Friday, February 29, 2008

Cinema review: The Sorrow and the Pity (1969)

I had never heard of this masterpiece until Rod the Crunchy Con blogged about it recently. It's a French documentary that interviews several people from an area of occupied France in the Auvergne region. One is a proud Nazi, one a communist who was a resistance fighter, one joined and fought for the Nazis on the Eastern front, some were English who aided the resistance or the invasion. I think Ken Burns learned everything he needed to know on making documentaries from this film. It is a 4 and a half hour monster of sub title reading unless you understand French. Some are unrepentant. Some are repentant. Some were outcasts before the occupation but achieved redemption by resisting despite the risk of capture and torture and execution. Collaboration preserved many French lives unless they were also Jewish lives. Anti-Semitism bubbled up easily after the Nazi occupation. The worst atrocity mentioned in the film was the deportation of Jewish adults to the camps, but the Germans didn't want the children. However, the Vichy government insisted they go also. They all died, thousands. In the meantime, the resistance consisted of the criminal, the under class, and the immoral who had nothing to lose if they were caught. Their lives were already worthless. Resisting gave them purpose and identity and redemption. This movie is worth your time.

We all like to believe we would have voted for Lincoln, assisted in the Underground Railroad, fought for the North, argued for Indian rights, and marched for Civil Rights. But those opportunities have passed. What injustices do we live with now? What injustices are we at peace with? What injustices are we so tired of that we no longer can muster up the indignation?

I'm glad I am not under occupation by a genocidal regime. But I am a citizen of another kingdom, an ambassador to this world. Where have I collaborated? Where have I compromised? What am I holding onto that is of this world?

Pro-Life African-Americans

Dr. Alveda King, niece of Martin Luther King has crisscrossed the land for years now, sharing her own experience of abortion and the painful confession that in this, she had blindly committed the same sin as slavery. She devalued human life and turned it into property to be dealt with according to her own whim...There can be no forgiveness for the shedding of innocent blood…except by the shedding of innocent blood. But the blood of Christ satisfies the just demands of a God rightly offended by the sin of child-sacrifice....
African-Americans, Dr. Johnny and Pat Hunter started L.E.A.R.N. in the 1990’s; and called abortion “black genocide.” They have documented the ethnic cleansing nature of the abortion industry by pointing out the racist/eugenics philosophy of Planned Parenthood’s founder Margaret Sanger and her targeting of minorities for abortion, forced sterilization and contraception. While this explicit racism may be a thing of the past, they point out that 9 out of 10 abortion business are now located in urban neighborhoods. And while only accounting for 12% of the female population, African-American women suffer 36% of all abortions...
If God’s patience abides, I expect the nation will make abortion, like slavery, history, soon after.

From Desiring God Blogger, John Ensor, Executive Director for Urban Initiatives for Heartbeat International.

Obama and infanticide

Former Senator Rick Santorum writes

Justifying the killing of newborn babies is deeply troubling, but just as striking is his rigid adherence to doctrinaire liberalism. Apparently, the "audacity of hope" is limited only to those babies born at full term and beyond. Worse, given his support for late-term partial-birth abortions that supporters argued were necessary to end the life of genetically imperfect children, it may be more accurate to say the audacity of hope applies only to those babies born healthy at full term.

Obama's supporters say his rhetoric makes them believe again.

Is this the kind of change and leader you believe in?

the abortion industry and adolescents

Some candidates support Planned Parenthood, the nation wide abortion provider. They have no problem with helping underage girls get abortions, not reporting the age of the father or if the father is a relative. Those are serious accusations. Would you like proof? How about 800 instances?
We have over 800 tape recordings that show how Planned Parenthood and NAF abortion workers secure business from victims of statutory rape by undermining parental authority, encouraging children to lie and promising minors that their employees will ignore mandatory reporting laws. Hundreds of Planned Parenthood clinic and National Abortion Federation clinic employees have been caught on tape expressing their willingness to conceal the statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl by a 22-year-old man. Even though many of these Planned Parenthood and NAF employees openly acknowledged that statutory rape is a crime and that they are required by law to report it, they made it clear that they do not abide by the law.
Here. Thanks to the work of Life Dynamics.

Planned Parenthood accepts racist pledges

Will Planned Parenthood care if the money is designated for minority abortions, to reduce minority populations? Watch this video...

HT: Joe Carter

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Candles for Men - Mandles

weekly pastoral accountability

This form (PDF) is required every week at John Piper's church from the pastoral staff. Wow! It is awesome. It is noted on their blog here. It's not only about sexual temptation but also about health and rest. Any Christian could use this with an accountability partner.

doodle prayers

A neat article in Christianity Today about an impulsive pray-er who doodled while praying and turned it into her method of praying. She has a book with her prayer doodles in them. See some examples. A snippet of conversation between the author Sybil MacBeth and Phyllis Tickle, author of The Divine Hours which I'd still like to own and use someday found here.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Obama vs. Lincoln

This is another part of my conversation with a Christian Obama supporter...

I’m glad you believe in the intrinsic value of life. I’m a believer in intrinsic human rights. If you peruse my blog much you’ll see I’ve surveyed the history of genocides and atrocities and the role of Christians in those both as accomplices and as prophets. At this time in our country’s existence, all humans under 9 months gestation lack basic human rights. In our pluralistic country this requires a political and legal solution, unless the Lord brings a massive revival.

The human rights violations in the treatment of immigrants, minorities, Iraqis, and capital offenders are also important, but since more children die every year in the womb than all these others combined I don’t see how you can de-prioritize this greatest need. Obama is a repackaged Lyndon Johnson, who accomplished many great social changes, through legislation, including welfare, which Clinton ended. Welfare removed the concern of poor mothers regarding provision for their babies. Welfare addressed the poverty reasons for abortion. Yet when Roe legalized abortion, the numbers soared above a million executions per year, but eventually settled around that number for the past 35 years. This shows that poverty is not an adequate reason. When abortion was illegal, most unwanted babies were adopted or taken care of by the larger family network. That is still an option today. I personally know people who have adopted unwanted children and babies from Georgia, Texas, Mexico, China, Haiti, Russia, and Uzbekistan. Only two of them were Christians. There are more than enough families in this country who can’t have children but will adopt them where they can find them and afford them. George Bush signed an act on Adoption in 2003 that provided money to incentivize national adoptions. He is an example of someone working on many fronts to reduce abortions.

How will the fight against abortion proceed politically without a force within government acting on behalf of those lacking those rights?

