Thursday, August 31, 2006

Evangelical Resources on Homosexuality

Evangelical Resources on Homosexuality: "many homosexuals, still looking to fill spiritual longings within a Christian worldview, have used God's grace to interpret Christian liberty to include homosexuality. This antinomian understanding of grace unfortunately is only half of the gospel message, as it forgets the transforming work of the Holy Spirit in the believer's life, conforming him to the image of Christ, not to the image of the world. There is a serious danger that the new homosexually inclusive churches will slide far from Biblical orthodoxy and become cults unto themselves in the coming years."

Multi-Level Marketing Resources

Evangelical Resources on Multi-Level Marketing: "Every year thousands of well-meaning individuals are lured into Multi-Level Marketing plans, only to destroy everything that is meaningful and important in their lives. The dreams of the past begin to be replaced with the dreams of making millions through MLM, and like an acid their life is literally burned away from the inside out. For people who have been deeply hurt, I have collected these resources, some from an Evangelical Christian perspective, some from a secular perspective, to help recognize the problem, and to recover the meaning of living free as a child dependent on God."

Just a Thought on Iran and Thorium - Acton Institute PowerBlog

Just a Thought on Iran and Thorium - Acton Institute PowerBlog: "As Tim Dean highlights the possibility in the Cosmos article: “Imagine the West offering thorium-fuelled ADS reactors to countries such as Iran or North Korea: this would satisfy their demands for cheap nuclear power, but entirely avert the risk of the civil nuclear program leading to the development of nuclear weapons.” "


Compass Direct "August 28 (Compass Direct News) – Multiple attacks and arrests in recent weeks demonstrate ongoing hostility towards Christians in India. Police have cooperated with Hindu extremists, in some cases claiming “tremendous pressure” to charge Christian ministers with forced conversion.

On August 20, extremists burst into a church service in Kolar district, Karnataka state, beating the pastor and his assistant. Prison guards in this state on August 14 also failed to prevent Hindu extremists entering a prison to beat up a Christian inmate."

Not-back-to-school shopping

My wife was interviewd by our local paper. Smart Mom Blog: Not-back-to-school shopping

Did Bob Marley Become a Christian? Did Bob Marley Become a Christian?:

i have a copy of some old Marley and the Wailers when they were doing gospel stuff. this article is very interesting.

"In the midst of his cancer battles and on his last tours Bob Marley's faith and worldview began to change. On November 4, 1980, Marley was baptized by the Archbishop of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Kingston Jamaica. Here's the account of the Archbishop concerning Bob Marley, his baptism and conversion:

'Bob was really a good brother, a child of God, regardless of how people
looked at him. He had a desire to be baptized long ago, but there were
people close to him who controlled him and who were aligned to a different
aspect of Rastafari . But he came to Church regularly. I remember once while
I was conducting the Mass, I looked at Bob and tears were streaming down his face...When he toured Los Angeles and New York and England, he preached the Orthodox faith, and many members in those cities came to the Church because of Bob. Many people think he was baptized because he knew he was dying, but that is not so...he did it when there was no longer any pressure on him, and when he was baptized, he hugged his family and wept, they all wept together for about half an hour.'"

Katrina Reflections: One Year Later Katrina Reflections: One Year Later: "Another untold story is the response of the Faith Community. Dozens of church parking lots along Route 90, Mississippi’s coastal throughway, were transformed into feeding, care and information centers, serving thousands. In the days following Katrina FEMA estimated that over 500,000 people had taken refuge with churches. Tom Delay noted that in Houston alone 500-600 churches opened their doors to people fleeing the storm.


In the three months following Katrina, the Southern Baptist Convention reported preparing nearly 14 million free meals. Volunteer labor from the Baptists during that period was 155,502 volunteer days. When George Bush showed up in Biloxi, he made his speech from Camp Hope, constructed by Denny Nissley (who we worked side by side with at Ground Zero in Manhattan after 911) of “Christ in Action.” which was feeding 5,000 daily. Our ministry out of Calvary Chapel in Montville, Connecticut has mobilized over 600 volunteers and worked on 87 separate projects, making some homes ready to be inhabited and building others from the ground up.


Of the 40 permits pulled in the Bay Saint Louis – Waveland area to rebuild houses, most of them have been pulled by faith based ministries providing free volunteer labor and in many cases free materials."

INDIA: Pastor Forced From Home for Not Bowing to Hindu Gods Updated

Christian Persecution Blog: INDIA: Pastor Forced From Home for Not Bowing to Hindu Gods Updated:
Aug 30, 2006 (9:45am) August 30, 2006 Just after 10:00 p.m. on August 21st, Pastor Joseph’s rented house was broken into by militant Hindu groups accusing him of not bowing before the Hindu gods. The 50-year-old pastor led 18 families for three years at the Kodambi Village Church, located in Hankaltaluk in Uttera Kannada district, Karnataka state. He was forced from his home in the middle of the night as Hindu radicals accused him of converting Hindus to Christianity. The attackers loaded Pastor Joseph’s possessions onto a tractor before sending him out to the Mundgode police station, nearly 20 miles from Kodambi. Taking him into custody, the officers refused to unload the pastor’s seized property. He was released shortly thereafter.

On August 23rd, Johnson, a senior pastor in Dakshina Kannada district, and a local Christian leader, David Chacko, planned to visit the police station in Mundgode to settle the matter. However, police conspired with the Hindu militants and severely attacked the two believers before they left Chacko’s home and dragged them to the police station. After the arrests and harassment, both men were set free. Meanwhile, the attackers have chased another evangelist by the name of Chandrakanth from the village and began searching for other pastors to target in their onslaught. The Voice of the Martyrs has since assisted in providing shelter in a nearby city for Pastor Chandrakanth, who desires to continue his evangelization in the area despite stiff opposition.


Scot Mcknight, again atJesus Creed, has written on conversion and asks "What does “If you confess with your lips Jesus Christ as Lord…” mean?"

On Seeker-friendly churches

Scot McKnight at Jesus Creed » On Seeker-friendly churches touches on the issue of church monoculture.

"Wells makes other points, and I’ll look at them in another post, but this one has focused on the homogenous unit principle as underlying the strategy of megachurches. It seems to me that this problem may not be a problem with megachurches so much as it is with all churches. In fact, I’m seeing signs at Willow Creek that it might be paving new ground for how to end the homogenous unit principle."

Mark Dever on evangelism

Together for the Gospel: "One part of clarity sometimes missed by earnest evangelists, however, is the willingness to offend. Clarity with the claims of Christ certainly will include the translation of the Gospel into words that our hearer understands, but it doesn’t necessarily mean translating it into words that our hearer will like. Too often advocates of relevant evangelism verge over into being advocates of irrelevant non-evangelism. A gospel which in no way offends the sinner has not been understood.

Look at Peter at Pentecost in Acts 2. He wanted to be relevant. But that relevance gave his words more bite, not less. How did Peter witness to those he wished to see saved? He said to them, among other things, “let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ,” (Acts 2:36).
Relevant? Yes. Pleasing? No. Clear? Undoubtedly.

Be clear about the fact of sin (Isa. 59:1-2; Hab. 1:13; Rom. 3:22-23; 6:23; Eph. 2:8-9; Titus 3:5; I John 1:5-6). Be clear about the meaning of the cross (Matt. 26:28; Gal. 3:10-13; I Tim. 1:15; I Peter 2:24; 3:18). Be clear about our need to repent of our sins and to trust in Christ (Matt. 11:28-30; Mark 1:15; 8:34; John 1:12; 3:16; 6:37; Acts 20:21). What would it mean to evangelize without being clear about what the Bible says about these issues?"

Husband renews effort to make medical decisions for his wife

Jehovah's Witnesses :: Husband renews effort to make medical decisions for his wife: "Tawnya Nissen, 28, was hospitalized Aug. 4 with neuroleptic malignant syndrome, a condition caused by a reaction to diet pills. She entered a coma and physicians at the University of Iowa Hospitals honored health care decisions made by her husband, a Jehovah's Witness.

Earlier this month, a Johnson County judge suspended Chris Nissen's ability to make medical decisions for his wife, awarding temporary guardianship to the woman's father, Richard T. Reid.

Tawnya Nissen emerged from a coma last week and requested a transfer to a Davenport hospital, and despite a setback late last week is recovering, attorney Frank Santiago said.

"She's talking, laughing ... doing a lot better," Santiago said. "Even her husband went back to work, and he wouldn't have done that if things weren't getting better.""

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Jesus Wells - Gospel For Asia

watch out! Those tricky missionaries are at it again, drilling wells for people who have limited access to clean water in India...

Prabhulal received this dire threat from angry villagers when he first started his church-planting work in rural Rajasthan. And things didn't exactly improve when the first villagers received Christ as their Savior. They were hated, branded as low castes and treated as dirt.

The believers were not even allowed to draw water from the public well. This was an enormous hardship for the Christians, especially the women, during the hot summer months. They had to walk long distances to get water and carry the heavy pots home on their heads.

In spite of the animosity and opposition, however, their numbers grew. Some 75 to 80 people gathered for worship each Sunday, and sometimes there was not even enough room for everyone inside the building.

