Sunday, August 31, 2008


update: The website points to a computer company now. Bummer.

The company Green Living Systems sells yurts on trailers, called Roundabouts. The trailer base is used as an elevated base for the roundabout. The roundabouts are built with SIPs. It's not a camper but a small kit house. They also sell kit cabins and a "bath house" with a completed galley kitchen and small bath. Since I live in a small house now, I'm intrigued with other small houses. I really like the modular options of this house to grow as a family grows.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Political parties and Scripture

Food for thought from the Jewish prophet Jeremiah regarding political solutions to save our country .
7:5 For if you thoroughly amend your ways and your doings, if you thoroughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbor,
7:6 if you do not oppress the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place, or walk after other gods to your hurt,
7:7 then I will cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers forever and ever.
7:8 "Behold, you trust in lying words that cannot profit.
7:9 Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, burn incense to Baal, and walk after other gods whom you do not know,
7:10 and then come and stand before Me in this house which is called by My name, and say, 'We are delivered to do all these abominations'?
7:11 Has this house, which is called by My name, become a den of thieves in your eyes? Behold, I, even I, have seen it," says the Lord. (NKJV)
I think all political parties are guilty of endorsing something that God condemns here. That's why I have no hope in parties. I'm registered independent. I have voted for 4 different parties in my adult life. This election I am voting against those who would "restore" abortion rights, which does not mean I will vote for the other large party. I didn't vote for them last time either. I voted for a small pro-life party. I don't know yet who I will vote for, but I'm sure of who I won't vote for.

Obama wants to reduce unwanted pregnancies

Lat night as he closed the DNC in Denver Obama said, "We may not agree on abortion, but surely we can agree on reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies in this country." As a pro-life person my response is if we de-legalize abortion, unwanted pregnancies will diminish. Before abortion was legalized, abstinence was more frequently practiced as well as contraception. Before abortion was legalized, there were not over 1 million babies a year killed in the womb either.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Barack Obama's acceptance speech briefly reviewed

Can anyone live up to so much hype? Even Obama can't. I didn't get a quiver up my leg even once. However, one line stood out and one line stunk up the place. Text
Stand out line
the change we need doesn't come from Washington. Change comes to Washington.
Stinker line
in the words of Scripture hold firmly, without wavering, to the hope that we confess.

but i'm not sure what verse he was referring to, it might be Hebrews 3:14,We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. (NIV-other versions) but the hope in Scripture is hope in Christ, not hope in a politician. Perhaps he really does think he is the Messiah...

update: It's Hebrews 10:23, Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. (NIV) Again, it's not about political uplift of a country, but, rather, salvation of our souls by our hope in Christ . Thanks to TMatt at GetReligion for the pointer.

the optimism of pro-life Democrats

M.Z. Hemingway in NRO notes the lack of reasons to be optimistic as a pro-life Democrat

Rev. Tony Campolo, an evangelical member of the platform committee, told Democrats for Life about other items he tried — and failed — to get included in the platform. The first was an issue he calls “parallel of choice.” If Democrats are going to fund Planned Parenthood, they should also fund pregnancy counseling centers, he said. That didn’t go over too well. He also pressed for the platform to mention that Democrats possess a diversity of viewpoints on the abortion issue. That also failed.

The final item he wanted included was a statement that abortion is a moral issue, not just a political one. No go.

Even with their meager victories, pro-life Democrats seem genuinely excited about the party’s new openness to them. Campolo pointed out that he didn’t sneak onto the platform committee — Howard Dean appointed him.

The pro-life elected officials and candidates at the forum were effusive in their praise for Sen. Barack Obama, despite his 100-percent rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America, a statement that he wouldn’t want his daughters “punished” with a child if they faced an unplanned pregnancy, and promise that his first act as president would be to push abortion rights legislation. When queried about it by the press corps, the assembled Democrats defended Obama and explained they support him for his other positions.

Campolo said that public opinion on abortion moves in the opposite direction of the president.

“If we have a pro-choice president, we’ll move in the right direction,” he said.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

a refresher on commenter etiquette

I removed a comment since the contentious commenter ignored the etiquette posted on the side which says, "I'm not anonymous, neither should you be if you want to comment here. It's fine if you don't want to register with blogger, just leave an email addy and your name."