The root cause of abortion is sin. Legislation will not change hearts. Legislation will protect lives. Teen pregnancy is a result of sin. Audacious hope will not change teen pregnancy. Nor will free condoms. But laws that guarantee human rights to tiny humans will preserve a million lives a year. Perhaps this may not be the best method, but electing someone who firmly believes that any human before 9 months of age is not a person with human rights will definitely set back the quest. Obama’s ideas have been tried and found lacking in the administrations of Carter and Clinton. Doing the same thing again will result in the same results we have seen for 35 years and 40 million lives (the population of New York City 5 times over). How is that different from voting against Abe Lincoln who was the only candidate that thought slaves were people and not property? How can you vote for someone who considers babies tissue and not persons? Did you read his words? “…whenever we define a pre-viable fetus as a person that is protected by the Equal Protection Clause or the other elements in the Constitution, what we're really saying is, in fact, that they are persons that are entitled to the kinds of protections that would be provided to a -- a child, a 9-month old -- child that was delivered to term.” That was the same issue as in Lincoln’s time. Are they persons? Do you choose to give someone a better job and let them kill their baby, or do you protect their baby first?

See follow-up.

Obama, NYT and my midrash

Sometimes, blogs are simply a Midrash on the NYT. Here's my contribution today. William Kristol writes in his Opinion piece today.

John Kennedy, to whom Obama is sometimes compared, challenged the American people to acts of citizenship and patriotism. Barack Obama allows us to feel better about ourselves.

This is my observation of the enthused that I know.

Obama likes to say, “we are the change that we seek” and “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for.” Obama’s rhetorical skill makes his candidacy appear almost collective rather than individual. That’s a democratic courtesy on his part, and one flattering to his followers. But the effectual truth of what Obama is saying is that he is the one we’ve been waiting for.
Has the Messiah arrived and is his name Barack?

Barack Obama is an awfully talented politician. But could the American people, by November, decide that for all his impressive qualities, Obama tends too much toward the preening self-regard of Bill Clinton, the patronizing elitism of Al Gore and the haughty liberalism of John Kerry?

Can we, as a nation, afford that haughty liberalism. How will his promise to raise taxes fly in nearr-recession?

It’s fitting that the alternative to Obama will be John McCain. He makes no grand claim to fix our souls. He doesn’t think he’s the one everyone has been waiting for. He’s more proud of his country than of himself. And his patriotism has consisted of deeds more challenging than “speaking out on issues.”

Of course, I like Huckabee over McCain, but I'll choose any pro-life candidate over a pro-abortion candidate, and Obama can't be anymore pro-abortion. Deal with the million innocents sacrificed every year then tell me what other human rights issues you will deal with.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Obama vs. pro-lifers

An article by a former abortionist nurse who repented after watching a live birth abortion baby die...
Obama insinuated opposition to abortion is based only on religion, lecturing pro-lifers like me to "explain why abortion violates some principle that is accessible to people of all faiths, including those with no faith at all."

I don't recall mentioning religion when I testified against live-birth abortion. I only recall describing a live aborted baby I held in a hospital soiled utility room until he died, and a live aborted baby who was accidentally thrown into the trash.

Neither do I recall religion being brought into the partial-birth abortion ban debate. I recall comparisons made to U.S. laws ensuring animals being killed are treated humanely. I recall testimony that late-term babies feel excruciating pain while being aborted.

Obama stated pro-life proposals must be "amenable to reason."

OK, Sen. Obama, let's reason. Explain why you support abortion for whatever rationale, at whatever gestation, by whatever means. Explain why you support infanticide, if banning it might interfere with abortion.

Then, since you brought it up, explain how, despite all that, you think Jesus should vote for you, either now or in the hereafter, particularly given His statement, "It would be better to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around the neck than to face the punishment in store for harming one of these little ones."
She includes a political cartoon from the Chicago Sun-Times during Obama's Illinois Senate period when he opposed or held up this bill...

Top 10 posts 3rd wk Feb '08

A dose of great links this week from posts of interest around blogdom. The links I point to throughout the week are here and can be subscribed too here.

1-Global Warming corresponds to Sun's activity, link from Acton Institute Power Blog. See more under science.
2-Procreate of perish? See more at abortion.
3-The machine that is DNA and the improbability of its evolution. See more under creationism.
4-33 things on Intelligent Design.
5-Turn your exposed recumbent trike into a covered all weather machine. See more under biking.
6-Obama's rhetoric is from the Lyndon Johnson era. See more under politics.
7-Christian life under Sharia law at CT. See more under Islam.
8-Characteristics of Christian counter-culture from Doug Groothius. Found by Justin Taylor. See more under church.
9-Artist hangs herself over grief for her aborted twins.
10-Planned Parenthood opens a 78,000 sf facility in Texas with more "procedure" rooms for late term abortions.

Friday, February 22, 2008

a note to Obama's pro-life supporters

Some more from my side of a conversation I am having.

Your candidate can't even see the immorality of pulling a baby out of the womb up to its head then sucking its brains out. Neither can his competitor or the previous Democrat in the White House. You like Obama's proposals for legislation to provide health insurance and education for all children, but not all people believe this is affordable and believe it's a privation of their hard earned money. Like abortion it is a divisive legislative proposal. Why not support legislation to protect the human rights and dignity for 1 million infants because it is morally correct? Much of the country didn't support civil rights in the 60s, yet the morally right laws were made despite strong opposition. Leaving it to the states was a disaster. A federal solution was needed. Abortion is not unique in our country's history of issues in need of moral legislation despite deep division. We have done it in the past and we can do it again, but not with someone who so strongly believes "choice" is more important than "life." We have to choose which human right is more important. Destroying these images of God in the womb has been found by the church as wrong since the Didache in the 2nd century. Please reconsider your advocacy for someone intent on keeping the murder of the most innocent safe and legal.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Obama's cold hearted voting record

from an article here.
He is so pro-abortion he refused as an Illinois state senator to support legislation to protect babies who survived late-term abortions because he did not want to concede -- as he explained in a cold-blooded speech on the Illinois Senate floor -- that these babies, fully outside their mothers' wombs, with their hearts beating and lungs heaving, were in fact "persons."...
Is this the candidate for those who want to love their neighbors as themselves? Who seek to care for the least of these?

State and federal versions of this bill became an issue earlier this decade because of "induced labor abortion." This is usually performed on a baby with Down's Syndrome or another problem discovered on the cusp of viability. A doctor medicates the mother to cause premature labor. Babies surviving labor are left untreated to die...
Even restrictions like these are hard fought in this nation. And Obama is fighting against these.

"Number one," said Obama, explaining his reluctance to protect born infants, "whenever we define a pre-viable fetus as a person that is protected by the Equal Protection Clause or the other elements in the Constitution, what we're really saying is, in fact, that they are persons that are entitled to the kinds of protections that would be provided to a -- a child, a 9-month old -- child that was delivered to term. That determination then, essentially, if it was accepted by a court, would forbid abortions to take place. I mean, it -- it would essentially bar abortions, because the Equal Protection Clause does not allow somebody to kill a child, and if this is a child, then this would be an anti-abortion statute."...
We have the technology to keep a premature baby alive at just under 6 months, but a child unwanted up until delivery is not human to Mr. Obama.

