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Thursday, June 30, 2005

What the Court Hath Wrought

What Hath the Court Wrought?

If there has never before been a series of rulings that scream for the appointment of constructionists to the court, there has been now.

I’ll give a quick summary, with a link, and the comments of a constructionist justice and a liberal justice to show how constructionists use the Constitution to determine if a law is constitutional, while liberals use, um, anything else.

First, it is now legal for the government to take property from one private citizen and give it to another private citizen. We’re not talking abut highways and military bases here – we are talking taking Joe’s Garage away from Joe and giving it to Red Lobster. I’m not a Locke or Jefferson expert, but I’m guessing that neither of them envisioned this.


“There is no allegation that any of these properties is blighted or otherwise in poor condition; rather, they were condemned only because they happen to be located in the development area.”

Apparently, condemnation is not governed by any rules, either, than by the will of those in power.

“Two polar propositions are perfectly clear. On the one hand, it has long been accepted that the sovereign may not take the property of A for the sole purpose of transferring it to another private party B, even though A is paid just compensation. On the other hand, it is equally clear that a State may transfer property from one private party to another if future "use by the public" is the purpose of the taking; the condemnation of land for a railroad with common-carrier duties is a familiar example. Neither of these propositions, however, determines the disposition of this case.”

Really? Proposition one sounds exactly like the situation at hand.

“we concluded that the State's purpose of eliminating the "social and economic evils of a land oligopoly" qualified as a valid public use.”

Get that? If you have too much land, according to the G, they can take it and redistribute it to whomever they want. This is actually a summary of a 1984 case, Hawaii v Midkiff. So, if they can take from the big guy and give to the little guy, why not the opposite? Apparently, according to our 6 most liberal justices, who are being honest, why not indeed? If they were going to follow previous case law, this had to be the result.

One of my favorite quotes (These above, and this, are all from Justice J.P. “I dig foreign law ay more than these stupid states’ laws” Stevens), and likely a favorite of Eric and Robert:

“Promoting economic development is a traditional and long accepted function of government.”

Riiiight. Only if traditional and long accepted begins with FDR.

Constructionist (and losing) retort:

“ Over two centuries ago, just after the Bill of Rights was ratified, Justice Chase wrote:
"An act of the Legislature (for I cannot call it a law) contrary to the great first principles of the social compact, cannot be considered a rightful exercise of legislative authority ... . A few instances will suffice to explain what I mean... . [A] law that takes property from A. and gives it to B: It is against all reason and justice, for a people to entrust a Legislature with such powers; and, therefore, it cannot be presumed that they have done it." Calder v. Bull, 3 Dall. 386, 388 (1798) (emphasis deleted).
Today the Court abandons this long-held, basic limitation on government power. Under the banner of economic development, all private property is now vulnerable to being taken and transferred to another private owner, so long as it might be upgraded--i.e., given to an owner who will use it in a way that the legislature deems more beneficial to the public--in the process. To reason, as the Court does, that the incidental public benefits resulting from the subsequent ordinary use of private property render economic development takings "for public use" is to wash out any distinction between private and public use of property--and thereby effectively to delete the words "for public use" from the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment. Accordingly I respectfully dissent.”

From Justice S.D. “ceremonial deism” O’Connor, who, oddly enough, voted with the majority in Hawaii v Midkiff. Note how she uses the exact words from the Constitution that are ignored by the liberal block. O’Connor is not a constructionist, but she has moments of sanity.

“Two months later, New London's city council gave initial approval for the New London Development Corporation (NLDC) to prepare the development plan at issue here. The NLDC is a private, nonprofit corporation whose mission is to assist the city council in economic development planning. It is not elected by popular vote, and its directors and employees are privately appointed.”


“The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution, made applicable to the States by the Fourteenth Amendment, provides that "private property [shall not] be taken for public use, without just compensation." When interpreting the Constitution, we begin with the unremarkable presumption that every word in the document has independent meaning, "that no word was unnecessarily used, or needlessly added." Wright v. United States In keeping with that presumption, we have read the Fifth Amendment's language to impose two distinct conditions on the exercise of eminent domain: "the taking must be for a 'public use' and 'just compensation' must be paid to the owner." Brown v. Legal Foundation of Wash.,”

So there you have it. One block of the court seeks to increase the power of the government using expansions of previous case law, the other tends to restrict the power of the government using the (horrors!) Constitution.

A bit from Justice “Smarter than Harry Reid” Thomas:

“The Framers embodied that principle in the Constitution, allowing the government to take property not for "public necessity," but instead for "public use." Amdt. 5. Defying this understanding, the Court replaces the Public Use Clause with a " '[P]ublic [P]urpose' " Clause, ante, at 9-10 (or perhaps the "Diverse and Always Evolving Needs of Society" Clause, ante, at 8 (capitalization added)), a restriction that is satisfied, the Court instructs, so long as the purpose is "legitimate" and the means "not irrational," ante, at 17 (internal quotation marks omitted). This deferential shift in phraseology enables the Court to hold, against all common sense, that a costly urban-renewal project whose stated purpose is a vague promise of new jobs and increased tax revenue, but which is also suspiciously agreeable to the Pfizer Corporation, is for a "public use."”

Doesn’t get any clearer, does it?

Next up, we have the pot-smoking cancer victims, in Gonzales v Raich.
Here, the court said that the feds can keep people from smoking pot, specifically those who are using it medicinally for pain relief. Personally, I think that if you smoke pot for any other reason that you are a moron, and that there are probably lots of other ways for effective pain relief for these people. However, that’s not the question. The question is, what gives the feds the right to make it illegal, especially when the states in question have made it legal?

The Commerce clause of the constitution, which states that Congress may “regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States”.


However, this was also a no-brainer, since in 1942 (Wickard v Filburn) the court ruled that the G can fine a farmer for growing wheat to feed to his own cows, since he therefore did not buy from other farmers, thus “affecting interstate commerce”. Furthermore in 1968, the court ruled that “labor conditions in schools and hospitals can affect commerce.” So, not only has the court determined that the feds can regulate actual interstate commerce, it can regulate things that have the massive impact on interstate commerce as your own cattle’s feed, and it an even regulate things that “may” affect commerce.

If you want to see how the liberal Justices frame their arguments in these cases, you merely need to read Justice Stevie “In bad, Out good” Breyer’s dissent in the 1995 US v Lopex case, where he says, “Congress could have obviously found that guns and learning are mutually exclusive…[and therefore] and education problem...[therefore] Congress could also have found…that gun-related violence in and around schools is a commercial problem.” Clearly, the liberal block thinks policy first, Constitution second. Proof from the case:

“"Economics" refers to "the production, distribution, and consumption of commodities." Webster's Third New International Dictionary 720 (1966). The CSA is a statute that regulates the production, distribution, and consumption of commodities for which there is an established, and lucrative, interstate market. Prohibiting the intrastate possession or manufacture of an article of commerce is a rational (and commonly utilized) means of regulating commerce in that product.”

Ah, it’s rational, and makes sense according to Webster’s, so it’s good to go.
That seems pretty logical to me. Wickard v Filburn is the monster quoted in the majority decision here, ad infinitum. That’s why I said this case was a no-brainer. Ginsberg, Souter, Breyer, and Stevens will always vote for policy (liberal policy) when it gives the feds more power, and especially if it gives the court more power to decide.

