Tuesday, March 31, 2009

"They Lack Our Altruism"

That's a quote from a character in the film Breaker Morant.

Lord Kitchener: Needless to say, the Germans couldn't give a damn about the Boers. The diamonds and gold of South Africa they're after.

Major Bolton: They lack our altruism, sir.

Lord Kitchener: Quite.

in spite of "The Banker's Paradox." It's a plausible story, untestable though as far as I can tell. Still it's at least a way it might have happened, or maybe not, who knows? :-)

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Earth Hour 8:30 - 9:30 PM Today

This evening is "Earth Hour" when we are encouraged to make a statement about CO2 emissions and global warming. I was considering doing it here at the house until I found out that if we turned off our lights, which are low energy CFL bulbs throughout the house, and burned candles instead we would actually be increasing our CO2 output for the night! So, unless I can convince the inhabitants of the house to sit around for an hour with no lights on, or just one candle maybe, then we'll probably skip it. You coal burning folk in flyover land better cut the lights though! Here is an email that I received on a list I subscribe to that explains it all:

This year, 2,848 cities, towns, and municipalities are joining the eco-blackout. The event’s organizers say that they are shooting for 1 billion people to participate.

And during Earth Hour, what will most participants use for illumination? Candles. The Earth Hour website is filled with announcements – from New Zealand to Hong Kong to Serbia – of restaurants hosting candlelit dinners and clubs holding candlelit acoustic concerts, along with lots of tips on what to do at home during the electricity-free hour, which includes taking a candlelit bath or playing board games by candlelight.

All these burning wicks raise the question: Are the emissions from these candles worse for the climate than simply leaving the lights on? After all, candles emit carbon dioxide too.

The answer: It depends on what kind of candles you use, how many of them you burn, and where you get your electricity from.

Most candles are made of paraffin, a heavy hydrocarbon derived from crude oil. Burning a paraffin candle for one hour will release about 10 grams of carbon dioxide.

As Australian blogger Enoch the Red pointed out after last year’s Earth Hour that an average Australian who tries to replace all the light produced by an incandescent bulb with light cast by parrifin candles will result in about 10 times the greenhouse emissions.

But of course most of us aren’t going to burn 40 candles for every bulb we leave off. The idea here is to make our cities and towns go dark for an hour, not to create a major fire hazard.

So what if you just replace a single paraffin candle with a single bulb? This was the question Zeke Hausfather, the executive vice president of energy science for Climate Culture, an online carbon measurement and reduction utility, tried to answer for the Bright Green Blog.

In an email, Mr. Hausfather noted that emissions vary widely, depending on where you live. In California, which has some of the country’s lowest emissions per kilowatt-hour of electricity, running a 60-watt incandescent bulb for an hour would emit about 24 grams of CO2. In Kansas, which has some of the highest emissions, it would emit almost 60 grams.

Therefore, Hausfather concludes “using a candle instead of an incandescent bulb unambiguously reduces your carbon emissions.”

But what about more efficient bulbs? After all, if you’re bothering to participate in a global-warming-consciousness-raising event, there’s a good chance you’ve already swapped out your incandescents for CFLs, right?

Depending on where you live and what wattage bulb you use, lighting a candle instead of a CFL could result in a net increase of CO2 emissions. In California, a CFL will emit about 5 grams per hour. In Kansas, it’s almost 13 grams.

Hausfather provides this handy map. The red areas represent net emission increases for those who burn a candle instead of a CFL. The green areas represent net reductions.

Hausfather points out that, given the low penetration of CFLs and the fact that many commercial buildings will not be replacing the light with anything during the hour, it’s incontrovertible that Earth Hour will result in a net carbon reduction, even with all the candles.

But of course you don’t have to burn paraffin candles. Beeswax and soy candles are mostly carbon-neutral because any carbon they release by burning was only recently absorbed by plants from the atmosphere. The carbon in paraffin, by contrast, has been sitting in the ground for hundreds of millions of years.

Earth Hour’s organizers get this, of course, and they advise people not to burn paraffin candles for the event. For the sake of the climate, let’s hope the participants get it, too.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Treasury of Daily Prayer Music

I was reading the daily office in the Treasury of Daily Prayer this morning, and lamenting the fact that I can't read music and thus can't chant the offices of Matins and Vespers the way they really ought to be done.

So I decided to search on Google to see if there was any mp3 or CD or what have you of the music that goes with the TDP versions of the offices. Sadly, nothing turned up.