In general, looking around someone's blog before posting is also wise. Perhaps I've already addressed a point you want to raise among the 1200 posts here.

God is good

another kit house

Thermobuilt uses 2x6's and thick styrofoam. Interesting.

brief summary of Hilary's speech last night

Since she didn't recant any of her accusations and insinuations against Obama at her speech last night in Denver I have boiled her speech down to one sentence for those who missed it.

Any Democrat in the White House will be better than any Republican (even if that Democrat is inexperienced, clueless, not ready, etc....)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

How to get a political party to listen

In yesterday's quote from Donald Miller, he said, "I hope the Democrats will listen to those of us who lean toward pro-life..." If we vote for them, then they don't need to listen to us. They lost the last election and concluded they needed to reach out to evangelicals. If they lose again perhaps they will conclude that they should reconsider their support of abortion. If we want the Democrats to listen to pro-lifers then we shouldn't vote for them.

Monday, August 25, 2008

an example of poor reasoning - Donald Miller

The DNC is happy to have Donald Miller give the opening invocation after Cameron Strang declined. Christianity Today interviewed Miller about his reasoning. He complains that the Republicans have accomplished nothing for the pro-life movement hence it's not worth putting up with all their baggage. He says
The issue of abortion is a very sensitive one and it’s an important issue. I look at from a perspective of, what’s the best that we can do. As we elect a Republican House and Senate, and as we elect Republican leadership in the executive branch, we see very little changes on that issue. We’re electing someone who agrees with us on abortion, being sort of a tragedy in our country, and yet can’t get anything done. It’s kind of like saying, I want a pilot on my plane who feels this way about abortion, but he can’t fly the plane. The executive branch doesn’t have that much power, it has some power, but it doesn’t have much power. You look at the reality of that and say, what can I do to defend the sanctity of all human life, including the living, and the marginalized and the oppressed and the poor? What can we do to better social conditions so that less women are put in situations where they feel like they need to have an abortion. What does looking at the issue holistically look like. I hope the Democrats will listen to those of us who lean toward pro-life and those changes can be made.
This line of thought is equaivalent to the sound of one hand clapping.

He is correct that the executive branch can't do very much directly for the pro-life cause. Indirect contributions include the nomination of judges in every level of the federal court system. However, even when the Republicans controlled Congress and the Presidency Democrats were able to block judicial nominations. With a Democratic Congress, the President can veto laws that further put at risk citizens in the womb. On the other hand, Obama has vowed to sign into law an expansion of the abortion industry if elected. So a pro-life party can only work against abortion one small step at a time but an anti-baby rights party can damage those small victories with much ease. Will the Democrats listen to those pro-lifers? Why?

I favorably reviewed one of his books here.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

candidate charity


Another example of actions speaking louder than words can be found when we listen to Obama’s money talk. According to Obama’s tax returns from 2000-2006, the Obamas have given far less to charity than John McCain has. In all but the two most recent years reported, the Obamas gave around 1% or less of their income to charity. Their contributions increased in 2005 and 2006 to 4.7% and 6.1% respectively, but still are far short of those of McCain who gave 28.6% in 2006 and 27.3% in 2007. But if you listen to Obama’s words you will hear that he is very concerned about the least among us.

Friday, August 22, 2008

LOL cat and our ducks

The Smart Mom likes the LOLcats and takes her own humorous pictures of our animals, sends them to me with a caption idea, and lets me create them. Last year I posted our LOL dog, Honey. This time its our adopted stray Mr. Penguin visiting our new Indian Runner Ducklings.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

cinema review: Batman - The Dark Knight

It's never good to be the last person to see a movie adored by millions of fans. The expectations are too high. Hence, The latest Batman installment, The Dark Knight, disappointed me. But I'm suffering from more than disappointment. I feel like I've been slimed, and I'm not sure why.

