Thursday, December 21, 2006

Merry Christmas!

First of all, a hearty "Merry Christmas" to each and every person who comes to this site. May each one of you know the blessings of the Savior as we celebrate His birth.

Kudos to Gene Veith, by the way, who has come up with a bunch of research that demonstrates that "what we all know" about Christmas is wrong. No, Rome didn't celebrate the Saturnalia when Christians started celebrating Christmas. Yes, there is actually evidence for a December birth of Christ. No, the Christmas tree does not appear to have clear pagan origins.

I'd like to add; no, there is no connection to the Mythra cult and "Invincible Sun" being changed to "Invincible Son." Sorry, but the Latin for the latter would be "Filius Invictus," and there is no pun for "Sol Invictus."

So while I have no problem with those who decide not to celebrate Christmas due to excesses of mammon in gift giving, veneration of "Santa Claus", and general excesses in food and drink, I do ask one little Christmas gift from them; lay off the "Christmas is from Babylon the Great" rhetoric. The claims made simply do not stand up to even a cursory examination.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Anti porneia

I've seen a few posts recently, most notably from Shawn, about how we ought to deal with a son who is found looking at pornography or other materials of a "dubious moral nature." But hey--Gallup polls tell us that there are an awful lot of adults indulging in this, so maybe we ought to ask this:

"How does a man confront himself and help himself to refrain from using porn?"

Ouch. OK, let's start with a simple axiom: every woman (or girl, sigh, that happens) in every picture is created in the image of God, is someone's daughter, and could (should?) be someone's wife. It's almost trite, but let's face facts; if we saw our Lord, the woman's father, or the woman's husband in the room, we'd have our attention somewhere else besides the picture.

Let's go on: few women willingly shed their clothes for strangers. Rather, it takes drugs, debt, or degradation (like rape) to get her to that point.

No kidding. Something like 95% of prostitutes are on drugs, and even mainstream modeling is riddled with drugs, anorexia, forced sex, and more. So when one ogles a pornographic picture (movie, whatever), one is more or less taking part in the systematic degradation of a woman created in the image of God.

So when tempted to view that "Victoria's Secret" catalog--or whatever else there might be out there--ask yourself whether you'd willingly rape that woman, or inject her with heroin, or brutalize her until she lost weight to suit your taste. Ask yourself if you'd do that in front of God, her father, or her husband.

It sounds harsh, but don't forget; in a manner of speaking, that's EXACTLY what is going on. And dads, here are a few thoughts from Doug Giles about how to inoculate your daughters against this sort of thing.

I quibble with his order, though; IMO, it's far more important to know Him and recognize a situation than to be able to shoot or fight one's way out of one.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Why not you?

One of the unifying themes in troubles we face today is, IMO, our failure to realize that all too often, the buck stops with us. We want government to solve our problems--forgetting that we can do it a lot cheaper. We hire pastors to reach the lost--forgetting that Jesus told everyone to do it. As employees, we all too often clamor for "more benefits"--forgetting that hiring more staff to implement them pulls resources away from profitability and our own wages.

In other words, we've more or less lost our concept of federalism, to our great loss. If you want liberty for Christmas, consider taking back some of the roles that have been lost in the past few decades. Educate your children (or help others educate theirs). Turn on the porch light at night to discourage crime, or get your carry permit. Start your own retirement fund, or your own business. Join your church's visitation time. Watch your diet and get some exercise. Clean up messes in the neighborhood and get to know your neighbors.

After all, if you won't take care of yourself, why would you think that your church, government, and company will?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Agrarianism, simplicity, and health

A bit of perspective on all of the time, effort, and money used into raising food in our country. Has it given us more food to eat?

Believe it or not, it's actually debateable. On one hand, grain yields per acre have risen by half an order of magnitude or more. On the other hand, we shouldn't forget that 70% of grain is fed to livestock, so probably the better measure of how much food we get--especially in light of our meat-heavy diets--is how many meat animals we have.

On that score, it's said that our continent supported 60-100 million bison in the mid-1800s, and the USDA estimates about 45 million adult cattle today.

In other words, all of the subsidies, fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and such that we use to "grow more food" may, or may not, result in actually having more food to eat.

Plus, grazing cattle are more picturesque and healthier to eat. Seems that the simple life may have more going for it than we thought!

Tired of paying for illegal immigration?

The precise numbers are disputed, but few thinking people would deny that illegal (or "undocumented") immigration has costs that are paid by citizens. Put gently, they tend to work in low wage jobs, pay little in taxes, and yet receive publicly funded education, welfare, medical care, and so on. My best guess is that the overall cost is hundreds of billions of dollars.

