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Monday, May 23, 2005

Blogging Pause

Team Hammer will be moving their real life residence over the next few days, so there will be a blogging break until, probably, Thursday. By then the Nuclear Option will have been attempted. Whatever way it goes, I'll have some words worth tossing in the can about that subject.

Did you watch the Preakness? What a race! Giacomo made a game of overcoming the pundits to win it, but it was Afleet Alex's stumble recovery that made his win amazing. I'm not a horse guy, but the Kentucky Derby truly is the most exciting two minutes in sports. The Preakness and the Belmont Stakes aren't half bad either.

Go Yanks!

Saturday, May 21, 2005

The Firefighter Parables #6 - A Clarification and Conclusions

A Clarification:

A number of commenters have brought the ubiquitous, "Who are you/me/anyone to judge who is and is not a Christian?"

It is a good question - however, I do not advocate judging.

Judging is the declaration of guilt or non-guilt by a court of law with jurisdiction over the case at hand. Once a case has been judged, its decision is applicable and enforced under the laws of the land.

In the case of an individual's salvation, there is only one judge - Jehovah. God is the one who will tell you what your eternal fate is - not me or anyone who is not you, and certainly not yourself.

This set of parables is about discernment. An individual who is a Christian has two modes of dealing with other people. The one is to discuss spiritual things with other Christians which will help them, and you, to become better disciples. The second is to lead the lost to Christ. While both are actually pointing others toward Christ, the details are different.

We need to be able to discern for ourselves who is, and who is not, a Christian. Simply put, you can't disciple someone who is not a disciple. If someone is not saved in Christ, we cannot expect them to live for him in every way, or even attempt to. First, they must be saved.

These parables are designed to help explain how we discern who is where, and thus aid us in choosing our communication approach.


A summary of the five identifying features of Christians are:

1. Christians are often in the fellowship of believers (church). However, being in church does not make one a Christian.

2. Christians are familiar with the Bible and memorize key passages, as they are able and increasing over time. However, knowing the Bible does not make one a Christian.

3. Christians love others, in a way that brings others closer to Christ. However, loving others does not make one a Christian.

4. Christians are involved in works of helps, both as part of the church and as an individual. However, being involved in works of helps does not make one a Christian.

5. Christians tell others they are Christians. However, telling someone you are a Christian does not make one a Christian...even if that someone is your pastor, youth leader, or God in a prayer.

The purpose of the parable isn't to define what a Christian is or how one is saved. It is to demonstrate what real Christians do. If you think you are or were a Christian, and you were not engaged in any one of the five above states, you aren't a Christian and never were.

I know to many, especially in the evangelical circles that I inhabit, this is next to blasphemy. As a commenter pointed out, it is a faith that saves, and nothing else. However that faith, a faith that saves, drives us to these works. Examine what Jesus said about those who are saved:

Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.

-The Gospel of St. Matthew, Chapter Sixteen, Verses 24-25

Deny yourself, take up the cross, and follow Christ. That is not "say a prayer, now you're good! See you on the other side!"

Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it. He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me. He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward. And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.

-The Gospel of St. Matthew, Chapter Ten, Verses 32-42

Confession of Christ to others - required evidence. The result of following Christ - discord in families and among friends. Absence of service in your life - evidence of an absence of faith. The fellowship of believers - blessed. Works of helps - glorious.

And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.

-The Gospel of St. Matthew, Chapter Ten, Verse 22

The opinions of non-Christians of you - hatred. Falling away from the faith - evidence that faith was never there.

And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother. And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth. Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me. And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.

-The Gospel of St. Mark, Chapter Ten, Verses 17-22

It's not, "Say a prayer, and we're tight!" It's not, "Join my group of followers, and it is all good!" Instead, it is - Take an action. Step out in a radical way, because that is evidence of your faith for everyone to see.

Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are: Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity.

- The Gospel of St. Luke, Chapter 13, Verses 23-27

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

- The Gospel of St. Matthew, Chapter Seven, Verses 13-23

Clearly, not everyone who thinks they are a Christian, is. The parable of the sower makes it clear that it is not those who rejoice upon hearing the word, but are choked by the cares of this world, the allure of things and philosphies ungodly or by persecution, are not saved. It is only those who bear fruit through their faith that actually have it.

If we know that being in a firehouse doesn't make someone a firefighter; if we know that wearing a fire uniform doens't make you a firefighter; if, clearly, putting out a match with a garden hose doesn't make me a firefighter; if knowing firefighting regulations aren't enough to be a firefighter; and if merely saying you are a firefighter, by anyone's measure, doesn't make you a firefighter - why would we apply such a standard to Christians? Why do we think that going to church, or being nice, or giving money, or knowing the Bible, or saying we believe make anyone a Christian? Why is it the only label that has no real qualifications?

Because there are many who want to feel they are Christians, or were. It helps to salve their conscience or buttress their argument against Christ.

Denying yourself daily. The death of the old self. The dedication to Christ, in spite of and especially in the face of, persecution. Taking up the cross.

Why did Paul have to say, "I am not ashamed by the gospel of Christ"? If the gospel was, "Say a prayer, walk up an aisle, join the church, and everything will be great!" was the message, he would not be tempted to be ashamed. However a message that demands we die daily to our selves and live by faith is a hard message to hear.

And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?

- The Gospel of St. Luke, Chapter 9, Verses 23-25.

A message of an easy "Come to Jesus without any cost" is false. Jesus demands we give our lives to him. It is something that can be seen by anyone - but of course, only those who already follow Christ will know that you do those things for Him. Others will wonder why, and ask.

You'll be labeled a fundamentalist, intolerant, close-minded, and hateful. He did not come to bring peace, but a sword.

If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not him that sent me.

-The Gospel of St. John, Chapter 15, Verses 18-21

If you haven't been hated, if you are not looked upon as some kind of religious wacko by most, if you have never been mocked for the sake of Christ (not for your political beliefs!), then it is because you do not follow the one who was, and is hated and mocked Himself.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

- The Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans, Chapter Twelve, Verse One

(note - after this post has made its way off of the front page, it will be redistributed, with the Clarification becoming part of the intro post and The Conclusion remaining as its own)

Desecration - A Little Perspective

After seeing some lefties claim that Koran flushing was some sort of human rights violation, I fortunately ran across this perspective. A snippet:

Desecration? Don’t talk to me about desecration. You people eat desecration for breakfast on your corn flakes. You use your mosques and holy sites as munitions dumps, you use then as sniper nests. So what’s a little water on a copy of your holy text?

