Sunday, July 31, 2005
Sunday Notes 07_31_2005
Today in church the Gospel lesson was the story of the feeding of the multitude with five loaves and two fishes. This is one of the most quoted miracles of the Bible, and I think it is worth discussing for a number of reasons. First of all, how miraculous is it, and concurrent with that question, how accurate is the story? The second bears directly on the first. There is also the issue of what are the miracles of the Bible and how do we deal with them. I have posted on this twice, here and this quote, "Another consequence is that reports of miracles that appear to violate laws of nature would fall into made up events, misconstrued events, mis-reported events, or the use of a law of nature undiscovered to date. ".
First, however, let’s look at a story that I would consider qualifying as a modern miracle in the Biblical sense. Our pastor related this as being true. A pastor had the very strong urge one morning to buy a dozen barbequed chickens. This urge was strong enough that he did as he felt he should. He then started on his calls for the day. As it turned out, everywhere he went that day there was someone who needed one or more of the chickens—an elderly couple too sick that day to cook, a needy family without food, etc. In one sense there is nothing miraculous about the story, after all it was just the pastor giving out food. What is outside the normal concepts is the phenomenal coincidence of the pastor buying the chickens in the first place. The way the story goes, he didn’t go buy a chicken each time he found out someone had a need. He bought them all ahead of time. I can testify as to similar kinds of events in my life in the last few years. It is not that per se they are miraculous, but the necessary coincidences for them not to be are so outrageous, it is easier to accept some external guidance as assisting. From my viewpoint, Biblical stories that have this flavor can indeed be true and factual.
The difficulty with the Gospel lesson today, is that laws of physics are broken. This is something that I interpret as either having been misreported, or not observed properly. Since all four Gospels report this story, we are fairly safe in assuming something occurred. So first let us see what each version of the story says.
In Matthew 14:16-21, there are 5000 people and five loaves and two fishes, and at the end there are 12 baskets of left-overs.
In Mark 8:1-10 there are 4000 people, seven loves and a few small fishes. There are seven basketsful afterwards.
In Luke 9:12-17 there are 5000 people, five loaves and two fishes. The people are seated in groups of 50. There are twelve baskets left
In John 6:5-13 It is again 5000 people and five small barley loaves and two fishes that a boy has. Again there are twelve baskets left over.
Since Mark is the earliest-recorded of the Gospels, and also has the smallest numbers of people and largest number of loaves and fishes, I would like to start from that version. The first thing I question is the head count. For the areas in the Bible, four thousand people is a lot. Let’s say they pack them together, so that each person has a space 3 ft by 2 ft. (6 sq ft). That’s a total of 24,000 sq ft or 150 X 150 ft minimum. We’re talking half an acre or more here of solid people. With no amplification, I seriously doubt all but the front rows would hear Jesus speak. Actually I would be more believing of a tenth that amount or 400 or so people. That would still be a very large crowd. 
Now let’s look at the food situation. For even 400 people, finding food in the local village is not a likely occurrence. This is several times more people than live there. Since the crowds had been following Jesus, possibly for some time or even days, I suspect that they were prepared to provide for their own nourishment. As a consequence, I look on the loaves and fishes as a “pump-priming” type of exercise. By showing the way with sharing the food they had, the disciples opened the lunch bags of everyone to sharing, and as a consequence everyone ate.
But just because we have brought the story from the incredible to the believable does not mean that we have removed the miraculous nature of it. The miracle is not, as most people accept, in the multiplication of loaves, mysteriously. It is in the creation of an environment of sharing among strangers. This is an example, par excellence, of the Christian doctrine of loving ones neighbor, even if a stranger, as oneself.
However, we still have not exhausted this story, for there is a metaphorical aspect as well. The version we used today (NRSV) states, “And all ate and were filled;…” In some way I interpret that as not just everyone had a full belly, but also a full spirit. That all were spiritually filled by the healing and preaching.
 It is notable in modern times that the size of crowds is often judged by partisans to be far greater than it really is. Usually it is by a factor of 2 to 4, but in the case here with the distortions of the oral tradition, a ten-fold increase in size over 20 or 30 years would not be surprising.
 It is also possible to come into the head count from a different direction. How many people could hear Jesus when he did preach? Again at best we get a few hundred, or even less. Somehow it seems to me that anything more than a few tens of people would come to the notice of the Roman authorities. A crowd of thousands would be threatening on the face of it, and would be dispersed.
Saturday, July 30, 2005
Sunday Notes--07/24/2005 (almost a whole week late)
One of the commonest ideas in liturgy is sinning against God. During the opening of the service we have a general confession in which we always repent for sinning against God. Yet we hardly ever say we sin against each other. When we do wrong things to each other, we repent or are remorseful, but it always comes out as a sin against God, apparently under the command to love one another. It puts the definition of sin, at least operationally, as a violation of the laws of God.
In one of my early posts, I defined sin as, "...that which harms either oneself or others." The implications of that definition are that one can sin not only against God but against oneself and ones neighbors. Emotionally this may be more compelling, in that we are now needing to directly receive absolution from ourselves or our neighbors for our sins. We can't pass the buck to God and let him absolve us without our completely facing what we have done.
In a practical sense we cannot be continually asking our neighbors for forgiveness for every little thing, although in polite society we do say excuse me for the small mistakes we catch ourselves at. Generally this is sufficient. For the larger sins, it may require more, including legal procedings. But once these are done, it should count as absolution and forgiveness. (See here for forgiveness).
While heading for Chicago with my wife and daughter, we passed a new church being built. It was another of these large, architecturally noticeable buildings that are springing up, and it struck me that this is part and parcel of a phenomenon that I call "Peddling God". Religion is marketed as a feel-good, a place to belong, an emotional cathersis or an emotional support. I have attended some of these churches and have watched others on TV. There is one on Interstate 75 just north of Ohio Exit 29. That one is especially noticeable, it has a large statue of Jesus from the waist up with his arms raised in the air on the back of the pond. It is 60 feet tall, and has two fountains that spray as high as his arms. We call it "Touchdown Jesus." This church also advertises on TV.
The problem I have is that mass-marketing religion means that the product peddled has about as much quality as most mass-marketed items. One may rationalize that it is better that the consumers of such have some religion rather than none, but does such a religious structure create a change in life and life style, or does it simply provide a veneer of feel-good that allows people to "feel" that they are "saved" and continue with their lives unchanged. During the week they can screw over their fellow man and on Sunday have an emotional catharsis and feel that they are OK.
I have problems with churches that are too big--Ones in which the chief pastor doesn't know all his congregation. I attended one such when shopping for a church in Pennsylvania. It was a good church to get lost in. The music program was outstanding, but the rest of it left me spritually dissatisfied. I think the most effective form of evangelism and worship is by individual invitation and in small to medium churches. One becomes a member of a community--complete with all the diversity of any community. The politicians, the self-servers, the self-efacing, and all the rest. And all of them becoming part of one's world, and supporting one another like an extended family.
The intolerance of religion
Dymphna at The Neighborhood of God, posted this little ditty today. She was making a powerful point about some so-called Christian adoption agencies that would not Catholics adopt babies from the agency. This really does show how some denominations approach others. You will need a clothespin while you read it.