Perhaps, it is because I find the solution the movie offers to the problem of evil so superficial. Perhaps, it is because the movie attempts to present evil without turning away yet falls so short. My readings on atrocities, genocides, and human rights confirm my theology, that we all are evil and are capable of all evil. The movie shows people who are forced into moral dilemmas of killing others in order to save others or themselves. Perhaps this movie would be a great example of "morality porn." Pornography slimes its watchers. An uncomfortable residue remains on the watcher that clouds one's perceptions.

It's rated PG-13 for its violence and menace. It's not a child's movie, but it's too foolish for an adolescent and adult presentation of evil. Several opinions I've read or heard, including Christian ones, find the presentation of such intense evil, chilling. But I disagree. Solzhenitsyn talks about the pleasant home life of sadistic jailers, interrogators, and judges in the Soviet Gulag. So what if Mr. So-and-so keeps a little garden and gives his children horsey rides on his knee, none of that diminishes the violations against humanity, those bearing the image of God, committed by the offender. Depravity is not personified by the Joker, who at least is consistent, sort of, but by the judge who denies justice, the priest who rapes children, the gym teacher who swaps child pornography online, or the father who marries off his pre-pubescent daughter to a 50 year old polygamous pedophile. It's the inconsistency, the public manners that do not indicate the private depravity, that demonstrate the true horrors of our depravity. The Joker is presented as someone who has thrown off any tether to humankind and finds enjoyment in causing them to turn on each other and cast off their restraints.

The good news, the gospel if you will, of the movie, is that some people, will not respond in kind, but will choose self-sacrifice, at least before their peers. I think this is where I get depressed. If that's all the hope there is, if this is all the good news, then we are sunk. First of all the hope is in something unreliable. Second, the sacrifice is to what end? Third, it's a premise of diminishing returns. However, I know that God intervened in humanity to save us from destroying ourselves and to enable us to redeem us from our wickedness and give us a hope for an eternity in righteousness.

Why does Batman let the Joker live? To what end? Christians hope for repentance and redemption for our enemies as we were once enemies of God but by his kindness and patience we were brought to repentance. Christians can sacrifice themselves because they are certain of their heavenly homecoming. Batman has no answers to the problem of evil, because he can't redeem those who practice it. The Joker and Two-face only killed a few people anyway. Batman stopped them but they are small fish. Stalin killed over 20 million of his own people. Mao killed over 30 million, perhaps up to 70 million. They both died in old age, never facing justice in this life. As a Christian though, I know they have met their judge and they have received their consequences. Who else has this peace?

Onto disappointments other than philosophy and theology.
Heath Ledger's acting was no different than any other bad guy, and he licked his lips like Wormtail in the recent Harry Potter movie. He was adequate for the job but I don't think he deserves an award. I mourn for his family who lost him to an overdose of drugs after the filming. All the Batman actors only have to walk around looking pensive and carrying around the world on their shoulders. There is a reason Robin the clueless sidekick was introduced, to distract the children from the nihilism. So Christian Bale did an adequate job looking pensive. The hand to hand fight scenes were lame. The jeopardizing of children to effect was the slimiest part of the movie. I think I have a problem putting children actors in scenes with guns pointed at their heads. Hitchcock would never stoop so low. Isn't this how the Joker would film it?

O Batman, you Dark Knight, in a sea of happy movie goers, I give your movie a thumbs down.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

If asked about something "above your pay grade"

Rick Warren asked Barack Obama, "When do babies get human rights?" Obama's voting record shows his belief is after birth unless the birth was induced for the purpose of abortion. Perhaps he is honest here and really doesn't know. In that case, if you don't know, why not play it safe and say "at conception," or "after the 1st trimester," or something that indicates you have listened to opinion of most people in America? If the issue is "morally difficult" why not join those who want it to not be an option? A topic is morally difficult becuase there is something morally wrong in the chioce.