Via Carpe Bonum

Friday, May 20, 2005

Filibuster Showdown

I have to admit, I think the current "back room negotiations" are kind of cool. Isn't that how real decisions get made in a deliberating body?

That said, if the Dems don't want Frist's compromise, they aren't interested in defeating "extremists". Any "extremist" would be voted against by the seven Republicans involved in the talks. The situation is that the Dems want to say who goes and who doesn't. The filibuster is just the tool. The more coverage this gets, especially with Sen. Reid's "shutdown", the worse the left looks.

Also, the Dems wouldn't offer to confirm Brown, Owens and Pryor if they didn't fear the game was up. I say go for the big one! At this point, the Republicans only lose unless they try it.

The Firefighter Parables #5 - The Declaration

Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.

- The First Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians, Chapter Twelve, Verses 3-4

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

- The Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans, Chapter Ten, Verses 9-13

Say you are playing with your kids in the park, and you strike up a conversation with another person. You ask each other what you do for a living, and that person responds with, “I’m a firefighter.” At this point, you have to assume that the person really is a firefighter, for two reasons.

First, no one who is a firefighter would hide it. Firefighting is an honorable and respected profession – even admired. There is no logical reason for a firefighter to hide their career choice. Simply put, no firefighter is ashamed of being a firefighter. Second, we have no evidence to the contrary. While the person may be hiding their true profession of jewel thief for the time being, we don’t have any reason to doubt their statement. After all, we just met them.

Unfortunately, some people will say they are a firefighter when they are not. Why? Again, two reasons. As above, firefighting is a generally respected profession. The individual may want to either impress you or simply achieve a neutral position because, after all, who hates all firefighters? It’s a safe bet that if you tell someone you are a firefighter that you won’t earn their animosity.

Secondly, there simply are no negative consequences to just declaring you are a firefighter.

Christianity has a similar relationship with the declaration. No one who is a Christian would hide it (remember, this is a parable for the West). When asked what religion they are, no Christian would hide their faith. They may make a clarification of some portion of their denomination they are not in agreement with, or identify themselves by denomination instead of as a “Christian”, but no Christian is ashamed of being a Christian. Also, when asked in a casual conversation with someone in the park, we have to believe them when they say they are Christians.

However, there are many who will say they are Christian when they are not. Why? First, it is an acceptable thing to be in society. You are unlikely to meet a clearly negative reaction if someone asks what religion you are, and you say, “Methodist”, “Baptist”, Catholic” or “Christian”. Most will nod and smile in reaction, and perhaps a perfunctory comment if they are familiar with some detail of that denomination. In fact, if one responds with “Christian”, they are likely to receive a question asking them to clarify denomination – not that it will really affect the conversation, but it seems the thing to do.

There also are no negative consequences to claiming you are a Christian. It won’t get you fired, imprisoned, killed, or even mocked. Merely claiming to be one will not result in any negative consequences.

Thus, we have a familiar situation: All Christians declare themselves to be such, but everyone who declares themselves a Christian is not.

Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

- The Epistle of St. James, Chapter Two, Verses 19-20

Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

- The Gospel of St. Matthew, Chapter Seven, Verses 13-23

Next Time: A Clarification and Conclusions

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

The Firefighter Parables #4 - Fighting Fires

If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

- The Epistle of St. James, Chapter Two, Verses 15-17

In brief, firefighters fight fires and help fire victims. That seems to be ridiculously obvious – but bear with me as I’ll go into some detail.

Firefighters don’t just magically appear at a fire and fight it. There is a kind of process involved. First, they aren’t just walking around the streets themselves, hoping to wander into a block of homes that happens to have a fire in it. No, instead they wait for notification from the source – whether it is the fire house alarm or a remote notification. Both are valid methods of discerning where the fire is that needs fighting. Other methods (such as randomly wandering, listening to the scanner or watching the news) will be ineffective at best, because they might just happen to be in the right place one time out of 100, and counterproductive at worst, as someone who is using such methods may go to the wrong place when they are needed for firefighting elsewhere.

As an aside, a firefighter who finds a fire in need of fighting by chance, when they are not seeking it, will fight the fire there with the tools they have available. Why? Because firefighters fight fires.

Not only do firefighters get notified from the right sources, but they also aren’t notified to fight fires that are not worth their effort. When a six alarm fire is in progress, no firefighters are dispatched to put out a charcoal grill in the yard. Also, because tough fires are present at any time, firefighters are seldom, if ever, dispatched to fight charcoal grills. (Again, a firefighter who happens past an out-of-control charcoal grill will probably grab a garden hose , dirt and a blanket and put it out – that’s just not what their job as a firefighter is).

Lastly, when a fire is burning that needs firefighters, available firefighters from that precinct are present, fighting the fire. They aren’t at Wendy’s or Waffle House, or picking out clothes at JC Penny. When the firefighting unit is in action, those on duty are there.

Christians are active in ministry. Ministry has a wide range of options, and the ministry the Christian is in should be the one their gifts best enable them to minister.

Like the firefighter, the Christian has two correct sources of ministry guidance – the collective ministry they participate in as a church is the first. Assuming that the ministry is one that is dedicated to edifying believers, glorifying God, works of compassion or reaching the lost, the activities of that ministry are bound to be solid sources of direction for ministry work, especially with that ministry group. All Christians need to be involved with some kind of ministry – not because I say so or TD Jakes says so or even because St. James says so – but because the love of Christ constrains us to (2 Corinthians 5:9-14). We do it because we burn to minister, we yearn to edify, glorify, help and lead to salvation. Collective ministry is a hallmark of the Christian life, but it is not the only way we find our correct ‘fires’.

The second source is the Holy Spirit himself, who lets us know, in no uncertain terms, when we are to act and help an individual or witness to them. Like that remote radio, the Holy Spirit never forces us into action – but he is clear in his guidance for us at that moment.