Imagine the joy of the Christians when they received their own well as a gift from the Lord and from the Body of Christ! And just try to picture the amazement of their "enemies" when the believers invited them to draw water freely from the Jesus Well!

Within a month, the hostile attitude of the villagers began to change. They became friendlier and started to interact with the believers as they drew water for themselves and their cattle. Most of all, the Jesus Well opened the door for Prabhulal and the other believers to build relationships and share the Gospel with those who formerly refused to listen.

You see, each Jesus Well has an inscription that encourages those who draw water to ask our missionaries for an explanation. The inscription reads:

Jesus Christ says: "Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst" (John 4:13-14).

Since we started the Jesus Well project, we have been able to drill 50 wells for desperately poor Dalit and slum communities, often ravaged by drought.

And in all of these villages, the ongoing impact of these wells is the same: The gift of clean water greatly improves people's health, contributes to the development of their communities and opens their hearts to the love of God. And because we place the wells near our churches and Bridge of Hope centers, our missionaries are readily available to share the Gospel with those who come.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

10 Commandments real simple

A forward from my friend Keith...
Some folks in middle Tennessee got together and
translated the "King James" into "Jackson County"
language: The Hillbilly's Ten Commandments (posted on
the wall at Cross Trails Church in Gainesboro, TN.)

(1) Just one God.

(2) Honor yer Ma & Pa.

(3) No tellin' tales or gossipin'.

(4) Git yourself to Sunday meetin'

(5) Put nothin' before God.

(6) No foolin' around with another fellow's gal.

(7) No killin.'

(8) Watch yer mouth.

(9) Don't take what ain't yers.

(10) Don't be hankerin' for yer buddy's stuff.

Leadership Blog: Out of Ur: Old Men Will Dream Dreams

This pastor doesn’t advocate hearing voices, but he happened to hear one and it is fascinating to hear the range of responses in the comments.
Not that this guy is hearing anything cultic, but some people want to be around others who hear from God, so if you wanted a following, start claiming God converses with you. It really is the easiest way to start a cult. God warns against it too, in his conversation with Moses.

Deuteronomy 13

Worshiping Other Gods
1 If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a miraculous sign or wonder, 2 and if the sign or wonder of which he has spoken takes place, and he says, "Let us follow other gods" (gods you have not known) "and let us worship them," 3 you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 It is the LORD your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him. 5 That prophet or dreamer must be put to death, because he preached rebellion against the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery; he has tried to turn you from the way the LORD your God commanded you to follow. You must purge the evil from among you.

6 If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, "Let us go and worship other gods" (gods that neither you nor your fathers have known, 7 gods of the peoples around you, whether near or far, from one end of the land to the other), 8 do not yield to him or listen to him. Show him no pity. Do not spare him or shield him. 9 You must certainly put him to death. Your hand must be the first in putting him to death, and then the hands of all the people. 10 Stone him to death, because he tried to turn you away from the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 11 Then all Israel will hear and be afraid, and no one among you will do such an evil thing again.

12 If you hear it said about one of the towns the LORD your God is giving you to live in 13 that wicked men have arisen among you and have led the people of their town astray, saying, "Let us go and worship other gods" (gods you have not known), 14 then you must inquire, probe and investigate it thoroughly. And if it is true and it has been proved that this detestable thing has been done among you, 15 you must certainly put to the sword all who live in that town. Destroy it completely, both its people and its livestock. 16 Gather all the plunder of the town into the middle of the public square and completely burn the town and all its plunder as a whole burnt offering to the LORD your God. It is to remain a ruin forever, never to be rebuilt. 17 None of those condemned things shall be found in your hands, so that the LORD will turn from his fierce anger; he will show you mercy, have compassion on you, and increase your numbers, as he promised on oath to your forefathers, 18 because you obey the LORD your God, keeping all his commands that I am giving you today and doing what is right in his eyes. (NIV)

you can't even trust former prophets to continually be faithful to God. check out the story in 1 Kings 13
15 So the prophet said to him, "Come home with me and eat."

16 The man of God said, "I cannot turn back and go with you, nor can I eat bread or drink water with you in this place. 17 I have been told by the word of the LORD : 'You must not eat bread or drink water there or return by the way you came.' "

18 The old prophet answered, "I too am a prophet, as you are. And an angel said to me by the word of the LORD : 'Bring him back with you to your house so that he may eat bread and drink water.' " (But he was lying to him.) 19 So the man of God returned with him and ate and drank in his house.

20 While they were sitting at the table, the word of the LORD came to the old prophet who had brought him back. 21 He cried out to the man of God who had come from Judah, "This is what the LORD says: 'You have defied the word of the LORD and have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you. 22 You came back and ate bread and drank water in the place where he told you not to eat or drink. Therefore your body will not be buried in the tomb of your fathers.' "

23 When the man of God had finished eating and drinking, the prophet who had brought him back saddled his donkey for him. 24 As he went on his way, a lion met him on the road and killed him, and his body was thrown down on the road, with both the donkey and the lion standing beside it. 25 Some people who passed by saw the body thrown down there, with the lion standing beside the body, and they went and reported it in the city where the old prophet lived.

26 When the prophet who had brought him back from his journey heard of it, he said, "It is the man of God who defied the word of the LORD. The LORD has given him over to the lion, which has mauled him and killed him, as the word of the LORD had warned him." (NIV)

Fortunately, everyone will face judgement, like Warren Jeffs, arrested last night.

Operation Rescue transforms clinic.

Christianity Today reports "Operation Rescue (OR) has taken over a former Wichita abortion facility as its national headquarters. The organization announced June 30 that it had secured a $112,000 loan to buy the Central Women's Services building after the center fell behind on rent.

OR's new headquarters will have a chapel and a memorial to the estimated 50,000 pre-born babies who died in the building during the past 23 years, according to OR president Troy Newman. Part of the facility will remain untouched to show the squalid conditions that existed there, he says. Last year, OR successfully lobbied the Kansas legislature to pass a bill requiring abortion facilities to report injuries and deaths, and to adhere to cleanliness and safety standards. Gov. Kathleen Sebelius vetoed the bill."

Can an Archbishop Change His Mind?

John H Armstrong asks, Can an Archbishop Change His Mind? "It was reported in yesterday’s London Sunday Telegraph that Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has changed his view regarding accepting homosexual practice in the the Anglican church. He now says homosexuals should change their behavior if they want to be welcomed into the Anglican Church. Williams has increasingly distanced himself from his one-time support of homosexual relationships and stressed that the tradition and teaching of the church has in no way been altered by the Anglican Communion's consecration of its first openly homosexual bishop within the very liberal Episcopal Church USA..."

Monday, August 28, 2006

blog updates

i added stuff to the sidebar, technorati and feedburner and mapstats. i turned on blogger's backlinks and also added haloscan for linking.

run down of new housing technology

alot of info for the kind of stuff i've been looking at...

Human Embryos Weren't "Spared"

i guess the lesson learned is to read the press release...

for my Indian commenter

Please let me know if this site is useful. Thank you.
"This site is maintained by Christians who are friends of Hindus. If you are a Christian, we hope these ideas will clarify the teachings of Jesus and give you a basic grasp of Hinduism. If you are a Hindu, we hope that these ideas will clarify the teachings of Hinduism and give you a basic grasp of the teachings of Jesus. We have worked hard to present both the teachings of Jesus and the beliefs of Hinduism to the best of our ability and understanding."

Saturday, August 26, 2006


Compass Direct : INDIA - TOWN PLANS BAN ON PREACHING NON-HINDU FAITHS: "August 24 (Compass Direct News) – The Congress Party-led government of the southern state of Andhra Pradesh has decided to enact a law banning preaching of any religion other than Hinduism in Tirupati, a “temple town” in large measure under the administration of its shrine. National daily The Hindustan Times reported on Monday (August 21) that the state government had made the decision under pressure from Hindu groups that had “expressed resentment over missionaries preaching Christianity near the shrine.” The daily quoted Endowments Minister J.C. Diwakar Reddy as saying that a bill would be introduced in the state assembly calling for imprisonment and a fine of 2,000 rupees (US$43). The temple administration has jurisdiction over two of the township’s seven hills. The state government plans on bringing all seven hills under the purview of the temple administration."

The A-Team Blog :An Argument for Hierarchy

An Argument for Hierarchy
provocative and challenging

Friday, August 25, 2006

Indian Church: “Hindu extremist charges against US are senseless”

Here's a novel accusation. The CIA is a covert US missionary sending agency...

Sudarshan said the CIA and the entire Bush administration “want to convert India to Christianity with the help of non-governmental organizations” while Indian Maoists “are the main authors of terrorism spreading in the country”.

Fr Joseph told AsiaNews: “NGOs belong to all religious communities and if their work creates better social cohesiveness, economic prosperity and religious respect among people, they should be supported rather than accused of nonexistent crimes.”

“Sudarshan’s observations about Maoists operations are dangerous and they call for serious and concerted action from all concerned authorities to redress the social and economic grievances of innocent people,” added the priest.

Much the same view was held by the Jesuit priest, Cedric Prakash, a renowned human rights activist, who told AsiaNews: “The comments are typical of the mindset of the likes of Sudarshan.” Not without irony, he continued: “Now that he has all the proof...he only has to instruct all Hindu followers to start protests, including in the US.”

