Sunday, November 8, 2009
The Soviets caused plenty of difficulty prior to erecting the wall, such as totally blockading West Berlin in 1948 and necessitating the Berlin Airlift (at its peak, more than 1,300 flights per day were bringing in supplies). But the Wall itself drew the battle lines more closely and tangibly than ever in the Cold War.
As I view the Berlin speeches of John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan, I am struck by the moral certainty in their text (and demeanor). To them, there was no question as to the superiority of the free world and the leadership role of America. There was no equivocation. You can check out their speeches for yourself. Reagan's is particularly moving and worth the full 25 minutes.
Kennedy in 1963, two years after the wall was erected, separating East and West Berlin:
Ronald Reagan in 1987, two years before the wall came down:
And then there's Barack Obama, on the campaign trail in Berlin, 2008. Do you hear a difference?
Unfortunately, our President is too busy to go to Berlin tomorrow for the commemoration. Apparently, it does not rise to the importance of an Olympic bid, so he's sending Hillary.
Meanwhile, if you'd like to know more about the Berlin Wall, its construction, life, and final demise, you'll find no shortage of videos on YouTube. Simply enter these search terms (or click on these links): "Berlin Wall" or "Berliner Mauer."
Monday, October 12, 2009
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Deadlines at work make for longer hours and more packed hours.
House "administration"...cleaning, fixing, paying, logging, trimming.
A Sabbath that isn't, because of meetings and trainings in addition to church, itself.
Friends I'm trying to befriend, disciples I'm trying to disciple, and leaders I'm trying to lead.
And e-mails to open, blogs to read...
...and blogs to write.
So what happens?
Mail I used to read gets summarily tossed with catalogs I used to peruse.
Invitations get turned down.
And I get resentful at all those church conferences, meetings, seminars, retreats, orientations, trainings, etc., that keep popping up.
And I stay up too late and am too tired the next day to function well or have a good attitude.
No additional church activities, please!
(But I will sign up for a six-week Flannery O'Connor class at Emory.)
((Now that makes sense.))
Is anyone else feeling overwhelmed?
Thursday, September 3, 2009
- "Pray harder! He's winning!"
- "Your Holiness, I think the Cardinal fell asleep. What do we do now?"
- "He just prayed your food will be poisoned!"
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
We give thanks unto thee,
For thou art the Lord our God and the God of our fathers for ever and ever;
Thou art the Rock of our lives,
The Shield of our salvation through every generation.
We will give thanks unto thee
And declare thy praise for our lives which are committed unto thy hand,
And for our souls which are in thy charge,
And for thy miracles, which are daily with us,
And for thy wonders and thy benefits, which are wrought at all times, evening, morn, and noon.
O thou who art all-good, whose mercies fail not;
Thou, merciful Being, whose lovingkindnesses never cease,
We have ever hoped in thee.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
We proclaim [Christ], admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.
Monday, August 24, 2009
We ignore what we already know with a deep-seated, intuitive knowledge - that no love or friendship, no intimate embrace or tender kiss, no community, commune or collective, no man or woman, will ever be able to satisfy our desire to be released from our lonely condition. This truth is so disconcerting and painful that we are more prone to play games with our fantasies than to face the truth of our existence. Thus we keep hoping that one day we will find the man who really understands our experiences, the woman who will bring peace to our restless life, the job where we can fulfill our potentials, the book which will explain everything, and the place where we can feel at home. Such false hope leads us to make exhausting demands and prepares us for bitterness and dangerous hostility when we start discovering that nobody, and nothing, can live up to our absolutistic expectations.- Henri Nouwen, The Wounded Healer, pp. 84-85.
Many marriages are ruined because neither partner was able to fulfill the often hidden hope that the other would take his or her loneliness away. And many celibates live with the naive dream that in the intimacy of marriage their loneliness will be taken away.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Chrysler says it is dropping its lifetime powertrain warranty in favor of a 5-year or 100,000-mile guarantee.
Chrysler spokesman Rick Deneau says the decision was driven by market research that showed consumers prefer warranties with a fixed time period.
Friday, August 21, 2009
This curious tornado touches down just south of downtown and follows 35W straight towards the city center. It crosses I94. It is now downtown.
