above all a man of praise, a singer of psalms. Before Jesus went up to pray on Gethsemane on the night of His betrayal, He and the disciples sang a hymn. In heaven, the redeemed will sing a new song.

Hey, it’s worth a try.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Few Points Toward A Conservative Manifesto

One of the problems we have is what Lady Thatcher referred to as the “ratchet effect”. When socialists gain power, they move the country toward the left. When power is returned the conservatives, they hold the line. We never move back toward smaller, less intrusive government and more freedom.

Reagan did do some deregulation, but government still grew between 1980 and 1988. It has grown tremendously in the last eight years. It will likely grow more in the next two to four years. If conservatives -- as opposed to Republicans, if conservatives regain control to any extent in Washington, there are steps that need to be taken to restore the foundation of our Republic.

Since I generally agree with George Bush, I have not been bothered by his communication skills, but that is not the case with his critics. The left has used Bush’s inability to articulate his position to vilify him and make it stick – something that was impossible to do to either Reagan or Clinton. So far the evidence indicates the same armor for Obama, though I am not sure his teleprompter platitudes won’t get old in a hurry.

It is vitally important that we have leadership that can understand and effectively advocate for the conservative view. There needs to be a solid conservative manifesto that all of us can agree upon and reference. This manifesto, rather than a party platform, would be our defining document. A conservative would be someone who adhered to the principles espoused in such a document.

In any case, conservatives and libertarians need to come together and develop a plan to get America back on track. My problem with the big ‘L’ Libertarian Party is their lack of understanding with regard to national security. We no longer live in a world where our oceans protect us from foreign attacks. We cannot afford to simply pull back and do nothing in the rest of the world. Our enemies need to be afraid to attack us by any means. Threats need to be eradicated at their point of origin – as that great philosopher and statesman Barney Fife once said, “Nip it in the bud.”

On the domestic front, a top priority for a new conservative movement is to push for term limits for Senators and Representatives. This will do more to reform government and reduce corruption than any other single measure. Gingrich should have continued to press for this in the 1994 Republican Revolution. I think Americans will support candidates who are willing to relinquish power voluntarily. It has worked very well on the state level for Missouri.

Next, we need to reform the tax code. The Fair Tax seems like a very good option which would be a huge boost to the economy, investment and savings. This has to be coupled with a repeal of the Sixteenth Amendment and the complete elimination of the income tax. We need to educate the public on the benefits of the Fair Tax. Want to limit the federal government’s power? The Fair Tax would be a virtual coup against the Beltway Monolith.

It’s more than possible that people will have trouble understanding and embracing the Fair Tax, and it might be too much all at once. If we can’t get the Fair Tax, then we should push for a flat tax. We should also eliminate the capital gains tax and permanently drop the Death Tax. Elimination of the capital gains tax would be more beneficial to the economy than wasting $700 billion nationalizing the banks.

Conservatives need to quit supporting the current education regime. We have been sabotaged for at least the last 30 years by the education mafia – the NEA. These people are not our friends and they are never going to come over to our side. They hate us, and they always will. Get rid of the Department of Education. Break the NEA. Destroy the education monopoly. And that is exactly how we need to put it. Competition: Good. Monopoly: Bad. It needs to be hammered on every radio show, on every television show, in every speech and on every blog. “Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho, the NEA had got to go.” Make education funding a local issue. Get rid of the layers of bureaucracy that soak up money like a giant sponge. We are spending tons of money per student and we can’t compete with other developed nations because we have – pay attention now – too many administrators and too many bureaucrats. Return control to the parents. Make the schools answerable – not to Washington, not to the state capitol, but to the local citizens whose children attend the school. The Great White/Black Father in Washington is not going to make the best decision for your kids. You are.

If it is not too late, we need to make reform of the healthcare system a big issue. The worst thing – the absolutely worst thing Bush and the Republican Congress did was pass the Medicare drug benefit. Medicare and Medicaid have done more to drive up the cost of healthcare in America than anything else. They need to be eliminated altogether. Health insurance should be private and not obtained through an employer. For the poor, the government can give health insurance vouchers, but get the government completely out of the healthcare/health insurance business. If the government does want to do something, they should keep insurers from penalizing pre-existing conditions, either by jacking the rates or denying coverage. Medical savings accounts are good, but the Fair Tax would make them unnecessary. Put in tort reform to limit malpractice payouts.

