Sunday, November 11, 2012
Our recent economic improvement has been anything but stellar. Neither the unemployment rate nor the housing market are at levels that anybody believes are good (and the unemployment rate in particular is at a higher level than usually seen in the US). That should have been real trouble for President Obama. However, it wasn't, and I find that interesting. And healthy. A president, after all, can do only so much to effect economic improvement. Economic cycles are generally much more powerful than the limited tools at the president's (or even the entire federal government's) disposal. And the recent economic downturn, and sluggish recovery, was the result of complex, global problems. While I did not favor President Obama's re-election, I must admit that I am heartened that the American people showed maturity in not simply rejecting the President because he was not able to "fix" the economy. It will be interesting to see if that maturity plays out in future elections.
'via Blog this'
Thursday, August 24, 2006
Arranging papery purple flowers in the vase,
The last dried remnant of a bouquet
presented to the young dancer at recital.
Her mother’s late night love labor
Will not be lost on the girl, nor on her God.
Tuesday, February 01, 2005
Those of you who follow this site, or Rick Brady's existing Stones Cry Out, know that there's been some subtle and not so subtle hints about changes afoot. I am now pleased to announce the new Stones Cry Out (note new url).
What I am more pleased to announce, though, is that starting today, I will be posting at the new Stones Cry Out. Stones Cry Out is a collaborative blog among five posters: Rick Brady, James Jewell of The Rooftop Blog, Matt of Matt Crash, Drew of Darn Floor, and me. I am joining Stones Cry Out for at least two reasons. First, to keep up a blog, it is a good idea to post daily, or more frequently. I just do not have the time to post daily. As I will be joining five other posters, there will almost always be fresh content at the site for readers. Second, there are now over 6 million blogs (most of which are no more than online diaries, but there are still a vast number providing social/political/religious commentary). That's too many for readers to follow. Joining these other four blogs will help cut down on the number of sites. It won't fix the problem, but it's a start.
The new Stones Cry Out site is live and Hugh Hewitt has already announced it. Here is the vision statement for the new site.
I have been very pleased with the success of Sidesspot and I thank each of my readers for your support. The daily traffic here has surpassed any expectations I may have had. Please check Stones Cry Out, I would very much appreciate any feedback you have. Your feedback is very important to me.
I will still post at Sidesspot, including content that won't be on Stones Cry Out. However, in the short term, particularly given my work schedule, most posting will be at Stones Cry Out.
Update 4/11/05: As you probably have noticed, I have not had any time to post here at Sidesspot for the last several months. Since I am stretched so thin, I don't anticipate posting here anymore. Again, I appreciate very much those of you who read Sidesspot. I believe that Stones Cry Out is going well and hope that you agree.God Bless,
Thursday, January 27, 2005
This post is aimed at Christians. Non-believers may read it of course (that's big of me, I know), but you're not the target. If you'd prefer, go check out today's day by day.
Now, one thing that I think we Christians need to get straight: We were made by God to serve Him--to worship Him and love Him with all our hearts. To hear some Christians talk, I wonder if we're not clear on this. Some act as if God's there to serve us and make sure we're happy. Got a problem? Call big daddy and he'll get it squared away for you. Lonely, unhappy, insecure? God's here to make sure you feel okie-dokie. Now, don't get me wrong, God is a loving father, and does actually help us out in times of trouble. But, that's not His purpose.
I was driving by a local church tonight, which had this sign: "Troubled? Talk to God, he's up all night anyway." Now, I know that this was a well-intentioned sign and is really speaking to each person's need to have a relationship with God. But, it does have a bit of a "God's there to make me happy" flavor to it. Happiness, or more accurately joy, is our response to God--not the duty he owes us. We owe Him worship, love and fealty. God owes us nothing. He gives us lots, but he owes us nothing. He's the alpha and omega. We're the created things.
Thanks for letting me rant. Now back to the usual touchy feely kum ba yah drivel.
Update #1: Joe Missionary reminds us that Jesus isn't your boyfriend either:
My position is that romantic love toward any member of the Godhead is inappropriate. Perhaps the author of this song would say that s/he did not intend these words to imply romantic love towards God or Jesus, merely the depth of the personal relationship with him. However, "I've fallen deeply in love with You" means only one thing to me.One would wish that Joe would not have to post on such a subject. Sadly, I have noticed this phenomenon myself and think Joe's right on the mark.
