Monday, December 31, 2007
For more pictures, click to my daughter's weblog.
I officiated the ceremony. I usually don't do that sort of thing for my own children, because I want to stand next to my wife and be husband and father on these occasions. But one thing led to another, and there I stood.
It was great.
The blessing is always the climax of any wedding service for me.
In order to bless Ben and Ramona with both hands (otherwise you have to choose which partner gets the blessing!....;-) I had to hand the microphone to the person standing close by.
Turned out to be my youngest son Will, a best friend of Ben.
Just today, when I saw this picture, I realized that he was blessing them too.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
The shepherds saw angels and Gods glory in the sky.
The Wise Men a star.
Mary and Zacharia received a visit from the angel Gabriel.
Simeon experienced a direct revelation from the Holy Ghost.
We do not know how Anna received her prophecy.
We do know that she was a widow for eighty four years, serving in the temple, worshipping, fasting and praying night and day.
Elizabeth's baby lept in her womb, and she was filled with the Holy Spirit.
Why do we look down on special revelation of this kind in our time?
It seems that those folks needed it.
Why wouldn't we?
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Monday, December 24, 2007
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
‘To hold the same views at forty as we held at twenty is to have been stupefied for a score of years, and take rank, not as a prophet, but as an unteachable brat, well birched and none the wiser.’
— Robert Louis Stephenson
Sometimes you can learn something from another weblog.
Friday, December 14, 2007
Don't worry, I still think George Bush is, at best, incompetent.
And I still believe neither HIllary, Obama or Guiliani will be the candidates for President.
But I've got something else on my mind.
I'm being sued. Yep, sued. I guess I'm American after all.
It's like this:
I own a duplex of rental appartments in Willow Grove, Pa.
Have for 30 years.
Last March a lady fell on the sidewalk, broke her wrist, and is suing me for damages.
"In excess of $50,000."
Turns out the person managing the property (a professional realtor) did not keep the insurance up to date, so I am not insured for this.
I've been busy looking for a lawyer to defend me, no easy job from this distance.
Fortunately my son and daughter-in-law are studying law at Rutgers in Camden, and they have helped me get some good referrals.
But that doesn't soften the blow of having to write a check for a large sum of money that will gain me exactly what I would gain if I took that cash and threw it in the fireplace (except that I have the joy of knowing I am helping the lawyer pay for his yacht.....;-).
This situation does raise interesting faith questions:
1. How important is money to me really?
2. Do I really believe that God will take care of me and my retirement?
3. And how do I not let these circumstances ruin this holiday season in which we will be together as a family to celebrate the marriage of Ben and Ramona (our second child and his wife)?
OK. Deep breath. Let's go.
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
This one is about health insurance, which is a hot issue on the candidate trails.
Michael Moore's Sicko is now playing in Holland, but not at a convenient time for me today, otherwise I would go see it.
I read the weblog Real Live Preacher.
Guy is a pastor of a small church in Texas and a crackerjack writer.
He almost joined the ranks of the uninsured.
Jeanene and I work hard. We’ve never been unemployed. In fact, for the last decade, we’ve had three jobs between us. We don’t smoke and we don’t take risks. We’ve never had a single major medical incident. You’d think a company would want to insure us. No. And we came just that close to being uninsured.Read the whole thing here.
Something needs to be fixed, and I hope you guys elect someone who will fix it.
But I'm not holding my breath.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
1. The situation in Iraq will stay quiet. Bush will claim credit for that.
2. Progress will be made in Middle East peace talks. Bush will claim credit for that.
3. A surgical airstrike will be made against Iran to take out a facility which, as will be claimed, is being used to make an A-bomb. No all out war, just a (successful, of course) surgical strike. Bush will claim credit for that.
3. Neither Hillary, Obama or Rudolph will be the candidates. Both the Republican and Democratic candidates will be white Anglo-Saxon males, middle of the road, with very few real differences between them. They will both look like Bush.
4. The election will be again decided with a 51-49% margin in the popular vote. The Republican will win (see points 1-3 above). Bush will take credit for that, even though the Republican candidate will not want him to campaign for or with him.
5. Essentially, nothing will change. Bush will take credit for that.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Hundreds of people ran into those buildings to save them.
I'll take those odds every day."
Jon Stewart (I'm sure he didn't think this up. A writer did.)
About being positive.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
The site is so busy that they are only allowing people to make loans of $25,00.
I made two. I was interested in variety: man/woman, city/rural, Africa/Asia.
One to Iyabo Adesat of Nigeria (Lagos).
She deals in paper and needed $400,00.
Within a few hours she had it.
The other to Shavkat Tohirov of Tajikistan.
He has five sheep and needs $200,00 to buy feed for them.
Yesterday his loan was completed also.
Today I got this email regarding him:
Thank you for your loan. It has been disbursed to Shavkat Tohirov by MLF MicroInvest-Tajikistan in Tajikistan. We are excited to watch this business grow. Over the next 4 - 10 months, MLF MicroInvest-Tajikistan will be collecting repayments from this entrepreneur and posting progress updates on the Kiva website.
I'll keep you posted.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
There was Bill Clinton.
I have already said on this weblog that I like him a lot better than I do G.W.
Oprah was promoting Clinton's book "Give" (the programs are shown here much later).
A website that specializes in microcredit was mentioned.
Click here for the the information on the Winfrey site.
