31 July 2007

Cabin Fever.

OK, I have been mostly laid up for four days, and have two or three more to go. I hurt. I can't get comfortable. And, I'm grumpy. Maybe posting a few things will make me feel better, so here goes:

Off of Instapundit: I'm sure a Federal grant was involved in the academic study mentioned here, documenting the reasons people say they have sex. Like Billy Crystal said in the movie City Slickers: "Women need a reason to have sex; guys just need a location."

Senator Ted Stephens (Really Old Guy - Alaska) seems to be in hot water because, it is alleged, a contractor friend paid for the renovation and major expansion of his home in Alaska. Below is an AP photo of the house:

Yes, that is allegedly a Senator's house. AFTER the alleged renovation. I saw video of the place on FoxNews, and there was actually rope spiraling up the porch columns. Maybe that is a sign of status in Alaska , or maybe they went for the beachhouse-in-the-tundra look. I don't know. What I do know is - and I am a professional here - that's................ bloody ugly. I half expect to see several derilict snowmobiles in the front yard. Is the Senator guilty? Don't know. That is for a court to decide. But if that is what he calls a "renovation", I think we have to ask if we want this guy minding our money, guilty or not.

Yep. I feel better.

Truth In Advertising.

Oh, yes. A little housekeeping notice:

This site seems to have captured the interest of a "comment spammer", one knicksgrl0917. To me, and to most of the blogging world, comment spammers are the blogging equivalent of jock itch. I am tired of cleaning up his comment posts (I do not want you thinking I endorse whatever he/she is hawking), so after this I am closing comments on future posts. I have a "rant back" e-mail for responses, so use that if you want to say something about a post. If it's relevant, I'll update the post and credit the sender.

Having said that, let me post a little advert of my own:

I DO NOT KNOW knicksgrl0917!!


DO NOT BUY ANYTHING FROM knicksgrl0917!!


Apologies for the lack of posting. I came down with an infection in my leg on Friday that has kept me lying flat (and very uncomfortable!!) ever since. The infection seems to be on the wane (thanks to some unpronouncable drugs), but l have to be still and keep my leg elevated for the remainder of the week. Ugh. (I don't do "be still" at all well....) So check back in a couple of days for more Red Stick Ranting.

Until then, check out Instapundit and Michael Yon. You won't be sorry.

27 July 2007

Know Way To Amarillo? Why Yes, I Do.

(Warning: Very British Humor Follows.)

Here is a bit of mindless video silliness as we go into the weekend. Yeah, I know. I said no more YouTube..... But things are pretty hectic today and I have little time to post. These are two of my kids favorite videos (I have trained them well, yes?) and I already had them bookmarked. The first one was done by some British troops in Iraq, spoofing this popular Peter Kay spoof of a Tony Christe song. (Hey, nobody said British humor was easy.)

The soldiers did this in one take, and someone posted it to the British Ministry of Defence website. It became so popular that it supposedly crashed some of their public servers once it became known. Unlike the US military, the Brits saw the humor in it all and let it stay up. (The US military would have likely given all those guys Article 15s.)

And if you think those were funny, you'll love this one.

26 July 2007

Why Heinlein Matters.

I mentioned science-fiction writer Robert Heinlein a few weeks ago on the occasion of his 100th birthday, as he is one of my favorite writers (and my wife's as well). Here is an article from today's Wall Street Journal on Heinlein's legacy that is well worth the read.

Hattip: Instapundit.

Happy Birthday, Ellen!!

Sorry Sandy, but you are not the most important person to have a birthday today.

25 July 2007

Best Music Video. Ever.

Alright, I know this is old, but there are some who have not seen it yet - so one more vid and that's it. Just goes to show that you don't need expensive sets, or lots of bling, or CGI, or Tawny Whats-Her-Name to make a great video. A little creativity beats all: OK Go's 'Here It Goes Again'


George S Patton - Updated

I have shied away from posting YouTube vids on the site, but this one encapsulates my sentiments on the War on Terror pretty well. Nicely done vid, too.

(Thanks, Lewis!)

(Mostly) Quiet On The Anglican Front.

Not much news, Episcopal Church-wise. There is some fussing by Conservatives about wording of Consents for a Bishop, and what technically violated what Canon. This is an issue, I suppose, because the Presiding Bishop used just such a Canon technicality to invalidate the election of a conservative Bishop to the Diocese of South Carolina. Did the Consent forms violate the Canon? I’m no lawyer, but it seems, on the face of it, yes. But a priest once told me that, in a theological debate, if you have to argue Church Canons to make your point you have lost the argument. What my Orthodox and Conservative friends need to remember is that all the Liberation Theology, “New Thing” wing of The Episcopal Church ™ has to defend their positions are the Church's Constitution and Canons, and the legalisms therein. There is little basis (if any) Scripturally for their positions. And besides, to us check-writing-pew-sitters, this sort of issue sounds like arguing about angels on the head of a pin. Let it go, folks. Do not become what we oppose.

In a sense, this time is the calm before the real storm. Which should happen, ironically enough, in September in New Orleans, when the US House of Bishops meets with the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Primates Standing Committee to (hopefully) deal directly with the Current Unpleasantness. If we are to remain a Communion at all, the Current Unpleasantness that The Episcopal Church™ has thrust upon the Anglican Communion must be resolved. Must. So the question is: Will this be a Second Battle of New Orleans and The Episcopal Church™ made to answer for what it's unilateral action has done to the very core of our Faith, or will this be just another Showdown At The I’m OK, You’re OK Corral (complete with Communiqué)??

