May 2008 - Posts
With Joe in the mountains, I bring you I-Friday. I-Friday is to i-Friday as Frocs are to Crocs or Foakleys are to Oakleys. So sit back and enjoy:
001. Nero constructed a ship in which the cabin would cave in, kill Agrippina (his arch-nemesis mother), and sink the ship. After a mock reconciliation, he sent her off in the boat. When the ceiling crashed down, the high sides of a couch saved Agrippina and a maid. When the maid tried to save herself by calling out that she was Agrippina, the sailors clubbed her to death and started to sink the boat. Agrippina secretly swam to safety to her nearby villa.
002. Engineering moment of zen link
010. The numbering method today is brought to you by the ternary numeral system.
011. “As a staunch Calvinist, Augustus Toplady despised John Wesley’s Arminian theology and bitterly attacked the great Methodist leader. ‘I believe him to be the most rancorous hater of the gospel-system that ever appeared on this island. … Wesley is guilty of satanic shamelessness of acting the ignoble part of a lurking, shy assassin.’ In 1776 Augustus wrote an article about God’s forgiveness, intending it as a slap at Wesley. He ended his article with an original poem:
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure,
Save from wrath and make me pure.
Oddly, it is remarkably similar to something Wesley had written 30 years before in the preface of a book of hymns for the Lord’s Supper: ‘O Rock of Salvation, Rock struck and cleft for me, let those two Streams of Blood and Water which gushed from thy side, bring down Pardon and Holiness into my soul.’” (Robert J. Morgan, Then Sings My Soul)
When will those Calvinists learn?!
012. “In my world everyone is a pony and they eat rainbows and poop butterflies.” (Horton Hears a Who: the movie)
020. In light of 011, I believe Joe might be bringing us a post titled “Unity versus Uniformity” in the near future.
021. Nero’s men finally arrived at the villa to finish Agrippina off. Her last words were “Strike here!” as she pointed to her womb. (a little over the top don’t you think)
022. Job Interview at Oak Ridge National Laboratory on Monday and Tuesday of next week. Off to finalize my presentation.
Have a wonderful weekend. Stay inside (for a change). Who am I kidding. Get outside. Tell your spouse you love them. And hope that Joe comes back to bring us the real i-Friday next week.
Manly backpacking taking place in the Great Smoky Mountains.
For those who are sharpest in the evening ... (or for those who went to bed at a decent hour and are reading this in the morning)
"I see in one place, God presiding over all in providence; and yet I see and I cannot help seeing, that man acts as he pleases, and that God has left his actions to his own will, in a great measure. Now, if I were to declare that man was so free to act, that there was no precedence of God over his actions, I should be driven very near to Atheism; and if, on the other hand, I declare that God so overrules all things, as that man is not free enough to be responsible, I am driven at once into Antinomianism or fatalism. That God predestines, and that man is responsible, are two things that few can see. They are believed to be inconsistent and contradictory; but they are not. It is just the fault of our weak judgment. Two truths cannot be contradictory to each other. If, then, I find taught in one place that everything is fore-ordained, that is true; and if I find in another place that man is responsible for all his actions, that is true; and it is my folly that leads me to imagine that two truths can ever contradict each other. These two truths, I do not believe, can ever be welded into one upon any human anvil, but one they shall be in eternity: they are two lines that are so nearly parallel, that the mind that shall pursue them farthest, will never discover that they converge; but they do converge, and they will meet somewhere in eternity, close to the throne of God, whence all truth doth spring ... Both are true; no two truths can be inconsistent with each other; and what you have to do is to believe them both." (Charles Spurgeon, Sovereign Grace and Man's Responsibility)
I'm a little verklempt. Talk amongst yourselves. I'll give you a topic ...