Scalia actually concurs in the judgment, but based his opinion upon the “necessary and proper clause” of the constitution. I don’t think he ever mentions Wickard. He concludes, “I thus agree with the Court that, however the class of regulated activities is subdivided, Congress could reasonably conclude that its objective of prohibiting marijuana from the interstate market "could be undercut" if those activities were excepted from its general scheme of regulation.”

Honestly, I’m not sure how that’s different. I’d best keep my tomato garden secret.

Stevens notes the truth, but mocks it, by noting Thomas’s dissent “That is, the dissenters' rationale logically extends to place any federal regulation (including quality, prescription, or quantity controls) of any locally cultivated and possessed controlled substance for any purpose beyond the " 'outer limits' " of Congress' Commerce Clause authority”

He was referring to:
“ Respondents Diane Monson and Angel Raich use marijuana that has never been bought or sold, that has never crossed state lines, and that has had no demonstrable effect on the national market for marijuana. If Congress can regulate this under the Commerce Clause, then it can regulate virtually anything--and the Federal Government is no longer one of limited and enumerated powers.

Respondents' local cultivation and consumption of marijuana is not "Commerce ... among the several States." U. S. Const., Art. I, §8, cl. 3. By holding that Congress may regulate activity that is neither interstate nor commerce under the Interstate Commerce Clause, the Court abandons any attempt to enforce the Constitution's limits on federal power. The majority supports this conclusion by invoking, without explanation, the Necessary and Proper Clause. Regulating respondents' conduct, however, is not "necessary and proper for carrying into Execution" Congress' restrictions on the interstate drug trade. Art. I, §8, cl. 18. Thus, neither the Commerce Clause nor the Necessary and Proper Clause grants Congress the power to regulate respondents' conduct.”

Exactly. That’s what the Constitution says. I think those Framer guys were smart enough to say what they mean.

Got it? Liberals support a bigger governmental authority, part II, complete.

Finally, the Ten Commandments. This was as predictable as the past two. Simply looking at the opinions in recent church-state decisions by the liberal block (of which Kennedy had been in…until this case, oddly enough) would have revealed the results. In 1992’s Lee v Weisman, prayers at graduations were struck down because of “psychological coercion”. In 2000, the court prohibited prayers by students at football games in Texas because non-believers would feel like “outsiders”.

Thus, we have a case law record that has taken the clause “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion” and made it into the “right to not feel uncomfortable when others are expressing their religious beliefs.”

Well, here are the links – KY (take ‘em down) and TX (Keep ‘em up). The difference? The prediction of the court in 1991’s Harris v Zion – “the personal view of judges”. Thomas points out quite clearly that no case law is required to interpret the establishment clause. The libs do no such thing, requiring oodles of cases and a supernatural ability to determine the “intent” of those who post the commandments. Rehnquist’s opinion, as well as the rest of those in favor of the Ten in both cases (How S.D. “ceremonial deism” O’Connor voted against them both I’ll never figure. See her opinion in the Newdow case from last year) point out the absolute incomprehensibility of the case law, which makes no sense.

Lastly, claiming that the government must be neutral to religion and non-religion by making it dodge any reference to deity is not neutrality – it is endorsing non-religion. If the default answer is “no”, then no favors one side.

What’s my point?

The court continues to eliminate the rights of the people in favor of the government – especially the federal government. Stevens, Souter, Ginsburg, Kennedy and Breyer, joined at times by O’Connor, are stomping our rights – those with which we were “endowed by our Creator”, according to our “neutral” Declaration of Independence - into dust.

What are you doing about it?

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Blogging Break

I'll be gone for 5 days in CA for a service for Jim. Thus, blogging shall be suspended for that long, at least.

God bless,

Christian Carnival

Is up!

Check it out!

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Sesame Street Jumps the Shark

Back when the producers of Sesame Street announced that Cookie Monster would eat healthy food, too, I let other people comment on it. The recent proposal to cut funding for PBS has generated ridiculous cries of "Save Sesame Street" - like one of the most successful children's programs ever needs subsidizing. Well, I have seen over the past two days where Sesame Street is headed. Cut its public funding.

Yesterday I saw the fruits of the "healthy Cookie Monster" idea. Now it wasn't just Cookie Monster eating healthy food - he did do that in a cameo with Elmo. No, instead we had Cookie Monster rapping about healthy food with Wyclef Jean. Three questions for the purveyors of this brilliant idea: 1) Who considers Cookie Monster a role model? 2) If any child did, wouldn't they be the very youngest ones? 3)Do you think that 20-month-olds like rap music? No, they like "Old MacDonald" and "Alphabet Party". Stupid.

However, it was today's episode that showed the need for an end to public funding. Who should appear on Sesame Street but KOFI ANNAN, who helped some SS monsters do things "the United Nations way, together". Clearly, Sesame Street has some politics to push now. How sickening. The free market would likely weed that out, so they can stick to letters, numbers, cultures and street signs.

Then again, Kofi only helped them say the ABC's and have a group hug. Add in supporting tyrannical regimes, allowing genocides, and making anti-Israel resolutions, and you would have what the UN actually accomplishes. Perhaps they weren't so far off after all.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Biblical Inerrancy: Where We Got the Bible

Many people are unaware of the background of the Bible, its divisions, and the material used for its production. This information may help some have a greater appreciation for how it was compiled.

1) Materials used:

Papyrus was the most common material used for writing in biblical times, made from reeds. Unfortunately, it is a perishable material, which is why the actual original autographs have been lost long since. It is only in exceptional conditions that papyrus survives for any length of time. The earliest manuscripts were written on papyrus, and unless they were stored in a very dry place (the desert sands of Egypt, or in caves such as where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found) they would likely not survive. Papyrus enjoyed popular use until about the third century A.D. Other writing “papers” of use in biblical times include parchment (prepared skins of animals), vellum (calf skin dyed purple, with gold or silver writing), ostraca (an unglazed pottery), stones and clay and wax tablets.

Chisels were used to write on stones, a metal stylus would be used to write on lay or wax tablets, and a pen, a pointed reed fashioned from rushes , was used for vellum, parchment and papyrus. The ink used was usually a compound of charcoal, gum and water.

Scrolls, or rolls, were made by gluing sheets of papyrus together and wrapping them around a stick. Writing was usually limited to one side. Some scrolls have been known to be 144 feet long! The average scroll was, however, only about 25-30 feet long. In order to make reading easier and less bulky, the codex or book was developed, which was assembling the papyrus leaves in leaf form and writing on both sides. J. Harold Greenlee states that Christianity was the prime reason for development of the codex-book form.

There are two primary types of writing. Uncial writing was a formal type of writing, characterized by more deliberate and carefully executed letters, each one separate from the others – much like all caps. Miniscule writing was more of a script or cursive writing, which was created for the production of books. Miniscule writing was not used for literary texts until about the 9th century A.D.

Greek manuscripts were written without any breaks between words, while Hebrew text was written without vowels. While both may be confusing to us, it was common practice for the times, and thus easy to read and understand.