Tuesday, January 25, 2005
With apologies to Joshua Claybourn at In the Agora, I'm going to engage in a bit of meta-blogging. As I think about the blog world, particularly the social/political commentary sphere in which this blog fits, I begin to wonder at the number of blogs that are out there. Technorati tells us that there are some 6.4 million blogs right now. The vast majority of those are personal blogs, almost online diaries. Still, the number of blogs aimed at others is staggering. The fact is, it's difficult for me to even keep up with the small number of blogs in my blogroll to the left and I am an avid consumer of information and commentary. I can't imagine it's much easier for those who are readers only and don't try to keep up their own blog. Having said that, there is a terrific amount of interesting information, both factual and commentary, out there. The reason that each blog is in my blogroll is that I have found something there that edified me and that I think could edify others. The blog world has been a terrific medium for civil discourse--a medium that is now irreplaceable, I think.
Still, the huge number, the unreadable number, of blogs remains. Joe Carter at the Evangelical Outpost has been doing a bit of meta-blogging recently and is also wondering about responses to this issue, although from a slightly different take. One response is the Decablog that Adrian Warnock has organized. This is essentially an aggregator of 10 very high quality Evangelical blogs. It is a worthy, and timely, project. Another response is what the posters at In the Agora have done--throw in together. Given that aggregating all of the disparate sites would not fix what I see as the main problem--too many blogs--I think that option is really open to those blogs with the highest traffic and best existing brand name.
Combining sites, then, seems to be one good way to keep the quality content out there, but cut down a bit on the multiplicity of sites. It seems like a natural next step for the world of social/political commentary blogs.
So, where do we go from here?
Catez, from Allthings2all, has written a very nice post discussing CS Lewis' Narnia Chronicles. In the process, she ties in my friend's post from yesterday on wealth. Catez's post is not simply a regurgitation of thoughts from my friend's post and needs to be read in its own right.
Lisa Jones, in an article in Orthodoxy Today, writes on practical actions that we can take now that Sanctity of Human Life Week has ended. She begins the article with a history of the Orthodox Church's perspective on abortion, which can be pretty much read as a history of the Christian Church's position on abortion.
Among her suggestions:
Reach Out To Women In Crisis PregnanciesI have posted similar thoughts on this topic before. Regardless of our political perspective, or even if we are pro-life or pro-choice, we can do much to end abortion and minister to women, and children, today. If only we would take the time.
Look in the phonebook at organizations listed under Alternatives to Abortion, call one of them and ask to visit. Ask the staff how you or others can help. Write a check or collect baby clothes and donate them to the center.
[The following was written by a friend in response to my exchanges with Ray from Sacking Rome. The author wishes to remain anonymous, which I support. You can take my word that he is what he says he is.]
Speaking from the standpoint of one who has wealth and did not earn it on my own, I must say that wealth has its advantages.
Working three summers at a Bible Camp for free. Donating money so campers could each have their own Bible to take home if they wished. Paying for my own degrees so someone more needful could have a scholarship, supporting missionaries at home and abroad.
Yes, with wealth and training in finance (or often common sense), one can take his talents and invest them, multiplying them for the Master. One can deploy capital for good or ill, and the more resources a Christian controls on behalf of his Lord, the more of the world's resources can be applied to the Lord's work.
And yes, I have primarily self funded a for-profit business with my inherited assets...and should it succeed, the co-founders wish to return to the Lord the first fruits of success. I believe that God wants us to be in all areas of life as we are an ambassador to this world. Sometimes, this places one in a position that will allow the accrual of capital.
Hypothetically: if our software should sell to someone in the drug trafficking trade, (say the software sold for $1000 with $840 profit), and 20% of the profit is returned to shareholders in a dividend of $168, of which the co-founders have a right to 60% ($100.80), and one of them donates 2% of their income each year to a Christian based drug rehab center ($1.008), then money was just taken from the enemy, and given to a place designed to counter the enemy.
If the wealthiest in the world were Christian, imagine what could be done. If my hypothetical moved 5 million units...that's over $5 million to combat drug use. Think of how much of the world's wealth could be taken from those trying to accomplish evil and then redistributed to those that are working on the front line for God if more corporations and leading income earners were committed to Christ! In macro economics, it is one huge flow of cash going on around the world, and the more Godly participants there are choosing to buy from socially responsible companies when possible, and donating their blessings to those that put it to the Lord's work. If more Christians take themselves out of that cycle of either spending that cash in direct ministry (a missionary) or creating wealth for themselves that can be given to that mission, then one can see how the church grows less wealthy and a mission can die. Wealth in the church (not the Roman inspired organized "church", but among the people of God) is not a bad thing.
I am convinced that God wants us to use wealth for His purpose, and that it is fully logical for Christians to have wealth, and know that they "possess" the wealth to do the Master's bidding. It is logical that the Master will give wealth to those who are able to bear the responsibility. To whom much is given, much is expected.