Do away with the freaking Department of Homeland Security. We have the FBI. Expand their capacity. Clean out the moles and commies in the CIA and replace them down to the janitor with patriotic Americans.

Close the borders and send all the illegals back where they came from. Do it today. Close the borders. You want to come here, you play by the rules. Their attempts at immigration reform have damaged both Bush and McCain. And guess what? Hispanics still voted for Obama. They are never going to support us, so why play the game?

Oppose all hate crime and hate speech legislation. I don’t care if it’s the Aryan Nations or Louis Farrakan, in America, you get to say what you think without fear of reprisals by the government. The First Amendment is not to protect speech that doesn’t offend people. It is there so we can say unpopular things without being thrown in jail or fined. I don’t care if someone is advocating disgusting, despicable acts, they should be free to voice their opinions.

Renounce judicial activism. There are issues that can and should be removed from the purview of the court. When it comes to voluntary prayer in schools or crèches or crosses on the courthouse lawn, it should be a matter of local preference. The federal courts have no business stepping into situations where no one’s rights are being violated. The establishment clause of the First Amendment says only the Congress shall make no law establishing religion. What municipalities and even states do in that regard should not be of interest to the courts.

Return control of abortion regulation to the states. Striking down Roe v. Wade would in no way eliminate abortion nationwide. States should be able to decide whether abortion should be legal within their borders. We don’t have to get into a big debate over pro-life versus pro-choice. Just take it out of federal jurisdiction.

At this point I see no reason to push for a federal marriage protection act or amendment. As long as states like mine are not forced to recognize gay marriages performed in other states, it is no big deal. The moment that a federal judge steps in and strikes down a state law defining marriage in the traditional mode, then we need to push for an amendment to the Constitution. I hope that won’t be necessary. There is no reason gays and lesbians can’t be part of the conservative movement. We should fully support civil unions and state laws that deal with any discrepancies in the treatment of homosexual couples. We should still oppose adoption of children by homosexuals through any government agency. Private or international adoptions are none of the state’s business.

Affirm that rights do not come from the government. The Constitution and the Bill of Rights are limitations on the government’s capacity to infringe upon individual rights. Rights come from God, or if you are an atheist, from one’s nature, they are not doled out by the government.

Emphasize personal responsibility. The mortgage crisis really drove home the point that, as bad as Obama and the Democrats are, the Republicans are, for the most part, almost as bad. You don’t have sense enough not to buy a house you can’t afford, it’s your problem, not mine. I might have had to suffer because of the economic downturn, but at least I could have taken solace in the fact that the idiots who caused it were living under a bridge, and I would still have the money that the government is forcing me to turn over to bail you out.

Bow out of the United Nations and kick their corrupt, scurvy butts out of New York. We don’t need those jerks, and they are nothing but trouble.

Require picture ID's for voting, and do away with the unconstitutional practice of early voting.

Oppose and expose the climate change hoax. This was another of my gripes about McCain, and coupled with his amnesty stance, it made his defeat a lot more palatable.

I'm sure I haven't covered everything or said what I have covered very well, but this is the direction we need to go. Half measures and trying to win over the media and Hollywood by acting like half-assed Democrats hasn't and won't work. We do not need to move to the left. We need to stand up and say who we are and what we stand for. If we win, great. If we lose, at least we won't be wondering why.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Thank You, Veterans!

I had an uncle by marriage who fought in the Spanish-American War, and he also fought in World War I. By the time WWII came around, he was in his sixties. He went down to enlist, and they told him he was too old. Now the odds are Uncle Joe offered to fight everybody in the place, one at a time or all at once to prove he wasn't too old, but they turned him down anyway.

He came back to my grandfather's farm where they were stacking hay. He grabbed a pitchfork and started throwing furiously to the stacker. Someone said, "Slow up a little, Joe. We can't keep up with you. What do you think you're doin'?"

Uncle Joe replied, "I'm fightin' for my country."

Veteran's Day movies recommendations: Zulu and We Were Soldiers.

Thank all of you for your service.

God bless you, and God bless America.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Three's Company

Passages in both Ephesians 5 and Colossian 3, speak about relationships: husbands and wives, children and parents, slave and masters. How we relate to others seems to be important to God. Let’s take a look at what Paul says in his letter to the church at Colossae.

