"Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Paul to the persecuted at Philippi (2:5-11)

29 July 2010

North Korea

While taking an evening walk (and being eaten alive by mosquitoes; I seem to be especially tasty this year), I listened to a slightly out of date news broadcast on North Korea. In the wake of a North Korean experimental missile launch this news show had some muckity muck government specialists on North Korea on air blathering on about North Korea's nuclear program.

The main points:
1. North Korea having nukes is bad.
2. North Korea wants to talk to us.
3. Because North Korea is being naughty we should talk to them (ie. give them what we think they want.)

This is basically a regurgitation of the same policy we've had toward North Korea for about as long as anyone can remember. I don't think anyone in Washington would really give this a serious questioning, no matter how idiotic the whole thing is on anything more than a surface view. Let's think about this for a minute:

1. Why is North Korea's nuclear program intrinsically bad? I'm sure it is the nuclear program (rather than North Korea's human rights abuses, which are on a par with those of Hitler, but we're not batting an eye at that, now are we?)that earned North Korea's place on Bush's "axis of evil" list. Apparently the international rules are nobody is allowed to have nuclear weapons or technology unless they're a big enough dog to make the rules. It's okay for our sovereign nation to have any kind of technology we want, but not for other sovereign nations. Clearly North Korea (and every petty dictator looking for a fight) would consider that unreasonable. Meanwhile, North Korea starves and tortures its own citizens, utilizes forced labor on a scale second only to Nazi Germany (actually, it could surpass Nazi Germany; nobody knows the numbers), surpresses the free expression of religion (or of any other ideas), and publically executes anyone who stands in their way. All the while the world looks on and cries foul about technology. Nuclear technology is a red herring, folks.
2. And why would North Korea want to talk with us? Is that not the most self-important idea a nation could put forward. North Korea sees the United States, along with Japan, as public enemeny number one. They have no interest in talking to us, though they'll gladly accept our food aid (and fail to distribute it to actual hungry people in their country). They know that if they upset our apple cart they may get slapped with temporary sanctions for non-essential items, but the food will keep flowing, the world will eventually forget, and if they're lucky they may just end up a little better off than they started, maybe we'll offer some incentive to disarm, which they will do for a while and then resume the program all the while cashing the American check. They don't want to talk to us, they want to distract us from the real issues.
3. But no, we decide that we can talk this through. North Korea is throwing a tantrum, let's go talk to them. A slap on the wrist with minor sanctions if that's our current policy. An incentive to play nice (which they may do but only briefly) if that's our current whim. Always about technology they have a right as a sovereign nation to develop. Never about the real issues.
Who controls the game here? If you think its the more powerful nation, think again.

A few random thoughts on preaching.

I almost always enjoy preaching. I even, in my own warped sort of way, enjoy short notice preaching and the few times I've thrown away a sermon between services I've gotten really jazzed on the impromptu replacement sermon. Maybe I'm addicted to some sort of endorphin rush or maybe I just like expounding the Scriptures. Some would probably correct me and insist that I just like the sound of my own voice.

But right now I'm feeling really uninspired about Sunday. I've had that feeling before and a little time pressure is almost always the remedy, but the experience is making me wonder just what it is that I actually like about preaching. And what is it about Sunday's lessons that leaves me feeling uninspired.

Sunday's lessons are all about how life can get you down and how we are to be "good people" in the face of what can only be described with modern grunt "meh." It's all about when bad stuff happens to good people and how to go on being good anyway. I hate moralizing. And I have heard way too many pedantic sermons on how bad life is and how we are to play nice that I could scream. There's no way I will allow myself to participate in that nonsense. I have too much pulpit integrity (or arrogance, take your pick) for that.

But there is an element in the Scriptures of "how then should we live," as Paul says. Don't assume I'm on the "free grace, no obligations or expectations" bandwagon. Grace is certainly free, but nonetheless demanding. But there is more to the Gospel than "stuff happens, now go play nice."

And I am very sure I preached a decent enough sermon on these lessons three years (or, gulp! was it six years) ago.

All this makes me wonder what it is I like about preaching. And I think the answer is that I enjoy the many facets of the biblical text, drawing them out, tuning them like a musical instrument, and making them sing for the congregation. The text preaches itself, at least most of the time. I love the feeling that I'm soaring to the heights on the back of the biblical eagle, riding along on a great swooping dance among the clouds, and taking the congregation along with me.