If God didn't want to use money, we would not be expected to tithe. He wants us to have money, and he wants us to grow money (parable of the talents) and he wants us to bless his Kingdom in the disposition of assets. After all, even $1000 in one's bank account at death is a $1000 more than one needed to live. Hopefully most of one's excess wealth was given to family members and charities that will see to it that your surplus in death can be used to advance the Kingdom of God. He who dies with the most toys still DIES! Understand that (coupled with the Life given through the Savior) and one can grow wealthy and do so with a clean heart. A sound moral compass, led by the Spirit, will guide purchasing decisions, investment decisions, gifting and estate planning decisions for the glory of God.
Money is a means to an end. Not a prize to acquire. You can't spend it in the life to come, and having money in your hands in death does not buy a seat any closer to God than an orphan that died in a sweat shop.
If you have the brains and heart to acquire and grow wealth, I challenge you to have the heart to dispose of it (in spending, giving, and in estate planning) in the same tenacious (and hopefully judicious) manner that was used to acquire it. Hopefully to help more orphans (following my analogy) to hear the Gospel and have a seat with God in His Kingdom. Forget position and rank.
Your rewards in heaven are promised...And that grace is sufficient. Your treasure in heaven is not based on how much you acquired or gave, or how close your tomb is to a Cathedral's altar; it is not based on the sacrifice or acquisition of wealth. It is based on whether you heard God's call, and served your fellow man in the manner in which you were called. Hearing that call and acknowledging the call in the face of opposition and adversity is what courage is all about. You could be called to give away all your wealth. You could be called to acquire wealth and then endow a charity like World Vision or the Salvation Army (brought to new life and a higher calling by the increase in value of McDonald's shares and the follow on donation of the founder's widow).
Whatever your call, make sure that you execute with all your heart. "Well done" is all the reward you should expect from your Master, and thankfulness for His mercy and eternal life is what you should give Him. Any more than that is the Blessing that flows from a good Father and King. Be thankful, and be gracious with what is given when it is not deserved.
Monday, January 24, 2005
Catez, who writes Allthings2all, and her friends show us what it means to preach the Gospel at all times--use words if necessary. There are people out there doing amazing things in this country in the name of Jesus. We need to pay more attention to these efforts and help these folks help others.
Update: Not that I'm American centric or anything, but Rick Brady of Stones Cry Out has informed me that Catez is from New Zealand. So, those last two sentences should be read as encompassing more than just the United States (and should have read that way to begin with). (Thanks Rick)
Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty has proposed that up to $5 million of Minnesota's upcoming two-year budget be used
to fund nonprofit organizations that counsel pregnant women on prenatal care, discourage abortion and encourage adoption for those uncertain about raising a child.The project was proposed by Minnesota Citizens Concerned For Life (MCCL). Interestingly, the project has not been criticized by Planned Parenthood:
A truly just society respects life," the Republican governor told more than 2,000 people gathered outside the State Capitol on a blustery Saturday. "But life doesn't end when the baby leaves the womb.
Planned Parenthood and other organizations that contend that abortion is a personal matter between a woman, her doctor and family earlier acknowledged that the legislation is a softening of MCCL's previous approaches.As a board member of a Minnesota crisis pregnancy center, I am cautiously optimistic about this proposal. Optimistic, because, as I have posted before, I believe that we can do much right now to curtail abortions by supporting crisis pregnancy centers and women in crisis pregnancies. Cautious, because I am leery of government funding. The power to fund is the power, potentially, to control. As I look at the State of California and the position it takes with respect to Catholic Charities, I worry that this will simply be a means by which Minnesota attempts to control crisis pregnancy centers--if not today, then perhaps when another state administration takes office. Taking the King's shilling can mean doing the King's bidding. Having said that, if done correctly, this proposal will be a step in the right direction for women in crisis pregnancies--and their babies.
Abortion-rights groups have long maintained that opponents have focused only on stopping abortions and haven't worked hard enough to support low-income and other pregnant women and to prevent erosion of government programs that support health care, preschool education and other initiatives.
Sunday, January 23, 2005
I sometimes wonder whether Michael Newdow is really a double agent working for some evangelical organization. Newdow, you may recall, is the gentleman whose efforts to remove the words "under God" from the Pledge of allegiance made it to the Supreme Court last year. The case was thrown out by the Court without a hearing on the merits due to a technicality. (The Court held that Newdow did not have standing to bring suit on behalf of his daughter because he is not the custodial parent. Newdow was victorious, however, in getting the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to declare "under God" unconstitutional.) The ever-resourceful Newdow has managed to join a new suit with plaintiffs whose standing is not in question.
