Sunday, September 30, 2007

Jerome, Translator of Holy Scripture

Jerome was born in a little village on the Adriatic Sea around the year A.D. 345. At a young age he went to study in Rome, where he was baptized. After extensive travels, he chose the life of a monk and spent five years in the Syrian desert. There he learned Hebrew, the language of the Old Testament. After ordination at Antioch and visits to Rome and Constantinople, Jerome settled in Bethlehem. From the original Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, he used his ability with languages to translate the Bible into Latin, the common language of his time. This translation, called the Vulgate, was the authoritative version of the Bible in the western Church world for over 1,000 years. Considered one of the great scholars of the early church, Jerome died on 30 September 420. He was originally interred at Bethlehem, but his remains were eventually taken to Rome. [From "Commemorations Biographies," Lutheran Service Book, LCMS Commission on Worship]

Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Artist

Here is Serenity at work on her latest masterpiece





Friday, September 28, 2007

Department of redundancy department


From my trip to New England last year

Is this really God?

First, check out "The Interview with God". I won't say it only takes 45 seconds to watch, the way the person who sent it to me did :-) The length of the video, after it loads, is about 3 minutes and 50 seconds, so set aside 5 minutes of your time to watch it.

Once you get past the lovely landscapes and the pious sounding platitudes what are we left with?

What "god" was being interviewed? I really could not tell, it might have been Krishna or Allah or the "god" of the Mormons or any other cult. I suppose who we are talking to is the "god" of American Civil Religion, the one on the money, the vague "In God we trust" fellow. I am pretty sure it wasn't the One True God though. The One True God, the Triune God who comes to us in the person of Jesus Christ would not utter such a pile of psychologized semi-theology. No, the God who sent his Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross would not forget to mention that in an interview.

How about the specific questions and answers in the interview?

1. What surprises you most about humankind?

God says "That they get bored with childhood, they rush to grow up, and then long to be children again?!" That's the best this "god" can do? How about "That they reject eternal life given through the perfect life death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and instead they chose eternal damnation and separation from God." That sounds more like the God of the bible to me.

Then this "god" says "They lose their health to make money... and then lose their money to restore their health." That is a nice little platitude, a truism that has little to do with God.

Then this pleasant "god" says "That by thinking anxiously about the future, they forget the present, such that they live in neither the present nor the future." To "Live in the now" is a major tenet of many eastern religions like Hinduism and Buddhism but it's not really a Christian teaching. We look forward to eternal life and the resurrection of the body and we look back to the Cross. Sure we live now, but we don't live only now, we live in eternity as well!

Then this "god" says "That they live as if they will never die, and die as though they had never lived." I'm not really sure what that is supposed to mean actually. It must be related to the living in the now idea that was presented just before this. In any case I've never seen anything like it in the Word of God so I'm not sure why it's here.

2. Then we get another question from the interviewer, "As a parent, what are some of life's lessons you want your children to learn?" This question implies that we are here to "learn lessons" and that is simply not the case. The question is false and misleading all by itself. But, let's go on to the answers given by "god." "To learn they cannot make anyone love them. All they can do is let themselves be loved." This is pop psychology, it may be true as far as it goes. The second sentence is very true if we apply it to our relationship with God though.

Then "god" says "To learn that it is not good to compare themselves to others." That is something God might actually say. We are to compare ourselves only to God, then we will see that we are "poor miserable sinners" and that we cannot stand before God unless we are covered in the blood of Christ. Why do these pop-Christian things always seem to run away from the only thing that saves us? Why do they flee from the blood of Christ?

Well then it gets worse as this "god" says "To learn to forgive by practicing forgiveness." This is totally backward and false. We learn to forgive by being forgiven by God through the blood of Christ! We don't learn to forgive by just doing it, we learn to forgive because we have been forgiven.

Ack! Can you hear the Angry Gnome gnashing his teeth and pulling out what's left of his hair yet?

I know people mean well when they make this sort of thing but it's NOT CHRISTIAN!

Whew, back to the "interview".

God then issues some psychological information: "That it takes only a few seconds to open profound wounds in those they love, and it can take many years to heal them." Yep, that's true all right.

"To learn that a rich person is not one who has the most , but is one who needs the least." Nope, that's a lie. A rich person is one who has eternal life in Christ, they have all of the riches of God.

"To learn that there are people who love them dearly, but simply do not yet know how to express or show their feelings." That may or may not be true depending on who you are talking about. It is certainly not a truth from God's word though.

"To learn that two people can look at the same thing and see it differently." Another bit of human truth, but it does not apply to the things of God. Jesus said "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him."
John 14:5-7 (English Standard Version) When it comes to God, we cannot actually see it differently, there is only one way, and that way is Jesus. He is the narrow gate through which we must enter, all other ways lead to death.

"To learn that it is not enough that they forgive one another, but they must also forgive themselves." Show me where that is in the bible and I'll be all right with it.

The interviewer concludes with "Is there anything else you'd like your children to know?"

Here this "god" has one last chance to proclaim the gospel, and fails utterly. Instead this "god" says "Just know that I am here. Always." This true, but without Christ we are no better off than the demons in hell. "You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!" James 2:19 (ESV)

So what do we really have in this "Interview with God?" We have a long presentation of things that sound good, but are mostly false, joined to lovely pictures and soothing music. This is very harmful, it leads us away from the narrow way, Christ and Him crucified, and, since we are not in the narrow way we are instead going down the path to destruction. "There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death." Proverbs 14:12

How can you go through an entire presentation like this and forget the gospel?