You can choose a small entrepreneur to whom you want to make a small loan - as little as $25.00.
Via the website you can follow the project and keep track of the repayments.
When you money is repaid (without interest) you can reinvest it in another business.
As far as I can see it looks pretty reliable.
The default rate is about 0.2%.
I think I might give it a try.
I'll keep you up to date about how it is going.
Sounds like fun!
Friday, November 09, 2007
I have seen two things recently that help confirm that for me.
One is the quote below.
I must admit that I no longer know where the quote came from.
I usually check out my internet sources pretty well, so I believe it is from a reputable source.
The other is a talk given by the Swedish scientist Hans Rosling.
Fascinating to watch, and not only because of the excellent presentation.
It's not very popular to believe that things are getting better.
People will consider you a heretic along the lines of someone who doesn't believe in hell.
For some reason we enjoy being pessimistic.
As I’ve pointed out several times already, annual per capita income (in real dollars) was $90 in 12,000 BCE. It took nearly 14,000 years for it to double to $180 in 1750. By 2000 it was $6,600 a year! The number of people in the world living on less than a $1 a day (in real dollars) was 84% in 1820. Today it is less than 20% and expected to be less than 10% by 2020. All of this during a period when the world population grew from less than 1 billion people to 6 billion people! Furthermore, in all but a handful of nations the number of number of children dying before their first birthday has fallen to well under 10% (less than 1% in developed nations), life expectancy has risen by 50-100%. No nation that engages in open trade with other nations has experienced famine in the last fifty years. Disease after disease is being eradicated.
We live in an era of the greatest expansion in widely shared wealth and health in the history of humanity! By historical standards, the last 300 years of human history are just stunning.
Click here for the Hans Rosling video.
Thursday, November 08, 2007
You don't even need to be a Hollywood writer on strike to find funny things.
Like this non sequitur:
Q Okay. Mr. President, with oil approaching $100 a barrel, are you concerned that your hard words for Iran on its nuclear program are helping drive up oil prices, which can end up hurting the U.S. economy?
PRESIDENT BUSH: No. I believe oil prices are going up because the demand for oil outstrips the supply for oil. Oil is going up because developing countries still use a lot of oil. Oil is going up because we use too much oil, and the capacity to replace reserves is dwindling. That's why the price of oil is going up.
I believe it is important for us to send clear signals to the Iranian government that the free world understands the risks of you trying to end up with a nuclear weapon. And, therefore, we will work together to try to find if there's not rational people inside your government who are tired of isolation and who believe there's a better way forward.
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
President Bushes' language dexterity, I mean.
I saw this in a Press Briefing with Dana Perino:
MS. PERINO: The President vetoed this bill because he felt it was fiscally irresponsible. The House passed a bill that was $14 billion; the Senate passed a bill that was $15 billion. And when they got together to work out their differences, they came out with a bill that's $23 billion. This is an authorization bill; not a penny goes out of the coiffures to pay for any projects. It is a chance for members of Congress, from all areas of the country, from both sides of the aisle to come forward with their ideas for what they think would be the best project.
It's probably because coiffure is a French word, and the French President is visiting in Washington now.
On another off-pitch note:
The response to the events in Pakistan shows again the lack of principle of this Administration and its penchant to interpret events only in light of: what is good for us?
The difference between the response of the White House to Burma (where's Burma?) and Pakistan is striking.
Even Dana Perino admits that.
Monday, November 05, 2007
Friday, November 02, 2007
“My chance of surviving prostate cancer — and thank God I was cured of it — in the
It would be a stunning comparison if it were true. But it isn’t. And thereby hangs a tale — one of scare tactics, of the character of a man who would be president and, I’m sorry to say, about what’s wrong with political news coverage.
You see, the actual survival rate in
Anyway, comparisons with
As a fact-check in The Washington Post put it: “The
The fact is that the prostate affair is part of a pattern: Mr. Giuliani has a habit of saying things, on issues that range from health care to national security, that are demonstrably untrue. And the American people have a right to know that.
Friday, October 26, 2007
PRESIDENT BUSH, referring to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s response to wildfires in California.
Ah yes - the problems with Katrina were not at all the fault of G.W. or the Federal Government.
The problem was the statehouse in Louisiana.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
At his confirmation hearings last week, Michael B. Mukasey, President Bush’s nominee for attorney general, was asked whether the president is required to obey federal statutes. Judge Mukasey replied, “That would have to depend on whether what goes outside the statute nonetheless lies within the authority of the president to defend the country.”
....Before voting to confirm him as the nation’s chief law enforcement officer, the Senate should demand that he retract this statement. It is a dangerous confusion and distortion of the single most fundamental principle of the Constitution — that everyone, including the president, is subject to the rule of law.
According to Judge Mukasey’s statement, as well as other parts of his testimony, the president’s authority “to defend the nation” trumps his obligation to obey the law.
Under the American Constitution, federal statutes, not executive decisions in the name of national security, are “the supreme law of the land.” It’s that simple. So long as a statute is constitutional, it is binding on everyone, including the president.
If Judge Mukasey cannot say plainly that the president must obey a valid statute, he ought not to be the nation’s next attorney general.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
I'll quote a bit of the interview and then place the clip.
The relevant sections beginswith about 2'44" left.
Cheney: "On 9/11 we thought we would be attacked again within six months, maybe even within six weeks. It's been more than six years. That is not an accident. I think the Administration deserves a lot of credit for that."
