Monthly Archives: August 2008

Number one reason I wish I was rich: 1) so I could have a really good lawyer on a permanant retainer or 2) so I could go live somewhere else.

Trying to research a project I stumbled on this. Here’s the quotation that has raised my blood pressure, with links:

Or perhaps we could consult Mrs. Hope Steffey of Salem, Ohio, who had the cops called to assist her after being beaten by a cousin and ended up being the victim of a perfectly “legal” sexual assault by Sheriff’s deputies at the Stark County jail. They threw her to the ground and forcibly removed all of her clothes while she screamed in blood curdling terror. This gang of thugs with badges included male officers as well. This happened to her after being beaten by the cop called to the scene and then arrested on a bogus “disorderly conduct” charge meant to cover up the arresting officer’s crime. Of course the brave, strong Sheriff of Stark County, a piece of worthless garbage named Timothy Swanson, has defended the conduct of his officers. He claims it was done for Steffey’s own protection because she was suicidal! Because we all know that suicidal people don’t need gooey, “liberal”-sounding things like care and compassion, but ruthless violence. Knowing that a lawsuit would be filed, Swanson invited the politically-embattled now former-Attorney General of Ohio, Mark Dann, to investigate, and, surprise, surprise, no wrongdoing was found! (Who you gonna believe, the Government or your own lyin’ eyes?)

The odd politics of porn science

It seems to me that lots of people advocate the legalization of all drugs–not just marijuana but cocaine and heroine and every other drug–without feeling at all compelled to defend those drugs as harmless.  They don’t argue that injecting heroine is completely safe, let alone healthy.  They simply defend the right of people to make their own decisions and enhance or degrade their lives as they see fit.  Doctors who report on the adverse health consequences of smoking crack are not often mocked as politically-motivated hacks, even when they are attempting to defend the current policy of prohibition (the one exception to all this might be marijuana, where there are arguments about the claims which led it to be listed as a controlled substance).

But when it comes to porn, everything is different.  Even people who favor legalized porn get angrily attacked simply for not liking the effects that they argue have followed from its widespread use.  Anyone who claims that porn is addictive is ridiculed as a psuedoscientist.  All links between continual consumption of porn and other wrong behaviors are all assumed to be based on delusions.

It seems like the libertarian position on porn doesn’t even exist in the population.  Either porn is harmless and even healthy or else you must believe in destroying the First Amendment which our forefathers wisely crafted to protect the rights of teenagers to download hardcore movies over P2P networks.  You would think that someone somewhere would figure out that this stance is actually going to produce more opposition to legalized porn.

If the only alternative to drug criminalization was to teach that cocaine is good for everyone, then I would expect fewer people to favor legalization.

What happened to the stupid party?

Honestly, one could make a case that the entire past year and a half was a giant trap for the Democrats.

If someone will make a bumper sticker for Palin for President ASAP, I’ll put it on my car. It’s a risk, since we might get World War III first. But Obama with Biden is not that much different, and then with the Obama’s radical pro-abortion pro-infanticide stance, I don’t think it will be that hard for me to avert my eyes from the name of the current presidential candidate and make a chadless hole in the ballot.

The day I missed so far…

First day of school began with me still in Louisiana. I had a pulpit supply job and then the plane was late so that I had to stay overnight. Got up at 4:15 am this morning to various conflicting reports as to whether my flight was cancelled and when I needed to be at the airport.

I’m here now but have a bunch to do and two hours of prep tonight for my online job, so I am not sure how much the kids will see of me. And then tomorrow I may end up working a full day at my new part-time job to make up for the hours I missed today.

Happily, Jennifer produced some photopraphic evidence. Here’s one from my youngest’s first day with her siblings.

Charis on her first day of school

You can read more about their first day at Jennifer’s blog.

I’m really happy to be getting some new opportunities (that I hope in turn will lead even to better opportunities), but I have a lot of balls in the air right now.  Not least I have five people I don’t want to become strangers’ to even while I endeavor to get requisite shelter, clothing, and transportation needs met.