I then tried to find a program that would allow me to input the music into my computer and generate a midi of it... heh, those do exist but most cost money and really would require me to actually understand what the heck I'm doing, which if I did would mean I could read music and thus really would not need to do it in the first place.

Then I thought of searching on the Concordia Publishing House web site. Nothing there either.

So then I sent an email to a certain CPH editor there who has a blog called Cyberbretheren letting him know my desperate desire for such a product.

I wrote:

I love TDP! I would like to sing Matins, Vespers and Compline with my family but I can't read music. I can sing though! It would be extremely helpful if you, or someone somewhere, put out a CD of the basic tunes for the Daily Office, also for the various Psalm tones. That way those of us who do not read music, and that is most of the people I know, could sing the services and that would make us even happier with TDP.

What is the chance of such a product being produced? I'd be willing to pay actual money for it O:-)

He promptly wrote back to me, within minutes:

Hi Larry,

Your wish is our command [this time, at least!].

We have the Concordia Theological Seminary Kantorei recording all the services in the Treasury and we hope to be able, if all goes well, to release it this Pentecost.

Woo Hoo! This will be awesome! I'm ready to order it as soon as it's ready to be released. Since he didn't specifically say not to I'm posting about it here. :-) God is good.

As this unamed editor dude said to me in another email :

"I’m fired up about this project. Can you imagine how beautiful it is going to be to hear these men chanting the daily offices? Wow. I’ll mention it all over creation as soon as I can!"

Wow indeed.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Good Luck, Bad Luck? Or Both?

I wonder if he's a Christian? Many residents of Nagasaki were Christians back then... this is more Weirdness from Strange Herring:

93-Year-Old Certified as Survivor of Both Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Attributes Longevity to Being in the Wrong Place at the Wrong Time


Yes, I know, this is the Chinese symbol for longevity, and he's Japanese, I know, I know -- GET OFF MY BACK!

[Tsutomu] Yamaguchi was in Hiroshima on a business trip on Aug. 6, 1945, when a U.S. B-29 dropped an atomic bomb on the city. He suffered serious burns to his upper body and spent the night in the city. He then returned to his hometown of Nagasaki just in time for the second attack, city officials said. “As far as we know, he is the first one to be officially recognized as a survivor of atomic bombings in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” Nagasaki city official Toshiro Miyamoto said.

To have survived one blast is astounding. To have survived both blasts is a miracle. To have lived to 93 — and counting? That’s … Yamaguchi. That will be the new word for a phenomenon that’s simply not possible. And yet, it is.

Can you imagine his longevity if he had not been exposed to that much radiation?

I know what you’re thinking: the radiation gave him superpowers. That’s only in comic books. In real life, radiation only gives you diarrhea — and that’s if you’re lucky.

This guy was more than lucky. He was … Yamaguchi.

Posted in General Strangeness, It's Like a Miracle

The Episcopal Church USA

For many years, prior to returning to the Lutheran Church, I attended various Episcopal churches around the Bay Area. I especially loved the liturgy as they celebrate it, and the Book of Common Prayer is a masterpiece. Sadly they really are like this video below describes... I used to frequent Grace Cathedral in San Francisco where I experienced both glorious Easter Vigil Liturgies that could make you weep, and visits by the Dalai Lama; both wonderful Evening Prayer services and "Aztec Dancers." When I tried to find out just what they believed about Christ and the Eucharist and Sin and other questions, I got vague hand waving answers that said nothing... so, now I'm a Lutheran, a Confessional and Liturgical Lutheran. To prove you can never make me happy now I think I have too many firm answers, I want more "freedom" to make up my own way ;-) Here it is, I am Episcopalian. Enjoy! Make sure you watch it all the way through, the punch line is pretty far in ;-)

Death by burger

To confirm what we already knew: Daily Red Meat Raises Chances of Dying Early.

Well duh.

Eating the equivalent of a hamburger a day increases your chances of death by 30% in a ten year study. They give various possible explanations for this and emphasize that you don't need to be vegetarian, just cut way back. I still think mostly vegetarian is the way to go, with occasional time outs for special treats ;-)

My favorite part of the article is this:

The American Meat Institute, a trade group, dismissed the findings, however, saying they were based on unreliable self-reporting by the study participants.

"Meat products are part of a healthy, balanced diet, and studies show they actually provide a sense of satisfaction and fullness that can help with weight control. Proper body weight contributes to good health overall," James H. Hodges, the group's executive vice president, said in a written statement.

Heh. I can hear the tobacco growers now: "Tobacco products actually provide a sense of satisfaction that can help with weight control. Proper body weight contributes to good health overall." Heh. :-P

Friday, March 20, 2009

Serenity is 8 years old!