He added: “The RSS and its leaders should always remember that India is a secular nation and Article 25 of its constitutional charter guarantees freedom of worship to all its citizens.”

John Dayal, chairman of the All India Catholic Union, said: “The fundamentalists do not need to find reason to attack Muslims or Christians: it is in their nature. Intolerance is a feature of the RSS that has always depicted the Christians as foreigners, aliens or traitors of the country, and it accuses the United States of having ‘brought’ them here.

India-Motivated campaign against Christians

Motivated campaign against Christians in Tirupati
Pro-Hindu groups have launched a campaign in Tirupati recently that Christian missionaries are carrying out evangelical and conversion activities in the Hindu place of worship. Fr. Anthoniraj Thumma, Executive Secretary of the Andhra Pradesh Christian Federation presents a few facts against this motivated campaign...

A motivated campaign is being waged by the B.J.P. and T.D.P. to gain political mileage out of the Tirupati controversy. The ultimate target of attack of the Hindutva forces is Dr Y. S. Rajashekara Reddy and Smt Sonia Gandhi, the Chairperson of U.P.A. and the President of the Congress Party. Being Christians, both of them are accused of conspiring to convert the whole of India to Christianity by encouraging the evangelical and missionary activities. In this whole vicious political game, the Christians have been made pawns and some of them have already become victims. Five pastors were ruthlessly killed and many others brutally beaten up from the time Dr Y. S. Rajashekara Reddy became the Chief Minister of A.P. in 2004.

Unless the secular minded groups join together and resist the divisive hate campaign of the Sangh Parivar being waged against the Christians and other Minorities again now as part of the Tirupati controversy, several fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution including freedom of religion, freedom of movement, and right to life and livelihood in Tirupati and other temple towns of A.P. will be jeopardized, thereby lending support to the deep rooted conspiracy of the Sangh Parivar groups against Christianity and the secular democracy in India to sustain its caste domination and exploitation of the marginalized.


List of wars and disasters by death toll - Wikipedia,

Sadly, very educational

One-Stop Shopping - once a year

This is a pretty cool concept.......

Handing me a three-foot long receipt, the mystified clerk said, "See you soon."

"In about a year," I replied.

On the way to pack our car, Donna and I grinned at our secret: we shop for groceries and household products only once a year.

Worship Wigglebusters

some ideas for those kids (and adults too) who get bored in church...

Thursday, August 24, 2006

In New Method for Stem Cells, Viable Embryos - New York Times

In New Method for Stem Cells, Viable Embryos - New York Times: "Biologists have developed a technique for establishing colonies of human embryonic stem cells from an early human embryo without destroying it. This method, if confirmed in other laboratories, would seem to remove the principal objection to the research."

it's gratifying to hear that science is responding to ethical concerns. there are important voices who are objecting even to this method. but i appreciate the effort. i'm not sure why the resistance to more adult stem cell research.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Welfare Reform is Working

Commentary: Welfare Reform is Working
by Anthony B. Bradley, Research Fellow

August 22 marked the tenth anniversary of welfare reform. The 1996 legislation made radical changes to the process of receiving unearned government cash. The results have been massive reductions in child poverty, increases in employment, and a subsequent increase in the freedom of the poor from government control.

In the mid-1990s many attempted to incite fear to kill the reforms. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D–NY) proclaimed the 1996 law to be “the most brutal act of social policy since Reconstruction.” He ridiculously predicted, “Those involved will take this disgrace to their graves.” Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children’s Defense Fund, declared the new reform law an “outrage … that will hurt and impoverish millions of American children.” As expected, these projections were dead wrong.


The facts tell a powerful story: When the poor are invited to live as people with dignity, within structures of liberty, they will usually do so. Since the 1996 reforms child poverty has plummeted. Some 1.6 million fewer children live in poverty today than in 1995.

Poor black children have enjoyed the greatest decreases in poverty. After the early 1970s, reductions in black child poverty had stagnated. Since 1995, however, the poverty rate among black children has fallen at an unprecedented rate—from 41.5 percent to 32.9 percent in 2004. By 2001, black child poverty had fallen to 30 percent, the lowest point in American history. Over a six-year period after welfare reform, 1.2 million black children were liberated from poverty. Although recent economic corrections have slightly increased black child poverty, the rate remains about one-fifth lower than in the period prior to reform.

Unprecedented declines in poverty also occurred among children of single mothers. After 1996, the poverty rate for children of single mothers fell dramatically from 50.3 percent in 1995 to 41.9 percent in 2004. Since 1996, the employment rate of the most disadvantaged single mothers increased from 50 percent to 100 percent. Employment of single mothers who are high school dropouts rose by two-thirds, and employment of young single mothers (ages 18 to 24) nearly doubled. As mothers found employment, child poverty decreased.

Additionally, welfare caseloads have been cut in half, dropping from 4.3 million families in 1996 to 1.89 million today. The explosive growth of out-of-wedlock births has nearly halted. As the policies of the “War on Poverty” discouraged fatherhood, the out-of-wedlock birthrate went from 7.7 percent in 1965 to 32.2 percent 1995. However since 1996 (and for several reasons besides welfare reform), the long-term rapid growth in the out-of-wedlock birth rate faltered....


August 22 (Compass Direct News) – Four Christians, including a pastor, who were beaten up and later arrested on charges of “forced conversion” in Madhya Pradesh state were released on bail yesterday. Pastor K.K. Jwala of the Sheopur Bible Fellowship church and three members, identified only as Anup, Jijo and Raju Mathew, were released from the Sheopur district jail at 8 p.m. on Monday. A group of about 15 extremists punched and hit the Christians with hockey sticks soon after worship ended at about 10:30 a.m. on Sunday (August 20). The extremists dragged the Christians to the Sheopur police station about 500 meters away, beating them en route. The police promptly arrested the Christians; the four accused will have to appear before the court on August 30. The officer in charge of the police station, Hukum Singh Yadav, also allegedly beat up Pastor Jwala at the facility.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Liberal Birth Dearth - Acton Institute PowerBlog

Liberal Birth Dearth - Acton Institute PowerBlog: "According to the 2004 General Social Survey, if you picked 100 unrelated politically liberal adults at random, you would find that they had, between them, 147 children. If you picked 100 conservatives, you would find 208 kids."

might depend on which population believes the author of a certain book really said, "go forth and mutiply"....

Monday, August 21, 2006

book report - Vietnam by Spencer C. Tucker

Vietnam: Spencer C. Tucker:
i finally felt ready to read a Vietnam history. my only knowledge of the war came from the wave of movies in the 80's. so, i didn't know anything really. this book helped me learn that the Tet Offensive was actually pushed back by the South and considered a failed offensive. the book is short and informative and well-written. i'm back to the Korean War now.

"A concise, analytical survey of Vietnamese military history that concentrates on the French and American 20th-century wars. Former US Army captain Tucker (Military History/Virginia Military Institute) presents a readable, fact-filled examination of the military history of Vietnam. He begins with a brief history of the Southeast Asian nation, starting with its legendary founding in the third century b.c. Tucker clearly shows that the dominant feature of Vietnam's first thousand years was nationalist rebellion against Chinese domination. Tucker offers detailed examinations of the French colonization of Vietnam and the 19461954 French Indochina Wartwo areas that most American Vietnam War histories treat perfunctorily at best. His treatment of the American war takes up more than half the book. Tucker sticks mainly to military matters in his analysis of that controversial, highly political war. He makes a case that, from the beginning, the American military strategy was flawed because it focused on conventional warfare and paid too little attention to counterinsurgency. The ``inability'' of the American military establishment ``to forecast the [guerrilla] military threat'' in the late 1950s ``was the first great US military mistake in Vietnam,'' he says. Tucker strongly criticizes commanding general William Westmoreland and ``officials in Washington''especially President Richard Nixon and his national security adviser Henry Kissingerfor drastically underestimating the will of the North Vietnamese. Westmoreland's attrition strategy, Tucker says, was particularly ill suited against ``the Communist strategy of protracted warfare.'' Tucker uses a good deal of statistical information throughout this well-documented book. A military historian's approach to Vietnam's wars. (maps, not seen) -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved."

Sunday, August 20, 2006

LDS Temple Information Site

LDS Temple Information Site - "Without their temples, Mormons are told that exaltation (or Godhood) in the next world is an impossibility. By completely obeying various laws and ordinances, faithful Latter-day Saints hope that they too can achieve the status of “Gods” and “Goddesses.”

Since its founding in 1830, the LDS Church has caused quite a controversy among Bible-believing Christians. While Mormons have every right to believe as they may, many leaders of the LDS Church have made some serious accusations against what millions of Christians hold dear. These statements must be challenged in light of history and the Bible."

