Monday, April 17, 2017

The desire to save money on health care (as a nation) is the foolishest wind from the limbo of vanities, whence I would gladly return it.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Judgment of JonahThe Judgment of Jonah by Jacques Ellul
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The theological perspective of Jonah: a miracle play was strongly influenced by The Judgment of Jonah, by Jacques Ellul. I highly recommend this little book to all who want to understand the book of Jonah. Ellul's message is no less than this: the story of Jonah is a metaphor for the Gospel; the person of Jonah is both messenger and message, like Jesus; and Nineveh is the world and our hearts. So, thanks to the forgotten friend who first recommended this book to me.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Marriage?

Contrary to common report, the court did not change the definition of marriage in the recent Supreme Court ruling. That is ultra vires, beyond the powers of the court, or any court. Can the court make red into blue by declaring it so, or can it reverse the rotation of the earth by so ruling? What changed was the qualifications for obtaining a marriage license, a commodity provided by the state, enabling the couple to qualify for certain benefits provided by the state. The latter, though overlapping in one sense, has in another sense nothing whatsoever to do with the former.

So, be calm: marriage has not changed at all.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

What does science say

You will never hear me say or see me write, "Science says..." First I don't believe there is anyone named "Science", and even if there were, he would say, at most, "Such-and-such a theory stands unrefuted with the following supporting observations at this time," and never use the word "true" about a scientific statement. Second, what is held to be true is always a tentative conclusion. Scientific statements must by their very nature be falsifiable, and thus may be demonstrated to be false in the next instant.

The occurrence of "Science says..." or "Science has proven..." in a popular organ or a public debate virtually guarantees that what follows is untrue and probably a swindle.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Open letter to Ann Coulter


I confess to being slightly shocked to read how you question, even condemn, a calling that God has ordained. Dr. Kent Brantly did not go to Africa because it served his purposes or out of what you so contemptuously call "Christian narcissism." He was called to this work by the One Who leads the church in its mission to the world. If he is like thousands of others that have done similar things, Dr. Brantly only went after much prayer and receiving sufficient confirmation.

In deploying His people, God does not, I can confirm, consult the latest strategic white paper from prominent right-wing think tanks or the blueprint for action from the Republican National Committee. He deploys His people according to His wisdom and for His purposes.

What we have here is a clear demonstration of God's wisdom versus worldly wisdom. Do you seriously suppose that Dr. Brantly would have contracted his illness if God had not ordained that it be so? It is true that many, myself included, do not see how this whole episode advances the cause of the Kingdom, but we are assured that it does. (Rom. 8:28)

Can Christians make mistakes, and can churches make mistakes? Absolutely, yes. We all have the tendency to follow our own way rather than God's way. Fortunately, popes and preachers notwithstanding, the plan for the salvation of the world is not in any individual's or church's hands, but in His alone. Do Christians have mixed motives? Of course they do, but salvation means that God will take care that those problems do no harm.

We need to get this straight: 
    (1) Christianity is not an ideology; it is identical to following the way of Christ. 
    (2) Christianity leads not to wealth, health, and happiness, but to the Cross. 
    (3) The Kingdom (the collection of all those who are following Jesus as King) does not need any worldly form of success to be and remain the Kingdom. 
    (4) The future of the Kingdom does not depend on 
        (a) convincing people to follow any particular moral code, 
        (b) persuading people to adopt certain views about culture, or 
        (c) raising up leaders to convey this or that message to the surrounding cultures. 
    (5) America is not essential (or even necessarily useful) to the future of the Kingdom.

Jesus' Kingdom is not of this world, but it is in this world. Through the power of the Spirit (and no other way) it will prevail. We who are called to missions serve at His pleasure, wherever and for as long as He pleases. It might often be important sometimes to think about the "how" and the "how much", etc., but the "what" and the "why" are totally in His hands. (See, for instance, Jonah.)