Woo Hoo! Happy Birthday Serenity!

Photos are Here, slide show below:

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Big Picture - Tonga Eruption

Very cool series of photos showing a recent underwater volcanic eruption near Tonga, be sure to go and see the entire set of 12 photos at Big Picture:

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

O Sacred Head Now Wounded (Salve mundi salutare)

This lent our church is using O Sacred Head Now Wounded as the theme for our mid-week services. This is a great hymn, based on a long Latin poem the last part of the poem was translated into German by the prolific Lutheran hymnist Paul Gerhardt (1607-1676). The music for the German and English versions of the hymn is by Hans Leo Hassler, written around 1600 for a secular love song, "Mein Gmuth ist mir verwiret." The tune was appropriated for Gerhardt's German hymn in 1656. Johann Sebastian Bach arranged the melody and used it five times in his St. Matthew's Passion; this arrangement has come to be known as Passion Chorale 7676D. Bach also used this melody in the opening choral and triumphant final chorus of his Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248. I love it so much I thought I'd share some of it here:

Lyrics (J.W. Alexander's version, 1830)

O sacred Head, now wounded, with grief and shame weighed down,
Now scornfully surrounded with thorns, Thine only crown;
How pale Thou art with anguish, with sore abuse and scorn!
How does that visage languish, which once was bright as morn!

What Thou, my Lord, hast suffered, was all for sinners’ gain;
Mine, mine was the transgression, but Thine the deadly pain.
Lo, here I fall, my Savior! ’Tis I deserve Thy place;
Look on me with Thy favor, vouchsafe to me Thy grace.

Men mock and taunt and jeer Thee, Thou noble countenance,
Though mighty worlds shall fear Thee and flee before Thy glance.
How art thou pale with anguish, with sore abuse and scorn!
How doth Thy visage languish that once was bright as morn!

Now from Thy cheeks has vanished their color once so fair;
From Thy red lips is banished the splendor that was there.
Grim death, with cruel rigor, hath robbed Thee of Thy life;
Thus Thou hast lost Thy vigor, Thy strength in this sad strife.

My burden in Thy Passion, Lord, Thou hast borne for me,
For it was my transgression which brought this woe on Thee.
I cast me down before Thee, wrath were my rightful lot;
Have mercy, I implore Thee; Redeemer, spurn me not!

What language shall I borrow to thank Thee, dearest friend,
For this Thy dying sorrow, Thy pity without end?
O make me Thine forever, and should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never outlive my love to Thee.

My Shepherd, now receive me; my Guardian, own me Thine.
Great blessings Thou didst give me, O source of gifts divine.
Thy lips have often fed me with words of truth and love;
Thy Spirit oft hath led me to heavenly joys above.

Here I will stand beside Thee, from Thee I will not part;
O Savior, do not chide me! When breaks Thy loving heart,
When soul and body languish in death’s cold, cruel grasp,
Then, in Thy deepest anguish, Thee in mine arms I’ll clasp.

The joy can never be spoken, above all joys beside,
When in Thy body broken I thus with safety hide.
O Lord of Life, desiring Thy glory now to see,
Beside Thy cross expiring, I’d breathe my soul to Thee.

My Savior, be Thou near me when death is at my door;
Then let Thy presence cheer me, forsake me nevermore!
When soul and body languish, oh, leave me not alone,
But take away mine anguish by virtue of Thine own!

Be Thou my consolation, my shield when I must die;
Remind me of Thy passion when my last hour draws nigh.
Mine eyes shall then behold Thee, upon Thy cross shall dwell,
My heart by faith enfolds Thee. Who dieth thus dies well.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Atheist Michael Shermer and Young Earth Creationist Dr. Georgia Purdom Interview

I disagree with both sides of this one :-) I'm with Ken Miller and Francis Collins, who are mentioned in the interview by the way.

Ken Miller page is here.

Francis Collins wiki entry is here.

Saint Patrick

Patrick is one of the best-known of the missionary saints. Born to a Christian family in Britain around the year 389, he was captured as a teenager by raiders, taken to Ireland and forced to serve as a herdsman. After six years he escaped and found his way to a monastery community in France. Ordained a bishop in 432, he made his way back to Ireland, where he spent the rest of his long life spreading the Gospel and organizing Christian communities. He strongly defended the doctrine of the Holy Trinity in a time when it was not popular to do so. His literary legacy includes his autobiography, Confessio, and several prayers and hymns still used in the church today. Patrick died around the year 466. [From "Commemorations Biographies," Lutheran Service Book, LCMS Commission on Worship]

The Lorica or Saint Patrick's Breastplate

Shamrock TrinityI bind unto myself today
the strong Name of the Trinity,
by invocation of the same,
the Three in One, and One in Three.