Jesus Loves Me (But He Can't Stand You)
I know you smoke, I know you drink that brew
I just can't abide a sinner like you
God can't either, that's why I know it to be true that
Jesus loves me--but he can't stand you
I'm going to heaven, boys, when I die
'Cause I've crossed every "t" and I've dotted every "i'
My preacher tell me that I'm God's kind of guy; that's why
Jesus loves me--but you're gonna fry
God loves all his children, by gum
That don't mean he won't incinerate some
Can't you feel those hot flames licking you
Woo woo woo
I'm raising my kids in a righteous way
So don't be sending your kids over to my house to play
Yours'll grow up stoned, left-leaning, and gay; I know
Jesus told me on the phone today
Jesus loves me, this I know
And he told me where you're gonna go
There's lots of room for your kind down below
Whoa whoa whoa
Jesus loves me but he can't stand you . . .
Thanks to Gerard and Baron and Dymphna for leading me to him.
Go read, there will be a test.
I think former President Jimmy Carter......
Former President Carter said Saturday the detention of terror suspects at the Guantanamo Bay Naval base was an embarrassment and had given extremists an excuse to attack the United States.......is an embarrassment and disgraceful.
Mr. Carter has the right to say what he thinks, but why do the MSM give line space to a man totally out of touch with the times and reality. Put a hammer back in his hand and point him to a ladder. He did some good with Habitat for Humanity. (Oh, yeah, keep him away from reporters.)
Friday, July 29, 2005
And another test result.....
| You scored as Geek. |
What's Your High School Stereotype?
created with QuizFarm.com
.....Can't say I am surprised at this one either.
For the evolutionists in the crowd......
14:49 29 July 2005
NewScientist.com news service
The molecular building blocks of life had already formed by the time the universe was only a quarter of its present age, new observations by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope reveal. The research bolsters the case for extraterrestrial life and may shed light on the nature of galaxies in the early universe.....a bit more evidence on their side.
Lin Yan, an astronomer at the Spitzer Science Center in Pasadena, California, US, and colleagues used the telescope to observe eight galaxies at an average distance of about 10 billion light years away. The images show the galaxies as they were just 3.5 billion years after the big bang.
"In the optical, these galaxies look like little smudges - their light is obscured by dust," says Yan. But Spitzer detects the mid-infrared glow from this dust and is 100 times more sensitive than previous infrared missions.
Its spectrometer was able to pick out the signature of complex molecules in two of the galaxies. These molecules, called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), each contain about 100 carbon and hydrogen atoms and are the building blocks of even more complex organic molecules.
"Detecting these complex molecules such a long time ago really suggests it's not crazy to think about life in another solar system or galaxy," Yan told New Scientist. "There have been 10 billion years for things to form and evolve, and there are so many galaxies."
Thursday, July 28, 2005
And the word is....
This word is to be used to describe those Islamic death seekers who commit terrorist acts by killing themselves in a way to take others with them.
Thanks to Dymphna for bringing the need up for a word for this. The choice is found in the comments.
'Worthless' gifts get the good girls.....what we knew all along.
13:21 27 July 2005
NewScientist.com news service
Men who spend big money wining and dining their dates are not frittering away hard-earned cash. According to a pair of UK researchers, they are merely employing the best strategy for getting the girl without being taken for granted.
Using mathematical modelling, Peter Sozou and Robert Seymour at University College London, UK, found that wooing girls with costly, but essentially worthless gifts – such as theatre tickets or expensive dinners out – is a winning courtship strategy for both sexes.
Females can assess how serious or committed a male plans to be and males can ensure they are not just seducing 'gold-diggers' – girls who take valuable presents with no intention of accepting subsequent dates.
And what is more, says Lenton, psychologists have found that experiential purchases – like theatre tickets – make people more happy in the long run than material purchases. "I do not necessarily agree that theatre tickets are 'worthless'," she says
Wow! This is wonderful stuff!
First measurements of Earth's core radioactivity
27 July 2005
NewScientist.com news service
EARTH'S natural radioactivity has been measured for the first time. The measurement will help geologists find out to what extent nuclear decay is responsible for the immense quantity of heat generated by Earth.
With time, as more antineutrinos are detected, KamLAND may be able to determine once and for all whether radioactivity is entirely responsible for heating Earth or whether other sources, such as the crystallisation of liquid iron and nickel in the outer core, also play a significant role. "[Detecting anti-neutrinos] is the way of the future in terms of hard numbers about the system," says McDonough.
Antineutrinos could also reveal the radioactive composition of the crust and mantle, which will give geologists clues as to when and how they formed. But to do that, they will have to be able to pin down exactly where the antineutrinos are coming from, and this will require a whole network of detectors. "We are heading towards doing neutrino tomography of the whole Earth," says Learned. "This is just the first step.
Why is this such a problem?
This article has underlying it, scientific elitism--the desire to keep Mars pristine from terrestrial contamination. Notice there is no reason given as to why it is so important. Just like the econuts, if we touch it, that is bad. We are the self-proclaimed lepers of the universe.
Seeds hitch-hike on other plants and animals. Other animals, e.g., parasites and commensuals, hitch-hike on plants and animals. Lamphrey eels worked their way up the Great Lakes Seaway. Microbes are going to find their way to Mars. I believe in reasonable precautions, but not to the extent of placing an implied quarantine on Mars to human exploitation, to keep it "pure" for science.
Just as every other living being expands its territory to its fullest capability, so too, humans do the same. That is how we have conquered the earth, and built our civilizations. It is our heritage and destiny to use our space-faring ability to spread to other worlds. That dream should not be subject to the whims of a few elitists that see their ends as more valuable than any other.
OK, I am pissed.....
SEATTLE (AP) - The sentence itself was fairly straightforward: An Algerian man received 22 years for plotting to bomb the Los Angeles airport on the eve of the millennium. It was what the judge said in imposing the term that raised eyebrows.
U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour said the successful prosecution of Ahmed Ressam should serve not only as a warning to terrorists, but as a statement to the Bush administration about its terrorism-fighting tactics.
"We did not need to use a secret military tribunal, detain the defendant indefinitely as an enemy combatant or deny the defendant the right to counsel," he said Wednesday. "The message to the world from today's sentencing is that our courts have not abandoned our commitment to the ideals that set our nation apart."
He added that the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks have made Americans realize they are vulnerable to terrorism and that some believe "this threat renders our Constitution obsolete ... If that view is allowed to prevail, the terrorists will have won."
.....this judge needs to be recalled.
The court room is no place for political or legal grandstanding.
Protection by jury
Today in Fox News Opinion, Radly Balko points out a second defence, jury nullification. This is where a jury refuses to convict despite the guilt according to law, because the conviction would be unjust. Read the article for an excellent explanation and examples.
I have also read that, at least in Great Britain, juries have returned what are called perverse verdicts, in which they find the accused guilty of something other than the original charges. I am not sure that applies in the US or if it has occurred. I would like someone who knows to let me know or make a correction or corroboration in the commnents.
Since juries potentially have such power and the ability to protect us, it is criminally irresponsible for todays attitudes towards juries to be supported. People work to avoid jury duty. And others enable them; doctors write medical excuses, judges don't enforce the call with a contempt citation. Our schools don't even discuss the duties of citizenship anymore--our schools don't discuss anything of value anymore, much less citizenship.