His positions on abortion include
  • Expand access to contraception; reduce unintended pregnancy. (Feb 2008)
  • Rated 100% by NARAL on pro-choice votes in 2005, 2006 & 2007. (Jan 2008)
  • Voted against banning partial birth abortion. (Oct 2007)
  • Stem cells hold promise to cure 70 major diseases. (Aug 2007)
  • Trust women to make own decisions on partial-birth abortion. (Apr 2007)

Reasons for abortion

Lawrence Finer, et. al, "Reasons U.S. Women Have Abortions: Quantitative and Qualitative Perspectives" Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, Vol. 37 No. 3 (Sept., 2005) p. 110.

Social Reasons (given as primary reason)
- Feels unready for child/responsibility 25%
- Feels she can't afford baby 23%
- Has all the children she wants/Other family responsibilities 19%
- Relationship problem/Single motherhood 8%
- Feels she isn't mature enough 7%
- Interference with education/career plans 4%
- Parents/Partner wants abortion <1%
- Other reasons <6.5%
TOTAL: 93%

"Hard Cases" (given as primary reason)
- Mother's Health 4%
- Baby may have health problem 3%
- Rape or Incest <0.5%

TOTAL: 7% (Approx.)

Taken from the National Right to Life page.

reasons for right to life legislation

These data on U.S. abortions are from the National Right to Life.

  • There have been over 48 million abortions since 1973.
  • The annual number of abortions went from 744,600 in the first year of legalization, to a high of over 1.6 million in 1990. In 2003, there were 1,287,000.
  • There were over 3,500 abortions per day in 2003, 146 per hour, about one every 25 seconds.
  • For every 1,000 live births, there were 312 abortions in 2003.
  • There were more that 148,000 second and third trimester abortions in 2003.
  • In 2003, more children died from abortion than Americans died in the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, World Wars I and II, the Korean, Vietnam and Gulf Wars combined.
  • A 2004 survey of women seeking abortions indicated that only about 7% of women cited typical “hard cases” (rape, incest, or some health concern with either the baby or the mother) as the primary reason they were seeking abortion.
  • An April 2004 Zogby Poll found that 56% of respondents support legal abortion in only three or fewer circumstances: when the pregnancy results from rape or incest, or when it threatens the life of the mother.
  • At an average cost of $372, the abortion business is a $400 million a year industry.
  • Nearly half of all abortions are obtained by women who have already had at least one abortion.

Documentation and further details available on request from

Embryos and the image of God

This is a conversation for believers. If you aren't a Christian this argument will be meaningless to you.

Are there any humans not made in the image of God?

Do diseased humans bear God's image?

Are disabled humans made in God's image?

Does a baby bear the image of God?

Is a baby in God's image 1 second before exiting the womb?

Is a baby in its 2nd trimester made in God's image?

Is a baby in its 1st trimester made in God's image?

Is a baby in its 1st second made in God's image?

Should it be a legal right to kill these who bear God's image even if it horribly inconveniences a woman for 9 months?
Should we vote for people who think otherwise?
Some candidates believe in the death penalty but not abortion. Some believe in abortion but not the death penalty.
"53 prisoners were executed in the USA in 2006, bringing to 1,057 the total number executed since the use of the death penalty was resumed in 1977.
Around 3,350 prisoners were under sentence of death as of 1 January 2007." Amnesty report.
The number of prisoners on death row in the U.S. is equal to the number of babies executed by abortion every day in the U.S. The number executed since 1977 equals the number of babies executed in the past 8 hours.
It is possible that all the adult executions were travesties of justice and they were all innocent. However, I'm sure all those babies are innocent. I don't support the death penalty for any who bear the image of God. I choose to vote for someone who will try to bring about the fewest innocent deaths of those image bearers of God.

Obama and embryo lovers

The context of these posts is a "conversation" on a Christian recording artist's page, in which he advocates for Obama. Hence it is only my half of a conversation.

So the current method of Pro-lifers in the political arena is not adequate in your opinion? It's the method Wilberforce used to end slavery in England when most of the country did not care about slave rights. He used persuasion and politics and laws, it's a 3 legged stool. Persuasion never stops. Advocacy of human rights for the unborn continues in all political administrations through the blogs and the rallies and the protests and the prayer vigils and the pregnancy support centers and some churches.

Political advocacy for human rights for babies come from legislators and appointed judges not from Obama's party. He will put a halt to those efforts on the political and legal fronts or push it backwards, as will Clinton, just like Clinton before them.

The problem is that abortion is more than something we don't like. It is morally abhorrent and barbaric, just as slavery is. Whatever we do for the least of these among us we do for Jesus. Whatever we don't do for them we don't do for Jesus. Those babies are the poorest among us. Those babies are the weakest among us. Those babies are the least of these. The reversal of Roe will keep more babies alive than anything Obama will do. That reversal is more likely when pro-life judges are placed in the federal court system and the Supreme Court by pro-life administrations and approved by pro-life legislators.

So what if half the country is pro-choice. I'm sure 90% of those babies were pro-life as they were being killed in their mother's wombs. Does their opinion count? It's the same issue as was the slavery debate. Are these embryos humans or not? If they are, why vote for someone who wants to keep their execution legal and safe?

Indian mascots

If you were a minority, you might not like your likeness used as a mascot. What if you were invited by a school to help develop a mascot based on your history? It's happening in Connecticut.

What use a pro-life prez?

Joe Carter points out it is much more than appointing judges.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Pro-life and pro-Obama?

Claim #1
Someone pointed me to an article by Frank Schaeffer who writes at the Huffington Post a blog titled, Why I'm Pro-life and Pro-Obama. The summary statement is because people will be so inspired during Obama's reign that they won't want to abort children anymore. Perhaps he is implying that people are so depressed now during Bush's reign that abortion is a reasonable choice most often. This train of thought isn't based on logic, but if I were to play along with it, I'd point to the Clinton reign. There was great hope for the man from Hope. Schaeffer claims his tryst ruined everything for babies in utero. Clinton reigned during the last great economic boom and era of peace. What better conditions for having babies. But abortion numbers didn't change that much.

Claim #2
If Christians adopted more, then people would more likely bring children to term, submitted by Anonymous here. Well Christians are going so far as to adopt embryos left over from in vitro fertilization.

However, both of these are non-responses to the issue of abortion. The issue is human rights. Do dependent humans have human rights? Is it wrong to kill humans with Down Syndrome because of their affliction? Is it not wrong if they are killed in utero? Over 90% are killed in utero. Should people with cleft palates be executed? They are in utero, and the murders are defended by pro-choice defenders, example. Should people be killed because of their gender? They are writ large in utero in China and India. Why do human rights stop at the womb? Which candidates believe this? The two democratic candidates do. No matter how much "change" and "hope" they claim, this is one area of human rights that they will not bring "hope" and "change" to.