I bind this day to me forever,
by power of faith, Christ's Incarnation;
his baptism in the Jordan river;
his death on cross for my salvation;
his bursting from the spiced tomb;
his riding up he heavenly way;
his coming at the day of doom:
I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself the power
of the great love of cherubim;
the sweet "Well done" in judgement hour;
the service of the seraphim;
confessors' faith, apostles' word,
the patriarchs' prayers, the prophets' scrolls;
all good deeds done unto the Lord,
and purity of virgin souls.

I bind unto myself today
the virtues of the starlit heaven,
the glorious sun's life-giving ray,
the whiteness of the moon at even,
the flashing of the lightning free,
the whirling wind's tempestuous shocks,
the stable earth, the deep salt sea,
around the old eternal rocks.

I bind unto myself today
the power of God to hold and lead,
his eye to watch, his might to stay,
his ear to hearken to my need;
the wisdom of my God to teach,
his hand to guide, his shield to ward;
the word of God to give me speech,
his heavenly host to be my guard.

Against the demon snares of sin,
the vice that gives temptation force,
the natural lusts that war within,
the hostile men that mar my course;
of few or many, far or nigh,
in every place, and in all hours
against their fierce hostility,
I bind to me these holy powers.

Against all Satan's spells and wiles,
against false words of heresy,
against the knowledge that defiles
against the heart's idolatry,
against the wizard's evil craft,
against the death-wound and the burning
the choking wave and poisoned shaft,
protect me, Christ, till thy returning.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the Name,
the strong Name of the Trinity,
by invocation of the same,
the Three in One, and One in Three.
Of whom all nature hath creation,
eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
praise to the Lord of my salvation,
salvation is of Christ the Lord.

Translation by Cecil Francis Alexander

Monday, March 16, 2009

Why Evolution is True

I have just finished reading "Why Evolution is True" by Jerry Coyne. I seldom bother to review books here but in this case I'll make an exception. This was one of the very best discussions of evolution I've read since the passing of Stephen J. Gould a few years ago.

Not only does Coyne explain evolution in a clear, concise and easily grasped manner that is hard to argue with, he also specifically addresses many of the objections commonly presented by Young Earth Creationists and Intelligent Design advocates.

What he was not able to do, in my opinion, is make a plausible case for the origin of life itself. He postulated the "naked reproducing molecule" that then responds to natural selection and "voila!" LIFE! Heh, not even. I will give Coyne credit here though, he, unlike most of the more rabid fundamentalist atheist evolutionists, does admit that there are major problems with the experiments and ideas so far presented on the origin of life issue.

For me, I have no doubt but that the entire cosmos was designed by God, probably with the goal of creating human life here on earth. I actually like much of what they have to say at Reasons to Believe, not everything but much of it.

If you want a book to give you some ideas on how to talk about evolution with a creationist this is certainly a good one to get.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Banks and FedCo, ya gotta love 'em!

Banks Didn’t Pay into FDIC Fund for 10 Years,

Reserves Down to 43 Cents and a Pez Dispenser

penniesYou see, Congress didn’t think the banks had to make those contributions to the insurance reserve fund because they had so much cash, so what were the odds on a financial meltdown so disastrous that they couldn’t pay back all their depositors if they had to?

House Financial Services Committee chairman Barney Frank agreed that officials believed at the time that the good times would last and that bank failures would not be a problem.

“We had this period where we had no failures,” the Massachusetts Democrat said in an interview yesterday. “The banks were saying, ‘Don’t charge us anything.’ “

I know what you’re thinking: “Thank heavens the government is in charge of cleaning up this mess.”

But you’re being sarcastic, no?

Via The Consumerist

Posted in 2 + 2 = Whatever I Damn Well Say It Equals, Another Year Another Credit Card Bill

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Evolution and Atheism

I am currently reading a book called "Why Evolution is True" which sets out to prove Darwinism. A frequent assertion of Darwinists is that evolution pretty much disproves the existence of God. I, of course do believe in God, I also believe that at some levels evolution certainly occurs. My own views on the subject are not yet totally settled but at the moment they seem to match those of the Discovery Institute's Michael Egnor as described in a post reproduced below:

My Reply to Timothy Sandefur: The teaching of only the strengths of Darwinism in public schools is inherently the propagation of atheist belief.