We shall see.

Don't Panic.

At least, not yet. Knowing what I do about earthwork, this article about levee erosion at the 17th Street Canal in New Orleans may well be nothing. It may indeed be just a maintenance issue. But it doesn't exactly inspire confidence given the Corps previous (pre-Katrina) declarations of levee fitness. And, the fact they can't find the damn report.

I'm thinking about marketing a T-shirt that says: "I'm from the Corps of Engineers. If you see me running for high ground, try to keep up."

Tucker "Spoons" Carlson Says He's Sorry.

National talking-head Tucker Carlson - who I mostly like - got in touch with his inner General Butler the other day and said something nasty about New Orleans ladies. He has since apologized. As well he should – every ‘Yat boy knows it’s one out of every six, Tucker. (If you want one out of every three, go to the North Shore / St. Tammany Parish with a Hummer and an AmexCard....)

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words.

So here's a grand from the late Doug Marlette.

Pretty much sums up the problem, IMHO.

And again, hattip to CaNN and the WebElf Report.

They're Back!

For those who thirst for even more news about the inner conficts of The Episcopal Church (tm), CaNN and the WebElf Report are back!

24 July 2007

Veni, Vidi, Virtual.

OK, this is just damn cool: Rome in 320 AD, digitally modelled.
(Dial-up not recommended for the video clips...)

Hattip: CaNN and the WebElf Report.

Putting The Socialist Back In National Socialism.

An interesting post over at the Volokh Conspiracy, reminding us of an 'inconvenient truth' that our friends on the Left would rather not face - Nazism did not have it's origins in free-market ideals of the right, but rather those of the collectivist left.

"The idea that Nazism was an extreme form of "capitalism" and Hitler primarily a tool serving the interests of "big business" is a longstanding myth that even now retains a measure of popularity in some quarters. This, despite the fact that the full name of the Nazi Party was the National Socialist German Workers' Party, and that Nazi political strategy was explicitly based on combining the appeal of socialism with that of nationalism (thus the choice of name). Once in power, the Nazis even went so far as to institute a Four Year Plan for running the German economy, modeled in large part on the Soviet Union's Five Year Plans."

Those who ignore history are condemned to repeat it. Read the whole thing, as they say.

UPDATE: The comments debate below this post is pretty lively, so take a look if you have the time. (Comments over at Volokh, not here. No one ever comments here.)

23 July 2007

And You Thought It Was Just Louisiana......

Sound Familiar??

Another Curiosity (!?)

Once again, what people enter into Google to get here is amazing. Yesterday, someone in Reston, Virginia, actually Googled "communion on a stick", which brought them to my earlier missive about someone Googling "eucharist stick." Look, I'm no theologian - is this "communion on a stick" some kind of religious term or concept that I am clueless about?

I'm A (Very!) Niche Market.

I got a ways to go before my site is this popular.
And I need to get a LOT better looking, too.

22 July 2007


I've added a few folks to the old Blogroll over on the right. Check 'em out.

The Smoking Gun is a great read, proving daily that there is nothing more bizarre then real life. Take a look at their mug shot collection - Nick Nolte and Glenn Campbell are two of my favorites.

Eugene Volokh and friends at the Volokh Conspiracy have a great legal blog from the libertarian / individual rights point-of-view. And they are prolific, with lots of links.

Harry Hutton's Chase Me Ladies is one of the funniest blogs around, but you have to like the British sense of humor. A lot. And yes, Landon, that is where the "white mice" idea came from.....

What's (Wrong) Right With This Picture?

Eeeeeeveryyyyyyyything. That's what!

The All-Star Game is behind us, and the boys from Landsdowne Street STILL lead Satan's team in the AL East by 7.5 games.

Who says prayer - and Big Poppy - don't work anymore?

20 July 2007

More From Michael Yon.

Michael Yon emails:

"Yesterday marked D+30 of Operation Arrowhead Ripper. Zero combat was reported in Baqubah. That's nearly unbelievable. Al Qaeda is not dead, but they can't be happy after what has been happening here."

He has a new post up: "7 Rules: 1 Oath".

And more of his series "Bless the Beasts and Children" is now up - Part II and Part III. There are some video interviews included: one with an Iraqi Captain, and one with US troops.

Remember, Michael Yon is a freelance journalist telling a side of the Iraq conflict you will not hear from the Legacy Media. If you like Michael's dispatches, do send him something.

19 July 2007

A Rather "Frank" Letter....

The Smoking Gun comes up with some real winners sometimes. OK, most of the time. But this one is truly a gem. I know this sounds un-Christian as all get-out, but there is a part of me who wishes more politicos would do the same. Shame is not always a bad thing. I hope that when this kid gets behind bars he will understand. Maybe a prison ministry can help.

Weeks Prayers - Eighth Sunday After Pentacost.

Please remember in your prayers this week:

Carole, John, Ellen, Anne, Jack, Peter, Shan, Earl, Pat, Betty, Georgie, Jean, Jerry+, Stacy, Charles+, David, George+, Cherrill, Brian+, Ernie+, Flip+, Reese+, Jesse, Ken, David, Myra, Shelby, Tammy, Bruce, Josh, Chris, Toby, Morgan, Noel, Keith, Harvey, Lusila, Katherine+, Rowan++, and all who serve in our Armed Forces.