2) Divisions of the Bible:

Chapters: The first divisions of the Old Testament (OT) were made prior to the Babylonian captivity (before 586 BC). The pentatuech (first 5 books) were divided into 154 groupings, intended to provide enough lessons to cover a three year cycle of reading. Around 165 BC the prophetic books of the OT were sectioned. Finally, after the Protestant reformation the Hebrew Bible followed the same chapter divisions as the Protestant OT, first placed in the margins in 1330.

The first paragraph divisions were made in the New Testament (NT) prior to the Council of Nicea (AD 325), perhaps as early as AD 250. In about 1227 the current chapter divisions were implemented by the eventual Archbishop of Canterbury, which was used in the Wycliffe Bible and is still the base for chapter divisions.

Verses: In the OT, the first verse indicators were merely spaces between words. After the Babylonian captivity, for the purpose of public reading and interpretation, space stops were employed, and still later additional markings were added. Unlike the rest of the text, the ‘verse’ markings were not regulated, but were made standardized in about AD 900.

Verse markings in the NT similar to our modern Bibles did not appear until the middle of the sixteenth century. They followed the development of chapters, apparently in an effort to make public reading easier and to facilitate cross referencing. They appear in a Greek NT in 1551, a Latin NT in 1555, and an English NT in 1557.

3) Which Books?

Many people are curious about why some books were included in the canon and some were not. The word canon is, in reference to scripture, “an officially accepted list of books”.

It is important to note that the Church did not create the canon; it did not determine which books would be called the Scriptures, the inspired Word of God. Instead, the church recognized, or discovered, which books had been inspired from their inception. Another way of saying this would be , “a book is not the Word of God because it is accepted by the people of God. Rather, it was accepted by the people of God because it is the Word of God.” Simply put, people cannot give a book divine authority! We can only recognize the divine authority given to it.

At least five principles have been applied to guide the recognition and collection of divinely inspired books. They are:

1. Was the book written by a prophet of God? “If it was written by a spokesman of God, then it is the Word of God.”
2. Was the writer confirmed by acts of God? Frequently miracles separated the true prophets from the false ones – Moses to prove his al of God in Exodus 4:1-9, Elijah to triumph over the false prophets of Baal, Jesus when “attested to…by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through him (Acts 2:2). The miracle is the sign to substantiate the sermon.
3. Did the message tell the truth about God? As God cannot contradict Himself, nor can He utter what is false, no book with false claims can be the Word of God. For reasons such as these, the church fathers maintained the policy, “if in doubt, throw it out”. This enhanced the validity of their discernment of the canonical books. It is almost humorous that many claim there are “so many contradictions in the Bible”, when canon was selected based, in part, upon an absolute certainty of the absence of contradiction!
4. Does it come with the power of God? Since the church fathers believed the Word of God is living and active, and consequently ought to have a transforming force for edification and evangelization. If the message of a book did not affect its stated goal, if it did not have the power to change a life, then God was apparently not part of the message.
5. Was it accepted by the people of God? Whatever debate there may have been about a book’s place in the canon, the people in the best position to know its prophetic credentials were those who knew the prophet who wrote it. Hence, despite all later debate about the canonicity of some books, the definitive evidence is that which attests to its original acceptance by the contemporary believers. Basically, when a book was received, collected, read, and used by the people of God as the Word of God, it was regarded as canonical. This practice is seen in the Bible itself – one example is when the apostle Peter acknowledges Paul’s writings as Scripture on par with OT scripture (2 Pet 3:16).

Those tests were applied to the both testaments. The NT has the additional test of divine inspiration through apostolicity – however, merely being written by an apostle was not the test. Apostolic authority, through apostolic approval, was the primary test of canonicity. This apostolic authority is never detached from the authority of the Lord himself, and is not the authority of the apostle alone. For example, whenever Paul defends his authority as an apostle, e bases his claim solely upon his commission by the Lord.

The NT books were initially collected for a number of reasons: their prophetic nature, the needs of the early church for instruction and assurance, the rise of heretical teachings (a false canon was developed as early as AD 140 by the heretic Marcion who attempted to propagate his false teachings through it), the circulation of spurious writings, missions to other cultures, and persecution. The NT canon was recognized as early as AD 367 by Athanasius of Alexandria, whose letter to the churches lists the very 27 books we still have in the NT. He was followed soon by Augustine and Jerome, and the list was made official by the Synod of Hippo in AD 393. Even before these, Justin Martyr (100-165), Irenaeus (180) and Ignatius (AD 50-115) made reference that the canon was acknowledged even then by the church.

The OT canon is even less in dispute, as it had been solidified by 150 BC at the latest, and likely by about 400 BC. The Jews acknowledged that the prophets had fallen silent since Malachi (450-430 BC) and that no new inspired works had been written since Chronicles (400 BC). This is even noted in Maccabees and 2 Baruch, apocryphal books which are not canon. Although the Jewish and Christian OTs have different numbers of books, the writings are the same – the Christian church has merely broken down Kings, Chronicles, Samuel, and Ezra-Nehemiah into two books each, and has further broken down the book of “The Twelve” into the individual books for each of the minor prophets. Also, the church has changed the order, going with a topical arrangement instead of the previous Jewish order of books.

Conclusion – while the books of the Bible were written hundreds, and some over a thousand, years ago, the Bible of today has been subject to greater scrutiny than most people are aware in its formation. It has remained relatively unchanged since the fourth century, and the tests for inclusion of the books of the Bible have ensured its theological and historical reliability. (Note: I have left out a discussion of why other books (such as Maccabees, Tobit, Gospel of the Hebrews, etc, were not included. If more than one or two people are interested in the subject, I can do that in an additional post as well). This information should address the question of, “why does book X have to be considered as reliable as book Y?”

The only question remaining must be – how can we be sure that the books we have today are the books that were actually written? I will address it in two posts – Old and New Testament.

Why You Have to Stay on Message

Some Joker named Ed Kline has put out a smear book on Senator Clinton.

Am I a Clinton fan? No. However, what relevance her real or alleged sexual preferences, her sexual relationship with her husband, her possible extramarital affairs, or her position on her husband's philandering have to do with ANYTHING I cannot figure out.

You see, Mr. Kline says he is attempting to "expose her character". Some of the things in his book may actually do that. However, much of the above info is the kind of stuff you expect to see at a celebrity trial, not discussed about our poiticians.

Kline eliminated any chance he amy have had to show how Hillary railroaded other women to get more power for herself by printing this kind of smut along with valid assettions that would interest the voters. Whether it was a personal vandetta or a play for more sales we'll never know. All we do know is that the book is now going to be ignored by thinking citizens.

Team Hammer - we may be wrong, but at least we stay on the Scan-tron.

A Retraction

Mark your calendar, folks - Team Hammer is taking back an assertion!

In my series on "Liberal Christians", I stated that the liberal position of wealth redistribution was one that could not be held by Christians because it is, in effect, legal theft - taking from one person and giving to another, by the government.

UK John challenged me on my thinking on the subject, and I have realized that I was wrong.

I still think it is legal theft. Mere government sanction does not make an action less theft any less than it made the rape of Bosniac women by Serbs less rape. However, my realization is not that wealth redistribution is any less a policy I should oppose, but as a government action it is not a Christian issue, per se. Why?