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Gas-Saving Tips

  1. Don’t speed. Driving 65 mph instead of 75 mph will increase your fuel economy by about 10 percent. Pride yourself on being a slowpoke.
  2. Avoid "jack rabbit" starts. Flooring the gas pedal wastes gas and leads to drastically higher pollution rates.
  3. Anticipate stops. Think ahead to anticipate stops so your vehicle can coast down. Accelerating hard and braking hard wastes gas, increases pollution, and wears out your brakes.
  4. Keep your tires properly inflated. For every 3 pounds below recommended pressure, fuel economy goes down by about 1 percent.
  5. Avoid rush hour, if possible. Stop-and-go driving burns gas and increases emissions of smog-forming pollutants. For hybrids that can stay in electric mode at low speeds, the effects of stop-and-go driving are greatly reduced.
  6. Travel light. An extra 100 pounds in your trunk reduces fuel economy by about 1 percent.
  7. Combine trips. Warmed-up engines run more efficiently and generate less air pollution.
  8. Leave off the air conditioning, if possible. AC increases fuel consumption, increases smog-forming NOx emissions in some vehicles, and can involve environmentally damaging fluids. At high speeds, open windows increase drag; use vents if possible.
  9. Check your own fuel economy every few weeks. If you notice the numbers slipping, then think about how your driving might have changed, and consider getting a tune-up or an oil change.
  10. Drive less. Give your car a rest by taking public transportation, riding a bike, or walking. The exercise will do you good.
this is from would be buy a hybrid....

World Mag: baby won't die from abortionist makes sure

"an 18-year-old girl walked into the A Gyn Diagnostics Center to abort her baby at 23 weeks. But the girl delivered her baby, alive, moving, and trying to breathe. Clinic worker Belkis Gonzalez then allegedly cut the umbilical cord, stuffed the wriggling, gasping baby into a biohazard bag, and sealed the bag shut."

Friday, August 18, 2006

Joshua, God's ordained killer

is it consistent for God to command Joshua and his army to disregard the commandment to not commit murder and include children in the total destruction of cities in the holy land?

Was Joshua Justified in Exterminating the Whole Population of Jericho?
# The priest initiated any war by reminding the Israelites that Yahweh fights for them. This clearly shows the war's sacred character (Deuteronomy 20:2-4) -- that is, this is God's war. He fights through His people.
# Cities outside the land of Palestine do not need to be entirely destroyed, but attacks on cities inside the land require destruction of all life (Deuteronomy 20:10-18). This practice is known as the "ban" or "herem". To put a city under the ban was to devote its occupants to Yahweh for destruction. It is often translated "completely destroyed" or "devoted" (Deuteronomy 20:17, 2:34, 7:2; Joshua 6:17, 8:26).
# They are specifically to show no pity to inhabitants of the land (Deuteronomy 7:1-2). That this needed to be commanded by Moses shows that these wars cannot be explained as cases where man's sinful violence is used by God to accomplish His purpose. God believes they will not want to fully carry out His directions, so He warns the Israelites against pity!

So what about war in the Old Testament?

Another troubling aspect of war in the Old Testament is the way the nation was called to mop up when a battle was over. In Joshua 6:15-21 , we see Israel called to kill all of the people, and destroy all of the spoils. Some of the reasons given for this are:

  • If the victory is God's, the people shouldn't benefit. Victorious armies normally collected slaves, animals and other booty.
  • If the defeated enemy is allowed to live, their pagan religions might influence the Israelites.
  • The defeated army deserves to die because they are fighting God and God's people.
War in the Old Testament is plan B, not the first choice of God. Having a king other than God was not the first choice either. One of the reasons why King David in the Old Testament could not build the temple was that he had killed too many people or "shed too much blood."

Q: In Josh 6:21 and so forth, how can you justify God commanding the Israelites to kill all the Canaanites?
A: The answer is brief and simple to say, but it might require a paradigm shift before you can understand. The answer is simply: God can do whatever He wants. The following explanation (hopefully) will help you understand the answer. Regardless of whether you agree that God can do what He wants, or like the answer, at least you can fully understand all that is meant by this answer.
Answer Yes or No
Would God be just if He made people’s lifespan longer?
(Yes/No) Would God be just if He made people’s lifespan shorter?
(Yes/No) When it was time for some one to die, would God be just to choose whatever means He wished?
(Yes/No) Would God be just if He let some people live longer than others?
If you answered No to any of the above, cite the relevant legal statute, if any, along with the authority behind that statute.
Now let’s briefly look at a very extreme, and untrue, example. Pretend for a moment that God decided that every person in North America would die when they were exactly ten years old. Supposed the manner of death was to be killed by the nine year olds. Would God be unjust? If so, on what basis? God is not a citizen of the United States, Canada, or any other country. Even if God was subject to our laws (which He is not), our laws do not try to legislate what God can do any more than they legislate what is permitted for tornadoes and hurricanes.
If you are going to say this extreme example, or any other for that matter, was unjust, you have only one possible basis for saying so. It is that since God’s character is good and what He has spoken is all true, an example could be shown to be unjust of God if and only if it was inconsistent with all He revealed about His character and ways.
Fortunately God is not like the extreme example. The Bible saying that God is loving does not "force" God to be loving. Rather, God was loving first, and freely desired to express to us that He was loving, along with being just, holy, and having wrath. God is asking you to follow Him, but He is not begging you. If you do not like this, you can go your own way and God will go His. But consider where your own way will lead….

Joshua, Calvin, and Genocide
By Ronald Goetz
In fairness to Calvin, it must be acknowledged that as a human being he did recoil from the work of extermination reported in Joshua. He did not hold it to be a paradigm of "Christian" warfare, and indeed he argued that apart from the "command of God … it would have been barbarous and atrocious cruelty had the Israelites gratified their own lust and rage in slaughtering mothers and their children. Nevertheless, an otherwise "indiscriminate and promiscuous slaughter" is not what it appears when it is done in accordance with the divine will. The annihilation of Jericho "might seem an inhuman massacre, had it not been executed by the command of God. But as he, in whose hands are life and death, had justly doomed those nations to destruction, this puts an end to all discussion."
But not even the hard-nosed Calvin could let the matter rest at this, for be felt that some explanation of the divine judgment was required...
Why couldn't Calvin let the matter rest with his authoritarian a priori defense of God's alleged commandments? Who can dispute the claim that God acts in mysterious ways? If God is perfect, so also are God's commands. Our incapacity for understanding God's ways, our actual abhorrence in the face of the apparent monstrousness of some of these "divine" demands, is emblematic of a failure from our side--not God's. "Whatever my God ordains is right." Therefore given such a premise, no justification of God is needed; indeed, it is presumptuous. Yet Calvin attempts to justify God. Given such clear-cut difficulties, what drives him to try this dubious defense of God which appeals to a human sense of fight and wrong, when an a priori assertion of the essentially incomprehensible divine fiat is logically unassailable?....
the sovereign mysteriousness of God is always a useful "ace in the hole." Still, argument from ignorance, or argument which rests its case in mystery, loses in existential and historical pertinence what it gains in metaphysical invulnerability. ...

In the popular text, The Book of the Acts of God, G. Ernest Wright comes to grief on the Joshua question. He accepts as valid the central conviction of the Deuteronomic historians, which is also a fundamental belief of almost every writer in the Old Testament, that is, Yahweh delivered Israel from Egyptian bondage and gave her the land of Canaan. Wright toys with such mitigating notions as the alleged immorality of the Canaanites and also, quite remarkably, points to the silver lining behind the clouds of Canaanite defeat. Eventually it was a "great thing" that they should taste defeat, for "in the long run" their surviving descendants (later to be called Phoenicians) became an immensely successful trading nation." A divine consolation prize?
After these preliminary observations Wright gets to the brute question itself. "Did God actually tell Joshua to carry out such terrible slaughter?" Wright's answer is equivocal. On the one hand, God cares what happens in history; indeed God controls the "direction of history to his own ends," but we are responsible for the sin and destruction which actually occur in the very history which furthers God's purpose. Somehow divine control is to be divorced from divine responsibility. "To say that God is in control, even of our wars and cruelty, does not mean that he is responsible for the way in which men carry them on."
Not realizing that it would all work out to be a "great thing" in the long run, that his great, great, great grandchildren would one day get rich, how are we to imagine that the Canaanite, surveying the slaughtered bodies of less fortunate children, would respond to the notion that the God who turned Israel loose upon Canaan is not responsible for the carnage?...
One might argue with some point that the slaughters purported of Joshua were exaggerated, that it was a Deuteronomic reverie--a grotesque exaggeration. Or one can argue that even when the hérem was carried out, it was never God's command, rather a barbaric and excessive act which misunderstood the actual divine will. Both approaches have a limited validity. Nevertheless if God acts in history to advance the divine will, and if a people was chosen as obviously fallible as the Israelites, God is in some sense responsible when they act with the excessive zeal and indisputably, God is responsible for the war in Canaan. Perhaps it could have been more cleanly fought, but if God "gave" Israel the promised land, then how can one dispute God's culpability in the instigation of Israel's war in which Israel laid claim to God's "inheritance?" Surely the Canaanites were not to be talked into leaving voluntarily. (One is reminded of the "voluntary" exodus of the modern Palestinian Arabs from the modern Israeli State.) Indeed not just in the case of Canaan, but generally to say that God acts in history is to imply at very least that not only the merciful triumphs of God's will, but also the wreckage of history are God's doing and God's terrible burden. Yet this is precisely what many Old Testament apologists will not admit. Usually only the outsiders, those unbelievers who call for a rejection of the biblical message on grounds of inhumanity, are willing to see what is so obvious to even the most naive reader of the Old Testament. And that is that the God spoken of in that terrible book is mighty in war --a Holy Terror...
We are quite revolted by the policy of the total annihilation of Israel's enemies done to the glory of God and are quick to turn to the teachings of Jesus as if they afford us a kind of absolute authority which requires us as "Christians" to reject the brutality of Joshua. We find the New Testament witness to the incredible love of our Lord a useful ground for defense of the biblical faith against the charge of inhumanity which critics of Christianity bring to bear against the Old Testament. We cling to the love of Christ as proof of our humanity. Indeed we use the love of Christ as a facade behind which to hide, both from our critics and from ourselves-the fact that we have more in common with the ethics of Joshua than the ethics of Jesus. America is a nation of invaders who with the conviction of their own manifest destiny all but exterminated the Indian nations. Granted we occasionally feel pangs of guilt-alas, it is conveniently too late. Having got what we wanted, remorse is a masochistic luxury we can well afford....