See also
The Intrusion of Psychology into Christian Theology

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Flu shots are a scam

I've long held that the whole flu shot thing is a big money making scam and was ineffective for the most part. Now it has been shown that the only group that actually dies from the flu, people over 70, get virtually no benefit from flu shots. Everyone else just feels like crud for a few days and gets over it anyway. You can be sure the drug makers and the government will still be pushing them despite the fact that they are useless, there is just too much money at stake.

Study finds flu shots do little to help most vulnerable elderly

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A team of National Institutes of Health researchers has concluded that the often-touted benefits of flu shots to people over the age of 70 are highly exaggerated - there is no real proof they provide protection to the frail elderly.

The conclusion published Monday in an online edition of the British journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases is unwelcome news for public health officials in the United States who are preparing to launch the annual flu shot campaign. Full story


My exercise program ends for this reason every time...

Monday, September 24, 2007

A message from Uncle Sam to those annoying protesters:

Prayer

I was just thinking about prayer as I was riding to work on BART today. There are different ways that Christians organize their prayer lives. I tend to go with a somewhat formal, even liturgical, way of prayer at the start of the day and at the end of the day as well.

For example, I use this Morning Prayer and this Evening Prayer.

I use these sets of prayers as an aid in forming and keeping the habit of daily prayer, meditation and reading of God's word. There is no "law" about it at all of course and some days I miss one or the other or even both on rare occasions.

During the day I might say the Lord's Prayer, the most perfect prayer of all since it is given to us by the Lord for our use. But I also will pray extemporaneously throughout the day as the Holy Spirit moves me to pray or as I encounter difficulties or as I recognize a sin I have committed and need to repent of.

Naturally since this is the way that I do things I think it is a good way of doing them :-) The mix of formal written prayers and extemporaneous prayers throughout the day seems to work for me.

The use of prayers that others have written down and shared with us, like those found in hymnals, in the Psalms and in prayer books, gives us access to well thought out and carefully worded prayers that can express things we want to say far better than we ourselves can say them off the cuff.

There are also times when we don't know what to pray and our prayer books don't seem to have anything in them at all and we are without words. That is when I fall back on the Lord's prayer in particular, it contains all prayers within it I think.

Well this has gotten rather rambling so I'm going to shut up for now. Perhaps one day I'll write a coherent post about prayer :-)

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Jonah

A singular prophet among the many in the Old Testament, Jonah the son of Amittai was born about an hour's walk from the town of Nazareth. The focus of his prophetic ministry was the call to preach at Nineveh, the capital of pagan Assyria (Jonah 1:1). His reluctance to respond and God's insistence that his call be heeded is the story of the book that bears Jonah's name. Although the swallowing and disgorging of Jonah by the great fish is the most remembered detail of his life, it is addressed in only three verses of the book (1:17; 2:1, 10). Throughout the book, the important theme is how God deals compassionately sinners. Jonah's three-day sojourn in the belly of the fish is mentioned by Jesus as a sign of his own death, burial and resurrection (Mt. 12:39-41). [From "Commemorations Biographies," Lutheran Service Book, LCMS Commission on Worship]

Friday, September 21, 2007

Argh!

Yo-ho yo-ho a pirates life for me,
We pillage, we plunder, and rifle and loot,
drink up me hardees, yo ho,
We kidnap and ravage and don't give a hoot,
drink up me hardees, yo ho!

Yo-ho yo-ho a pirates life for me,
we extored we pilfer we bilch and sack,
drink up me hardees, yo ho,
maraud and embezzle and even hijack,
drink up me hardees, yo ho!

Yo-ho yo-ho a pirates life for me,
we kindle and char and flame and ignite,
drink up me hardees, yo ho,
we burn up the city, we're really a fright,
drink up me hardees, yo ho,
we're rascals, scoundrels, villans and knaves,
drink up me hardees, yo ho,
we're devils and black-sheep, really bad eggs,
drink up me hardees, yo ho!

Yo-ho yo-ho a pirates life for me,
we're beggers and blighters and nere' do well cads,
drink up me hardees, yo ho,
Aye, we are loved by our mommies and dads,
drink up me hardees, yo ho !

Bach and bells, awesome!

Make sure to check out this YouTube Video of Bach Passacaglia in C minor BWV 582 being played on a carillon.

Part 1

Part 2

That is just way cool... In My Humble Opinion.

A one liner...

A one liner I saw this morning:

[Name of person being insulted] wouldn't know the truth about where his butt was if it had a venomous snake hanging from it by one fang...

Well, I found it amusing :-)

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Blogarithm is broken... and now it's fixed

Well rats. I asked everyone to switch from using Feedburner to Blogarithm and it suddenly stops working right. All of a sudden the names of the blogs in the emails and in my Blogroll were turned to "Forbidden" for all of the blogspot domains. Ah well.

I suspect this is only a temporary glitch so I'm not going to dump it, though I'm tempted to just go back to the Feedburner system. Well wait, in fact... lets do that right now. I think the full emails will be fine since most things go with it. The one time it didn't work the way I wanted it to was when I embedded a video from Youtube and I don't do that all that often anyway. So I'm going to try and get my family and friends to sign up with Feedburner. Besides, if the story just shows up in an email people are probably more likely to at least glance at, one more click is just one more chance you won't see the post. Which may be a good or bad thing depending on your attitude about the angry gnome... Sorry for the annoyance factor. So I ended up just putting both options up, take your pick :-)

A Letter from Ron Paul

September 20, 2007


Dear friend,

Our American way of life is under attack. And it is up to us to save it.