Simply put, the commands of Christ are commands for individuals, not governments. Thus, while a abortion is an act by an individual, and therefore merits consideration under Christianity, wealth redistribution in the form of taxation and welfare entitlements is the action of a government. The only Christian commands with reference to the government are to pay our taxes, obey authority when they do not contradict the commands of God, and to not fear when we are inevitably persecuted by governments.

Hence, governmental wealth redistribution can be a pro or con issue for Christians.

I still think it is crap, though.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Which Theologian are you?

This was less interesting than the below quiz - probably because I have never heard of the fellow I am most aligned with. I know of the theologies of Augustine, Calvin, Edwards and Luther, and would have expected I pop out as one of them. Instead...

You scored as Anselm. Anselm is the outstanding theologian of the medieval period.He sees man's primary problem as having failed to render unto God what we owe him, so God becomes man in Christ and gives God what he is due. You should read 'Cur Deus Homo?'



John Calvin


Karl Barth


Martin Luther


Jonathan Edwards




Friedrich Schleiermacher


Jürgen Moltmann


Charles Finney


Paul Tillich


Which theologian are you?
created with

Same hat tips as below.

What's Your Theological Worldview

I love stuff like this! Apparently, I was a dead tie between "Fundamentalist" and "Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan". I received a final question of, "Which is more accurate - A) The World was literally made in six days or B) God's grace is the reason we can respond to Him. My preferred answer would have been both - but I chose 'B' because without God's grace, there's no use in believing anything about creation, because I'd still be headed for the big barbecue. Thus, I am...

You scored as Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan. You are an evangelical in the Wesleyan tradition. You believe that God's grace enables you to choose to believe in him, even though you yourself are totally depraved. The gift of the Holy Spirit gives you assurance of your salvation, and he also enables you to live the life of obedience to which God has called us. You are influenced heavly by John Wesley and the Methodists.



Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan


Reformed Evangelical


Neo orthodox


Roman Catholic




Classical Liberal




Modern Liberal


What's your theological worldview?
created with

Hat tip: Sven, via UK John

Friday, June 17, 2005

The Left is Wrong Again

Look, the left does not have the monopoly on stupid things said or anti-American ideas. However, they seem to have a lot of this going on very publicly recently.

The most recent is Clown boy, er, Senator Dick Durbin. I happened to have CSPN on yesterday (it comes with my basic cable, as does MTV2, but not PBS. What the heck?) as saw his say that Gitmo is, essentially, the same as The Soviet Gulags, Nazi prison camps, and Pol Pot's regime in Cambodia.

The Senate's No. 2 Democrat has compared the U.S. military's treatment of a suspected al Qaeda terrorist at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay with the regimes of Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin and Pol Pot, three of history's most heinous dictators, whose regimes killed millions.
In a speech on the Senate floor late Tuesday, Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, castigated the American military's actions by reading an e-mail from an FBI agent.
The agent complained to higher-ups that one al Qaeda suspect was chained to the floor, kept in an extremely cold air-conditioned cell and forced to hear loud rap music. The Justice Department is investigating.
About 9 million persons, including 6 million Jews, died in Hitler's death camps, 2.7 million persons died in Stalin's gulags and 1.7 million Cambodians died in Pol Pot's scourge of his country.
No prisoners have died at Guantanamo, and the Pentagon has acknowledged five instances of abuse or irreverent handling of the Koran, the holy book of Muslims.
After reading the e-mail, Mr. Durbin said, "If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime -- Pol Pot or others -- that had no concern for human beings. Sadly, that is not the case. This was the action of Americans in the treatment of their prisoners."

I "suffered" worse treatment at my DoD school. I am not exagerrating. There, I was starved, beaten, kept wet in 40 degree weather, and worked for 60 hours straight. That was freakin' training. these jokers are treated better than inmates in Rykers' Island.

Who do these statements benefit? Do they make our military better? Our government? Our citizens?

No. They have one purpose, and one effect, which are different. The purpose is to try to gain power for Sen. Durbin's team. The effect is to embolden our enemies and weaken our resolve. Good to see our nation's leaders keeping their priorities straight.

Music Meme

Teresa tagged me with this. She, and everyone else, may be disappointed inhow boring it is in Hammerland.

Total volume of music files on my computer?
About 350 megabytes. Is that a lot?

The last CD I bought was...
For myself? Im not sure, maybe Nicole C. Mullen, Live from Cincinnati (only $9) or perhaps Newsboys: Devotion.

Song playing right now:
None. It is dead silent in my house right now.

Five songs I listen to a lot or that mean a lot to me (in no particular order):
Untitled Hymn, Chris Rice
Lord, I Don't Know, Newsboys
Love Song, Third Day
The Gift, Collin Raye
Surely God is With Us, Rich Mullins

Which 5 people are you passing this baton to, and why?
No one, because I am that guy in the crowd who refuses to do the wave. Plus, I'd have to do hyperlinks.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Biblical Inerrancy: The Uniqueness of the Bible

My method in establishing the accuracy and authority of the Bible in its entirety will not be using some kind of “special religious facts.” Instead, I intend to show the validity of the full text using the same kind of cognitive, informational facts upon which all historical, legal and ordinary decisions are based. While this proof will not answer a whole host of other questions, including interpretation of the texts, it will demonstrate that they cannot merely be discarded.

There are many other things that contribute to faith besides the Bible. However, there is a reason that William Tyndale said, “a ploughboy with the Bible would know more of God than the most learned ecclesiastic who ignored it.” The factual nature of the Bible only increases its value, and while church history, the lives of the saints, personal experience and traditions all are contributors, without the Bible they have no upon which we can all focus to direct us. Paul wrote to Timothy that “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: (2Ti 3:16)

The uniqueness of the Bible is where we start – the evidence that it is truly the most remarkable book ever written, and thus worth reading. Why uniqueness and not holiness? Simply put, it is not possible to declare a book Holy with earthly evidence. Since uniqueness is as close as we can get, that is the qualifier.

Unique in Continuity

The Bible is the only book that was:

a) Written over about a 1500 year span
b) Written by more than forty different authors
c) Written in different places (Moses in the wilderness, Jeremiah in the desert, Daniel on a hillside and in a palace, Paul inside prison walls, Luke while traveling, John while in exile, etc)
d) Written at different times, (in war, in peace, in exile, etc)
e) Written during different moods (some in joy, some in despair, some in conviction and certainly, some while plagued with doubt)
f) Written on three continents (Africa, Asia, Europe)
g) Written in three languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek)
h) Written in a vast array of writing styles, including but not limited to poetry, memoirs, satire, biography, autobiography, romance, and allegory
i) It addresses hundreds of controversial subjects that typically create opposing opinion when mentioned. Hot topics such as divorce, adultery, obedience to authority, truth telling and lying, homosexuality, parenting, the nature and revelation of God are all addressed with an amazing degree of harmony from beginning to end.
j) In spite of such diversity, it presents a single story – the redemption of human beings by God.
k) Finally, of all the people described in it, the lead is the true, living God made known through Christ. The whole Bible is Christ-centric. The law lays the foundation for Christ, the historical books the preparation for Christ, the poetic books aspire to Christ and the prophecies display an expectation of Christ. The Gospels record the historical manifestation of Christ, the Acts relate the propagation of Christ, the Epistles the interpretation of Christ, and the Revelation shows the summation of all things in Christ.