Stewart: "Well it was eight years between the first bombing of the WTC and 2001, so maybe....."
Cheney: "Well, in the periode between the first bombing of the WTC and 2001 the terrorists were not reluctant to attack American interests. There were worldwide bombings going on....."
Stewart: "You know they have been doing that all these past six years. England, Spain...."
Cheney (leans forward with intensity): "We're talking about American interests!........."
Stewart (can't believe he's hearing this): "Aren't we interested in.......? I'd assumed they are our allies, but alright......."
Here's the clip:
Monday, October 15, 2007
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Congress passed a resolution condeming de killing of 1.5 million Armenians by the Young Turk leadership in 1915-17 as "genocide".
Here is our President's - remember, the one who knows so much about what genocide is and can articulate it clearly - said about that:
On another issue before Congress, I urge members to oppose the Armenian genocide resolution now being considered by the House Foreign Affairs Committee. We all deeply regret the tragic suffering of the Armenian people that began in 1915. This resolution is not the right response to these historic mass killings, and its passage would do great harm to our relations with a key ally in NATO and in the global war on terror. Thank you.
What is the right response, Mr. President?
Can't you say one word about that?
I realize that this is not much more than a political ploy by the Congress.
But the President's response is no less a political game.
Defense Secretary Gates stated that 70% of the supplies going to the war in Iraq go through Turkey.
For Jon Stewart's take:
Sunday, October 07, 2007
Mr. Akol has an earned Ph.D in Engineering from a British university.
Mr. Blitzer wanted to make him uncomfortable about the role of the Sudanese government in the devastating events in Darfur. And rightly so.
Mr. Blitzer mentioned that the term “genocide” has a very precise legal definition and meaning. It is not used lightly or without care. Click here for the Wikipedia discussion. Or google genocide if you want more.
Only the United States, of all the countries of the world, have called the destruction in Darfur “ genocide”.
Mr. Blitzer then showed a clip of President Bush speaking in a Security Council Meeting on Africa at the United Nations last week. Mr. Bush said this (for the whole thing, click here):
And I want to thank Chairperson Konar for the leadership of the African Union. After all, you deployed 7,000 troops. But 7,000 troops is not enough, if you believe what's taking place on the ground is genocide. Maybe some don't think it's genocide, but if you've been raped, you think it's -- your human rights have been violated. If you're mercilessly killed by roaming bands, you know it's genocide.
The response of Mr. Akol was immediate and devastating. I can’t quote him exactly, but his remarks were to the effect that, as horrible as rape is, that is not genocide. Nor is someone being killed by roaming bands genocide. Mr. Blitzer and Mr. Bush had handed him his point.
In other words, he beat the leader of the free world hands down in clarity and being able to explain his point.
The Foreign Minister of Sudan! Check out their website here!
It seems to me the leader of the free world, committed to world peace and security, should be able to speak clearly and coherently about what genocide is.
It is terribly important that he be able to do so, especially to those being killed and raped.
Let's get someone in there who can.
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
Friday, September 28, 2007
Monday, September 24, 2007
They refer in a general way to Clinton's public and court-room lying.
Generally they don't specifically say it, but they mean the affair with Monica.
It is not said whether they think (or know) that Clinton has lied about other things.
I think that lying, in general, is a pretty bad thing.
One should not do it.
But lying is also a subtle thing.
And betraying trust is a part of it.
One can betray trust without telling a deliberate lie.
Not telling the whole truth is one way.
Shading things to make a situation look to be something it isn't.
And the responsibility of the leader of the free world to not betray our trust in these ways is pretty great.
I follow the website Fact Check.
It reports on misrepresentations of facts by politicians of all kinds, and the government in general.
The latest article tells about the misrepresentations in Bushes' latest news conference about children's health insurance. Click here.
And about the situation in Iraq. Here.
Given the scope of the effects of these misrepresentations, I still choose those of Clinton any day.
Friday, September 21, 2007
"Did you know last night's presidential speech was the first one broadcast in Hi-Def? And again, I don't think President Bush quite understands what that means. If fact, when they told him it was Hi-Def, he said, 'Oh great. Does that mean we don't need that lady with the sign language up in the corner anymore?" --Jay Leno
"In political news, Vice President Dick Cheney is very upset about the way General Petraeus has been treated by the Democrats. Vice President Cheney said it is horrible that people mock and insult a soldier. I'll be sure to pass that on to John Kerry when I see him." --Jay Leno
Yesterday in Australia, a TV comedian dressed himself up over there as Osama Bin Laden and got within feet of Bush's hotel. They got him, and the Bush spokesman said it was obviously not the real Bin Laden because they caught him." --Bill Maher
"Last night in this state of California, the first Republican debate was held at the Reagan Presidential Library. The candidates tried to distance themselves from President Bush. Apparently, the first step in distancing yourself from President Bush is appearing at a library"--Conan O'Brien
"This is the week that Congress sent the president a bill to bring the troops home, which, of course, as he promised he would do, vetoed it. The president said setting a deadline for withdrawal was setting a date for failure. And we all know, this is a president who likes his failures unplanned and spur-of-the-moment." --Bill Maher
Saturday, September 15, 2007
You can make your own here.
TeamPyro has made quite a few criticizing the Emerging Church.
Click here and scroll down.
And of course a number of Emergent people have made their own.
You can see some of them here.