The legal system sets a reimbursement for jury duty that is contemptable. Twenty or thirty years ago, $10 a day might have been a reasonable sum to lose a day of work. Today, it isn't even an hour's pay. It's no wonder people want out. Not only do they have to do something uncomfortable, sit in judgement on a peer, but they have to pay for the burden. Fortunately most companies are sufficiently enlightened as to allow time off for jury duty without penalty. But their are many self-employed who would make excellent jurors, who cannot afford to take the time for jury duty.
With the system creating pressure to select against the most competent as jurors, it is not surprising that we now see experts on jury selection and manipulation. People of independent thought are fewer in number in jury pools and the lawyers like it that way. Many jurors know what is right but cannot articulate it. They become pressured by those who are glib or verbal but are less concerned with the right answer. The problem is most evident in civil cases where the awards have less and less to do with justice and more and more with avaricious dreams of unearned largess, motivated by the envy of and cultivated hatred of those with money.
It takes very strong character to stand on what one knows is right against 10 or 11 other people. Strong character is not what is encouraged in today's society and schools. Children of strong character are a challenge to teach, and few teachers really want that challenge considering what teachers appear to lobby for, and against.
One of the fundamental protections of our freedom is slowly being weakened, and we are not aware of it. It is like the person that is able to continue working and leading an apparently normal life while they are slowly being destroyed by cancer. It still looks as if they are working OK, but they are starting to show weaknesses from time to time.
For those who still don't get the message.....
The Iranian military has launched a new division, known as "The Lovers of Martyrdom Garrison" — to identify, recruit and train volunteers for suicide operations against Western targets... that according to a senior officer in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard (search)......Islamic leaders are dangerous and evil.
Commander Mohammed-Reza Jaafari, who heads the new division, tells an Iranian newspaper — "The United States should know that we have nuclear weapons ... in the hearts of our suicide bombers." And, he says, — "Israel must be wiped off the face of the Earth, but so far practical steps have not been taken. Our garrison must ... materialize this objective."[emphasis mine, bk]
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
Geekier than I thought
Once again thanks to the Maximum Leader for the link.
Even seatbelt laws.....
Federalist Patriot No. 05-25
"The NHTSA's 'Click It or Ticket' program is another step toward making Americans serfs of the state. Let's look at it. I personally believe that wearing seatbelts is a good idea, and I buckle up and remind my passengers to do so as well. Because seatbelt usage saves lives, mandating such is an abomination in a free society. There are many other legislative actions that are offensive to liberty and can have saving as their justification, a matter I'll turn to later. But let's talk about the immorality of mandated seatbelt usage. Let's start with the question: Who owns Walter E. Williams? Is it President Bush, the U.S. Congress, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, or do I own myself? I'm guessing that any reasonable person would agree that I own Walter E. Williams. The fact that I own myself means that I have the right to take risks with my own life but not others'. That's why it's consistent with morality to mandate that my car have working brakes. If my car doesn't have working brakes, then I risk the lives of others, and I have no right to do so. If I choose not to wear a seatbelt, then I risk my own life, which I have every right to do. ... Some might rejoin by saying, 'Williams, if you're not wearing a seatbelt, and don't do us the favor of dying in an accident and become an incapacitated vegetable, society will have to bear the expense of taking care of you.' That's not a problem of liberty and self-ownership. It's a problem of socialism. There's no moral case for forcing anyone to care for me for any reason. When we buy into socialism, we buy into paternalistic government." --Walter Williams.....are just another loss of freedom.
I am an.....
| You scored as Eagle. You are the Eagle. People respect you and for good reason. You are a creative person who likes to do things abstractly. You tend to be a healer, either with yourself or with others.|
Which animal totem best suits you?
created with QuizFarm.com
....Eagle. I really like the results of this test.
Dragon and Fox tied for second? Maybe I should carve this one, with the top five as the pole. I've never had a real totem pole. Maybe now is the time to start.
Thanks to the Maximum Leader for his leadership and link to this one.
The Bottom Line
It is of course tempting to think we can figure out what motivates the bombers: who they want to bomb, and why. After all, if we could, we might be able to do something about it. But the truth is, we don't. It might not be a fashionable thing to say in European circles, but it needs to be said anyway: these people are completely and utterly evil. We shouldn't even want to reason with them, and there is no point trying. There is only one thing we can do: to fight the War on Terror until they are completely and utterly defeated - no matter how long that might take.
As we cheer....
Spamming is not good for one's health in Russia. It may be a bit extreme to kill a spammer, but many of us harbor the wish we could.
....though not outloud.
Monday, July 25, 2005
Homework assignment for bloggers
To begin with, we can consider and argue the following topics:
1. Whether we like it or not, we are in a religious war.
2. The demographics of Islam are against us.
3. There is a significant portion of unassimilated Muslims in the West, including the USA. They comprise a danger to our security.
4. Our enemy is adept at using our tolerance and “multiculturalist” sentiments to his advantage.
5. Islam is deeply misogynistic and abusive to women.
And then we can research the following questions:
1. Are we at war with all of Islam, or only a small portion of it?
2. Can Islam be politically reformed to accept democracy?
3. Can Europe pull out of its suicidal demographic spiral?
4. Is profiling for a “Muslim” appearance preferable to enduring more terrorist attacks?
5. And most importantly: Is the West worth saving?
An excellent question for discussion
They say, "It's time for term limits for Supreme Court justices."
I see the point they are making but also understand the philosophical and political issues as well. I think there needs to be a long and thorough discussion of this with either the adoption of term limits or the rejection of them. Perhaps there are other ways to solve the problems presented in the article. Only by discussing openly will they come to light.
Over 60 years later....
"You ask what is our aim? I can answer that in one word, victory at all costs, victory in spite of terror, victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory there is no survival."....it is still true.
Saturday, July 23, 2005
Sedition and Islam
One in four Muslims sympathizes with motives of terrorists
By Anthony King
The group portrait of British Muslims painted by YouGov's survey for The Daily Telegraph is at once reassuring and disturbing, in some ways even alarming.
The vast majority of British Muslims condemn the London bombings but a substantial minority are clearly alienated from modern British society and some are prepared to justify terrorist acts.
Click to enlarge
The divisions within the Muslim community go deep. Muslims are divided over the morality of the London bombings, over the extent of their loyalty to this country and over how Muslims should respond to recent events.
Most Muslims are evidently moderate and law-abiding but by no means all are.
YouGov sought to gauge the character of the Muslim community's response to the events of July 7. As the figures in the chart show, 88 per cent of British Muslims clearly have no intention of trying to justify the bus and Tube murders.
However, six per cent insist that the bombings were, on the contrary, fully justified.
Six per cent may seem a small proportion but in absolute numbers it amounts to about 100,000 individuals who, if not prepared to carry out terrorist acts, are ready to support those who do.
Moreover, the proportion of YouGov's respondents who, while not condoning the London attacks, have some sympathy with the feelings and motives of those who carried them out is considerably larger - 24 per cent.
A substantial majority, 56 per cent, say that, whether or not they sympathise with the bombers, they can at least understand why some people might want to behave in this way.
YouGov also asked whether or not its Muslim respondents agreed or disagreed with Tony Blair's description of the ideas and ideology of the London bombers as "perverted and poisonous".
Again, while a large majority, 58 per cent, agree with him, a substantial minority, 26 per cent, are reluctant to be so dismissive.
The responses indicate that Muslim men are more likely than Muslim women to be alienated from the mainstream and that the young are more likely to be similarly alienated than the old.
