Apr 30 2010

Another Simple Question

Category: energy,environmentamuzikman @ 8:55 am

There is a large oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico resulting from an oil rig explosion last week.  The mess is large, growing larger, and headed towards the US coastline.

When these disasters happen more than a few folks immediately jump up on their soapbox and denounce oil, drilling for oil, oil companies and everything else oil related except perhaps for Oil of Olay, and olive oil.  This is not to downplay the scope of the disaster, obviously oil spills cause a lot of damage.  But lest we forget…oil IS a natural resource.  But of course oil is not considered “green” in today’s world.

Wind energy, on the other hand,  is considered “green”.  It’s clean, renewable, and free for the taking.  Tornados are a type of wind. A recent tornado set down in Mississippi creating a swath of destruction almost a mile wide and killing ten people.

So, why isn’t anyone denouncing wind?

Apr 29 2010

A Simple Question Or Two.

Category: illegal alien,politics,racismamuzikman @ 8:55 am

Clearly there are those who take great exception to the recently passed immigration law in Arizona. The cries of outrage and the accusations of racism seem to be coming from everywhere.  In fact there is a clear attempt to couch this entire subject under the banner of race and racism, which should come as no surprise since that particular accusation has become quite a useful tool, both to squelch disagreement and dissent as well as to promote particular political agendas.

So, for those who feel as though our laws on immigration should not be enforced.  For those who feel that illegal immigrants should be granted a path to citizenship without obeying the existing laws.  For those who feel as though there is a compelling reason to ignore the laws of the land with respect to immigration I have a couple of simple questions:

#1: Which laws shall we enforce and which ones shall we ignore?

#2: Who gets to decide the answer to question #1?

Apr 28 2010

Democracy in action

Category: Uncategorizedharmonicminer @ 1:29 pm

Yes, the crown jewel of republican democracy in the former Soviet Union satellite nations has to be this:

One can only speculate about what goes on in the parking lot.  More photos here.

Apr 27 2010

Racist America and a Black President?

Category: Uncategorizedharmonicminer @ 5:05 pm

The Banality of Race

In March 2007, Barack Obama, then the junior senator from Illinois and a presidential aspirant, spoke in the Brown Chapel in Selma, Alabama. Just over 40 years before, civil rights marchers were horribly beaten at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma by state troopers under the command of Sheriff Jim Clark. In the pulpit of Brown Chapel, Obama laid claim to the legacy of the civil rights heroes who suffered on the bridge. “So don’t tell me I don’t have a claim on Selma, Alabama,” Obama said. “Don’t tell me I’m not coming home when I come to Selma, Alabama. I’m here because somebody marched.” Congressman John Lewis, whose skull was cracked at Selma, endorsed the claim: Obama, he said, “is what comes at the end of that bridge in Selma.”

In The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama, David Remnick portrays the 44th president as a fulfillment of the promise of the civil rights generation. There can be no doubt that Obama’s identification with those heroes is part of the story of his life and work; in reaching the White House, he has realized a dream that seemed quixotic not so long ago, when Jim Crow laws were still in force. But the president’s conception of himself as a fellow-laborer in the vineyards of the civil rights prophets is surely not the whole story. In studying Obama almost exclusively as a man of racial destiny, Remnick, the editor of The New Yorker, not only fails to pluck out the heart of the president’s mystery; he evokes a vision of race that has become a too-familiar element in modern liberalism, an article of faith that has done a good deal to undermine liberalism’s moral sensibility.

It is not simply that the racial aperture in The Bridge is too narrow to do justice to the ascent Remnick traces. A book constructed on the figurative underpinning of the bridge at Selma is practically bound to be organized as a morality play. But the tone of moral indignation, so justified where the incidents in Selma in 1965 are concerned, is less obviously fitting where the subject is a man’s rise to the presidency. The passionate pursuit of political power is always a morally ambiguous spectacle; there is a shortage of both satisfactory saints and believable scoundrels. A moral romance, however, requires a villain, and in The Bridge Remnick is at pains to make racism into the dragon that his hero must dramatically slay.

Exactly right.

If America was still mostly “racist,” Obama would not be president. It really is that simple.