"At the close of the Revolution it has been estimated that less than 10 per cent of the American population were professing Christians. The various 'Christian' schools were filled with unbelievers and atheists. Only two of Princeton's student body professed to be Christians in 1782, and the other schools were quite as bad. Rationalistic and atheistic societies flourished. This was not so completely true in the lower South, where revivals of religion had continued from the days of the first Great Awakening (1739). The second Great Awakening in the opening years of the nineteenth century turned America again toward faith. Christians began to multiply much more rapidly than the population. While perhaps only about 275,000 out of 3,929,214 were Christians in 1790, over 83,000,000 were professed Christians out of a population of over 165,000,000 in 1956." (Robert A. Baker, A Summary of Christian History)
The bugle echoes shrill and sweet,
But not of war it sings to-day.
The road is rhythmatic with the feet
Of men-at-arms who come to pray.
The roses blossom white and red
On tombs where weary soldiers lie;
Flags wave above the honored dead
And martial music cleaves the sky.
Above their wreath-strewn graves we kneel,
They kept the faith and fought the fight.
Through flying lead and crimson steel
They plunged for Freedom and the Right.
May we, their grateful children, learn
Their strengh, who lie beneath the sod,
Who went through fire and death to earn
At last the accolade of God.
In shining rank on rank arrayed
They march, the legions of the Lord;
He is their Captain unafraid,
The Prince of Peace . . . Who brought a sword.
("Memorial Day," Alfred Joyce Kilmer (1886-1918))
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
("In Flanders Fields," John McRae, 1919)
1. The Joe Napalm definition of art is something created that I can't duplicate or produce in greater quality. Hence, all that modern art crap is nothing but scribbles and useless junk not worthy of my time. But, this, on the other hand, has been intriguing to watch: [link]. Although it is completely make-believe, it's is cool and alluring. And when you're finished with that, check out another work produced by the theatrical company, Artichoke: [link].
2. For the past week, I've heard on the radio a very frustrating commercial for the Tennessee Lottery's Hope Scholarship [link]. In it, a girl tells a sob story of how her father lost his job at the plant and the whole family worried how they were going to pay for her secondary education. But, thanks to the TN Lottery, she doesn't have to worry any more. Bah! It's terrible. I end up yelling at the radio dial, "Get a job, sweetheart, and pay for it yourself!" We're subsidizing college education, and, because the supply of money far outpaces the demand, universities can raise tuition through the roof making it hard on people who'd like to go to college honestly without someone else paying for it. It's dumb and Thomas Sowell thinks so too: [link, part 2, part 3].
3. Fred Thompson is going to blog on Townhall.com [link]. He should've been president, dang it.
4. BJ and M gave me a t-shirt. It has Chuck Norris in a Smoky Bear hat and reads, "Only Chuck can prevent forest fires." I love it.
5. So, I'm working on this Texas government / kook religion post and can't seem to get my hands on a list of cults and sects that operate in the state. There isn't a database repository for cults on the web. So far, I've turned up the FLDS, Branch Davidians and the House of Yahweh. Know of any others?
6. Have a wonderful weekend. Write a poem and submit it by email and I'll post it over the weekend. Get outside. And God bless you.
I will be conducting light archæology out back in my prætorium lair. I cannot lie. Can someone bring bread?
Yesterday afternoon, I called Wesley. Here's how it went:
Joe: Hey, loser.
Wesley: Hey. Hang on a sec. (Pulls phone away from mouth to talk to someone.) One bar equals 100 kilopascals. (Puts phone back to mouth.) OK, what'd you need?
Joe: You're such a geek...
A van leaves Point A at 1 PM Eastern and will travel to Point B that is 879 miles away in Central time. The cargo needs to arrive by 8 AM Central. Assuming that the van will average 70 mph on the interstate and has to stop three times for refuel (assume 70 mph while traveling and 0 mph for 20 minutes for each refuel), will the driver have any time to stop and rest? Or must he drive the entire time in order to reach Point B on time?
A virtual pistol wink for the person that will show their math and the correct answer.
Update: Thanks to all that helped. Here's what happened. I authorized a trucking company to pick up two pallets to take them to Shenandoah, IA. Because of your help with the math, I could tell the plant manager with confidence that the driver had plenty of time. So, big, juicy pistol winks to Fluffy, :o)} and Wesley. The drivers left at 3:01 PM Eastern and stopped 56 miles short of the destination at 3 AM Eastern. He rested for about 2 hours and then delivered the goods at 5:47 AM Eastern.