Expositor's Bible Commentary (EBC), Joshua
Special Problems

a. The Annihilation of the Canaanites

The single greatest problem in the Book of Joshua is the extermination of the Canaanites. Men, women, and children were included among the things that were to be "devoted to the LORD" (6:17; cf. NIV mg.).
The Moabite Stone from the ninth century B.C. bears evidence that this practice was not unique to Israel in the ancient Near East. Inscribed on the stone is King Mesha's boastful report that he had destroyed all the inhabitants of Ataroth as a sacrifice to his god (ANET, p. 320).
This was not the first instance of the practice in Israel. In Numbers 21:2-3, the Israelites vowed to "totally destroy" (haram) the cities of the Canaanites in the Negev if God would give Israel victory over them.
A common but unsatisfying explanation of this difficult moral problem is that Israel was mistaken in thinking that God had commanded such indiscriminate slaughter. It is pointed out that this practice was not carried out consistently in the Conquest (many exceptions are reported in Judges), nor was it practiced by Israel in later years.
This, however, does not explain the theology of Deuteronomy, Joshua, and Judges. The text (Josh 6:17, 21; Deut 20:17; Judg passim) clearly states that the command to destroy the Canaanites came from God himself, and the Israelites are reproved for their failure to obey it (cf. Ps 106:34-42).
God was careful to point out that he was not arbitrarily destroying the Canaanites just to give the land to Israel. The wickedness of the inhabitants of Canaan was the reason why God was removing them; and if Israel proved unfaithful, she too would be removed from the land (as happened in the Exile). Genesis 15:16 records a profound statement in which God tells Abraham that his descendants will have to wait four generations to take over the land because "the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure." God would not favor Israel in a way that was unfair to others.
A part of the wonderful omnipotence of God is that he works sovereignly in history to punish the wicked and to reward the righteous: "The Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment" (2 Peter 2:9).
The extermination of the Canaanites is but one of the many evidences in the Bible, as well as in real life, that evil is real and that the Devil exists. Evil does not flee at the snap of one's fingers. The struggle with sin and the Devil took the Son of God to the cross. There was no easy victory even for him. Only by his suffering and death has he overcome evil once and for all. Those who will not be separated from their sin by repentance will be destroyed with their sin, as Jesus said, "If you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins" (John 8:24).
God's severity in his treatment of sin and of sinners is but the obverse side of his grace and love. Sin and evil destroy the people he loves and prevent the full establishment of his glorious kingdom.
One of the most telling objections to the slaughter of the Canaanites is raised against God's use of the Israelites as instruments of his judgment. Perhaps this was done to impress on the Israelites the truth that "the wages of sin is death" (Rom 6:23). The explanation given in the Wisdom of Solomon (12:3-11) is very thought provoking. It says that God chose to annihilate the Canaanites little by little, rather than all at once, to give them opportunity to repent.
The most difficult thing to understand is the slaughter of innocent children. We must remember that death is not the ultimate destiny of the human race, nor is it the greatest evil. Someday God will give a full explanation, which is something that only he can do.

The Law of Love and the Sixth Commandment

The single commandment from that second table most obviously relevant to the questions at hand is, of course, the sixth: "You shall not kill." But what, exactly, does the sixth commandment prohibit? Does it prohibit all taking of human life? Does its stark and simple form imply that taking another human’s life is always and everywhere immoral? Or, rather, does it prohibit only the wrongful taking of human life? Does it starkly and simply imply that all murder is wrong?

An examination of the Hebrew verb in Exodus 20:13 is not immediately conclusive. Though a few translators, and many interpreters, have rendered it "murder," suggesting that the commandment is directed not against all killing, but only against all wrongly motivated killing, the verb itself (r_sah) is elsewhere used in the Old Testament for even unintentional, apparently accidental and unmotivated, killing (Deut. 4:41-3; 19:1-13; Josh. 20:3, etc.). This might lead one to think that if, in the eyes of God, not only murder, but also "involuntary manslaughter" is always wrong, then surely no war stands much of a chance of being pleasing in God’s sight.

What is quickly apparent, however, is that the committing of an act normally wrong, even an act simply and explicitly forbidden in one of the Ten Commandments, is not always and under every circumstance wrong. After all, one often noted and vexing fact about the Old Testament is that the same God who commands the Israelites not to kill (in the sixth commandment) elsewhere commands them in detail to kill the enemy (I Sam. 15:3, etc.). Indeed, the very verb under consideration (r_sah) used in the sixth commandment against killing is used in a commandment to kill in the infliction of capital punishment in Numbers 35:30.

A final note on r_sah. In some of the prophetic and wisdom writings, r_sah does seem to refer (disapprovingly) to that complex of wrong motive, act, and primary intention we call murder (e.g., in Hosea 6:9, Job 24:14, and Ps. 94:6).

Thus, our conclusion is that a mere reading of the Hebrew text in Exodus 20:13 is only a beginning. Even a comparative word study of r_sah is insufficiently illuminating. For, in the first place, the referent of this verb is clearly not confined to what we could call murder—though it does sometimes refer to murder. In the second place, though the verb is generally used in the sixth commandment to prohibit "killing," it is also specifically used (in Numbers 35:30) to command (a special sort of) killing. Since God never commands the performance of an action which is, in that case, wrong, we may conclude that the doing of what r_sah refers to (let alone what the two other Hebrew verbs we translate "to kill" refer to) is not always wrong. At the very least, it has not always been wrong. Still, this does not tell us nearly as much as we want to know with respect to our present questions about the Christian and war. The only thing we are so far safe in assuming is something we already knew before studying Exodus 20:13, viz., that murder, no matter what Hebrew verb we may be translating, is nowhere countenanced in the Old Testament. To take another human life for the wrong reason is, clearly, always wrong. Both the sixth commandment and the Lord’s summary command which includes it ("Love your neighbor as yourself") plainly proscribe at least murder.

The question at the heart of the Christian-and-war issue is, however, whether every killing, including every killing in wartime, is an instance of murder. Does the Old Testament, particularly, regard every killing as wrong killing? As we have already seen above with respect to Numbers 35:30, (many additional passages could be adduced), it does not. Does the Old Testament, then, regard every killing in war as wrong killing? Again, clearly not. The Old Testament documents report that the Israelites were sometimes commanded by God to destroy God’s enemies by the sword. The books of Joshua, Judges, and particularly I Samuel abound with examples of such commands. These incidents have troubled the church for centuries. Some early and enduring heresies have sprung from what their founders took to be intolerable implications about the nature of the Old Testament God found in these incidents. Surely, we who confess a Reformed doctrine of biblical inspiration are not ready to scrap or to explain away these troublesome passages about the war-like God of the Old Testament. Still this does not tell just what relevance they have, in the new age of Christ, for a statement on the Christian’s proper attitude toward war. For one thing, we have no modern nation, no sovereign states which are also identical with the people of God. We have no theocracies. In fact, we regard all tendencies to claim a special national alliance with God as idolatrous and wicked. The particular relationship which obtained, then, between God and Israel now obtains between God and no modern nation. It obtains, in fact, only between God’s Christ and his church. But the church does not engage in earthly, physical warfare.

For another consideration, we must reflect on the fact that even if we had some modern nation privileged as Israel was to be true church and state at once, we still would not necessarily know how to identify it or what to do with the celebrated Old Testament war passages. Does it follow from the fact that God once commanded war with the Israelites as his army that he now favors (say) the Germans? Again should we not be at once suspicious if a modern Chinese prophet, singularly godly in an atheist country, reported that God had commanded the Red Chinese to attack the United States as a judgment on our apostasy? The truth is that we are rightly wary of any modern reports of God’s command to some one nation to attack and destroy some other nation or nations.

In the third place, consider again the difficulty of applying the Old Testament war passages to our modern situation. Suppose God once told the Israelites to slay not only men and warrior-men, but also "women, infant and suckling . . . " (I Samuel 15:3). Does it follow that we may do things like that today? Nowadays, soldiers who kill unarmed women and children are often tried and punished by courts of their own country.

This leads to a fourth, and perhaps the most important, consideration. What God wills for our moral lives shows progression. The history of God’s deeds and of God’s words is a history which always moves toward a better match between God’s perfect will and his commands to stubborn, sinful, and blind human beings. It was one of the great insights and one of the persistent themes of such Reformed thinkers as John Calvin that God continually accommodates himself to us in the history of his dealings with us. He leads us along. What he may allow early because of certain desperate historical circumstances or because of our "hardness of heart" (cf. Mark 10:2-9) may not always be allowed—let alone commanded.