Unfortunately, much more than firefighters, Christians attempt to fight fires without notification from either source. Again, this ranges from ineffective to counterproductive. Not seeking the Spirit’s leading and not being in a collective ministry won’t keep you from stumbling upon those in need – but, by and large, it will not happen at the right place and time. Worse, it can be a waste of time. Think of all the ‘good ideas’ we have that don’t work out! Also, it can be downright dangerous. We have all heard of the preachers who are vacationing, and a firewalker does his trick, and gets the vacationers to do theirs. The preacher declares that he doesn’t need the firewalker’s false gods to walk, because he has Christ…and promptly receives 3rd degree burns on his feet. If the Holy Spirit does not clearly tell us that we are to fight this particular battle, we should expect to lose.

The conclusion is this: Christians are active in collective and individual ministry. The nuance may vary, but ministry is a requirement of the Christian through the driving force of Christ in our lives and the Holy Spirit in our hearts. Of course, being involved in a ministry doesn’t make one a Christian, either, so everyone in a ministry of helps or service isn’t a Christian. Just like anyone can put out the charcoal grill, anyone can participate in helping others. Really, people that are not firefighters can help out with much larger fires. However, the firefighters are the ones in the midst of the hottest fires - the ones that are too hot for the majority of non-believers to handle, because souls are in the balance. It is here that the Christian is found, full of the Holy Spirit, leading the lost to Christ.

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.

- The Gospel of St. Matthew, Chapter Twenty-Three, Verses 27-28

For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

- The Fifty-First Psalm, Verses 16-17

Christian Carnival, 18 May

It's up at A Penitent Blogger. I'll update later with some of my favorites. Go find your own, too!

UPDATE: Here are my favorites from this week:

Cerulean Sanctum: The Chthonic Unmentionable

Dadmanly: Biblical Illiteracy

PlaidBerry: Shaking the Foundations of a Fragile Faith

Crossroads: Preaching to Believers or Non-believers?

Beneath the Dirty Hood: Internals

A couple others are good, too, but the list is long enough. Check 'em out!

The Firefighter Parable #3 – The Uniform

By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
-The Gospel of St. John, Chapter Thirteen, Verse 35

We love him, because he first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.

-The First Epistle of St. John, Chapter Four, Verses 19-21

One of the first ways that we think we can identify a firefighter is by their uniform. Think about it – how does a child do a firefighter impression? He puts on his fire hat!

Although there are certainly variations by precinct or district, firefighter uniforms have obvious similarities. They all have helmets. These helmets have larger bills in the back than in the front, and the front will have identifying information about what firefighting unit the wearer is in. Firefighters wear gloves and boots – and we aren’t talking about red and white Timberlands or Fubus. They are heavy boots that are at least below-the-knee high. Firefighter pants are long, thick and held up by suspenders. The coat of a firefighter also can have some variations, but it is always long, fastens with snaps and/or clasps (not zippers), and has some reflective properties.

The variations are usually color, placement of reflective material, and unit distinctive insignia. None of the variations significantly influence the performance of the firefighter.

Unfortunately, none of the observable elements of the firefighter’s uniform tell us whether the uniform is real. Real firefighter gear (coat, gloves, boots, pants) include significant amounts of Nomex or Aramid fibers, which are fire resistant. The helmet, in addition to being shiny and shaped a certain way, is made of Kevlar or another aramidic material that is strong and heat resistant.

As the appearance of the uniform doesn’t not give us an indication of the uniform’s actual construction, it is pretty easy to trick people into thinking you are a firefighter. Realistic Halloween costumes are available and very convincing. If I saw someone with a uniform that met the visual description above, I would initially think they are a firefighter. The only way I would know if they were not (assuming I only have access to their uniform) would be to see if the uniform is made of the right materials – which can be determined through touch…assuming I know what a firefighter’s uniform feels like!

Of course, someone can get a real firefighter’s uniform and trick us that way. There is, however, a place where only a firefighter in a real uniform goes – a burning building. No one in a firefighter costume would enter a burning building and try to save people, nor would someone who simply has a uniform. Thus, in order to discern if a person is a firefighter by their uniform, you need to either be familiar with the feel of the uniform to know it’s composition, or you need to be in a burning building. The former is preferred. Either way, it would not be the appearance of the uniform, but its construction, that makes it a real uniform worn by a real firefighter.

The uniform is the most easily faked identification for firefighters. Those who are not firefighters can’t tell if someone is really one or not (with varying degrees depending upon their knowledge of real firefighters). Those who are real firefighters can only tell by getting close enough to discern the materials.

What is the uniform of a Christian? Well, some things come to mind with that phrase. A Bible. A Bible cover. A WWJD bracelet. A VeggieTales shirt. A Jesus fish on the car. An angel pin on your lapel. A Stephen Curtis Chapman CD…or seven. Praying hands on your desk. A Prayer of Jabez bookmark. The Left Behind Series. The Purpose Driven Life.

Lots of Christians have these things. Are they the uniform? Yes, and no. They are uniforms in the same way that the fire hat is. When you see someone with it, you think, “firefighter”. However, these things are just the shape, sheen and insignia on the hat, not the material.

How about conduct? Christians show their faith through love, right? Isn’t that the verse, they will know we are Christians by our love? That love for our fellow man is like the design of the coat – it has to be a coat that covers us, or it isn’t a real uniform. However, there are lots of covering coats, and lots of compassionate and understanding people who are not Christians.

What is the uniform of the Christian? Like the Aramidic materials in the uniform, cannot be seen from the outside. The uniform of the Christian is the love for others born of the Holy Spirit present in their hearts and lives. However, someone who does not know what the Holy Spirit feels like could be easily deceived, just as we can be easily deceived by fake firefighter outfits. That is a big reason why non-Christians think there are so many Christians. They see the trappings of Christianity with someone, and don’t know what to really look for. Additionally, those who never get close enough to feel that material can’t tell that the uniform is a fake, even if they know what it should feel like. That’s how televangelists swindled thousands and some church leaders, who are also not Christians, mislead many today.

Also, the best lie is 99% true. A uniform that is perfect in color, weight, shape and size will fool most people, even those who should know better. The same applies to Christians, who can be deceived by someone who says the right things, seems compassionate and loving, goes to the right places and seems to know their Bible and its application. All that, without the love born of the Holy Spirit, is a lie.