However, there are few signs in YouGov's findings that Muslims of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin are any more disaffected than their co-religionists from elsewhere.
The sheer scale of Muslim alienation from British society that the survey reveals is remarkable. Although a large majority of British Muslims are more than content to make their home in this country, a significant minority are not.
For example, YouGov asked respondents how loyal they feel towards Britain. As the figures in the chart show, the great majority say they feel "very loyal" (46 per cent) or "fairly loyal" (33 per cent) but nearly one British Muslim in five, 18 per cent, feels little loyalty towards this country or none at all.
If these findings are accurate, and they probably are, well over 100,000 British Muslims feel no loyalty whatsoever towards this country.
The proportion of men who say they feel no loyalty to Britain is more than three times the proportion of women saying the same.
Equally remarkable are YouGov's findings concerning many Muslims' attitudes towards Western society and culture.
YouGov asked respondents how they feel about Western society and how, if at all, they feel Muslims should adapt to it. A majority, 56 per cent, believe "Western society may not be perfect but Muslims should live with it and not seek to bring it to an end".
However, nearly a third of British Muslims, 32 per cent, are far more censorious, believing that "Western society is decadent and immoral and that Muslims should seek to bring it to an end".
Among those who hold this view, almost all go on to say that Muslims should only seek to bring about change by non-violent means but one per cent, about 16,000 individuals, declare themselves willing, possibly even eager, to embrace violence.
Yet again, far more men than women and far more young people than their elders evince this kind of hostility towards the world around them. In addition, tens of thousands of Muslims view the whole of Britain's political establishment with suspicion.
More than half of those interviewed, 52 per cent, believe "British political leaders don't mean it when they talk about equality. They regard the lives of white British people as more valuable than the lives of British Muslims".
Almost as many, 50 per cent, reckon the main party leaders are not being sincere when they say they respect Islam and want to co-operate with Britain's Muslim communities.
Despite Tony Blair's well-publicised efforts to reach out to Muslims, fewer than half of those interviewed, 42 per cent, approve of the way he has handled Britain's response to the July 7 events.
Many British Muslims are probably reluctant to give Mr Blair credit for anything at all following his complicity with America, as they see it, in launching the invasion of Iraq. Just more than half, 52 per cent, are impressed by the performance since the bombings of Sir Iqbal Sacranie, secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Great Britain. Some Muslims' discontent with Britain clearly extends to discontent with the existing moderate and pro-British Muslim leadership.
A cloud of suspicion also hangs over Britain's judicial system.
YouGov asked its Muslim respondents whether or not they thought anyone charged and taken to court in connection with the July 7 attacks would receive a fair trial. Only 37 per cent said yes. The rest reckon he or she would not or were doubtful that they would.
Despite these widespread doubts, a large majority of Britain's Muslims clearly believe the time has come when Muslims must shoulder their share of the responsibility for preventing and punishing terrorist crimes such as those in London.
As the figures in the chart show, roughly a third of Muslims reckon they should assume "a great deal" of the responsibility and another third reckon they should assume at least "some" of it.
Even more impressive in some ways is the fact that large numbers now say they are prepared to put their mouth where their feelings are.
As the figures in the chart show, almost three quarters of British Mulsims, 73 per cent, say they would inform the police if they believed that someone they knew or knew of might be planning a terrorist attack.
Nearly half, 47 per cent, say they would also go to the police if they believed an imam or other religious person was trying to radicalise young Muslims by preaching hatred against the West.
Not only that but 70 per cent of Muslims reckon they have a duty to go to the police if they "see something in the community that makes them feel suspicious".
Taken as a whole, the findings of YouGov's survey suggest that, although large numbers of British Muslims dislike British society and in some cases may be tempted to attack it, the great majority are loyal and law-abiding and are unlikely to provide the radicals with moral support, let alone safe havens.
YouGov interviewed 526 Muslim adults across Great Britain online between July 15 and yesterday. The data were weighted to reflect the composition of Britain's Muslim population by gender, age and country of birth.
YouGov abides by the rules of the British Polling Council.
Anthony King is professor of government at Essex
Friday, July 22, 2005
Better check your facts.....
Federalist Patriot No. 05-29
In the Senate, further attempts to cut Amtrak loose were derailed again when the Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously approved a reinstatement of the railroad's $1.4-billion operating subsidy. The move rightfully earned an immediate veto threat from the administration, which sought to cut the subsidy and set aside $360 million for emergency funds in case Amtrak goes bankrupt. Amtrak has made only modest improvements in service over the years and has been a continuous black hole of government money. Like all subsidized companies and industries, there is no incentive for the railroad to improve its service or technology in any way, nor is there any incentive to operate in the black.......before you condemn out of hand.
This assessment is plain wrong to anyone who follows the situation with AMTRAK. This is a case of ideology dictating what the reality is supposed to be without looking at the reality to see if it can be something else. I suspect a populist view of railroads as robber barons still runs in the veins of even conservatives.
From my viewpoint this gives the Federalist Patriot a big black eye. Read any railroading magazine and it is a miracle AMTRAK does what it does with what it has. It has been robbing Peter to pay Paul for its entire existence. The railroads couldn't make passenger service profitable, yet spinning it off and hobbling it with no control over rights of way was supposed to. The President and Congress are smoking wacky weed on this one.
What a wonderful way....
Founders' Quote Daily
"Laws are made for men of ordinary understanding and should, therefore, be construed by the ordinary rules of common sense. Their meaning is not to be sought for in metaphysical subtleties which may make anything mean everything or nothing at pleasure." --Thomas Jefferson.....to approach the Constitution.
Would the Supreme Court please take notice?
After 200 years.....
Founders' Quote Daily
"Wherever indeed a right of property is infringed for the general good, if the nature of the case admits of compensation, it ought to be made; but if compensation be impracticable, that impracticability ought to be an obstacle to a clearly essential reform." --Alexander Hamilton.....this has been re-written.
The rewrite is: the common good can infringe anytime anyplace and pay what it wants or not pay at all.
Let us hope.....
Founders' Quote Daily
"A feeble Executive implies a feeble execution of the government. A feeble execution is but another phrase for a bad execution; and a government ill executed, whatever it may be in theory, must be, in practice, a bad government." --Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 70.....that the converse is true.
It starts from this quote:
"We don't need to fight. We are taking over!" ["Abdullah," a Muslim watch-mender and evangelist] said. "We are here to bring civilization to the West. England does not belong to the English people, it belongs to God."
1. Is this the authentic voice of Islam?
2. If it is demonstrated, as now seems pretty clear, that the perpetrators of the London bombings were British citizens or legal residents, will there be any reflection on what this means for the neoconservative theory that democracy is the cure for Islamic terrorism?
3. Are we or are we not going permit (or perhaps continue to permit) the emergence, within our midst, of totalitarian Islam?
This is a very thoughtful article and the answers are not self-evident. Go read the whole piece.
Thursday, July 21, 2005
This says a lot
"We grew up with two things pounded into our brains from the day we were born," says songwriter Butch Hancock in a West Texas drawl capable of transforming a normal conversation into smoky music. "One is, God loves ya and he's gonna send ya to hell. The other is that sex is dirty and evil and nasty and filthy and sinful and bad and awful and you should save it for the one you love. So it's no wonder we were all schizoid maniacs."