Wikipedia on Joshua

One difficulty in this book arises out of the command given by God to completely exterminate the Canaanites.

Liberal theologians see this as an ethically unjustifiable order to commit genocide, which is inconsistent with the overall view in the Hebrew and Christian scriptures of God as a loving, compassionate Creator. They see it as a theological polemic, with the majority of events invented during or after the Babylonian captivity, to encourage faithfulness to the Jewish creed at a time when it was being threatened. For instance, Morton (pp. 324-325) says that Joshua "should be understood as a rite of ancient peoples (Israel among them) whereby within the context of their times, they attempted to please God (or the gods)".

Conservative theologians, who see the book as a historically accurate account written during or soon after the life of Joshua, give one of the following explanations to this problem:

  1. War was an essential part of the history of the Near East in the fifteenth century BCE. Although it is still sinful, some commentators argue that the book shows God using sinful activities in order to accomplish his just purposes. This does not mean that God supports war, simply that he works with humans as they are. These commentators emphasise what they see as the depraved nature of Canaanite society, pointing to archaelogical evidence of practices such as child sacrifice (burning the infant victims alive). For instance, Hallam, who takes this view, lists a number of pieces of archaeological evidence to support this thesis: "Just a few steps from this temple was a cemetery, where many jars were found, containing remains of infants who had been sacrificed in this temple . . . Prophets of Baal and Ashtoreth were official murderers of little children." "Another horrible practice was [what] they called `foundation sacrifices.' When a house was to be built, a child would be sacrificed, and its body built into the wall. . . . The worship of Baal, Ashtoreth, and other Canaanite gods consisted in the most extravagant orgies; their temples were centers of vice. . . . Canaanites worshiped, by immoral indulgence, . . . and then, by murdering their first-born children, as a sacrifice to these same gods." However, some of this evidence is disputed, with others arguing that it may have been invented at a later date in order to justify the act of extermination. Also, according to biblical text, God commanded in many cases the slaughter of every child, as well as the adults, of a defeated people.
  2. Christian theologians have tended to emphasise what they see as the progressive nature of revelation in the Bible. As the Bible progresses, God is seen to reveal himself in ways that are fuller, clearer and more accurate, culminating in the ultimate revelation of God in Jesus Christ. God's command through Joshua to take possession of the land by force of arms is viewed in the context of God's command through the second Joshua, Jesus Christ, to bring about his kingdom through the peaceful application of his teaching.

Muslim schools in NYC get a pass by the NYT

GetReligion: August 18, 2006
"...I was reading a Michael Luo piece in The New York Times about Muslim schools for New York. There, the students memorize the Koran in two to three years instead of studying subjects like math and science. Once they’ve memorized the Koran, they earn the title of hafiz. They also believe they are guaranteed entrance to heaven, along with ten other people...

I’m a graduate of a parochial school. And personally speaking, I’m completely laissez-faire about education. But I just couldn’t help but think that a story about Christians in Alabama denying elementary-aged children education in science and math would not be spun the same way by the Times. What about the fact that only boys are enrolled? We see a violation of state law explained in the nicest way possible. Is that normal for most papers?"

Hindu Militants Threaten Orphanage Staff and Children in India

Christian Persecution Blog: Hindu Militants Threaten Orphanage Staff and Children in India On the night of August 5, more than fifty Hindu militants stormed the House of Hope orphanage in Dantewara, Chhattisgarh state in an attempt to forcibly close it. According to VOMC sources, the mob was armed with clubs and bamboo sticks. They beat the director, Suresh (35), and threatened to kill him if he continues with the orphanage. They also questioned and threatened several of the children.

Suresh is presently in treatment for his injuries. Efforts to lodge a police complaint have failed.

Jehovah's Witness barred from making decisions for comatose wife

Too bad Terri Schiavo wasn't in Iowa....

IOWA CITY (AP) — A Jehovah’s Witness who would not permit blood transfusions for his comatose wife has been barred from making her medical decisions.

Tawnya Nissen, 28, of Clinton, who has been in a coma for about two weeks, will be under the guardianship of her father until she can make her own decisions, according to a ruling issued Wednesday by a Johnson County judge...

Thursday, August 17, 2006


Compass Direct : INDIA - PASTOR IN JABALPUR ARRESTED FOR ‘FORCIBLE CONVERSION’August 16 (Compass Direct News) – A group of 45 to50 Dharma Raksha Sena Hindu extremists on Monday (August 14) mobbed Pastor Vinod Karsal, 50, as he visited another pastor in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh to pray for him. Karsal, a pastor at the Assembly of God Church in Jabalpur, was praying for pastor Shaun Kushwaha when a mob of 45 to 50 people from the Dharma Raksha Sena (Defense Army) gathered outside the house, began shouting anti-Christian chants and broke in. Unable to find the Bible the pastors had hidden, the Hindu extremists planted gospel tracts in the glove compartment of his Karsal’s scooter and police soon arrived to arrest him for “forcible conversion.” Police held Karsal until 11:30 p.m., until raging crowds outside the station baying for the pastor had dispersed. Dr. John Dayal, general secretary of the All India Christian Council, told Compass, “The escalation of incidents against Christians in Madhya Pradesh is quickly reaching the threshold of patience.”

Clinics Use Tissue From Babies Killed in Abortions for Cosmetic Injections

Clinics Use Tissue From Babies Killed in Abortions for Cosmetic Injections
this is soooo extreme i have to wonder if this is an "Onion" type story. However, the Institute for Regenerative Medicine in Barbados, really exists, and there is currently a news link to Barbados now the 'stem cell capital'....

abortion by gender in India

A step in the right direction "Four days after the grisly discovery of 25 aborted female fetuses at a private clinic in India, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called on parents to end the practice of killing unborn baby girls. While it is illegal in India to find out the gender of an unborn baby (unless for medical reasons), the practice persists because girls are often considered an economic liability since parents must create dowries for them. "We must eliminate gender disparity," Singh said in an address to the nation. "We have a dream of an India in which every woman can feel safe, secure and empowered. Where our mothers, sisters and daughters are assured a life of dignity and personal security."

Blog Nation - Yahoo! News

Blog Nation

Captain Jack Sparrow - PC Magazine Thu Aug 17, 7:23 AM ET

In only a few short years, blogging has become a vital part of many Americans' lives, according to a phone survey of 7,012 people by the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

Here are some of the highlights: 39 percent of U.S. Internet users, or about 57 million Americans, read blogs; 8 percent, or about 12 million Americans, keep a blog; and more than half of bloggers are under age 30.

Political and journalistic (or pseudo-journalistic) blogs have been in the spotlight recently, but the Pew study found that 37 percent of bloggers cite "my life and experiences" as what they blog about, while only 11 percent cited public issues as typical topics. Also, 60 percent of bloggers are white, while 74 percent of the country's Net users are, according to the data. Oh, and 55 percent of bloggers write under a pseudonym. That's a key difference between them and most journalists.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Does U.S. bigotry cause Muslim madness::By Michael Medved U.S. bigotry cause Muslim madness::By Michael Medved: "For anyone who takes Islamic teaching seriously, the current state of the world offers a glaring, painful example of cognitive dissonance: the backwardness, poverty, and endemic misery of Muslim societies—particularly compared to the privilege and prosperity of the West—either undermines the validity of the Holy Koran, or proves that evil infidel conspirators have upset the natural, proper, and Godly order of things. In the 1930’s, the passion behind Nazism arose from a burning sense that the German people had been gypped, that the infamous “stab in the back” of the Versailles Treaty had deprived the nation of its rightful position of world leadership. Islamo-Nazis feel an even more galling sense of injustice, oppression and unfairness, since hostile forces have, in the view of the devout, denied them the chance to live out their divine endowment of world dominance.

Unlike the controversial “Chosen People” concept in Judaism (which I discussed in my column last week), the Islamic notion of seizing power and conquest for the believers has never been purely spiritual, and has always featured a practical, political and temporal component. During Mohammed’s own lifetime, his movement spread through ruthless military conquest and within a generation of his death his successors had built a major world empire. Despite anti-Semitic screeds that warn of Jewish plots to achieve international “control,” not even the most fervent religious Zionist has ever called for imposing halakha (Jewish law) on the nations of the world, while hundreds of millions of Muslims openly demand that governments everywhere should adapt sharia (Islamic religious law) as the law of the land."

Archaeologists Challenge Link Between Dead Sea Scrolls and Ancient Sect - New York Times

New archaeological evidence is raising more questions about the conventional interpretation linking the desolate ruins of an ancient settlement known as Qumran with the Dead Sea Scrolls, which were found in nearby caves in one of the sensational discoveries of the last century.

Skip to next paragraph


Web Links

Qumran—The Pottery Factory (Biblical Archaelogy Review)

Israeli Antiquities Authority

Tsila Sagib/Israel Antiquities Authority

Some of the scrolls were hidden in jars like these, found in an excavation of the site.

The New York Times

After early excavations at the site, on a promontory above the western shore of the Dead Sea, scholars concluded that members of a strict Jewish sect, the Essenes, had lived there in a monastery and presumably wrote the scrolls in the first centuries B.C. and A.D.