Kind of cute stuff.
I like this one:
Actually, I've been trying to work on an equal basis with women (in and outside of the church) for some years now.
It's not easy for me to do sometimes, because of biases from my background.
But it has made my life much richer.
Thank you, ladies.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
The subject is the capture of terrorists (like last week in Germany) and whether Clinton is optimistic or pessimistic about the future.
Again - whether you agree with him or not, there is an ability to think clearly, articulate, and presented a balanced and nuanced view, the kind of thing we sorely miss nowdays.
Notice here that he credits Bush with the fact that there has not been an attack on US soil since 9/11.
Take a few minutes to watch....
Monday, September 10, 2007
There has been one a week - actually more: one every 5.7 days.
See the list here.
A number of commenters want to know where the list of corruption in the Deomcratic party is. Wouldn't it be more fair to publish that list also?
Good question, but not really relevant.
My mother always said that it doesn't matter what the other boy does - you keep your own nose clean.
And another person comments - right on the money: Actually, since W has been in power, I have had a hard time reconciling the depth of the corruption with the lack of outrage, or even coverage.
Friday, September 07, 2007
CNN reports the following (and I have read it in other sources, too):
WASHINGTON (CNN) — When President Bush made a surprise visit to Iraq last weekend, he made clear he was pleased with what he saw.
"The security situation is changing," Bush told reporters during the visit. "There's more work to be done. But reconciliation is taking place."
But according to the Sydney Morning Herald of Australia, the president gave a more-to-the-point assessment to Australia Deputy Prime Minister Mark Vaile.
"We're kicking ass," Bush said to Vaile Tuesday, according the Herald, after the deputy prime minister inquired about his trip to Iraq.
I know whose I'd like to kick........
Monday, September 03, 2007
Recently I've come across a blog dedicated to pointing out the wrong use of the apostrophe. Here is the blog. You'll find examples like:
Gordon win's again.
Abuse for writer's.
I'm (notice the apostrophe) proud to announce that I corrected one of these in the main evangelical missions magazine, EMQ. They had their Reader's Respond section until I, in a gentle mail, reminded them that it should be Readers Respond. Really - I did it very nicely, and it was immediately changed.......
This one has nothing to do with the apostrophe, but it is hilarious. It comes from a report about the Philadelphia Phillies losing to the Florida Marlins (it was a crucial game).
Anyway, the last at-bat is described this way:
Rollins then flew out to center on the next pitch to short-circuit the rally and deflate any momentum Philadelphia had still been carrying from its four-game sweep of New York earlier in the week.
Can't you just see Rollins flapping his arms and levitating while the stadium crowd goes crazy, wondering if he really will make it to center field, and, if he does, ready to believe in miracles and immediately join this church?
For those of you who don't know what is wrong with this sentence, it should be flied.
Ah - English is difficult. Just ask our Commander in Chief.
You knew I'd somehow get to him, didn't you?
Thursday, August 30, 2007
After months of unfair treatment that has created a harmful distraction at the Justice Department, Judge Gonzales decided to resign his position, and I accept his decision. It's sad that we live in a time when a talented and honorable person like Alberto Gonzales is impeded from doing important work because his good name was dragged through the mud for political reasons.
It is very clear that partisanship is as bad in Washington as it has ever been.
Surely it has not gotten better since Bush took office.
He was the one who promised he could reach across political lines, having been so successful in Texas. He saw it as his moral duty.
Although you can't directly blame a leader for the failures of his followers, a measure of competence is how you get people to follow you and your ideals.
Again: a failing grade.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Sunday, August 12, 2007
I read this blog because I want to be balanced in my reading, but I disagree pretty thoroughly with their theology.
And I find it interesting that there are almost no dissenting voices on their comments any more. People have given up trying to interact fruitfully with them.
But - check it out for yourself.
According to the Augustinian view, there are people whom God does not love, people whom He sends to an everlasting hell. The book of Romans says, for examnple: " Jacob have I loved, Esau have I hated."
Interesting that God commands Jakob to love Esau as himself, but God feels free to hate Esau.
Hooray for the Dutch vacation practices!
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
A few quotes from the book:
“A cardinal doctrine of Christian faith is that God, being a loving Creator, is at work in the world redeeming sinners…But Christians have often disagreed among themselves about the extent and the ultimate success of God’s redemptive activity, and those disagreements reflect surprisingly different conceptions of the divine nature. The conceptions are so different, indeed, that some might wonder whether all Christians in fact worship the same God.
Here is a relatively easy way to understand these issues and to organize our thinking about them. We begin with an inconsistent set of three propositions:
1. It is God’s redemptive purpose for the world (and therefore His will) to reconcile all sinners to himself.
2. It is within God’s power to achieve his redemptive purpose for the world.
3. Some sinners will never be reconciled to God, and God will therefore either consign then to a place of punishment, from which there will be no hope of escape, or put them out of existence altogether.” (pg 43)
Talbott comments that there are Bible verses that seem to support each of these propositions.
Talbott comments further that each of the three main streams of theological thinking in the church reject one of these three propositions – and thus a proposition that seems to have Bibical support!
Augustinians (and Calvinist and the Reformed) reject the first proposition, believing that God has elected a select group of people for salvation. Propositions 2 and 3 stand, because Gods will to save some cannot be thwarted and hell is real.
