Tuesday, February 28, 2006


I love pie.

This became vitally apparent to me last thanksgiving while Dave Letterman was reading from the list of potential pies made by his mom. Every year when he reads those pies I remember how much I love pie. This year something changed.

Since that fateful day in November I have made pie a bigger part of my life. I have experienced much more pie happiness since then. I've also put on about 10 lbs.

I'm on a quest best described by a question from a colleague: "Ryan, what's your favorite kind of pie?"

Ryan: "That's I'm trying to figure out."

So far, I must say that cherry pie is unfailingly delicious. I'm a fruit pie man primarily.

Blueberry, marionberry, peach and Dutch apple round out the top 5.

Tonight was a special night because I had my first piece of sweet potato pie. It's not a fruit pie but it rules over pumpkin pie with an iron fist. I'm in South Carolina for a conference and this restaurant is amazing.

I love the word pie. I like saying it.


I look forward to eating my first strawberry rhubarb pie.

If you have any suggestions on where to get a great pie in Colorado or Boston, please note it in the comments section.

I would be grateful.


He then, who has ears to hear...

This has become my favorite hymn, praise song, whatever you want to call it.

I find that I am compelled to initiate a campaign to make this song known far and wide.

Drink deeply:

Before The Throne Of God Above

Cook, Vikki / Bancroft, Charitie Lees

Before the throne of God above,

I have a strong, a perfect plea,

A great High Priest whose name is Love,

Who ever lives and pleads for me.

My name is graven on His hands,

My name is written on His heart.

I know that while in heaven He stands,

No tongue can bid me thence depart,

No tongue can bid me thence depart.

When Satan tempts me to despair,

And tells me of the guilt within,

Upward I look and see Him there,

Who made an end of all my sin.

Because the sinless Savior died,

My sinful soul is counted free.

For God the Just is satisfied

To look on Him and pardon me,

To look on Him and pardon me.

Behold Him there the Risen Lamb,

My perfect spotless righteousness,

The great unchangeable I Am,

The King of glory and of grace,

One with Himself I cannot die.

My soul is purchased by His blood,

My life is hid with Christ on high,

With Christ my Savior and my God,

With Christ my Savior and my God.

One with Himself I cannot die.

My soul is purchased by His blood,

My life is hid with Christ on high

With Christ my Savior and my God,

With Christ my Savior and my God.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Needing to wake up, West just closes its eyes

Mark Steyn: "In five years' time, how many Jews will be living in France? Two years ago, a 23-year-old Paris disc jockey called Sebastien Selam was heading off to work from his parents' apartment when he was jumped in the parking garage by his Muslim neighbor Adel. Selam's throat was slit twice, to the point of near-decapitation; his face was ripped off with a fork; and his eyes were gouged out. Adel climbed the stairs of the apartment house dripping blood and yelling, "I have killed my Jew. I will go to heaven."

Is that an gripping story? You'd think so. Particularly when, in the same city, on the same night, a Jewish woman was brutally murdered in the presence of her daughter by another Muslim. You've got the making of a mini-trend there, and the media love trends.

Yet no major French newspaper carried the story.

This month, there was another murder. Ilan Halimi, also 23, also Jewish, was found by a railway track outside Paris with burns and knife wounds all over his body. He died en route to the hospital, having been held prisoner, hooded and naked, and brutally tortured for almost three weeks by a gang that had demanded half a million dollars from his family. Can you take a wild guess at the particular identity of the gang? During the ransom phone calls, his uncle reported that they were made to listen to Ilan's screams as he was being burned while his torturers read out verses from the Quran.

This time around, the French media did carry the story, yet every public official insisted there was no anti-Jewish element. Just one of those things. Coulda happened to anyone. And, if the gang did seem inordinately fixated on, ah, Jews, it was just because, as one police detective put it, ''Jews equal money.'' In London, the Observer couldn't even bring itself to pursue that particular angle. Its report of the murder managed to avoid any mention of the unfortunate Halimi's, um, Jewishness. Another British paper, the Independent, did dwell on the particular, er, identity groups involved in the incident but only in the context of a protest march by Parisian Jews marred by ''radical young Jewish men'' who'd attacked an ''Arab-run grocery."

I doubt that we'll see any Hollywood movies about this kind of social injustice, any time soon.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Jim Layman's: Students Changing the World

Jim Layman's: Students Changing the World

A new blog from one of my estimable colleagues.

Killing of Jew 'not anti-Semitic'

The Australian: "HE calls himself the 'Brain of the Barbarians'. But France's most wanted man, gang leader Youssef Fofana, has denied accusations anti-Semitism motivated the kidnapping, torture and killing of Ilan Halimi, a Parisian Jew.

The telephone salesman died on February 13 soon after he was found near a suburban Paris train station, naked, bound, gagged and suffering burns and torture marks to 80 per cent of his body.

The three-week hell allegedly inflicted on Halimi by Fofana's gang of 'barbarians' in a densely populated suburban Paris housing block where neighbours turned a blind eye has horrified France, which has the largest Jewish population in Europe."

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

“UAE and American Ports: a Modest Proposal”

Big Lizards:Blog:Entry “UAE and American Ports: a Modest Proposal”: "Neither side has noticed that there is a fairly obvious compromise staring us in the face, which Big Lizards believes would resolve the very real security concerns without losing the equally real security benefits from this deal.

Both the actual national-security risk and also the political danger come, not from the ownership of the company, but rather from the day to day management -- the actual control of operations. The emirate wants the profits that accrue from ownership; rational Americans want to see control of the port, even the cargo areas, in friendly hands, preferably American.

This suggests a workable compromise: an American company should be chartered -- American owned and American managed -- that is a wholly owned but independently operated subsidiary of Dubai Ports... call it American Port Services, Inc., or somesuch name that makes clear the nationality; and then let all the actual management of the ports be handled by the American APS, not by Dubai Ports.

This will add a middle corporate layer, so Dubai Ports won't make quite as much of a profit as they would running the ports directly; but on the other hand, it's still better than no profit at all. And Americans can be assured that rather than shifting from British control to UAE control, we will in fact have shifted from British to American control of port operations."