Not content to pester the good people of the State of California, Newdow recently brought suit to prevent prayers during President Bush's recent inauguration. Not surprisingly, no federal court, including the Supreme Court, felt inclined to take Newdow up on his invitation to embroil them in a fight with the other two branches. Indeed, there was no chance that the inauguration suit was going to succeed. Federal courts are acutely aware that they rely on moral persuasion and the cooperation of the other branches to enact their pronouncements. Picking a fight with the Executive Branch, which most likely would have spilled into the Legislative Branch, over inaugural prayer is not a hill that federal judges care to die for.
Thus far, Newdow is 0-2 in his efforts to remove religion from the public square. What if, instead, Newdow had succeeded in getting the Supreme Court to accept both his suits? What if the Supreme Court had struck down both "under God" and prayers during the inauguration within the space of six months? The result, I contend, would have been general outrage and then a groundswell of support for some type of constitutional amendment--an amendment at the very least to keep "under God" in the Pledge. In addition, striking down the inaugural prayer would certainly have galvanized Congress into some type of action. I suspect that even those who are not particularly fervent in their support of religious issues would have gotten behind such efforts from the sheer audacity of such actions. In addition, the subject of religion would have been on everybody's lips on an almost daily basis.
Is this what Newdow really wants? I doubt it. However, based on what I suspect would be the results if he got his way, I am almost tempted to wish the man luck.
Wednesday, January 19, 2005
It is an honor to host this week's Christian Carnival. It is very, very late. To the submitters and readers, I offer my apologies. The flu struck me down this week and I am still recovering.
That out of the way, there are a wide variety of very interesting posts this week.
Sam at Uncle Sam's Cabin writes on The Book of Acts: Or how to start a riot in which she reflects on her study in progress on the book of Acts. [My most humble apologies to Sam for missing this post.]
As many of you know, Saturday marks the 22nd anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision. The New Trommetter Times takes a look at More Pro-Abortion Lawsuits and decides that: It's great that we have a Pro-Life President who is willing to place limits on taxpayer-funding for abortions. But the pro-abortion side will always challenge any limits to a woman's so-called right to abortion. Nobody has a right to any government funded health care, much less abortions.
Adding more Notes in the Key of Life, Cindy tells us that, for her, January 22nd is particularly A Day to Mourn, as "the anniversary of Roe v. Wade happens to be the anniversary of the death of a baby niece."
A Penitent Blogger provides Encouragement from the letter to the Hebrews for those laboring on behalf of life and other causes in the name of Christ.
Exultate Justi, in Not only is the glass not half full..., provides us with a response to a piece on the Rocky Mountain Progressive Network's blog that turned into a more general discussion of abortion and adoption - from a strongly pro-life perspective.
In For in God's Image, Rebecca Writes provides a look at why human life has such significance to God, and what understanding that significance requires of us.
The Great Separation, in Arise Prophets of God, writes that despite the attack on the womb, "I am certain that there are people that God has and is raising up to proclaim His word to this world. I believe that we are beginning to see glimmers of God's plan in motion as a generation comes to adulthood in this electronic age of information's reign."
My Domestic Church, in Sister Consuelo-Tsunami- abortion and recovery, shares thoughts about different types of loss, grief and how we deal with them.
IntolerantElle pens a sobering post in Confessions of a Molech Priestess: Her response to an abortion doctor who believes she has "good reasons" to kill children. [Note: This post by Intolerantelle is not suitable for children and the links are not for the faint of heart.]
Tim at bLogicus, who worries whether a mere hour makes an entry late (please), shares his Perspectives on the Humanity of the Pre-Born: "According to the Bible, the pre-born's distinction from an adult is one of maturation, which is not a characteristic that adds value to the human kind. Therefore, those who are yet to be born are as valuable as those who are born and abortion or the destruction of an embryo is as much a crime as the murder of an adult."
blogma - dogma for the idle mind reminds us that abortion is traumatic for the survivor as well.
Dory of Wittenberg Gate is Remembering Tabitha Faith by sharing her thoughts while accompanying a friend as she chose a grave marker for a stillborn child.
Jim, who gives us a Nutt's view, sheds some light on submission in the light of Paul's discussion of that subject in Ephesians5:21-24.
King of Fools reflects on the tsunami from a Christian's perspective.
Leo of Notes provides some inspiring excerpts from the last chapter of Romano Guardini's "remarkable" book on The End of the Modern World.
Rick at Brutally Honest shares his thoughts on whether he's still an evangelical and provides his perspective on grace.