Oh well, if you are in Carnegie this week and find that the sermon soars to the clouds, you'll know that's not the preacher's doing... the preacher grunts along on the ground, wholly unimpressed with herself. Oh well, such an accurate self-assessment is at least a sound beginning.

19 July 2010

Little known...

Immunity From Evil?: Vaccines Derived from Abortion
While most parents are shocked to learn that their children have been injected with vaccines cultured on and containing residual components of aborted fetal tissue, anger turns to anxiety once physicians and school officials point out that the vaccines are necessary for children to attend school. Religious and philosophical exemptions are, however, available.

"You've got to warn everyone and tell them! Soylent Green is made of people!" Science fiction fans may recall the 1973 classic Soylent Green, in which a wily detective played by Charlton Heston reveals that government food rations foisted upon the starving masses are manufactured from human body parts.
Discovering that several common vaccines are derived from baby body parts may not be quite as bad as eating Soylent Green, but for many pro-lifers it's a close second. While most parents are shocked to learn that their children have been injected with vaccines cultured on and containing residual components of aborted fetal tissue, anger turns to anxiety once physicians and school officials point out that the vaccines are necessary for children to attend school. Religious and philosophical exemptions are, however, available for those who cannot reconcile the use of these vaccines with either their Christian faith or firmly held moral belief in the sanctity of life.

Scandalous Origins

In the United States, 10 different vaccines for chicken pox, hepatitis A, polio, rabies, and rubella are cultured on aborted tissue from two fetal cell lines known as WI-38 and MRC-5. These vaccines are Varivax (chicken pox), Havrix (hep-A), Vaqta (hep-A), Twinrix (hep-A/hep-B), Poliovax (polio), Imovax (rabies), Meruvax II (rubella), MR-VAX (measles/rubella), Biavax II (mumps/rubella), and MMR II (measles/mumps/rubella). Alternative, pro-life vaccines are available in this country for all but the chicken pox, hepatitis A, and rubella inoculations.

The WI-38 "human-diploid" cell culture was developed in July 1962 from a "therapeutically aborted" three-month-old girl. "WI" is an acronym used by the Wistar Institute, an aggressive proponent of embryonic stem cell research. The August 1969 issue of the American Journal of Diseases of Children explains WI-38 was taken from a voluntary abortion performed in Sweden: "This fetus was chosen by Dr. Sven Gard, specifically for this purpose [use as a vaccine culture]. Both parents are known, and unfortunately for the story, they are married to each other, still alive and well, and living in Stockholm, presumably. The abortion was done because they felt they had too many children."

MRC-5 is derived from the lung tissue of a 14-week-old baby boy. MRC stands for Medical Research Council, a research center funded by British taxpayers. According to Coriell Cell Repositories, "The MRC-5 cell line was developed in September 1966 from lung tissue taken from a 14-week fetus aborted for psychiatric reasons from a 27-year-old physically healthy woman."

Source: http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/medical_ethics/me0044.html (There is more to read... the above is just an excerpt.)

17 July 2010

Yep, they're full of hot air!!

From today's headlines:

FOXNews.com - U.S. Atheists Reportedly Using Hair Dryers to 'De-Baptize': "U.S. Atheists Reportedly Using Hair Dryers to 'De-Baptize'
Published July 17, 2010 NewsCore
Print Email Share Comments (238) Text Size American atheists lined up to be 'de-baptized' in a ritual using a hair dryer, according to a report Friday on U.S. late-night news program 'Nightline.'
Leading atheist Edwin Kagin blasted his fellow non-believers with the hair dryer to symbolically dry up the holy water sprinkled on their heads in days past. The styling tool was emblazoned with a label reading 'Reason and Truth.'
Kagin believes parents are wrong to baptize their children before they are able to make their own choices, even slamming some religious eduction as 'child abuse.' He said the blast of hot air was a way for adults to undo what their parents had done.
'I was baptized Catholic. I don't remember any of it at all,' said 24-year-old Cambridge Boxterman. 'According to my mother, I screamed like a banshee ... so you can see that even as a young child I didn't want to be baptized. It's not fair. I was born atheist, and they were forcing me to become Catholic.'
Kagin doned a monk's robe and said a few mock-Latin phrases before inviting those wishing to be de-baptized to 'come forward now and receive the spirit of hot air that taketh away the stigma and taketh away the remnants of the stain of baptismal water.'
Ironically, Kagin's own son became a fundamentalist Christian minister after having 'a personal revelation in Jesus Christ.'
'One wonders where they went wrong,' he chuckled to the TV show."