The time: 2PM.
The first buildings on the downtown side of I94 are the Minneapolis Convention Center and Central Lutheran. The tornado severely damages the convention center roof, shreds the tents, breaks off the steeple of Central Lutheran, splits what’s left of the steeple in two...and then lifts.
Let me venture an interpretation of this Providence with some biblical warrant. ...
John Piper explains the biblical connection between the Minneapolis tornado and its target, the steeple of Central Lutheran Church where the ELCA was meeting to discuss homosexuality and church leadership. His conclusion? “The tornado in Minneapolis was a gentle but firm warning to the ELCA and all of us: Turn from the approval of sin.”
Wow. Today the weather in Grantham, PA is “82 degrees, feels like 88.” The humidity is 73%. God is speaking to us, too, and I believe I have been chosen to interpret today’s weather for everyone else in Grantham, and perhaps even Mechanicsburg, our surrounding suburb. My spirit is unclear regarding Camp Hill or the city of Harrisburg, so I don’t think the prophecy extends that far.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Monday, August 17, 2009
Friday, August 14, 2009
You can get more information at http://www.xixinobanho.org.br/, though it's a bit of a "shot in the dark" if you don't read Portugese.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Celibacy can be a radical testimony to God's love and provision, because it reminds us that our ultimate fulfillment has to be union with God. That is equally true for married couples, but oftentimes marriage is seen as, once you have that partner you will be fulfilled. And that's a lie. With celibacy, you have to come to grips with that early on, to say, "My fulfillment lies in God, and there are always going to be these longings unfulfilled here on earth," but that's a good thing — if everything were fulfilled on earth, we wouldn't need God.
Marriage is the metaphor for God's exclusive love for his church, and it's a good and powerful metaphor. But singleness is also a metaphor of God's love — the aspect of God's love that extends to everyone. Oftentimes church communities become so ingrown and focused on, "Let's build up our families, let's build up our community." Wait a second, what are we here for? Singles don't have that exclusive relationship, so we need to build relationships out. And the church itself needs to as well.
We wanted to look at celibacy as a state in which we are content with where God has called us, and are also willing if God calls us to a different state. We're not eliminating the possibility of marriage, but we're not put on hold until marriage comes. It's not, "I vow to be celibate until I die." It is saying, "God has called me to this state; I am going to serve God right here. If he calls me to marriage, great. I will serve God there. If he doesn't call me to marriage, fine. I'm going to serve God as a single person." With celibacy, we're trying to draw from the past but not be wrapped up in, "You've made your vow, and you're done."
Friday, July 31, 2009
When one realizes that Bible starts and ends with a marriage, the pieces may seem to fit together a bit smoother. Enclosed within the humble beginnings of human marriage was the divine mystery of ultimate marriage.... If our marriages between men and women are to reflect the marriage of the people of God to Christ, then defiling that relationship with Christ is analogous to defiling the human relationship with one’s spouse.
This is why God presses the Gospel on the whole of our lives, this is why not paying close attention to our devotion to God is like adultery. To see this maybe more clearly, let’s use an example.
I am getting married tomorrow…to my lovely fiance Alexandra Kaufman. We are entering into a covenant before God to pledge ourselves only to one another, until death do us part. Considering that we are both virgins, the honeymoon will be quite the intoxicating, blissful experience as well. But suppose sometime around the first of the year something changes.
Alexandra initially only came to me for sexual fulfillment, but somewhere along the line her heart starts to wander a bit. It’s not as noticeable at first, we continue on as usual. But then after a while, she starts bringing home other guys to sleep with. This goes on briefly before I casually remind her that she is supposed to come to me for that kind of fulfillment. With that in mind, she apologizes and then does just that.
But by doing that, all she changes is that now she expects me to find the other guys for her. She comes to me for fulfillment, but she wants me to give her all manner of other men to satisfy her rather than myself. She could have the only type of fulfillment she was meant to have if she would only just ask for it, but she continues sowing her wild oats even within our own bedroom. I don’t particularly seem to mind though, because she is at least nice about it and she makes sure to not interfere with my sleeping habits. We both continue on in this sort of affair, because after all, it’s only marriage, right?