In burning buildings, it is evident who the firefighters are. However, we are not in a burning building. Where are the spiritual burning buildings? Sudan. North Korea. China. Saudi Arabia. Pakistan. Indonesia. No fake Christian walks around there – because those who claim to be Christians are killed or imprisoned.

In summary – Christians love others. That love isn’t like, and it sure isn’t lust, and it isn’t a grandfatherly “whatever makes the kids happy” love. It is a love helps those in need and that wants, demands and helps those we love strive to be the best they can, and not remain in mediocrity of spirit. However, just because someone is kind, compassionate and loving doesn’t mean they are a Christian.

And that Jesus fish? The Nomex works with or without it. After all, smoke jumpers' helmets don't look like firefighters' helmets at all - but they are.

For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
- The Gospel of St. Matthew, Chapter Twenty-Four, Verse 24

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Sesame Street Review

For those of you who may find yourself similarly unemployed and spending time at home with the kids…

Sesame Street is a fabulous show for the 18 month to 6 year old crowd. Some worthwhile notes:

The first ten minutes of Sesame Street aren’t interesting to kids or adults. 18 month olds, at least, only start paying attention when Cookie Monster shows up at 15 minutes into the action. He is followed by Ernie and Bert and the Count. There is another, short lull until the part 19 months olds love – Elmo’s world. Elmo gets a lot of screen time – the largest segment of any character. Elmo is fairly annoying to adults. Finally, Oscar makes an appearance near the end of the show.

Many Sesame Street characters are made with parents in mind, I am convinced. Personally, I find Cookie Monster and Oscar hilarious. Cookie Monster uses advanced language with a few grammatical errors. On the one hand, he says, “Me Love cookie!” On the other, he states, “Let’s be realistic. We all know that me will eat this cookie. Perhaps me should use my imagination.” He also eats random things which may or may not look like cookies (including flowers, teapots, etc). Furthermore, he is the only character with googly eyes – the kind that jiggle all around when he moves. Everyone else’s eyes are stationary. Also, his googly eyes are never synched. Simply a riot.

Oscar is entirely made for adults. No kid really appreciates a green monster in a trash can who tells kids to “scram” and “get lost”. I like Oscar because there are times when I feel like him and want our kids to scram. His sarcasm is unique among the critters, with the exception of occasional sarcasm by Bert.

Summary – Don’t turn on Sesame Street until 15 minutes in. Walk away during Elmo’s world, for your own sanity (you know it’s almost over when he says, “Now Elmo will ask a baby”). Catch Oscar at the end for a laugh. By the way, some of the old skits and cartoons (like for numbers and letters, and some songs (C is for Cookie, Rubber Ducky)) still show up, 25 years after I saw them as a kid. That is endearing in itself.

I still don’t like Grover.

The Firefighter Parable #2 – Firefighting Procedures

Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart…Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments. I will praise thee with uprightness of heart, when I shall have learned thy righteous judgments. I will keep thy statutes: O forsake me not utterly. Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes. I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways. I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word. Princes also did sit and speak against me: but thy servant did meditate in thy statutes. Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counselors. Teach me, O LORD, the way of thy statutes; and I shall keep it unto the end. Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart. Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight.

-Excerpts from the 119th Psalm.

An important aspect of any job with risks is the education of the member and their knowledge of the procedures (to include memorizing emergency procedures), regulations and equipment standards. For firefighters, who deal with literally hot situations, it is even more paramount.

Equipment standards and methods of inspection are critical. Firefighters have to be able to examine their equipment to discern whether it is serviceable. That’s important because if their equipment fails, they or a fire victim may be injured or even killed. Obviously, with the amount of equipment they have at their disposal, they can’t memorize those standards. Instead, they have to be familiar with the regulations in order to best be able to quickly access the information necessary and use it. Clearly, they can’t stumble around checking random books and accomplish their tasks efficiently! Familiarity with the regulations is practical and necessary for firefighters.

The other half is emergency procedures. Unlike regulations, firefighters cannot go grab the written emergency procedures when an emergency rears its head! Instead, they must be memorized, in some cases memorizing, word for word, multiple steps of a procedure: ruptured hoses, ladder failures, air hose failures, building collapses, water loss, blocked exits, etc. In cases such as these, the firefighter must be able to immediately recall the necessary emergency procedure in order to ensure the survival of themselves and the victims they are rescuing.

Remember the others in the fire house? There are others who are familiar with the regulations and emergency procedures besides firefighters. Inspectors, investigators, administrative personnel, and firefighter wanna-be’s. Many are even more familiar with the regulations and emergency procedures than the firefighters are!

Thus, as with the fire house, we have two important facets of firefighting regulations and procedures. First, firefighters are familiar with regulations and have memorized emergency procedures. Second, everyone who is familiar with the regulations and has memorized emergency procedures is not a firefighter.

The parallel is clear with Christians. Like firefighters, they must be familiar with their regulations and memorize critical texts. In this case, both are functions of the Bible (there is a place for church history/tradition in the “regulations” portion as well). Christians have to be familiar with the Bible – its order, it’s general content of the books, the locations of longer texts that are rich in usefulness. People who don’t know how to find the basics in the Bible are not Christians (we are assuming freedom of religion here – this wouldn’t be true in a country or culture that persecutes Christians).

Furthermore, Christians have to have scripture memorized – beyond Genesis 1:1 and John 3:16. When David wrote, “Thy Word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” he was only giving one reason to memorize scripture – the preparation to resist temptation. We also need to memorize scripture to be able to apply it in rapid thinking situations where it is necessary – a church council or public meeting event. Perhaps even more important is the need to be able to know the scriptures relevant to witnessing to others about Christ. Failure to have scripture is failure to know the emergency procedure, and not only is a recipe for failure, but is evidence that the person is not a Christian.

Finally, Christians have to believe the entire Bible. Picking and choosing which parts to believe is as foolhardy as firefighters picking and choosing which procedures to learn and which to blow off. Both lead to death.

Unlike firefighters, who have to know the emergency procedures to become a firefighter in the first place, Christians certainly have a progression in this area. But, if someone claims to have been a Christian for any length of time and has not memorized some scriptures, that person is not a Christian.

Again, there are those who know the Bible very well. They know their church history, they know their traditions and doctrines, and they have memorized scriptures. However, that does not make them Christians any more than going to church does. Sadly, there are even pastors and priests who fit this category.

Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other Scriptures, unto their own destruction.