For the departed:
Anne, John, Nelson, Martha, Louise, Parsons, Margaret, James, Jessie, Manny, Raoul, Tapper, Kyle, Robert Sr., Robert Jr., Theresa, Mary, Jean, Don+, James C., all who have given their lives in for this Nation, and this week for Saint James and Saint Mary Magdalene.


Hi, Eva!! We All Miss You, Too.

18 July 2007

Who Knows What Cruiosity Lurks In The Hearts Of Men? (And, Of Course, Women?)

Apparently, Sitemeter knows. I am always amused to see what phrase folks searched to get here. Here are a couple from today:

Someone at Raytheon in Lexington, Massachusetts, (in the Executive Office, no less), got here by Googling "baton rouge mandina's". Either you're a homesick 'Yat, or you got too much time on your hands. (If your name is Janet, and you divorced my friend Brian to run off with a guy named Phil who also worked at Raytheon, drop me a line. Love to catch up.) For the record, Mandina's in New Orleans is back in operation. Try Googling that.

Someone in Mineola, New York, got to my humble site by Googling "why should we not believe in the dalie lama". It picked up a comment I made about the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church (tm) that had the words "believe" and "Dali Lama". For the record, I've never met the Dali Lama, but I do believe he exists. I'm sure he is a very nice man, though I don't subscribe to him any divinity.

Oh, yes: "Hi, Mom."

For my Paranoid readers: No, Sitemeter does not let me see the actual names and addresses of who visits here, just the network and ISP you are using, and where it's located. So don't panic. (Oh, yes - for some strange reason Sitemeter does let me know what brand of underwear you are wearing when you visit. No idea why they know, or how they know, but it is very amusing none the less.)

UPDATE: But this one beats them all. Hands down. Somebody from Elm Creek, Nebraska, got here by Googling - and I am not making this up - "eucharist stick". Really. My first reaction was that this was another Episcopal Church (tm) "new thing"; Communion-on-a-stick, or maybe someone created a sacramental fondue. (Don't laugh - we already have a "Clown Eucharist".) But then I got to thinking (dangerous, I know) and realized that maybe this person probably just couldn't spell "Eucharistic." Either way, pretty scary.

Another Inclusion Too Far.

In May we had the former Governor of New Jersey, James McGreevy, who had an adulterous affair with another man while governor, accepted to seminary to become an Episcopal priest. Last month we had an ordained Episcopal priest who converted to Islam allowed to remain a priest. (The local Bishop thought the whole idea was "exciting." Though, her actual Bishop did make her stop preaching and told her to think about it for a while.) Both stories made the papers - even here in Baton Rouge.

Now, we have this story in the New York Times about former porn star, Ronald Boyer, who wants to be an Episcopal priest.

The leadership of the Episcopal Church (tm) ain't stupid. They realize what image all of this portrays to us check-writing-pew-sitters, and they don't want to get us riled up (they ain't a lot of us left and they need the cash - all those legal fees, you know). So The Right Reverend J. Jon Bruno, Bishop of the Diocese of Los Angeles, went into damage-control mode and quickly wrote this reply to the Times, where he reminds them - correctly - that wanting to be a priest is not the same as going to seminary. Though, if past performance is any indicator, a new Rev. Boyer is but a few years away. I mean, he has the right theology nowadays:

"He has tired of performing in sex movies, but even now doesn’t condemn it. “Not one time did Jesus refer to pornography, or homosexuality,” he observed on the Internet show, which he began as a co-host in May. “Jesus could have commented. He didn’t.”

And Jesus didn't say a thing about failing to report income to the IRS, either. Isn't that right, Bishop Adams? He did say something about false witness, though.......

17 July 2007

So-Called Respect.

I see that someone on the Episcopal House of Bishops / Deputies (HOB/D) Listserv has taken to calling those congregations and persons who leave The Episcopal Church ™ due to the Current Unpleasantness, “so-called Anglicans”. As if they don’t count anymore.

I find this curious, since the whole position of those now in control of The Episcopal Church ™ - and almost all who post to the HOB/D - is that any attempt to define who is, or is not, an Anglican is against the very concept of Anglicanism itself. That is why they say they oppose the current draft of the Anglican Covenant, which is supposed to define who we are as Anglicans, and what we believe. It is not the Anglican Way, they claim, and to do so would make us no better than the Curia-run breeders Roman Church we broke away from a few centuries ago.

I am looking to stay and fight for the soul of the Episcopal Church ™ as long as I can; I am not looking to leave. (You will not get rid of my two cents that easily, Kate+.) But I understand what drives those who do choose to leave. They do not see themselves as having left The Episcopal Church ™, they see The Episcopal Church ™ as having left them. Why are folks on the HOB/D Listserv dismissing these voices by defining them in terms of smug epithets? Is that Christian behavior? What happened to all that talk of “dialogue? Is the “Listening Process” for one issue only, and only for one side of that issue? Is it easier to ignore the pain your decisions have caused if you can make those in pain sound illegitimate? Or is that line of thinking only important in one issue?

Just asking.

16 July 2007

There are Supermen. Not That The Mainstream Press Would Notice.....

Another report from Michael Yon: Superman. It's sad to note where the American press seems to be getting some of their "news" about what is happening in Iraq. (Hint: it ain't from being out there where the news is, you know, actually happening.)

Nature's Payback For All Those PBS Shows Where We Watched.

Here's something to remember next time you're at Sea World: It seems dolphins are a bunch of randy pervs who like to watch.