Wives, be submissive to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and don't become bitter against them.

Children, obey your parents in everything, for this is pleasing in the Lord. Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so they won't become discouraged.

Slaves, obey your human masters in everything; don't work only while being watched, in order to please men, but work wholeheartedly, fearing the Lord. ... Masters, supply your slaves with what is right and fair, since you know that you too have a Master in heaven. -- Colossians 3:18-22,4:1

Notice, first, that these are perfectly paired statements. Nothing is asked of one side of the relationship without something being asked of the other. Yet it is not simply a reciprocal response. The requirements on each side are absolute. Husbands have to love their wives even if they "don't get no respect". Children have to obey their parents even if the parents are unworthy.

Here are the verses I left out, Colossians 3:23-25 –

Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men, knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord -- you serve the Lord Christ. For the wrongdoer will be paid back for whatever wrong he has done, and there is no favoritism.

As it says in Romans, "God is no respecter of persons". Our position in life is not what is important. Whether husband, wife, child, parent, slave, or master, none of that matters to God in its essence. What matters is what we do with it. A relationship, though it appears as a couplet, is really, then, a triad. Christ is between us, always. If a man's wife disrespects him, she is disrespecting Christ. If a man becomes bitter or is unfaithful to his wife, he is bitter and unfaithful to the Lord.

My job is to take my position, however humble or exalted, and see what I can do with it. I need to see if I can keep Jesus in focus when my kids are acting like fools, when my boss makes unreasonable demands, or my wife snatches the remote control.

Initially I was thinking about the husband and wife relationship as kind of a means of overcoming our natural tendencies. Men, especially young men, probably gravitate toward idolizing women, while women may tend toward wanting to be in control (for some reason I laugh even as I write that).

By acting in accordance to God's requirements, we are forced to refocus and put our eyes on Him. The woman who would manipulate her husband, because she can, will have to see that she is really trying to manipulate and control the Lord. A man unwilling to put the Lord first in his life is doing his wife a disservice by making an idol of her. The man who would fail to love his wife and give himself up for her must see that he is failing to love Jesus. Consider marriage as a means of helping your spouse and, at the same time, yourself reject the bondage of the old nature and live in the liberty of the kingdom.

What God is asking of us may not come easily, and perhaps that’s the whole point. We need to break free of the world’s perspective and see Him in the middle of everything.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Malignant Comfort

And at that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps and punish the men who settle down comfortably, who say to themselves: The LORD will not do good or evil.

Their wealth will become plunder and their houses a ruin. They will build houses but never live in them, plant vineyards but never drink their wine. – Zephaniah 1:12,13

The well-known quote from Psalm 119:105 says that God’s word is a lamp. Psalm 105:19 tells us that the word he had received tested Joseph. When Jerusalem was in apostasy, the prophetic word came through men like Zephaniah, Isaiah, and Micah.

I am sometimes like those comfortable men. I hear the word and I know God is speaking, but I settle back. I talk about grace, faith, and mercy, forgiveness and love. The prophetic word does not sting or stir but sounds, instead, like a pleasant song lulling me to passivity and ease.

So My people come to you in crowds, sit in front of you, and hear your words, but they don’t obey them. Although they express love with their mouths, their hearts pursue unjust gain. Yes, to them you are like a singer of love songs who has a beautiful voice and plays skillfully on an instrument. They hear your words, but they don’t obey them. Yet when it comes – and it will definitely come – then they will know that a prophet has been among them. -- Ezekiel 33:31-33

I gather with my friends and I sing along about loving God, being humble, and exalting Him. I listen to the word and admire the speaker’s eloquence and erudition. I put some money in the plate, walk out of the building, and say I have been to church and done my Christian duty.

But I never believe that God will really intervene or that He will call in the markers -- let alone kick the door in.

I’m not talking about politics or nations. This is Jerusalem, the City of God. These are God’s people laid back in the shade, counting their money, and idly watching American Idol.

He called to the man clothed in linen with writing equipment at his side. “Pass throughout the city of Jerusalem,” the LORD said to him, “and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations committed in it.”