Yes Christians could do more in adoptions, but most who abort don't want to bother with 9 months of hardship to give a baby away at the end. It's not because they are worried that no one will adopt their child. That's not the problem. Our nation aborts consistently in fat times and slim times, because abortion is about avoidance of hardship instead of human rights. The Democrats will not elevate humans-as-embryos to full human status with full human rights. Until that happens, which the past 3 Republican administrations have been doing attempting incrementally through their judicial appointments, abortion will continue as it always has, no matter how much hope and security and change there is.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Rhetoric without a cause: Obama

John Mark Reynolds succinctly summarizes my problem with Obama's phenomenal rhetoric-without-a-cause by comparing him to previous great statesmen.

Great rhetoric is safest when turned to great causes. It is most dangerous, and cloying, when serving smaller political goals that conflate party triumph with national renewal...

So he is great and unifies but what is his greatness for and to what are we unifying for or against?

Martin Luther King is another fine example of a moment meeting a great man. Segregation was a great cancer and the racism of the sixties a cause that demanded the high words of King. He was fighting obvious evil and using his mind and power to rally all of America to a cause greater than self. When the greatest victories were won, there was no diminishing of his speaking ability or of King’s great intelligence, but the evils more subtle and the solutions more questionable. His heroic life was cut tragically short, but before his great rhetoric could find a cause worthy of it...
MLK was a great man with clay feet who accomplished great change for human rights. When he went north to help with worker rights in Chicago, he couldn't rally an audience. Perhaps his social capital had been spent.

Grand and great rhetoric tied to party politics debases the rhetoric and lacks staying power. When not tied to a cause greater than party triumph, it is dangerous.

This is even more true when it takes on gassy causes in politics like “unity” or “making America great again” or “moral goodness” not tied to any great struggle in which legitimate opposition exists in the body politic.

There is nothing wrong with a great speech that reminds us of the things we all agree about, but great danger in associating these things with one party or person...

Obama supporters like to point his rhetorical difference in using "we" instead of "I" in his stump speeches. Perhaps, unfortunately, Americans are so far removed from England since our revolution 230 years ago, that we forget the royal "we" is the polite royal's pronoun when he means "me."

Exactly what over-arching end is Obama’s rhetric pointed toward?...

If elected the Lincoln bedroom will be open to all of us?

Is turning Bush out of office, a man who will be gone regardless of who wins the next election, really a great cause like defeating the butchers who murdered millions in Russia, Poland, Cambodia, and Africa?

Is securing the right to partial birth abortion that cause?...

This is one of my terrors. Clinton vetoed this barbaric form of infanticide several times. When Obama selects judges and justices, how blind will they be to such barbarism?

What will Obama say? If he does not tell us his cause, which means excluding somebody by pointing out what he wishes to change as King excluded the segregationists and Reagan the fellow travelers, then the fears will grow that at best he is a wind bag and at worst a demagogue.

We all like Obama too much to hope either is true. He has a chance, having roused us, to do something. If he does not tell us before the election, then he will have a mandate to be president, but not to act as president. His first partisan steps will be deflating . . . and like Jimmy Carter he will fail in his great promise....

Abortion is something that Christians unite against. Slavery was something that Christians united against 150 years ago. Christians don't need another man to rally around, we already have him, Jesus. Some of will support en masse a candidate if he agrees with our aims (Lincoln for abolitionists, recent Republicans for embryo lives), but we never confuse him with Jesus.

For laughs enjoy this blog showing that Obama just might be the messiah.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Stand Up Girl

I came across this website while checking my spelling on in utero. The Stand Up Girl writes
If you're pregnant, scared, and alone -- I know... I've been there. The last thing you want is people talking at you. Take a breather, a time out, and check out my site. It was info like this that really helped me...

It's a hip culturally accessible site to help pregnant moms who are freaking out about being pregnant in horribly inconvenient times of their lives. There are lots of great 1st person stories here.

a note to Christian supporters of Obama

I'm really glad Obama inspires you all. His rhetoric is phenomenal. He will be great. In fact, he'll be just as great as our last democrat prez, who vetoed every bill restricting abortion that crossed his desk. Are a million human lives a year worth ignoring for a guy who is so great in all these other areas? 2,700 babies every day are killed in utero in America. Obama is not interested in changing this holocaust because he thinks it is a right to kill babies. Is this the candidate for Christians who are commanded to love their neighbors as ourselves? Assuming the worst numbers, which moral calculus comes out worse? 200,000 Iraqis over 7 years or 7,000,000 babies in the same time? Which war is more evil? The one against a regime that killed thousands of its own with torture and mustard gas or the one against our own babies with scalding saline solutions and medical vaccuums? Which candidate will install supreme court justices who will call the the fallacy of privacy allows infanticide and who will install foolish justices that will continue to support the most liberal abortion rights in the world?
We can vote for the candidate who will do more for the unborn. Obama scores 100% for abortion rights. I don't think he cares for the "least of these." I looked past it once when I voted for Clinton in his first term. I regret that choice now. Give me a pro-life Democrat and I'll happily give my vote. But until then, the war that affects my vote is the war against the unborn, and the commander in chief I will vote for is the one who will try to end that war.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Top 11 posts Valentine's week 2008

A dose of great links this week from posts of interest around blogdom. The links I point to throughout the week are here and can be subscribed too here.

1-What is Biblical fasting? Fred Sanders has thoughts and quotes. See more under Bible.

2-Black History Month vs. Mormonism at Mormon Coffee. On the other hand a new Mormon diary made public raises the number of Indians killed in Utah on Bear River, 493. Rob considers this America's worst massacre. See more under African-Americans and Mormons.

3-Learning from Wilberforce's abolition methods for the fight for life today at Stand to Reason. See more under abortion.

4-Advice for good blogging from 1927 at Touchstone. See more under blogging.

5-Rowan Williams, the Christian archbishop of Canterbury, mistakenly thinks its time for some Sharia law in England. See more under Islam.
A-Anne Applebaum at Slate has thoughts at Slate.
B-Christopher Hitchens at Slate also thinks abrasively at Slate.
C-Rod Dreher links to some more thoughts.

6-A parody video counterpart to Obama's "Yes we can" for McCain (not really). Also, a break up letter from an Obamamaniac. See more under politics.

7-Are transgenders today's lepers for Christians and Pharisees? How will we love them? See more under church.

8-Guy Muse on how to start a church.

9-Chris Elrod on breaking up...not with dating partners but with church people with major issues.

10-Mark Driscoll on how to preach.

11-Joyce Meier thinks God doesn't want to send his Spirit into an unfit person so get to the gym! See more under heresy.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

My bug dealer on Colbert

David Gracer fed me my first cicada and I've been hooked ever since. Here are the pictures to prove it and some research on entomaphagy with a link to David's page.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Haiku for my Beloved

Last night as we sat
On the couch, 'twas my pleasure
To enjoy your eyes

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

recumbent cycling at 12F

We have an arctic air mass parked over New England right now and I'm not feeling my global warming. I added an extra layer on my top. My usual winter cycling layers are flocked surf shirt (long sleeve), poly shirt, fleece jacket, and a thin anorak as a shell. Today I added a cotton shirt and wore two pairs of gloves. I was fine below the waist with my usual kit of tights and sweats and a thick set of fleece socks in my Merrells. My toes did get a little cold today. My hands still got cold. Wearing ski goggles for the first season this year has been great. I never realized how much heat I lose from my face. My face sock was freezing onto my beard. My nostrils were freezing inside, literally. At some points I couldn't breathe through my nose because it was clogged with ice crystals.
But I'm a big baby. It's not like I'm training in Alaska to bike the Iditarod Trail race like Jill.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Song of Songs 2 sermon

I preached yesterday in my home church, Calvary Chapel Southeastern Connecticut. My text was Song of Songs 2. The audio file is available as well as a picture from our wedding reception in 1994.