So if this kind of behavior is "natural", can the first openly peeping-tom Episcopal Bishop be far behind? I think we should ask an oceanographer. No, wait.....

UPDATE: Kinda fits in with this story about a porn star who wants to be an Episcopal priest.

State Legislators Converge On Jennings, Louisiana

Really. That's what it says.

I'm Not Dead Yet.

No, I didn't quit blogging. For the 5 or 6 of you who actually read this, don't panic - I took a few days off with the family, and made it a point to not check up on what was happening in the world while I was away. (I was marginally successful.) I took my son the the Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida, on Sunday, which was pretty cool.

I'll post more once I get control of all that is on my desk, and then see what transpired in the wider world while I was away.

Quick trip note: "Map" feature on the iPhone - it'll get you anywhere.
(UPDATE: OK, it was pointed out that it probably could not get you a date with Sandra Bullock. Fair enough. But, if you had an iPhone AND a Harley; maybe....just maybe..... (A guy can dream, can't he?)

13 July 2007

I Don't Know Exactly, And I'm Not Sure I Want To Know.

The Internet is a funny place, sometimes. As in creepy/scary/keeps-you-awake-at-night kind of funny. Someone found my post on an old schoolmate running for governor by searching Google with this:

"hoe to remove the brontok virus"

Yeah, me either.

UPDATE: OK, now I know. Some dirtbag spammed my comments with anti-virus software adverts a few weeks ago, and I missed a few when I cleaned up his mess. Seems the "brontok virus" is a computer virus. You learn something new every day out here in cyberspace.

12 July 2007

Michael Yon Live.

For those who can pick it up, or have high-speed 'Net access, Michael Yon will be on Hugh Hewitt's radio show at 7pm, Eastern. It should be an interesting interview.

Also, Michael has a new dispatch up: Al Qaeda on the Run. As always, give it a read.

UPDATE: Here is the transcript from last evening's interview with Michael Yon in case you missed it.

Well, Hello There!

Welcome to Carole's Column readers! Glad you stopped by. I knew you were coming over so I tided up a bit. I even dusted. I hope like what I've done with the place. Mostly you will find the odd ranting about the epic march of The Episcopal Church (tm) to "include" itself into utter irrelevance, shocked posts when a Louisiana politician does something stupid (and even more shocked posts when they don't...), my love affair with my iPhone (yes, it is a shallow life, but someone has to do it), Michael Yon's incredible posts from Iraq, ans pretty much anything else that interests me at the moment. Today is rather busy at the office, so this will have to do for an introduction. But feel free to wander round a bit in the mind of Clifford. Careful of the the sticky parts.

11 July 2007

They Said It. We Said It, Too.

OK, this may be nothing. I am not a plagiarism expert. Here is an article from the EpiscopalLife Online website about some Episcopal churches consolidating. Note it has an Episcopal News Service byline, which means, I presume, they wrote it. It also has this link to an article from the local town newspaper. So far, so good. Now, let's read a bit from both articles.

First, from EpiscopalLife Online:

"The North Central Episcopal Ministry or NCERM, which was formed in November 1991, consists of St. Mary's, St. Andrew's, Calvary Church, and Grace Church in the Broad Brook section of East Windsor. Grace Church, which had decided to join the new parish in December, reversed its decision and voted not to join in the merger.

St. Andrew's had voted against the merger in December, but changed its position and decided to join, the newspaper reported.

The Rev. Peter E. Bushnell, senior missioner of the NCERM, said that St. Andrew's officials had participated in the planning process for the new ministry and he believes that they changed their minds during that process.

The new parish, which has yet to be named, will temporarily be located in St. Mary's Church in Enfield while officials look for a new location, Bushnell told the newspaper.

The parish will have almost 650 parishioners from Enfield, Somers, Suffield, and Windsor Locks, Bushnell said."

Now the local paper's article:

"The North Central Episcopal Ministry or NCERM, which was formed in November 1991, consists of St. Mary's, St. Andrew's, Calvary Church, and Grace Church in the Broad Brook section of East Windsor. Grace Church, which had decided to join the new parish in December, reversed its decision and voted not to join in the merger.

St. Andrew's, at 28 Prospect St., had voted against the merger in December, but changed its position and decided to join.

Rev. Peter E. Bushnell, senior missioner of the NCERM, said that St. Andrew's officials had participated in the planning process for the new ministry and he believes that they changed their minds during that process.

The new parish, which has yet to be named, will temporarily be located in St. Mary's Church at 383 Hazard Ave. while officials look for a new location, Bushnell said.

The parish will have almost 650 parishioners from Enfield, Somers, Suffield, and Windsor Locks, Bushnell said."

Notice any similarity? The ENS article and the Journal-Enquirer's article appear very similar. Almost word-for-word similar. The ENS article appears to credit the paper with but a few items, and the rest appears to be original content (hence the byline). Shouldn't ENS have credited the paper more directly, or noted more clearly that they reprinted most of their article? Or, is providing the link sufficient credit?

There appears to be similar commonality between parts of this ENS article by Mary Frances Schjonberg, and this article in the New Haven Register. So maybe this is an accepted practice and I am making a mountain out of a molehill.

Like I said - it may be nothing. I'm not trying to get anyone in trouble. I'm just asking.

All In All, You're Just Another Depends In The Wall......

Glenn Reynolds had this post, linking to a Don Surber post, about the failure of Live Earth to generate much interest. Puts things in perspective for me, as The Wall is pretty much my favorite album of all time.