-- Richard Gehr, "Lubbock on Everything" (Richard Gehr's Rubrics & Tendrils).
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
Environmentalism does have a price......
The chemical industry was born and took root in the U.S. largely because of its enormous reserves of hydrocarbons and other natural resources that could be transformed into new materials. The industry's low-cost inputs and outsize scale also gave it an edge on the global market. AS recently as 1997, the U.S. posted a trade surplus in chemicals of almost $20 billion, even as it ran deficits in most other manufacturing sectors.[Emphasis mine, bk]
But at the start of this decade, the industry's hegemony abruptly ended. Orders collapsed, hurt by an unrelenting recession in manufacturing and by the exodus of industrial customers to China and other low-wage countries. The capper was the sudden leap in U.S. natural gas prices. Through the 1990's gas prices were among the world's lowest, averaging $2 per million British thermal units (BTUs). But in 2000, U.S. prices shot up, because of unprecedented demand from new, gas-fired power plants.....
The point here is that the reason new power plants were demanding gas as a fuel, was the stringent enviromental rules on emissions that were being established. It was cheaper to use gas than to clean up coal. Of course with the loss of the chemical industry, comes the increase in the cost of electricity. And in the process, how many lives were saved? Louder, please. Oh, you can't show any savings of life from the new regulations? But you killed off industries and livelihoods, what is there to show for it? Cleaner skies? I can't eat cleaner skies and I can't feed them to my kids.
......and it is measured in lost wealth.
Move over Dennis.....
Some of the recent stories surfacing from the newest centers of Latino population--many in the South--are troubling tales of anti-immigrant backlashand government institutions' unpreparedness to speak the language and understand the cultures of their newest residents.Yes there is a backlash. When the people that wait on us or cut our grass or clean our cars or... can't speak English and their bosses can't speak Spanish, it's a wonder anything gets done. They come and form their clans and ghettos and then don't come out of them or even try to acculturate (An example in the op-ed piece that started this rant was a Mixteco indian that had been in the US for 10 years but could not speak English.). Why shouldn't there be a backlash. They want the rights, entitlements, and privileges but don't want the rest--having to learn English, becoming citizens, paying taxes. If English is the language of government then it is up to the citizens to know English.
Barrera's due process rights were violated, say her lawyers, because there was no interpreter during the first hearings.OK, I have some problems here. If this woman was a citizen of the US, how did she become one without learning English? If she is not a citizen, then how does she have due process rights, and what are they? We made everyone else learn English and acculturate and they helped make the country strong. Now we tell them they can come over legally or not, and have all the privileges of citizenship without ever earning them, and defend their desire to not become part of our society. This does not strengthen our country it weakens it. All so a bunch of mush-headed liberals can feel like they are doing "the right thing". Bullshit, so they can tear down what is great is more like it.
.....I want to join your curmudgeons' anti-immigration group.
I stuck now.....
I was never a real Trekkie, but I enjoyed the original series. Scottie and Doc were my two favorite characters. It was all good entertainment with clear, conventional values and morals. Take a moment to remember.
......Scotty isn't there to beam me up anymore.
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
First, a disclaimer. I have no problem with the idea that women should have the same right to compete in the boxing ring as men. They should, and obviously do. Where my problem lies is in the fact that they are willing to box.
Having made myself think about this for a minute, the problem is that they are competing in an area that men, by nature, have an major advantage. Granted that they are competing against other women, nonetheless, they are by implication competing against men, who are genetically endowed wih larger muscles and even better cerebral hardware to control it.
But let's back up for a minute. Here we have two women that are fighting for the money. I can imagine no other motivation for normal, healthy females. (Come on, you think they are fighting over a guy? After the fight is over they will have their pick of all the guys). But if they are fighting for the money, then they need the money desparately (Fighting's too hard a work to not need money). Athletics has always been one of the avenues of advancement for minorities. But boxing for women just doesn't seem to compute in my mind. It even looks wrong. The two women didn't have the aggressiveness that makes boxing exciting. It was more like they were just doing a job. When men box there is a feral quality to it that creates the excitement.
In thinking further, I realize I don't have a problem with women fencing, shooting bows and arrows, guns, or practicing judo and its relatives. Perhaps it is because all other forms of defense have something more than brute force behind them. They require thought and precision and there is a certain equalizing factor in their use that implies a small woman can be the equal of any one else. And now I think I have my key.
Boxing is a sport of brute and brutal strength. It is totally elemental and primitive--pound your opponent with your fists until he surrenders. It is a guy thing. Women ordinarily are not that brutal.
Steve is back......
It's great to see you back, Steve.
.....and with a vengeance.
Monday, July 18, 2005
Today I relinquish my post to Gerard Van der Leun. He has a post that I think is far better than anything I could write and well worth your reading.
A politician speaks
It's worse than a Chinese dinner. I was hungry the minute I left the article.
Time to get priorities straight
Ben said the rich should pay more taxes and the soldiers should get more pay. I disagree with the taxes part. All those who protect us, and Ben lists them, should get more pay. The money should come from all those entitlements that are never earned and simply provide the means and incentive for people to become parasites on the rest of us. It is one thing to be generous and helpful to those who need it, but when it comes at the expense of those who give their lives, sometimes for want of equipment or supplies, it is obscene. Though it is most evident in our military, I know a young man who is a police officer in a city that refuses to provide enough money for the police department. He is looking to find employment with the county sheriff or another police department because the police are stretched so thin that it is dangerous for them to respond. They have to go in without backup. A robbery will have a five hour response time. There was the exposure of inadequate armor for humvees.
Our congress just doesn't get it right. In war time it is not business as usual and demagogary as usual. The American people are aware of the issues and I think there will be some surprised politicians in 2006 and 2008.
Saturday, July 16, 2005
Saturday night test-mania
First a Harry Potter quiz:
I'm a Ravenclaw!
The same as my leader. We are off to a good start.
Now to look at my internet addiction potential:
Hmm. I tend to not take too kindly to technology. I am from an earlier age. And as befits a wizard it is best to be detached.
Now for geekiness:
Not much in that department.
Now that is very interesting..... Not sure I'd agree.
Now for my hipness:
No surprises here.
OK, I'm a bit underwhelmed. Other tests have been more fun and the answers were more interesting. However, it may indeed help cure my insomnia.
Thursday, July 14, 2005
Founders' Quote Daily
"The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground." --Thomas Jefferson....Jefferson was exactly right about.
Founders' Quote Daily
"Each State, in ratifying the Constitution, is considered as a sovereign body, independent of all others, and only to be bound by its own voluntary act. In this relation, then, the new Constitution will, if established, be a FEDERAL, and not a NATIONAL constitution." --James Madison, Federalist No. 39....the Supreme Court gets through with the Interstate Commerce Clause and the Fourteenth Amendment.
Hamilton didn't understand....
Founders' Quote Daily
"It is a singular advantage of taxes on articles of consumption that they contain in their own nature a security against excess.....taxing cigarettes and alcohol. Politicians count on there never being a limit to what people will pay in taxes on them.
They prescribe their own limit, which cannot be exceeded without defeating the end purposed -- that is, an extension of the revenue." --Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 21
PC gone mad
Archibald MacLeish, With Age Wisdom:
At twenty, stooping round about,
I thought the world a miserable place,
Truth a trick, faith in doubt,
Little beauty, less grace.