Read the whole thing.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Mass Gender

Welcome to MassRight: "'Check here if sex designation has changed?' I couldn't believe what I was reading. Granted, I should have expected that a state that legalized gay marriage would normalize transgenderism by including such a question on an official state form... but this is just too much."

#1 Song on This Date in History

#1 Song on This Date in History: "What was the #1 song in the U.S.A. the day you were born? The day you graduated from high
school? The day you were married? Oh, don't be shy ... how about the approximate date you were

Hide and Seek

"Hide and Seek" - Imogen Heap: "1. Hide and Seek - Imogen Heap"

This is a song that I discovered by using Rhapsody, the monthly subscription music jukebox. It's so great I can hardly describe it.

The harmonies on Hide and Seek are thick and gripping.

I need to get back into choir.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Nanny McPhee (2005)

Nanny McPhee (2005) was a delight.

My kids loved it and so did I.

It's a cross between Mary Poppins, and Cinderella.

A delight.

My Rating: Own it

Want to find those WMD's?

The American Thinker: "Only two weeks ago, General Sada, formerly Sadaam’s no 2 Air Force Commander, told the New York Sun that Sadaam’s WMD was moved to Syria just six weeks before the US-led invasion. Now Ali Ibrahim confirms this and explains the underlying strategy of Saddam:

I know Saddam’s weapons are in Syria due to certain military deals that were made going as far back as the late 1980’s that dealt with the event that either capitols were threatened with being overrun by an enemy nation. Not to mention I have discussed this in-depth with various contacts of mine who have confirmed what I already knew. At this point Saddam knew that the United States were eventually going to come for his weapons and the United States wasn’t going to just let this go like they did in the original Gulf War. He knew that he had lied for this many years and wanted to maintain legitimacy with the pan Arab nationalists. He also has wanted since he took power to embarrass the West and this was the perfect opportunity to do so. After Saddam denied he had such weapons why would he use them or leave them readily available to be found? That would only legitimize President Bush, who he has a personal grudge against. What we are witnessing now is many who opposed the war to begin with are rallying around Saddam saying we overthrew a sovereign leader based on a lie about WMD. This is exactly what Saddam wanted and predicted. "

Bode Miller: Imagine there's no defeat

NBCOlympics.com - Alpine Skiing - Austrian Raich wins men's giant slalom: "Miller now has failed to medal in all four races in these games, but said afterward that he could just as easily have four golds.

'One of the good things about my career is I have such extensive knowledge, so I always go as hard as I can,' Miller said. 'Some guys can go 70-80 percent and get results, but I wouldn't do that.

'If things went well, I could be sitting on four medals, maybe all of them gold.'"

Maybe Nike can start a new ad campaign slogan on the heels of Bode Miller's Olympic results: Just Pretend.

Advice for Traveling Workers 3

A continuation of an incredibly wise excerpt from the papers of John R. Mott regarding wise living during frequent business travel.

Part 1

Part 2

III. Let Us Religiously Keep a Weekly Rest Day

If this is not made a matter of religion all experience of our workers shows that it will not be done at all. If we are so situated that we cannot observe the same day each week. Let us preserve the average of one day in seven at all costs, and make the interval between rest days as nearly six as possible. I have found from experience that it is a help to keep a written record in my pocket notebook of dates of rest days, of places where they were spent, and how they were spent. It is desirable, and sometimes necessary, to spend the day away from the place where we have been working. Let us not use it as time to catch up on business correspondence or reports. Let us not use it as a day of railway travel. It is necessary not only to burn the bridges behind us, but also not to go swimming in the stream which skirts our regular work.

To make this day what it should be it is necessary that we make plans for it, and that these plans include some strong diversion. Each man must determine his own plans and must make them so flexible that they may be adapted to the environment in which his general program places him. Sleep longer than usual. Spend much more time than usual in exercise in the open air. We should get next to nature and fall in with her spirit and ways and laws. Devote from two to four hours to general reading and to study according to some plan. Do not count as lost an absolutely idle hour now and then. If the rest day falls on the Sabbath let us fall in with the observances and purpose of the day.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Summon the Heroes

Eric Swanson: Jeff's Homecoming from Baghdad: "While we were waiting for Jeff, Company Commander Ramos told us that they were returning from a difficult year of intense action and the 126th performed with excellence. His mission was to bring every man back safely and he nearly succeeded, only losing one man to a roadside mine. Their losses were minimal compared to the loses some companies suffered. After reuniting with Jeff we went to Denny's for breakfast and then drove back to Jeff and Ashlies house in Las Cruces were Jeff unpacked his treasures from Iraq--not exactly the spoils of war but great souvenirs--books on Iraq, stamp and money collections, a few silk scarfs and a bunch of dessert hats. Jeff told us a bunch of stories that he couldn't tell us when he was home on leave. Some were rather frightening and by the grace of God he returned unharmed. While we were at dinner late this afternoon, Donny arranged for a fraternity brother, 3 Star General Jan Huley to give Jeff a call. All we heard Jeff say was, 'Thank you sir.....Thank you very much sir.... It was a pleasure to serve my country sir.... I learned a lot sir and had some great experiences.' It was pretty cool.

Can we say we are thankful? When I think of great days in my life I think of the day Liz and I were married, the births of Andy, Jeff and Kacey, Andy and Jeff's wedding and this...Jeff--coming home in the company of other heros. Thanks Jeff. Great to have you home!"
I am honored to know Jeff and his family. He has served his country with courage and distinction. May God bless him and his family.

Saturday, February 18, 2006


I finally realized and fixed this link.

Please don't forget.

PlayStation 3 Over $800?

Slashdot | PlayStation 3 Delayed, Over $800?: "'Cnet is reporting that a research report issued by Merrill Lynch suggests that the Sony PlayStation 3's American release may be postponed until 2007. From the article: 'The analyst firm proposed the idea that high costs and Sony's decision to use an 'ambitious new processor architecture--the Cell' is making it look like the company might not be able to meet its goal of getting the PS3 out in the U.S. this year.' Sony did not immediately respond to a request for comment.' The official report (pdf) would also seem to indicate that the console will be somewhere in the neighborhood of $900 when it launches."

Don't ever tell me that this is too expensive?

Advice for Traveling Workers 2

A continuation of an incredibly wise excerpt from the papers of John R. Mott regarding wise living during frequent business travel.