But I think the point he is making is a good one. The Boomers believe that music, their music, changed the world. It did, but not in the way they think it did. (It gave us the Bee Gee's and Pol Pot. And in the plus column, Ronald Reagan.) Some Boomers seem to believe that if they go back to their '69 playbook they can do it all over again. We have a war, they reason, an evil Republican President, and global calamity just around the corner. (In 1969 it was the "population explosion") Well folks, this ain't 1969. We have more TV channels than many Boomers have hairs on their heads. People are applauding soldiers in airports, not spitting on them, and we know that Paul Ehrlich's theories were a joke. The kids these days are tuning in to their own iTunes playlists, turning on their computers, and dropping out of the New Establishment paradigm. Yes, Boomers, you are now the New Establishment. (Hurts, don't it.) You are not young, hip, and "with it" anymore. (Do the words "Al Gore" and "hip, cool dude" go together? Didn't think so.) So act your age, fer Chrissakes. A few more people might take you seriously.

(Since I was born int 1959, I guess that makes me a Boomer, too. But I came of age politically in the late 1970's / early 80's, and from that perspective I saw the 60's as a path to disco and the killing fields, not a heroic experiment. Plus, in 1983 I visited East Germany - the 1984 world to which many 60's folks romantically aspired - and it made me ever thankful that <queue Riddley Scott commercial> our 1984 was not like 1984.)

10 July 2007

First Rule Of Politics: Keep Your Pants In The Upright And Locked Position.

I just picked my jaw up off the floor after reading this.

David. How could you?

I will say this in his defence - at least he admitted his wrongdoing and has asked for forgiveness. Better than another politico caught in a similar situation......

09 July 2007

Mission: Unclear.

The Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, The Rt. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, gives some Episcopal missionaries a pep talk. Sort of:

“I met recently with a group of appointed missionaries of the Episcopal Church. They gathered for 10 days in New York for orientation before leaving to do mission. It was an enormous privilege to meet them and see their energy and enthusiasm (which means "filled with God") for this adventure.”

I think we have our new slogan: “The Episcopal Church: It’s not just a job – it’s an adventure!”

“We had an opportunity for conversation, and one young man shared his concern about how to understand the Great Commission, particularly the directive to baptize, especially in a multifaith environment. It was a wonderful question that engages us all at one level or another.”

The Presiding Bishop chooses “another.” And elaborates.

“How do we engage in evangelism, and particularly in the specific directives of Matthew 28:19-20? Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age."

How about by doing just that, Kate+? Seems pretty cut ant dry to me. (But then again, I’m not very bright - I’ve only read one book by Jacques Derrida.) Are we really sending out missionaries to witness to our Faith who have a “concern” about, well, being a witness to our Faith? Apparently so. But our Presiding Bishop whips out some “context” to deal with the matter.

“This passage marks the end of Matthew's Gospel, and its explicitly Trinitarian language should make us aware that it probably reflects the practice of early Christian communities, some time after the death and resurrection of Jesus.”

And we all know how superstitious, bigoted, anti-feminist and homophobic those early Christian communities could be. So this Baptism thing is not a big deal - it’s sooo yesterday. It’s easy to get around it if you rephrase the question, so Kate+ does just that:

“Yet the question remains: How do we respond to this sending of the disciples, in which we understand all Christians participate, into a multifaith world?”

Well, by letting them know what their mission is, for starters. I thought the Great Commission the very basis for mission work, but again, I must be showing my ignorance. Kate+ says we are a better church than all that pushy making / baptising / commanding stuff:

“If we believe that Jesus' saving work is for the whole world, that should relieve some of our immediate anxiety. He is pretty clear that he is not here to judge the world, but to love the world and invite all into relationship with Love itself (John 12:32 -- And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself -- and John 12:47 -- I do not judge anyone who hears my words and does not keep them, for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world). Judgment comes at the end of time, and until then you and I repeatedly are urged not to judge others.”

So the foundation of mission work is to not be judgmental, because judgments are bad. Unless someone is trying to “steal Church property”, then a judgment or two is pretty swell, huh Kate+? (Especially when affirmed by a higher court ruling in your favor. Yessiree.) The Great Commission does not judge, Kate+, so what’s with all the anxiety? It calls us to spread the Good News of Christ Jesus to draw the world to Him. That is why you are sending these missionaries, isn’t it, Kate+?

“Yet the ancient question remains: Is baptism necessary for salvation?”

Are you saying now that Baptism isn’t needed to be a Christian? If so, what’s the necessity of the uber-authoratative Baptismal Covenant? Can we ditch that now?

“Theologians have wrestled with this in a number of ways and made some remarkably gracious and open-ended responses. Vatican II affirmed that salvation is possible outside the church, even though some statements by Roman Catholic authorities in years since have sought to retreat from that position. Karl Rahner spoke about "anonymous Christians," whose identity is known to God alone. John MacQuarrie recognized the presence of the Logos or Word in other traditions.”

By “gracious and open-ended,” don’t you mean “saw it our way and were vague enough we could read into it what we wanted?” And since when did you start looking to those curia-loving Papists for inspiration? I thought you and the House of Bishops saw them as the ultimate threat. Vatican II did say some nice things about other faiths, but Rome had to clarify that after folks (like you) started seeing it as an “open-ended” response. Karl Rahner did, in his ‘Theological Investigations’, speak of "anonymous Christians.” But didn’t he use that term only with respect those who are practitioners of other faiths who were ignorant of the Gospel? Once the Gospel has been revealed to them, didn’t Rahner say they are no longer anonymous, - and their earlier faith was no longer valid? Rahner, it seems, saw Christianity as the exclusive avenue to God. Unlike you, Kate+.