Arminians (evangelicals) reject proposition 2. God does want to save everyone, but because people have a free will, they are free to reject God’s salvation. God is thus not able (or He limits himself because of man’s free will) to save everyone.
Universalists reject proposition 3. God does desire to save everyone, and He will accomplish His redemptive purpose. An eternal Hell with no hope of restoration cannot exist.
I quote again:
“So here, then, are three quite different pictures of God: According to the Augustinian picture, God’s redemptive purposes are not thwarted, but He is limited in in love; according to the Arminian picture, God’s love is unlimited, but His redemptive purposes are thwarted by factors over which he has no control; and according to the universalist picture, God’s love is unlimited and his redemptive purposes are unthwarted as well. Accordingly, a question that may now arise is: “Which of our three pictures best preserves the praiseworthy character and glory of the divine nature?” And, two additional questions: “Which picture, if true, would provide the firmest foundation for hope? – and which seems the most likely to cultivate our fears?” (pg 48)
Pretty interesting stuff. I'd be interested in what you think.
Friday, August 03, 2007
Reflecting on the difficulty of political reconciliation there, Gates said:
“We probably all underestimated the depth of the mistrust and how difficult it would be for these guys to come together on legislation, which, let’s face it, is not some kind of secondary issue.”
I don't have the training, expertise and experience of American diplomats, but my experience with living in other cultures makes me understand in a second how difficult it is to deal with mistrust among cultural and tribal groups. This is a job that will take decades.
It's too bad incompetence is not an impeachable offense.
In a parliamentary system of government, these guys would have been out on their ears long ago.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Some note that al Qaida in Iraq did not exist until the U.S. invasion -- and argue that it is a problem of our own making. The argument follows the flawed logic that terrorism is caused by American actions. Iraq is not the reason that the terrorists are at war with us.
Apparently, someone who notes the simple fact that al Qaida wasn't in Iraq before the botched US follow-up to the invasion, and wonders what that has to say about our being in Iraq and the war on terror, is guilty of flawed logic.
The person asking that question is not suggesting that the terrorism is caused by U.S. actions.
I know, because I have the same question.
The questions we want answered are:
1. Al Qaida was not in Iraq before we invaded, and could come into Iraq because we botched the follow-up. Can you say what went wrong and what we could have done differently? That is an important question, not to harp on mistakes of the past, but to learn for the future. (Imagine that we do invade Iran sometime...)
2. What do we need to do to keep al Qaida from coming into other countries in the Middle East? We know the Taliban is regaining strength in Afghanistan. How can we prevent al Qaida from coming in with them?
3. Why should we trust the intelligence information you now present to "prove" al Qaida is in Iraq and what their intentions are any more than the intelligence information upon which you went to war?
4. How's the hunt for Osama bin Laden going?
If any of my 5 readers can show me where my logic is flawed, I'll write an email of apoplogy to the President.
Monday, July 23, 2007
Here are a couple of their posters. Great idea! I feel better already!
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
I thought it seemed to make some good points.
Then today I read an answering piece: Why Bush is a Loser.
The real title should probably be: Won some, lost some.
The primary task of a President is to represent his country.
People should see in him - what he is like and how he acts - the basic core values of our country, and be able to depend on them.
And on that score, Bush is a loser, in my book.
His inability to articulate clearly and with nuances.
The fact that torture and wiretapping are associated with the United States.
World-changing decisions based on faulty intelligence and unfounded assumptions.
New Orleans: "you're doin' a heckuva job, Brownie!"
Al Qaeda is rebuilding and Osama is still at large.
Scooter Libby pardon.
Administrative chaos at the Justice Department and Walter Reed.
A recent example is the answer Bush gave to a question from a reporter about the morality of senior administration officials (whoever they were) leaking the name of a CIA agent (the press conference of July 12). Here is the Bush response, and it is so different from his statements in the 2000 campaign about restoring honesty and morality to the White House. His policy had been to fire anyone leaking information from his administration. That was a campaign promise. Bush had told voters at a campaign event in
I'm aware of the fact that perhaps somebody in the administration did disclose the name of that person, and I've often thought about what would have happened had that person come forth and said, I did it. Would we have had this, you know, endless hours of investigation and a lot of money being spent on this matter? But it's been a tough issue for a lot of people in the White House, and it's run its course and now we're going to move on.
Sunday, July 15, 2007
A combination of: difficult subject (The parables of judgement by Jesus), wanting to say too much, a few listeners whom I knew didn't agree with me, and a congregation that was tired after a week of an evangelistic sport camp.
Anyway, I was able to sleep on the couch for a while this afternoon.
Later I finished two paintings I had started.
Since last January I have taken up painting.
It's a great distraction.
And today was no exception.
Her is one I finished:
Saturday, July 14, 2007
I'll bet you have.
A British rock band with the oldest members in the world.
Art, the lead singer, is 90, Buster, at 100, is the oldest member.
Protesting against the way elderly people are treated in our society.
I think this is a big problem in Western Europe.
Good on you, Zimmers! Sock it to 'em!
My Generation, by The Who.
Take a look! Here are the lyrics...for those of you who are too old to remember this song.