Many of the texts describe religious practices and doctrine in ancient Israel.

But two Israeli archaeologists who have excavated the site on and off for more than 10 years now assert that Qumran had nothing to do with the Essenes or a monastery or the scrolls. It had been a pottery factory.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

fiber cement faced/ MgOx SIPs

sometimes, i use the blog as a replacement for bookmarks... the blog is easier to search than bookmarks. this is part of my theme on building a 21st century house. hopefully, i'll build it before the 22nd century.

"Cementitious SIPs are typically manufactured of cellulose reinforced cement boards, for inside and outside skins. The material can be taped and finished on the interior surface. The fire-resistive cement board eliminates the need for gypsum drywall. The exterior surface can be painted or coated with a vinyl or synthetic stucco permanent finish. If siding or brick veneer is to be used, oriented strand board (OSB) can be applied on the exterior to accept nailing of siding or brick wall ties. It is not necessary to have both OSB and fiber-cement board on one side for brick and stucco applications. OSB can be used instead of fiber-cement board for such an application. However, there may be some difficulty in finding a manufacturer that produces this type of SIPs."

this company, thermasave, is the sole provider...their offer includes a foundation, walls, floors and roof, all precut and ready to assemble.

there is also a Magnesium Oxide board Sip maker called Titan Wall.


Compromise agreement forestalls charges; school officials in neighboring state attacked.

August 11 (Compass Direct News) – Hindu extremists have threatened four Christian women accused of “forced” conversion in Tamil Nadu state, while two priests of a Catholic high school in neighboring Karnataka state have been attacked. Albert Lael, organizing secretary of the All India Christian Council, told Compass that police on August 5 led a team of four women from the Good Shepherd Community Church in Erode district of Tamil Nadu to reach a compromise agreement with the person who had accused them of forced conversion. The women had shown a Christian film to about 150 people without incident. Under the agreement, the women are not to preach Christ to anyone who objects or expresses unwillingness to listen. That same week, in Hebbagodi, near Karnataka’s capital of Bangalore, Father Soby Thomas, vice principal of St. Francis de Sales High School, and school administrator Father Vinod Kanat were attacked on July 25. The two priests were apparently attacked with cricket bats by a group of about 20 people outside the hostel for poor students at Kammasandra."


Authorities do nothing; High Court overturns quashing of ‘forcible conversion’ charge.

August 14 (Compass Direct News) – A group of about 15 Hindu extremists in the southern state of Karnataka on August 4 entered a jail and attacked a Christian businessman accused of compelling his wife to commit suicide. About 15 extremists of the Bajrang Dal, a militant Hindu organization, managed to get into the Mardala district jail and brutally beat Chetraven Rajan, Albert Lael, organizing secretary of the All India Christian Council, told Compass. “No jail official came to save the victim,” he said. “Despite the fact that Rajan had several injury marks and said he could identify the attackers, jail authorities refused to register a complaint against the miscreants, nor did they take him to a hospital for treatment.” On the same day that Rajan was attacked, the Supreme Court of India overturned a Karnataka High Court judgment that had quashed a complaint against Pastor Paulraj Raju, of Mangalwarapete village, for forcibly converting Hindus. "

Monday, August 14, 2006

vacation book report - Night, Elie Wiesel

i didn't know most students in high school and college read Elie Wiesel's book Night, because i didn't. i only heard about it recently as i was skimming through the radio dial and stopped briefly at an NPR interview with him regarding the new edition of this book. i forgot about it quickly until i was stymied during a quick search in the new book section at the library and came across it. i don't regret reading it. it was so sad though. in the book he lost his faith. its not hard to understand his doubts. in the preface to the new edition he remarks, "The infants thrown into fiery ditches...I did not say that they were alive, but that was what I thought. But then I convinced myself: no, they were dead, otherwise I surely would have lost my mind. and yet fellow inmates also saw them; they were alive when they were thrown into the flames. Historians, among them Telford Taylor, confirmed it. and yet somehow I did not lose my mind." p xiii-xiv

would he have lost his faith if he were a Christian? i've been reading another book of 1st person anecdotes of Misty pilots in Vietnam and all the POWs describe how their faith did enable them to persevere and not lose hope. but i'm sure there were Christians who lost their faith in those camps. Wiesel was a Kabbalist in training, a Jewish mystic, who spent much of his childhood in prayer and study and contemplation.

Wiesel describes his first night in Aushwitz, p. 34
Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, that turned my life into one long night seven times sealed. Never shall I forget that smoke. Never shall I forget the small faces of the children whose bodies I saw transformed into smoke under a silent sky. Never shall I forget those flames that consumed my faith forever. Never shall I forget the nocturnal silence that deprived me for all eternity of the desire to live. Never shall I forget those moments that murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to ashes. Never shall I forget those things, even were I condemned to live as long as God himself. Never.

One of the things that haunts him was the freedom they had until the end to escape before the Nazis came, p50, "Their parents, like mine, had not had the courage to sell everything and emigrate while there was still time." Even when a concentration camp escapee came to their village and warned them-what preposterous ravings, who could invent such barbarity and live with themselves. Even when the government fell to the Nazis-what happens in the cities won't affect the rural areas. And then one day the Nazis came. First came the yellow stars. Then the neighborhood relocation. Then the barbed wire ghetto. Then the cattle cars. Every step was one they would live with, because what's a star, what's a closer neighborhood, what's barbed wire, what's relocation, until finally, what are those smokestacks?

He and his camp were forced to watch a child hang from the gallows, p. 65, "...the child, too light, was still breathing...And so he remained for more than half an hour, lingering between life and death, writhing before our eyes. And we were forced to look at him at close range...Behind me, I heard the same man asking: 'For God's sake, where is God?' And from within me, I heard a voice answer: ' Where He is? This is where-hanging here from this gallows...'"

He is so forthright with his anger toward God, p.68, "I was the accuser, God the accused. My eyes had opened and I was alone, terribly alone in a world without God, without man. Without love or mercy. I was nothing but ashes now, but I felt myself to be stronger than this Almighty to whom my life had been bound for so long. In the midst of these men, assembled for prayer, I felt like an observer, a stranger."

The irony is that he betrays his beliefs. How can he be angry at someone who doesn't exist? In this edition, his Nobel prize acceptance speech is included. He says, "But I have faith. Faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and even in His creation. And action is the only remedy to indifference, the most insidious danger of all." p. 120

For Wiesel, writing his story was an action. In his foreword he concludes, "The witness has forced himself to testify. For the youth of today, for the children who will be born tomorrow. He does not want his past to become their future."

Unfortunately, madmen continue to rise who determine the best solution to a perceived problem is the final solution. my next book report is about another and recent final solution. why is genocide so compelling? i can't approach it without an added demonic component to it. not that i believe the "devil made me do it" is a valid legal defense, but how can one kill in cold blood? how can one kill innocent babies? is it conditioning? desensitizing over time? is this not the condition of our country?

Spencer Burke, A Heretic’s Guide to Eternity, and Early Fallout

Michael Hamblin does a thorough job at Evangelical Resources » Spencer Burke, A Heretic’s Guide to Eternity, and Early Fallout summarizing a recent blog storm...

vacation movie review: Rabbit-Proof Fence

"Australia's aboriginal integration program of the 1930s broke countless hearts -- among them, those of young Molly (Evelyn Sampi), Gracie (Laura Monaghan) and Daisy (Tiana Sansbury), who were torn from their families and placed in an abusive orphanage. Without food or water, the girls resolve to make the 1,500-mile trek home. Meanwhile, a well-intentioned tracker is trying to return the girls to the authorities."

cultures die all the time, but when their death is forced, the noun "genocide" comes up. here a dominant, invading white culture is not pleased with the miscegenation between whites and aborigines and devise a plan to compel their progeny back into white society. the story is tragic and the fall-out from the "solution" to the "problem" will last more generations than if the "problem" had been left alone. the fall-out includes the Stolen Generations without family identity, only orphanage identities, orphanages not populated by orphans which makes them prisons, or concentration camps.
a short summary of the fall-out:

The report also acknowledged that in several cases the state took responsibility for children that were genuinely orphaned or in a state of neglect. Defenders of the removals, in fact, claim that mixed-race children were often severely neglected within Aboriginal communities. The evidence gathered also indicated a substantial number of cases where the care of the children after removal was extremely good. Nonetheless, the report condemned the policy of disconnecting children from their "cultural heritage". In the testimony of one Aboriginal; "I've got everything that could be reasonably expected: a good home environment, education, stuff like that, but that's all material stuff. It's all the non-material stuff that I didn't have — the lineage... You know, you've just come out of nowhere; there you are". [4]

Removed children were in most cases placed into institutional facilities operated by religious or charitable organisations, although a significant number, particularly females, were "fostered" out. A common aspect of the removals was the failure by these institutions to keep records of the actual parentage of the child, or such details as the date or place of birth. The report went on to note that "...the physical infrastructure of missions, government institutions and children's homes was often very poor and resources were insufficient to improve them or to keep the children adequately clothed, fed and sheltered." Incidence of sexual abuse were disturbingly high, overall 17% of females and 8% of males reported experiencing some form of sexual abuse while under institutional or foster care. [5]