Finding Jesus in Song of Songs 2

Review the text here.
See my previous thoughts on 2:1-3, 4-7, 8-17, .
"Among the thorns" – he wore a crown of such
"Sweet fruit" – Jesus enjoys the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives. He says we can only bear fruit as we remain in him and none without him.
"Banquet Hall or vineyard" – our conversion
"Two hands" – fully committed to him and not looking backwards with longing to what we left
"Don’t force love" – don’t try to be Billy Graham, be who he made you to be. Finish first grade before moving onto college.
"Through the lattice" – we see imperfectly, but we will see perfectly (1 Corinthians 13)
"Let me see your face" – our plea with Jesus
"Catch the foxes" – if it causes you to sin, cut it off
"Until the dawn arrives" – don’t give up. It may be dark, but it will become light. It may be Friday, but Sunday is coming. This is the season of Lent.

But wait, those are mostly her lines. In this poem, though, she is the pure one. She is the faithful one. Her love is pure. Her life is rough. She initiates the romance. She competes for his affection. It sounds too much like my relationship with Jesus. He loves me despite my poor performance. He loves me despite my slimy, selfish acts. He kept company with whores, drunks, madmen, lepers and taxmen. His love is faithful and pure. He died for love. Will you consent to be loved?

Thursday, February 07, 2008

My man's nice ride: Songs 3:6-11

As has become my habit lately, I am looking at this epic love poem out of order. I wanted to jump to another unique part of this poem. Much of the adorations in this poem are focused on the external features of each other. In this section, the 2nd half of chapter 3 Beloved expresses her appreciation for her Lover’s accomplishments. The NET is not certain who the speaker is here but I see these as Beloved’s lines. The setting could be a wedding, since there seems to be a great deal of pomp and circumstance.

3:6 Who is this coming up from the desert

like a column of smoke,

like a fragrant billow of myrrh and frankincense,

every kind of fragrant powder of the traveling merchants?

Solomon knows how to make an entrance as expected in royalty. He arrives from a distance, making a trail of dust, but dust that is mingled with some really good smells. Perhaps back then sensitivities and allergies to perfumes were not a common problem and there was no such issue as wearing too much of them. I’m sure it wasn’t just himself smelling good but he had the equivalent of a few hundred scent trees hanging off his ride. Being the man of wealth, he uses the imported stuff. His scents were the scents of romance and his intentions were clear.

3:7 Look! It is Solomon’s portable couch!

It is surrounded by sixty warriors,

some of Israel’s mightiest warriors.

Solomon arrives with his posse. This groom brought 60 groomsmen/usher/warriors and they were not in need of steroids. Solomon’s reign was mostly a peaceful one. He had small battles on his frontiers in the beginning and end of his reign, so his army was a peacetime one, but he used his wealth to arm it well with chariots and bronze and horses.

3:8 All of them are skilled with a sword,

well-trained in the art of warfare.

Each has his sword at his side,

to guard against the terrors of the night.

With so many sons of David alive, I’m sure assassination was a concern. The best soldiers in the country were assigned to his private security detail. Security is a concern of bride’s even today. Our culture today normally views security in terms of financial ability. Financial stress easily strains a marriage and frequently leads to break ups. Even if a man is young and is unable to have much wealth, if he has no debt, he is better off. Of course, in Solomon’s case, security in its physical and financial forms exceeded adequacy.

3:9 King Solomon made a sedan chair for himself

of wood imported from Lebanon.

3:10 Its posts were made of silver;

its back was made of gold.

Its seat was upholstered with purple wool;

its interior was inlaid with leather by the

maidens of Jerusalem.

She appreciates his entrance, his good smells, his security, and, now, his ride. I’m not one to tinker with my vehicles. I change the oil and that’s it. I don’t wash it, I don’t wax it, I don’t buy fancy rims for it. But I know people who do. I have a friend who is restoring a muscle car. He searches the internet for parts. I guess the good deals he finds enables him to have enough money to pay his mechanic to install them. To some this hobby may seem like a colossal waste of money and time and an affront to the environment, those old V-8’s use a lot of gas without a catalytic converter. But it’s artistic expression. Some people express themselves in paint and canvas, some in yarn, some in thread, some in lenses and lights, some in words, some in wood and some in steel and grease. Whether Beloved thinks it’s a waste of time or not, she appreciates his work by noticing the details. It’s polite to say, “Nice car,” but it’s on another level to say, “Nice walnut trim, chrome job, and leather re-upholstery on your whip.” As Solomon does elsewhere, she does by moving from complimenting the general to appreciating the specific. To be affirmed in the specifics is to be affirmed past what is polite. It’s good to be polite to your spouse, but it’s important to move beyond that.

3:11 Come out, O maidens of Zion,

and gaze upon King Solomon!

He is wearing the crown with which his mother crowned him

on his wedding day,

on the most joyous day of his life!

Beloved taunts the harem. She rejoices in her position as bride. She exults her husband as she takes in with him the “most joyous day.”

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Gabion house

update Jan. 2011: a post on its application in relief work in places like Haiti here.

I've talked about this idea before. Then I found out about the Hesco wall shelter. But a German architect did it, a house covered in gabions. Materialicious had the pictures. Treehugger still does. The website is all in German so I'll need my wife to interpret, but he does have pictures here. More pictures on another blog here, scroll to bottom, with this insight.
Weighing around 80 kg each, the baskets can be removed individually. This enormous mass (40tonnes) has a buffer effect in winter and summer. No external guttering was allowed to detract from the sculptural effect – rainwater flows instead down a waterproof membrane behind the layer of stones.
The thing I would do differently is allow all sorts of greenery to grow up the walls. Now that would be sweet.

Tragedy in the marriage: Songs 5:1-9

I’m jumping ahead to the most bizarre aspect of the epic love poem. It starts with passion that becomes miscommunication which leads to violence against Beloved but ends in adoration of Lover. As usual I am using the NET and the italics are their suggested speaker identities. I’ll keep my comments short interspersed but make a controversial suggestion after the reader sees the context.

The Lover to His Beloved:
5:1 I have entered my garden, O my sister, my bride;
I have gathered my myrrh with my balsam spice.
I have eaten my honeycomb and my honey;
I have drunk my wine and my milk!
The Poet to the Couple:

Eat, friends, and drink!

Drink freely, O lovers!