See Part 1

II. Suggestions on the Care of the Physical Life of the Traveling Secretary

Let us get a genuine vacation before the year's work begins. It is imperative, because in traveling work, more possibly than in any other, we need reserve power. One month spent in real vacation will do far more for us than two months spent in the ordinary so-called vacation. By real or genuine vacation I mean a complete change from our regular work. This involves cessation from speech-making, from executive work, from all efforts to move men, from receiving or writing letters and telegrams, from weighing problems and elaborating plans, from talking or thinking shop or associating with men whose presence makes it difficult tot keep from such talk or thinking, from close application to prolonged study, from working on schedule time. It would not be bad to imitate the German professor who stopped his watch and clock when he went on his vacation. It involves making special provision for agreeable physical exercise. This should include the real recreation, or the play element. It should be a form of exercise which affords intense pleasure.

It emphatically does not involve neglect of exercise for the cultivation of the spiritual life. Nor does it involve ceasing from all intellectual employment. I am convinced that if a man spends one solid hour each day on purely intellectual work, on an entirely different subject from those which command his attention the rest of the year, he will enter the new year with even greater freshness and grip and with less likelihood of breaking down than the man who gives his mind no solid work. Of course there may be exceptions to this rule, for example, the case of a man who has had a serious breakdown, or who is threatened with nervous prostration, or the case of a man who has been reading closely all the year. In a word, a vacation, such as I mean it, involves active, congenial, and healthful employment of body (chiefly), mind, and spirit on new lines, without any suggestion of pressure or driving or treadmill, and all in the midst of surroundings conducive to realizing thorough recreation.

Religion and Politics

Guardian Unlimited | US elections 2004 | Loose definitions: "Not all leftwingers in the US are as frankly religious as Hillary Clinton, and many don't even realise that the ideas that they champion have deep religious roots. But even for these people, being leftwing has itself become a sort of religion, with those who disagree viewed as sinister, almost demonic forces, rather than simply as individuals holding different views.

The language of righteousness and sin, if not that of redemption and grace, remains a hallmark of the purportedly secular left, though I find it no more attractive than the language of the religious right.

I don't fit into the religious right or the religious left. But, in America, you don't get to choose a major political party that does not have some sort of religious strain to it.

And it strikes me that one reason why politics in the US have become so much more bitter over the past couple of decades is that two rather different threads of religiosity have come to dominate the two major parties in distinct fashion, where each party had previously incorporated major components of both. This has turned political battles into quasi-religious ones."

This quote is old but it came up at Instapundit recently.

I've believed this for years. Which is why it's so absurd when people say that we should keep religion out of school. There's plenty of religion in school today. It's just not Christianity anymore, as it was when Harvard and Yale were founded. And it has all of the intolerance and narrow-mindedness associated with the worst of religion, made worse by the delusion that it isn't one.

Jacobellis' Hard Knocks

ESPN.com: "Lindsey Jacobellis tried to show off and she got what she deserved: She fell on her tail.

Jacobellis had a 50-yard lead in the first women's Olympic snowboardcross final Friday in a dandy of a race. She had looked over her shoulder several times in the bottom section of the run to see where her opponents were on the course. Obviously, she could already feel the weight of that gold medal around her neck. She was excited. She was confident of her victory. And she tried to show off a bit, throwing a back-side method over the second-to-last jump. But she held the grab too long, lost her edge and tumbled to the snow.

While she was scrambling to get up, Tanja Frieden of Switzerland came around the final turn and blew by Jacobellis to steal what would have been Team USA's fourth gold medal in snowboarding at these Olympics. But then again, Frieden didn't really steal anything; Jacobellis gave it to her."

If you didn't see this, you missed one of the memorable moments in all of sports. I'll have it on Tivo for some time. In fact, if you want to see it, come on over.

At first I was stunned. I caught a glimpse of what I thought was a showboat move and her snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. I thought that she got what she deserved.

But as I saw Jacobellis interviewed by Costas last night on NBC, it became clear to me that she is a young girl, an amateur in the best sense of the word. Amateur: [French, from Latin amātor, lover, from amāre, to love.]

This girl loves to snowboard. She worked hard to win but to her it seems that the joy of the sport exceeds her desire to win.

And of course she learned, or can learn from this experience.

Proverbs 1:8-9 8 Listen, my son, to your father's instruction and do not forsake your mother's teaching. 9 They will be a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck.
I was talking to my son about this very passage yesterday, not knowing that a living illustration of the relationship between wisdom and success would materialize later that day.

This weeks sign that the apocolypse is upon us:

Nick Lachey Requests Spousal Support | Jessica Simpson : People.com: "Nick Lachey filed papers in L.A. Superior Court on Friday requesting spousal support from soon-to-be ex-wife Jessica Simpson, PEOPLE has learned. In her Dec. 16 divorce filing, Simpson, 25, had petitioned that Lachey, 32, not receive alimony. "

Friday, February 17, 2006

Mormonism History?

Bedrock of a Faith Is Jolted - Los Angeles Times: "From the time he was a child in Peru, the Mormon Church instilled in Jose A. Loayza the conviction that he and millions of other Native Americans were descended from a lost tribe of Israel that reached the New World more than 2,000 years ago.

'We were taught all the blessings of that Hebrew lineage belonged to us and that we were special people,' said Loayza, now a Salt Lake City attorney. 'It not only made me feel special, but it gave me a sense of transcendental identity, an identity with God.'

A few years ago, Loayza said, his faith was shaken and his identity stripped away by DNA evidence showing that the ancestors of American natives came from Asia, not the Middle East."

Of course, having grown up in LA, I have a hard time believing anything in the LA Times.

Cheney's Arrogance

I've been thinking this same thing all week.

I'm glad Krauthammer put it into print for me.

Quell Quailgate: "Arrogance? The media laying these charges are the same media that just last week unilaterally decided that the public's right to know did not extend to seeing cartoons that had aroused half the world, burned a small part of it and deeply affected the American national interest. Having arrogated to themselves the judgment of what a free people should be allowed to see regarding an issue that is literally burning, they then go ballistic over a few hours' delay in revealing an accident with only the most trivial connection to the nation's interest or purpose."