People try to put us d-down (Talkin' 'bout my generation)
Just because we get around (Talkin' 'bout my generation)
Things they do look awful c-c-cold (Talkin' 'bout my generation)
I hope I die before I get old (Talkin' 'bout my generation)
This is my generation
This is my generation, baby
Why don't you all f-fade away (Talkin' 'bout my generation)
And don't try to dig what we all s-s-say (Talkin' 'bout my generation)
I'm not trying to cause a big s-s-sensation (Talkin' 'bout my generation)
I'm just talkin' 'bout my g-g-g-generation (Talkin' 'bout my generation)
This is my generation
This is my generation, baby
Why don't you all f-fade away (Talkin' 'bout my generation)
And don't try to d-dig what we all s-s-say (Talkin' 'bout my generation)
I'm not trying to cause a b-big s-s-sensation (Talkin' 'bout my generation)
I'm just talkin' 'bout my g-g-generation (Talkin' 'bout my generation)
This is my generation
This is my generation, baby
People try to put us d-down (Talkin' 'bout my generation)
Just because we g-g-get around (Talkin' 'bout my generation)
Things they do look awful c-c-cold (Talkin' 'bout my generation)
Yeah, I hope I die before I get old (Talkin' 'bout my generation)
This is my generation
This is my generation, baby
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Now the the correctness of that position is becoming crystal clear.
Marriages of important (Christian) people are failing faster than we can keep track of them.
The latest is David Vitter.
Read the commentary of Jon Swift on it here.
A pretty good editorial about Iraq.
Some quotes from it.
Read the whole thing here.
It is time for the United States to leave Iraq, without any more delay than the Pentagon needs to organize an orderly exit....
While Mr. Bush scorns deadlines, he kept promising breakthroughs — after elections, after a constitution, after sending in thousands more troops. But those milestones came and went without any progress toward a stable, democratic Iraq or a path for withdrawal. It is frighteningly clear that Mr. Bush’s plan is to stay the course as long as he is president and dump the mess on his successor. Whatever his cause was, it is lost....
Despite President Bush’s repeated claims, Al Qaeda had no significant foothold in Iraq before the invasion, which gave it new base camps, new recruits and new prestige. This war diverted Pentagon resources from Afghanistan, where the military had a real chance to hunt down Al Qaeda’s leaders. It alienated essential allies in the war against terrorism. It drained the strength and readiness of American troops.
And it created a new front where the United States will have to continue to battle terrorist forces and enlist local allies who reject the idea of an Iraq hijacked by international terrorists. The military will need resources and bases to stanch this self- inflicted wound for the foreseeable future.
There are already nearly two million Iraqi refugees, mostly in Syria and Jordan, and nearly two million more Iraqis who have been displaced within their country....Beyond the suffering, massive flows of refugees — some with ethnic and political resentments — could spread Iraq’s conflict far beyond Iraq’s borders....
President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have used demagoguery and fear to quell Americans’ demands for an end to this war. They say withdrawing will create bloodshed and chaos and encourage terrorists. Actually, all of that has already happened — the result of this unnecessary invasion and the incompetent management of this war.
This country faces a choice. We can go on allowing Mr. Bush to drag out this war without end or purpose. Or we can insist that American troops are withdrawn as quickly and safely as we can manage — with as much effort as possible to stop the chaos from spreading.
Monday, July 09, 2007
One of the truly disturbing aspects of the Bush Administration’s program of “enhanced interrogation techniques” is that there’s nothing new about them. Each of the techniques is well known; each has a very long legacy. The practice of waterboarding, for instance, was closely associated with the Spanish Inquisition, and appears diagramed and explained in woodcut prints from the early sixteenth century. Similarly, the practice we know as the “cold cell”–or hypothermia–was carefully developed by the Soviet NKVD, the forerunner of the KGB, as a means of preparing prisoners for interrogation. The Soviets used the motto “no blood, no shame,” and the same motto recently emerged in units of the American armed forces in Iraq.
Many of these techniques were also practiced during World War II and the years leading up to it. They were certainly not practiced by the United States, however. The practitioners were German, particularly the Geheime Staatspolizei or Gestapo and the Sicherheitsdienst or SD, the intelligence arm of the SS. The procedures were known as “enhanced interrogation techniques,” or in German, verschärfte Vernehmung…
Critics will no doubt say I am accusing the Bush administration of being Hitler. I’m not. There is no comparison between the political system in Germany in 1937 and the U.S. in 2007. What I am reporting is a simple empirical fact: the interrogation methods approved and defended by this president are not new. Many have been used in the past. The very phrase used by the president to describe torture-that-isn’t-somehow-torture–”enhanced interrogation techniques”–is a term originally coined by the Nazis. The techniques are indistinguishable. The methods were clearly understood in 1948 as war-crimes. The punishment for them was death.
Thursday, July 05, 2007
Probably not even the smartest word.
Seems like a real dumb move by Bush, especially in the light of current public opinion.
Here are some comments I read on Right Reason: the weblog for conservative philosophers (for you Right Wingers who think I don't read anything from the Right. For more proof that I keep informed on opinions from the Right, click here.):
Strange coincidence that Marc Rich's lawyer (Rich was pardoned by Clinton at the end of his term and that of course is getting lots of press again now. [NV]) was none other than Scooter Libby. One good turn deserves another. I especially enjoyed the arguments on NRO and elsewhere that there was no underlying crime, so of course there was no reason to prosecute. Seems like I have heard that argument before...must be a trick of the memory.
What a fall - from the promise to "restore honor and dignity to the White House" to be defended (by several of the usual Republican suspects on cable tv) by the pathetic, "Well, Clinton made some really bad pardons." But I guess that promise was already rendered a bad joke a long time ago.
Liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican, it appears to me to make no difference. The action seems to be that those with money and power take good care of one another.
So even when political parties change, the rules don't.
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
Today our son Ben married his girl Ramona here in Heemstede.
The Dutch laws about weddings are different than those of the U.S.
A minister has no official right to wed a couple.
Only a specifically appointed official of the township may do that.
He or she always wears a black robe.
It is a very offical ceremony: the couple is asked specifically if they will uphold the responsibilities laid upon them by the laws governing marriage, and after they say "yes" the official proclamation is made.
Witnesses are asked to sign the marriage certificate.
This is in case the marriage certificiate is ever lost, and the township records are lost. Someone can always prove they are married by calling the witnesses.
The church service for Ben and Ramona will take place next December. That was the only time we could get our whole family together.
Strange as it seems to American ears, that's the way things are here.
Anyway, we're grateful and thankful for them. They are a great couple.
But this is a pretty nice couple too, right?
Here are the four of us:
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Sunday, June 17, 2007
Monday, June 11, 2007
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Monday, May 28, 2007
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Monday, May 21, 2007
It is called Very Short Stories.
The stories are no longer than six words.
Ernest Hemingway made one, and according to tradition, called it his best work ever.
Here it is:
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
The is the last post in a series of posts in which I reflect back on our 30 years of work in missions.
It has taken me a while to be able to write this post, and it hasn’t been easy.
So I’ll just start.
The story goes like this:
Most of you know that I was the team leader and pastor for our church plant in
It was called “Cornerstone”, and it was actually going quite well.
Between 70 and 80 people attended our services, and there were about 120 people within our “extended family”.
In 1998 my wife and I went for a furlough/sabbatical for a year.
When we came back I realized quite quickly that I was not able to take up my work as I would have liked.
In January of 2000 I started to work less, and my family doctor diagnosed burnout/depression.
In May of 2000 I reported sick and stopped my work in the church.
Later that year I resigned from the mission agency with which we worked.
Cornerstone did not survive these events.
After courageous attempts to continue, the church closed her doors in May of 2003.
One of the members said: “Our church has also suffered a burnout.”
My difficulty with this post is that I still don’t know exactly how to evaluate those events.
I think we did great work, and it was blessed by God.
Anyone who was involved with Cornerstone will tell you “I won’t ever find another church like Cornerstone” (and he or she would mean that positively!).
And that is correct. There will never be another Cornerstone.
But, obviously, a few things went wrong.
What that was I don’t really know.
It hasn’t come clear to me yet.
Maybe never will.
But that doesn’t matter.
I’ve got lots of time (eternity?).
But I do know this:
There are now more than six church planting projects going on in
A relatively large group of people has been touched and forever changed by Cornerstone.
I’ve been blessed in more ways than I can count, together with my wife and children.
That’s true for my whole life.
Thanks for reading this series.
(Note: this is the eighteenth and last in a series of blogs celebrating the 30-year anniversary of our departure for Nigeria. The blogs can be found under the label "Anniversary". Click here for the first one.)
Before we went to
I believed that, I guess.
I’m not really one to see the devil behind every problem.
And I’m outta there when people explain away their own stupidity with “what we are doing is zo valuable for the Kingdom that de devil is attacking us – BIG TIME!”
But when I look back on our work in
I was involved in around eight different situations that a) were very complex and difficult pastorally, b) were relational in nature, c) could not be shared with other people because of the nature of the problem, which resulted in d) my having to bear the burden alone.
These situations occurred in nearly every circle in which I was involved: immediate family, extended family, leadership team, congregation, friendships.
When I was going through these situations I wasn’t consciously aware of that.
Only some year later, when I looked back, did I see the pattern.
That devil guy is really a rascal.
(Note: this is the seventeenth in a series of blogs celebrating the 30-year anniversary of our departure for Nigeria. The blogs can be found under the label "Anniversary". Click here for the first one.)
Friday, May 11, 2007
One message I have heard from people from both parties is that the idea of benchmarks makes sense. And I agree. It makes sense to have benchmarks as a part of our discussion on how to go forward. And so I've empowered Josh Bolten to find common ground on benchmarks, and he will continue to have dialogue with both Republicans and Democrats.If this isn't a "waffle", I don't know what is.
If I hear anything more from the Right about how the Libs always waffle, I think I will be sick.
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
That was the climax of a long process of evaluation, testing, research, support raising and arranging.
Most of you probably don’t know this, but before someone is sent to the mission field he or she must undergo a quite thorough process of psychological en personality testing.
They want to know if you are crazy enough to be a church planter in
Only when they are assured of your complete madness do they send you out.
In order to fully put your madness to the test they make you raise support.
It took us a year to get enough people to be willing to give money to our project.
We had about 20 churches and 40 individuals that supported us.
I contacted the churches by going through the Yellow Pages, writing the churches, calling the Pastor and offering a no-strings-attached visit. Most of the time I got no response. Sometimes I did. I think I wrote 300 churches. That is actually not such a bad sales percentage.
Six weeks before we were to go the support was not in. We were getting ready to postpone our departure when I got a surprise phone call from someone I scarcely knew in
In a short conversation conducted in a businesslike tone (as only the Dutch can do!) he informed me that he and his wife were going to support us to the tune of $1000 per month.
We could go.