To the others He said in my hearing, “Pass through the city after him and start killing; do not show pity or spare them. Slaughter the old men, the young men and women and little children, but do not come near anyone who has the mark. Now begin at My sanctuary.” So they began with the elders who were in front of the temple. -- Ezekiel 9:3-6

The Apostle Peter put it this way, “For the time has come for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who disobey the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17)

Inevitably, complacency will bring judgment. It will fall first upon the Church which should of all people be the least apathetic and the least comfortable. As a sort of professional outsider, I see congregation after congregation where the talk is about “winning souls” and “bringing in the harvest”. Sometimes the Church seems more like a multi-level marketing scheme than the Body of Christ. If we have superfluous cells in the human body that are multiplying, we consider it a pathological condition and call it cancer. “Winning souls” to what? -- to help fund a bigger building?

If I am not fully integrated into Christ, if I am not fully drawing my life from Him, then I am merely making myself more subject to judgment on a personal level. I am being blessed, as we said about Jacob yesterday, but to whom much is given of him much is required. Those unbelievers who serve God’s purposes in ignorance will be judged less harshly than the informed rebels, and we will, like the one-talent servant, think the Lord a hard Master.

Peter understood because he had asked Jesus the ultimately stupid Christian question, as the King James translates John 21:21, “Lord, and what shall this man do?” Peter had just been told -- not only his mission -- “Feed My sheep”, but his destiny and death as well, “Follow Me.”

Peter turns, sees John, and says, “What about him?”

Jesus replied to all of us who think it’s about somebody else, or think it’s about what we do instead of who we are: “What is that to you? As for you, follow Me.”

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Me and My Shadow

In the womb he grasped his brother’s heel, and as an adult he wrestled with God. Jacob struggled with the Angel and prevailed: he wept and sought his favor. He found him at Bethel, and there He spoke with him. Yahweh is the God of Hosts; Yahweh is His name. But you must return to your God. Maintain love and justice, and always put your hope in God. – Hosea 12:3-6

Jacob means “supplanter”, one who worms his way in where he doesn’t belong, a deceiver, a grasper, a clinger. Jacob supplanted his elder brother as the rightful heir of the Abrahamic covenant and its blessings. He himself was deceived and manipulated by Laban, his father-in-law.

When he returned to Canaan, Jacob knew he would encounter his cheated brother Esau, who had sworn to kill him. Sending his herds, flocks, servants and family on ahead, Jacob halted on the other side of the brook Jabbok. During the night, he was approached by God and there he struggled.

Years earlier, then fleeing his brother’s hot wrath, and possessing nothing but the staff in his hand, Jacob had encountered God in a night vision at a place he named Bethel, "the house of God". He had made a covenant with the Lord, and by God’s blessing, he had prospered materially. Yet he remained essentially the same man, unchanged, still Jacob. What’s more, the threat of conflict with Esau still remains. All he has gained can be lost in an hour to the sword and bow of his own twin. Facing the loss of his own life and everything that gave it meaning, Jacob halts alone to seek God again.

The Genesis account of this same story gives the sense of a desperate wrestling match. The Being with whom the man strives has the upper hand, but Jacob hangs on. Think of it as a clinch. Jacob knows that if his opponent breaks free he has lost, so, like a weary boxer, he clutches and holds. For hours the struggle continues with no change. At last his opponent, seeing that He could not defeat him, touched or struck Jacob’s hip and dislocated it. Still, Jacob clung to Him as dawn was about to break. The Lord demanded to be released, and Jacob demanded a blessing.

He got a name change. He became Israel, and the place of his encounter Jacob called Peniel or Penuel, "the face of God". And when he walked away from it, he walked with a limp.

Paul says in Romans 7:24, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?”

Like Jacob, I have an “evil twin”, my very own resident Esau, the carnal man. We came out of the same womb together, but his presence forebodes my death and loss. I’ve tried running away from him, but that doesn’t work. God’s answer is not to remove Esau but to remove Jacob. In a sense Jacob dies at Peniel, for no one sees the face of God and lives. He is reborn as Israel, with whom Esau has no quarrel.

To visit the house of God brings blessing. To see the face of God is deliverance.