I would be worried if anybody reading this was not appalled at the possibility of my marriage…turning into something like this.
However, we often don’t seem too appalled when our relationship with Christ, which is pictured as a marriage turns into something like this.
We start out fully devoted, only to slowly turn our affections to things of this world. Maybe later we get gently rebuked and come to our senses, but instead of giving up our idols, we merely start coming to Christ to get them. What is worse still is that we fully expect God to respond in the above manner and not particularly mind if we are out busy working the streets, spreading our legs for whoever passes by, so long as we come on Sundays and renew our vows.
How would Alexandra feel if I went to the strip clubs 6 days a week and rounded out the night by picking up a prostitute, so long as I came to her at least once a week for a passionate reconnection?
How should God respond when we do the same thing?
In Christianity in America, this is the course of the mainstream. One glance at some of the largest churches in America reveals that they are run more like brothels. People come and are encouraged in their adultery by appealing to the idolatry of health, wealth and happiness as what God intends to give to us rather than promoting the orthodox idea that it is Himself that is to be most treasured by us.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
- C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed, pp. 49-50
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Monday, July 27, 2009
I suppose another sign of his perspicacity is his referring to my own Wild at Heart critique twice in his series, when he refers to Eldredge's romanticism and gnosticism. But even without that, I would have recommended him. Really.
Check out Nate's blog. I think you'll like what you see, not just on Eldredge but on other topics, as well.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Most Church art is still produced by factories, not created by a sense of mission or desire to incarnate the unseen reality. Only the artist transfigured in faith and master of his medium can accomplish this. Father P. Raymond Regamy, in Religious Art in the Twentieth Century, says, “Nazi art, the socialist realism of the U.S.S.R., and the art that we normally find in churches are the three most dreadful manifestations of art that our century has witnessed.” There is a harsh truth here. Who knows how many have rejected religion from a subconscious revulsion to paintings of Christ they have absorbed since childhood. An effeminate Jesus and saccharin madonna may appeal at one level of a starved emotional life, but they do not reach deeper to liberate and heal. The face of God must be portrayed in Christ as mercy and truth combined. Unless it is so, religious imagery will be a closed door inhibiting our growth in the Kingdom. Bad art has the power to deform a people just as good art generates new reflection, growth, vision, and hope.
The artist is all idealist, and for him the ideal is the real, capable of transforming his world into what it should be. For Western man it is difficult to grasp this curious vocation. He misreads art as decoration, entertainment, or a tool for imparting information.
The popular modern emblems of faith are the rainbow and the much-abused butterfly. Yet they are losing their symbolic power because they have been used exhaustively to express a false joy, that of resurrection without crucifixion.
As a liturgical artist he will need to balance the tension between mystery and hospitality, a creative and healthy tension which should be characteristic of our places of worship. So often the parish church is a safe place where we go to keep intact our middle-class vision of existence. We want to tame God, to make the sanctuary an extension of our living rooms and ourselves into spectators — consumers — of the liturgy. We must re-experience the church as holy ground, welcoming and warm, but sacred. A place where we are not to be confirmed in mediocrity, but led to transfiguration. This is a particularly urgent need, because in liturgy the human soul should be opened to God, and once it has been so exposed it must be fed real food. Much of what passes for liturgical art fails to nourish because its makers have not found its source within themselves. There is talent but little or no vision. Church art rarely commands respect; it is seen by the world as a gasp from a dying Christian culture. If we are offended by these opinions we must now, more than ever, seek the origins and purposes of art and bring it to fruition in the prophetic heart of the Church. [We could say the same about church music, couldn't we?]
No renewal of sacred art in our times will come if the artist's gift, his spiritual gift, is regarded as a piece of merchandise with which to cover the empty spaces on our walls.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
One of the great Prayer Book collects asks God that we may
“love the thing which thou commandest, and desire that which thou dost promise”. That is always tough, for all of us. Much easier to ask God to command what we already love, and promise what we already desire.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Sarah Palin's resignation gives Republicans a new opportunity to see her plain—to review the bidding, see her strengths, acknowledge her limits, and let go of her drama. It is an opportunity they should take. They mean to rebuild a great party. They need to do it on solid ground.