"Above my pay grade" is a generous quote to give to his political opponents. I expect to hear this phrase ad nauseum until November.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

blogging the Gulag Archipelago - "ideology"

"Pro-choice" is an ideology that warps any moral argument which comes it's way, which makes persuasive dialog between pro-life people and pro-choice people infuriating. I find Solzhenitsyn's thoughts on ideology in The Gulag Archipelago helpful.
Ideology - that is what gives evildoing its long-sought justification and gives the evildoer the necessary steadfastness and determination. That is the social theory which helps to make his acts seem good instead of bad in his own and others' eyes, so that he won't hear reproaches and curses but will receive praise and honors. That was how the agents of the Inquisition fortified their wills; by invoking Christianity; the conquerors of foreign lands, by extolling the grandeur of their Motherland; the colonizers, by civilization; the Nazis, by race; and the Jacobins (early and late), by equality, brotherhood, and the happiness of future generations.

Thanks to ideology, the twentieth century was fated to experience evildoing on a scale calculated in the millions. This cannot be denied, nor passed over, nor suppressed. How, then, do we dare insist that evildoers do not exist? And who was it that destroyed those millions? Without evildoers there would have been no Archipelago. p. 174
Ideology has justified the execution of 40 million children in the United States in the last 35 years to save a few thousand women from fatal back alley or clothes hanger injuries and fatalities. Ideology has justified this generational slaughter to provide reproductive liberation for women, when it's most often men who benefit from not having consequences for unrestrained lust.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The moral argument for abortion?

According to Slate columnist Linda Hirshman, there is a moral case for abortion and it needs to be made, but I couldn't find it in her article. The best I could find was an economic argument.

Her article begins with a celebration of a proposed update to the Democratic platform on abortion.
The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman's right to choose a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay, and we oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right.
Some of us read this as the Democratic Party supports an industry that executes children under the premise that one murder is better than two difficult lives. The nod to family value conservatives is a commitment, whatever that means, to more support for ensuring access to and availability of programs for pre and post natal health care, parenting skills, income support, and caring adoption programs. I think if they are offering funding why not include an offer to make adoptions easier and more affordable as well? It might interfere with the economic argument for abortion.

Economics is equivalent to morals for columnist Hirshman. She writes, It is time to revive the moral argument for protecting a woman's right to choose: Abortion is about the value of women's lives. It seems to Hirshman that children in the womb don't have value. In the very next sentence she writes, Liberals have never won anything by reframing moral questions as pragmatic ones; they end up looking shifty and evasive. An economic argument is one of pragmatism, not morals. She is blind to her own inability to speak morally. She continues
Women bear the overwhelming majority of child-rearing responsibility in this society. Yet barely more than half of the moderate centrists would allow them to decide whether to abort—even in face of a physical or mental defect in the prospective child. Women, whose economic prospects plummet with the birth of a child, now face 65 percent majorities who would support criminalizing their decision to abort because they are too poor for parenthood. Guttmacher Institute abortion numbers reveal that these same poor women are disproportionately black and Hispanic.
If in-country adoption were easier and more affordable there would be more moms available to bear this responsibility. Defects that lead to abortion include Down syndrome, cleft palates and gender. What if genetic screening can determine ADHD? Will we allow women the freedom from burdens such as prospective children such as Michael Phelps who is ADHD and got into swimming as a way to burn off his excess energy? Finally Hirshman reveals her moral argument. Economic prospects plummet when children are born. Should poor people not procreate then? The US government currently provides food and care for poor children and many social service agencies will provide clothes and housing assitance. Some of these poor Hispanics are Catholics who are honored for their large families. Unfortunately, for African-Americans, abortion has been called a Black Genocide. (Those links will make the case more explicit)

Hirshman continues,
In the 30-some years since Roe v. Wade, somewhere between 18 million and 30 million American women—15 percent to 20 percent of the female American population—have terminated their pregnancies.
With 40 million babies killed since 1973, that means up to half these women have used abortion more than once. Most are killed as a means of birth control, few for rape or life threatening situations. If all those babies were born, would the country's women be so much worse off? Finally, Hirshman ends with a a rally cry,
In the absence of a robust description of the value of women's lives—their ability to develop their capacities through education, to use them to achieve economic independence and political citizenship, to take on only the relationships they can manage—there is no moral argument for their "choice" to have an abortion.
Education is still available to pregnant women as well as those who have raised children and return to school. Economic dependency is not a crime, an assault on freedom, or a human rights issue. Women with children in tow can and do vote and participate civilly. If women took on relationships they can manage before they have intercourse, also known as marriage, this issue goes away. Hirshman believes in abortion more than she cares about women or children. It's a blindness that won't be cured by bloggers like me, but by the conviction from God that can soften hearts of stone.