Contrast the Bible with the compilation of Western classics called the “Great Books of the Western World”: a selection of more than 450 works by over 100 authors spanning about 2500 years – Homer, Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Dante, Aquinas, Rousseau, Shakespeare, Hume, Kant, Darwin, Tolstoy, and Joyce to name a few. While they are all part of the Western tradition of ideas, they are extremely diverse in their views on almost every subject. If you were to take just ten of the authors in the series, all from one socioeconomic background, one generation, one place, one time, one mood, one continent, and one language, and had them address just one of the controversial subjects possible, would they all be in accord? Of course not, and the Bible’s diversity is much greater in scope, with clarity of position. Its continuity is unique, indeed.

Unique in Circulation

Billions of Bibles have been sold. In 1998 the United Bible Societies distributed over 585 million Bibles and Bible excerpts – and that is just one organization! No other book has known anything approaching its circulation

Unique in Translation

Through 1999, the Bible been translated into over 2200 languages, with the Wycliffe Bible Translators working on 850 more at that time. Simply put, there is no other book even remotely close.

Unique in its Survival

The Jews, when copying scripture, had three levels of proofreaders to ensure that every letter, syllable, word and paragraph was correct. Who ever counted the words, letters and syllables of Plato, Aristotle, Cicero or Seneca? Shakespeare’s writings, which are only a couple hundred of years old, are far more uncertain than the Bible. In every one of Shakespeare’s 37 plays there are tens of readings which are in dispute, some of which materially affect the meaning of the passages in which they occur, whereas the text of every verse in the new Testament, save perhaps 12 to 20 exceptions, may be said to be so far settled by general consent of scholars that any doubt as to its reading must be related to interpretation and not to the words themselves. Unfortunately, most of us are unaware of the Bible’s accuracy, and thus find ourselves in the latter case.

The Bible has survived more attempts at worldwide and nationwide destruction than any other text, yet each attempt has failed. Voltaire, who died in 1778, said that 100 years after his time Christianity would be swept away and pass into history. Instead, only 50 years after his death the Geneva Bible Society used his press and house to produce stacks of Bibles! Critics have assailed its contents from the start. What other book has survived such a concentrated attack (or indeed, even suffered) by so many as the bible has? With such venom and skepticism? With such thoroughness and erudition? Upon every chapter, line and tenet? Still it remains read, loved and studied by millions.

Humorously, “Scholars” have declared the Bible ot be wrong by showing that known facts did not support its history. Some examples are that Moses could not have written the first five books because writing was allegedly not known at the time, and that the Hittites never existed. In each case, the “scholars” were proven wrong by science.

Unique in its Teaching

Prophecy – the volumes of prophesy about the future and the Messiah represent the only book that has such a record of prophecies, and the only with such a large volume that have clearly been fulfilled hundreds and even thousands of years after their writings. The history espoused by the Bible has never been shown incorrect by archaeology. The “heroes” of the Bible are shown with their warts and all – the patriarchs’ sins, the people’s sins, the sins of the greatest king of Israel, the faults of the apostles and the disorder within the early church are all recorded. It’s heroes are not supermen and superwomen, but real people with real issues, which lends credence to its claim of historical accuracy.

Unique in its Influence upon Literature

Cleland McAfee wrote: “If every Bible in every considerable city were destroyed, it could be restored in all its essential parts from the quotations [in the literature] on the shelves of the city public library.” The Bible, as the foundation for Christianity’s predominant worldview in the West for the last 14 centuries, has influenced more literature than any other document.

Unique in its Influence upon Civilization

As a document that exerted such influence on the West, which has exerted the greatest influence on the World, the Judeo-Christian scriptures have influenced more than any other book in the world. It presents the highest ideals known to men, ideals that have molded civilization. Freedom, liberty, suffrage, equality, tolerance, diversity, justice and charity are fairly modern concepts which owe much of their origin to the influence of the Bible. Also, consider that the years the whole world over are marked by the arrival of the subject of the Bible, whether it is in India, China, Europe, the Middle East or the Americas…even if they now want to call it “M.E.” for “Modern Era” instead of “A.D.” for Anno Dominae (In the Year of Our Lord).

This combination of unique qualities does not make the Bible Holy, nor does it prove it is the Word of God. What it should prove is that it is a singular book superior in to all other books.

It has been said that, “If you are an intelligent person, you will read the book that has drawn more attention than any other, if you are searching for the truth.”

That book is the Bible. If you haven’t read it already, how can you dismiss it outright now? To read it and disbelieve can certainly be the actions of one seeking to improve himself. To not read it at all, however, is the path of the willfully ignorant.

Unemployed does not equal Free Time

You know, you'd think that since I have no job, that I'd be blogging and commenting and responding like a madman. Obviously it hasn't been so.

It isn't lack of desire - my personal, spritual, corporate and blog life are full of things that I want to blog about, and I want to visit other blogs and comment there, too. However, I have three reasons why I can't - Mrs. Hammer, Corin and Grace. Mrs. Hammer keeps me busy all day long doing home improvement. When She has to go to the store or something, I have to watch the two little ones. Today I tried to respond to some comments and ended up with a serious fit from Corin when I told him "No, you can't smack the keys on Daddy's computer." I even tried to read some pages in my current book, with similar results. His screaming woke up Grace, for a symphony of crying babies. Whee.

How strange - I had more free time when I had a job. For my blogging friends, I apologize for looking like a drive-by commenter on your blogs, and for slow responses here. I'm not sure it will get better any time soon, so please forgive me.

Christian Carnival is up!

This week's Christian Carnival is up at Daddypundit.

Favorites to follow, but I am late posting the notice already, so...

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Biblical Inerrancy: Introduction

It has been respectfully pointed out that I assumed too much and detailed too little in my earlier defense of Biblical inerrancy. It is rather foolish for me to say, “If you have questions, go down to Borders and pick up this 760 page book that is fairly technical, read it, and get back to me.” As such, I am doing a series of posts on the subject.

The defense of biblical inerrancy assumes two things: that there is an omnipotent God, and that we are not Him. I think those two assumptions, while not universally held, are reasonable. The presentation will proceed as such:

1) The uniqueness of the Bible – its historical qualifications and its unique qualities that set it apart from all other written texts through history.
2) The content of the Bible – specifically, where we got the current form from, why some books were selected and other rejected.
3) Reliability of the New Testament – Overview of literary tests for authenticity, application of the tests to the NT, and archaeological finds in support.
4) Reliability of the Old Testament – Biographical tests, internal evidence tests and archaeological support.

The King James version will be used as the basis for discussion for two reasons: 1) It has been in use for almost 400 years, making it the most familiar version, and 2) there are Christians who insist that it is the only version, and no other version has such proponents.

Liberal Christians III

3) Liberals, not Christians

The last group requires the least amount of explanation. They are only a subset of what we find in any church – non-Christians. They may be faithful attendees, participants, choir members, ushers, volunteers, deacons, or even pastors. They have liberal political views, and their political views trump anything that may oppose it in Christian doctrine. Why? They are not Christians, because they have not surrendered their lives to Christ and his commands. Hence, it has no impact on their politics.

Taken as a group, there are three types of liberals in our churches – mature Christians, immature Christians, and non-Christians. Obviously, the same categories of conservatives are present. Conservatives are just as likely to be politically ignorant, theologically ignorant, or secularists.

