Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Trick or Treat?

Given that it's going to be in the 20s tonight, I think I'll get some ice cream bars for any trick or treaters that might come by.

Happy Reformation Day!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Executive bonuses

A friend at work recently dropped by my cube with a paper explaining the bonuses of senior executives--they were, of course, the multi-million-dollar type that has many rejoicing when a jury puts one of them in jail. My friend fully expected me to join in with the resentment and jealousy he had, but something intervened.

Specifically, I thought of the fact that the vast majority of those executives were going to keep working 80 hour weeks with grueling travel schedules for a number of years, where most of the rest of us would quickly figure out what we really wanted to do and use that bonus to make it happen.

One might infer that some--most?--of us simply don't know when enough is enough. Is Bill Gates happier in his $100 million home than others are in their "mere" $500,000 homes? Is Ted Turner happier on his 100,000 acre ranches than others are on their "mere" quarter sections?

I doubt it. However, I know that a lot of people are working awfully hard to find out.

Friday, October 27, 2006

What could be worse...

....than a wannabe global government where Communists and the French have veto power? Unfortunately, the world is in the process of learning just that.

Specifically, what's worse is a wannabe global government where the Communists and French not only have veto power, but also claim the power to commission non-governmental organizations (read "unelected busybodies") to write treaties that they will apply to all nations based on the signatures of a minority of nations--and where our veto does not apply. For example, the "International Criminal Court" (ICC) was created with the signatures of only 60 nations. If Gitmo scares, you, this should terrify you.

Why? Well, it doesn't define clearly what it presumes to punish, and the ordinary protections defendants are entitled to here don't exist. There is no jury trial, no habeas corpus, and you're likely to be tried before a judge from Cuba.

Perhaps in the future we'll be reading "Turtle Bay Archepelago" by a former inmate of Kofi's gulags.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Why didn't...

...the United Nations "work" as was stated in its charter? After all, if all the nations of the world were working together to prevent the next Hitler from victimizing the world, how could they fail?

The answer, of course, is that a man more brutal than Hitler already held veto power in the Security Council, and it's arguable that the U.N.'s founders intended this; 14 of 17 have been found to have been Communist Party members at the time they wrote the U.N. Charter. Despite the rhetoric of the U.N. Charter and the promises made when that charter was approved as a treaty, it turns out to have been virtually designed to enable dictators to take advantage of their neighbors at will.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Happy United Nations Day!

In honor of the "World's last great hope for peace," or whatever, I'd like to bring some honor to the United Nations in the name of those whom the United Nations has been a great hope for peace. People like this:

25 million victims of Stalin's gulags

Up to 50 million victims of Mao's "Cultural Revolution."

Up to 5 million victims of Ho Chi Minh's collectivization.

Up to 2 million victims of Pol Pot's Maoist regime.

300,000 victims of Idi Amin.

Four million victims (and counting) of Sudan's civil war.

800,000 victims in the Rwandan genocide. Rwanda was, after all, abandoned by the U.N. just as things got "hot" there.

Up to 2 million victims of starvation in North Korea.

Hundreds of millions of victims of abortion, encouraged and endorsed by United Nations population control initiatives.

....and quite a bit more. Yes, happy birthday to the world's last great hope for.....


Monday, October 23, 2006

More on Evangelical Fratricide

David makes a good point about many so-called "evangelical" ministries; what is to be done if you believe they're not responding to ethical criticism in a way corresponding to Matthew 18 and 1 Corinthians 6? I would once again suggest that we ought not implement "radical measures" for a simple reason; the Scriptures command something else. Let's take a look.

The first question to ask is whether they're a ministry at all. If a "ministry" proceeds without the Gospel, then the first rebuke is to note that they're not proclaiming Christ Crucified and Risen. Many--perhaps most--problems really ought to end there.

Next, one ought to consider the nature of and evidence for the allegations. If it's just anonymous weblogs, perhaps a letter might be in order--to the owner of the weblog, generally speaking. Again, one who claims Christ really needs to be submissive to Matthew 18, and spreading allegations around the world without providing evidence does not fit within this paradigm.