Father, forgive us our sins and let your kingdom come and your will be done here on earth as it is in heaven.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Solz on torture by sleep deprivation

It is depressing that the U.S. Government does not consider sleep deprivation of enemy combatants a form of torture. Perhaps they should read The Gulag Archipelago.
Sleeplessness was a great form of torture: it left no visible marks and could not provide grounds for complaint even if an inspection - something- unherad of anyway- were to strike on the morrow.

"They didn't let you sleep? Well, after all, this is not supposed to be a vacation resort. The Security officials were awake too!" (They would catch up on ther sleep during the day.) One can say that sleeplessness became the universal method in the Organs. From being one among many tortures, it became an integral part of the system of State Security; it was the cheapest possible method and did not requre the posting of sentries. In all the interrogation prisons the prisoners were forbidden to sleep even one minute from reveille till taps. (In Sukhanovka and several other prisons used specifically for interrogation, the cot was folded into the wall during the day; in others, the prisoners were simply forbidden to lie down, and even close their eyes while seated.) since the mahor interrogations were all conducted at night, it was automatic: whoever was undergoing interrogation got no sleep for at least five days and nights. (Saturdays and Sunday nights, the interrogators themselves tried to get some rest.) [italics Solzhenitsyn's] pp. 112-113, vol. 1, english edition, 1973.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

A Theology of Death: Part 2

I think it is important to make plain the uncomfortable parts of the Bible. Hiding the awkward parts is the mark of a false religion. Mormons and Muslims come to mind. If God is real, he is fully responsible for how he has revealed himself. I think the Scriptures show that he has revealed his involvement in our creation and expiration. Some of us were created in violence. The means of the creation is an atrocity but the creation is still good. The child is not guilty of his father's sin. ikewise, death can feel atrocious. The Bible calls death an enemy, the ultimate enemy (1 Corinthians 15:26), but it is an enemy that will be defeated. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.

Death is the enemy even of someone who lived a long life full of love and happiness even when that death came in the victim's sleep. It's no less an enemy to the good old woman than it is for the victim of Alzheimer's disease. It's no less an enemy than it is for the father of three young children who dies in a car accident. Somehow we believe that if we live a long time then we can accept death. But that is capitulation. Genesis indicates that before Noah's deluge, people lived for hundreds of years. Every death is tragic. Every death is a consequence of sin. Our lives are doomed from conception. This blog post considers Isaiah 13. The Lord promises death to Babylon's inhabitants

Isaiah 13 (ESV)
1 The oracle concerning Babylon which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw. 2 On a bare hill raise a signal; cry aloud to them;wave the hand for them to enter the gates of the nobles. 3 I myself have commanded my consecrated ones, and have summoned my mighty men to execute my anger, my proudly exulting ones. 4 The sound of a tumult is on the mountains as of a great multitude! The sound of an uproar of kingdoms, of nations gathering together! The Lord of hosts is mustering a host for battle. 5 They come from a distant land,from the end of the heavens, the Lord and the weapons of his indignation, to destroy the whole land.