Apr 26 2010

What if YOU had a close encounter with the seemingly incredible?

Category: Bible,church,God,Iraq,theologyharmonicminer @ 10:23 am

How would you convince anyone it had happened?

Consider: if you were dropped off by a time machine a couple millennia back, and you witnessed the events leading up to the Crucifixion, and then saw incontrovertible evidence of the Resurrection (like, you took a walk with Him, or had dinner with Him, or even touched Him), what would you do in order to convince other people, and posterity, of what you had seen yourself?

You might tell a lot of people.  And you’d be fearless about it, because you’d KNOW what you saw, and with Whom you had talked.  People wouldn’t be able to shake your faith in what you’d seen, for the simple reason that you wouldn’t doubt what you had personally experienced.

You might start to connect up small groups of people with whom you’d shared your experiences (and some teachings that would flow from it), to keep alive the memory, and simply because you’d be so excited about it all that of course you’d follow His instructions….  which were basically to tell lots of people about Him, to love each other, to teach each other and remind each other what He had taught, etc.

You’d probably write some letters to people you hadn’t seen for awhile, to keep in touch, and remind them of the truth of what you’d experienced and what He taught, about the Father and Himself.

Some of your friends with similar experiences would write other letters, some would write biographies and histories, etc.

You’d be convinced to your dying day that what you saw really happened, that He had risen from the dead, just as He prophesied.

You would know, by the time you’d told a few people, that it was going to be very hard to convince people of the truth of what you’d seen.  And you would learn to recognize that, for reasons only He understands, some people will respond to hearing the truth, and some won’t.  But you would know that you should not give up, and that some people may respond later, so you’d keep trying.

You would wonder how future generations will respond, when the original witnesses are no longer on Earth, so you’d be careful to keep the books and letters they wrote intact as long as possible, and put them in faithful hands for safekeeping to the next generation.  You’d be concerned, though, because knowing the history of how one generation is faithless in keeping to the teaching of the previous one (since you read the Old Testament), you know that it will take absolutely faithful people, with Divine insight and motivation, not to utterly corrupt the whole thing within a generation or two.

You might be surprised at how much effort subsequent generations have put into keeping the teaching intact….   and if you knew about it, you would count that fact as evidence of something in operation in people’s hearts and minds all that time, since, having read the Old Testament, you know it wouldn’t have happened any other way.

Apr 25 2010

African-Americans against abortion-on-demand

Category: abortion,church,college,higher education,societyharmonicminer @ 8:35 am

African American Advancing the Culture of Life

Dr. Johnny Hunter, founder of Life Education and Resource Network (LEARN). He and his wife Pat Hunter are pioneers in the pro-life movement and provide instrumental leadership, coalition building, networking and research for the Movement.

Elder Dr. Levon Yuille, National Director of the National Black Pro-Life Congress, and pastor of The Bible Church, Ypsilanti, MI A pioneer in the pro-life movement and the most visionary speaker in the nation today. Highly anointed.

Rev. Dr. Clenard Childress, Founder & Director of LEARN Northeast, Assistant National Director of LEARN, Inc. and pastor of New Calvary Baptist Deliverance, Montclair, NJ -The prophetic voice in the pro-life movement who is used by God from coast to coast.

Stephen Broden, Pastor of Fair Park Bible Fellowship, Dallas, TX. Chief strategist of the black pro-life movement. Appeared on TV and challenges the argument of moral equivalence used as excuse by some clergy to avoid confronting womb-lynching.

Day Gardner, founder of National Black Pro-Life Union. Day is a news anchor woman, commentator, columnist and researcher on issues impacting marriage, life, family, education and community.

Bill and Deborah Owens, founders of Coalition of American Pastors and Education for All. Bill and Deborah are seasoned educators and policy makers who provide significant solutions for educational issues of the day.

Dr. Alveda King, Founder of King for America, and an associate of Priest for Life, Atlanta, GA Her father was Dr. MLK’s brother and she walks in the legacy of the true leaders of the civil rights movement.

Jenny Hodges, President of Pro-Life Unity – literally a vanilla chocolate sister who is determined to recruit Georgia state legislators to support life agenda.