“But the more interesting question has to do with baptism itself. Like all sacraments, we understand baptism as an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace (Catechism, BCP, p. 857). It is an outward recognition of grace that is both given and already present through God's action.”

Yes, it is. On that we agree. Maybe that is why it is important.

“When we look at some of the lives of holy people who follow other religious traditions, what do we see? Mahatma Gandhi and the Dalai Lama both exemplify Christ-like lives. Would we assume that there is no grace present in lives like these? A conclusion of that sort seems to verge on the only unforgivable sin, against the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:30-32).”

So to criticize Gandhi or the Dali Lama is now…….. blasphemy? I had no idea. Was that voted on at the last General Convention? Look, these two men do exemplify religious lives. And I respect them for it. But really, Kate+; aren’t we taking this moral relativism thing just a tad too far?

“If I believe that God is more than I can imagine, conceptualize or understand, then I must be willing to acknowledge that God may act in ways that are beyond my ken, including in people who do not follow the Judeo-Christian tradition.”

Acts in ways that are beyond your “ken?” I bet He acts in ways that are beyond your "barbi", too.

“Note that I include our Jewish brothers and sisters, for Scripture is very clear that God made a covenant with Israel. That covenant was not abrogated in Jesus. Scripture also speaks of a covenant with Abraham that extends to his offspring, including Ishmael. Our Muslim brothers and sisters claim him as their ancestor. In some way, God continues to act in the tradition we call Islam.”

I think we finally got the Presiding Bishop’s take on that Episcopal priest who is also being a practicing Muslim. It’s OK; we’re all related, you know. GROUP HUG!

“Well, if God is already at work in other religious traditions, why would we bother to teach, make disciples or baptize?”

I think that Rahner fellow you quote had an answer for that. See above.

”The focus of our evangelical work can never be imposing our own will (despite the wretched examples of forced conversion in the history of Christianity), but there is a real urgency to sharing the good news.”

Yeah, us Christians today are so ruthless when it comes to getting converts. (I was actually press-ganged at fifteen.) And so unlike those warm, friendly chats Islamic missionaries have used over the centuries to spread their faith, or in their dealing with the other “religious traditions” out there.

“Can you imagine not saying to another, "Let me introduce you to my best friend. I think you would enjoy getting to know him"? We are certainly not loath to do that when it comes to the latest movie or book or restaurant we've enjoyed, and unless we are leery of sharing, we will not stay silent long.”

No, I love to share. So have you seen ‘The Passion of the Christ”, Kate+?

“But let's go back to baptism. What is the urgency? It might be helpful to reflect on what we claim happens in baptism. We are washed, (usually) anointed, forgiven, welcomed as members of Christ's body, receive the Holy Spirit, initiated into the mysteries (welcomed to communion) and begin to take up life as a saint.”

What is the urgency?? It’s a Sacrament of the Church, Kate+, that’s what. You even said so earlier. What about the Eucharist? Is there any urgency there, or can we ditch that if there are enough votes at General Convention?

”We act in all those ways toward infants who are as yet largely unaware of what is happening to them, and we do it in a sense of eschatological hope that the newly baptized will grow into an ability to claim those promises for him or herself. However, we only baptize adults who are willing and able to claim that hope for themselves.”

That is because the parents speak for the child until the child can decide on their own. Back in the Dark Ages (say, 1971) you had to be at least 12 to be confirmed and receive Communion. You had to understand what it was you were doing, and why.

”The evangelical question has to do with free will. Should we, shall we, impose that on those who do not fully desire it? Maybe it would be helpful to recognize that baptism is not the goal, but rather relationship with God (or discipleship). We understand that to be a relationship in God's Word, whom we call Christ.”

No one is trying to impose anything on anyone, Kate+. Please. Are you implying that the Sacrament of Baptism is an imposition on a person’s free will? No, Baptism is not a goal. Eternal life through the salvation offered by Christ Jesus – that is a goal. And one worth preaching, through mission, without any concerns.

”Our evangelical work has more to do with the gracious recognition of God already at work in the world about us than it does with imposing our will on others. When Jesus says "make disciples," that has a great deal to do with inviting others into relationship with the God we know, particularly as we know God in Christ. I do not believe it has anything to do with forcible or manipulative conversion.”

I don’t like forcible or manipulative religious conversion, either, Kate+. You win more friends with honey then you do with vinegar. Or beheadings. That is why I support confronting Al-queda and their radical fellow travelers the world over, because I do not want anyone’s will imposed on others - I want others free to figure it out for themselves in peace.

”It has more to do with showing and telling, through word (Word) and deed, what it is like to know the gift of that relationship -- to demonstrate the unutterable attractiveness of that relationship so that another can not imagine anything more desirable. I do not believe it has anything to do with instilling or playing on human fear (which is, after all, one of the things we renounce in baptism).”

”How might our evangelical work be different if we began with the disciple-making part (the befriending we know in Jesus) rather than counting coup in numbers of baptisms achieved? It is the latter that has given evangelism a bad name through the ages. My sense is that our evangelical work is likely to be more gracious if we focus on how our own lives exemplify the actions we claim in baptism -- washing, forgiving, welcoming, demonstrating Holy Spirit, entering into communion, living as a holy one of God.”