6 Wail, for the day of the Lord is near; as destruction from the Almighty it will come! 7 Therefore all hands will be feeble,and every human heart will melt. 8 They will be dismayed: pangs and agony will seize them; they will be in anguish like a woman in labor. They will look aghast at one another; their faces will be aflame. 9 Behold, the day of the Lord comes, cruel, with wrath and fierce anger, to make the land a desolation and to destroy its sinners from it. 10 For the stars of the heavens and their constellations will not give their light; the sun will be dark at its rising, and the moon will not shed its light. 11 I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will put an end to the pomp of the arrogant, and lay low the pompous pride of the ruthless. 12 I will make people more rare than fine gold, and mankind than the gold of Ophir. 13 Therefore I will make the heavens tremble, and the earth will be shaken out of its place, at the wrath of the Lord of hosts in the day of his fierce anger. 14 And like a hunted gazelle, or like sheep with none to gather them, each will turn to his own people, and each will flee to his own land. 15 Whoever is found will be thrust through, and whoever is caught will fall by the sword. 16 Their infants will be dashed in pieces before their eyes; their houses will be plundered and their wives ravished. 17 Behold, I am stirring up the Medes against them, who have no regard for silver and do not delight in gold. 18 Their bows will slaughter the young men; they will have no mercy on the fruit of the womb; their eyes will not pity children. 19 And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the splendor and pomp of the Chaldeans, will be like Sodom and Gomorrah when God overthrew them.
In verse 17 God specifically notes how he will achieve such a slaughter, by the hands of the Medes who he will stir up. This is consistent with Proverbs 21:1 (see part 1). God directs the hearts of kings. The forms of atrocities are repugnant; spears, swords (which if are not immediately deadly cause massive painful infections that lead to death such as gangrene), babies thrown to the ground before their parents' eyes, pillage, and rape. This sounds similar to the actions of the Japanese army at Nanking China, see my book report.

Is this something that God does only to the enemies of his people? Are God's people exempt from atrocities? Of course not. Both the biblical data and the historical record show the contrary. In later parts of this series we will look at the cannibalism in Jerusalem during the Babylonian seige. Oppressed Christian believers around the world experience these atrocities even today, from African Muslims, Malaysian Muslims, and communists. Unfortunately, those who identified themselves with Christ have also committed these atrocities, sometimes on fellow believers, sometimes on Muslims or pagans. Such behavior seems part of our souls. My reading on genocides have demonstrated repeatedly that, the veneer of civilization is thin. God takes the credit for the impending doom of Babylon but how hard is it for him to shred the restraint of humanity? That's not a fair question since nothing is too hard for God. A better question is to ask of ourselves, How deep in my heart does a murderer lurk? History alone answers that question for us, right beneath the surface.

Our lives are on loan from God. If we have children, they belong to God and we are only stewards of their lives. According to Jesus, he assigns them angels, Matthew 18:10. Children matter to Jesus, to God. The enxtinguishing of their lives is not a contradiction of that. The method of their deaths does not contradict that. A "good" death does not exist. All deaths are a result of our contamination before a perfect God. There are worse deaths but no good deaths.

Friday, August 08, 2008

A Theology of Death: Part 1

I believe God is involved in every step of a person’s life.

Proverbs 21 provides one jumping off point. 1 The king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will. (ESV) I consider the end of the chapter a complementary bookend. 31 The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord. (ESV) Consider how this plays out in the life of Christ. Augustus Caesar wants a census so Joseph and Mary have to travel to Bethlehem where Jesus is born in fulfillment of God’s word through the prophet Micah (5:2). When the Magi from the Orient show up and inquire in Herod’s court the location of the newborn king, Herod flips out, resulting in two more fulfilled prophecies. A massacre of the innocents in Bethlehem and an early childhood spent in Egypt. (Matthew 2:13-18).

I presume God knew what would happen when the Magi came to visit Herod's court. Perhaps the slaughter was small, 10-20 infants and toddlers, but grievously unjust, immoral, and atrocious. Why? Because the victims were innocent.

A recent Bible study in Acts 12 which I attended led me to another New Testament example of collateral damage from God's intervention. The Apostle Peter has been thrown in jail by another Herod, Herod Agrippa 1. Herod had previously imprisoned and executed the Apostle James to acclaim by the Jews so he figured he would double down and do the same to Peter. The execution of James was unjust, immoral, and atrocious. Why? It was a murder for political gain. I contend that God was involved in that execution. But this isn't the collateral damage. When the angel miraculously led Peter out of the jail (image source) in the middle of the night and liberated him to assure his friends who had been praying for him, the prison's guards were left holding the bag. The consequence for them was execution. 18 Now when day came, there was no little disturbance among the soldiers over what had become of Peter. 19 And after Herod searched for him and did not find him, he examined the sentries and ordered that they should be put to death. (ESV) Would their executions qualify as unjust? They were found guilty of something they had no power over. Solzhenitsyn tells many anecdotes in the Gulag Archipelago. One example is the geologist who was sent to the Gulag for subverting the state by not disclosing tin sources. S.'s quip is that he couldn't find ore in the area he was assigned, so he was declared criminal.