The social impacts of forced removal have been measured and found to be quite severe. Although the stated aim of the "resocialisation" programme was to improve the integration of Aboriginals into modern society, a study conducted in Melbourne and cited in the official report found that there was no tangible improvement in the social position of "removed" Aborigines as compared to "non-removed", particularly in the areas of employment and post-secondary education. Most notably, the study indicated that removed Aboriginals were actually less likely to have completed a secondary education, three times as likely to have acquired a police record and were twice as likely to use illicit drugs. The only notable advantage "removed" Aboriginals possessed was a higher average income, which the report noted was most likely due to the increased urbanisation of removed individuals, and hence greater access to welfare payments than for Aboriginals living in tribal communities.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

vacation book report: In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote

i didn't think this book would have any tie-in to the two genocide books i read this vacation but it does. this is a well told story of a nice family and two "nice" murderers, who might have been better off with a court sympathetic to the insanity plea. capote spends plenty of pages explaining the debate on the insanity defense. the issue is, can they tell right from wrong and do they understand the consequences of their actions. a more recent insanity defense takes into consideration their upbringing, passion at the moment, etc. he didn't dive into it that much. he worked very hard at explaining one of the murderer's life history, which was tragic and horrible. the other was mostly a high achieving athlete who might be considered ADHD now, or OC, whose only flaw was overspending, murder conspiracy, larceny, and pedophilia.
they attacked a family that the less tragic guy heard in jail was very successful. so, assuming there was a lot of money in the house, kept the family alive until no money was found then killed them. they didn't want any witnesses.
after many years of appeals they were eventually hung from the gallows. they didn't deny their plot or actions. was it right for the state to execute them? the murder occurred in the 1950's and a sentence of "life"would result in their release in less than 20 years. these guys had both already served short sentences. they were typical recidivists.
as i read the genocide books and about the multitudes who committed atrocities but did not receive penalty, i wonder why the cycle of murder needs to be broken in genocide but is continued in singular murders?

vacation book report: Upon the Altar of the nation

the first book i finished reading was by Harry Stout called Upon the Altar of the Nation: A Moral History of the Civil War. he alternated between praising and condemning Lincoln. He condemned Lincoln for escalating the warfare to one on civilians but also praised him for rising above the claims of whose side God is on. there were several quotes that stood out to me...

Both candidates- and their parties- believed that america stood in the vanguard of world history. The issue was in what way. In essence, the Lincoln-Douglas debates suggested two conflicting moral visions for america. Douglas's vision privileged democratic local preferences over all else in political decision making. In this context, slavery emerged morally neutral. If the people, territories, and states wanted it, they could have it; if they did not, they could refuse it.
Lincoln's vision subjected local consensus to moral dictates, whether based on history, the Bible, or enlightened rationality. Any democracy worth keeping, Lincoln reasoned, required moral consensus grounded in some higher authority. For Lincoln, that authority was the Declaration of Independence and its ringing affirmation that "all men are created equal." If that declaration was morally right, Lincoln argued, then slavery was morally wrong and therefore could not be allowed to proliferate in the federal territories. Lincoln's idea of the moral consensus was summed up in the party's pithy motto: "Free soil, free labor, free men." By implication, the Constitution became an antislavery document subject to charge only by appeal to a higher law than itself. Douglas criticized Lincoln's categorical rejection of slavery in the territories as reckless and an inevitable call to civil war.

regarding the numbness to the carnage...
p. 240
With minds set like flint on the task at hand, no question arose of proportion or acceptable losses. One suspects that the casualties could have numbered one hundred thousand instead of fifty thousand and the response would have been the same. One writer for the independent noted how numbed Americans had become to bloodshed. In the opening, relatively benign, military encounters, "every early dash in the was was turned into fame...Our first defeats threw the whole community into panics, for men were then unused to stern times." But that changed profoundly for the worse: "We have since become so familiar with war, the Gettysburg, a greater battle than Waterloo, made no such impression upon the popular mind as the first few flashes of powder from [Fort] Moultrie, at daybreak of April 19, 1861." The moral brake linings had sheared, leaving only reflexive endorsements of a cause that knew no limits.

regarding Lincoln's suspension of the writ of habeas corpus which he did after Jeff Davis did, president of the confederacy. i've been told slavery bad but Lincoln worse and implying that the confederate government was better than Lincoln. i'm not sure how any government can be good that denies human rights to the humans it governs (Roe v. Wade anyone)...
Besides taking the war more directly to civilians and the partisans hidden among them, Lincoln continued to defend his suspension of habeas corpus when dealing with disloyal and traitorous citizens. The decision was difficult he conceded, and "I was slow to adopt strong measures." But military necessity required it: "Civil courts are organized chiefly for trials of individuals, or, at most, a few individuals acting in concert - and this in quiet times, and on charges for crimes well defined in the law...Habeas corpus does not discharge men who are proved to be guilty of defined crime; and its suspensions is allowed by the Constitution on purpose that men may be arrested and held who cannot be proved to be guilty of defined crime, 'when, in cases of rebellion or invasion, the public safety may require it.' This is precisely our present case -- a case of rebellion wherein the public safety does require suspension."

Stout is not unaware of the contrast and similarities of the Christian right and left now and then and the parties who support African Americans.
Democrats had their heroic generals who fought loyally even as they opposed Lincoln's policies. Most notable was McClellan, the "Christian General." His behavior in the field comported with the limited goals of Democratic politicians. He tried to enforce Sabbath observance and strove to avoid belittling and vilifying the enemy.
McClellan's "humane" voice stood in stark contrast to the crude and sometimes profane utterances of Grant or Sherman, but it did not extend to slaves and Northern freed blacks. Their humane "place" was the inhumane condition of enslavement. In an earlier address to the House of Representatives, Congressman Cox praised McClellan and condemned Republican moves towards escalation. Lincoln's removal of McClellan "was a sacrifice to appease the "Ebony Fetich."

Just as i've seen in other books the claim that blacks preferred slavery never seems to match up with the data of runaways and rebellion and in this highlight, enlistment in the Union army.
p.309, 310
Like Kirkwood, many Northern military officers saw plainly the advantages to be gained by enlisting freedmen and slaves into the conflict...Union General Sherman was no friend to abolitionists, but he did see the utility of employing fugitive slaves behind the lines and worked to actively promote the service (albeit not in combat.)
Lincoln did not have to wait long to see if slaves would enlist. The answer was yes, in droves. To Lincoln's delight, the most striking candidates came from the border states. Forty-two thousand black men from the border states served in the army and 2,400 more in the navy. The historian Ira Berlin shows that black enlistees amounted to 25 percent of eligible black men in Delaware, 28 percent in Maryland, 39 percent in Missouri, and a whopping 57 percent in Kentucky. In all 180,000 to 200,000 black soldiers fought for the North, with killed and wounded totaling 68,178 of more than one-third of the total engaged...Northern blacks were slower to enlist than their Southern counterparts, citing discrimination and the thinly veiled threats f confederates to murder black prisoners of war or sell them into slavery. [see my earlier book report on the Fort Pillow massacre]

in the afterword, Stout laments the means, total war, that achieved the end, total abolition, and the legacy of those emans.
By condoning the logic of total war in the name of abolition - and victory - Americans effectively guaranteed that other atrocities in other wars could likewise be excused in the name of "military necessity." While Lincoln passed tragically from the American scene, Grant, Sherman, and Sheridan remained to carry the new moral logic forward. When Grant became president and commander in chief, his general of the army was William Tecumseh Sherman, and commander of the Department of the Missouri was Philip Sheridan, supported by George Custer. Together, they would pursue wars of extermination in the Indian campaigns of 1868 and 1883, employing the same calculus their commander in chief, Lincoln, had approved in the Civil War. Just as Sheridan wreaked vengeance in the Shenandoah Valley, so he would wreak vengeance on american Indians - and with the same moral justification.
Knowing that the western Indians could roam and attack freely over the warm-weather months, when separated from their wives and children, Sheridan began attacking the Indians in the winter camps. The braves would have to remain to protect the women and children or see them killed before their eyes. Another tactic Sheridan used, one already tried and proved in the Shenandoah Valley campaign of the Civil War, was starvation. By destroying winter foodstuffs (and later exterminating buffalo), Sheridan forced the Indians to flee through the brutal winter cold and snow, where most died of starvation of froze to death.

coincidentally, if there such things as coincidences, i've been reading Jeremiah, who constantly warned an overt religious country, Judah, about the coming judgment by heathen, because of their hypocrisy. The confederacy was full of Christian preachers who justified slavery over and over again from the Bible, somehow managing to skip the parts about limiting it to 7 years for those in fellowship. Its interesting how the constitution forbids indentured servanthood but permitted slavery. the union was both evangelical as well as liberal. the confederate army experienced many spiritual revivals during the war while the racist, atheistic Sherman brought war to the weak in the South, which also freed uncounted numbers of their slaves. but it was Lincoln who told ministers that the was was just a part of God's plan and God was not a part of his plan. the confederacy had many national fast and intercession days, but God's plan would not be changed.

the African genocide by white Americans in general and the Indian genocide brought on by Grant, Sherman, and Sheridan lead to my next book reports.