With you there, Kate+. Sort of. I agree that words mean nothing if the example of deeds is not present. But in order to bring the Good News, people need to have it put into context (I know you love that word) of what we believe happens to those who turn away from God and are not reconciled to Him through Christ Jesus. And Baptism is the first outward and visible sign of the inner transformation that Reconciliation brings. If Baptism isn’t important, then when do we declare our renunciation of things like fear or evil? Couldn't we just let folks phone it in?

”Our very lives can be baptism, living water, new life born out of death, to those around us, even though they may not yet consciously claim membership in the body of Christ. Our understanding of eschatological hope is that, in the end, God will make right what is wrong or broken in this world. We are meant to live as though it is already happening.”

No Kate+ - our lives can be AN EXAMPLE of the transforming power of Baptism, but not the act itself. If that were so, why would we need priests, or Bishops, or…… Presiding Bishops? Or Church property? Can our very lives be, say, Absolution, too? Or can our very lives be Communion? These word games are so much fun, don’t you think, Kate? Too bad words mean things out here in the ignorant, have-to-look-up-the-meaning-of-“eschatological” world that most of us live in.

And for the record Kate+, I have done Episcopal mission work outside of the US. It was a transforming experience for me, and showed me the Power of God at work in the world more concretely than any experience I had in the past. I had NO concern about sharing, through Word and deed, the Good News of Christ Jesus with others.

The Heinlein Century.

I am a Science Fiction junkie. So is my wife. For me, it started when I first read 'Starship Troopers' ( I was 10), written by the greatest author of the genre, Robert A. Heinlein. Heinlein would have been 100 on 7 July, and some folks are taking this time to recognize his contributions. I think he would have appreciated this.

UPDATE: For those of you unfamiliar with Heinlein, and why he matters to more than just day-dreaming teenage boys, read this excellent piece by Brian Doherty over at reasononline.

06 July 2007

iPhone Update - On the Road Again.

(Note: I am exhausted and this review was dashed off pretty much stream-of-consciousness – so I reserve the right to “revise and extend” my remarks when I re-read it in the morning..)

We just got back from a two-day trip to pick up my son from camp. Most of the time was on the road - 500 miles there, and 500 miles back – so it seemed a good time to see how useful this new Apple gizmo is in the real world.

First, as a phone, it worked great. The reception was light years better than my old Treo, and it even held calls in the mountains where I typically loose reception. And the ability to talk to someone and access the PDF document they just e-mailed was nothing short of fantastic, especially since I could actually read the numbers on the document we were discussing by just zooming in.

Mail has been working OK, but I have noticed that it will download an e-mail header and only get the content after a bit. Can be annoying. Also, there does not seem to be a ‘Delete All’ for the Trash. At least, I don’t know where it is yet.

Internet is also OK, but since it uses Safari it has all of the little quirkiness Safari is known for. Such as occasional missing scroll bars in frames, ignoring some buttons, and getting testy with certain sites. It also started crashing suddenly (more about that, below). The ability to have several Web pages open at the same time made looking at weather radars and traffic reports along the way pretty easy. The EDGE network seems to have improved since I first got on last week, too. It may just be perception, but pages seemed to load faster.

As an iPod, ditto the phone. Worked great. No complaints.

Since we were on the road we put my favorite application, ‘Maps’, to the test. It did not disappoint. We were looking for the address and location of a general store in a small village in the mountains – a place few had heard of – so I typed in the store’s name, the name of the town, and the state. Within seconds I had a map of the village, the store’s phone number, address, and website (they HAD one!). Entered our current position, and I had directions to get there. Because you can zoom in on a map to pretty fine detail, getting round in two cities we had never driven in before was pretty painless. My wife and me started playing ‘Stump the iPhone’ while driving down the Interstate, and it didn’t miss once. We did notice that if you do not get specific about city and state, it appears to only search the area you have on the screen. Or give you places in Germany. Guys, get an iPhone and you will NEVER have to ask for directions again. Assuming an operational EDGE network, of course. (And you are looking for things in Germany...)

If you are going to use the iPhone extensively in the car, get a car charger – battery life to 20% charge with full-tie use was under five hours.

Now, I am going to say something I have never said in 18 years of owning Apple products: I am impressed with their product support. OK, I’m impressed so far. Yesterday, Safari started crapping out constantly, and the “Slide to Unlock” bar was sticking. So I called the Apple Support number expecting voice mail hell and at least 45 minutes on hold. What I got was about five voice mail questions, and about 90 seconds after that, I was talking to a real live human being. A friendly, real live human being. He told me how to solve the problem, and the iPhone was working again as advertised. I hope my experience was not atypical.

The bottom line is I (so far) do not regret my decision to buy an iPhone. It is pricy, yes, but you get what you pay for. And remember if you had to buy all of those components separately, they would cost just about as much. And they wouldn’t integrate as elegantly as does the iPhone.

04 July 2007

Only Three More Shopping Days Left.

For you Episcopalians out there, don't forget that this Sunday is 'Millennium Development Goals Sunday'. Really. I have no idea what it means exactly, but I know it must be important - The Millennium Development Goals, along with "full inclusion" and real estate, seems to be the main focus of our current Presiding Bishop. She's just crazy for them! (And not so crazy about that sin/salvation thing - much too.... limiting.)