- The Second Epistle of St. Peter, Chapter Three, Verses 14-16

The relationship of the Christian to the Bible is also worth getting right, and worth remembering when discerning who is, and who is not, a Christian.

Monday, May 16, 2005

The Firefighter Parable #1 – The Firehouse

Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

- The Acts of the Apostles, Chapter Two, Verses 42-47

One of the identifying characteristics of a firefighter is that they live in a firehouse. Of course, they don’ t live there 24/7, but when they are on-duty and/or on-call (some on-call firefighters are also on-call at their homes). Still, they spend significant time there. It is the home base for all of their collective actions. It is where they are often notified of a fire most efficiently, since they are all present. Their presence in the firehouse makes their reaction time faster, communication better, and adds flexibility because of the availability of resources and other firefighters. Firefighters prepare to fight fires in the fire house, and after they have fought a fire, return to the firehouse to recuperate, heal, laugh away the stress, and get ready for the next call.

Clearly, to be an effective firefighter, one would have to be in the firehouse often. Most firefighters are there at times even when they are not on duty or on call, just because they are a tight community of people, who enjoy being around each other.

There are other people who are in the firehouse at times. Some are people who live or work near the firehouse, and like the company of the firemen, so they visit often. Some are people who respect the values of firefighters, and they stop by on special days that honor firefighters. Some are kids who run around, climb on the fire truck and chase the fire dog. The firefighters’ families and girlfriends or boyfriends are around a lot, too. There are even a few firefighter groupies, who wish they could be firefighters, but don’t want to go through the training or risk their lives. They hang around the firehouse and many of the friends of the groupies think that the groupies are, in fact, firefighters.

Therefore, there are two important facts relating to the discernment of firefighters and non-firefighters. First, firefighters spend significant time in the fire house. No one who is a firefighter would avoid the firehouse altogether or even only stop in for an hour a week. Second, everyone who spends time in a firehouse is not a firefighter. Many times, non-firefighters will outnumber the firefighters in the firehouse, particularly if it is a special event or the weather is nice (which encourages the locals to be out of doors and visit).

Similarly, there are two important facts regarding Christians and the church. First, Christians spend significant time with the church (I do not mean to insinuate it must occur at a location, but is a gathering of Christians), for reasons similar to those of the firefighters. No one who is a Christian would avoid the church altogether. Second, everyone who goes to church is not a Christian. Many times, non-Christians will even outnumber Christians in a church, especially if it is a holiday.

For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.

- The Acts of the Apostles, Chapter Twenty, Verses 29-30

The relationship of the Christian to the church is worth getting right, and worth remembering when discerning who is, and who is not, a Christian.

The Firefighter Parables

I am doing a series that looks to be six posts long, including this one. It might not be continuous. I’m calling it the Fireman Parables. Why it is called that will be evident soon enough. I should have a Biblical verse set for every parable, but the one that is over all of them will be this one:

What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.
Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

-The Epistle of St. James, Chapter Two, Verses 14 to 24.

It is not the works that save, but they are evidence of the saving faith. This is a hard saying, but lack of works is typically evidence of a lack of faith…but works do not mean that faith is present. However, because one doesn’t see faith, this is kind of hard to elucidate. Therefore, I will use something more clearly evident to most people to attempt to be clearer than I would otherwise be able – the firefighter.

Parable #1 - The Firehouse
Parable #2 - Firefighting Procedures
Parable #3 - The Uniform
Parable #4 - Fighting Fires
Parable #5 - The Declaration
Parable #6 - Conclusion

Team Hammer via Google

One of the neat functions of Blog Patrol is that it shows what search engine terms resulted in hits on your site. Here are a few of my favorites:

"Awesom Blog Header". Since I made it, I'm flattered. Obviously, this was not the CPF's chosen descriptor for my site.

"Butt pie nanny". I have no idea what those three words together can be geared towards. For whatever reason, I get a lot of hits like that.

"Tuesday God". I get the most from this and variants. Theology Tuesday must be unique.

"my responsiblity was". I am all for personal responsibility, but if you don't know your own, you won't find it through Google.

'"Hammertime"+"video"'. I'm in a video? I'd better check this one out myself. Hopefully I'm doing something cool, like smashing boards with my fists. More likely, I am on some site that highlights horrible dancers.

Finally, we have "brady quinn gay". Don't ask, don't tell. Just win.

Time to Get Real

In case you haven't heard (I don't think Dan Rather will be covering it this Wednesday)

A Federal Judge has declared Nebraska's State Constitutional Marriage Amendment unconstitutional

On what grounds? That the "intent and purpose of the amendment is based on animus against [homosexuals]."

That's right, 70% of Nebraska's voters hate homosexuals, and is the only reason they voted it in. A judge said so, and they are not at all taken to making decisions based upon their own political ideas, then looking for actual legal reasons. "Hate" is apparently a legal reason - when the judge says you hate.

Attorney Brian Fahling of the Center for Law & Policy minces no words in his reaction to the Nebraska judge's words. "Not only is Judge Bataillon's assertion [that the amendment demonstrates animus toward homosexuals] demonstrably wrong, it is saturated with an all-too-familiar judicial contempt and antipathy for the moral norms of our culture," he says.

"We are no longer permitted to govern ourselves in the most fundamental areas of life. Instead, we are called names by un-elected judges who deconstruct our written constitution and our society with all the subtlety of a wrecking ball."

If you opposed a federal marriage amendment on the grounds that we shouldn't restrict the definition of marriage to its historical meaning, then we are so far apart that I can't change your mind. However, if you are one of those attempting to use "federalism" and "state's rights" to argue against it, it's time to give up that deceitful line of reasoning. No citizens of any state have a right to govern themselves without a federal judge's approval - that much is clear. If the 40 states with Defense of Marriage laws want to defend it, it will take the Federal Marriage Amendment to do it. The feedralist defense has been shattered.

Game On

The Yanks, who I previously wrote off, have won eight in a row and are back to .500 - a place I never expected them to be, because I thought they would be stomping everyone. Yes, that would be an example of wishful thinking.

Anyway, I am forced to pay attention to their progress now. Like all good NYY fans, we only like you when you are winning.

Tino Martinex is leading the team in homers. Tino Martinez. Something special must be happening, indeed.