This follows the standard tone of this poem. Farming metaphors for physical intimacy. Their passion is unbridled. Their freedom to each other is at its maximum.

The Beloved about Her Lover:
5:2 I was asleep, but my mind was dreaming.
Listen! My lover is knocking at the door!

The Lover to His Beloved:

“Open for me, my sister, my darling,

my dove, my flawless one!

My head is drenched with dew,

my hair with the dampness of the night.”

Exhaustion has set in finally, for Beloved, at least. But Lover is ready for more.

The Beloved to Her Lover:
5:3 “I have already taken off my robe – must I put it on again?

I have already washed my feet – must I soil them again?”

Considering her later actions, I’m not sure she is being selfish. But she is ascertaining how firm his desires are.

5:4 My lover thrust his hand through the hole,

and my feelings were stirred for him.

He responds with action instead of words.

5:5 I arose to open for my beloved;

my hands dripped with myrrh –

my fingers flowed with myrrh

on the handles of the lock.

She is indeed ready since he is indeed serious.

5:6 I opened for my beloved,

but my lover had already turned and gone away.

I fell into despair when he departed.

I looked for him but did not find him;

I called him but he did not answer me.

But he couldn’t wait. It seems he has stomped off in frustration. Immediate satisfaction wasn’t to be had, something the king, I’m sure, was not accustomed to. Yet she sets out in pursuit of him. She wants to fulfill him. She is despondent over his departure.

5:7 The watchmen found me as they made their rounds in the city.
They beat me, they bruised me;

they took away my cloak, those watchmen on the walls!

In Chapter 3, verse 3 the watchmen make a passive appearance. They find her as she wanders around the city looking for Lover but don’t help her find him. This time, they abuse her. What crime has she committed? What threat is she to the city? Why won’t they convey her to her husband? Do they resent this dark-skinned farm girl who doesn’t fit the conventional model of a princess? Her cloak is her outer covering. It keeps her modest. It also conveyed her royalty. They left her indistinct from a commoner, without respecting their regent’s wife or even her office. The ones who are supposed to protect have chosen to violate. Their hubris is exceptional in that they chose to violate someone who could order their punishment. What kind of watchmen thinks he can beat and strip a queen?

The Beloved to the Maidens:

5:8 O maidens of Jerusalem, I command you –

If you find my beloved, what will you tell him?

Tell him that I am lovesick!

In spite of all this, her love is undiminished. Even though it was his fault, to some degree, she only wants to reunite with her Lover. She is sick in love like she was in 2:5. She is curiously, undeterred by the beating. What is wrong with her? She is still challenging the harem, those maidens of Jerusalem. She doesn’t want Solomon to go to them. She wants all of his affections.

The Maidens to The Beloved:

5:9 Why is your beloved better than others,

O most beautiful of women?

Why is your beloved better than others,

that you would command us in this manner?

Rightly the harem asks her, “You are better than him, why is he worth pursuing?” She has earned their admiration or scorn. Either she is committed beyond all reason or na├»ve.

The controversial idea now draws near. Here are the questions I wrestle with as a Christian. What application should a married woman draw from this? Stay away from your husband’s buddies? Don’t marry a guy with a posse? But if you do and they happen to beat you up just keep on working on the marriage? Everything is wrong here. This is a passage about injustice, which is a clue. Who is the honorable partner in this passage? Some might blame Beloved for not giving into him immediately saying her situation is not legitimate nor a worthy excuse. Maybe single people can draw this interpretation but couples who have been married for long enough, especially those with children, know that life is busy and sleep is precious. She doesn’t even deny him; she only slows him down. His demand is neutral but his reaction is not honorable. However, his behavior is not inconsistent with his life. Solomon started out with right desires but he did not have the character to receive all the blessings that followed. Wealth and power corrupted him. He exempted himself from God’s covenantal stipulations. He shared all that wisdom in the Proverbs. But he couldn’t make his heart conform to what his mind knew. Since his father had multiple wives, Solomon had 50 fold more. His father was a man of war. Solomon was a man of leisure. He denied himself nothing that his eyes desired. He writes at the end of his life in Ecclesiastes 2,

2:8 I also amassed silver and gold for myself,
as well as valuable treasures taken from kingdoms and provinces.

I acquired male singers and female singers for myself,

and what gives a man sensual delight – a harem of beautiful concubines!

2:9 So I was far wealthier than all my predecessors in Jerusalem,

yet I maintained my objectivity:

2:10 I did not restrain myself from getting whatever I wanted;

I did not deny myself anything that would bring me pleasure.

So all my accomplishments gave me joy;

this was my reward for all my effort.

He had nothing, but everything had him. Is this our hero in this story, a petulant Peter Pan? Just as one wife wasn’t enough neither was one god. His philosophy to life was “more.” Yet this one bride changed his perspective. At this time she was one of sixty queens and eighty concubines (6:8). Number 141 stopped him in his tracks. She wasn’t a political bride. She wasn’t in the mold of a princess, this dark-skinned farm girl. She sought him out, review chapter 1. She tried to keep her to himself and away from the harem. She endured injustice because of him and for him with unfaltering love.

I’m committed to an approach to the scriptures that they all proclaim Jesus and the good news. When I look at this passage I’ve always been at a loss. Will Jesus abandon me if I don’t ask “How high, sir?” when he asks me to “Jump?” Will he abandon me to violent men if I delay in answering his call? Is my love to never falter in those difficult times? I ask those questions rhetorically here, but I have wondered. Is this how Jesus is? If not, then where is Jesus?

Last night something clicked for me. It partly had to do with my friend Phil’s sermon this week on this Song. He warned us to beware Solomon. He compared Solomon’s ideal woman in Proverbs 31 to Beloved. The Proverbs 31 wife has no physical description. In the Song, Solomon’s appreciation of Beloved is external and physical, immature, although her actions and thoughts reveal a complex and strong and committed woman. To hear that I need to beware Solomon became, in my mind, to beware Christ. Until then I’ve understood that the only figure of Christ in this Song is Solomon. I felt insecure yet comforted because I don’t like this figure in chapter 5. As I chewed on these things through the day and the next I asked a new idea. What if Beloved represents Christ and the good news?

Herein is my controversial idea. Beloved is the picture of Christ and the good news in this chapter, if not in this entire song. Have I seen Christ asleep and awakened by impatient men? Yes. Mark 4:38. Have I seen Jesus seeking and calling for those he loves and are lost? Yes. Luke 19:10. Mark 6:34. Was Jesus beaten by the watchmen of the holy city? Yes. Matthew 26:67. Was his cloak taken away leaving him exposed, defiled, treated as a commoner and not like royalty? Yes. Mark 15:24. Was his love undiminished one bit by this treatment? No. As he is dying of torture by crucifixion he says, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34.