The world's elites are busy forming a North American Union. If they succeed, as they were in forming the European Union, the good ol' USA will only be a memory. We cannot let that happen.

The UN wants to confiscate our firearms and impose a global tax. The UN elites want to control the oceans with the Law of the Sea Treaty. And they want to use our military to police the world.

Our right to own and use property is fading because bureaucrats and special interests are abusing eminent domain.

Our right to educate our children as we choose is under assault. "No Child Left Behind" is seeing to that. And our right to say "no" to forced mental screening of our school-aged children is nearly gone.

The elites gave us a national ID card. They also gave us the most misnamed legislation in history: The Patriot Act. And these same people are pushing to give amnesty to illegal immigrants and erase our national borders.

Record government debt is putting a burden on our children and grandchildren that is shameful.

Yes. Our American way of life is under attack. And it's understandable that many are concerned, even discouraged, about the kind of country our children and grandchildren will inherit.

But we must never let discouragement become surrender.

One reason I am NOT discouraged is because I know I am not fighting alone. Each day I head out I know that you and thousands of other patriotic, freedom-loving Americans are right beside me, standing brave and true for what is good and right.

I need your help now, more than ever, to save the country we love...for the people we love.

My wife Carol and I celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary early this year. We are proud parents of five children and 18 grandchildren. We love them very much, as I know you love your family.

As a U.S. congressman, I always think about the well-being of my family and of all the families of our great nation when I cast a vote or introduce legislation. I also remember that I have sworn a solemn oath to uphold and protect the Constitution of the United States.

For me, upholding that oath is the first and best way to preserve and protect the blessed American way of life for our children and grandchildren.

And now you know why I'm running for president of the United States.

I ask for your help. Please send your maximum donation today by going to https://www.ronpaul2008.com/donate/

Sincerely,

Ron

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A couple of more nails in the coffin of the Old Republic

Emperor Bush demands that the puppets in congress rubber stamp a few things for him...

First, finish off that pesky 4th amendmant, if you don't have anything to hide why would you object to us looking through your things, we know who the evildoers are and warrants are too much trouble to get...

Bush Calls for Expansion of Spy Law
By DEB RIECHMANNThe Associated Press
Wednesday, September 19, 2007; 12:55 PM FORT MEADE, Md. -- President Bush said Wednesday that a law hastily passed in August to temporarily give the government more power to eavesdrop without warrants on foreign terror suspects must be made permanent and expanded. More.

Then there's that pesky Habeas Corpus thing, dude, we already said we know who the evildoers are, why should we have to put them on trial and go through all the expense of actually filing provable charges? Don't you TRUST us?

Senate Rejects Expanding Detainee Rights
By Jonathan Weisman Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 19, 2007; 12:42 PM A Republican filibuster in the Senate today shot down a bipartisan effort to restore the right of terrorism suspects to contest their detentions and treatment in federal courts, underscoring the Democratic-led Congress's difficulty with terrorism issues. More.

Mercenaries or "Contractors"?

One of my big complaints about the American Imperial Propaganda Corps (US Media like CNN, FOX, MSNBC etc.) coverage of the several wars we have going on right now is the sanitized and whitewashed way they present things. My most persistent complaint has to do with the use of the term "Private Contractors" when referring to the mercenary forces we hire to do the really dirty work in Iraq. It was, therefore, a pleasure to see this article in Spiegel Online today, it really is important to get news from sources other than just those directly controlled by the Empire:

BLACKWATER BLACKLISTED

'Whores of War' Under Fire

By Marc Pitzke in New York

Mercenaries have become indispensable in Iraq. But after Blackwater employees killed 11 civilians on Sunday, the government in Baghdad wants them out. The problem is, private security companies operate above the law -- and the US wants to keep it that way.

Mercenaries in Iraq are under fire.
Zoom
AFP

Mercenaries in Iraq are under fire.

They were harsh words: Iraq's government speaker Ali al-Dabbagh announced that the Iraqi Interior Ministry had revoked the license of US security contractor Blackwater, adding that Baghdad would "review the situation" of all private security firms.

In addition, Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr called for the government to ban all foreign security contractors in the country. "This aggression would not have happened had it not been for the presence of the occupiers who brought these companies, most of whose members are criminals and ex-convicts in American and Western prisons," al-Sadr said in a statement.

Harsh words, but in the end it will probably turn out that this barking dog has very little bite. Sunday's deadly shootout involving Blackwater -- resulting in the deaths of 11 Iraqis under circumstances that remain unclear -- has prompted some swift diplomatic shadow-boxing: Baghdad blustered and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice personally phoned Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Monday night to express her regret. Complete Story here.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Kite Runner

I read Khaled Hosseini's book, Kite Runner, a couple of years ago. It was one of the best books I've read in many years. It is one of those stories that makes you feel joy and weep at the same time. I have just noticed that a movie based on the book is due out in November.

Here is a story in the BBC about the reaction to some of the more disturbing scenes in the book by some of the Afghan actors who were in the film.

Ahmad Khan
Ahmad Khan says he is uneasy about the film in which he stars

Book-lovers and movie-goers are eagerly awaiting the release this November of the film version of a much-loved novel, the worldwide bestseller, The Kite Runner.

But it is running into controversy in Afghanistan, the country where most of it is set, and among Afghan diaspora communities.

Written in 2003 by the Afghan-American Khaled Hosseini, the book spans the years from the pre-war Kabul of the 1970s to the brutality of the Taleban era.