Her history does not need to be rehearsed at any length. Ten months ago she was embraced with friendliness by her party. The left and the media immediately overplayed their hand, with attacks on her children. The party rallied round, as a party should. She went on the trail a sensation but demonstrated in the ensuing months that she was not ready to go national and in fact never would be. She was hungry, loved politics, had charm and energy, loved walking onto the stage, waving and doing the stump speech. All good. But she was not thoughtful. She was a gifted retail politician who displayed the disadvantages of being born into a point of view (in her case a form of conservatism; elsewhere and in other circumstances, it could have been a form of liberalism) and swallowing it whole: She never learned how the other sides think, or why.
In television interviews she was out of her depth in a shallow pool. She was limited in her ability to explain and defend her positions, and sometimes in knowing them. She couldn't say what she read because she didn't read anything. She was utterly unconcerned by all this and seemed in fact rather proud of it: It was evidence of her authenticity. She experienced criticism as both partisan and cruel because she could see no truth in any of it. She wasn't thoughtful enough to know she wasn't thoughtful enough. Her presentation up to the end has been scattered, illogical, manipulative and self-referential to the point of self-reverence. "I'm not wired that way," "I'm not a quitter," "I'm standing up for our values." I'm, I'm, I'm.
In another age it might not have been terrible, but here and now it was actually rather horrifying.
Friday, July 10, 2009
Thursday, July 9, 2009
July 9, 2009
Months to Live
Sisters Face Death With Dignity and Reverence
By JANE GROSS
PITTSFORD, N.Y. —
A convent is a world apart, unduplicable. But the Sisters of St. Joseph, a congregation in this Rochester suburb, animate many factors that studies say contribute to successful aging and a gentle death — none of which require this special setting. These include a large social network, intellectual stimulation, continued engagement in life and spiritual beliefs, as well as health care guided by the less-is-more principles of palliative and hospice care — trends that are moving from the fringes to the mainstream.
For the elderly and infirm Roman Catholic sisters here, all of this takes place in a Mother House designed like a secular retirement community for a congregation that is literally dying off, like so many religious orders. On average, one sister dies each month, right here, not in the hospital, because few choose aggressive medical intervention at the end of life, although they are welcome to it if they want.
“We approach our living and our dying in the same way, with discernment,” said Sister Mary Lou Mitchell, the congregation president. “Maybe this is one of the messages we can send to society, by modeling it.”
Primary care for most of the ailing sisters is provided by Dr. Robert C. McCann, a geriatrician at the University of Rochester, who says that through a combination of philosophy and happenstance, “they have better deaths than any I’ve ever seen.”
“It is much easier to guide people to better choices here than in a hospital,” he said, “and you don’t get a lot of pushback when you suggest that more treatment is not better treatment.”
Few sisters opt for major surgery, high-tech diagnostic tests or life-sustaining machinery. And nobody can remember the last time anyone died in a hospital, which was one of the goals in selling the old Mother House, with its tumbledown infirmary…and using the money to finance a new facility appropriate for end-of-life care.
“There is a time to die and a way to do that with reverence,” said Sister Mary Lou, 56, a former nurse. “Hospitals should not be meccas for dying. Dying belongs at home, in the community. We built this place with that in mind.”
….Here, everyone mixes. Of the 150 residents, nearly half live in the west wing, designated for independent living….Forty sisters live in assisted-living studios, and another 40 in the nursing home and Alzheimer’s unit, all in the east wing, with the chapel, dining rooms and library at the central intersection. Closed-circuit television allows those confined to their rooms to watch daily religious services.
Dr. McCann said that the sisters’ religious faith insulated them from existential suffering — the “Why me?” refrain commonly heard among those without a belief in an afterlife. Absent that anxiety and fear, Dr. McCann said, there is less pain, less depression, and thus the sisters require only one-third the amount of narcotics he uses to manage end-of-life symptoms among hospitalized patients.
On recent rounds, Dr. McCann saw …Sister Jamesine Riley, 75, once the president of the congregation, who barely survived a car accident that left her with a brain injury, dozens of broken bones and pneumonia. “You’re not giving up, are you?” Dr. McCann asked her. “No, I’m discouraged, but I’m not giving up,” Sister Jamesine replied in a strong voice.