I must really be nuts.
(Note: this is the sixteenth in a series of blogs celebrating the 30-year anniversary of our departure for Nigeria. The blogs can be found under the label "Anniversary". Click here for the first one.)
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
She wanted to know how I reflect on those years as I look back.
I was able to say a couple of things.
I learned so much. Those were the first years of adulthood, in which we learn so much about who we are, what we can do, and what we can’t do. Because we lived and worked in another culture we were also confronted with the sharp contrasts one finds in the world: rich/poor, black/white, educated/uneducated, etc. We became quickly acquainted with all kinds of areas of life: education, medical care, rural development, transportation, government, church, theology, culture.
I also think that I missed a lot. I wasn’t adult enough to ask the right questions and find the answers (assuming there are some answers somewhere! ;-) I don’t feel guilty about that. Everyone who is young and starting out experiences that. And I had no one around me to help me in that area.
Those ten years shaped and formed the rest of my life and work. When we came to
With these comments I come to the close of this series of stories about our years in
Because we have spent the largest part of these last 30 years in
Thank you for reading these stories. I hope you have enjoyed and benefited from them.
(Note: this is the fifteenth in a series of blogs celebrating the 30-year anniversary of our departure for Nigeria. The blogs can be found under the label "Anniversary". Click here for the first one.)
Saturday, April 28, 2007
We left on Friday afternoon.
At Gayam we left the car and walked 1.5 hours to the river. We crossed in a small boat en spent the night at the village there.
One of our evangelists lived there.
The next morning we continued our trek, a journey of about 5 hours through the bush.
On this image from Google Earth you can see the road, the river and the area into which we walked.
We arrived in a small village where most people had never seen a white person.
We spent the night there, after enjoying their hospitality. I think it was there that we were treated to the pleasure of watching them prepare our meat for the meal – a large bush rat that was considered to be a delicacy in that area.
The next morning my colleague and I started a trip around a few villages to preach the gospel.
We would arrive unannounced.The entire village would come out to listen.
We would hold a short service including sermon, translated into the vernacular language of that place.
Then we would head to the next village.
By the end of the afternoon we had visited four villages and were back with our wives.
I’ll never forget how I felt just after dinner.
The fever started in my ankles and slowly took over my whole body.
Soon the diarrhoea followed. Malaria.
It seemed like I spent the whole night hovered over the small hole in the ground behind the compound.
The following morning we had to get back home.
I had no choice – I had to walk.
And that is what I did – with lots of rest stops along the way.
We got back to the river, crossed and walked to the car.
Two hours over the bumpy road home.
When we got home we saw that the airplane was waiting for us.
We expected that, because we were expecting guests: the Africa Director of our mission and two Board members.
But there was more than that.
We had left Sarah (age 1) behind with a colleague. She also had been terribly sick with malaria, and they wanted to fly her immediately to the hospital.
Within ten minutes Cyndi and Sarah were gone.
I was left behind with the dignitaries.
I told them to figure it out for themselves and went to bed.
It took me weeks to recover.
During the rest of our time in
Funny how an experience like that hangs around in your subconscious.
(Note: this is the fourteenth in a series of blogs celebrating the 30-year anniversary of our departure for Nigeria. The blogs can be found under the label "Anniversary". Click here for the first one.)
Friday, April 27, 2007
That was also true for me in
What I didn’t realize (I was naïve, I think) was that that also was true for Nigerians.
The men, anyway.
Once we heard that the Pastor with whom I had worked in the beginning of my time in
Not at night.
In the afternoon.
The man attacked the Pastor with a stick and damaged his shoulder permanently.
I have no idea whether the accusation was true or not.
Imagine this: in a mud hut, on a hot afternoon, with someone else’s wife, and you are a Pastor.
How do you manage that?
One another station we had a small office building that needed to be guarded.
So we hired a guard.
(This is really true – one time we had a guard who protected us with his bow and arrows – when he was awake!)
One time I had to go to the office early in the evening.
When I came around the corner I saw a construction made of cardboard and corrugated tin that blocked off a section of the veranda.
Behind those “walls” lay our guard with a woman.
Once a year the Nigerian church had it’s "Synod" or "General Assembly".
The meetings lasted a week.
From early in the morning until late at night, in the tropical heat.
And no comfortable chairs.
Thursday morning, the next to last day of the meeting, we noticed that something was wrong.
The chairman of the Synode came in, looking exhausted and beat up.
During the night he had been attacked by a man who accused him of sleeping with his wife.
I have no idea whether the accusation was true or not.
Imagine this: Small village. Lots of guests. Busy. Church meeting. Pastor. Chairman. Married. Another man's wife.
How do you manage that?
The last months of my work in
The situation was made more complicated by the fact that there were different tribes involved, and probably different kinds of power plays.
Or did the man just feel like having some good sex?
(Note: this is the thirteenth in a series of blogs celebrating the 30-year anniversary of our departure for Nigeria. The blogs can be found under the label "Anniversary". Click here for the first one.)
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
We are thankful for and proud of them.
We think they have enjoyed traveling this path with us.
It hasn't always been easy.
I'm sure there are still painful things let over from that time.
There much geographical distance between us.
But we are really very close.
Enjoy the pics!
(Note: this is the twelfth in a series of blogs celebrating the 30-year anniversary of our departure for Nigeria. The blogs can be found under the label "Anniversary". Click here for the first one.)