One reason Julie walked out of church was the man shortage

This post is true and necessary and cathartic (if tragic) on so many levels, I really don’t know what to say.

But I do want to point out what I thought was her most ominous observation:

In recent conversations with a couple of my girlfriends, I expressed an extreme disinterest in Christian guys of my generation.

“I’ve pretty much had it with Christian guys,” I said. “The main problem is that they are ‘guys’ for too long and never become men.”

They are, I theorized, stuck in the youth group culture. The church has encouraged them to never leave that mentality, and so it takes until about age 35 for them to extract themselves into adulthood-land where the women have been waiting for years and have been steadily growing fed up. Men not raised in this evangelical youth culture, I’ve noticed, tend to be vastly different in maturity level.

Youth group culture is a place of video games and pizza parties and perpetual “here we are now entertain us” (thanks for the lyrics, Cobain). When youth leave the appropriate age level (i.e. graduate from high school), they face a difficult moment, a moment made difficult because of age segregation, which I’ll talk about next.

Instead of helping them get on into adulthood, we’ve introduced single’s groups — in the name of helping the unmarried, of course — which are mainly youth groups for those in their 20′s. Which, instead of helping people not be single actually encourages them to never grow up and, instead, use the group as their relationship fix. I see this particularly with Christian guys, this stunted maturity, and it somehow seems to permeate Evangelical culture today.

As someone who has lived and done church in South Florida, Julie, I can tell you it is not always only the men who are so affected. But women tend to be much more aware of the passing of time and opportunities in their twenties, while men go blithely forward into bad habits that make marriage less and less likely. So the point is well taken.

I wonder when we are going to start noticing the brain drain in the Evangelical churches. “Maturity” is either not even on the horizon, or is used to justify stupid doctrinal geekiness which is anything but mature, or doctrinal. between those two traps, who will be left?

McBama on war

In short: if you love GWB, you’ll love President Saakashvili. Therefore it’s no surprise John McCain is portraying the Georgians as the good guys and demanding that Russian troops leave “sovereign Georgian territory” without preconditions or delay. After all, when your chief foreign policy adviser has up until very recently been a paid shill for the Georgian government, what else could we expect? As I’ve pointed out on a few occasions in this space, Mad John has been spoiling for a fight with the Russians – in the Caucasus and elsewhere – for years, going so far as to travel to Georgia to proclaim his sympathy for Saakashvili’s cause.

What’s really interesting, however, is how Barack Obama has taken up this same cause, albeit with less vehemence than the GOP nominee. As Politico.com reported:

“When violence broke out in the Caucasus on Friday morning, John McCain quickly issued a statement that was far more strident toward the Russians than that of President Bush, Barack Obama, and much of the West. But, as Russian warplanes pounded Georgian targets far beyond South Ossetia this weekend, Bush, Obama, and others have moved closer to McCain’s initial position.”

While calling for mediation and international peacekeepers, Obama went with the War Party’s line that Russia, not Georgia, is the aggressor, as the Times of London reports: “Obama accused Russia of escalating the crisis ‘through it’s clear and continued violation of Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.’” While his first statement on the outbreak of hostilities was more along the lines of “Can’t we all get along?”, the New York Times notes:

“Mr. Obama did harden his rhetoric later on Friday, shortly before getting on a plane for a vacation in Hawaii. His initial statement, an adviser said, was released before there were confirmed reports of the Russian invasion. In his later statement, Mr. Obama said, ‘What is clear is that Russia has invaded Georgia’s sovereign – has encroached on Georgia’s sovereignty, and it is very important for us to resolve this issue as quickly as possible.’”

(source)

Theology by blog post is more Reformed than theology by Encyclopedia

Perhaps I should say this more plainly than I have in the past.  Big-name (in the Calvinist ghetto) Reformed theologians who complain about the influence of the blogosphere on the discourse and propagation of theology are in the bowels of Tridentine thinking.