Some days, Dr. McCann said, he arrives with his “head spinning,” from hospitals and intensive-care units where death can be tortured, impersonal and wastefully expensive, only to find himself in a “different world where it’s really possible to focus on what’s important for people” and, he adds, “what’s exportable, what we can learn from an ideal environment like this.”
Barbara Cocilova, the nurse practitioner here, sees differences in the health of these sisters compared with elderly patients in other settings….Among those with Alzheimer’s, Ms. Cocilova said, diagnostic tests tend to produce better-than-expected results among those who are further along in the disease process, a possible result of mental stimulation.
Sister Bernadine Frieda, 91, spry and sharp, spends her days visiting the infirm with Sister Marie Kellner, 77, both of them onetime science teachers. Sister Marie, who left the classroom because of multiple sclerosis, reminds an astounded sister with Alzheimer’s that she was once a high school principal (“I was?!”) and sings “Peace Is Like a River” to the dying. “We don’t let anyone go alone on the last journey,” Sister Marie said.
Seven priests moved here in old age, paying their own way, as does Father Shannon, who presides over funerals that are more about the celebratory “alleluia” than the glum “De Profundis.”…He shares with them the security of knowing he will not die among strangers who have nothing in common but age and infirmity.
“This is what our culture, our society, is starved for, to be rich in relationships,” Sister Mary Lou said. “This is what everyone should have.”
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
In Untimely Meditations, Friedrich Nietzsche spins a tale that goes like this: Once upon a time, on a minuscule planet orbiting a mediocre star, clever little animals emerged from the slime—and not long after began using puffed-up words like truth and goodness. Even worse, they thought they could attain genuine knowledge in this ultimately dead world. But their little C-grade star eventually cooled, and these pathetic little creatures died out, and with them died their proud words and hard-gained knowledge. The universe shed not one tear but merely looked on from its cold, infinite, uncaring skies.
One must at least credit Nietzsche for drawing out the consistent implications of atheism. Recent atheists, in contrast, seem to preach their atheism with an odd fervor, and one looks in vain for these overheated unbelievers to acknowledge that atheism entails a pointless universe. Perhaps, though, we should sympathize with our current crop of evangelizing atheists. Nietzsche’s pointless-universe thesis is so difficult to maintain that not even he could manage it. In a later book, The Gay Science, he came to the conclusion: “It is still a metaphysical faith upon which our faith in science rests—that even we seekers after knowledge today, we godless anti-metaphysicians, still take our fire, too, from the flame lit by a faith that is thousands of years old, that Christian faith which was also the faith of Plato: that God is the truth, that truth is divine.”
Rare is the contemporary atheist who takes his atheism as radically as did Nietzsche.
Monday, July 6, 2009
Friday, July 3, 2009
Which ethnic group would you describe yourself as being in?
Other Black background
Other Asian background
White & Asian
White & Black African
White & Black Caribbean
Other mixed background
Other ethnic group
Prefer not to say
This list tells you a lot about the U.K. and the history of the British Empire, doesn't it? I'm guessing the 2010 U.S. Census will have different choices.
Monday, June 29, 2009
"Nine out of ten of you struggle with impure thoughts...Especially after the story I told about my wife"
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Friday, June 19, 2009
Kind of makes you want to get on a flight today, doesn't it?
Monday, June 15, 2009
I've been critical of Twitter for what seems to me incorrigible frivolity (and narcissism). Who would have thought the Sistine Chapel would be similarly categorized by its painter?
(Credited to Michelangelo...source unknown.)
Friday, June 12, 2009
That may go a long ways toward explaining why I'm still single.
On campus, one of the taunts - or badges of honor, depending on your perspective - was "Navigator Neverdater." Unlike Crusade, we weren't known as a marriage factory. In fact, it was rather the opposite. Early in my college career, someone said that you only have 4 or so years in college, and it's an unparalleled time for growth in your Christian walk, so why not focus on that and save the dating/marriage stuff for later? Sounded good to me, so I made a commitment not to date until after college. Only when I started getting interested in someone during my missionary years did I remember that my commitment had expired. So we dated a couple times, but she married my friend, instead. They're now Navigator staff.