Thursday, February 16, 2006

WebMD: Antichoice zealots?

OpinionJournal - Best of the Web Today:

Congratulations! The Radical Right Now Controls Your Body!
We've occasionally consulted WebMD.com for information on health and medicine, but imagine our shock when we learned that it had been hijacked--wittingly or unwittingly, we know not--by the radical right!

A page called "Your Pregnancy Week by Week: Weeks 9-12" is chock full of anthchoice propaganda. "By the end of the third month," it outrageously claims, "your baby is fully formed. Your baby has arms, hands, fingers, feet and toes and can open and close its fists and mouth."

They mean the third month of pregnancy, not the third month after the kid is born. That's right, what they're talking about isn't a baby at all but a fetus. In case the antichoice fanatics have you flummoxed, the following definitions are helpful:

  • fetus: a clump of tissue.

  • baby: one of those little--sorry, vertically challenged--persons that the village raises while his or her mother pursues a fulfilling career.

But the WebMD folks are either hopelessly confused or part of a sinister plot against reproductive rights. Look what it says under Week 10:

Congratulations! Your baby is now officially called a "fetus."

This is a contradiction in terms, a nonsensical statement. It's like saying, "Congratulations! Your accountant is now officially called a 'tumor.' " But of course the radical right wants to propagate the myth that a fetus is somehow "human" so as to further its agenda of heteronormative white male supremacy.

Are the folks at WebMD co-conspirators in this effort or mere dupes? If the guys at the National Organization for Women would get off the dime and file a RICO action, maybe we'd find out.

Man, I love when they do this.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

End of the Spear (2006)

End of the Spear (2006)

I saw this a few weeks ago and I was moved by the courage displayed in this story, especially the courage of the woman.

The movie is a bit amateurish in spots but is well done on the whole.

The story is very moving. The fact that it is true is almost unbelievable.

A friend forwarded me details about the lead actor who is a gay activist. This story offers some background.

When I got home from watching the film, I read some of the online reviews. I was amazed at the hubris and bias present in many of the mainstream media reviews.

This review from TV guide is a prime example:

Jim Hanon, a former ad exec who had previously dealt with the Saint family's story in his first film, the 2005 documentary BEYOND THE GATES OF SPLENDOR, never once mentions the name of Jesus Christ in the course of his film, but clearly He is what the Waodani, whose complex culture and religion are completely overshadowed here by their violence and pounding jungle drums, need in their lives. When a fearful Steve asks Nate whether he'd ever use a gun against the Waodani, Nate piously replies, "We can't shoot the Waodani. They're not ready for heaven. We are." Hanon neglects to mention more secular causes for the increase in killings among the threatened Waodani, such as outside oil exploration and the introduction of new diseases, all of which can be tied to the kind of foreign interference that's represented here only in its most benign form. -— Ken Fox
I'm sure Ken Fox at TV guide is more of an expert on this indigenous tribe than the people who lived with them for decades and died in their service.


Can you imagine Fox trying to justify the murder of a homosexual in Texas (Brokeback Mountain), a race murder in LA (Crash) or the persecution of communists (Good Night, and Good Luck).

Neither can I. But those Christian missionaries had it coming.

Some are worthy of understanding and compassion, others are not. I guess that's what passes for tolerance at TV guide.

This article is about the echo chamber of Hollywood and the Academy Awards. Apparently the narrow minds include critics as well.


I forgot my rating.

My Rating: Big Screen

Advice for Traveling Workers 1

I recently read an incredibly wise excerpt from the papers of John R. Mott regarding wise living during frequent business travel.

Since I haven't been able to find it online, I wish to add it here in sections.

Part Five


I. Why do men break down physically in the Traveling Secretaryship?

I do not know of any who have broken down primarily because of indigestion, although there is need in such a work of exerting common sense and resolution as to simplicity of diet; as to having meals as nearly as possible at regular hours, in avoiding speaking right after meals, in avoiding committee meetings at meals. I do not recall any of our secretaries who have been incapacitated chiefly as a result of bad air or water, although vigilant care should be taken to secure sufficient good water and air. I emphasize sufficient, because probably not one in ten of us drink on-third as much water as he should and because few if any of us practice deep breathing sufficiently. Moreover, men are not being obliged to leave our work because they have not learned the desirability of adapting their clothing to the constant climatic changed, characterizing this country, to which one engaged in such a work is subjected, or because they have failed to use care in this respect after meetings and at other times when they are exhausted.

God has marvelously shielded our force through all the years so that not one of us has been physically shattered by accident or pestilence. Again, I don not think of any man in this work who has broken down by rusting out, that is, as a result of idleness. Why, then, do men break down in the traveling work? There is no question that not a few of them have done so. We recall nearly a score of men and women who have been thus set aside either temporarily or permanently. We are convinced that in the great majority of cases the direct cause is overwork, or the too exclusive employment of certain parts of the brain or nervous system. The indirect cause, and this is the vital point, is insufficient rest and exercise. The chief fault is not with our work or calling and its necessary and peculiar conditions, as it is, for example, in the case of miners. The fault is chiefly with ourselves. It is on this main point then - that of suitable rest and exercise- that we would concentrate our suggestions on the physical life.

More to come...

"Munich" and revenge

My review of Munich is here.

Prager, as always, has interesting commentary.

Townhall.com :: Columns :: "Munich" and revenge by Dennis Prager - Jan 10, 2006: "But what could be more just, more moral, than Israel targeting only the murderers for death? Though the film attempts to portray the Israeli response as morally useless -- with 'cycle of violence' and 'it accomplishes nothing since they just substitute a new terrorist for the one last killed' arguments -- the film is nevertheless a tremendous compliment to the Israelis.

First, it shows how careful the Israelis were to kill only the murderers (though the Israeli hit team did in fact kill one innocent Moroccan in Norway, which is not shown in the film).

Second, while the Israelis are constantly asking themselves if they are doing what is right, there is not a hint of moral self-inquiry among the Palestinians. For good reason.

So while the film is dedicated to the proposition that men involved in killing murderers become themselves morally inferior beings and therefore pay a great personal price for their war on evil, the facts of the film, as opposed to the made-up dialogue, suggest quite the opposite: That the world is a better place when revenge and justice are the same."