Five Things I Don't Get

John over at the Catholic Packer Fan tagged me with this meme. I thought it would be hard, as I feared I am merely an automaton in the conservative-white-male-military-Vast-Right-Wing-Conspiracy. It turned out to be easy once I got started.

List five things that people in your circle of friends or peer group are wild about, but you can't really understand the fuss over.

1) Spike TV. OK, I don’t have cable, so this is a cop-out right away. A cable channel for men? Don’t we already have four ESPNs, History Channel, Discovery, A&E, and Sci-Fi? Silly, I think.

2) Low rise pants on women. Thankfully, Mrs. Hammer agrees with me on this one. Low rise pants are NOT attractive, ladies. They look weird, not because they are different (well, maybe a little bit of this), but because of the shape of the female figure. They don’t make you look more attractive…at least not physically. I do have some insight into this one because I ranted about it to a student, who bluntly stated, “Sir, girls in low-rise pants are ready for action.” There you have it – they make you attractive by loudly blaring your low moral character. Like many things, the perception is what matters, right or wrong.

3) SUV’s. They cost too much to buy, too much to gas up, too much to maintain and too much to insure. The benefit? Less cargo space than my minivan. I’m not too holy to be into status symbols (I did have 5k down on a BMW M3 before I met Mrs. Hammer, after all) – I’m just married with kids, and realize they don’t matter any more.

4) Beer. If it’s not Guinness, it’s crap. Maybe I’m some kind of beer snob, but beer is generally a waste of money and effort. (I don’t value getting shelled. Perhaps that explains my failure to grasp this). A downside of my career change is that my Guinness will likely become a thing of the past, as I wouldn’t want to offend a parishioner with something small like that. It’s unfortunate, you know, because “Toucans in their nests agree that Guinness is good for you…why not go ahead and see what one or toucan do?”

5) Strippers. I haven’t been in a strip bar in years, thank God. My Army pals used me to drive them to the bar, where I would leave them and go play video games on the laptop until they called for me to pick them up. Even when I went to such places in a bachelor party or some event, I wondered – why is this fun? Sure, she’s attractive and almost naked, but so was that woman in the dance club. Neither of them is going home with you…what’s the difference? I though Hooters was much more appealing, because there the waitresses pretend to like you.

I don’t go to Hooters anymore, either. A man has to know his limits.

I get to tag five people to do this meme themselves. How about…



Saturday, May 14, 2005

Missed some comments

It looks like Mark, DH, and some others went through some recent posts and commented, and I missed them. I'll get to those ASAP (although if a conversation has reached an end with your comment, I'll let it stay there. I don't need to have the last word!)

Friday, May 13, 2005

As Iron Sharpens Iron - Blog War?

I haven't posted in almost a week, for two reasons.

First, I have been finishing up my last week in the Army and my last week in my Master's program (this one, at least). Lots of work and little fun to be had.

The second is this - I have been reading, and responding a bit, to David's posts on, essentially, what to do when someone deletes your comments on a blog. He had three, here, here and here.

On the first, he asked my opinion on what I would do. Oddly enough (read the comments), it had happened to me in March. I didn't name the offender because I wasn't so sure they needed to be dimed out. The offender has revealed herself, and is not repentant. Furthermore, she has posted some snarky responses to my "Women in Leadership" series without linking to my posts or posting here. (She does claim a different source for her inspiration, but I'm feeling feisty).

If you read her posts, it is a cheerleader site. She only respects opinions that agree 100% with hers. Contrast this with Mark, David, or Robert, and you see the difference. Comments in opposition at the offending blog are considered "off topic" or "not about what Christ would do", or even "fighting amongst Christians" (the post my comment was deleted from). The last time I checked, Iron Sharpens Iron (Proverbs 27:17). If other Christians are not qualified to challenge our positions, then who is? I accept challenges from all comers. I don't even demand they be respectful, but here's the reason I don't need to - respect is tyically returned in the portion it is given. Snarky posts get snarky comments. I go heavy on facts, am respectful in opinion (usually...) and don't squelch dissenters.

Here's a shot of me after my black belt test:

Free Image Hosting at

Here's one of me, back in the day:

Free Image Hosting at

As you can see, I've been into combatives for a while, and I'll tell you this - you don't stay this pretty by fighting the other guy's fight.

In boxing, my fight is a points fight, not a knockout fight. This keeps me from getting smacked hard (generally) too often. I hate getting hit in the nose, and I don't want to get marked up. The method is a lot of stinging jabs to irritate the opponent into getting upset and stepping into a power punch (straight right-left hook combo is preferred). The system was fairly effective.

In martial arts, I do exactly the opposite. A lot more hard blows are thrown, so the best option is to devastate the opponent right away. Thus, my specialty is spinning kicks - the ones most likely to end the fight. With my long legs, this is pretty successful.

Jennifer's fight seems to be to sit outside the ring and yell at the opponent, claiming that they aren't good enough to fight her. She bashes fundamentalists (who I am not associated with), then uses that example to smear all conservative Christians.

If you want to discuss the issues, bring your logic to the table, and I'll bring mine. I'm standing in the middle of the ring, waiting.

But, if you want to have a cheerleading site where you only allow people to agree with you, then post it in the header. Us "thinkers and fighters" will stay away and will leave you to those who are entertained by cheerleading. We have hard thoughts to ponder, shape, and reconsider. After all, if I didn't have the few who post here to debate things with, I'd be back to talking about video games.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Charity, Materialism, and the best use of our money

David over at Contrarian Views has a series of posts on the subject that I think are incredibly profound. The short version:

It is better to spend our money than give it away - at least in large amounts.

Perplexing thought, especially from a professing Christian? I thought so. Check it out here which is actually part 2. Part 1 and Part 3 flesh it out.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Krugman - Still Gagging on his Cat

Over a quarter of a million jobs were added last month, and the previous month's estimates were revised upwards by over 90,000.

Unemployment remained at a low 5.2%.

I'm sure my pals on the lefty sites I stop by are dead silent on this.

Hat Tip: Ace.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

The Kent State Four

May 4th marked the 35th anniversary of the Kent State shootings. The left would have you believe that Storm Trooper National Guardsmen, at the orders of The Empire, shot peaceful demonstrators for no reason.