Timothy Sandefur, a Panda’s Thumb contributor and an atheist, is a leader in the Darwinist crusade to censor balanced discussion of evolutionary theory in science classrooms. Mr Sandefur responded to my open letter to the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, a Darwinist organization that lobbies for censorship of discussion of the weaknesses of evolution in public schools and has boycotted the citizens of Louisiana because they recently passed legislation protecting academic freedom in public schools.

Mr. Sandefur begins his post with a sneer:

With the possible exception of Casey Luskin, no Discovery Institute fellow seems more eager to embarrass himself in public than Michael Egnor…
I always strive to be more embarrassing than Casey, but now it seems I’ll have to try harder. Here goes.

Mr. Sandefur asserts:

The problem with creationism is precisely that creationists like Dr. Egnor want their religion to be taught in government classrooms.
Mr. Sandefur misrepresents my views, which I have explained at length on this blog for several years and will now explain again.

This is my viewpoint on evolution:

I am a Christian and I believe that God created man and the universe. The Bible isn’t a science textbook, although it does offer insight into truth about the natural world. Reason, one form of which is science, can lead us to important truths about nature. I believe that faith and reason cannot ultimately be in conflict, because God is the source of both.

I believe that the earth is ~4.5 billion years old, and the universe is ~14 billion years old. Universal common ancestry is a reasonable inference from the evidence, and life evolved over several billion years. Some aspects of life arose by random variation and natural selection, and some aspects of life (e.g. the genetic code, molecular nanotechnology) show evidence for design by intelligent agency.

I’m not a young earth creationist. I respect young earth creationists and I strongly support their right to participate fully in public discourse, but I do not share some of their scientific viewpoints.

I believe that teaching public schoolchildren that the first two chapters of Genesis are literally true as science is unconstitutional, because it would constitute teaching a particular form of theistic religion on the public dime.

I also believe that teaching public schoolchildren and students that...

The diversity of life [all life] on earth is the outcome of evolution: an unsupervised, impersonal, unpredictable and natural process of temporal descent with genetic modification that is affected by natural selection, chance, historical contingencies and changing environments...
By coupling undirected, purposeless variation to the blind, uncaring process of natural selection, Darwin made theological or spiritual explanations of life superfluous. … Darwin's theory of evolution, followed by Marx's materialistic (even if inadequate or wrong) theory of history and society and Freud's attribution of human behavior to influences over which we have little control, that provided a crucial plank to the platform of mechanism and materialism--in short, to much of science--that has since been the stage of most Western thought.
Darwin knew that accepting his theory required believing in philosophical materialism, the conviction that matter is the stuff of all existence and that all mental and spiritual phenomena are its by-products.
is unconstitutional, because it is teaching atheism on the public dime.

I believe that teaching schoolchildren about intelligent design (which is not young earth creationism) is constitutional, because it is intrinsically part of the scientific debate about biological origins. It is part of the debate because intelligent design and Darwinism are affirmative and negative answers to the same scientific question: is there teleology in biology? The Darwinian assertion of unguided processes is meaningless unless lack of unguidedness — design — can be tested scientifically. If a scientific question can meaningfully be answered in the negative, then there must be the logical possibility of answering the question in the affirmative. If intelligent design isn’t science, then Darwinism can’t be tested empirically, and is merely dogma.

I do not advocate teaching intelligent design in public schools, even though it is obviously constitutional to do so. The reason I don’t is that most teachers don't presently understand ID well enough to teach it accurately to students, and mandating ID tends to politicize the debate. As a scientist, I want to see intelligent design be developed as a science, not as political tool, and thus, like Discovery Institute, I oppose forcing it into public school curricula. Hopefully this approach will cut down on the Expelled effect while allowing ID to progress as a science.

I advocate teaching the strengths and weaknesses of Darwinian theory in public schools, and I believe that such an evolutionary curricula should be implemented by states and local school boards, using traditional legislative and administrative processes, without undue interference by federal judges and litigious atheists. I believe in the democratic process, and I believe in freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and academic freedom. I abhor censorship.

My views accord with those of the Discovery Institute and the views of most intelligent design proponents. Mr. Sandefur may continue to misrepresent my views and the views of my colleagues, but he cannot do so honestly.

Mr. Sandefur insists:

[The Constitution] absolutely forbids the spending of taxpayer money for… the propagation of…religious viewpoints...
The teaching of public schoolchildren that evolution — “an unsupervised, impersonal, unpredictable and natural process” is a ‘fact’ and not a theory, is the propagation of a religious viewpoint.The teaching of only the strengths of evolutionary theory, and the censorship of discussion of the weaknesses, inherently employs censorship. Evolution can be taught in a constitutional manner — and a scientifically honest manner — only when its strengths and weaknesses are taught.