Israel is crippled in the process of his transformation. He gets a limp along with his new identity. To realize my true identity, it may be necessary for me to hobble a little. When Saul of Tarsus became Paul the Apostle, his initial blindness was healed, but a thorn in the flesh remained. That limp keeps me humble and dependent upon God. It reminds me I am not who I thought I was. Like a war wound, it reminds me that I have been in the battle, and prevailed.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

And the raccoons looked up

The sun and the earth seem to have no regard for the end of the world. This morning is clear and the eastern sky turns from midnight blue to red and gold. I have seen this before, and it has always foretold the advance of light, the day. To see it as other than a semaphore from God would be to miss the point. To regard it as a message to the world would be to miss the point as well. Moses wore a veil among his people, but he removed it when he went in before his God. What can be shaken will be shaken, and removed – not, say I, from the world, for the world is not my business: I am in it, not of it. What can be shaken will be shaken, and what cannot be shaken, that alone shall remain in me and of me.

I have seen clouds looking like mountains, and, in the distance, I have seen the mountains and wondered if they were clouds. Not long ago a great storm passed to the south of me as the sun sank in the west and the last rays fell long upon the vast thunderhead. It towered above any earthly mountain, with its top sheered into an anvil, and thunder did sound like the boom of Thor’s hammer falling upon it, as lightning, like the sparks from the smith’s blow, flashed within.

The storm beat upon those beneath it. It was the shaker, and yet the shaken, for it passed on and was no more, a bubble, nothing more, a tool in the hand of God. That which could not be shaken remained.

The mountains remained, silent, dark, worn, and ancient.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Short Night Leading to a Long Dark Night

The pollsters were right and I was wrong. I still rather hope I went to sleep and just woke up in the wrong country. Apparently we are now officially a fascist state, fed propaganda by the Democrat-controlled Ministry of Media -- formerly known as the Free Press. The MSM makes Pravada look fair and balanced.

Soros and Buffett have bought themselves a nice little superpower for a few hundred million.

I won't say I'm shocked -- sick, but not shocked. The last round of polls just did not show enough momentum coming into today. I would guess it came down the economy, and particularly to the mortgage crisis which was skillfully laid on Republicans by the media. I suppose they deserved it, since they went along with the bailout. Really how much more socialist could Obama be? -- OK, don't answer that.

I survived LBJ, Carter, and Clinton. Whether or not I survive Obama's attempt to turn us into a third world dystopia, I won't be anybody's serf.

I still have my Bible, and if they take that, I still have Jesus, bitter clinger that I am.

Goodnight, America. It's been nice knowing you.

What Is To Be Feared

Brothers, I tell you this: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, and corruption cannot inherit incorruption – 1 Corinthians 15:50

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us hold on to grace. By it, we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire. – Hebrews 12:28,29

Dear friends, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him because we will see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself just as He is pure. – 1 John 3:2,3

It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God -- Hebrews 10:31

When we say God is Love, do we teach men that their fear of Him is groundless? No. As much as they fear will come upon them, possibly far more. But there is something beyond their fear – a divine fate which they cannot withstand, because it works along with the human individuality which the divine individuality has created in them.

The wrath will consume what they call themselves; so that the selves God made shall appear, coming out with ten-fold consciousness of being, and bringing with them all that made the blessedness of the life men tried to lead without God. They will know that now first they are fully themselves. The avaricious, weary, selfish suspicious old man shall have passed away. The young, every young self, will remain – remain glorified in repentant hope. For that which cannot be shaken shall remain. That which they thought themselves, though they misjudged their own feelings, shall remain – remain glorified in repentant hope. For that which cannot be shaken shall remain. That which is immortal in God shall remain in man. The death that is in them shall be consumed.

It is the law of Nature – that is, the law of God – that all that is destructible shall be destroyed. When that which is immortal buries itself in the destructible – when it receives all the messages from without, through the surrounding decadence, and none from within, from the eternal doors – it cannot, though immortal still, know its own immortality. The destructible must be burned out of it, or begin to be burned out of it, before it can partake of eternal life. When that is all burnt away and gone, then it has eternal life. Or rather, when the fire of eternal life has possessed a man, then the destructible is gone utterly, and he is pure.

Many a man’s work must be burned, that by that very burning he may be saved – “so as by fire.” Away in smoke go the lordships, the Rabbi-hoods of the world, and the man who acquiesces in the burning is saved by the fire; for it has destroyed the destructible, which is the vantage point of the deathly, which would destroy both body and soul in hell. If he still clings to that which can be burned, the burning goes on deeper and deeper into his bosom, till it reaches the roots of the falsehood that enslaved him – possibly by looking like the truth.

