Wednesday, December 29, 2010

"Conservatives" falling like flies

There is a really useful round-up at View from the Right on mainstream "conservatives" and the homosexualization of the military and other homosexual activist issues. I hope no one is surprised that Jonah Goldberg is all in favor and now says he's always been in favor of homosexual "marriage."

More interesting is the fact that CPAC is completely falling to the social liberal agenda. They have recently voted to include a homosexual activist group among the organizing groups of the conference, prompting Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America, and a couple of other family values groups to boycott the February conference.

What we are seeing, I'm afraid, is the ousting of social conservatives from the movement that bears the name "conservative" in the United States. We who do consider ourselves socially conservative need to realize this and not be naive about it. We already knew that here we have no continuing city. Increasingly, we don't even have here a city that pretends to have a place for us.


Wesley J. Smith has been doing a great job of coming up with global warmist predictions that haven't come true. The other day he put a link to this article from 2000 with quotations from global warming scientists saying that children in England within a few years to come would cease to know what snow is like. Right now, of course, one decade on, England is having a record cold and snowy winter. So is Europe generally.

Smith's spinmeister commentators have implied that what happens in Europe stays in Europe and doesn't really count, because it's what's happening worldwide that matters, etc. Well, today Smith put up a link to a 2006 article in which global warming scientists specifically predicted a change in "the very notion of the Northeast as we know it." So I guess regional predictions actually were made, and have turned out to be false.

I've come to a conclusion: Global warming believers have invented a new, secular version of the doctrine of transubstantiation. "Climate" is the true substance, or essence, of the globe. This substance is always "truly warming" even when the mere accidents, known dismissively as "weather," are not.

That explains everything. Glad I've finally got that cleared up.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Give of Your Best to the Master

Here's a hymn I haven't sung in a long time: "Give of Your Best to the Master"

The first verse refers to Jesus as "dauntless, young, and brave." I always thought that was slightly strange, but the anonymous author of the Medieval poem, "The Dream of the Rood," agrees with Howard B. Grose, author of the hymn words, for the Medieval poet refers to Jesus at the crucifixion as "the young hero."

Here is the last verse of the hymn, and in my opinion, the best:

Give of your best to the Master,
Nought else is worthy His love;
He gave Himself for your ransom,
Gave up His glory above:
Laid down His life without murmur,
You from sin's ruin to save;
Give Him your heart's adoration,
Give Him the best that you have.


Give of your best to the Master
Give of the strength of your youth;
Clad in salvation's full armor,
Join in the battle for truth.

The tune is here. (Click on the piano midi link. Plays the first part of the verse twice, presumably once as an introduction.)

Just across the page in my hymnal is the less great but still very good hymn with the convicting title "I Wonder Have I Done My Best for Jesus."


Thursday, December 23, 2010

That Holy Thing

They all were looking for a king
To slay their foes and lift them high.
Thou cam'st, a little baby thing
That made a woman cry.

O Son of Man, to right my lot
Naught but thy presence can avail,
Yet on the road thy wheels are not,
Nor on the sea thy sail.

My how or when thou wilt not heed
But come down thine own secret stair,
That thou may'st answer all my need,
Yea, every bygone prayer.

George Macdonald

Merry Christmas to all readers of Extra Thoughts!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Idiots in the military

Perhaps we should have a ban on idiots in the military. Specifically, idiots who write such things as this "working group report" on making heterosexual troops shower, change, and bunk with homosexual troops.

You see, all discomfort about these things is based on a "stereotype" that the homosexuals will behave "inappropriately." So, it's okay as long as the homosexuals don't hit on the heterosexuals.

Gee, by this logic, men and women should be forced to shower together as long as they are straitly charged not to make passes at each other or behave "inappropriately." Why not?

Privacy, shmivacy. Not wanting to be looked at undressed by people who desire you sexually? What's the matter with you, are you some kind of racist or something?

I guess if we had any doubts about where the repeal on the ban of homosexuals in the military is going to go, this tells us. Because we never did have a ban on idiots, so they'll be running the show.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

"O Very God of Very God"

Wow, this personal blog is getting ancient. I see by a little quick googling that it has been three full years since I blogged, in December of 2007, about this wonderful hymn with the Welsh tune (Bangor) that nobody has ever heard of. Here, again, are the words:

O very God of very God,
and very Light of very Light,
whose feet this earth's dark valley trod
that so it might be bright:

Our hopes are weak, our fears are strong,
thick darkness blinds our eyes;
cold is the night; thy people long
that thou, their Sun, wouldst rise.

And even now, though dull and gray,
the east is brightening fast,
and kindling to the perfect day
that never shall be past.

O guide us till our path is done,
and we have reached the shore
where thou, our everlasting Sun,
art shining evermore!

We wait in faith, and turn our face
to where the daylight springs,
till thou shalt come our gloom to chase,
with healing in thy wings.

We sang it again today. I find this particular year that I seem to have little new to say. I look at old posts, and they look good to me. I said good things in them. But when I sang the song today, while all that wonderful cultural background about the darkness and the light, about the short days and the dayspring from on high, were there, I was really just singing the words for myself. "We wait in faith and turn our face to where the daylight springs, till thou shalt come our gloom to chase, with healing in thy wings." Amen.

A blessed last Sunday in Advent to you all.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Melkites have a dhimmitude problem

Which at this point has definitely become an insanity problem.

The patriarch of the Melkite Church (in communion with Rome) has blamed...the Jews for the Catholics killed by Al Qaeda in Baghdad. It's a "Zionist plot" to make Islam look bad. You can't make this stuff up.