Mr. Sandefur wishes to exempt his own religious belief — atheism — from constitutional scrutiny.

More on Mr. Sandefur’s illiberal views to follow.

New Citi Bank Ad

Now that Citi Bank is owned by FedCo... (pardon the cussing, but dealing with any branch of FedCo is bound to bring it out in anyone)

Monday, March 9, 2009


Oh yeah, here is a graphic video from Glenn Beck that shows just what is going on, how our money is quickly becoming worthless, thanks FedCo! Buy gold if you can... me, I'm investing in beans and rice ;-)

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Daylight savings BS

It's time to set my clocks forward at the command of a stupid government drone with no clue. Because everyone else stupidly goes along with it, I have to as well, otherwise I'll never be on time to anything. Bah! What an absurd waste of time this is. Ah well, I'll be short an hour of sleep until next fall now. Curse you government drones!

E books coming

In January I declared that paper magazines were dead and books might soon follow. The hold up for me was the absence of a really good portable reader on the market. The Kindle 1 looked sort of iffy and got mixed reviews, plus I wasn't about to plunk down $400 for something I couldn't hold in my hand first. I'm glad I didn't get one then.

The other day I saw a lady reading from the new Kindle 2 on BART. I went over and asked her how she liked it and she gave it rave reviews all around, and she was a former Kindle 1 owner. She let me look at it and hold it. I have decided that, as soon as I can save up the dough, I'm so going to get me one of those! Here is another review of the new Kindle 2 from

Commemoration of Sts. Perpetua and Felicitas

from the Treasury and our Synod's website:

At the beginning of the third century, the Roman emperor Septimus Severus forbade conversions to Christianity. Among those disobeying that edict were Perpetua, a young noblewoman, and her maidservant Felicitas. Both were jailed at Carthage in North Africa along with three fellow Christians. During their imprisonment, Perpetua and Felicitas witnessed to their faith with such conviction that the officer in charge became a follower of Jesus. After making arrangements for the well-being of their children, Perpetua and Felicitas were executed on March 7, 203. Tradition holds that Perpetua showed mercy to her captors by falling on a sword because they could not bear to put her to death. The story of this martyrdom has been told ever since as an encouragement to persecuted Christians.

The Treasury supplies an additional, beautiful account by Tertullian of their martyrdom. 

Glory to You, Most Holy Father, for giving to Your servants Perpetua and Feliticas and their companions the grace of martyrdom, that they might confess their Lord by their death as by their words. Glory to You! "Teach us through their example, and the example of so many martyrs, to be ever watchful for the confession of Your Son's name. Let us not be put to shame when the evil foe lays his hand on us. But if it is Your will that we be persecuted for confessing Jesus as our Lord and only Savior, then support us in Your grace that we may withstand all trials, and grant us peaceful rest, through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. " (Treasury, p. 1307)

Friday, March 6, 2009

On Holy Communion

Given and shed for you for the remission of sins

Next in Luther’s SMALL CATECHISM, the Sacrament of the Altar:


What is the Sacrament of the Altar?

The Sacrament of the Altar is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, under the bread and wine, instituted by Christ himself, for us Christians to eat and to drink.

Where is this written?

The holy evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke, together with St. Paul, write thus: “Our Lord Jesus Christ, the same night in which He was betrayed, took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to His disciples, saying, ‘Take, eat; this is My body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.’ In the same way also He took the cup after supper, gave thanks and gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it all of you; this cup is the New Testament in My blood, which is shed for you for the remission of sins. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’”


What benefit do we receive from such eating and drinking?

The benefit which we receive from such eating and drinking is shown us by these words: “Given and shed for you for the remission of sins,” namely, that in the Sacrament forgiveness of sins, life and salvation are given us through these words. For where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation.


How can bodily eating and drinking do such great things?

It is not the eating and drinking that does this, but the words here written, “Given and shed for you for the remission of sins.” These words, along with the eating and drinking, are the main thing in the Sacrament; and whoever believes these words has exactly what they say, namely, the forgiveness of sins.


Who then receives this Sacrament worthily?

Fasting and bodily preparation are indeed a fine outward training; but he is truly worthy and well prepared who has faith in these words, “Given and shed for you for the remission of sins.” But he who does not believe these words, or doubts them, is unworthy and unprepared; for the words “for you” require truly believing hearts.