All of the above is simply to introduce this delightful video from a Navigator college student. It's clear that this part of the DNA of the Navs is still recognizable. Of course, the Navs are defined by something much different than collegiate dating practices, namely such things as Scripture Memory, Bible study, discipleship, and spiritual reproduction. And also of course, most people involved with the Navs do get married. Nevertheless, if you were involved with the Navs in college, you'll love this video, and if you weren't, you'll probably find it rather funny, too:
Thursday, June 11, 2009
- You live and let live.
- Tolerance reigns.
- Neither party demands anything of the other and neither changes anything to accommodate the other (neither one "compromises").
It's hard to summarize accurately what he was saying, because to me it seemed inconsistent and a bit incoherent, but it was clear that he didn't agree with my claim that the best relationship is one based on active love, commitment, deference, service, and sacrifice. His view seemed to be that each should do whatever he/she wants, with the goal of maximizing self-pleasure and minimizing self-pain. I commented that if two partners with that view ever actually agreed on something, it wouldn't be a relationship, but a coincidence.
- "God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3.16)
- "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." (John 15.13)
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
If you are like me then you have at least one or two social networking accounts.... I may have taken it to extremes but I eventually went and got a FriendFeed account which tied most of them together. By doing this when I update my Friend Feed status I update my Facebook and Twitter accounts. but here is where it gets tricky. If I update my Flickr, youtube, my Google Talk status, one of the many blogs, or my 73s.org accounts, Friendfeed will pull from them and publish the update out to the others. As these updates get pushed to the Twitter account my Live Spaces account will post that update as well. Another cool thing is if I share an item from Google Reader, it will also push that and any comments to Friend Feed, and then back out from there. Duplicate items can happen, and I am still working on that, but all in all it is easier to really only manage one or two instead of the 12 I once had to cut and paste too.
Now If I could get the Zune Social updates to replicate as well, I would not have to update anything separately.
Do I really need to let the whole world what I am having for dinner? If you have to ask then you just don't understand. It is cool to be able to let you friends and family know what is going on, and to share articles that have caught my eye. Do I have to? no not really, but it is cool, and I am still having fun with it. When it becomes a chore then I may have stop. Until then, keep connected, and share what tips you have for linking your social networking in the comments.
Monday, June 8, 2009
[An] internal intelligence report on La Familia from the Mexican justice department surfaced in Milenio, bringing the news that the faith-based cartel grounds its indoctrination program on the writings of macho Christian author and veteran Focus On The Family senior fellow John Eldredge, who now heads Ransomed Hearts Ministries in Colorado Springs.
There are four separate references to Eldredge in the Mexican intelligence memo on La Familia. The cartel has conducted a three-year recruitment and PR campaign across Michoacan featuring thousands of billboards and banderas carrying their evangelical message and warnings. La Familia is known for tagging its executions and other mayhem as “la divina justica”–divine justice.
The report says La Familia leader, Nazario Gonzalez Moreno aka El Loco o More Chayo (”The Craziest”) has made Eldredge’s books required reading for La Familia and has paid rural teachers and National Development Education members to circulate the Colorado-based evangelical’s writings throughout the Michoacan countryside.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
A green revolution
May 28th 2009 From The Economist print edition
Saving the world will not be cheap
The best way to curb global warming would be a carbon tax. The money raised could be divided up among citizens or used to repay the national debt. A tax on carbon dioxide (CO2) would give everyone an incentive to emit less of it. It would be simple, direct and transparent. For these reasons, it will never happen in America.
Frank talk about energy policy is rare. Politicians hate to admit that anything they plan to do will cause pain to any voter. During the election campaign, both Barack Obama and John McCain proposed a cap-and-trade system for curbing CO2 emissions, not because it would work better than a carbon tax but because it did not have the word “tax” in its name. Both candidates also gave the impression that their green policies would yield huge benefits while imposing no costs. A shift to alternative energy, they agreed, would not only check global warming but also create millions of green jobs and help break America’s dependence on foreign oil.