It deals with poignant themes such as exile, a son's longing to please his father and - above all - friendship and betrayal between two boys, the novel's central characters.

"I became what I am today at the age of 12, on a frigid overcast day in the winter of 1975," the novel begins.

"I remember the precise moment, crouching behind a crumbling mud wall, peeking into the alley near the frozen creek."

Disturbing

That is the narrator, Amir, looking back on the boyhood moment that changed his life.

Only later do we learn what he was witnessing - the rape of the boy who is both his loyal best friend and his servant, Hassan - by a psychopathic bully... More

Go HERE to see a trailer from the movie. I'm looking forward to seeing this and plan to read the book again before it comes out. I can't say anything for the movie yet but if you want a great read check out the book for sure.


Monday, September 17, 2007

Two posts on Death

No matter what the "wise" say, death is never a good thing, though at times it may be the lesser of evils.

From Weedon's Blog:

Patristic Quote for the Day

Brothers, how wrong those authors have been who have tried to write about the good of death. And what is so surprising about that? In this case the worldly-wise think that they are great and remarkable if they convince simple folks that the thing that is the greatest evil is the greatest good…. But these things, brothers, truth dispels, the Law banishes, faith attacks, the Apostle censures, and Christ blots out, who, while restoring the good that life is, discloses, condemns, and banishes the evil of death. - St. Peter Chrysologus, Homily

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

You may think that you do not fear death, but have you ever looked directly into its smirking face, its hollow, staring eyes? Truly, it is not the might of man, but God's grace alone, that can overcome this king of terror. - C. F. W. Walther, *God Grant It!* p. 738

Anarchy on the road works!

I have long maintained that traffic is over regulated and that 99.99% of traffic lights and stop signs actually cause more problems than they solve. Much like almost all laws on all subjects do.

Now in Europe some towns are putting the idea of no regulation resulting in better saftey to the test.

Check out this story in Der Spiegel:

"The radical philosophy has already been implented in the town of Drachten in the Netherlands, which has abolished its road signs and traffic lights. Accidents there have declined dramatically since the new regime was introduced."

Sunday, September 16, 2007

A bit more on sacraments

Today's Higher Things Daily Reflection deals with sacraments a bit

Daily Lectionary: 2 Chronicles 35:1-7, 16-25; Colossians 3:1-25
This Week’s Readings: St. Matthew 6:24-34

“Your heavenly father knows that you need all these things.” (St. Matthew 6:32)

You are normal, and you are sinful. You are normal in that you worry and fret about lots of things. And in that worry lies the truth that you are sinful as well. Where is your trust?

Dear baptized one, in Christ, God has promised to take care of you and clothe you much more than the lilies of the field which neither toil nor spin, much more than the grass of the field which is gone tomorrow, much more than the birds of the air. He sent His own Son, Jesus Christ, to take your sins upon Himself and die in your place. In Christ you mean as much to God as His dear Son, for you are all sons of God through faith in Jesus Christ. He has given you the robe of righteousness, the clothing of the bride of Christ which is His Church. Your clothing is the blood-washed garment of Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection for you and for your salvation.

Neither the birds of the air nor the flowers of the field provide for themselves; God the maker of heaven and earth does that. You are of much more value than they. You cannot provide for your spiritual well-being any more than you can provide for your own salvation. Therefore, God has and will certainly continue to take care of all your needs, both in body and in soul, until such time as He calls you home to be with Him. Of that you can be certain.

Be comforted by His presence--His very real and true presence in His Supper. Be comforted by His spoken forgiveness in Holy Absolution. Be comforted in your baptism into Christ. For in these divine gifts you have everything you need.

“O Lord, we implore You, let Your continual pity cleanse and defend Your Church; and because she cannot continue in safety without Your aid, preserve her evermore by Your help and goodness; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.” (Collect for Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity)

The Reverend Gregory Schultz, pastor of St. Peter Lutheran Church in Campbell Hill, IL, is the author for this portion of the Trinity season.


This reflection is available as an mp3, click here to download and listen to it.

Cyprian of Carthage and a bit on sacraments

Commemoration of Cyprian of Carthage, Pastor and Martyr

Cyprian (A.D. ca. 200-258) was acclaimed bishop of the North African city of Carthage around 248. During the persecution of the Roman emperor Decius, Cyprian fled Carthage but returned two years later. He was then forced to deal with the problem of Christians who had lapsed from their faith under persecution and now wanted to return to the church. It was decided that these lapsed Christians could be restored but that their restoration could take place only after a period of penance that demonstrated their faithfulness. During the persecution under Emperor Valerian, Cyprian at first went into hiding but later gave himself up to the authorities. He was beheaded for the faith in Carthage in 258. [From "Commemorations Biographies," Lutheran Service Book, LCMS Commission on Worship]

________________________________________________________________

This morning I am listening to a bible study on 1 Corinthians on my way to work. In the process the subject of sacraments was discussed briefly. Sacraments are means through which God delivers His grace to us. They are the ways that He delivers forgiveness of sins and eternal life. There are at least two sacraments, baptism and the Lord's Supper. In both of these Jesus Christ Himself promised us the forgiveness of sins. There are many references I could present for that idea but I'm on the train and I will present that stuff in a later post. My idea right now is this, that Evangelicals and Pentecostals have created a new sacrament in the idea of "accepting Christ as my Lord and Savior." They tend to say that this is how God's grace comes to us! That without this "sacrament" (that they don't call a sacrament) you cannot be saved! Yet this idea is not found anywhere in the bible! How sad to reject the very promises of God for a path of our own making. Comments anyone?