I've read through the UN's Millennium Development Goals, and they are quite laudable. And like so much the UN puts to paper, utterly unachievable in anything other than a dream world. But I do not think achieving them is really the point. If it were, The Episcopal Church (tm) would be dumping tens of millions from the Church Pension Fund and other holdings into their realization. They're not, which should tell you something. I think the ultimate goal of the Millennium Development Goals is to be a another stick to smack the "rich" (prosperous nations living in freedom and democracy) for not helping the "poor" (starving nations living in authoritarian dictatorship). Take a look at Zimbabwe. In 1980, they could feed their nation and even exported foodstuffs. Now, they are a basket case ruled by a delusional strongman who has run the economy, and the people, into the ground trying to make socialism work. And somehow, our money will fix all that?? Giving a few million to Robert Mugabe's government wouldn't solve a thing; we've tried that already. So when they ask you to put a check in the collection plate this Sunday for the Millennium Development Goals, ask yourself this question: What would save more lives in Africa - giving a few million more bucks to an authoritarian government (or to an NGO who enables those governments to survive); or paying for a platoon of Marines in Darfur to stand between the starving local population and the government-sponsored Islamic radicals? Me, I'm writing a check to the USMC.

I think there is a bigger lesson here, too. Look at all of the "rich" nations who are prospering, and you will see something they have in common - a (mostly) free economy and an educated workforce. Hell, even the Communist Chinese figured out that Milton Freedman was a better economist than Karl Marx. Or Mao. In short, Capitalism works a damn sight better than Socialism at feeding and educating the people. (Compare North and South Korea.) If it didn't, we'd be the ones needing aid from Cuba, Zimbabwe, and North Korea. So if you really want to change the world Kate+, remember this: Give a man a fish (or a woman - I'm not trying to be sexist), and he will eat for a day; teach a man to make a profit at fishing and give him access to free markets, and he, and his family, and the families of those he employs, will eat for years.

The Fireworks Of Silence.

Seems I wasn't the only pereson that noticed the deafening silence after Michael Yon's report of a massacre in Iraq. From Michael's e-mail:

Please click to read an important "Update on Bless the Beasts and the Children."

"Bless the Beasts and the Children" is one of the most frequently downloaded--and commented on--dispatches for any 24-hour period since "Gates of Fire." Growing numbers of readers are becoming furious that mainstream media continues to mostly ignore a well-documented mass-murder, while some outlets persist in widely publishing stories known to have been fabricated. The update considers this controversy as it provides new and emerging details about the incident.

Glenn Reynolds has an interesting update.

02 July 2007

An Inclusion Too Far, Continues.

The Episcopal priest who became a Muslim - and remains in good standing as an Episcopal priest - got a bit more complicated. It seems she is not a priest in the Diocese of Olympia, Washington, but is canonically in the Diocese of Rhode Island. What the Rhode Island Bishop has to say about this remains to be seen. (The Bishop of Olympia had no problem with her, um.... apparent contradiction.) Since predictions seem all the rage, let me make another one: The Episcopal Church(tm) will take no substantive action with respect to this priest's new "spiritual journey". I mean, is there ANY discipline left in The Episcopal Church (tm)??? (Other than for those who oppose the "full inclusion" of women and gays, of course.) Kate+, please answer a question from a simple pew-sitter: If I was a devil worshiping, axe murdering, thief who cheated on my wife, could I still be an Episcopal Priest? If not, Kate+..... why not???

Here is a sermon by our "Muslipalian" priest, Anne Holmes-Redding. Note who she invokes:

"In fact, one of the historical positions in Christianity about Jesus's
relationship to God [held by Paul of Samosata, a 3rd-century bishop of Antioch] was that “Jesus was a man, but was sinless from his birth. The Holy Spirit was in him. He was united in will with God by his troubles and suffering. He overcame the sin of Adam and he grew in his intimacy with God”.

And who was this Paul of Samosata? Let's check Wikipedia:

"Paul was born at Samosata into a family of humble origin. He was elected bishop of Antioch in 260 but aroused controversy with his Monarchianist teachings. In 269, seventy bishops, priests and deacons assembled at Antioch, deposed Paul as bishop and elected Domnus as his successor."

In other words, Paul of Samosata was a heretic who was chucked out for saying that the Trinity was pretty much bunk, and that Jesus was not Divine - just a swell guy who was divinely inspired. And the Rev(?) Holmes-Redding invokes Paul of Samosata on......... Trinity Sunday.

The Rev. Richard Kew ruminates about this controversy far more eloquently than I can, so give it a read.

More on the Current Unpleasantness

Brad Drell is predicting that The Episcopal Church (tm) will - I hope you are sitting down for this one - reject the Draft Anglican Covenant. OK. Let me make an equally bold prediction: tomorrow morning, the sun will rise in the East.

Brad is right - the current leadership of The Episcopal Church (tm) has no intention of buying into ANY higher authority other than it's much idolized polity (peace be upon it), especially since the votes go their way now. The Will of God is what 50 percent plus one says it is. What a concept.

Massacre? What Massacre?

Michael Yon has another post up: Bless the Beasts and the Children. If you want to see what the 12th Century looks like in the 21st Century, read it all. And while you enjoy your July 4th holiday, remember that the massacre of an entire village is acceptable to our enemies, and appears to be of no newsworthy consequence to the American mainstream media. The deaths of innocent Iraqis only seems to matter to the the likes of the New York Times and CNN if Americans caused them. (Don't believe me? Go here.)

Warning: There are GRAPHIC images in Michael's story, so use your discretion.