Granted, most of this blog sounds like the ramblings of a middle-aged man half off of his rocker. And to cement that perception, I give you this: my take on Christian modesty. Countless people have weighed in on the subject over millenia, so what can I offer that is different? Who knows? But what I'll attempt is the mango salsa version or the chipotle version. It's the same except with a tangy topping.
A caveat. Search "modesty" on the Internet and the bulk of the stuff you'll find concerns women's dress. Men don't get a pass here (throw that tight Speedo in the trash, please), but most of what I'll write is about women's modesty from a man's perspective. Why? Because it's my blog and I can.
When I was asked to write about Christian modesty, I immediately thought of two bullet points that should be written. No, I take that back. I thought of three. The third one was to make a point to admonish men for standing on the dining room table with an iron scepter and dictating what the womenfolk of the household will wear and how long their hair should be. But, as I thought it through, I can roll that into the other two points: 1) Modesty is an heart issue, and 2) modesty became a heart issue at one point and can be traced back, in part, to the father.
First, modesty is an issue of the heart. Men, women, girls and boys who dress immodestly do so as an expression of what's in their heart. Putting a denim dress on a lost sinner and praising them for modest dress is like putting lipstick on a pig. Let's address the heart issue first and then the modest dress will follow. So, how do we address that heart issue? Let's leave that to God, His Scripture and His Spirit. Hebrews 4:12-13 says, "For the word of God is living and active.
Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (NIV)
Your responsibility for addressing the issue of modesty personally, as the head of your household or as a leader in your church is to humbly seek God's guidance in His Word and to share that with your family, church and those with whom you come into contact. You can't fix their heart, but you can introduce them to the One who can.
Second, the lack of modesty for girls begins, in part, with the father. At least, it appears so from my perspective as a man and father. I see it this way: girls are denied the approval of their father, and, when they don't get the approval, they seek the attention of other men or boys through the very effective means of their sexuality (or in some cases, they may repress their femininity). So, what can you and me do about it?
We will start by telling our daughters and wives that we love them. We'll start by telling them that they're beautiful -- and mean it. We'll listen when they talk and remember the details. When they ask about clothing choices, we'll give an honest opinion despite their response. When a daughter says, "Dad, what do you think about this sheer blouse or belly shirt?", she doesn't want your opinion about whether or not it matches her shoes. And she surely doesn't want you to preach to her about her poor choice or how evil society is acting as peer pressure (Yawn!). She's asking if you think she'd be feminine enough and beautiful enough in it to gain your attention. Our response? Reassurance that she is beautiful and that you love her.
You know, come to think of it, I should have switched the two points. First should have been where the troubled heart of immodesty begins followed by how it can be fixed. Oh, well. Maybe if I were paid for these, I'd refine them a bit. But, there you have it: modesty, Joe Napalm-style -- and free of charge.
My wife used to be very demanding and weekends were a bear. Men at work made fun of my indecisiveness. I couldn't eat red meat and cried at the movies. That is until my doctor recommended Growaset.
Now, I no longer avoid conflict. I assert my authority. I stick up for my wife and punch anyone that even hints at causing her trouble. Russell Crowe calls for advice and my children let me drop them off at the school's front door. Thank you, Growaset.
If you'd like to take responsibility, ask your doctor about Growaset.
Caution: Growaset may cause hairy backs, smelly feet, holes in your underwear and deepening of the voice. Some who have taken Growaset have experienced increased urges to punch hippies. Growaset may cause a thickening of the wrists and knees. Do not take Growaset if you plan to begin a vegan diet, blame your problems on your parents or watch "Steel Magnolias."
(Hat tip: My sister. It was all her idea)
Let me take a minute to brag. I have an awesome family. My bride of 12 years is industrious, caring and beautiful. My older son is smart, observant and talented. My younger son is witty, athletic and loving. And my daughter is as cute as a bug, content and curious. And me? I don't deserve any of it.