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Olympic Pride

BREITBART.COM - Miller accepts combined disqualification:

"'I don't tend to get that disappointed. At least I don't have to go all the way down to Turin (for a medal) tomorrow.'"

That's the spirit. Citius, Altius, Whatever.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Campus Christians face hardships

Washington Square News - Christians face hardships: "The round-faced, faux-hawked Australian is the pastor of a church called “Origins” that’s just starting out in the basement of a bar on the Upper East Side, and this night he’s the guest speaker at the weekly meeting of Campus Crusade for Christ, or “Cru.” After praises are sung and prayers are said, Tyson encourages everyone to think of a picture that describes his or her own life. Tyson’s is a famous 16-year-old picture of a lone man with a bag in his hand staring down a line of tanks while a crowd of protesters stands aside in China’s Tiananmen Square.

If ever there were a metaphor for being an evangelical Christian at NYU, said Cru President Ted Sangalis, this picture is it."

Too Inclusive?

Christianity Today Magazine: "Carlton Pearson, a high-profile pastor who lost 90 percent of his church's 5,000 members after publicly teaching that everyone will eventually be saved, held the final service in his church building on New Year's Eve."
This same kind of thing is going to hit the fan when they make a movie of the C.S. Lewis book "The Last Battle".

Friday, February 10, 2006

"Navigating the college transition" by Derek Melleby

Comment Magazine - "Navigating the college transition" by Derek Melleby:

"Welcome to the world of the university.

There is much cause for alarm in this introduction. We should be concerned with the contemporary landscape of higher education because of its cultural influence on society. 'As the university goes, so goes the culture' may not be entirely true. There are many factors that influence society, but there is some truth to this statement. Institutions of higher learning affect culture. If you are looking for a strategic mission field, colleges and universities are a good place to start.

But there is another reason to be concerned. The world of the university has not been an accommodating place for young Christians to nurture faith. According to Barna Research, less than one third of all teenagers are likely to attend a Christian church once they are living independently of their parents. Many students are not ready for the intellectual and personal challenges to the Christian faith they will experience in college"

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Josh McDowell Confronting the 'Code'

Confronting the 'Code' - OrlandoSentinel.com: Entertainment: "As a conservative evangelical leader, Josh McDowell is one of the last people you'd expect to urge young Christians to see The Da Vinci Code, the upcoming movie based on the phenomenally best-selling novel. After all, the book argues that Jesus sired a line of royalty before he died on the cross, because Mary Magdalene was pregnant with his child -- and that all of it was covered up by religious leaders through the centuries.

But McDowell, author of The Da Vinci Code -- A Quest for Truth, not only urges a trip to the theater, but also advises everybody to read the novel.

Then, he says, read his book.

"I don't attack [Da Vinci Code author] Dan Brown. I don't attack the book," says McDowell, who is on the staff of Orlando-based Campus Crusade for Christ. "Let's see where fact leaves off and imagination begins. It's a marvelous opportunity to be positive. The main purpose of my book is to reinforce their belief and placate their skepticism. If you look carefully, truth will always stand."

McDowell and Campus Crusade, a worldwide ministry with more than 20,000 staff members and volunteers, seem to have accepted this truth: The movie, starring Tom Hanks and set to open May 19, almost certainly will be a blockbuster. So instead of fighting the wave of popular culture or urging a boycott, Campus Crusade is pushing McDowell's book, which is aimed at young moviegoers and tries to spin their interest in an evangelical direction.

McDowell says he wrote the book after distraught parents told him their children had read the novel and, as a result, walked away from their faith.

The evangelist's rejoinder is a short paperback written in the form of a series of dialogues between a college graduate student and several of his friends. They meet for coffee on a weekly basis to discuss the book after seeing the movie together. The tone is neutral regarding Brown and his motives, and complimentary to his storytelling, but the grad student systematically refutes the way biblical and church history are portrayed in the story.

"It's about engaging with people on their spiritual journey," says Mark Gauthier, Crusade's national director for U.S. campus ministry. "A picture such as The Da Vinci Code and the book raises questions about spirituality. This obviously presents a great opportunity to engage with people as they explore the very spiritual issues that [surface] in the book and movie.

"We see our role in this is not to encourage or discourage people from seeing the movie," Gauthier says. "Our goal is not to promote or to dissuade people from going. This is the world we live in. This is what people are thinking about. There's a real desire of people to grapple with serious spiritual issues, not to point fingers."

Quest for Truth's publisher, Green Key Books, is considering a first printing of 100,000 copies. Crusade is also planning to print 500,000 copies of a mini-magazine version of the McDowell book, complete with stills from the movie. Like other evangelical groups, Crusade is preparing Web-based study guides to the film."

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

First Grader Suspended for Harassment

BREITBART.COM: "A first grader was suspended for three days after school officials said he sexually harassed a girl in his class by allegedly putting two fingers inside the girl's waistband while she sat on the floor in front of him."

This is what I had in mind when I quoted a "biologically disrespectful model of education" the other day.

Shocking that this happened in Mass. Shocking.

The NSA Flap: Explained

In case you've been wondering what this whole NSA wiretapping business is about, the following post will help explain it in detail. It explains a lot actually.
Power Line: A Liberal Speaks: "We get a great many emails, a considerable number of which are from liberals. A few of these are thoughtful and informative. The vast majority are not. Today we got an email from a Democrat named Matt Mullen. It's above average for an email from a lefty--more coherent and less profane than most. He was responding to this post, where I related a story that Debra Burlingame told yesterday:
One of the most telling moments is when Debra Burlingame points out that prior to the September 11 attacks, the NSA was surveilling an al Qaeda member in Yemen who placed or received more than a dozen phone calls to and from a number in San Diego. Because these calls involved someone in the United States, the NSA didn't listen to them. It turned out that the "Kahlid" who was receiving the calls in San Diego was one of the September 11 hijackers. In fact, he was one of the hijackers who murdered Debra's brother, the pilot of American Airlines flight 77.

This is what Democrats and the news media call "domestic spying." Do the Democrats really want to return us to the days when al Qaeda could call its American operatives with impunity?

Mr. Mullen took offense at my question, and responded:

No dumbshit. We want the president to spy on al queda, BUT we want him to follow the damned law too!