If the evidence holds up, I can understand a note to boards of directors, accountability organizations (e.g. EFCA), and perhaps even lawful authorities if the evidence suggests a broken law.

But maintain a website devoted to tearing down others? No--1 Corinthians 6 tells us to rather be wronged than go to the unbeliever for judgment. Separate, yes. Warn, yes. Try opponents in the court of public opinion? Absolutely not.

And why not? Well, the Scripture doesn't say as much, but I suspect that our Lord wants us to be serving Him and spreading His Gospel, not living for the destruction of others.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Internet Assassins

Yikes. I do hope that I shall not become one. I took the liberty of visiting a few sites more or less dedicated to attacking one or more Christian leaders, and let's just say the wisdom of Matthew 18:15-20 has never been more apparent.

Why? Well, "liberated" from the requirements of establishing facts and standing by them, it seems that many of them continue to make allegations long after they have been refuted. Not acknowledging the facts, they seem to pick more fights with others--and in doing so, end up fighting with virtually every prominent evangelical or fundamental theologian or pastor out there.

What can be done? I don't know. A rebuke--a personal one--may be in order, and minding one's own business might be wise as well. It's very sad to see this fratricide, though.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


David commented recently about his opinion of parachurch organizations. I was going to write a long post about the distinctives that make a parachurch organization Biblical or not, but then I ran into a problem.

To wit, there is only one thing that distinguishes a Biblical ministry from an unBiblical one; is it under the authority of the Church? Is it under the headship of Biblically chosen elders and deacons, or does it run independently?

And like I've noted before, churches really ought to be careful about delegating tasks to parachurch ministries. For example, there really is no good reason to delegate tasks like edifying parents to those who are not speaking to their daughters and have left three churches under an ethical cloud. Not to name any names, of course.

Oh, my tummy hurts!

...from laughing at employees of the State of Ohio, who are trying to encourage the Amish to accept food stamps. Yes, they're trying to tell farmers that they're at risk of going hungry without government help, and farmers who (wow) actually reject government aid as a matter of principle to boot.

And we're paying their salaries. Sigh.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Hebrew abuse part 2

Another fun bit of Hebrew abuse came to me from someone who contacted me on the subject of whether homosexuality was Biblically permissible. I hesitated to respond to him, but then thought "what's to lose? He might repent!" and reminded him of the numerous passages explicitly banning such practices.

It turned out that he wasn't interested in listening to an argument, but rather in beating me down until I would superficially "agree" with him--a regrettably common postmodern tactic, I'm afraid. One of his arguments was very interesting, though.

More or less, argued that the word "abomination" in Leviticus 20:13 ought really be translated "idolatry." When I visited Brown-Driver-Briggs, of course, I found that it meant "abomination," derived from the verb "to abhor", and also learned that that's exactly how the Septuagint and Vulgate render the word. Again, my correspondent was someone who knew Hebrew better than the Alexandria rabbis, Jerome, or Luther!

But again, that's not the saddest, most darkly amusing part. The amusing part is that if one accepts this mis-translation, the typical pro-homosexual argument against the Levitical code is overturned. That argument is that certain practices were banned because they were part of Canaanite idolatry; abominable because of the practices of the conquered peoples.

However, if we state point blank that these practices are idolatry, we can no longer state that it is an abomination because of its connection with pagan practices. We must concede that it is an abomination because it is itself idolatry.

Once again, a strategic mis-translation turns out to backfire on those who made it. If we doubt the importance of learning something about hermeneutics, exegesis, and the original languages, the postmodernists are emphatically making that point for us.

Hebrew abuse!

One of the most endearing things about some postmodern theologians is the apparent claim that they know Hebrew better than those Alexandria (Egypt, not Virginia) rabbis who translated the Septuagint (Greek OT) from the original Hebrew/Aramaic. They were, of course, unqualified to translate from the language they used every day--and two millenia of other translators simply have no authority in this matter.