Friday, September 14, 2007

The State as God

While most people seem to accept that the state in general has some God like attributes, power over life and death, power over all property and so on, in China they take it to the extreme and the state dictates the next life as well as this one. It's pretty funny really...

Newsweek

Aug. 20-27, 2007 issue - In one of history's more absurd acts of totalitarianism, China has banned Buddhist monks in Tibet from reincarnating without government permission. According to a statement issued by the State Administration for Religious Affairs, the law, which goes into effect next month and strictly stipulates the procedures by which one is to reincarnate, is "an important move to institutionalize management of reincarnation." But beyond the irony lies China's true motive: to cut off the influence of the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual and political leader, and to quell the region's Buddhist religious establishment more than 50 years after China invaded the small Himalayan country. By barring any Buddhist monk living outside China from seeking reincarnation, the law effectively gives Chinese authorities the power to choose the next Dalai Lama, whose soul, by tradition, is reborn as a new human to continue the work of relieving suffering. More...

Blogarithm.com

This is another plug for blogarithm.com This service sends you a short summary of any blogs you want to follow, like this one ;-) Then when you click on the link in the email it takes you right to the blog itself. I like this better than sending the full story for two reasons, first because some content, like videos, don't travel with the email, and second because I'd rather have comments on the blog itself rather than in email, that way it becomes more of a public discussion. So, sign up for this and the other blogs you read and you won't miss a post, or waste time going to a blog only to find it hasn't been updated in a week ;-)

Holy Cross Day 14 September AD 335

From Aardvark Alley:

Constantine and HelenaDuring the reign of Constantine the Great, the first Roman Emperor to profess the Christian faith, his mother Helena went to Israel, hoping to find the places especially significant to Christians. Having located, close together, what she believed to be the sites of the Crucifixion and of the Burial (at locations that many modern archaeologists think may be correct), she then had built over them the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, which was dedicated on 13 September 335.

On the next day, the purported section of the cross was brought outside the church for others to view. Thus began a day for recognizing the cross of Christ in a festal atmosphere that would be inappropriate on Good Friday. It stands as a symbol of triumph, as a sign of Christ's victory over death, and a reminder of His promise, "And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself. (John 12:32)" Read the whole story here.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Reality of the Anarchy in Somalia

Here is an awesome story from Mises.org about how a culture can function without any central government. Needless to say the American Empire and the UN are both determined to destroy this system and reestablish tyranny in the Horn of Africa...

The Rule of Law without the State
By Spencer Heath MacCallum
Posted on 9/12/2007

Were there such a category, Somalia would hold a place in Guinness World Records as the country with the longest absence of a functioning central government. When the Somalis dismantled their government in 1991 and returned to their precolonial political status, the expectation was that chaos would result — and that, of course, would be the politically correct thing to expect.

Imagine if it were otherwise. Imagine any part of the globe not being dominated by a central government and the people there surviving, even prospering. If such were to happen and the idea spread to other parts of Africa or other parts of the world, the mystique of the necessity of the state might be irreparably damaged, and many politicians and bureaucrats might find themselves walking about looking for work.... Please click here for the full article.

Context

My sister sent me this article that was written by Chuck Swindoll:

THOUGHTS
by Charles R. Swindoll

Philippians 4:8

Thoughts are the thermostat that regulates what we accomplish in life. If I feed my mind upon doubt, disbelief, and discouragement, that is precisely the kind of day my body will experience. If I adjust my thermostat forward to thoughts filled with vision, vitality, and victory, I can count on that kind of day. Thus, you and I become what we think about.

Neither Dale Carnegie nor Norman Vincent Peale originated such a message. God did. “For as [a man] thinks within himself, so he is” (Prov. 23:7). “Therefore, prepare your minds for action” (1 Peter 1:13).

The mind is a “thought factory” producing thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of thoughts each day. Production in your thought factory is under the charge of two foremen. One we shall call Mr. Triumph, the other Mr. Defeat.

Mr. Triumph specializes in producing reasons why you can face life victoriously, why you can handle what comes your way, why you’re more than able to conquer. Mr. Defeat is an expert in the opposite. He develops reasons why you cannot succeed, why you’re inadequate, why you should give up and give in to worry, failure, discouragement, and inferiority.

Give a positive signal, and Mr. Triumph will see to it that one encouraging, edifying thought after another floods your mind. But Mr. Defeat is always standing by, awaiting a negative signal (which he would rather you call “reality” or “common sense!”), and when he gets it, he cranks out discouraging, destructive, demoralizing thoughts that will soon have you convinced you can’t or won’t or shouldn’t.

Thoughts, positive or negative, grow stronger when fertilized with constant repetition. That may explain why so many who are gloomy and gray stay in that mood . . . and why those who are cheery and enthusiastic continue to be so.

What kind of performance would your car deliver if every morning before you left for work you scooped up a handful of dirt and put it in your crankcase? The engine would soon be coughing and sputtering. Ultimately it would refuse to start. The same is true of your life. Thoughts that are narrow, self-destructive, and abrasive produce needless wear and tear on your mental motor. They send you off the road while others drive past.

You need only one foreman in your mental factory: Mr. Triumph is his name. He is eager to assist you and available to all the members of God’s family.

His real name is the Holy Spirit, the Helper.

If Mr. Defeat is busily engaged as the foreman of your factory, fire yours and hire ours! You will be amazed at how smoothly the plant will run under His leadership.


For the most part I don't have a problem with what he is saying here. It is without doubt that our habitual thoughts impact our days in a huge way.