The task force for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Studies on Sexuality has produced its long-awaited report, which is almost as long as its name. At Weapons of Mass Distraction, Derek has reviewed the report and its recommendations, and determined that they boil down to this: "Do whatever you want."
Pastor Mark Daniels, of Better Living, who is a Lutheran pastor, shares his extended thoughts on the report, stating: "No one of us is sinless. But the Church should not be asked to change God's clear teachings in order to accommodate the preferences of anyone. I stew about what churches and pastors who, under the tacit approval of the task force's recommendations, defy the teachings of the Bible and the Church, and thereby possibly tar the good name and reputations of the rest of the ELCA."
Ales Rarus has his take on the report. He thinks that what we have is The Blind Leading the Blind: "The ELCA press release regarding homosexual behavior demonstrates that the Lutheran hierarchy cares more about group unity than orthodoxy. I've linked to a few reactions around the blogosphere and await comments from my readers."
Rodney from The Journey asks if we have turned Jesus into a champion of the moral cause rather than someone who wants to gently lift people out of their current situation and lead them onto something better?
At Viewpoint, Dick describes the quiet revolution that has been taking place in philosophy departments in universities across the country over the last quarter of a century. A large minority of philosophers today are Christian theists and some disciplines, such as the philosophy of religion, are almost exclusively staffed by Christian theists. One prominent atheist philosopher talks both about the situation and what, from his perspective, should be done.
Don at Back of the Envelope provides some guidance on Old Testament Law: the distinctions between the Moral, Civil, and Holiness Codes, and how you can tell the difference--and why the differences matter.
At Joe Missionary, Joe takes on the sensitive (especially to guys) topic of circumcision [collective male wince]. What is the biblical basis for it today...if there is one?
In the nicely titled Living Psalm 23, Julie, the Happy Catholic, provides her testimony of how God has changed her life.
With the perspective granted by his View from the Pew, Warren discusses two important issues -- the inaugural prayer (and our friend Mr. Newdow whose life goal is to prove Andy Warhol correct), and the alleged creationist stickers on textbooks in Atlanta.
As an aside, I suspect that Pastor Kirbyjon Caldwell's inaugural benediction today will stir up a bit of a buzz in the next few days. Now that was a prayer. (And I can't seem to find it on the internet at the moment, although I've heard a number of audio clips on radio.)
The Bible Archive, writing about Persecution, Perserverence and Assurance, and asks: Why bother to be godly if, in the end, you'll be promised more persecution?
In Sanctification - The Mediated Life, Brad, of 21st Century Reformation continues his series on sanctification. Having described the life of prayer, Brad is now describing the experience of living in God's presence. Brad describes the path to the Morally Beautiful Life as living out of a conscious orientation of the heart toward Christ in the midst of our daily life. He calls this orientation, "The Mediated Life".
...in the outer... explores more than just interesting blog names by exploring Showing Mercy to the Poor: not just the materially poverty stricken, but those who are poor in other ways as well. The poor, according to my pastor, is someone who has no means to give back to you. I applied this definition to include more than those who are merely incapacitated by their lack of material resources to give back and asked what it means to be really free to give and not expect anything back.
At 3:17, in This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased, Mark explores why Jesus lived here for 33 years before going to the cross. And what does it mean practically for us?
Our always intrepid reporter Mark sends another one of his Notes From the Front Lines and says "I Think I'm Gonna Be Sick . . ." After that disclosure, he gives a hearty thumbs-down on some of the latest trends in Christian publishing/marketing, particularly a new Bible "dressed up" as one of those "women's magazines." (Having just survived the worst case of the flu that any human on earth has ever had to suffer, I can empathize, Mark.)
Pastors and Adult Sunday School leaders will want to pay close attention to Diane at Crossroads. She tells gives tips on how you can have The Exciting Adult Sunday School Class, noting that although the adult Sunday School class may be the most boring hour on Sunday mornings, it's actually possible to make it the most exciting hour by changing our approach.
Phil of Another Man's Meat has been dreaming again, noting somewhat syllogistically that Dreams Are For Dreamers in Phil's homage to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his dream.
In God and the Tsunami Redux Drew at Darn Floor responds to William Safire's column in the New York Times, taking a look at the Tsunami in light of the Old Testament book of Job. Drew also manages to prove that some Packers fans at least are capable of writing, which had been in question.
Bonnie of Off the top (who wins today's award for the best interchangeable url blog name) is a bit of a CS Lewis fan. In C. S. Lewis and "The Way": abandoning the concept of value she continues a review of The Abolition of Man, delving into Chapter 2, "The Way," in which Lewis explains the inescapability of the Tao.