Dean Nelson, Director of NPAC – Network of Politically Active Christians, Washington, DC. Keeps organizations informed of national legislation which affects life, family and the church.

Walter Hoye, a minister in Oakland, California, hauled into court and convicted for holding a sign offering help to pregnant moms going into a “clinic” to get an abortion.

Jesse Lee Peterson, Founder of BOND, Brotherhood of a New Destiny, Appeared on national TV networks when he boldly intervened in the Los Angeles riots. Has boldly challenged other national leaders including Jesse Jackson to return to the pro-life position.

Star Parker, Founder of CURE, Coalition of Urban Renewal and Education, author of Uncle Sam’s Plantation and syndicated columnist. Previously based in Los Angeles, now in Washington, DC uses her testimony to bring black women from making a bad choice and encouraging people to escape the bonds of the welfare state. Expertise includes knowledge of public policy.

Arnold Culbreath, Director of Protecting Black Life, Brought attention to and helped individual cases of injustices while working to get more pastors involved. Excellent musician on the saxophone, too.

Dr. Ron Myers, MD, Founder of the National Juneteenth Festival Memorial service. “Maafa” is a Swahili word which refers to the black holocaust which includes the middle passage, the plantation beatings, lynching, gang violence. He calls abortion the present day maafa!

Dr. Haywood Robinson, MD, and/or his wife Dr. Noreen Johnson, MD, medical doctors who took a strong <stand> for life after Christ came into their lives.

Dr. John Diggs, MD, a medical doctor who developed much of the abstinence material you see. Testified in formal state legislative committee hearings. Addresses abstinence and other issues from biblical and medical viewpoints.

Sylinthia Stewart, NC LEARN Office Administrator and a confidential counselor for post abortion healing ministry.

Catherine Davis, Director of African American Outreach for Georgia Right to Life. Post Abortive civil rights advocate speaks to general and youth audiences.

Angela Stanton, mother, author, motivational speaker. Author of Life Beyond These Walls. Ministers on life after abuse, prison and other life issues.

Sonya Howard, author, post abortive motivational speaker.

Richard Lane, Catholic Evangelist, founder of Qorban Ministries whose mission is to” REVIVE your Parish and YOUR FAITH by bringing back the power and courage of the HOLY SPIRIT!”

There are many African-American Christians who are very strongly pro-life.  I would invite ANY church or Çhristian institution to consider having one or more of these people as speakers and workshop leaders. 

Apr 24 2010

Misusing Scripture #3

Category: Bible,Scripture,theologyharmonicminer @ 8:46 am


The previous post in this series is here.

In the comment stream of another post, I wrote the following in response to a question, and then I realized it really belonged in the “Misusing Scripture” series, so after minor editing here it is….

Re: the “turn your cheek” comment of Jesus, it is a mistake to try to turn such comments into fully-orbed theories of human interaction and just response to threat.

Every time you see in the New Testament a suggestion about how individuals should respond to individuals with whom they are in conflict in some way, I suggest always rewriting the scripture so that the potential or actual victim is an innocent child. Then review what the responsibilities of adults are, to children. Then consider that in God’s eyes, we ALL are children, and furthermore, children He wants to adopt.

If you run an orphanage, you do not tell weaker children to let stronger children prey upon them. You do not stand by and watch as one beats another, even if you must use force to stop it, perhaps even risking danger to yourself. And if you have a truly difficult case (a child who is in fact a threat to the group, and possibly strong enough to threaten YOU), you may have to use considerable force to stop a situation from getting out of hand. And this is key: you absolutely must protect yourself in the process, because if you don’t, who will protect the rest of the children?

The fundamental flaw in “proof-texting” for non-violence in the scriptures is that nearly all such scriptures are about individual responses to particular kinds of situations, NOT about corporate responsibilities (i.e., the responsibilities of governments and families to protect those for whom they are responsible), and even those about individual responses are often more metaphoric than anything.

Some will quote Paul: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

But this presumes I have the power to feed an enemy who does not have the power to feed himself. It assumes I have the power to give him a drink, which he will not have without me, else he will not now be thirsty. In other words, it assumes my enemy is the one now in discomfort or disarray, and that he is no particular threat to me at the moment. What other reasonable explanation could there be that I have food and drink to share, and he does not?