The man who loves God, and is not yet pure, courts the burning of God. Nor is it always torture. The fire shows itself sometimes only as light – still it will be fire of purifying. The consuming fire is just the original, active form of Purity, that which makes pure, that which is indeed Love, the creative energy of God. Without purity there can be as no creation so no persistence. That which is not pure is corruptible, and corruption cannot inherit incorruption.

The man whose deeds are evil, fears the burning. But the burning will not come the less because he fears it or denies it. Escape is hopeless. For love is inexorable. Our God is a consuming fire. He shall not come out until he has paid the last penny. – George MacDonald : Sermon, “What Is To Be Feared?”

Monday, November 3, 2008

Orson Scott Card Must Read!

If you haven't seen this already, read it. Read it now. Read it to your friends.

Orson Scott Card on "America Unplugged".

Card says:

"Cap and trade" plans have already been tried, and they don't work -- they cost too much, and people find ways to get around them. But Obama promises us that he'll take that failed idea and be "as aggressive, if not more aggressive, than anybody else's" plan.

In other words, if it doesn't work, let's do more of it!

This is Obama the New Puritan. We've found his real religion: Political and Environmental Correctness.

It's more important to him to eliminate coal than to find practical solutions. Why? Because coal is "bad." Our groupthinking "intellectual" elite thinks they are post-religious -- but they believe in sin and hate the sinners.

OSC bitch-slaps the global warming fruitcakes:

Unfortunately, human-caused global warming exists only in the way Zeus exists -- in the imagination of believers who ignore obvious natural explanations.

After kicking Obama's ass and doing a take-down worthy of Hulk Hogan in his prime, Card grinds the One's face into the dirt:

Obama and his elitist friends think they're smart, but they don't live on planet Earth, they live in a playhouse where they can make huge messes with their stupid policies, and then pretend that the mess is someone else's fault while they hope for some invisible mommy to come and clean it up.

The invisible mommy so far has been the American people and the resilient economy that we create (along with the few remaining moral standards that have not yet been crushed).

But we can't clean up after Obama's plan if we're too broke to turn on the lights.

Read the whole thing. Send it to your friends.

Monday and Counting

Over at American Thinker, Noel Sheppard tells us to 'Say Goodbye'.

The gist of what Sheppard says is that no matter who wins, this is the End of America As We Know It.

He may be right.

An Obama win coupled with an extension of the Democrat majority in Congress will put us on the downhill slope of the Socialist Soapbox Derby. Our ride will have all the power of a soapbox derby entry. We will be at the mercy of gravity, and our destination will be obvious. The left's subtle fascism will become more blatant as we face an increasing tax burden along with a decreasing ability to pay the bill. We will also face a possible threat to the airing of our grievances as the left attempts to limit the First Amendment to non-offensive (to them) speech.

Should McCain eke out a narrow victory, the election will become the Neverending Story of Litigation. We could see riots, as Sheppard suggests, but these would be likely be more along the lines of typical excuse-to-get-a-plasma-television inner city riots than real political statements.

Even the best case, and least-likely, scenario -- a broad McCain win -- is not without its dangers. The old Rockefeller wing of the Republican party, seeing a win with a centrist candidate, will tend to further dismiss the importance of the religious right. They will almost certainly dismiss Palin as a significant factor in a victory, though she has clearly been the key to bringing out the base. Driving through Republican territory yesterday I saw a McCain-Palin sign with "McCain" cut out -- just an empty space above Palin. That's how a lot of right-wingers see it right now.

On a somewhat related note, I am starting to develop my own semi-conspiracy theory. CNN, MSNBC, Fox, and the rest of the 24-hour new outlets would love nothing better than a fiasco to hype their ratings. Would the news corps be terribly upset if civil war broke out in America? How much of the divisiveness, of the red-blue antagonism is real, and how much is hyped by around-the-clock coverage couched in extreme terms? Why else would MSNBC have such a foaming-at-the-mouth idiots as Ubermaroon? Why would CNN and now Fox put Beck on TV? I love Glen but he does his share of bomb-throwing. It seems more and more like the whole idea is to "stir something up".

It reminds me a little of "The Sorcerer's Apprentice". It seems innocent enough at first, but can they control it -- are they willing to control it -- in the end?