Now at sixty what I see,
Although the world is worse by far,
Stops my heart in ecstasy.
God, the wonders that there are!
Other than the crack about voting Democrat I won't argue. However, don't call me effete or you might make the acquaintance of my ball bat.
Some profound observations on a debate
On the polemical creationist side, the sin is intellectual dishonesty. It begins innocently as a wise recognition that faith must precede reason, even if the faith is only in reason itself (as Gödel showed, reason cannot prove its own validity). But under pressure from a contemptuous academic elite the appeal to faith rapidly becomes anti-intellectualism and what Socrates identified as a great sin, "misologic" or treason against the Logos, against reason itself -- in religious terms, a sin against the Holy Spirit. Under further pressure it resorts to rhetorical dishonesty and hypocrisy, to an attempt to appropriate the garments of science and reason, and so we get "creation science", the misuse of the term "intelligent design", the whole grotesque solemn sham of pseudoscientific periodicals and conferences on creation science, and a lame parade of scientific titles and degrees. A lie repeated often enough convinces the liar, and many creationists may now have forgotten that they are lying at all.
...In many cases it is clear that the beautiful and hard-won theory of evolution, now proved beyond reasonable doubt, is being cynically used by some -- who do not much care about it as such -- to support an ulterior purpose: a program of atheist indoctrination, and an assault on the moral and spiritual goals of religion. A truth used for unworthy purposes is quite as bad as a lie used for ends believed to be worthy. If religion can be undermined in the hearts and minds of the people, then the only authority left will be the state, and, not coincidentally, the state's well-paid academic, legal, therapeutic and caring professions. If creationists cannot be trusted to give a fair hearing to evidence and logic because of their prior commitment to religious doctrine, some evolutionary partisans cannot be trusted because they would use a general social acceptance of the truth of evolution as a way to set in place a system of helpless moral license in the population and an intellectual elite to take care of them.
The controversy over intelligent design and evolution is, like many current quarrels, largely artificial, a proxy fight between atheists and biblical literalists over the existence and nature of a divine authority and the desirability of state authority as a replacement for it. Many people not warped in attitude by the exacerbations of the conflict see no contradiction between the idea that the universe, life, and human beings evolved according to natural processes, and the idea that a divine being or beings can be credited with the existence of everything, having set those natural processes going in the first place. The big question is whether nature can give us a moral law that is robust enough to serve a modern democratic free enterprise society -- if it can, that moral law would be acceptable both to believers, who would see it as God's natural revelation, and to unbelievers, who could trust its metaphysical impartiality.
My take on Rove
As for appointing a special prosecutor for this, it almost is appearing like it was giving the Dems enough rope. Now they are starting to hang themselves. Rather than looking like a freedom of the press or a legal issue, the press and dems are trying to have their cake and eat it too. They got warned about Wilson, but now want to turn a favor into a crime.
It's almost funny at this point. They get further away from reality daily.
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
Founders' Quote Daily
"It will not be too strong to say, that there will be a constant probability of seeing the station [of President] filled by characters pre-eminent for ability and virtue." --Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 68
....it will also see the power-seekers and the political hacks. And what is worse or at least more interesting, we will never really know till they get there. Who would have thought Harry Truman would have had the guts he did to drop the bomb? Who would have thought (besides an Arkansas pol) that William Clinton would turn out to consider an intern's pants more important than international relations.?
Not only Thomas Jefferson.....
Founders' Quote Daily
"The truth is, that, even with the most secure tenure of office, during good behavior, the danger is not, that the judges will be too firm in resisting public opinion, and in defence of private rights or public liberties; but, that they will be ready to yield themselves to the passions, and politics, and prejudices of the day." --Joseph Story....but Joseph Story saw the dangers that assail us today from the courts.
A simple lesson.....
Founders' Quote Daily
"The cause of America is in a great measure the cause of all mankind." --Thomas Paine...That many cannot understand.
The Muslim barbarian is at our outer gates, but the poor barbarian is already in our fortress. We'd best wake up to the fact that our days are numbered unless we actively strive to keep what is ours intact.
A noble ideal.....
Founders' Quote Daily
"To all of which is added a selection from the elementary schools of subjects of the most promising genius, whose parents are too poor to give them further education, to be carried at the public expense through the college and university. The object is to bring into action that mass of talents which lies buried in poverty in every country, for want of the means of development, and thus give activity to a mass of mind, which, in proportion to our population, shall be double or treble of what it is in most countries." --Thomas Jefferson....that founders on the reality. There may be talent in the poor, but how do we discern it today? With PC all the rage, distinguishing someone from the rest is a cardinal sin. So we throw our money indiscriminately then wonder why it produces so little return.
From my favorite source of gloom and doom....
Misty Pollock simles. "When I was a kid we wanted to be outdoors," she says. "Today you have to push the kids outside."......parents that will not be parents. I have deliberately cherry-picked the quotations that make the point. Parents no longer act as parents. A parent is at best a benign dictator, at worst a despot. Either is preferable to neglect or acquiescence.
Dakota Howell says his favorite video game--Tony Hawk's Pro Skater--is more fun than actual skateboarding.
Parents are more afraid of letting kids roam in a world of heavy traffic and report of pedophiles and missing children. A 41% decline in the birth rate since1960 means smaller packs of kids roam neighborhoods. Air-conditioning means kids don't need the local pool or swimmming hole to cool off.
"Boundaries for kids used to be measured by blocks or miles. Now, the boundary for most kids is the front yard. ... [Richard Louv] says many parent fear the outdoors, whether it's letting a kid climb a tree or hike alone in the woods. "Parents think their kids are safer in front of the XBox in the next room.
[a case of two eleven-years olds] The buddies were outdoors together at this month's fishing derby. Cole's mother, ..., drove them to the event and sat behind the boys reading ... , a murder mystery. She says she would never let her son play in the woods without an adult. Whe won't even let him go alone to the park down the street. "Parks are where pedophiles go."
"Bikes used to be empowering for children," ..."My parents didn't care where I went as long as I was home for supper. Now, parents are afraid to let kids out of their sight."
[The head of Parks and Recreation] in Greenville, Ohio, says his atheletic 14-year-old son spends a typical summer week playing basketball all day at basketball camp and playing soccer at night. But when his son is homek the boy spends his free time dusing computer chat rooms and playing cards over the Internet. "The funny thing is, I never see him play cards with his friends," his father says.
Darrell Mueller, 54, runs the parks and recreation programs in North Platte, Neb. His childhood was spent outdoors playing ball, riding his bike and building forts. Even today, he hates being inside.
His children are the opposite. They prefer being driven to school, which is just two houses away.
His 11-year-old daughter, Ivy, spends hours instant messaging her friend across the street. He asks why she doesn't just go over and play with her friend. “This is more fun,” his daughter explains.
Mueller's 16-year-old son, Taylor, spends nearly every waking hour in his room, playing the Warcraft fantasy game on the Internet with people from around the world.
“I call him the caveman because he never leaves his room,” Mueller says. “He comes out now and then for dinner, but he can't eat with us. He has to get back to his game.”
His son recently burst out of his room excited. His guild, or team, had earned a top ranking in Warcraft. The father didn't know what to say: Should he congratulate his son on his success or worry about what it meant?
Mueller pulls his son out of his room three times a week — twice for a summer basketball league and on Sunday to mow the grass at the boy's grandfather's house. “In my day, we tried to get out of the house any way we could,” Mueller says. “Now, you can't get kids outdoors.”