Reformed theology was never about textbooks. It was about pamphlets. It was a blogosphere that dethroned the Pope.

3 steps in a Reformed Christian’s understanding of the essence of sin

1. LAW

The Apostle John writes, “Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.”  And the Westminster Shorter Catechism defines sin as “any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God.”  Early in my comprehension as a Reformed believer, this criteria for determining whether or not an action was sinful was mistakenly understood as a definition of the essence of sin.  Sin was wrong, in this view, because it simply violated what God commanded.  And nothing else really mattered.

This was right, to a degree, of course.  We must obey God and all disobedience is, by definition, sinful.

But this way of looking at God so exclusively tended to submerged all His holy character under the aspect of power.  All ethics boiled down to the fact that God gave orders and He can unimaginably punish anyone who disobeys.

2 GRATITUDE

When the Apostle Paul spells out the apostasy of the human race, he points out that it is fundamentally ungrateful.  “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”  And this new awareness in my life was helped a great deal by the Heidelberg Catechism and its dynamic of grace and gratitude.  This same content is also in the Westminster Standards, but Heidelberg was used in God’s providence to help me notice it.

This, again, was right, to a degree.  God is the giving God (James 1.5).  He never asks anyone to obey him whom he has not already loaded down with good gifts.  He makes us first, before we can obey, and establishes us as Lords of Creation before making any demands of us.  Even when Moses put “life and death” before the Israelites (Deuteronomy 30), the fact is that God has already given the Israelites life both natural and supernatural by rescuing them from slavery by miracles.

But this way of looking at God so exclusively, tended to leave creatures with a “suck it up” commission.  No matter what God puts us through or assigns to us, we must “suck it up” because we are getting better than we deserve.  How dare we be unsatisfied with what God demands?  Are we not grateful enough?  John Piper talks about this as a “debtor’s ethic,” and points out some problems that it can lead to.

3 FAITH

The Fall of the Human race occurred when our parents stopped trusting that God meant well for them.  We see this over and over in the Bible.  In Genesis we see the patriarch’s had to trust amazingly grand and glorious promises that they never saw come to fruition in their life times.  Indeed, in many cases, unless one trusted that God’s promises were good, one would have relatively little to be thankful for.  And Israel’s failure in the wilderness was, time and again, a failure to trust that God would keep his promises to them.

Paul sometimes does use grattitude to motivate Christian behavior, but in explaining why Christians must obediently endure in the face of suffering, he never tells anyone to “suck it up” because they actually deserve worse and they need to be grateful that the didn’t get what they deserve.  On the contrary, he motivates believers by assuring them that God is being faithful to them even in the midst of suffering–”for those who love God all things work together for good.”

When people disobey God, it is because they don’t trust Him.  Like Satan told Eve, they think God is all about power and all about making unreasonable demands rather than about loving his children and caring for them.  But God assures us that he knows what is good and right for us.  He cares about us.  He is faithful/trustworthy.  Any response to him but faith and trust is an outrageous attack on his character.

These three are one

These different ways of looking at the nature of sin, are not in competition to one another.  I did not leave “law” behind to accept “gratitude” and then abandon it for “faith.”  The law reveals the commands of a generous God who has done much for us and who promises us much more.  Law, gratitude, and faith go together.  But in terms of motivation and understanding God’s character, I do believe that faith should be given prominence among the three.

Updates for the main blog

OK, I still use my tumblog for most stuff, but I’m not satisfied doing so.  I like the interface but I’m not as happy with the lack of a sidebar.

Speaking of sidebars, I’m not happy with the fact that when I tumble a video it messes up this template.

Speaking of sidebars some more, I added a new blog to my “lingastuff” below on the outer right hand side: All Greek to you.

I’m also getting antsy about the title.  I occasionally get an impulse to go with “Dr. Heretic’s singalong blog.”

I’ve been busy and just hope that continues.  I’ve been too busy to update my business blog very much, which needs to change.

All the best.