In Allthings2all, Catez asks: Is Western Civilization Worth 2 Cents?. The post comments on recent discussion in the blogosphere and asks "Is Western civilization worth 2 cents?" The answer is simple and surprising.
Mark at Pseudo-Polymath Looking at the 1st Century as he begins blogging his way through N.T. Wright's Jesus and the Victory of God. (Note to Mark and Joe, this post constitutes 50+ visits as far as I'm concerned. I'm done until March.)
Our very own personal trainer discusses the blogging pastor and asks: Are churches going to require their pastors to blog? Some current blogging pastors think so. What are the real benefits and detriments of blogging for pastors? Here is a short summary. [If blogging pastors pass the hat online are they blegging or are they simply asking for a bloffering?]
We are given A Physicist's Perspective by David, who writes about some of the smaller issues, like Evolution and Scripture: Part I, A Summary of Some Biblical Teaching. David is launching a series dealing with the issue of origins: What does the Bible say about how we got here? How do we reconcile that with science and the theory of evolution? The post deals primarily with the fact that a particular form of theistic evolution is inconsistent with the teaching of Scripture. David notes that later posts will deal more with possible ways to understand Scripture and science at the same time (without rejecting either); links to the rest of the series are provided from this post.
Ralph the Sacred River is Translating Ebenezer and provides some random thoughts that begin with a hymn and end in ancient translations.
Marla, C.S. Lewis of the internet, Swoffer, of Proverbial Wife, offers the surprising subject of C.S. Lewis on the Emergent Church: "While reading his book on prayer, I discovered unexpected insights about churches past and future..."
Next we have an announcement of a new apologetics site, Weapons of Warfare and an
explanation of principles and the need for apologetics. Welcome!
What qualities do the Scriptures say we should look for in our leaders? Dory of Wittenberg Gate (which needs to win a site graphic award somewhere), shares her thoughts on the Biblical Qualifications for Leadership. (Dory is also kind to sick people who miss their posting deadline!)
[I recognize this is the second post from Wittenberg Gate. Dory is not pulling a fast one. Her second email clearly asked me to pull the above post in lieu of the abortion post. I neglected to do so. The mistake is mine, not Dory's. Since it's already published, I'm going to leave both.]
As we know, Jeremy of Parableman does not speak in parables. Justice Scalia is not known for his either. Writing on Scalia's Rhetorical Skill, Jeremy focuses in on an argument from Justice Scalia for a particular view on jurisprudence. Christian apologists would do well to learn the rhetorical move he makes. He speaks the language of those he's trying to convince by pointing out an example of something they wouldn't want to allow. His own examples would have been very different.
Coyote is Sounding the Trumpet and finds Traditional sexual attitudes scarce among campus
conservatives: "I explore why traditional sexual attitudes are so scarce among campus conservatives in general, giving examples from Cornell."
In his perch atop The Rooftop Blog, James Jewell posts on the Inauguration and the Nature of Man, discussing that "the inauguration is a very real function of transferring power and it is a symbol of two of the pillars of American stabilityrepresentative democracy and the rule of (constitutional) law. These pillars have remained because the founders and our ancestors understood the nature of man. They built into the Constitution protections against the inclination of human beings to grasp at power and to work for personal rather than common good."
Semicolon gives us a quick review of Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand and a list of some of her other favorite nonfiction books.
At Randomness, Dawn Moon posts about faith and love,and other things she experienced on a recent trip.
TRUTH BE TOLD provides a little pop quiz and subsequent rant on the misguided attempts to thwart racial profiling based on misleading and obviously skewed research and emotional rhetoric. I touch on how racial profiling can assist with preventing terrorism in this city and country as well as in fighting crime. I also discuss the attitudes of most blacks regarding this subject.
Stacy at MediaSoul cries--Bloggers Needed!: "The purpose of this entry is to let everyone know that bloggers are being used now to promote movies online. The film industry is trying out bloggers because they don't want to be left behind. So this is an opportunity to get YOU involved in promoting the upcoming DVD film release of In the Face of Evil a film about President Reagan."
At Times Against Humanity, the question is asked Is the Curtain Closing on Roemer's Sideshow?: "Any widening of the Democrat Party's tent in terms of pro-life Democrats and their views is apt to be a carnival sideshow: big on promise and short on delivery. The candidacy of former Indiana Representative Tim Roemer for chairman of the Democratic National Committee is just another act."
Last here but first in our hearts: In Lost Sheep, our fearless leader Nick of Patriot Paradox, who is under the misimpression that sending me a post two days past deadline makes it late (you'll have to try harder than that Nick), posts some personal thoughts on his spiritual life of late, which has been a bit of a desert experience.