I mean really, you can't make this stuff up! I'm utterly speechless. Where to begin? Of course they are demonstrating a woeful lack of understanding about the Christian faith they are so vocally rejecting.

But I do find it rather haunting that it is now apparently considered speakable to equate religious upbringing with child abuse.

Later addition:
Upon further reflection, does it not serve as a de facto admission of the reality and efficacy of the Sacrament that they are trying so hard to erase it? After all, if there is no god, then all that happens at baptism is that you get a little wet and they do more than that every time they shower. I don't see anyone trying to unshower decades after the fact, so they must be admitting that something more lasting has taken place.

16 July 2010

Wow! That was unexpected! Apparently the people who built New York needed some landfill material and this boat (along with some other debris-turned-artificats) found its way under the World Trade Center. So there was a boat under there all along.

As much tragedy as was required to find this little point of interest, I want there to be a moral to the story, but there probably isn't. Its just there and under any other circumstances it would be really cool. Anyway, I won't try to over analyze it, but I did want to share.

More pictures at foxnews.com.

09 July 2010

Pray for the persecuted

I came across this quote today, timely, and I thought I'd share it:
"We need to get as much information and evidence as possible on crimes against humanity perpetuated by the North Korean regime... It is an unforgiveable crime that they are committing and have been committing for decades. Why do we remain silent on it and only talk about their nuclear program, which is not a crime?" (A South Korean activist cited in Escaping North Korea by Mike Kim... and by the by, the book as a whole is a worthy read.)

This just in...

University of Illinois Instructor Fired Over Catholic Beliefs

Published July 09, 2010
| Associated Press

Print Email Share Comments (44) Text Size
URBANA, Ill. -- The University of Illinois has fired an adjunct professor who taught courses on Catholicism after a student accused the instructor of engaging in hate speech by saying he agrees with the church's teaching that homosexual sex is immoral.

The professor, Ken Howell of Champaign, has taught at the university for nine years. He says his firing violates his academic freedom.

A professor at the university who is also president of the American Association of University Professors agrees. Cary Nelson says teachers are allowed to express their own beliefs.

University spokeswoman Robin Kaler declined comment because Howell's firing is a personnel issue.

The student had a friend register his complaint and has remained anonymous.

(found at foxnews.com)

So much for freedom of speech in our public universities. I could understand this if the man were engaged in something illegal, but the University doesn't seem to understand that they are making a value judgment here. They are promoting the state religion (humanism) and drawing a clear line saying that this man's beliefs are immoral and repugnant to their humanistic religious philosophy. It is more important to them that they promote their ideals than that the basic American liberty to hold and express an opinion counter to the majority be upheld. Oh, if only this were an isolated incident.

Actually, we saw the reverse, the promotion of the closed-minded secular liberalist when little or no academic merit warranted it (or the occasional outcry when such an instructor was not given the undeserved tenure) in my undergraduate school. Granted, not all of the professors were hostile, not even most, but the ones that were seemed to trade on it. And that was fifteen years ago.

05 July 2010

My shockingly obvious revelation of the day:
Kids aren't made to be kept.
My eldest is away at service camp, sort of a mission trip youth group trip kind of thing. I expect this to be a remarkable week for him, a chance to explore the world a little without mom looking over his shoulder. Maybe he'll learn a few practical skills. Definitely he'll have a fun time with his friends. I'm almost certain he'll grow up a bit more this week.
But I miss him. We birth (or adopt) them, we raise them, tend them, feed them, love them. Somewhere in the middle of all that, we forget that they aren't really ours.

04 July 2010

Words can't express....

Yes this was a real advertisment for Schlitz beer. This picture is surely a bargain at a thousand words; its worth at least ten thousand.

02 July 2010

Seen just north of the 'Burgh.

My eldest son spotted this little gem today:

I couldn't resist sharing it. My first thought was "glad someone is hiring Pirates." And if Pirates fans think this is just a coincidence that should not be taken personally, the next window over was this one:

Yes, we know... other Pittsburgh sports franchises are running and open for business.