Example 1 is evangelical feminists who believe that God created Eve not as a "helper", but rather as a "warrior." The logic, apparently, is that when God is the "helper" ('ezer) of Israel in battle, He's clearly a warrior.

Now let's not get too wrapped up in the fact that 'ezrah is the verb meaning "to help," and that Hebrew already has words for soldier and warrior. It'll be more fun to take a look at the (IMO) hilarious contradictions required by this mis-translation.

1. Adam is given a companion whose job is to kill people and destroy things--in a world that knows no sin. Can't you imagine Adam asking "Lord, why is she going around destroying the garden You called good? Can You keep her from swinging that sharp piece of metal around me? Please?"

2. A woman is described as a warrior, while the prophets mock the (male) warriors of Asyrria and Babylon by calling them "women."

3. The reason for re-translating "helper" is because it is seen as a demeaning role. What then do we make of Christ's admonition that he who would be great must be the servant of all? Doesn't this motivation demonstrate a fundamental misunderstanding of service to Christ?

Finally, the most hilarious thing (IMO) is that a warrior is actually LOWER than a "helper." Think about it; except for the king, every warrior can be ordered at any time to throw his very life away in an attack on a fortified position. Not so with one's "helper" or "helpmeet."

And such is the most delicious irony of those who think they know Hebrew better than the Alexandria rabbis of the 1st century B.C. In mistranslating these words, they actually weaken their argument.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Darwinism, or materialism

Skeeter and I have recently had an interesting discussion on whether atrocities linked to evolution are attributable to Darwinism itself, or to materialism. Specifically, are genocide, abortion, 20th century wars, eugenics, and such the result of Darwin's theory?

Certainly the perpetrators used Darwin; that much is not debateable by informed men. It also should be noted, however, that Darwin himself allows for an initial Creation in Origin of Species. He afterwards posits that the species as we know them evolved--really an application of the deism common among Unitarians (which Darwin was) to biology, more or less.

So we should at least admit that the closing chapter suggests that those who would misuse his hypothesis would at least face judgment after death. So it was materialism, right, that led to the Holocaust?

Not so fast. Let's examine the implications of gradual (or even punctuated) evolution and "survival of the fittest." The first will tend to blur the definition of "human"--who am I to say that the Neanderthal or Lucy is, or is not human? It's heavily debated even today. In the same way, who am I to say that we may not define superior and inferior subspecies based on evolved characteristics? Why not use the trail of descent to define us a bit?

In a similar way, "survival of the fittest" will tend to obscure traditional morality. Who am I to say that Bob's death was a tragedy? Doesn't getting eaten by a bear indicate that he was simply unfit? Why not use this principle to organize society? Wouldn't God, who organized the world along these lines, approve of things working out this way?

One can see that, while those who led the atrocities generally were materialists, philosophically speaking, the theoretical and moral framework for them really can be attributed predominantly to Darwin.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Update on backdating of options

The news today has items on how about 30 executives have been fired for their part in recent options "backdating" scandals. For the uninitiated, this means they got to choose the most advantageous time for their stock options to vest, which more or less means that they got huge pay for no work.

Firing the executives for crafting and accepting these deals is a good start, but I'd suggest that this egregious abuse of the interests of stockholders (and employees) would have been prevented had another group of people responsible for monitoring executive compensation been doing their job. Let's hope that investors take note and start sacking some boards of directors.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

On pietism

When I was a young believer, I learned about about Philip Jacob Spener and the "pietistic" movement he started. At the core of it, more or less, is the assumption that faith isn't real if it's not expressed in daily devotion, acts of personal holiness, and the like. In its historical context, it confronted a church where even gross violations of moral law were common, especially among the clergy and aristocracy--in many regards much like today.