Some of us find some satisfaction believing that the soldiers had surely committed sins that they never were punished for. They deserved their punishment regardless of the immediate circumstances. Herod himself, at the end of Acts 12, receives divine justice. And what of James. Didn't he harbor sinful thoughts in wanting to call down fire from heaven on unbelieving villagers (Luke 9:54)? Hadn't he maneuvered with his brother to establish himself above the other disciples (Mark 10:35, 37) in his understanding of Christ's coming kingdom? None of these men were completely innocent. Yet God turned the heart of this king like water. Proverbs 21:1

But what of the innocents of Bethlehem? Was that king's heart immune from God's influence? Is God cruel? Perhaps not. When Job was suffering under the trials of Satan he wished he had been stillborn Job 3:16. In fact, Job sees some freedom in death in 3:17-19. 17 There the wicked cease from troubling, and there the weary are at rest. 18 There the prisoners are at ease together; they hear not the voice of the taskmaster. 19 The small and the great are there, and the slave is free from his master. Does a toddler understand the tragedy of injustice? I'm not saying that their massacre was not unjust. Nor am I saying their pain and suffering was not serious. However, I think the suffering is greater for the survivors than the victims.

However, is there anyone more innocent that we have clear Biblical witness to who suffered at God's will? Is there a more unjust execution against one more innocent? Every time Peter preaches to the crowds in Jerusalem he tells them their guilt in crucifying Jesus, truly the only innocent person to ever walk the earth, yet in his prayer with the church in Acts 4 he says 27 for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. (ESV) The unjust death Jesus suffered was part of God's plan at the hands of the Herod, Pilate, Roman soldiers and the Jewish religious leaders.

Jesus was complicit though.

In my theology of death, God is involved in everyone's expiration.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

A Theology of Death: Introduction

Death and injustice are dominant themes in Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago, which I have commenced reading in response to his passing this week. A friend told me he reads my blog when he wants to get depressed since I post so frequently on humanty’s inhumanity to itself. I don't consider myself a morose person but I do abhor determined blissful ignorance of injustice. This blog started partly in response to Terry Schiavo’s court supported starvation. I sincerely believe that human rights for the majority are only true if equal for the minority, the oppressed, the marginalized, and the weak. I believe in the sanctity of all lives, including those in need of external support, the disabled, the brain damaged, the en-wombed.

I recognize human rights, because as a follower of Jesus Christ, I consider all humans bearers of God’s image. I believe God is involved in the gestation of every human as well as their expiration.I've been ruminating for years on God's role on human expiration as I explore atrocities. Like everyone else who does not turn away from the horror, I ask, "Where is God?" I doubt I have anything new to add to the conversation, but it helps me to organize my thoughts on the blog.

Another friend tells me that my posts are hard to digest. So I'll keep these short. The Smart Mom, who is an editor at heart, tells me the leaps in my thoughts are not traced well in my writing. I'm sorry. Please comment with questions and suggestions and notations of gigantic leaps of deduction.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

cinema review: Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

There is a reason this film won 7 Academy Awards. The cinematography alone is phenomenal. Then the all-star cast is like Jordan's dream team that won a gold medal in basketball. The line-up was phenomenal. As the wiki entry notes, the movie made compromises for the sake of storytelling and mis-represented some of the history. Standing alone, though, Wow. The Smart Mom who hasn't blogged in a long time and I watched it over 3 nights. It's over 3 and a half hours long. For more information on T. E. Lawrence see the wiki.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Drowning the Hidatsa

The Hidatsa and Mandan tribes helped Lewis and Clark as they trekked west. Eventually, smallpox destroyed most of the tribes populations. They were allocated a reservation which was slowly stolen away. In 1948, they were forced out of their fertile river plain in order to make a dam. This site has a tragic photo of coucnil chairman of the tribes weeping as the secretary of the interior signs away his people's land. I ended up at this story because I like the earth lodges of the people. But many of these historic sites were flooded by this dam.