There is a problem I see in the article though and it is very common in "Evangelical" circles. The initial scripture cited (Philippians 4:8) is very appropriate to the subject. But when we get to the next scriptural citation we find it ripped out of it's context and applied in a totally inappropriate manner! First of all, it doesn't even say what he claims it says, check out the various translations of Proverbs 23:7 here. Sure, the archaic King James says "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he..." but it is translated in the New International Version as "for he is the kind of man who is always thinking about the cost." and in the English Standard Version as "for he is like one who is inwardly calculating." While this seems like a huge difference when you don't rip it out of its context it makes better sense.

Proverbs 23:1-8 (ESV)
1 When you sit down to eat with a ruler, observe carefully what is before you, 2 and put a knife to your throat if you are given to appetite. 3 Do not desire his delicacies, for they are deceptive food. 4 Do not toil to acquire wealth; be discerning enough to desist. 5 When your eyes light on it, it is gone, for suddenly it sprouts wings, flying like an eagle toward heaven. 6 Do not eat the bread of a man who is stingy; do not desire his delicacies, 7 for he is like one who is inwardly calculating. “Eat and drink!” he says to you, but his heart is not with you. 8 You will vomit up the morsels that you have eaten, and waste your pleasant words.

The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.



Clearly this verse, Proverbs 23:7, does not at all mean what Mr. Swindoll says it does! The final scriptural reference is slightly better but still is not addressing the idea of making your day better by having a better attitude! Mr. Triumph and Mr. Defeat are not found in any of the scriptures cited, of course :-) They are not even close to scriptural!


What sort of days does our Lord really say we should expect as children of God? Persecution:



29 Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, nthere is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and ofor the gospel, 30 who will not receive a hundredfold pnow in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, qwith persecutions, and in rthe age to come eternal life. 31 But smany who are first will be last, and the last first.”


The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Mk 10:29-31). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

We should expect trials:

2 eCount it all joy, my brothers,2 when you meet trials fof various kinds, 3 for you know that gthe testing of your faith hproduces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be iperfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Jas 1:2-4). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

And when you include more of the context of the 1 Peter reference you see we are to expect trials there as well:

3 gBlessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! hAccording to his great mercy, ihe has caused us to be born again to a living hope jthrough the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to kan inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and lunfading, mkept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded nthrough faith for a salvation oready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by pvarious trials, 7 so that qthe tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes rthough it is tested by sfire—may be found to result in tpraise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (1 Pe 1:3-7). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

The whole "Prosperity and Healing" teachings of so many Pentecostals and Evangelicals is simply false teaching. God may give you prosperity and He may choose to heal you, but you may also find yourself enduring sickness and trials and despair, you may be persecuted because of your faith in Jesus.

To say that we just need to speak the words of "Mr. Triumph" and not of "Mr. Defeat" is really not much of a comfort when you or a loved one is sick and dying! What we need to hear constantly is Christ and Him crucified for us and for our salvation.

Of course it probably doesn't hurt to have a positive attitude, it's just not going to change the fact that we are sinners until the day we die, and die we will unless the Lord should call a halt to things before that.

Mr. Triumph is the Holy Spirit? Where does that come from? From the "helper"? Jesus says the Holy Spirit will help "bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you." Not make our days go better. The one purpose the Holy Spirit has is to point us toward Christ!

But still, I suppose being upbeat is a good thing...

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

On cars and kids... a rant...

I have always hated cars. For much of my adult life I did not even own one of the evil contraptions. Several years ago, in 2003, I purchased a used 2002 Toyota Corolla with fewer than 25,000 miles on it.



This is the nearest thing to a new car I've ever owned. I bought it because my bike was stolen from a BART station and I was fed up with having to rent a car if I wanted to go on a trip and with having to borrow one to get larger items from stores.

Now the thing is almost paid off, I only have four more payments to make and it's mine free and clear. It still runs great and is in good condition inside and out. I don't use it for that much, going to church or the store for the most part. I usually ride my bike to BART these days since it's only 2 miles of flat bike path each way.

Why this post though? Because my daughter Lora has confiscated MY car!

When she came here a few months ago she arrived in a beat up car that we determined probably would be difficult to make legal in California so I encouraged her to use a bike or walk instead of drive, in fact I bought her a nice bicycle to use around town. I gave her a key to my car in case there was an emergency. As it turns out Lora doesn't walk or use the bike unless I force her to! She has an endless supply of "reasons" why she can't walk or ride. My car is never in the driveway anymore, it is almost always in her possession. I pretty much have to borrow my own stinking car if I want to use it! I have asked her over and over not to use it but she seems unable to grasp the fact that I am absolutely serious about it.

I guess I'll be forced to confiscate my key to get my car back. I need to take it in for an oil change, I might decide to go to the hills for a morning walk... I want my car available, it's why I paid $12,000 + for the carbon spewing thing!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Vegi vs. Carnivore

For the last 5 weeks I've been eating a vegetarian diet. The idea was to lose weight and also to not eat the flesh of dead animals which sounded sort of gross.

So, in the first 2 weeks I "lost" 8 pounds. Since then I have lost nothing but my mind.

OK, so I'm sitting here with a stiff neck from sleeping wrong last night, I had a bad day at work, and just drank a glass of wine that seems to have gone straight to my head, but still the whole vegi idea seems a bit lame at the moment.

Ineffective to say the least. I think that I'm going to return to "Free Range Grazing" starting tomorrow. Not that I intend on eating lots of meat, I don't, but I'm giving up the "low fat and vegi" thing that I was working on. It just isn't working for me.