Oh, I'm sorry, is that too nuanced for you thick headed fools?

If Hillary Clinton were doing what Bush is doing you guys would be going ape-shit.

Respectlessly, Matt Mullen

This is what passes for argument on the left. Note, first, that if the NSA program were terminated, as some have demanded, we would be right back where we were before September 11, with phone calls from terrorists into the U.S. going unheard. This can fairly be described as "call[ing] American operatives with impunity."

But Matt, like many other Democrats, admits that President Bush is doing the right thing. He agrees with the President's decision to order the NSA to intercept international terrorist communications, including those with one end in the U.S. He wants the NSA to listen in on al Qaeda calls to the U.S., but he wants the President to "follow the damned law too!" As Matt no doubt knows, we have written extensively on the legal issues surrounding the NSA terrorist surveillance program. At least five federal appellate decisions stand for the proposition that the President has the constitutional authority under Article II to order warrantless surveillance for foreign intelligence gathering purposes. This means that the NSA program is legal. Matt offers no argument or authority to the contrary.

Presumably the "damned law" Matt wants NSA to comply with is FISA. But the Constitution, as well as FISA, authorizes the President to carry out electronic surveillance. As the FISA court of appeals wrote in 2002, if FISA tried to limit the President's Article II power to conduct warrantless surveillance, it would be unconstitutional to that extent. Matt offers no comment on these legal principles. Probably he is unaware of them.

Section 109 of FISA also says that FISA does not apply where surveillance is "authorized by [another] statute." The administration argues, supported by the Hamdi case, that Congress's Authorizaton for the Use of Military Force authorizes intercepting enemy intelligence, which, like detaining enemy combatants, is a "fundamental and accepted incident of war." If the administration is right, FISA does not come into play at all. Matt must know about this argument, since it has been widely reported, but he makes no attempt to rebut it.

The essence of Matt's rather surly communication, I think, is the suggestion that the administration could "follow the damned law"--i.e., FISA's procedures--without negatively impacting its ability to intercept enemy communications. (If that were true, one can only wonder what the fuss is all about!) Like many liberals, Matt apparently doesn't understand that obtaining a FISA order is a very complicated matter. A large amount of information must be assembled, and legal opinions must be obtained. If you doubt that assembling the necessary package to place before a judge would take days, if not weeks, read 50 U.S.C. Sec. 1804.

Matt has no doubt heard on the mainstream media and left-wing web sites that FISA's onerous procedures are really no problem, since the statute contains a 72-hour "emergency" provision that would allow surveillance to begin immediately, as long as a judge signs an order within 72 hours thereafter. This, however, is wrong. As Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has patiently and repeatedly explained, surveillance cannot begin until the Attorney General makes a finding that 1) an "emergency situation exists," and 2) "the factual basis for issuance of an order under this subchapter to approve such surveillance exists." That means that even in an emergency, the same onerous factual showing that is normally made to a judge must be made to the Attorney General--legal opinions, "minimization procedures," and all. In the meantime, as the days tick off the calendar, the al Qaeda henchman overseas can continue calling his American contacts "with impunity," as I put it in my original post.

Matt, of course, knows nothing of this.

Judging from his writing style, Matt is young, probably a teenager, so there may be hope for him. But our email inbox confirms what we see when we read the newspapers: liberalism is the philosophy of the ill-informed; the intemperate; the marginal."

This last line explains, of course, the popularity of The Daily Show and Jon Stewart.

Jimmy Carter: Give Hamas a chance - Feb 1, 2006

CNN.com - Feb 1, 2006: "Hamas deserves to be recognized by the international community, and despite the group's militant history, there is a chance the soon-to-be Palestinian leaders could turn away from violence, former President Jimmy Carter said Wednesday...

Hamas, which has called for the destruction of Israel and has long been considered a terrorist group by the U.S. State Department, was expected to fare well in last week's elections. But it dominated them, winning 76 of the 132 seats in the Palestinian Legislative Council."
A friend of mine recently told me that Carter is very critical of religious fundamentalism in his new book.

One wonders if Jimmy Carter would be as supportive if Pat Robertson had won the election in Palestine.

Sex at Yale

FemmeFantastic: "The annual Ivy bachannal, subtly dubbed "Sex Week at Yale", is back again starting February 13 in celebration of Valentine's Day (as in SAINT Valentine--the Roman who was martyred for refusing to give up Christianity-- for anyone who was wondering...)

Ron Rosenbaum attended the Week's inaugural year for Atlantic Monthly in 2003 and wrote this telling piece from his experience. He dubs Day 4 the "Spiritualization of Sex" which is a theme I find particularly interesting and particularly prominent in most best-selling novels these days.

Which, incidentally, reminds me of Dan Heimbach and his relatively new book "True Sexual Morality" that talks about this rising trend in American culture.

For more on this sex-week-like phenomenon, check out this short article by Federica Matthewes-Green, "What to Say at a Naked Party""
This is a great blog.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)

The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005) just came out on video and if you haven't seen it, you really should consider it.

It's part court room drama, part horror film, part religious and philosophical dialogue.

It has a superb cast and is very well made.

Every few years comes a film that is an excellent starting point for interesting discussion of religious issues. This film is winner on that score.

It's scary but not like most R rated horror flicks.

Definitely worth seeing and thinking about.

My Rating: Big Screen

Campus Scholarship

Chicago Tribune | NU rips Holocaust denial: "Northwestern University President Henry Bienen said Monday that a professor's recent comments denying that the Holocaust happened are 'a contemptible insult to all decent and feeling people' and an embarrassment to the university.

Bienen commented days after tenured engineering professor Arthur Butz commented in the Tribune and in the Iranian press that he agreed with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's assertions that the Holocaust is a myth.

Iran's semi-official Mehr News Agency and the English-language Tehran Times have published Butz's comments, promoting the Northwestern professor as one of the world scholars who support the Iranian president. Ahmadinejad, who also has called for Israel to be 'wiped off the map,' recently ordered the restart of uranium enrichment, raising fears that Tehran could try to build a nuclear weapon."