We all go through the desert Nick, even titans of the faith such as Mother Teresa. It's not always mountaintop but the desert makes you appreciate the mountaintop all the more.
That's it for this week. Next week's Carnival will be held at Digitus, Finger & Co.
Monday, January 17, 2005
The Wall Street Journal online features a moving column (free registration required) by an Iranian Immigrant, who began to be reconciled with her new home through the words of Dr. King:
Today, in the distant corners where terror is raging, many teenagers hold views on America similar to those I once held. The enemy has an arsenal, but also a narrative. According to that narrative, the world's superpower represents only one race, and its history is a single tale of intolerance, arrogance, and domination. The war against this enemy is impossible to win without defeating that narrative. To tell American history in its entirety is to disprove the fabrications about who an American is. To tell the story of the Civil Rights Movement is to tell the story of how arrogance was made to give way to justice by none other than a man who advocated peace. Against the grim and infallible image that is painted of America, this will be a truer portrait: colorful and human.We still have a long way to go in race relations in this country, and we should not minimize that. We should also not minimize, however, that we have come a long way from the dark days of slavery, Jim Crowe and segregation. To fail to recognize our progress would be to fail to recognize the sacrifices of those like Dr. King, who gave their all for the dream.
The evangelical outpost has announced the winners of its first quarter blog symposium. There are many interesting essays writing from a variety of different perspectives. This has been an interesting experiment in how blogs can extend the discussion from print media--allowing print media and online media to work together.
Sunday, January 16, 2005
Words that are as stirring today as they were 42 years ago:
I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
until justice rolls down
like waters and righteousness
like a mighty stream!
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal."
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today! [Crowd roars.]
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers....I have a dream today! [crowd roars]
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together!
This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day!
This will be the day...this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning. "My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrims' pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring," and if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.
[King continues above continuous and rising applause and cheers.] So let freedom ring! From the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire, let freedom ring. From the mighty mountains of New York, let freedom ring, from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!
Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California! But not only that.
Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain in Tennessee!
Let freedom ring from every hill and mole hill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring, and when this happens...when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"
Saturday, January 15, 2005
Rick of Stones Cry Out (which is a great name for a site) is contemplating a new design at his site. He has one posted but is open to other ideas. If you have any design skills or are just opinionated on matters of style, stop over and give Rick a hand.
Oh, and I will be guest posting at Stones Cry Out for the next few weeks as Rick will be tied up doing some other things. I will continue to post here as well, so keep checking. And don't forget that the next Christian Carnival will be held here this upcoming week.
Friday, January 14, 2005
The next Christian Carnival will be hosted here at Sidesspot, and submissions are now open.
First, your post should be of a Christian nature, but this does not exclude posts that are political (or otherwise) in nature from a Christian point of view. If you are looking for posting ideas, you might want to consider that the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision is January 22. Another topic might be to consider how Christians of different denominations can put into practice Christ's admonition that we love one another--what does this mean in real life, what impact could it have on nonbelievers if we did this? How Christians can help foster a sense of community in their neighborhoods is another topic.
Second, please send only one post dated since the last Christian Carnival. Then, email me at the following address (and please put 'Christian Carnival Entry' in your subject line):
Provide the following:
Title of your Blog
URL of your Blog
Title of your post
URL linking to that post
Description of the post
Deadline is 10 p.m. Central, Tuesday, January 18
Thursday, January 13, 2005
The peripatetic Ray has already penned a nice response to my recent post in our debate. He makes some good points and sharpens some of my argument. Since we have essentially reached the point of agreement (and we really agreed from the start anyway), I think I'll bring it to a close on this end. Stay tuned, though, you never know what will crop up. Ray has an interesting post on work.
Wednesday, January 12, 2005
I am very late in answering Ray's response to my post on the Church. We originally started this debate in the comments to my post on religious liberty. Ray argued that the focus of American Christians on their religious liberties tends to both annoy nonbelievers and take the focus off of engaging such nonbelievers in a Christian manner. Although I do not disagree with that position, I felt that Ray perhaps overstated his case and that sometimes it is acceptable to try to protect our religious liberties. Ray also stated, as a bit of an aside, that he feels that American Christians are too wealthy. I then pointed out that it is not money, but the love of money, that is the source of all kinds of evil. In response, Ray was disturbed by that fine distinction between wealth and the desire for wealth:
I think I gave myself a headache because I felt how easily we could turn a clear caution against greed into some legalistic structure, trying to define exactly where the possession of wealth leaves off and the lust for that wealth picks up. We have to deal with the principle, not rules or codes of behavior. I think that when we start drawing a line between having wealth and loving that wealth, we abandon the principle and make things complicated.Ray then points out that asceticism is not the answer, because, in that discipline, one merely substitutes a rules-based philosophy for the true principle. Ray also reminds us that there are some who are poor who are just as obsessed with money as those who are wealthy (in the process making my point that it's the love of money, not the money, that's the problem, but that's merely an aside).