Not too long ago, my wife and I made the most stupid decision of our married career. We leased a vehicle. It was a champagne-colored Honda Accord SE with a sunroof. Now, if you're not Anheuser-Busch with a fleet of delivery trucks, leasing is quite possibly more stupid than catfish grabblin' or voting Democrat. But more painful than knowing I was "ripped off" was seeing advertisements in the newspaper or hearing radio ads about the very same vehicle for considerably less. It was three years of daily disaster and the self-inflicted wounds are very, very deep.
So, along those same lines of seeing the same product for much less coin, I was grieved to see a blog post that I had intended to write already packaged for consumption after I had spent so much time and energy to produce an inferior product. But, more on that in a moment.
While working on the series of Fundamentalist Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) posts, I researched religious liberty and where it ends. I started with the United States Bill of Rights, its "sister" document, the French Revolution's Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, and the document that inspired them, the Virginia Declaration of Rights. All are basically in agreement -- and the French document specifically spells it out -- that religious liberty is guaranteed as long as the activities of religion do not violate public order in ways harmful to society.
I had a good idea of where the "line in the sand" was drawn, but I still needed to find where the Mormon church danced near the line or crossed it. First, and I don't have time to dive into it, you need to read the history of the Mormon church. A great resource is Walter Martin's The Kingdom of the Cults [link]. From before its inception, the founders of the false religion have been at odds with the U.S. government. Joseph Smith began life as a crook. He was convicted in 1826 for swindling people by using "magic". And the legal woes grew progressively worse from tar-and-feathering in Kirtland, Ohio, to the Battle of Crooked River with Missouri militiamen to outright military action by the U.S. Army in Utah.
Next, although the Bill of Rights had been written for some time, it actually wasn't until 1879 when the Supreme Court was first called to interpret the free exercise clause of the First Amendment. And, believe it or not, it was the Mormon church and the prosecution of polygamy that sent it to the High Court. From Wikipedia.org:
The Supreme Court has consistently held, however, that even though the First Amendment guarantees the right to free exercise, this right is not absolute. For example, in the 1800s, Some of the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints traditionally practiced polygamy, yet in Reynolds v. United States (1879), the Supreme Court upheld the criminal conviction of one of these members under a federal law barring polygamy. The Court reasoned that to do otherwise would set precedent for a full range of religious beliefs including those as extreme as human sacrifice. [link]
And, again at Wiki:
The Court said, "Laws are made for the government of actions, and while they cannot interfere with mere religious beliefs and opinions, they may with practices." [link]
As you can see, the precedent for the legal extent of religious liberty has been set for more than 125 years, if not longer. The actions of some members of the FLDS in El Dorado, Texas, were in direct disregard of the established laws against underage marriage and polygamy and the Texas executive acted to stop it and to bring them to justice. This was not a single action without precedent as some have alluded. Check out Short Creek raid in 1953 [link]; the 2003 conviction of Rodney Holm for unlawful sexual conduct with a 16- or 17-year old; the exploits of Fawn Broadbent and Fawn Holm, two girls who escaped parental custody; the 2005 indictment of 8 men for sexual misconduct with minors; and on and on and on.
And not only the legal run-ins, look into the men who were excommunicated by the FLDS church and stripped of their wives and children, who were reassigned to other men. Gross, isn't it? Absolutely disgusting. So now I have to ask, are you going to plead Baal's case [link]? Not me. In fact, I'm going to avoid anything that even resembles that nastiness and that's why I find pioneer dress and insular living creepy.
Finally, during my research I googled "where religious liberty ends," and lo and behold, I found this wonderful article: [link] (It's a cached site because the original has been moved to the Tribune's subscription site). Although it pains me to look at it because I had intended to write a similar post, I recommend it. In fact, just disregard everything above and check it out.
This concludes the series of posts about the FLDS. It is a dead horse and has been beaten. Now, I will take an aside and write about modesty before moving to the Texas government and its dealings with kook religions. This should be interesting....
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Don't muzzle the ox (Deut. 24:4, et al): When you ask the administrative assistant to order lunch for everyone in the conference room, make sure you give her permission to buy her lunch, too.