Some traditions call the sacraments “ordinances.” That is, they are considered LAWS, things you have to DO to obey God. You get baptized because God tells you to. You have communion because Jesus said to do this, so we will. Even Catholicism sees Holy Communion in terms of a law, of something the priest does–offering up Christ in an unbloody sacrifice–and what the communicants do to build up merit. Luther, though, sees the sacraments, both baptism and the Lord’s supper, as GOSPEL, as tangible means through which Christ comes to us bearing forgiveness and creating faith.

Some Christians object to the notion that physical things can bring such spiritual effects. Most of them, though, have a high view of the Bible. I like to point out that God’s Word too is something physical–a book, visible ink marks on paper, sound waves through the air that hit the eardrum–and thus, for Luther, sacramental.


Correlation does not always imply causation, but it does often enough to make it worth a second look.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Dear IRS

Don't know (or care really) if this is authentic, but it could and should be:

Actual 'Letter to the Editor' from the February 5th edition of the
Wichita Falls , Texas Times Record News...

Dear IRS,

I am sorry to inform you that I will not be able to pay taxes owed April 15, but all is not lost.

I have paid these taxes: accounts receivable tax, building permit tax, CDL tax, cigarette tax, corporate income tax, dog license tax, federal income tax, unemployment tax, gasoline tax, hunting license tax, fishing license tax, waterfowl stamp tax, inheritance tax, inventory tax, liquor tax, luxury tax, medicare tax, city, school and county property tax (up 33 percent last 4 years), real estate tax, social security tax, road usage tax, toll road tax, state and city sales tax, recreational vehicle tax, state franchise tax, state unemployment tax, telephone federal excise tax, telephone federal state and local surcharge tax, telephone minimum usage surcharge tax, telephone state and local tax, utility tax, vehicle license registration tax, capitol gains tax, lease severance tax, oil and gas assessment tax, Colorado property tax, T exas, Colorado, Wyoming, Oklahoma and New Mexico sales tax, and many more that I can't recall but I have run out of space and money.

When you do not receive my check Apr il 15, just know that it is an honest mistake. Please treat me the same way you treated Congressmen Charles Rangle, Chris Dodd, Barney Frank and ex-Congressman Tom Dashelle and, of course, your boss Timothy Geithner. No penalties and no interest.

P.S. I will make at least a partial payment as soon as I get my stimulus check.

Ed Barnett

Wichita Falls

Always carry a book

I have long been in the habit of carrying a book with me wherever I go. This has been an ingrained behavior since I could read, at least that is my recollection. Here at work it sometimes gets me funny looks when I grab my book for a quick trip up the elevator to pick up something from a resident for example. My contention has always been that it's in case the elevator breaks down. Well, today my habit proved it's wisdom as I was, for the second time since I started working here in 1990, trapped on the elevator for a time. The elevator shot past the 26th floor, which is the top floor, and stuck about 3 feet higher than the floor level. I was only in the elevator about 20 minutes, but that would have seemed much longer without a book to read! :-) So, always carry a book, you never know when you'll be stuck with nothing to do. When, for some reason, like I just finished the book I was carrying that day, I don't have a book to take with me I stick my pocket sized bible, that is always with me, in my pocket just in case.

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Tree of Life

Young Earth Creationists frequently make the claim that before the fall there was no death, not in humans or in animals. For this reason alone evolution must be rejected out of hand, it simply cannot be true. Granted, they then go on to try their best to disprove Darwinian evolution on "scientific" grounds but I do not find their reasoning on this subject to be very convincing. Still, it seems the death question is their biggest objection.

Today I was pondering Genesis 3:22-24:

Genesis 3:22-24 (ESV)
22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. 24 He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.

Several thoughts occur to me in light of this particular passage, one is if that man was initially made immortal what was the purpose of the tree of life? The other thing that came to me was how would Adam even understand what death was if there had been no death around him to observe?

Here is my take on it. There was animal death for the billions of years before the creation of Adam and Eve. That is how Adam could be expected to know just what the consequences of his sin would be. God used evolution (the details of this are unknown to me at this time) in some form, divinely guided evolution or maybe special creation of kinds followed by speciation via natural selection or whatever, to bring about the world as we know it today and eventually created Adam and Eve in a special creation event. The tree of life was to be used later on to give eternal life to Adam and Eve, but they were created like the other animals, from the dust of the ground and so mortal without the tree of life.