May 1st, 1970: Just before midnight the mob marched to the center of town, threw things at police, and began breaking windows. Among the victimized businesses were the City Bank, First Federal Savings & Loan, City Loan, Home Savings & Loan, the Captain Brady restaurant, Hickman Jewelers, W.W. Reed real estate, Ohio Edison, Revco drugstore, Thompson Drugs, and Getz Hardware. Somebody took a lawn spreader from the hardware store and heaved it through a window of the Portage National Bank. Sheriff's sergeant Tony Messina drew a broken collarbone, and four other police officers were injured. Seven students and seven non-students were arrested.

On the next day, Saturday, May second, Kent businessmen were receiving calls warning that if they did not put anti-war posters in their windows they would be burned out.

At 5:27 p.m. Mayor Satrom called for the National Guard.

That night, on schedule, the R.O.T.C. building was burned to the ground. The revolutionaries also set other fires, and the Kent Fire Department received about twenty-eight diversionary calls. Firemen arriving to save the R.O.T.C. building were bloodied with rocks, and the revolutionaries cut their fire hoses.

It is important to note that the report filed by the special state grand jury on October 16, 1970, found as follows: "We find that the rally on the Commons on Saturday, May 2, 1970, which resulted in the burning of the ROTC building, constituted a riot. There can never exist any justification or valid excuse for such an act. The burning of this building and destruction of its contents was a deliberate criminal act committed by students and non-students. Nor did the rioters stop with the burning of the ROTC building. They also set fire to the archery shed and moved from there to East Main Street on the front campus where they engaged in further acts of destruction and stoned the members of the National Guard as they entered Kent."

May 3: Hundreds of demonstrators tried to march downtown, and the Guard was sent in to drive them back. Here is the way it was, says Michener, according to Guardsman Carl Caldwell of Charlie Company: "We were taking abuse like you never heard before. I had to rifle-butt some of the tough ones in front of me. Beer bottles came at us and the man on my right was conked on the head. The fellow on my left had his helmet dented by a chunk of concrete."

The Akron Beacon Journal, of July 5, 1970, carried an article from the New York Times which says this: "Sunday night was a stream of pure violence. The sky was lit with fire, mostly from trees that had been doused in gasoline and then set ablaze. The Guardsmen found themselves the targets of an apparently ceaseless barrage of rocks, slag, wrenches, anything that could be thrown."

"One trooper caught a rock or a wrench in the face, smashing his teeth and upper mouth. His gas mask began filling up with his own blood, so that for a moment he couldn't breathe—before help arrived.

"Another recalls seeing a squad leader fall to the ground with injuries—'I think he got a broken bone'—in one or both legs. 'He's lying on the ground and this girl came up and kicked him in the groin and then kicked him in the face.' "

May 4th: The guardsmen were dirty, hot, and tired. John Simon, who was there as a Specialist Fourth Class, reports that they had slept in a gymnasium on a hard, wooden floor, and that the food was "lousy." They wanted to go home. But, as usual, there were rumors of still more terror to come, including numerous bomb threats. And more than a thousand demonstrators gathered once again on the campus, in defiance of an official order not to assemble. So, once again, the Guard was sent in to disperse them.

Students began throwing rocks at them, and chunks of wood studded with nails, and jagged hunks of concrete. Where did they get such missiles? At least two witnesses swear they saw girls carrying heavy handbags from which they distributed rocks to men students, and some photographs would seem to substantiate this charge. At a nearby construction site some students had picked up fragments of concrete block. And some of the students had armed themselves with bricks.

In an interview by Tony Tucci of the Cleveland Press, May 14, 1970, Lieutenant Colonel Charles Fassinger says this: " . . . I was hit a number of times, once with a triangular shaped rock seven inches on the sides and two inches thick. I returned and found that rock later, and gave it to the investigators." And Marty Ralbovsky reported for N.E.A. that "G troop, meanwhile, continued to be pelted with rocks. Slices of wood with razor blades partially inserted into them also were tossed into the middle of the Guard formation. One person came out from the crowd and ran after a guardsman, swinging a parking meter which had been uprooted from Main Street in Kent four days earlier."

And it is important to quote at length from the state grand jury report on the affair: "Fifty-eight Guardsmen were injured by rocks and other objects hurled at them as they moved across the 'Commons' to Taylor Hall Hill and down to the practice football field, and were then forced to retreat .... it is clear that from the time the Guard reached the practice football field, they were on the defensive and had every reason to be concerned for their own welfare .... The circumstances present at that time indicate that 74 men surrounded by several hundred hostile rioters were forced to retreat back up the hill toward Taylor Hall under a constant barrage of rocks and other flying objects, accompanied by a constant flow of obscenities and chants such as 'Kill, Kill, Kill.' Photographic evidence has established, beyond any doubt, that as the National Guardsmen approached the top of the hill adjacent to Taylor Hall, a large segment of the crowd surged up the hill, led by smaller groups of agitators approaching to within short distances of the rear ranks of the Guardsmen.

"The testimony of the students and Guardsmen is clear that several members of the Guard were knocked to the ground or to their knees by the force of the objects thrown at them. Although some rioters claim that only a few rocks were thrown, the testimony of construction workers in the area has established that 200 bricks were taken from a nearby construction site. Various students were observed carrying rocks in sacks to the 'rally'; others brought gas masks and other equipment from off campus in obvious anticipation of what was to happen. Rocks had been stockpiled in the immediate vicinity and cries of 'Get the rocks' were heard as the Guardsmen went onto the practice field. There was additional evidence that advance planning had occurred in connection with the 'rally' held at noon on May fourth."
Shortly before 12:30 p.m., while retreating under fire—a brick can be as deadly a weapon as a gun—the guardsmen suddenly wheeled at the corner of Taylor Hall and opened fire. Nine students were wounded and four were killed.

The question arises of why anybody would be so foolish as to throw rocks and bricks at close range at a military unit armed with M-1 rifles. And the answer can be found in a remark by Guard Captain John Martin: "Agitators had those kids believing we had blanks. Somebody told them that."

Of the four who were killed, one was a ringleader of the "peaceful demonstrators" - but another was actually in the Kent State ROTC.

Why did this happen? Mostly because the radical militant leftists pushed the students way too far, and the National Guard simply isn't trained to handle this sort of chaos.