Paul is not saying that if someone is threatening your family, you should offer them a happy meal. Nor is he saying that the USA should have shipped food to NAZI Germany instead of invading it. Although, and this is key to the American ethos in such matters, we did go to considerable lengths to rebuild Germany after it was no longer a threat to us, which is exactly the kind of situation Paul must have been referring to in his statement.

Some say, “I’d say loving our enemies means caring for their family after they’ve killed mine.” The problem is that if you are doing that before you STOP your enemy from killing anyone else’s family, out of an excess of misplaced piety, you are showing NO LOVE AT ALL to the future victims of the murderer.

Will you be delivering food to the family of the murderer when they are still hiding him in the basement? And planning his escape into the next county? If so, what will be your responsibility for the future victims of the murderer? And what about justice, even if you are certain the murderer will never kill again? Keep in mind that the visible presence of that justice in society (and in international relations) is one thing restraining OTHER potential murderers. It is not mere “score settling.”

Jesus’ “turn the other cheek” comment is metaphorical about general human interaction, and exactly on par with other comments He made about “soft answers” and the like. Despite the physical metaphor, it is not mostly about physical violence, else, given His propensity for eye-catching metaphor, He might have said, “If someone strikes you over the head with a club and knocks you cold, when you awaken, stand up and give him a better target next time.” Or, “If someone cuts off your right arm with a sword, offer him your left arm, too.” This last would have been perfectly in character, if He had meant that. And he made metaphors that strong in other places.

The reason Jesus chose the “cheek” metaphor is precisely because a slap of the cheek is not serious, is unlikely to cause significant harm, is mostly merely insulting, and He is suggesting that we be able to tolerate mere insult without over-reaction or escalation of the conflict, insofar as we have control over it.

It is NOT a general comment about not defending yourself (or your family, or your nation) when required, and it certainly is not a general comment encouraging the neglect of others who are in danger (which often includes protecting them), nor is it a statement that allows us to escape the demands of justice, which includes our responsibility to prosecute it when required.

The next post in this series is here.

Apr 23 2010

What peace process?

Category: Fatah,Hamas,Iran,Islam,Israel,Syriaharmonicminer @ 8:40 am

Poll: 91% against Obama imposing deal

A huge majority of Israelis would oppose an attempt by US President Barack Obama to impose a final-status agreement with the Palestinians, a poll sponsored by the Independent Media Review and Analysis (IMRA) organization found this week.

Leading American newspapers reported last week that Obama was considering trying to impose a settlement if efforts to begin indirect proximity talks between Israel and the Palestinians proved unsuccessful. The option was discussed in a meeting with current and former advisers to the White House.

Asked whether they would support Obama imposing a plan dividing Jerusalem and removing the Jordan Valley from Israeli control, 91 percent of Israelis who expressed an opinion said no and 9% said yes, according to the poll of 503 Israelis, which was taken by Ma’agar Mohot on Sunday and Monday and had a 4.5% margin of error.

Eighty-one percent said it was improper for Obama to try to force such a plan on the two sides, while 19% of those who expressed an opinion said it was proper.

The poll asked whether it would create enduring peace or enduring conflict should Jerusalem be divided, with Jewish neighborhoods remaining part of Israel and Arab neighborhoods becoming part of a Palestinian state. Eighty-four percent said conflict and 16% said peace.

The numbers were similar for the Jordan Valley, where 90% opposed relinquishing Israeli control and 10% were in favor.

Meanwhile, a poll of Palestinians conducted on April 8-10 by the Center of Opinion Polls and Survey Studies at An-Najah University in Nablus asked Palestinians whether they would accept the creation of a Palestinian state within the pre-1967 borders with a land exchange as a final solution for the Palestinian problem, and whether they would support or reject making Jerusalem a capital for two states.

The numbers on the two-state solution were 66.7% against, 28.3% in favor, and 5% who did not know or did not express an opinion. On the Jerusalem issue, 77.4 said they opposed such a plan, 20.8% were in favor, and 1.8% had no opinion or chose not to express it.

