Monthly Archives: March 2007

links for 2007-04-01

Template changes coming

Mrs. Hornesdotorgslashmark has informed me that my template is evil. I realize now I should have snagged a different template before Jandy grabbed it, but now it is too late because nothing is more tacky in blogdom, I think, than taking the template of someone on your blogroll. The problem is that I wanted a white background.

So we’ll see what happens. I suppose, if I were brave, I’d take a template and try to change all the backgrounds, but I have a hard time conceptualizing templates in WordPress… Also, I have no idea if my mysterious font size issues will resurface.

Who were the losers?

OK, unlike Ms. Schlafly, for whom I have great respect, I’m not bothered in principle about letting Mexican truckers on our highways. I can think of a host of complications which I hope the Bush Administration was concerned about. But in principle I think the greater freedom we allow for people to travel and buy and sell freely the better off we will be as a whole. Companies that need to be politically protected are not viable in the long term and their members need to find new industries where their work is more appreciated (work that will be more available the if other prices are allowed to descend.

But what really bothers me is that “100 Mexican trucking companies will be allowed to make deliveries anywhere in the United States, and she put no limit on the number of trucks the 100 companies can operate.”  Why a hundred companies?  What’s up with that?  Are these the total number of companies in Mexico?  What about the 101st?  Did they just not have the lobbyists?

I hate to see the US promoting the importance of political favors rather than the importance of the free market.

links for 2007-03-31

Corporations just love environmentia / + honoring Merck as master

In celebration of the exquisite pleasure of learning about the international market for ethanol while listening to NPR while driving a few children from school to various places, I think I will post some links from the Cato Institute:

Of course, things are never that simple. While getting these links I couldn’t resist listening to the podcast link regarding the HPC vaccine. We are so owned by every corporation that stalks the earth. I can’t stand it. And that little bombshell about what’s happening with the chicken pox vaccine? Back in the early nineties, I did a story on the CDC and vaccination policy (archives don’t go back that far). I remember listening to the CDC authority exude confidence as he told me how safe and effective that one was. Grr.

A few years ago I told people I tried never to blog about politics (civil government politics, I mean) because I was afraid of what it would unleash. And I was right. My whole stance on life including decisions like school and submitting in complete docility to sticking a needle into my children and injecting them with whatever the corporate nannies dictate has been to try to “fit in” with the establishment as best I could.

As a decision to live with, it isn’t getting any easier.


The Hugo finalists are announced.  Looking at the categories, it just now hit me that the genre that is probably not the most popular in books quite dominates the movies….

If V for Vendetta wins anything, I will be sure to denounce the Hugo awards here.

I haven’t seen any of the Dr. Who stuff.  Anyone have an opinion to offer?

Naturally, I think BSG should take away an award.

Finally, the only author I’ve read here is Verner Vinge.  Jeff loaned me one of his novels. I will try to read all five of the novels soon to see what I think.

The covenantal vision of the Westminster catechisms

When I last wrote on the Heidelberg Catechism, I concluded with an observation about my own Presbyterian doctrinal heritage: “People often claim the Westminster Confession and Catechisms are substantially different on this point, but that is a myth.”

Like the Heidelberg Catechism, the Westminster Catechisms teach the persons catechized to regard themselves as Christians and chosen by God’s grace. “What does the preface to the ten commandments teach us?” asks the Westminster Shorter Catechism. And the answer is given for the catechumen to say by memory, “The preface to the ten commandments teaches us that because God is the Lord, and our God, and redeemer, therefore we are bound to keep all his commandments.” The word, “redeemer,” has already been used in the document:

Q. 20. Did God leave all mankind to perish in the estate of sin and misery?
A. God having, out of his mere good pleasure, from all eternity, elected some to everlasting life, did enter into a covenant of grace, to deliver them out of the estate of sin and misery, and to bring them into an estate of salvation by a redeemer.

Q. 21. Who is the redeemer of God’s elect?
A. The only redeemer of God’s elect is the Lord Jesus Christ, who, being the eternal Son of God, became man, and so was, and continueth to be, God and man in two distinct natures, and one person, forever.

To say that God is “our redeemer” is to say by faith that we belong to Jesus Christ. The Larger Catechism expands on this meaning of the preface to the decalogue, saying that it reveals, “that he is a God in covenant, as with Israel of old, so with all his people; who, as he brought them out of their bondage in Egypt, so he delivers us from our spiritual thraldom; and that therefore we are bound to take him for our God alone, and to keep all his commandments.

Here we see the same covenantal dynamic as we found in the Heidelberg Catechism in which guilt, grace, and grattitude are personally applied to the person being catechized. The person catechized is supposed to obey God’s law because he has bee delivered from spiritual slavery by Christ his redeemer.