What to do? Well, look at your credit report. No kidding. Those who are not legally here are likely to use your credit to get a job, a home, and consumer credit. If something appears on it, tell the credit issuer and the INS.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Another surreal bit...

Apparently, the INS has raided six meatpacking plants and arrested about 1250 people for immigration and other law violations. Swift & Co. is irate because this move is likely to shut down large portions of their operation, and apparently even sued the INS to prevent it on the grounds that they'd done due diligence to ensure their workers were legal.

Perhaps, but what puzzles me is why Swift would put large, razor sharp butcher knives into peoples' hands without doing a basic background check. Had they done this basic, common sense operation, they wouldn't have hired these people in the first place. They would have known that they were not who they claimed to be.

Hanukah

The "Feast of Dedication", which Jesus appears to have celebrated, begins this Friday. Take a look at the link for Michael Medved's take on this holiday, and get some olive oil and potatoes ready this Friday as the sun sets.

A rough history for the uninitiated; the Syrian descendants of Alexander the Great's empire tried to impose Greek pagan ways in Jerusalem, including sacrificing a pig in the Temple. Incensed by this, Jewish partisans began a revolt which eventually drove the pagans from Jerusalem and most of Israel.

The significance for Gentiles? This revolt more or less preserved the Scriptures. Fry up some latke to celebrate!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Why not today? Part 3

It turns out that Dan Phillips of "Pyromaniacs" says it better than I did. Take a look--I think you'll be glad you did!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Getting ready for Christmas

As my family gets ready for Christmas, it seems we find ourselves somewhat in the same mood as Madame Blueberry when she arrived home to see what the "stuff" she had purchased had wrought. Unlike her, my family awaits another onslaught of "stuff" from our dear relatives--and we are already enduring the wish lists of our precious little ones.

Just as Madame Blueberry found out, we're also learning how having too much stuff can wreck your home. So four to six times per year, we end up loading a few boxes of excess clothes, toys, kitchen gadgets, and more into the minivan or pickup to take it to Goodwill. The scary thing is that we generally didn't buy a bit of it.

Such is the nature of our society. Anyone who isn't careful can quickly fill a 3000 square foot home (or larger) with things that are essentially garbage, locking himself into huge debt and quite likely a job they can't stand. Christ was truly right when He noted that we cannot serve both God and mammon.

Let's keep this in mind for His birthday party--maybe by choosing gifts of high quality that can be consumed instead of the biggest box we can get for < $50 at Wal-Mart or Target.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Why not today, part 2.

Of course, not all of us have to worry about the tax man taking our wealth away from our heirs yet. Even so, let's not forget that "man knows not his time," and that maybe, just maybe, we ought to consider getting something done today.

Tell someone about Christ. Propose to that gal you've been dating for far too long. Have some kids. Start family devotions. Start a business doing what you love. Read that book that's gathered dust. Shoot your television.

Man knows not his time.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Why not today?

I'll admit that I have something of a love/hate relationship with the estate tax. Hate is obvious--it's the government's unconstitutional claim on wealth, a direct tax not levied in any clear way on income. It keeps a good friend of mine at church busy writing A/B trusts and other estate plans designed to minimize its impact and keep businesses intact.

But love? Yes, love, in a way. The estate tax can serve as a reminder that one needs to determine what to do with wealth before one dies, or else risk its confiscation and use for purposes one rejects.

I would even argue that we might do well to even go a step further; apart from resources needed to support one's self in one's old age, shouldn't we be a bit like Carnegie and allocate the surplus while we're still living? If a business should be run by one's child after one dies, why not while you're still alive to guide them? If a ministry or charity is worth remembering in one's will, why not give while we're still around to keep them accountable? Sometimes it seems that we think that those around us will function better without us...

Don't get me wrong; I think that the estate tax is a repugnant implementation of the Communist Manifesto. However, there is yet a small silver lining in this dark cloud.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Skimming the newspaper,

I am SHOCKED, SHOCKED, I tell you that such and such a celebrity has been caught on film or tape doing such and such a thing!

Wait a minute. No, I'm not. All publicity is good publicity for most of them, and what isn't simply fits into the self-destructive lifestyles so many of them are (alas) too well known for.

Who did I think I was kidding? :^)

Seriously, when we express outrage at the public actions of public figures, perhaps we need to take care lest we inadvertently give them exactly what they want--free publicity that helps them sell their product.

Somebody said once that we ought to be wise as snakes, yet innocent as doves. We are to warn people of sin, but discreetly, I dare say.