More recently, I've learned that "pietism" has become something of a dirty word to many, but also that the definition appears to have changed somewhat. The pietistic insistence on personal piety and evidence of one's salvation (by their fruit shall you know them) is transformed into works salvation.

Not fair, IMO, as Spener and his colleagues by and large remained in fellowship with orthodox churches. Yes, some of his followers, such as the "Holy Rollers," did give cause to believe they believed this, but a man can hardly be blamed for what happens with sinful men centuries after his death, can he?

Never mind that we again today find ourselves in situations where pastors and the elites (not to mention ordinary folk) are increasingly plagued by modernized versions of the same besetting sins Spener fought.

Perhaps, instead of fighting pietism, we ought to endorse a bit of it.

Friday, October 06, 2006

An ecclesiastical tragedy

I read today about a situation where one weblog had incurred the ire of a well known parachurch ministry--let's not name names, because that's not the point. The basic details are simple. The weblog, run by a group of pastors, commented that the theology of the parachurch ministry was likely to exert a bad influence on the church. The ministry, in return, published a pair of articles commenting on the theology of the weblog. Neither set of articles was particularly complimentary, though my opinion was that those of the ministry scored a bit higher on the "ad hominem equation."

It's very disappointing, and one might be tempted to send off a few (angry?) letters to those involved. However, that again misses the point, in my probably not humble enough opinion.

The point; the only reason that ministry B is able to come alongside the church and interfere with its workings is because, for too long, many churches have failed to effectively preach the Word and motivate its members in the Gospel. Every church? Certainly not, but even a minority of churches that fail to do this will motivate their members (by inaction) to be taught elsewhere. It might be a parachurch ministry, or the Internet, or (God forbid) a cult.

Moreover, even orthodox parachurch ministries (such as the one I speak of) can go astray if their contributors are not being motivated by the preaching from their own church's pulpit.

It also wouldn't hurt if people eschewed the ad hominem attack, but then again, that misses the main point.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Scandal? Shock?

Let me get this straight; in a culture where daughters are too often dressed as whores and sons as gangsters, in a culture where most spend over a day a week watching fornication, rape and murder on television and in movies, in a culture where we applaud the deviance shown in "Pride" and "Love" parades as the actions of those who are otherwise just like us, we are somehow surprised, shocked, and scandalized when we see the exact same thing happen in Congress?

One would have thought that our computer literate generation would have known the implications of GIGO. Evidently not, however.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

A scary thought

The headlines are flying like confetti about a certain congressman's sexually explicit messages to a 16 year old page. On the bright side, he's confessed and resigned, as he should. On the down side, he tried to divert attention from this to alcoholism.

What strikes me, though, is the apparent fact that quite a few people--perhaps dozens--knew of these messages nearly a year ago and took no action until now. This is almost as repugnant as the acts of the Congressman, in my opinion--how many more acts were allowed because nobody spoke up?

It is, I'm afraid, a sign of how sick our political culture is on both sides of the aisle. One side keeps things quiet to avoid embarrassment, the other keeps things quiet for a time to manufacture the greatest embarrassment. Both forget that innocents are harmed while they wait for an opportune moment.

Going out on a limb--a sturdy one I think--I dare suggest that they forget about those harmed because they know this kind of thing happens all the time in politics.

In other words, because they know that if they report such acts in a responsible, timely manner, the bell tolls for them as well.

Addendum: in today's "Hot Air" segment, Michelle Malkin reports that she was propositioned by a member of Congress while interning in Washington.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Fruit spreads

It should be remembered that, as wonderful as maple syrup is on one's pancakes, Kaiserschmarrn, or waffles, even the greatest lover of this natural sweetener needs a change once in a while.

To help, take about 1 tbsp of corn starch (or white flour) and mix it with 1/2 cup granulated sugar. Mix this in turn with about 1 cup of water, and pour the mixture over 1 pint of berries--strawberries, blueberries, whatever. Heat to a boil and stir as it thickens. Add lemon juice or spices to taste. Serve over your favorite breakfast breads, oatmeal, or grits.