So then, why have I not described the problems of conservative Christians? Simply put – I have difficulty deigning a conservative political policy that is not Christian. I don’t mean extremists – Neo-Nazi’s don’t even try to look like Christians, just like radical Communists do not. The issues that Christian liberals argue over with conservatives – social welfare, environmental, immigration, and taxation policy – are either independent of faith or are disagreements about methods, not results. Conservatives do not declare that it is OK to destroy the environment, that the poor should be starved, that anyone should be legally required to worship our God, or that innocent civilians should be killed in wars.

The left, in contrast, clearly elucidates its support for pre-birth infanticide, universal acceptance of homosexual conduct, legal theft in the form of redistribution of wealth, and elimination of public displays of faith by anyone remotely construed to be some kind of representative of government (such as the threatening, oppressive high school student saying a prayer on the PA system at a football game).

I invite any liberal Christian readers to respond. I neither claim to have a monopoly on truth nor even to be objective (though I try to be). I will honestly consider both attacks on conservative principles or objectives and defenses of liberal ones.

Liberal Christians II

2) The Theologically Ignorant – the anti-War crowd, the Christ came to bring peace crowd, and ‘high church’ members.

This second group of liberal Christians may or may not be politically ignorant. Their lack of understanding of scripture is the primary reason behind their support of the liberal agenda. Also, they may or may not support all of the agenda, but their votes advance all of it!

He three sub-categories of the typically theologically ignorant are neither all-inclusive nor mutually exclusive. By themselves, this is how they break down:

The Anti-War Christians: Many of these have seen the ravages of war firsthand, and know its horrors. Others are relying upon the honest word of those who have seen war’s effects upon people and take it to heart. These experiences or accounts of them have moved the person to oppose war on the legitimate grounds of the harm it does to others.

So where does theology come in here? The Old Testament is full of accounts of God sending the Israelites to war, and Revelation tells of wars to come in which some fight for the Lamb. That simple fact establishes that there are wars that are right and just. Anti-war Christians who oppose all war ignore God’s unchanging identity. The right cause of Christians is not to oppose all war, but to oppose unjust wars – which are, truthfully, most of them.

The “Christ came to bring peace” Christians: These have taken to heart that we are to be peacemakers, to have peace with one another, and that Christ brings everlasting peace. They know that we are to avoid divisions within the church when possible, and that Christ gives his peace to us.

What they fail to see is that Christ promised that he would give us peace, but not that we would have peace if we lived for him – that he came not to bring peace, but a sword (Matt 10:34) and division (Luke 12:51). He promises tribulation for Christians in John 16:33 with his promise of individual peace. Christ’s redemption was to give peace to the soul, not to humanity. Service in his name produces contention and persecution. There is much to be said for those who can serve Christ faithfully and cause little disturbance – but that is the call of only some. Boldness in the cause of Christ is not peaceful!

The ‘high church’: This disease is not limited to high churches (or ‘mainline denominations), because the problem is not a function of the denomination – it is a function of wrong priorities. However, the high churches are, as a group, suffering from decaying membership and are seeking to bring and or keep more people in the pews through increased liberalization of their doctrines. Chasing numbers will always lead to compromises in doctrine.

The churches who are accepting homosexual conduct as just, who are in favor of pre-birth infanticide, who do not support public displays of religious faith (in God We Trust, the Ten Commandments) and who do not support our military are trying not to chase people away. Think about it – what fence sitter is dissuaded by acceptance? If you want to attract people, a tried and true method is to tell them that everything they are doing is ok, demand nothing of them, and offer them forgiveness of sin without repentance. No sacrifice, no holiness, no taking up of their cross and dying to themselves daily.

The theologically ignorant are more culpable for their error than the politically ignorant – after all, there is not command to understand politics and political positions! Theological ignorance begins with a failure to conduct regular, personal Bible study on our own, and is fostered by the pulpit preachers who refuse to preach those parts of the Bible that my offend. Those preachers will have much to answer for when they stand before the throne – whether it is the Great White Throne or the Judgment Seat of Christ.

Next – the final group.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Liberal Christians

Mrs. Hammer asked me the other day, “How can you be a Christian and be a liberal? Is it even possible?” The answer, of course, is yes.

However, the question she was asking wasn’t if there are liberal Christians, but how one can reconcile Christian principles with things such as abortion, homosexual marriage, soldier bashing, forced redistribution of wealth, and other seeming precepts of the left?

As best I can tell, there are three categories of “Liberal Christians”.

1) The Politically Ignorant.

These are those Christians who are unaware of some of the positions of the political left and/or do not have a clear understanding of the options available.

These Christians are usually those who are especially concerned about issues of social justice: aid to the poor, infirm, and vulnerable, as well as concerned about peace. These Christians often are, or are associated with, those who have spent time in field (mission) work with the impoverished, starving, and/or war-torn. They have seen the results, first-hand (or are friends with those who have) of corrupt governments, gangs, warlords, or religions and want to do what they can to prevent such sad events from occurring.

These good hearted individuals are usually ignorant on two counts. The first is a lack of knowledge of some of the positions of the left. Consider: in the Catholic church, issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage are not even negotiable. It is likely that they are seldom, if ever, discussed by church leaders in a forum which emphasizes the different positions of the political parties on these kinds of issues. Conversely, the needs for social justice are often discussed and emphasized there. Helping those in need is a duty of the Christian – one that is, unfortunately, not emphasized enough in many churches. Because these issues are emphasized, and because one political party paints itself as the “party of the poor”, these good-intentioned Christians reflexively support that party and its liberal agenda.

The other political ignorance is the easiest to understand – these Christians think that the government should be the source of help for the poor. They have never considered that the poor were helped before the New Deal and the Great Society, they have never considered whether it is more helpful to a homeless person to offer them charity with some work required or a hand-out, and they have never examined the brutal honesty that taking money from person A and giving to person B, by force, is theft. Instead, they see and hear the anecdotal and individual successes that come of people doing what they would have done without governmental intervention – working hard to overcome their circumstances – and assume that the only solution is through the government. Hence, they are liberal.

Two more categories to go…they are here and here.

Terrible. Just Terrible.

Gunner has an excellent post presenting relevant details of the detainee abuse at Gitmo and the stupidity of our politicians (as well as some intelligent remarks).

Check it out.


Is Anyone Surprised?

What Pulp Fiction Character Are You?

You don't tolerate &%$#. The .45 you carry in your pocket is scary, but your words are the real threat, especially when you decide to get Biblical. Try to take it easy, but maintain that edge of yours, which tends to keep people wary in your presence.

Take the What Pulp Fiction Character Are You? quiz.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Biblical Inerrancy?

In most discussions on subjects of Christian theology and life application, the Bible is used as the primary source of support. Oftentimes, one or both of the participants in the discussion will refuse to accept the validity of the portion of the text cited. The reasoning for dismissal of that section can vary, but whether the individual is as technical as a Greek or Hebrew word analysis or as emotional as “My God wouldn’t say that”, they can all be summed up as a simple dissonance between the person’s idea of what is right and what the text says.

I had a talk with my pastor once about the need to believe the whole Bible. He asked me, “Does someone need to believe that Jesus is their Lord as well as their Savior to be saved? Do they need to believe in the virgin birth?” After some discussion, I accepted that the answer was definitely “No.” The grace of God, in salvation to the sinner, does not require belief in all of the doctrines of scripture.