It is especially interesting that when the catechisms want to anchor the person being catechized we find no instruction to look back to one’s effectual calling. Rather, it is baptism that is held out as the point in one’s biography which one should hold on to and grow in:

The needful but much neglected duty of improving our baptism, is to be performed by us all our life long, especially in the time of temptation, and when we are present at the administration of it to others; by serious and thankful consideration of the nature of it, and of the ends for which Christ instituted it, the privileges and benefits conferred and sealed thereby, and our solemn vow made therein; by being humbled for our sinful defilement, our falling short of, and walking contrary to, the grace of baptism, and our engagements; by growing up to assurance of pardon of sin, and of all other blessings sealed to us in that sacrament; by drawing strength from the death and resurrection of Christ, into whom we are baptized, for the mortifying of sin, and quickening of grace; and by endeavoring to live by faith, to have our conversation in holiness and righteousness, as those that have therein given up their names to Christ; and to walk in brotherly love, as being baptized by the same Spirit into one body (WLC 167).

The sacraments, of which baptism is the initiating one, are Christ-appointed holy ordinances, “wherein, by sensible signs, Christ, and the benefits of the new covenant, are represented, sealed, and applied to believers” (WSC 92).

What I concluded about the Heidelberg Catechism applies just as well to Westminster: Notice that nothing whatever is written of implied about the expectation of a future violent conversion experience in later years. No, the redemption is promised to them no less than adult believers. The Westminster Catechisms teaches the catechized child that he is a Christian. It teaches each boy and girl that his or her guilt has been dealt with by grace so that they should live a life of faith and grattitude. Since, in the Reformed churches, these children have been baptized, it is clear that the catechisms are not speaking from it’s own authority (i.e. the authority of the author or of the denomination that uses the catechisms) but from God’s own authoritative message in baptism.

links for 2007-03-30

Young again, Heinlein’s quest for the open-access space chick, and space opera raves, etc

Well, in many ways as decrepit as ever. And still not over my cold. But, for the first time in a long, long time, I am binging on fiction. Several books at once without losing interest in any of them.

And I haven’t updated the side bar yet, so you’ll have to read it here.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Not sure what I think about it, but I am finding it engaging enough that I am going to finish it. Thoughts in some future post, perhaps.

Heinlein’s The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress. I read this in seventh grade from the Delora (sp?) Jr High Library. I shouldn’t have been permitted to check it out but I think most of it went over my head. I certainly don’t remember anything so weird. When I got my copy from our local public library system (hardback) I was amazed to read the VIPs who gave it blurbs. Tom Clancy? What have his novels ever had to do with Market Anarchism? Yet he makes it sound like Heinlein is the father of the modern world.

Ugh. It’s the whole “left-libertarian” thing. Everyone pays lip service to the idea of a min- or anarchic arrangement but is perfectly happy in a totalitarain democracy so long as 1) they are middle class and 2) have free sex (there my not be any such thing as a free lunch but a taxpayer funded abortion is just dandy). The The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress is a pansexual utopia. The entire rest of Heinlein’s political vision is entirely secondary to this–for him and for everyone else.

And really, was Heinlein even capable of imagining a female protagonist who did not want to offer herself up to the male lead without obligation? Even his “conservative” stories, as I recall, always have the woman trying to get the man to at least try her out once or twice before they get hitched. Before the late sixties the man always insisted on “doing the right thing” even though the woman had the moral compass of Hugh Hefner. There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch but there is no other kind of space chick in Heinlein’s worlds.

In the meantime, I finished Old Man’s War and liked it enough to want to read all sequels. The starting premise is that earth has been cut off from interstellar travel. They can be passengers, but those who live in space (relative to Earth) are in charge. The arrangement is that all the impoverished areas may migrate, but not wealthy North Americans. However, there are unreported wars going on and the Colonial Military is recruiting… seventy-year-olds. Basically, you get to sign up for some mysterious kind of “after life” in the trust that they have the technology to make you young again. There is more to the scenario, but I don’t want to give away anything beyond the cover and the first few pages. For reasons I can’t reveal there are some rather inappropriate passages in one chapter–so I don’t recommend this for everyone (of course, flipping past pages is easier than fast-forwarding a dvd).

I have to admit, despite really interesting dialog, I was getting disappointed toward the middle of the story. I couldn’t help making correlations with Halo–I’m surprise the name “Cortana” was never used–and Starship Troopers (a better Heinlein story). I started asking myself how much a person could ask of me just because of a brillian premise… And then suddenly everything changed. The whole story turns out to be a new version of Orpheus only with Orpheus coming out much more successfully. It’s a romance billed as a war story.

Speaking of great military space opera, I am entirely entranced by BSG. Lee Adama’s speach at Balthar’s trial was a Girardian triumph. And then the cliffhanger was excellent! It really bothers me however to learn that the show is not as popular as it used to be. What’s up with that? Any ideas?

To return to my first news, both Jennifer and I are still pretty sick (Jennifer much more so). We’re really busy and this would be a good time to suddenly get well!