It's impossible to acquire wealth without desiring it, and without working really hard to get it. I don't know any people who became wealthy by not desiring to be wealthy. So I think that immediately demonstrates that those who possess great wealth have also desired to have it. Is this not the love of money? When I read Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, it seems to me that He is clearly contrasting reliance on God for everything that we need and the hoarding that we so easily take part in. I think that is the only distinction we can make.
Ray continues with some prescriptive advice:
Richard Foster, in his chapter on simplicity in the book Celebration of Discipline [that Amazon link is for you Ray], makes the point so well that we are to live by principle and not try to complicate it by rules or ascetics. For me, that headache is my own indication that I'm trying to complicate things. I respect Foster's chapter on simplicity so much because never once does he sell out. With apologies to Mark . . . , I think to say that it's the love of money, not money itself, sells out the principle of what Jesus said. They are intertwined because you don't get money without loving it.So, in essence, Ray's argument is that those who are wealthy got that way because they love wealth. Second, we should live by the principle laid down by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, which in America means living simply, supporting our families and not spurning blessings.
So where do we land? We have to live, to support our families, and unfortunately America is an expensive place to live, requiring us to sacrifice large amounts of our precious time by working just to afford a house, car, etc. Furthermore, God does provide us blessings and we should not spurn them. This is a hard lesson to learn.
In essence, I agree with what Ray has argued. There are, however, some narrow points to be made, which I will make for the sake of clarity but not because I disagree with the essence of Ray's argument.
Ray takes issue with making the fine distinction between having money and loving money. He says that they really collapse into the same thing, because you cannot have money without wanting it.
As a minor aside, one issue I have is that Ray does not define "wealthy." This is problematic because I suspect that he and I would likely define it a bit differently on a relative scale. We would both define it differently than someone living in a hovel in the Sudan. This does not affect the essence of his argument, but it is something that needs to be defined.
As to the issue of fine distinctions, I agree with Ray in some sense that one can be too punctilious by half. Christianity is not about fine arguments and points and keeping codes, as Jesus reminds us in Matthew 23:23-25, and as Ray also reminds us. I, however, am not the one who originally made the distinction--St. Paul did in 1 Timothy 6:10 and again in Hebrews 13:5. Indeed, Jesus focused on fine distinctions as well, as his teaching about lustful thoughts being equal to adultery in Matthew 5:28 shows.
The reason to make the distinction is less to defend those who are wealthy than to ensure that we focus on the ultimate principle that both Paul, in the First Timothy and Hebrews passages, and Jesus, in Matthew 6:19-24, are trying to elucidate. That ultimate principle is not to avoid greed, which is a lesser principle. That principle is that we are to have no other god before God. Stated positively, we must love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and mind. Loving money is simply another form of idol worship. The idol itself is not bad, it is putting the idol before God that is bad. Equating money with evil in a sense misses the real object. The important object is not the inanimate object. The important object is the heart that lusts for the inanimate object and thereby misses the relationship with God.
It is critical for every human to understand this issue, because it is central to getting to the ultimate issue that every human must face--his or her relationship with the Creator. If we talk about inanimate objects instead of our hearts, we lose that central focus. In addition, I suspect that nonbelievers do make this distinction. If a nonbeliever hears a Christian diatribe against money itself, I suspect it will not resonate, and the nonbeliever may even wonder how someone could worry about an inanimate object. If a nonbeliever hears a Christian diatribe against lusting after objects, that may have a better chance of hitting the mark, as it is a concept that makes logical sense.
Finally, if we focus on the heart, rather than the money itself, we have a more effective argument to make vis-a-vis other Christians--pointing out that their heart may not be in the right place depending on how they spend their money (and earn it in some, perhaps many, cases). The fact is this: American Christians are the wealthiest group of Christians ever. That will not change soon. It will certainly not change if we lecture about how bad money is. However, if we lecture about the use money and the status of one's heart, then I think we are more likely to motivate Christians to use that money to good ends. Ray mentions that we ought not to squander God's blessings. I think we have a real opportunity to use God's blessing to American Christians to help others in this country and abroad--the way Jesus would want us to.