October 26, 2006

October 23, 2006

October 19, 2006

Bill Moyers vs. Calvin Beisner. Moyers accuses Beisner of lying about things Beisner alleges Moyers said before interviewing Beisner.

Moyers seems to be taking it rather personally
If I had said anything approaching what you claim I said, if you perceived any bias on my part. you could have -- and should have refused to participate. But you did participate freely, you were treated fairly and honestly, and for you now to bear false witness is not only unChristian but astonishing. What am I to make of the many friendly emails you have sent over these months, signed: "In Christ, Cal"? Or our exchange on how much I have enjoyed your daughter's CD that you sent?

October 18, 2006

I'm blogging in my living room!

Thanks for the new laptop, Father-in-law!!!

October 12, 2006

I suppose this is a political hot potato* but it strikes me that the false prophets counsel to the exiles that they would quickly return, if heeded by Israel and if they lived in accord with it, would result in a great deal of suffering.

We might see an example of this in the lives of the Palestinians, now several decades away from their leaving the land where they initially expected a quick return.

food for thought

* my use of the term 'hot potato' is not intended to infringe on the madly asserted copyright for the dish known as a hot potato, which actually looks like a pretty clever invention. Maybe patent rights could apply, but you're killin' me with this copyright stuff...

TCS Daily - Sic Semper Tyrannis: a good essay on why it might be misleading to call Kim Jong Il a "madman"

Fred Garibottidied this morning at the age of 92.

My mom knew him when she was a little girl at Tenth.

Our 'vision group' meeting discussed Jeremiah 29:1-14, including the famous
I know the plans I have for you to give you a future and a hope
This text is frequently taken in an individualistic sense for personal comfort (Nothing wrong with that).

In context, its talking about the plans God has for the exiles to restore them after 70 years which is how long it will be until they seek him again. Israel didn't seek God for 70 years, it seems.

God's plans then, are for Israel to seek God after 70 years and for god to restore Israel. What about individuals who sought God (even with all their heart) at that time? It didn't mean they got to go home.

My wife made an excellent point, which was that God has sovereign plans for us, but when they don't seem to be coming to pass as we'd like ("I'm ready to be married, why hasn't God given me a wife/husband yet") it's probably because the plan in question involves more than just you. God can't implement a plan to get you married until he's ready for the plan for your future spouse to get married.

The importance of the perspective that God elects a body of people to be his and grants benefits to them as a body is often downplayed in favor of the individualist, but it seems, using a whole bible hermeneutics (pace Waters) an important motif, and in any case necessitated by the doctrine of federal headship and messiahship.

I don't think i want to go as as far as Al, though (assuming I understand him, which is frequently not the case).

October 11, 2006

Little Hands Playing Card Holder is rather ingenious. My youngest often ends up flipping his cards every which way and forgets what he has because he doesn't fan the cards.

When they say factory farming, they mean factory farming.

YouTube - EZ Catch Chicken Harvester

I guess it puts a few agricultural workers out of a job.

Here is a rundown on what liberalism stands for by Geoffrey R. Stone. Phrased in an attractive manner, I wonder if Christians can sign on to the following propositions in even a general way.
1. Liberals believe individuals should doubt their own truths and consider fairly and open-mindedly the truths of others. This is at the very heart of liberalism. Liberals understand, as Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once observed, that "time has upset many fighting faiths." Liberals are skeptical of censorship and celebrate free and open debate.
Can we ultimately doubt what we have come to believe?
4. Liberals believe "we the people" are the governors and not the subjects of government, and that government must treat each person with that in mind. It is liberals who have defended and continue to defend the freedom of the press to investigate and challenge the government, the protection of individual privacy from overbearing government monitoring, and the right of individuals to reproductive freedom. (Note that libertarians, often thought of as "conservatives," share this value with liberals.)
Does that square with Romans 13?
7. Liberals believe government should never act on the basis of sectarian faith. It is liberals who have opposed and continue to oppose school prayer and the teaching of creationism in public schools and who support government funding for stem-cell research, the rights of gays and lesbians and the freedom of choice for women.
If that's what it means to "never act on the basis of sectarian faith", I think Christians have to say they can't support never acting on such a basis. Of course, many pro-lifers will tell you that they're not acting on the basis of sectarian faith, and they usually advance general 'natural law' arguments in favor of their policies anyway.

It strikes me that most of the rest of the list, read broadly, is unobjectionable to specifically Christian concerns, or cover areas of pragmatic disagreement among Christians with varying responsibilities, callings, and wisdom. What it means to say "courts have a special responsibility to protect individual liberties," could mean a great many things and its in the marginal cases that such values or principles would come to bear.

The most contentious issue among Christians would be raised by
6. Liberals believe government has a fundamental responsibility to help those who are less fortunate. It is liberals who have supported and continue to support government programs to improve health care, education, social security, job training and welfare for the neediest members of society. It is liberals who maintain that a national community is like a family and that government exists in part to "promote the general welfare."
Christians of course recognize that the Bible is full of imperatives for justice to be done to the poor and the widow and orphan. This certainly applies to justice when they face oppression by others. Its not so clear when the poor face "injustice" by structures of society that have general benefits for the society or where interventions by government seem to have deleterious effects that are themselves unjust.

