Showing posts from October, 2010


Compressed earth blocks diminish deforestation and energy intensive housing material (kiln fired bricks and cement). They are not a new concept but a group called Faith Tech Connect have come up with a machine that can crank out these bricks real quick. An important difference between these houses and the concrete block houses that fell down in Haiti is the addition of chicken wire on the inside and outside that provides tension to prevent shearing and a base for the stucco. Also the block in Haiti can break in your hand. It is very cheap.
HT: Green Building Elements

mini-reviews and thoughts on this and that

Foreign movie we really liked, John Rabe (2009). A dramatic presentation of the leadership of Nazi party member and Siemens power plant manager John Rabe who helped save 200,000 Chinese lives during the Japanese "Rape of Nanking." Life is certainly complicated when the hero of the story is a Nazi party member, who does the right thing on such a large scale. We had previously enjoyed the acting of Ulrich Tuker in Bonhoeffer: Agent of Grace (2000). The second movie is in English but John Rabe is primarily a German movie with English, French, Japanese, and Chinese dialog as well. My interest in the Japanese atrocity came from Iris Chang's book on the subject (my review) and a documentary made in her honor (my review).
In anticipation of the forthcoming movie, I spent this weekend re-reading the last Harry Potter book, The Deathly Hallows. It's my 3rd or 4th time through. I don't think it was her best work. It reads too much like an Inspector Gadget cartoon, when any …


***Special message at the end for all conservative Christians reading this post. Don't freak out.***
In light of my recent reading on homosexuality, I, as a non-military person, do not see what good purpose the "don't ask, don't tell" policy accomplishes. Military policy already penalizes hetero sex within a unit (see interesting law article here). So I don't see how someone who is public about their homosexual desires, but adheres to military policy, like the heterosexuals, which prohibits intimate relations with fellow soldiers while deployed or on duty, should be drummed out of the military.
I don't see it.
I do see an issue with the potential of bullying. And I am not smart enough to solve that one, other than prohibiting teasing based on sexual desires.
****Special message here for religious conservatives like me**** This does not mean that I think homosexual expression is not a sinful act, just like I don't think any sexual act outside of marriage (h…

physics, love and the soul

There are many good blog posts that come to my mind during my daily bicycle commutes, but most are lost by the time I change out of my bike clothes. On today's ride, I was admiring the beauty of the changing leaves. I know, to a certain degree, the physics and chemistry involved in the changing colors. I know, a little bit, about sight, and the biochemical reaction that turns photons striking the back of my eyeballs into a coherent sensory perception. But there is no physical explanation of why I deem a sight pleasant, or good, or nice. Those are words and feelings that do not belong to science, because there is no measurable quantity to them. Those words belong to something apart from the material world.
Love is another of those non-physical concepts. Love is a commitment and not just mushy feelings. Commitment is another, non-physical, unmeasurable concept. There is not a "love" receptor in the brain. There might be a complex, biochemical cascade in the brain that corre…

on heretics and the Bible

Back to a book I am not reading for review but for my own education, Jaroslav Pelikan's The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition, book 1 in his series The Christian Tradition. The first chapter discusses the interaction of Greek philosophy and Christian theology. But I enjoyed this quote he used from Tertullian. In this manner heretics either wrest plain and simple words to any sense they choose by their conjectures, or else they violently resolve by a literal interpretation words which imply a conditional sense and are incapable of a simple solution,as in this passage. Against Marcion 4.19.6b.

book report: Homosexuality and the Christian (2010) by Mark Yarhouse

Is there another way for conservative Christians to respond to fellow believers who are homosexually oriented, other than insist they change into heterosexuals through prayer and counseling? Can we tell our gay brothers and sisters to do something other than "pray the gay away"? Do we have to reject the church's historical and traditional understanding of homosexuality to exhibit grace to our gay brothers and sisters? I found Mark Yarhouse's book Homosexuality and the Christian: A Guide for Parents, Pastors, and Friends a breath of fresh air on the conversation, blowing the smoke and stink away for a moment.
Bethany House offered me a selection of books for review, and this one was exactly what I've been looking for. I think I have practiced this approach, but was insecure, because I felt it was right without a defense for it. It just felt right. I can be open with my gay friends without affirming their expression. Yarhouse's research and experience as a psych…