However, while our discussion ended there, I have since given the subject more thought. The question is not, “Do we need to believe in the virgin birth (or fill in disputed scripture passage here) to be saved?” Instead, it is, “Do saved people have to believe the virgin birth to be true if they know it is in the Bible?”


There are some details required for this to be true, though. Two, to be precise. First, the individual must understand that the evidence for Christ, as the Son of God, resurrected for the remission of sin is the written Bible. While there are other evidences, it is this that we base our faith and faith statements upon. Secondly, they must understand that the same Bible which declares Christ arisen is the same Bible which declares the information in dispute.

That said, why would those necessitate belief in said information? Allow me to explain, as best I can, the case for Biblical inerrancy:

Postulate 1) A Christian is someone who believes that Jesus Christ was the son of God, who came to earth as a man, was crucified, died, and was buried, and rose again to defeat death and make the forgiveness of sins possible. Not only does the Christian believe this, but they have placed their whole life in His service.

Postulate 2) The details required for this faith to become known and grow are found in the Bible.

Even if the person never sees a Bible, the Gospel is drawn from it.

Postulate 3) There are vast amounts of details within the Bible that do not contribute to the basic Gospel above.

While all parts of the Bible tie in to the Gospels, an isolated examination of much of this would not make the connection evident.

Postulate 4) As the source of both the Gospel of Christ and the attendant instructions, poetry, history and prophecy are one in the same – the Bible – there is no reason why any one part of it is more or less likely to be true than any other.

Therefore) If you believe the Good News of Christ, you must accept the rest of the Bible as true also.

Furthermore, consider this: Using the definition of Christian given above, is it a rational argument to say that a person can believe that there is an Almighty God, who has an only begotten son, who, though he was God, came to earth as a human being and accepted a brutal torture and death on the cross, then rose again from the dead, then ascended into heaven – but they can’t believe that Noah had all the required animals in the ark? Which is more fantastic? The virgin birth is harder to believe than the resurrection of the dead? The existence of Satan is crazier than God walking among us?

There is only one reason to disbelieve part of the Bible – PRIDE. We think we know better than God, so we deny the truth, despite the clear lack of logic in such a denial. Biblical inerrancy can’t be a disputed doctrine among true Christians – it has to be a clear truth.

For those readers who have a snap answer ready, just go back to the above paragraph – The omnipotent God, became a commoner from some ridiculously small nation in a corner of the world, then died and rose again, but _____________ is impossible? Hardly.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Aiding the Grieving

When Death, like a gypsy, comes to steal what I love - I will still look to the heavens, I will still seek your face. But I fear you aren't listening, because there are no words: just a stillness, and a hunger, for a faith that assures.

I will sing of your mercies that lead me through valleys of sorrow to rivers of joy.

- Jars of Clay

Things that don't help:

Trite comments, such as "He's in a better place", "It was his time", or "I know how you feel". These are comments typically used by adolescents or those who do not want to really talk about it. While you may not fal into these two categories, they are the set you place yourself in with these trite answers.

Bible verses - yes, I know them. Knowing you'll get a new arm later doesn't make getting your arm cut off any less painful. Don't try to explain it, or say it is God's will, or other (true) things that are empty at that time.

Advice. This does not apply to written advice, which is often quite useful, because it is easier digested than some clown friend who is trying to help by asking about estate planning, 8 hours after the loved one's passing, on the phone.

Calling late at night. Wait until the next morning. To help with this, remember what time zone you and the bereaved are in.

Things that do help:

Making a specific offer of aid to the bereaved: "I'd like to mow your lawn - does next Tuesday work ok?"

Short phone calls, with an expression of support, offer of assistance if needed, and getting off of the phone. The phone never stops ringing, so make a call, make it a short one if you aren't prepared to come do some helping labor, and say goodbye. Stringing it out just makes it worse.

If you visit personally, don't just drop in. You have no idea what is going on or planned, so 'just stopping in' in stressful to the bereaved. Once past this, your comments should likely be oriented toward alowing the person an opportunity to express themselves, not to listen to you instead.

This is key - you can do little to help by talking, but can really increase the stress and/or grief temporarily by talking.

Your impulse when you hear of the person's death will be to call and ask, "What happened?" Do not do this. Almost everyone who calls does this. All it does is force the bereaved to recount the events that lead to the death. This repeated, agonizing reliving of the memory does not help the person, and soon they dread the phone ringing. We would log on to the net to avoid the phone, because everyone asked, "What happened?" Salve your curiosity through someone not so emotionally connected - it is not worth the heartache the bereaved goes through. Instead, find out what happened from some one else, then make the call similar to the recommendation above.

Very important: remember, everyone is trying to 'help' now. Remember to help in three months.

Sometimes the way is lonely, and steep and filled with pain. So when your sky is dark, and pours the rain: cry to Jesus, cry to Jesus, cry to Jesus, and live.
- Chris Rice

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Hard to Get

Like A Thief in the Night

You who live in heaven hear the prayers of those of us who live on earth:
Who are afraid of being left by those we love, and who get hardened in the hurt.
Do you remember when you lived down here, where we all scrape
To find the faith to ask for daily bread?
Did you forget about us, after you had flown away?
Well I memorized every word you said.
Still I'm so scared I'm holding my breath,
while you're up there just playing hard to get.

You who live in radiance hear the prayers of those of us who live in skin
We have a love that's not as patient as Yours was, still we do love now and then
Did You ever know loneliness?
Did You ever know need?
Do You remember just how long a night can get -
When You were barely holding on
And Your friends fall asleep
And don't see the blood that's running in Your sweat?
Will those who mourn be left uncomforted...
While You're up there just playing hard to get?

Friday night was like any other. We put the kids to bed, worked on organizing the still-disasterous house, filed some bills, and talked about what we were going to do the next day. Mrs Hammer had picked up some items for us to do a shish-kabob on the grill Saturday night, since her parents were supposed to be coming over. The plan was for Mrs Hammer and her mom to go to the mall and check out some household type stuff while Mrs Hammer's dad helpd me plant osme bushes and a tree in our yard. The shish kabob was pretty brave of my wife, as I had nearly burnt down the house with our charcoal grill earlier in the week (note to others: the critical angle of a Weber One-Touch Silver Classic is about 5 degrees, not 45 like you might think). I even played a little bit of "The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind" since my "Rome" Total War" has yet to be discovered among the boxes. For reasons I have yet to determine, I didn't pack it in its own box. Instead, I put it in my "Mysteries of the Bible" series by Dr. Frank Harber. I felt pretty tired a bit early, around 11:30, so we went to bed.

The phone rang at 5:30 AM. I let it go and listened for the message. After all, most middle-of-the-night calls are wrong numbers. The machine picked up, but no message was left. The phone rang again. I knew it was bad news - the only other kind of call that comes at 5:30.

It was my wife's mother, Pat. Her husband, Jim, had suffered a cerebral hemmorage and was in the hospital. The prognosis was not good: Jim, although living an active life daily, was on a blood thinning medication, cuminin, that was preventing the hemmorage from clotting. He was taking it because the doctors felt that he was more in danger of a clotting stroke than a rupture.