For instance, rent control may seem like a way of addressing the 'injustice' of a lack of affordable housing for the poor. But in the general case it locks in cheap rents for those with connections, discourages landlords from increasing the supply of apartments, creates bureaucratic interference, and violates property rights of landlords, who have a justice interest as well as the poor. (For more specifics on such 'unintended effects', I refer generally to the work of Thomas Sowell) Christians (should) know that along with all the calls for justice for the oppressed, there are reminders NOT to favor the poor in his dispute simply because he is poor. The guilty should not be acquitted, AND the innocent should not be condemned. Waltke reminds us that the Bible does not present us with the aphorism, "Better for 10 guilty men to go free than one innocent man to be condemned"

Back to the principle, the other problem with it is its phrased rather vacuously. Even giving government a 'fundamental responsibility to help the less fortunate' (is that the biblical governmental value? Or is it justice for the poor?) doesn't mean that the general welfare is served by voluptuous benefits provided indiscriminately, which seems to at least be the liberal goal of the recent past. Saying our country is like a family doesn't necessarily point in the direction of such liberal policies. If mom and dad continue to provide support for a profligate child who doesn't take responsibility for himself, such support will do harm to the child and to the general welfare of the family.

Christians can agree that government exists to promote general welfare and the common good, but the very matter in question is whether government has a calling to act 'fundamentally' in ways that may benefit 'less fortunate' people in society without always referring to the general welfare of the entire body of citizens.

Following on to Stone's declaration that his list is an invitation to dialogue, I wonder what list of principles "conservatives" might draw up, and where Christians would say they have to part company with such principles. And what principles Christians (pace Horton) might draw up to uniquely display their views of political organization.

October 09, 2006

mkeonline.com - Beauty and the beasts: a set of fashion photographs set in museum dioramas from the Milwaukee Public Museum.

(no dear, they didn't photograph the models standing in the dioramas, they edited them in later.)

October 08, 2006

Matt Colvin writes:
But the Sadducees did not deny that there are any spirits and angels. They believed the Pentateuch's accounts of angels -- e.g. Jacob's ladder, the destruction of Sodom. What they denied was the continued existence of human beings in an interim state awaiting resurrection. It is this sense of 'angel' that is used in Acts 12:15, when the disciples tell Rhoda that it can't be Peter at the door, since he's in prison about to be killed. In fact, he must already have been killed, and you're seeing his ghost: 'It is his angel.'
Im interested in this assertion. What textual evidence do we have that this was the sadducaic view, and what does this say about views of the resurrection among the orthodox pharisees?

I'm also curious because traditionally, modern evangelicals have discounted the statements about the possibility that Peter's 'angel' was at the door, or that perhaps Jesus walking on the water was a ghost, as an inerrant biblical record of the superstitions of the biblical characters, without endorsing those superstitions.

But if the hope of the resurrection necessitates the view that spirits hang around waiting for resurrecting, then discounting that view makes the modern evangelicals line up more with the Sadducees.

Alastair posts some thoughts on strict justice inspired by a comment from Peter Leithart.
Traditional Reformed approaches are clear that justification is brought about by divine grace and mercy. However, many forms of Reformed thought see the role of grace and mercy as that of providing that required by strict justice. It is on the basis of strict justice that justification proper takes place. For Wright justification is an act of divine grace from start to finish. Consequently, Wright is better able to do justice to the biblical truth that God justifies the ‘ungodly’ than many Reformed systems that teach that God is only able to declare us righteous when we are viewed as those who are perfectly righteous in Christ.
I appreciate it when a newer theological perspective actually tries to turn the biggest objection to it into a strength, or otherwise turn the tables. Leithart's response to the argument of credocommunionists that it is they, not he, who do not recognize the Lord's body (because its the gathering of Christians who are the body, not a theory about the presence of Christ in the supper) is one such example.

I'm not sure this works, but its good to see an attempt to draw "justifying the ungodly" onto the Wrightean side of the argument. Since traditional reformed theology sees justification in terms of strict justice, any attempt to put it in different terms is open to an accusation that the theology is "soft on sin".

This is an example of a case where one paradigm is dealing with the data in a way that the other paradigm screens out. Any claim that God justifies without considerations of strict justice is heard as saying humans really aren't that bad. Wright made a similar move in minimizing the instrumentality of faith, but not in such a way that it becomes a substitute work, but rather to oppose a tendency to see it as a substitute work by denying even its instrumentality (or a kind of instrumentality at least)

October 05, 2006

October 02, 2006

In the light of this: alastair.adversaria » Whatever Happened to Evangelicalism?,

I'd rather not think about John Derbyshire's grist
A friend of mine, an academic psychologist, remarked offhandedly a few months ago that communication between two human beings is difficult if the gap between their IQs is as much as one standard deviation (i.e. 15 points). If you try communicating across gaps bigger than that, she said, mutual understanding quickly becomes impossible.

I've been trying this out on people in conversation ever since. People register mild disapproval at first, with clicking of tongues and shaking of heads. Then, if you press the point, they furrow their brows and say something like: “Yes, I sort of know what you mean.” One friend, a professional software developer/entrepreneur, was more blunt. Way more blunt:
Yes, I don't find myself in long conversations with people whose IQs are in the 11x or 10x ranges, let alone any lower. In software development projects us smarter team members end up having rapid fire complex conversations and at the end explain the conclusions to the lesser minds.
If this is a fact about the human world, it's a pretty depressing one. The full range of human IQs you are likely to encounter spans about six standard deviations; so depending where you fall in the range, there could be an awful lot of people with whom, for you, mutually rewarding conversation is not possible. That number will be less, the nearer to the center of the distribution you are (i.e. IQ 100), more the further out on one of the “tails” you are. And the whole effect (if it is an effect) is masked by the fact that we spend most of our time with people whose IQ is roughly equal to our own."

De script shun




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