History will only be repeated if liberals allow themselves to be manipulated by militant leftists again. Sit-ins, not rock-throwings, change things.

Sources: Wikipedia (here, here, here) and The John Birch Society

Christian Carnival 68 is up!

There are always posts of interests to just about anyone at the Carnival. I haven't had the chance to check them out yet today, but I'm sure there are some awesome posts. They are at (coincidentally) The Kentucky Packrat.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Theology Tuesday: Free Will

Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. These things I command you, that ye love one another. If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.
If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

The Gospel of St. John, Chapter Fifteen, Verses 16-19

A few years ago, I was the guest speaker at a church in a nearby town (my second appearance there). My message that day was “God is Pro-Choice”. No, I wasn’t advocating abortion, I was advocating free will. My theological explanation was not that God cannot interfere with our free will, but that he restricts Himself from interfering.

I used the example of Genesis – that God specifically tells Adam and Eve not to sin, but then they do. Clearly, God is all-powerful and all-knowing. Why would he tell them not to do something that He will make them do? My concept included a God who not only kept himself from interfering, but also kept himself from knowing what their decisions would be.

The old parishioners were not appreciative. They told me that “you’ll change you mind when you get older”; and so I have.

A few years later, I was struggling with one of the great theological questions – is it my choice or God’s? I went fishing with my pastor, and his answer was the one I have used since:

“I don’t know. If I have to choose, I would err to the side of God’s sovereignty. However, no matter what the answer is, every decision I make seems new, fresh, and without interference to me. Therefore, whether it is God’s choice or mine, I should live my life as if the choices are all mine.”

The fact is, there is support for both. Free will: the call of Christ to follow Him, the Genesis account, the well-known verse in Joshua to “choose this day whom you will serve, but for me and my house, we will serve the Lord”.

God’s will: The myriad OT descriptions of how a nation was “delivered into Israel’s hand” (or vice versa); the clear indications of how believers are “chosen” (2 Thessalonians 2:13 …God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:, 1 Peter 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light:)

One of the arguments I have head against the position of “God chooses” is “How can God choose for someone to do evil? If this were true, then God can’t be good. Since we know he is good, he must not choose for us to do evil.” While I am not arguing (yet) against our own free will, this argument is a fallacy. It is based upon two assumptions:

1) We know exactly what good is.

2) In order for God to be good, he must conform to our definition.

However, the Bible clearly states that For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. (Isaiah 55:8) Therefore, to assume that God must conform to our definition of good is foolhardy, because we cannot determine what good is for Him. On the contrary, he determines what good is for us!

On the other hand, Scripture also declares that we will be held accountable for our actions, Who will render to every man according to his deeds. (Romans 2:6) Does this mean that God would hold us accountable for actions He chooses for us?

I can recognize and believe that God is three in one without comprehending it. Isn’t this a logical contradiction? Similarly, I can believe that God is the author and finisher of my faith, but feel as if I have chosen to believe in Him. Therefore, I can believe in the logical coexistence of unlimited holy power and knowledge with a man’s responsibility for his own actions.

Is this a cop out? I don’t think so. I think it takes a measure of maturity to recognize that there are mysteries beyond my understanding. How so?

For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men.

The First Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians, Chapter One, Verses 19-25

Prediction of Misrepresentation

I haven't done my review of the news and blogosphere yet, so I could be wrong on this.

I listened to Focus on the Family this morning, and apparently there are two sets of protesters outside their offices. One is a homosexual group who refused to participate in a forum about their disagreements with Focus on the Family, preferring instead to create a one-sided media event.

This, by itself, isn't a big deal. People protest all kinds of things, and often to intentionally distort the debate in their favor.

What is a problem is the second protest group. What they are is as mean-sprited a group as the first. They are a group of anti-homosexuality protestors led by the "reverend" Fred Phelps. This is the joker who leads groups with signs that say, "God hates fags." To quote Dr. Dobson from this morning, "No He doesn't! God loves us all...heteroesexual sex outside of marriage and homosexual sex are both wrong, but God calls us to Him in love."

What is my prediction? Phelp's group will be called by most media outlets (and definitely the left side of the blogosphere) as "pro-Focus protestors", when they don't represent FOTF and conservative Christians any more than the KKK represents white people. I'll return to update this as my prediction is proven correct or incorrect.

UPDATE 1: Here is the Denver Post's preview of the event.

My favorite quote by "gay minister Mel White"?

"Dobson has become the primary source of misinformation about gay and lesbian people in the world," White said. "He is single-handedly doing more damage to truth than anyone else, in our opinion.

"I say he's the most dangerous man in America right now."

Just before BusHitler, that is. Anyhow, the Post does a reasonably fair job of telling who the protestors are. The coverage is very one sided, with the gay activists receiving 80% of the article.

UPDATE 2: The also properly discern who the protestors are. Like the Post, they give the gay group the benefit of the doubt (the arrested protestors are "two parents and their gay son" whereas a spokeswoman for Focus merely "describes herself as a former lesbian". Why wasn't the son a "self-described" gay man? Anyway, this one had a decent quote from Focus along witht he standard 80% given to the gay activists:

"We ask Mel White, 'Does his tolerance extend to people who want to put homosexuality behind them?' Mel White says 'No.' That's our basic disagreement."

There's the rub.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Star Wars, Politics and Philosphy

It's too late to post a long one, so here's a quickie.

There has been talk about how Lucas tried to tie this film into the current political situation, and how with lines like "Only Sith believe in absolutes" he was making political and or philosophical points.

Well, if that's true he did a crappy job. The Sith are complete moral relativists in the movie, and disdainfully call the Jedi "dogmatic" absolutists. Additionally, how the heck can you have a Dark Side of the force unless it is definitively evil - not relatively? How did evil sway the Republic except with a relativistic "peace by any means necessary" mantra?

I haven't read the books, but I'd wager that relativists come out on the short end of the stick in them. Yeah, those darn dogmatic Jedi knights/Republicans, being absolutely against killing children and all. "Only Sith believe in absolutes". Ho-kay.

Sam Jackson rocked. I had heard he dies before the movie came out, and was worried he was killed by a single bad guy in a fair fight. It didn't go down that way at all.

Hopefully Santa will get me the six-pack of DVDs for Star Wars. Then I'll be forced to read the least 7, 8 and 9.