If you're not oppressed, you ain't Shiite

OpinionJournal - Best of the Web Today: " The Boston Globe wades into the Danish cartoon controversy by urging more sensitivity toward Muslims:

Freedom of expression is not the only value at issue in the conflict provoked by a Danish newspaper's publication of cartoons satirizing Islam's founding prophet, Mohammed. . . .

The original decision of the Danish paper, Jyllands-Posten, to solicit and publish a dozen cartoons of the Muslim prophet was less a blow against censorship than what The Economist called a schoolboy prank. . . .

Publishing the cartoons reflects an obtuse refusal to accept the profound meaning for a billion Muslims of Islam's prohibition against any pictorial representation of the prophet. Depicting Mohammed wearing a turban in the form of a bomb with a sputtering fuse is no less hurtful to most Muslims than Nazi caricatures of Jews or Ku Klux Klan caricatures of blacks are to those victims of intolerance.

Blogger Eugene Volokh wondered if the Globe was equally solicitous of the feelings of Christians offended by various government-sponsored artworks in the U.S. It would appear not. Volokh digs up an editorial from 1999 praising a judge who ordered New York City not to withhold funding for a museum that displayed "a painting of a black Virgin Mary spotted with elephant dung," as well as two editorials from 1990 denouncing then-Sen. Jesse Helms and others who had criticized the National Endowment for the Arts over artworks including Andres Serrano's "Piss Christ."

These earlier editorials, Volokh writes, make "eminently plausible arguments." What they do not do is acknowledge that Christians have any reason to find the depictions of Jesus and Mary "hurtful."

A similar double standard is on display at the Washington Post. Agence France-Presse quotes Fred Hiatt, editor of the Post's editorial page, as saying: "If I were faced with something that I know is gonna be offensive to many of our readers, I would think twice about whether the benefit of publication outweighed the offense it might give."

But here is Hiatt, quoted a day earlier in his own paper about his own cartoon kerfuffle:

Fred Hiatt, The Post's editorial page editor, said he doesn't "censor Tom" and that "a cartoonist works best if he or she doesn't feel there's someone breathing over their shoulder. He's an independent actor, like our columnists." Hiatt said he makes comments on drafts of cartoons but that Toles is free to ignore them.

Asked about Sunday's cartoon, Hiatt said, "While I certainly can understand the strong feelings, I took it to be a cartoon about the state of the Army and not one intended to demean wounded soldiers."

What accounts for the difference? A combination of fear and ideology. Muslim fundamentalists, or at least some of them, express offense by torching embassies and threatening terrorist attacks. By contrast, U.S. military leaders write firm but polite letters to the editor, and Christian fundamentalists ask their elected representatives to stop spending tax money on offensive stuff. (Never believe a liberal when he professes to find Christian fundamentalists "scary.") There is no need to appease an opponent who respects rules of civilized behavior.

There is also an ideological component, which goes back to the essay we noted last week on "folk Marxism," or liberal multiculturalism. This ideology sees the world as a series of class struggles--not between economic classes, as in proper Marxism, but between racial, ethnic, religious, sexual or other identity groups, which are defined as either "oppressors" or "victims."

Generally speaking, multiculturalists consider Christians to be an oppressor class, while Muslims are a victim class. A victim class's grievances must be taken seriously and can even trump free expression, while the same is never true of an oppressor class's. (The multicultural worldview sees Jews as an intermediate class--victims of Christians, oppressors of Muslims--which is why liberals can be outraged by anti-Semitic imagery in "The Passion of the Christ" but unperturbed by terrorism against Israelis.)

In this regard, Hiatt's staunch defense of the Toles cartoon, which offended members of the military, is particularly telling. As we've noted, those on the antiwar left often talk of soldiers as if they were a victim class. We haven't heard any of them, however, side with the soldiers who find the Toles cartoon offensive. This suggests that the soldiers-as-victims trope is purely cynical."

Who cares if boys are hurting?

Dr. Helen: "Did you know that 86% of all adolescent suicides in the U.S.are comitted by boys? And the real problem? Nobody gives a damn."

Read the whole thing and ask yourself why.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Tony Dungy voices the pain & lessons from his son’s suicide

Tony Dungy voices the pain & lessons from his son’s suicide - (BP): "DETROIT (BP)--An emotional Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy, in his first speaking engagement since his son’s funeral, headlined the 19th annual Athletes in Action Super Bowl breakfast Saturday morning at the Super Bowl XL headquarters hotel in Detroit."

My sources tell me that one NFL owner and one head coach indicated decisions to follow Christ at this event.

Closed Minds on Campus: CS Lewis

ChristianityTodayLibrary.com: "Lewis's statements concerning the purpose of the Oxford University Socratic Club, of which he was the president from 1942 to 1954, shed additional light on his involvement in the apologetic enterprise.

'In any fairly large and talkative community such as a university,' he explained, 'there is always the danger that those who think alike should gravitate together into coteries where they will henceforth encounter opposition only in the emasculated form of rumour that the outsiders say thus and thus. The absent are easily refuted, complacent dogmatism thrives, and differences of opinion are embittered by group hostility. Each group hears not the best, but the worst, that the other groups can say.'

Lewis perceived that each side misunderstood the other's position because the two sides never had a truly honest encounter with each other."
Clearly Lewis lived before the advent of Hate Speech Codes and politically correct "sensitivity". As noted in the post preceding this one, Harvard is so unaccustomed to debate that faculty nearly swoon when confronted by opinions that differ from their own.

Lewis is prophetic, describing the general feel of academia in our time: "The absent are easily refuted, complacent dogmatism thrives, and differences of opinion are embittered by group hostility."

Saturday, February 04, 2006

The Trouble With Boys

Newsweek Society - MSNBC.com: "Boys are biologically, developmentally and psychologically different from girls—and teachers need to learn how to bring out the best in every one. 'Very well-meaning people,' says Dr. Bruce Perry, a Houston neurologist who advocates for troubled kids, 'have created a biologically disrespectful model of education.'"

The trouble with Universities more like. It is very interesting to me that Newsweek would assume something in this article that is rejected with horror at Harvard.

Of course the question is, if the differences between boys and girls demand changing the learning environment, doesn't that imply that the differences between men and women demand the same concessions in the work environment. I'm sure this question would make some at Harvard black out but it's either a valid question or not. I imagine this has implications for industry, society and the military. Trying to ignore this question is foolish.