I suppose portion control and exercise will have to be it from now on. :-(

Baptism and Holy Communion in the Old Testament?

1 Corinthians 10:1-5 (ESV)
1 I want you to know, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 and all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness.

[1]

[1] The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.



Paul comes right out and states that the Red Sea crossing equals baptism, and it seems clear that the spiritual food and drink, that is Christ, is the Holy Communion! Paul also seems to be refuting the idea of "Once saved always saved" that some denominations proclaim. I just never noticed that before so I'm pointing it out, sorry if it was glaringly obvious to everyone else already :-)


Later in the same chapter Paul emphasizes the real presence of the Lord in the Eucharist:


1 Corinthians 10:16-17 (ESV)
16 The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.

[1]

[1] The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

Email subscription change

I am making a change in the way the email subscription works. The reason for this is that some content doesn't make it through in the full email feed, like the link to Youtube I put in the other day didn't come through on my email.

A second reason is that when you get my blog via the Feedburner email service you get the whole blog, maybe two or three or four posts, all in one big email. I'd rather people actually go to the blog on the web to read and comment on the posts.

So, I am going to eliminate "Feedburner" emails in a couple of weeks.

In the meantime I urge you to go to the blog and subscribe via Blogarithm. I have been using it to track a couple of blogs and it works very well. What happens is that rather than send a complete copy of the blog to your email it sends a couple of lines with a link. This service is now linked from my blog so please switch over now. You can unsubscribe to the Feedburner emails yourself or ask me and I'll stop them right away.

Below is a sample of the once a day Blogarithm email:


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The Angry Gnome? September 10, 2007 5:21 PM -0700 - Larry:I suppose you might wonder about the title of this blog. The Angry Gnome? Say what? I chose this title after talking with a coworker, Tom Byrd, one day. He was looking at a photo of me standing on top of Moro Rock in Sequoia National Park and made a... view the full article

For the Cold Fusion Files - Burning Salt Water September 10, 2007 5:17 PM -0700 - Larry:I have something I call my "Cold Fusion" files. It is a place in my mind where I stash cool science that I suspect will come to nothing but that seems exciting for the moment. :-) Here is one I came across today: An Erie cancer researcher has found a way... view the full article



THE PEOPLE'S REPORT
A response to the Petreaus Report on Capitol Hill



Written with the help of Phyllis Bennis, Erik Leaver, and Saif Rahman at the Institute for Policy Studies, United For Peace and Justice is publishing the People's Report. Feel free to print this report and share it with your Congressional Representatives.
"The so-called Petraeus Report-actually written within the White House-is supposed to evaluate "progress" in the U.S. war and surging occupation of Iraq based on a set of congressionally-determined benchmarks. Those evaluations will ostensibly provide an overview of how far along U.S.-occupied Iraq is in achieving "stability," "democracy," "equity between groups," and more." "But however the White House drafters and General Petraeus and the spindoctors assess the benchmarks, what the report will almost certainly NOT do is provide a true glimpse of what the shattered lives of the 25 million Iraqis look like today."

Folded Pamphlet - http://www.veteransforpeace.org/File/pdf/peoples_report.pdf

Four page version - http://www.veteransforpeace.org/File/pdf/peoples_report_long.pdf




Monday, September 10, 2007

For the Cold Fusion Files - Burning Salt Water

I have something I call my "Cold Fusion" files. It is a place in my mind where I stash cool science that I suspect will come to nothing but that seems exciting for the moment. :-)

Here is one I came across today:

An Erie cancer researcher has found a way to burn salt water, a novel invention that is being touted by one chemist as the "most remarkable" water science discovery in a century.

John Kanzius happened upon the discovery accidentally when he tried to desalinate seawater with a radio-frequency generator he developed to treat cancer. He discovered that as long as the salt water was exposed to the radio frequencies, it would burn.

The discovery has scientists excited by the prospect of using salt water, the most abundant resource on earth, as a fuel. (The whole story is here)


There is a clip on You Tube that shows Kanzius actually burning the water

Vocation

I was thinking today about vocation, what it is that God has called me to do in this life. Once I thought that to "really" serve God I needed to be a pastor or a teacher or something along those lines. Then, for a time, I thought that a monk would be the best way to serve God, I could dedicate myself to prayer and study of the word, how better to serve God than that? Then I thought I should be out helping the poor or the homeless or something of that sort.

All of that was prior to returning to the Lutheran church. Since I have been attending Messiah Lutheran I have gained a new understanding of vocation. Vocation is not necessarily what we choose to do for God but what God has chosen for us to do for our neighbor.

Our vocation rightly is what we are doing in our daily lives. It is what we do for our family and our employers. It is what we do as we interact with all of those God sends into our lives each and every day. We have no need to go looking for "things to do for God" because He sends people to us and puts us in just the place he needs us to be.

I can see this when I realize the good that has come from having Lora and Serenity move in with us here in Dublin. What greater vocation could I have than loving my daughter and granddaughter and taking them to church where they hear the Word of God and where Serenity has been baptized and thus is now a child of God! I don't need to go out and look for a homeless person to help, I have family to care for :-)

This does not mean that it is not good to help the poor, if God has made that your vocation. Pastors are vital, if that is your God given vocation. My mistake had been to think that these high visibility things were the primary ways that we could serve God. The truth is God doesn't actually need our help, instead He gives us family and coworkers and friends who really do need our help each and every day. They need us to love them, to care for them, to pray for them. That is a legitimate vocation.