Read that last bit again.  The Palestinians will not accept a “peace plan” on even the least possible advantageous terms for Israel.

There cannot be peace without a peace partner.  Hamas and Fatah have done a sufficiently good job in indoctrinating the last three generations of Palestinians to hate Israel that now there is no chance for Palestinian public support of a plan that Israel could not agree to anyway.

The only “fast solution” to the problem is going to be a complete victory by one side or the other.

There is a slow solution, one that will take about 40 years, a timeline so long that no Western government can possibly keep its eye on the prize that long, although Muslim governments seem to have no problem conceiving and employing decades long strategies (which is exactly why we are where we are today).   That slow solution is fairly simple.

The world’s governments COULD simply cut off all aid to Palestine, if Palestine continues to teach hate in its schools and media, and continues to elect Hamas.  The world does not “owe” Palestine anything, anything at all.  If Palestine chooses to be run by a terrorist organization, so be it.  Then we could wait about 40 years for the current haters to die, and for the next generations to begin to wonder what the fuss was about.  And those people might then be peace partners.

Of course, the world’s governments would have to stand together in this, and, of course, Iran, Syria and China, at least, would be likely to do an end-run around any ban imposed by the rest.

And that illustrates the essential issue.  Far from the “conflict in the middle east” problem STEMMING from the Israel/Palestine issue, the exact reverse is true.  The Israel/Palestine issue EXISTS, still, because several nations see it as in their best interests to keep it from ever being solved.   This has been true since the creation of the modern Israel.

But you can’t make peace with people who, more than anything, want you dead.

When even experienced negotiators begin to see this, it’s time to take notice.

Apr 22 2010

Interesting links

Category: Uncategorizedharmonicminer @ 8:53 pm

Big bangs (12 pictures)

We all have to go sometime.

Churches with funny names.  Or worse.

British airspace may reopen on Tuesday

Air traffic controllers may be able to start opening UK airspace tomorrow, the transport secretary, Lord Adonis, said todayas British Airways reported that results of airline test flights without passengers provided “fresh evidence that the current blanket restrictions on airspace are unnecessary”.

The National Air Transport Service (Nats) was expected to update its advice this afternoon, a no-fly zone is at present expected to last until at least 1am tomorrow, but Adonis, who has been in constant contact with forecasters, air traffic bodies and European colleagues, said: “It may be possible to start opening UK airspace tomorrow.”, The Guardian reports.

European safety experts, aircraft manufacturers and national authorities are examining whether “it is possible to refine the safety guidance under which the airlines operate to get more flights in the air,” Adonis said.

“As we get more data from test flights and are able to refine the analysis of the data that comes from the Met Office and the metrological services, the experts are looking to see whether it is possible to identify safe paths that may make it possible for flights to take place even while we have the presence of ash,” Adonis said. “There is no question whatever of us putting at risk people’s safety.”, BusinessWeek informs.

You’d think they’d be thrilled. Less pollution from all those planes flying uselessly around Europe, and more ash in the sky blocking the Sun and reducing global warming.

Next time, try to kill the right one.

Who do you trust?  Not Uncle Sam, that’s for sure.

Apr 21 2010

Christian Psychology? We really need it to be developed further.

Category: higher education,ministry,theologyharmonicminer @ 8:47 pm

Another shot at understanding integration of psychology and christianity

Over the 40 plus years of our profession’s existence, Christian counselors have tried in numerous ways to model the relationship between Christianity/theology/bible and the study of psychology. Unfortunately, many model building efforts created more barriers than dialogue among brothers and sisters. Counselors staked out territory with titles such as biblical counseling, integration, levels of explanation.

However, in recent years, more authors have tried hard to articulate a distinctly Christian view of persons and a humble articulation of the change process that builds on the good insights of others (e.g., McMinn & Campbell’s Integrative psychotherapy, Johnson’s Foundations of Soul Care, Malony & Augsburger’s Christian Counseling, etc.). These authors have taken the time to examine their control beliefs, theological assumptions, and more in order to make their psychology truly Christian and not merely a rehash of secular ideas.

This looks interesting.

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