For example, the Newsweek article points out that classes that are segregated by sex to better than those that are not. I'm willing to bet the same is true for students in college dorms. But I expect it would take quite a bit for college administrators to implement this idea.

It's not just boys who are in trouble but men also:
Washington Post: Statistics show that a young man who doesn't finish school or go to college in 2005 will likely earn less than half what a college graduate earns. He'll be three times more likely to be unemployed and more likely to be homeless. He'll be more likely to get divorced, more likely to engage in violence against women and more likely to engage in crime. He'll be more likely to develop substance abuse problems and to be a greater burden on the economy, statistically, since men who don't attend college pay less in Social Security and other taxes, depend more on government welfare, are more likely to father children out of wedlock and are more likely not to pay child support.
Yet ironically it is school that often creates a hostile environment for men, which is what the Newsweek article is all about. And of course things like Promise Keepers have long been dismissed as archaic and dangerous by the denizens of the University culture.

Wisdom is known by her children.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Teenager Attacks Three Men at Gay Bar in Massachusetts - New York Times

New York Times: "BOSTON, Feb. 2 — A teenager armed with a hatchet and a handgun seriously injured three people early Thursday at a gay bar in New Bedford, Mass., the police said."
Apparently the teen butcher is anti-Semitic and a Nazi.

What other ideology is popular in the world today that commits violence against homosexuals and Jews?

I'll give you three guesses and it's not Christianity.

Here's another hint: The Bush Administration is currently fighting a war against them in Iraq.

Another hint: no one has had the courage to make a major film denouncing this ideology. Except of course for Theo Van Gogh and he ended up like the poor souls in this bar.

Last hint: Kanye West has never portrayed a revered prophet of this ideology on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.

Give up? Well, the New York Times would never see any similarity between this evil act against homosexuals and the queried ideology. You can bet they would if this were a shooting on an abortion clinic. If this happened in Iraq or Iran or Syria or Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan or Indonesia or Nigeria it wouldn't make the Times either.

I just figure evil is, you know, evil, and should be condemned wherever you find it.

Respect for Religion?

Instapundit.com -: "PIETER DORSMANN compares the controversy over the Mohammed cartoons with that over Andres Serrano's 'Piss Christ.'

The lesson is that if you want your religion not to be mocked, it helps to have a reputation for senseless violence. Is this the incentive structure we want?"

How Wal-Mart Is Like Academia

TCS Daily - How Wal-Mart Is Like Academia: "Because the academic market is so tight, universities have adopted virtually the same attitude toward aspiring professors as Wal-Mart does to prospective stockers. They demand heavy teaching loads, substantial committee work, a rigorous pace of professional publication -- and offer rather paltry salaries. And that's for people who have, on average, twenty-two or more years of schooling.

Not only is there intense competition for jobs -- a nationwide search and the willingness to move, usually at one’s own expense, to whatever school will hire you is a must -- but schools increasingly hire part-timers (called “adjuncts” in the business) who work for peanuts and no benefits rather than full-time professors."

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Boston's Quiet Revival

Christianity Today Magazine: "But inside, Park Street is no museum. Nearly half the congregation is made of university students, often from Harvard and M.I.T., and nearly three-quarters of the church is single. Many attended Park Street's Christmas Eve service where they heard a sermon on the meaning of Christmas in response to the city's decision to rename the evergreen standing in the Common a 'holiday tree.'

Park Street defies the myth that Boston and the rest of New England have shed their religious heritage for a secular society."

Sheehan condemns the President

Cindy Sheehan: "And about Bill Clinton . . . . You know, I really think he should have been impeached, but not for a blow job. His policies are responsible for killing more Iraqis that George Bush. I don't understand why to rise to the level of being president of my country one has to be a monster. I used to say that George Bush was defiling the Oval Office, but it's been held by a long line of monsters."
At least she's an equal opportunity crank. That's more than you can say for the NY Times.

War of the Worlds (2005)

War of the Worlds (2005) was all ethos, much pathos, no logos.

A tale of materialistic evolution this is. Surprising? Well all of us (including marauding tripeds from space) are just competitors in game of survival of the fittest right?

So things like murder, theft, and genocide are only killing, taking and exterminating in a purely materialistic world, whether it's aliens or your next door neighbor.

This movie is a horror movie but not in the familiar sense that we use the term. It is the horror of human life being reduced to rats in a cage fighting for survival.

There is precious little plot or character development in the film which lessens the emotional impact of the horrors visited on the cast.

The film serves as a handy example of the foolishness of ethics without God. As I asked my ethics professor in college, "why should I not steal, rape and kill if I can get away with it and, as is likely the case, a meteor will hit the earth in a thousand or ten thousand years and wipe all of humanity out anyway?" The best my professor could muster was: "I can't imagine why you would ask such a question."

Well, watch War of the Worlds and ask why murder is wrong if there is no God who serves as a transcendent judge of all of humanity. It's not just an important question, it's the most important question of human behavior.

Spielberg portrays an amoral world of evolution where the answer to my question seems to be, "Kill, steal, rape? These are just part of the march of life and death and the evolution of the species, whether human, or alien."

As I mentioned in my review of Munich, the moral universe of Schindler's List is far from this film.

If you enjoy the disturbing horror of a deadly, remorseless biological process then you missed the full effect of this film when it was on the big screen.


My Rating: Rentable

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The Passing of Heroes

ScrappleFace » Woman Who Coined ‘ScrappleFace’ Passes Away: "Mrs. McMaster is the grandmother of ScrappleFace.com editor Scott Ott, and served as a mother to him and three brothers since the late 1960s.

Jessica McMaster gave up her career, surrendered much of her pension, and walked away from a comfortable lifestyle in a handsome apartment to move to an old house in the country and take care of four boys. Without her sacrifice, and that of her husband James McMaster, 84, these boys were candidates for foster care or an orphanage. Thanks to their love, these boys are now… an airline pilot, a university professor, a construction worker and a Christian children’s camp director (who happens to write satire).

James McMaster has devoted more than a decade to caring for his wife in their home as she moved through the stages of dementia. He kept his promise.

Both of them serve as inspiring role models to their boys, and to many others."

Interesting Stuff