Much as I love theology and study I am not really suited for any sort of public ministry, but I am quite suited to work for a living and to showing love to my family and those I encounter each day.

I may be the Angry Gnome but at home and at work I need to be Larry, father and grandfather. At work I need to be Larry, dedicated concierge.

Well, I have finally realized that God is in control and He has me where He wants me to be! I am in my vocation and don't need to seek out anything else. If He has something new for me it will be made clear to me in God's own time.

The Founding Fathers Were Commies!

"Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!"

~ A famous troublemaker

I made you look with that title, didn't I? Seriously, though, it's time for liberty lovers to take a step back and re-think a few things about these 18th century aristocrats.

The reason why libertarians cling to folks like Washington, Madison and Jefferson is because of their views about liberty and how the government is the opposite of liberty. Hey, I share that view as well. My beef with them is not their theories so much as their actions. Let's suppose that for a long and uncomfortable time a group of thugs called The Faraway Mafia controlled many aspects of our neighborhood. This persnickety group of busybodies had been imposing all kinds of taxes and a growing number of regulations. Having had enough, our local militia decides to take action and ends up kicking the Faraway Mafia out of our homes and lands. Liberty has arrived! Or has it?

Check out the full story on LewRockwell.com

Sunday, September 9, 2007

This morning, as I was reading the newspaper, I came across several stories that got my dander up a bit. But, this being Sunday and the Lord's Day, I have decided that the Angry Gnome will not respond to this ever growing pile of idiocy spewed forth by the Empire. I'll save them for tomorrow instead ;-)

Friday, September 7, 2007

Ron Paul

A few weeks ago I changed my registered political party from Libertarian to Republican for the sole purpose of being eligible to vote for Ron Paul in the California Primary next spring. Ron Paul is the ONE and ONLY true alternative to the neo-fascist (pretty much all Republicans other than Paul) and neo-socialist (pretty much all the Democrats) branches of the ruling party!

Ron Paul is Anti-War,

War and Foreign Policy

The war in Iraq was sold to us with false information. The area is more dangerous now than when we entered it. We destroyed a regime hated by our direct enemies, the jihadists, and created thousands of new recruits for them. (Read more...)

Ron Paul is Pro-Life, he is that rarest of all creatures, a consistent and principled politician.

Life and Liberty

The right of an innocent, unborn child to life is at the heart of the American ideals of liberty. My professional and legislative record demonstrates my strong commitment to this pro-life principle. (Read more...)

Don't listen to the establishment's lies in the regular press about him, he's the only real hope for change, the only legitimate chance to restore the republic and end the disaster that is the American Empire!


Check out his web site to see what he's about:

Message from Ron Paul

9/7/07

Has this been a hectic and encouraging time! First we got almost 17% in the Texas straw poll, an event set-up to represent the establishment, with very restrictive voting rules. That 17% of the Republican hierarchy would support our views, after a full day of pro-war propaganda, is good news. Then we won the more open Maryland Republican straw poll with 28%. In both cases, as usual, hard-working, well-organized volunteers made all the difference.

The Fox debate was a lot of fun as well. It's true that a few of the network people are not exactly with us on foreign or domestic policy (though one famous guy whispered to me that he is a libertarian), but the audience—with lots of students from the University of New Hampshire—was definitely fair and balanced, as their enthusiastic reaction showed.

My opponents called for more war, more torture, more secret prisons, more eavesdropping, more presidential power. Some seemed to identify the government and the people as if they were one entity. But you and I know that once the government moves beyond its very limited constitutional mandate, it is an opponent of the people, a rip-off operation that takes our money and our freedom and our social peace, and gives us a mess of statist pottage in return.

The government failed miserably on 9-11 to protect us, despite spending trillions. So the answer was supposed to be the giant, socialist Department of Homeland Security, protecting you and me from taking our toothpaste on the airplane. I was ridiculed for saying that the airlines, which know best how to protect their property, should have been allowed to arm their pilots. But then, you and I really believe in the Second Amendment. It is not just a political slogan for us.

Aardvark Alley: The Liberal Backslider

Aardvark Alley: The Liberal Backslider

Silliness but kinda cool at the same time...
From last night's Psalm readings:

"Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil." (Psalm 37:8, ESV)

Such a thing for God to say to an Angry Gnome!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Sleeping in is good for you?

My cousin Mike sent me a link to this story. Early rising no good for the heart: study
I'm convinced they are all wet:

Thu Sep 6, 8:44 AM ET

Generations have praised the wisdom of getting up early in the morning, but a Japanese study says early-risers are actually at a higher risk of developing heart problems.

The study, conducted by researchers from several universities and hospitals in the western Japanese city of Kyoto, revealed a link between wake-up times and a person's cardiovascular condition.

"Rising early to go to work or exercise might not be beneficial to health, but rather a risk for vascular diseases," said an abstract of the study.

The study, covering 3,017 healthy adults aged between 23 through 90, found that early risers had a greater risk of heart conditions including hypertension and of having strokes.

However, the study also noted that early risers were usually older.

The study is being presented this week at the World Congress of the World Federation of Sleep Research and Sleep Medicine Societies, being held in Cairns, Australia.

A separate study released in June by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found that chronic sleep deprivation adds stress to the heart, putting a person at greater risk of cardiovascular disease and death.


I would put a lot more stock in the University of Pennsylvania study that says it is sleep deprivation that stresses the heart. Amount of sleep and regularity of sleep times is, without doubt, the thing that is actually behind the Japanese results. It sounds from this little story that the study was pretty sloppy.