As I wrote about chapter 1, I said, “This love story starts with the Beloved’s longing. She violates so many conservative Christian dating guides. It’s almost as if she is initiating. That rocks too many Calvinist typologies so this can not be a dating scene. She must be speaking from experience.” I may have spoken too soon. If she is a figure of Christ then of course she is initiating. Was Christ unattractive like Beloved? Yes. Isaiah 53:2. Did he likewise not fit the mold of a prince like her? Yes. He came from a part of Israel that wasn’t high class. He worked with his hands at carpentry. All these data have led me to conclude Jesus is here in this chapter. And the good news is his unfaltering love for me despite my superficiality and unfaithfulness and pettiness and immaturity. He died to save me while I was still a sinner. Romans 5:8. I didn’t deserve or earn his love. His love continues for me unabated while I still lose my battles with vanity. Even though I know better my heart still wanders from him. A thousand lovers call my name, yet his love is unique. My Beloved never stops giving me grace in my imperfection.

My problem all this time is the same as the Pharisees who rejected Jesus. I had a fixed idea of what he should look like and I missed him. I tried to fit him in armor not made for him. He didn’t fit and we were all uncomfortable with the combination. I’m really happy now. I’ve found the good news in the injustice and tragedy of this passage. The good news is that although I abused my Lord and walked out on him and threw temper tantrums he still looks for me. Jesus always on the look out for and welcomes back the prodigal child. He only has eyes for his kids.
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor heavenly rulers, nor things that are present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:38-39

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Yes we can stop abortion

If only Barak Obama saw the evil of abortion. But this inspiring speech can motivate pro-life people, too. My fear is that he would be a replay of Jimmy Carter's administration. So much hope, so much disappointment 4 years later. Hats off to the Black Eyed Peas for putting this together.

ambiguous Iriqouis quotes

My last two quotes from The Ambiguous Iriquois Empire from Francis Jennings, 1984. He leads a chapter with quotes from two previous authors on the subject of relations between the natives and the invaders. This week I saw a normal sight with new eyes. A sign post on the street declared a settlement date of 1613, or thereabouts. Ok, but, what about the non-Europeans who had lived and fished and hunted and farmed there thousands of years before? By these signs, they are historical nobodies.

Having established strong and vigorous colonies in the trying years of the seventeenth century, the English extended their power over the Indians as occasion warranted and as the weakness of the Indians permitted. Smaller, dependent tribes were gradually amalgamated or destroyed by the eroding effects of white contact. Disease – of which the frequent smallpox epidemics were the most costly – swept away many of the smaller tribes and decimated many of the larger nations. Yet throughout the eighteenth century and into the period of the American Revolution the Indians in several areas, most notably the Six Nations in the present area of New York State, and the Cherokee, Creek, and Choctaw of the southern interior, maintained a power and an independence which kept the colonies adjacent to them watchful and respectful of their needs and rights.
Wilcomb E. Washburn, Red Man’s Land/ White Man’s Law

In many cases, rival segments within both the indigenous society and the intrusive one compete with each other in a frontier zone. Indeed, in every contact situation, even where relationships are predominantly violent, crosscutting ties quickly develop across the major cleavage. Thus intruders acquire allies among indigenous peoples.
The Frontier in History: North America and Southern Africa Compared eds. Howard Lamar and Leonard Thompson.

FirstDay cottages

Yesterday, I came across a website I had seen a long time ago. FirstDay Cottages sell timber frame kits for clueless first time home builders. Their timber frame construction has a lot of grace for mistakes yet is very strong and tight. It seems they use some of the ideas seen in the Alaskan REMOTE house. I found a few bloggers describing their efforts as they build. Two brothers and their families are building one, the Skyline Canadian, in the Berkshires of Mass. Another family is making one in the hills of upstate New York, Wood and Stone.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Black suffrage

On February 3rd, 1870 Congress passed the 15th amendment.

Amendment XV
(The proposed amendment was sent to the states Feb. 27, 1869, by the Fortieth Congress. It was ratified Feb. 3, 1870.)

Section 1
[Right of certain citizens to vote established.]

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

Section 2
[Congress given power to enforce this article.]

The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

February is black history month. As I have in past years I hope to learn more and share what I learn.

[Bizarrely enough, on this day in 1913 the next amendment was passed which established a federal income tax.]

A bowl of super links Feb 3rd 2008

It was a double dose of great links this week and since the football title game is today, I fell free to offer a top 15 list from this week's posts of interests around blogdom. The links I point to throughout the week are here and can be subscribed too here.

1-As a non-meat eater I feel no guilt as I read this article in the NYT about the global effects of increasing beef consumption, not to mention personal health effects. Rod Dreher has some guilt. See my other posts on food and conservation.

2-How are Jesus and his Father one? A beginning exploration of the trinity by Rob Bowman. See my other posts on theology.

3-Some Greek thoughts on the Great Commission of Jesus by Dan Wallace. My other posts on Greek.

4-Some links to the raw facts on abortion. See my other posts on abortion.

5-Barn houses. See my other posts on houses.

6-A breech home birth that went well. I don't have other posts in this genre, maybe family?

7-The idol of personal pleasure. I'll file this in my 10 Commandments series.

8-Janet Huckabee is Mike's greatest secret. The Slate columnist was absolutely fascinated with her. You could read my other posts on marriage or politics.

9-True happiness and Augustine at Acton powerblog. Great quote and thoughts. Here is the quote from the big A,
A joy there is that is not granted to the godless, but to those only who worship you without looking for reward, because you yourself are their joy. This is the happy life and this alone: to rejoice in you, about you and because of you. This is the life of happiness, and it is not to be found anywhere else. Whoever thinks there can be some other is chasing a joy that is not the true one; yet such a person’s will has not turned away from all notion of joy.
10-How to love your Muslim neighbor. The list includes,
  • Pray the fullest blessing of Christ on them whether they love you or not.
  • Do good to them in practical ways that meet physical needs.
See some other posts on Islam and Muslims.

11-Do we have a president or a king in GWB?

12-In advance of Valentine's Day Joe Carter wants us to consider pre-marital adultery.

13-An Egyptian who converted to Christianity lost his case to have his religious affiliation officially recognized. See my other posts on human rights.

14-More details on the Colorado shooting and New Life's preparation. See more in atrocities.

15-Imagine dining with your family every night for 3 hours. Cool.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Groom's song: Songs 4:1-7

This is a continuation of the Song of Songs series. This is a look at 4:1-7, Lover sings Beloved a wedding night song. I will get back to chapter 3, but Valentine's Day is getting closer and I wanted to cut to the chase. Italics indicate the NET Bible assumption of who is talking. All Bible quotes from the NET.

The Lover to His Beloved: 4:1 Oh, you are beautiful, my darling! Oh, you are beautiful! Your eyes behind your veil are like doves. Your hair is like a flock of female goats descending from Mount Gilead.