OK, so I haven't really thought this all out, it just seems to make a certain amount of sense that there would be a reason for the tree of life to be there! That reason would be to give life. It makes sense to me and fits with what we know of both the bible and the natural world.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Knowing Practical Things

Knowing practical things vs. knowing edu-trivia some government hack has decided you should know at age 7 or 12 or 18... Here is some important and practical stuff I know:

One of the skills Serenity has learned is "Opening a wine bottle with a cork screw." Does a mighty fine job at it too. :-) The other day she cooked a nice omelet all on her own, with me hovering nearby just in case, but she did it all. She continues to teach herself reading, much of it on the computer but also following the liturgy in church, reading signs and magazines she picks up. It's pretty impressive actually, and totally "stress free." Two days ago, having been banished from TV for a week for having an overly snarky attitude in church, she got bored and redecorated her room. Having done the work herself it's amazing how clean she has kept it the last two days, when mom cleans the room it returns to a shambles in mere seconds ;-)

All that to say I think Serenity learns a lot every day, and even though there are moments when I panic and think, "Oh no she doesn't know X, Y or Z that the government schools would be "teaching" her, I realize, after some consideration, that X, Y and Z are just trivia anyway! Learning how to learn is more important, and that she is doing a great job at!

Here is a post by Laureen that explains it pretty well I think. It's from the "Life Without School Community Blog"

The Knowing of Practical Things

by Laureen

Rowan at the Rudder Because we live in a marina, which is like a very small town, and we have a ton of interaction with our neighbors, we get quizzed a whole lot on what it is to be homeschoolers, mostly by people without children and without a real stake in the argument. Often, these discussions can be discharged relatively briefly, as over time we've accumulated several staunch non-parental defenders of this choice who have no qualms whatsoever about reading people the riot act over stupid, ill-thought-out questions.

I'll never forget the day that, after interacting intensely with my children for several hours at a marina BBQ function, someone asked me "but what about socialization" and was rewarded with a solid punch in the arm by a neighbor from a few docks over, who said "What are you, stupid? You've been talking to that kid for hours and he's kept you busy! Clearly, he's more socialized than you are!"

But above and beyond those sorts of questions, I have my own dark demons, as do we all, I think, about what they learn and how they learn it and if it's the "right" stuff to be learning. We are following an unschooling path, with the faith that they'll learn what they need to know as it confronts them, more effectively than having a bunch of disconnected edu-triva thrown at them.

A boat is a learning-rich environment, but does it apply? Kestrel is majoring in tool usage and boat repair. He fetches whatever Jason needs to do whatever he's doing; power tools, hand tools, rags, cleaners, keys, whatever. He's just now, at age three and a half, beginning to anticipate, and fetch the right tool before it's requested. He knows what a solenoid is and what it does. Rowan is our Monkey; he can climb the shrouds nearly to the top of the mast (that's 55 feet straight up, my friends). At six and three, neither of my boys are reading yet. But both of them can gleefully recount the stories of some of our more colorful boating moments. Does that count as "Retell a story including details"?

They both have gotten to where they understand the seriousness of certain tasks, like steerage, as you can see in the picture above, where Rowan's manning the rudder of the port hull. He's five years old in that picture. Doesn't really look it, does he? Officially, Rowan should be able to "Understand spatial relationships (top/bottom, near/far, before/behind)." I suppose that being given real responsibility to steer the family home, a 47' catamaran, is practical application of that. The fairway he's steering our boat down in that photo involves two 90-degree turns and only five feet of clearance on either side. And if he made a mistake, the results would be catastrophic to say the least. He handled it beautifully, and now, at six and a half, he routinely takes the helm in straight-sailing situations. Is that too much pressure? Or is that "Assignments should be challenging, but only enough to encourage your child to do the most he can on his own"?

So how do I get from the place where my confidence in them and my pride in their knowing of practical things trumps bystanders' demands of standard curricula, and their desire to impose that set of values on my children's learning, and my choices for their learning paths? How do I explain, in casual (?) conversation, that although it is not on the curricula, that having a stake in the tasks the family undertakes, and responsibly executing those tasks, counts for far more in a successful life than sitting down for their expected 20+ minutes of homework every day? And how do I walk the line between enough challenge, and other people's perception of "too much"? I am exhausted from living up to other people's expectations; they don't read, that's bad, they drive the boat, that's too much, they climb the mast, that's too dangerous, they watch TV, that's bad, they watch the nature channel, that's good. It's a constant balance between too much and not enough, and the constant judgment is onerous.

Perhaps life would be easier if "mind your own business and suspend your own judgment" was on someone's curriculum.