In Bellbrook, the fishing derby ends at noon.
Dakota Howell and his brother John, 7, are ready to head home from Spring Lake. Dakota declares he wants to be an archaeologist because he loves getting his fingers dirty. John, carrying fishing rods, looks like a child in a Norman Rockwell painting. He has a big smile on his face.
“Now,” he says, “we're going home to play video games.”
Monday, July 11, 2005
At the men's breakfast this week we were discussing the lack of attention to the Bible in modern society, and the pre-imminence of science in society today coupled with a perceived moral decay. Some comments came about on the issue of Genesis vs. evolution. One of the points that I was trying to stress was that the Bible might not be an accurate historical document but it was still a good moral document. There was also discussion on the idea that the Bible was written for people with far less understanding of their world than we have and so would appear ignorant or useless to us.
At that point I pointed out that Genesis was a creation myth, and that all peoples have creation myths--where humans came from. Then I realized that these myths have the value of providing their believers with a place in the universe and a purpose for living, and a reason for their being there. It then struck me that our humanistic secular beliefs do not have that grounding. Most people that have religious bellief have the belief that they are on earth for a reason. They may not articulate it, but they are here for a reason.
Contrast that with the Naturalist position that life is really an accident, just a chance occurrence and that our existence has no meaning outside itself. Such a belief can lead to some major difficulties. It means that one's life has no value outside itself, that no one is really of any value, that there are no standards for ethical behavior other than common agreement. Taken to its conclusion, it leads to a view of, "So what's the point?" Why live, or if one lives, why struggle or try to do right?
Here is the value of Genesis. The why is because it is willed from something outside ourselves that is greater than ourselves. When we feel of no value to ourselves, we are still of value to God. This is not an objective truth but an emotional one. That does not make it any less valid. Another problem scientism has is with the non-rational parts of human makeup. They are part of the essence of our humanity, but cannot be dealt with in a rigid, logical way. Yet the Bible has all of that in it, what people have done with their irrationality, both good and bad. Though my thinking is not nearly this simplistic, none the less, I do acknowledge the value of Genesis in grounding humanity. Some of us may argue the details, and I do, but still there is the underlying idea of a moral code and an intrinsic value to humanity that is to be accepted.
Some Thoughts on the Gospels:
I am working on the second section of my study of Jesus last week on earth. I am not doing it in exact order, I am saving the Last Supper for last. Currently I am working on the crucifixion, death, and apparent resurrection. One of the things that has struck me is that as one goes further away in time from the events before they are written down, they become more embellished, especially the resurrection stories.
Mark which most authorities will place as the earliest Gospel was written about 20 years after the events. Matthew about 10 years later, Luke after that, and John was written last. If we consider Mark 16:9-20 to be a later addition, which some scholars would (some of the oldest manuscripts stop at Mark 16:8), then Matthew is longer and more embellished with the story of a second appearance and the charge to preach to all the world. Luke expands it further with the story of the road to Emmaus, and John has Jesus even cooking a meal for the apostles by the Sea of Galilee.
To me the most reliable witness is generally Mark. The Markan gospel is the shortest, and yet tells many of the same stories as the other gospels. Being closer to the events in time, there was less chance for the oral tradition to be corrupted. John on the other hand, I have a lot of problems with in general. I find his "disciple whom Jesus loved" self-references to be a bit overblown-an attempt to establish some sort of status above the other apostles, as if Jesus didn't love them. He also has the longest version of the Last Supper, with Jesus preaching a major sermon. To accept his version of the post-resurrection appearances requires considerable credulousness. His account of Jesus confrontation with Pilate is distinctly different and longer than the Synoptics as well.
Though I would not go so far as to accuse John of complete fabrication, I tend to take his writings with more scepticism than the other evangelists. It will be interesting to see how this section shakes out once I have the grunt work done.
"The ongoing collapse of courtesy is no surprise in a nation with so many people who are as self-absorbed as black holes. Consider this T-shirt I've spotted: 'It's all about me -- deal with it.' ... Push in your seat when leaving tables in restaurants, libraries, and conference rooms. Abandoning your chair or barstool in the middle of a path obstructs those who walk by after you depart. ... It remains civilized to hold open the door for someone who is walking a few steps behind you. Letting the door slam in his face is rude. When someone opens a door for you, say 'thank you.' Muttering 'Excuse me' makes a gracious person feel his thoughtfulness is abusive. Walking by and saying nothing, as if that lady or gentleman were your servant or simply invisible, is vulgar. ... 'Please' and 'thank you' are not vulgarities. Use them generously, especially around children. They need to learn two of the language's finest words, even if adults say them less than they should. ... Trash cans are there for a reason. Use them. ... A major airline's East Coast shuttle lounge in Washington, DC's Reagan National Airport -- gateway for learned attorneys, lobbyists, journalists, and members of Congress -- recently almost suffocated beneath whole sections and loose pages of various newspapers. They were strewn across the floor and on many seats. These literate adults apparently did not have their mommies on hand to locate the ubiquitous, neglected garbage bins. The point of all this is not necessarily to turn every American man and woman, respectively, into Cary Grant and Grace Kelly, though we could do worse. The idea is to encourage each of us -- every day, in tiny ways -- to subtract from, rather than add to, the worries of an impolite world." --Deroy MurdockI was very fortunate, I had a Victorian, upper-middle class Grandmother with whom I spent considerable time. As you can imagine, manners were ingrained by the time I was older. I will personally testify that manners do make the world go more smoothly.
For dirty dhimmis
Friday, July 08, 2005
Dennis has the right problem....
.....but the wrong reason for not solving it. It is not Political Correctness that prevents the sealing of our borders, it is the money. Where would all the cheap labor that does the menial tasks come from? Probably at less than minimum wage as well. Economic lesson here on wages.
Bit by bit.....
.....Global Warming is being eroded until it will become simply another myth to be pursued as an ideology not science.
Then a thought went through my mind that has been haunting it for over three years now. A simple idea, really, yet one that when it is clearly stated can offer us a radically different way of understanding events like 9/11, the Bali attack, the Madrid bombings, and now the carnage in London.Read the entire essay. It makes more sense out of the situation than anything I have read before.
After the London bombing, I feel more than ever that the war model is deeply flawed, and that a truer picture of the present conflict may be gained by studying another, culturally distinct form of violent conflict, namely the blood feud.
In the blood feud, the orientation is not to the future, as in war, but to the past. In the feud you are avenging yourself on your enemy for something that he did in the past.
In the blood feud, unlike war, you have no interest in bringing your enemy to his knees. You are not looking for your enemy to surrender to you; you are simply interested in killing some of his people in revenge for past injuries, real or imaginary -- nor does it matter in the least whether the people you kill today were the ones guilty of the past injuries that you claim to be avenging. In a blood feud, every member of the enemy tribe is a perfectly valid target for revenge. What is important is that some of their guys must be killed -- not necessarily anyone of any standing in their community. Just kill someone on the other side, and you have done what the logic of the blood feud commands you to do.
In the blood feud there is no concept of decisive victory because there is no desire to end the blood feud. Rather the blood feud functions as a permanent "ethical" institution -- it is the way of life for those who participate in it; it is how they keep score and how they maintain their own rights and privileges. You don't feud to win, you feud to keep your enemy from winning -- and that is why the anthropologist of the Bedouin feud, Emrys Peters, has written the disturbing words: The feud is eternal.