We rushed over to the hospital, although packing up two babies makes this a much longer affair than I would have liked. When we arrived, Jim was unconscious. He never woke up. He passed away at a quarter after midnight.

I only knew Jim for less than four years - but he wasn't just my father-in-law, he was a good friend. Really, he was my only friend I talked to about lots of stuff regularly: politics, sports, home repair, lawn maintenance, books, and the like. It's not that i don't have good friends, but when you are a soldier, your friends go other places and you play the long distance game. Jim was such a class act, too - he is a USC alumnus, and we would talk about Notre Dame and USC each year. Each of the past three years, he has never mentioned a word about the thumping that ND received at the hands of USC - not even when I called him in '02 after the Irish were winning after the first quarter (which degenerated into another USC rout).

He was a wonderful grandfather to our three children, and they were truly the apple of his eye. He loved all of the children dearly, but the way he interacted with our 20 month old son, Corin, is the most memorable. He was the same with our oldest, but that was before, this was right now. Corin especially loved to go out in the yard with his Poppa and "help" mow the lawn with his little plastic lawnmower. Jim even parked them side by side in the garage - the real mower and Corin's toy mower, both green.

Seeing those two lawnmowers next to each other is so heartbreaking. I am broken with the loss of my friend, with the heartbreak of my wife and mother-in-law, and the choking thoughts that come when I realize that he won't be sitting at his table, cursing the editorials in the paper, or watching the news in his chair, or in the garage tinking with a tool or painting something for my wife. He's not down at the hardware store or at morning mass - he's gone, and not coming back. I won't ever get to hear him on the other end of the phone, or hug him when he comes throught the door of our house, or hand him baby Grace as he points out her "flaming redhead". I weep most of all for Corin, who will likely never remember his Poppa and the love they had for each other, and how he is robbed of that. Our older son, Gaige, will always have his memories, and little Grace is still an infant. Corin, though, had a relationship with his Poppa, and while he knew enough to hug Poppa's bedside in the hospital room, he'll never remember the bond they shared.

It sucks.

And I know you bore our sorrows, and I know you feel our pain,
And I know it would not hurt any less even if it could be explained
And I know that I am only lashing out
At the One who loves me most
And after I figured this, somehow All I really need to know -

Is if You who live in eternity
Hear the prayers of those of us who live in time
We can't see what's ahead
And we can not get free of what we've left behind
I'm reeling from these voices that keep screaming in my ears
All the words of shame and doubt, blame and regret I can't see how
You're leading me...
unless you've led me here:
Where I'm lost enough to let myself be led.
And so You've been here all along I guess.
It's just Your ways and You are just plain hard to get.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Family Tragedy

We've had a family tragedy, and, as such, blogging will be intermittent in the days to come. Please pray for us.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Cranky Liberals

If you haven;t noticed, I added two to my blogroll recently: The Cranky Liberal and Courting Destiny. Aside from The Moderate Liberal, I haven't linked to left leaning sites. I have been visiting Cranky's for a while, and found the discussion engaging, often respectful, and sometimes thought provoking. Courting Destiny is run by a liberal who generally stays away from politics, and her writing is a departure from the usual opinion stuff that dominates my net time. I like Pia's writing, the story content, and honesty.

However, while Cranky has the TM on the name, he doesn't own the status of being a cranky liberal. In fact, liberal and cranky go together more often than not! According to a Pew Research Center poll, Democrats are more likely to "be pessimistic about the US, think the system is stacked against them, think working hard is for suckers, think that only boobs fly the American flag, and think religion is a waste of time." (quote stolen from Jonah Goldberg's recent mini-column in NRODT)

Think I'm full of it? Read the report and check out the details. A few blips:

Would you say that people can get ahead with hard work?
Poor Republicans - 76 % Yes, Poor Democrats, 14% Yes.

Weekly Church attendance? All groups at 40% or above, except "Bystanders" (non-voters) and "Liberals" (rich Democrats).

% of party that makes above $75,000 a year? Republicans - 41%. Democrats - 41%. Suprised? Don't be. By the way, the nubmer that makes up the Dems 41% is much bigger than the Republican 41%.

Display the flag? Only groups under 50% "Yes" - Bystanders and Liberals (Republican groups all above 75%)

Cranky Liberals? You bet.

Filibuster This!

I am writing in the blind on this one.

That is, to say, that I haven't reviewed what others around the 'sphere are saying (er, said a week ago) about it. I wanted to post while I had time and I'll check out the field later.

As best I can tell, there were three results to the filibuter compromise:

1) John McCain wins.
2) Bill Frist loses.
3) Harry Reid loses.

However, only McCain's victory was significant, in a relative sense. Here's why.

McCain is a media hound. He loves media attention, and they are glad to give it to him. McCain should be lifted up for his Viet Nam service as the heroic figure he was then - but as a Senator, he is only about publicizing himself. This venture was very successful in that respect. Also, since it is the respect that he would care the most about, he is a big winner.

Bill Frist lost the opportunity to score political points by giving a beat down to the Democrats. However, to most of us who cared, this fight was not about political points or proving who was boss - it was about ending filibusters of judges based upon politics and ideology. Owens, Brown and Pryor, the three who were supposedly the 'worst' are all confirmed or headed for confirmation. I'll take it, since I am on Frist's team right now. (Not for POTUS, mind you, but in the big picture sense).

Harry Reid lost because 'extremist judges' are confirmed and getting confirmed. However, for Reid, it was never about extremist judges - it was about political manuevering and political gain. He was able to stop the beat down, which made him look good. He kept his filibuster available for the future Supreme Court nominee down the road.

You see, if the Democratic party were concerned with principle, they would hate this. Owens, Brown and Pryor are the ones that, on paper, look like the three least likely to advance radical liberal agendas. Thus, if they were going to cave on anyone, it should have never been them. Owens was sooooo bad that she was filibustered for 4 years. Now she is good enough, so he declares victory? It's only victory if you get what you care about Harry. As I have said before, it was never about extremist judges - and Harry Reid's response following proved it.

The future? Bill Frist needs to push all the nominees forward ASAP. Bring the fight on now. See if the filibuster happens. If Brown, Owens and Pryor are not "extraordinary circumstances", what will be? Methinks this fight is merely delayed...

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Moving Rules

Some things you don't learn until they are upon you. Here's a short list of the things that Mrs. Hammer has assigned to be complete before connecting the computer to enable Hammertime's bloging:

Vacuum the house.
Rewire the dryer.
Water the lawn daily.
Mow it.
Weedwhack it.
Install 32 new shelves.
Hang pictures.
Break down the boxes.
Save the packing paper, but get it out of the house.
Build the basketball goal.
Put up all of the 'cute' decorations.
Build Grace's crib - which she won't use for two months.
Watch Father of the Bride II for the 37th time.
Seal the driveway, deck, patio and stairs.
Wash the dog's feet every time he comes in. "He's all yucky."

It may sound fairly average, but moving takes much longer than you'd think to complete. We still only have half of the house "ready", and we have guests coming in tomorrow. Throw in that I also had to prepare and present a message in a church during this period and that our anniversary is today, and you have utter chaos.

I'll be blogging as I am able under these constraints over the next few days. The stuff I thought I was going to write about is fading into the past...