Neither dwelt on the fact that cap-and-trade will raise energy prices, that subsidies for renewable energy will have to be paid for, or that both policies will destroy jobs as well as creating them, while probably cutting growth. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that a 15% cut in CO2 emissions will cost the average American household $1,600 a year. If politicians pretend they can save the planet at no cost, they risk a backlash when people realise they were fibbing.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
The great statesmen of the past saw themselves as heroes who took on the burden of their societies' painful journey from the familiar to the as yet unknown. The modern politician is less interested in being a hero than a superstar. Heroes walk alone; stars derive their status from approbation. Heroes are defined by inner values; stars by consensus. When a candidate's views are forged in focus groups and ratified by television anchorpersons, insecurity and superficiality become congenital.
Henry Kissinger, Years of Renewal, 2000
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
"I Did Not Come to Call the Righteous"
We ninety-nine obedient sheep;
we workers hired at dawn’s first peep;
we faithful sons who strive to please,
we virgins who take pains to keep
our lamps lit, even in our sleep;
we law-abiding Pharisees;
we wince at gospels such as these.
Monday, June 1, 2009
Look Who's Irrational Now
By MOLLIE ZIEGLER HEMINGWAY
...The reality is that the New Atheist campaign, by discouraging religion, won't create a new group of intelligent, skeptical, enlightened beings. Far from it: It might actually encourage new levels of mass superstition. And that's not a conclusion to take on faith -- it's what the empirical data tell us.
"What Americans Really Believe," a comprehensive new study released by Baylor University yesterday, shows that traditional Christian religion greatly decreases belief in everything from the efficacy of palm readers to the usefulness of astrology. It also shows that the irreligious and the members of more liberal Protestant denominations, far from being resistant to superstition, tend to be much more likely to believe in the paranormal and in pseudoscience than evangelical Christians.
The Gallup Organization, under contract to Baylor's Institute for Studies of Religion, asked American adults a series of questions to gauge credulity. Do dreams foretell the future? Did ancient advanced civilizations such as Atlantis exist? Can places be haunted? Is it possible to communicate with the dead? Will creatures like Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster someday be discovered by science?
The answers were added up to create an index of belief in occult and the paranormal. While 31% of people who never worship expressed strong belief in these things, only 8% of people who attend a house of worship more than once a week did.
Even among Christians, there were disparities. While 36% of those belonging to the United Church of Christ, Sen. Barack Obama's former denomination, expressed strong beliefs in the paranormal, only 14% of those belonging to the Assemblies of God, Sarah Palin's former denomination, did. In fact, the more traditional and evangelical the respondent, the less likely he was to believe in, for instance, the possibility of communicating with people who are dead.
This is not a new finding. In his 1983 book "The Whys of a Philosophical Scrivener," skeptic and science writer Martin Gardner cited the decline of traditional religious belief among the better educated as one of the causes for an increase in pseudoscience, cults and superstition. He referenced a 1980 study published in the magazine Skeptical Inquirer that showed irreligious college students to be by far the most likely to embrace paranormal beliefs, while born-again Christian college students were the least likely.
Surprisingly, while increased church attendance and membership in a conservative denomination has a powerful negative effect on paranormal beliefs, higher education doesn't....
On Oct. 3 , Mr. Maher debuts "Religulous," his documentary that attacks religious belief. He talks to Hasidic scholars, Jews for Jesus, Muslims, polygamists, Satanists, creationists, and even Rael -- prophet of the Raelians -- before telling viewers: "The plain fact is religion must die for man to live."
But it turns out that the late-night comic is no icon of rationality himself. In fact, he is a fervent advocate of pseudoscience. The night before his performance on Conan O'Brien, Mr. Maher told David Letterman -- a quintuple bypass survivor -- to stop taking the pills that his doctor had prescribed for him. He proudly stated that he didn't accept Western medicine. On his HBO show in 2005, Mr. Maher said: "I don't believe in vaccination. . . . Another theory that I think is flawed, that we go by the Louis Pasteur [germ] theory." He has told CNN's Larry King that he won't take aspirin because he believes it is lethal and that he doesn't even believe the Salk vaccine eradicated polio.
Anti-religionists such as Mr. Maher bring to mind the assertion of G.K. Chesterton's Father Brown character that all atheists, secularists, humanists and rationalists are susceptible to superstition: "It's the first effect of not believing in God that you lose your common sense, and can't see things as they are."