There will be a test. [As in real-world test] Let's hope our leaders at least read it if not take it to heart.
Can Senator Reid read?
"The president has started a consultive process," Reid said in an interview Thursday.Apparently Senator Reid has not read the Constitution, or else, if he claims he has, doesn't understand what he read. Nowhere does it say that the President must or should consult with the Senate before presenting judicial candidates.
"Constitutionally that's the right thing to do. I appreciate his having done this," he told The Associated Press
The party is just beginning. Before it's over it will make asses out of the entire Senate, Republican and Democrat alike--Republicans for lack of guts and principle, Democrats for sheer visciousness and speeches bordering on insanity. And all of them totally disconnected from the reality that there are voters back home that don't give a damn about their old-boys' club or politics as practiced in Washington, D.C.
Thursday, July 07, 2005
Sunday Notes--07/03/05 (better late than never)
Like any other of the many paradoxical admonitions in the New Testament, love your enemies has generated huge amounts of commentary and print, by religious scholars, preachers, and critics. The comments I am making here are not scholarly, nor have I done any biblical research as I have on other issues. I want to examine the concept as it appears in these three words and think about it independently.
First of all, let’s deal with “love.” To me it is patently ridiculous to love an enemy as one would a brother or close friend. One of the often used interpretations of NT scripture is that one MUST love everyone as a brother/sister. That just simply flies against human nature, and in fact is counter-survival. One must prioritize ones life giving the most to those to whom one is closest. If not a perfect stranger would have equal claim to ones spouse or children for anything one owns. (There were some good discussions of this about a year ago in the blogosphere, but I cannot remember where to even look for them. I think the AnalPhilosopher was where.) But this means that any ne’er-do-well could survive on everyone else’s effort, while those providing the effort were slowly squeezed to death trying to survive on the leftovers.
And don’t give me this storing up treasures in Heaven stuff either. I find it impossible to imagine a benevolent God commanding the worthy to suffer and their families to suffer to support the worthless. God directs us to be charitable; He doesn’t direct us to immolate ourselves. Biblically a tithe (10%) is considered adequate giving.
So if we don’t love our enemies as our brother/sister, in what way do we love them? After all, they ARE our enemies. What’s to love? Before I answer that question, we should look at who our enemies are, and are any of them worthy of love.
Let us first establish the boundaries of what might constitute an enemy. It is possible that our approach to an enemy may change with the intensity of the animosity. One extreme that is easy to establish is that of the totally evil person who malevolently kills and plunders, examples are dictators such as Lenin, Stalin, Idi Amin (Don’t remember him? 1960’s dictator of the Congo), or in more modern times Saddam Hussein, al-Zarqawi, and Osama bin Laden. On the other extreme we might conceivably consider any close friend or family member with whom we are having a strong argument or fight an enemy of the moment. (If that seems a stretch, bear with me. I think this provides some insight into what we are examining.)
When we are having a fight with a family member or friend, normally we return to loving them after it is over. But even during the fight we avoid things that might create an irreparable rift. In effect, despite the heat of the moment, we still care enough about them not to totally destroy them. This could be considered loving ones enemy.
Let’s move a bit further afield from the family and take a competition like a sporting event, a trial, or some business activity. Here the “enemy” is one’s competitor (in a trial the opposing attorney), and though there will be every effort to win, yet normally there is still a respect for the adversary, and after the competition is over, and often even while it is still going on, there will be socialization and fraternization. Though we don’t normally classify the emotions in such a case as “love,” I think they are related to what is trying to be taught by Jesus. Under most circumstances we neither hate the adversaries nor are we indifferent to them. We have respect for them and if a misfortune would befall them, though we may joyfully profit from it, at the same time we will have a sympathy and concern at a personal level.
The key to what has been presented so far is that we do not perceive evil in our adversaries/enemies. We may think they are wrong or misguided, but we don’t think of them as evil. It is when our enemies can be regarded as evil that the difficulties begin.
One of the fundamental precepts of religious belief is that evil must be fought wherever it is found. To love ones enemies in any normal sense of the word “love” is to ally oneself with them and accept them. This cannot be, leading to an implied contradiction in the command.
In contemplating this, I see two responses to ones enemies, one emotional and one intellectual. Emotionally our response to evil is commonly one of vengeance or, at the least, retribution—kill the SOB, make him/her pay, get even—vigilante justice. Intellectually we are more controlled, leading to wanting justice as opposed to revenge. But justice presupposes the idea that the enemy will respond to it in the desired way. In assuming this we humanize the enemy. Retribution and especially vengeance tend to objectify the enemy, make him/her and “it” to be wiped out as one might kill an insect or a rodent.
Perhaps it is here that we finally obtain a glimmer of meaning—respect ones enemy enough to consider them human. This is not to say one should abrogate justice nor kill an enemy if necessary, but it should not be done with a cold, emotionless attitude that the enemy is a “thing” to be destroyed without any remorse or consideration. That to love ones enemy is to recognize that despite all they have done against us they are still human to some degree, and though it may be necessary to kill them, it is not done callously, but with some regret, if for nothing other than the enemy got to the point he/she did.
Yet perhaps it is not the enemy we love when we treat them this way, but ourselves. At our best, we are not capable of treating such an evil person as Saddam Hussein, in the same manner he treated his prisoners. We even treat the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay better than the soldiers who captured them and certainly better than they lived before. We do this because we consider ourselves good people, and act accordingly. It is an act of self-love that we do things we consider right for the sake of being right. We often say “I couldn’t respect myself if I did that.”
My Yoke is Easy
This phrase was part of the Gospel lesson from Matthew this Sunday. I find an exquisite irony in the phrase considering some of the other quotes from Jesus, “Take up your cross and follow me”, or the “hard” Gospel verses on divorce, murder, adultery, pitting family members against one another. Our Pastor presented it as the removal of worry from our lives, through trusting in God. Others may take it as removing doubt and stress by relinquishing control to God, as if we were not competent to run our lives.
People who are able to give up their autonomy easily might find his yoke easy and his burden light. They are more than willing to be told what to do and to take no responsibility. For those of us who desire autonomy, his yoke is anything but easy. I have discussed a number of Jesus’ teachings in past posts, and, though I think that following them as best we can leads to the best long-term results, they are not easy to follow. It takes great strength and long-term vision to stifle the immediate response to an insult and let it pass or work through it in a constructive way.
A very good question
"The British are not capable of appeasement".Thanks to Peg for the link.
I wish that were True. In general, I would agree that it will prove to be correct. However, they have George Galloway. We have Ted Kennedy, Dick Durbin and Howard Dean.
They have Clare Short. We have Nancy Pelosi, Barbara Boxer and Patty Murray. They have spaced-out, druggie rockers. So do we!
They have Vanessa Redgrave. We have at least 1000 Hollywood Liberal Wingnuts like Moore, Susan Sarandon, Sean Pean & Tim what's his name.
Britain at least has Honor. So do many Americans, but very few are Demonrats.
So... we can hope for survival, but ALL of the London Bombers will most likly prove to be Radical Muslims. What is the differencce between them and the Durbin-Kennedy-Moore-Dean-Galloway types?
Think about it!
Posted by: leaddog2 at July 7, 2005 12:21 PM