The reason that so many self-proclaimed Christians are confused about the role and destiny of Christianity is that they have derived a political philosophy and ideology from Christianity and follow that. Naturally, this different "way" is sometimes at variance to God's way, and this leads to questions that have no satisfactory answers within the domain of philosophy or politics.

The simplest answer is that the Christianity of political and social collective action is an idol. With all respect to those who have dedicated to fighting a particular social evil, I would rather have one person preaching about Christ than ten preaching about the evils of drink (or whatever the cause d'jour is), even if the latter is more "effective," because the people's true need is Christ. If, in order to get the necessary attention of people in need, the church must first meet some physical or mental needs, so be it. 

By the way, I have nothing against good works and often seek to join in them. Also, I affirm that there is great benefit to exposing the world to God's wisdom. But these do not touch the world's fundamental need, though they may sometimes open doors. Furthermore, when these things are given to the world, they are expressions of the love of Christ, Who died that the world be saved.

One more point: Miss Coulter misuses Deut. 15:11. This command to Israel to care for the poor of their own land was like many other such commands, i.e., that Israel be distinct and an example to the surrounding nations. Israel was commanded to be separate from the other races and cultures so that it could serve as the light to the Gentiles and ultimately to harbor the Savior.

Christ erased all such borders. The church has as one of its charges concern for all the poor of the world. (Gal. 2:10) Like many another responsibility, the church does not seem quite equal to the task. Still, the Kingdom will ultimately overcome in this respect, too.

Christians in America need to drop the idol of political influence and start telling the world where true life, true freedom, true salvation come from.

Sounds foolish, doesn't it. All right, I will concede the point. Dr. Brantly is a fool. But I would rather be his kind of fool than yours.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Hackers complain about Healthcare.gov

    Dungeon, West (UBI) - Hackers around the world are complaining that they cannot hack the government's new Healthcare.gov website. It appears that government computers are to blame for the problems.
    One hacker anonymously complained, "I've hacked the State Department, the FBI, and the Pentagon, but I just cannot get into Healthcare.gov."
    Another anonymous hacker posted, "[Healthcare.gov] won't stay up long enough for me to get in. I get halfway in and then boom, it's down again. I can't be expected to hit a moving target. Frstrting. >:-( "
    In a curious tweet, another hacker complained about "denial of service." There has been no response from HHS on this issue. An industry spokesperson for underground hacker networks disparaged "this latest attempt by the administration to suppress free speech and a free Internet."
    Julian Assange, Edward Snowdon, and Angela Merkel did not return phone calls requesting comments.
    When a White House spokesman was questioned about the frustration of many hackers, he explained that the crashes are a security feature of the new website.

    No one contributed to this report.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The appearance of praying

Few actions of government are so amusing and yet so unsatisfying as the Supreme Court's attempt to deal with religion and public prayer. On the grounds of the establishment clause, they have managed to transform civic centers into culture-free zones and declared the high-school valedictorian to be agent of the state. One can only laugh.

The entire business concerning prayer in schools and elsewhere rests on the presumption that the law can discern prayer and distinguish it from all other activities. I deny this. The law makes no claim concerning the existence of a deity. In the absence of the belief in a deity, praying cannot be distinguished from another form of discourse, namely, talking to oneself. Even supposing the subject addresses the deity by name, an agnostic law cannot make the case that the subject is praying, as distinguished from talking to himself, without conceding the existence of that deity, which seems to give up the main point.

Now, this is more than a mere sophistry. It points to an area where the justice system is unfit to make a judgment. This used to be referred to as ultra vires, beyond the powers, of the court. Neither the term nor the idea is used much anymore, as the domain ultra vires has shrunk almost to invisibility in recent decades.

If the law cannot definitively discern the act of praying, then surely the law cannot be interpreted as forbidding the appearance of praying. If the court were to rule against talking to oneself, every doddering old man or pocket-protector computer geek (and I am both) would be in danger.