I have been to a couple weddings during which the groom sings a song to the bride. It is simultaneously impressive and awkward for me. It’s awkward because the bride starts crying and I’m a New Englander who is uncomfortable with such public displays of emotional intimacy. Here in New England we won’t greet anyone until we’ve seen them over a year and can no longer ascribe it to coincidence. Someone we see that much must live around here and is not a tourist. It’s a sad way of thinking we New Englanders share. However, when we finally warm up to someone, we stay warm with them, even after they rip us off. I’m digressing. Solomon sings such an awkward song here. His song is nothing new for his time. Other examples of wedding songs from the ancient Near East have been found.

His song is all about her.

He begins with an affirmation of her beauty. In fact he affirms it twice, a second time can only do more good. The thing to learn from Solomon is that this isn’t the last song for his Beloved. He has two more in chapters six and seven. He is committed to a lifetime of romance with this woman. Being the wisest man on the planet perhaps he knows that the more he affirms her the greater her security and the greater their romantic fire will burn. God wants us to know that an amazing romantic relationship is possible within the bounds of his prescription and Solomon is demonstrating this.

Assuming this is a wedding song, her eyes are covered with a veil. In chapter 2 he compared her to a dove. She is vulnerable to him. Her eyes communicate her openness to him behind her veil. She is available to no one else.

Have you ever seen a flock of goats? They love climbing and jumping. A flock descending a mountain is like a bubbling stream. Bouncing and bobbing like the curls down the face of a beautiful bride. He lets her know that he loves what she did with her hair. I’m sure that feedback made her smile.

4:2 Your teeth are like a flock of newly-shorn sheep coming up from the washing place; each of them has a twin, and not one of them is missing.

As she smiles he compliments it. Water fluoridation wasn’t available in the ancient Near East. Neither were toothbrushes. Missing teeth were not uncommon. Nevertheless, she has them all and they shine like shorn sheep. Sheep’s wool collects all sorts of nasties while it grows. Dirt, burrs, manure, mud all build up on that outer layer. It’s actually a great invention by their creator. The shorn wool needs a great deal of processing before it becomes white and ready for use. The shorn sheep however are liberated from all that junk they were carrying around with them. They are clean. He’s appreciating her smile. It’s a way to keep his bride smiling even more.

Have you ever looked at adolescent school pictures? Have you noticed how many kids are not smiling? I was one of those. I was insecure about my smile. It might have been only one critical comment from a peer that made me never want to share it with the camera. Eventually, I rejected it and overcompensated by making sure as many teeth as possible were visible. It’s easy to feel insecure about inconsequential things about your appearance, but when someone notices those inconsequential things positively, well we are no longer ashamed. We start to think that perhaps God didn’t make a mistake. Notice your spouse’s smile and dental hygiene.

4:3 Your lips are like a scarlet thread; your mouth is lovely. Your forehead behind your veil is like a slice of pomegranate.

Now she learns that even her lips are pleasing. Pleasing lips and a pleasing teeth are obviously a pleasing mouth, but he states the obvious. Pomegranates are bright red, so the alternate translation of cheek instead of forehead makes more sense. She's blushing.

"Oh come on," you exclaim. "This is ridiculous. No adult talks this way. That is idiotic talk." No it is romantic talk. It's the talk of people who have fallen head over heels for each other. It's amazing how married people can be unable to think and talk like this until adultery strikes. Have you read any of the text messages between Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his chief of staff? Why couldn't he save these sweet nothings for his wife? And that's exactly what romantic language is, sweet nothings, like candy. There is plenty of hard work in a marriage but these sweet nothings can make the rough patches a little smoother. If you are going to live together till you die, you might as well make the most of it. "That would be so much easier if my spouse wasn't so ___ ." Now this line of reasoning I do not understand. When Boston fans could root for a baseball team for 76 years until they won a World Series, but can't cheer on a spouse for 10 years? When the Red Sox were in the playoffs on their way to their championship in 2004, fans wore shirts with one word on them, "Believe." A true fan says, "If they only had ___ and ___ they'd be a lock for another championship, but I still think they'll make it this year." There are many caveats to this in marriage. Addiction, abuse and unfaithfulness, for example, force an adjustment in this advice, but I encourage you to start believing in your spouse. Affirm the positive. There is a feedback loop in marriage that can either make things more positive or more negative. As you affirm your spouse's attractiveness, they'll want more affirmations and will try to keep them coming, and as you hear yourself affirm their attractiveness, your perception will agree more and more with your assessment.

4:4 Your neck is like the tower of David
built with courses of stones;
one thousand shields are hung on it –
all shields of valiant warriors.

What a nice way to say, "I like your necklace dear." She has an appealing neck and the necklace reminds him of a source of pride in the city. She wells up in him similarly strong emotions.

4:5 Your two breasts are like two fawns,
twins of the gazelle
grazing among the lilies.

In case you haven't noticed. He's moving his compliments in an orderly fashion from the top down. He started at her head and as he moves further down he starts to get hungry. Then he remembers what a great cook she is, especially her fried chicken. Her breasts are incomparable.

4:6 Until the dawn arrives
and the shadows flee,
I will go up to the mountain of myrrh,
and to the hill of frankincense.

If you remember (1:13), she kept myrrh on her chest at night as a fragrance for the next day. Well he's planning to spend some time at a mountain of myrrh... all night... and on another hill also, all night...

4:7 You are altogether beautiful, my darling!
There is no blemish in you!

Now he boldly sums up his assessment of her beauty. He has found her perfect. He has not analyzed everything about her. But he has picked out a couple things about her to highlight his delight in. He's done it in a sensitive way too. He spends most of his time complimenting her public features before proclaiming his pleasure in her private features. He is quite the gentleman. For his effort they partake of each other in multi-dimensional ecstasy all night long. It's not just physical. It's also emotional and spiritual.

It's verses like this that Christians see the metaphor of Christ and his bride the church. Ephesians 5:25-27. His blood makes our sins as white as snow. Isaiah 1:18. It's his covering that makes souls acceptable in heaven with the right wedding clothes for the wedding banquet. Matthew 22:11, 12. As anyone will tell you the church is imperfect, but Jesus knows perfection is coming. He doesn't have to "Believe" because he knows how it all ends.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Yurt lives

One about constructing a yurt from an inadequate kit, yet having the skills to handle it.

One sustained with rain water, a wood stove, a couple solar panels, a gas grill, a small wind turbine and some batteries in Ontario.

Adoption as empire building among the Mohawks

This quote from The Ambiguous Iroquois Empire by Francis Jennings, 1984 provides wonderful insight on how tribes managed to maintain their population levels despite war and disease. They believed in adoption. They also believed in torturing to death some of their enemy captives. But adoption was as likely an option for an enemy combatant. Maybe the U.S. should try this method on their enemy combatants instead of torture.

The original conception of the Mohawks was the melting pot – that favorite image of superpatriots everywhere. They would not create an empire but rather become one by incorporating conquered peoples in themselves and literally remolding them into Mohawks through adoption into families and thus “naturalizing” them as full “citizens” of the tribe. This practice never ceased….In 1657 Jesuit Father Paul LeJeune reported that “At Onondaga there are Indians of seven different nations permanently established; and, among the Senecas, of no less than eleven.” (95)