By the way, this isn't the first time. Remember when the Melkites had a conference to talk about persecution of Christians in the Middle East? It all turns out to have nothing to do with Islam. It's the Jooooos.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

To help you lighten up

Just in case you are a somewhat un-light person, this is supposed to help you lighten up in preparation for a fun Christmas. Signature Sound, "All I Want Is You." The studio version cannot be embedded, but you can listen to it here.

Here's a fan-made live version:

Generosity in the Great Depression

Here's a neat feel-good story for your snowy Sunday about quiet generosity during the Great Depression. One question the story doesn't answer: How did the giver get all those five dollar bills at that time in American history?

HT for the link to my friend Peter Wielhouwer

Thursday, December 09, 2010

The foodies and me, we finally agree

All my many fans who have followed all of my blogging for five years or so, going all the way back to the defunct Right Reason (okay, so there aren't that many of those) will know that I am not a foodie nor a Crunchy Conservative. I start grinding my teeth when people make disparaging remarks about "capitalist food." Either that, or I laugh and start cheering loudly for "capitalist food." On Facebook recently I was listing all the wonderful canned and pre-made goods I used for Thanksgiving, gloating over how much easier it made my life and how great it all tasted. I cannot stand food snobbery, and I just about burst a blood vessel when reading, some years ago, a silly and pompous piece by a well-respected philosopher, which everyone else read with "oohs" and "aahs," in which he kept using the word "burger stuffer." He's a Brit, and I'm sure you can all guess of whom I speak. I had a John Wayne-ish desire to get out a gun and say, "Who are you calling a burger stuffer, Mr. Snooty Accent?"

Okay, so now that I've established my modern and tough-guy anti-foodie credentials, let me just say here and now that this is ridiculous and that I hope the new Congress in January stops it or reverses it. A blatant power grab by bigger companies over small companies. And the "Center for Science in the Public Interest" and other so-called consumer watchdog groups can go jump in the lake. Let's not further federalize food regulation in the U.S.--as if we don't have enough federal regulations already.

So the foodies and I are probably at one on this one. Down with the anti-locavore food act, aka the Food Safety Modernization Act! Down with it, I say!

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Wake, awake, for night is flying!

I love to sleep. I especially love to sleep in the winter. Bears, hibernation--great idea. Must be something about living in these northerly latitudes.

Advent, however, is about waking up. Here is the Advent collect--for last week, Advent I, but to be repeated every Sunday:

Almighty God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which thy son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility, that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty, to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, now and for ever, Amen.

One of the greatest songs that celebrates the need to wake up is Bach's (and Philipp Nicolai's) "Sleepers, Wake!" Hereis my post on it from last year. It wears pretty well.

The Apostle Paul tells us that it is time for us to wake out of sleep, because our salvation is nearer than when we first believed (Romans 13:11-12).

As my teachers always used to ask us when I was little, are you ready if Jesus were to come today?

It's all too easy to coast along. Sleep takes a lot of forms. Maybe Bach can help us to wake up.

Here is a great organ version of the hymn tune:

Friday, December 03, 2010

Z Street and Bob Jones University

Readers here will have noticed my relative silence, which is of course explained by my extra activity at What's Wrong With the World. Jeff Culbreath and I have been tag-teaming this week on a big (and I do mean big) three-part series called "Disinviting Islam," which I'm sure my readers have already seen, saving me the trouble of finding the three links. (Right? Thanks for accommodating my laziness.)

Before I got all involved in that, I did come across some interesting additional information on the Obama IRS's outrageous attempts to discriminate in granting non-profit status on the basis of a group's position on the State of Israel. I mentioned it here. Apparently the supposed excuse for this special policy toward pro-Israel groups is the Bob Jones court decision according to which tax exempt status can be denied if the organization has a policy that is contrary to "established public policy." In Bob Jones's case this concerned, if I recall correctly, the university's policy on interracial dating which was related to U.S. antidiscrimination law.

But there is a huge gap between "established public policy" and what the IRS agent allegedly said to Z Street, namely, that tax exempt status might be disallowed if the group's policies different from the policies of the Obama administration. The foreign policy approach of one administration can differ radically from that of the previous administration and the next administration. It is not in itself a matter of U.S. law, and to refer to one particular administration's policy as "established public policy" is not only absurd but dangerous in ways that go far beyond Z Street. Think of it this way: The Obama administration is obviously hugely supportive of homosexual rights, yet they haven't been able to get all of those "rights" codified by Congress. While we're talking about Christian universities, how about a university that has a policy against homosexual acts by its faculty, which might be contrary to "administration policy." Could they be refused tax exempt status as well?

This one is worth flagging, and watching. I hope for many reasons that Z Street prevails in its lawsuit.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

LA on the the Mayor of Portland

The Mayor of Portland has issued a sickening response to the Christmas tree bomber. Move along, folks, this has nothing to do with Islam. It would be wrongthought to think this has anything to do with Islam. The most important thing we can think in the wake of this attempted murder is that it has nothing to do with Islam. Shades of General Diversity-would-be-the-worst-casualty Casey.

Auster nails it:

The Liberal Prime Directive is: Thou shalt not make negative judgments about, discriminate against, or exclude people who are different from us. So, when people different from us attempt to mass murder us, what the liberal sees is not the threat to us, but the threat to liberalism. His immediate response therefore is not to defend us from those who are attempting to kill us, but to defend and reinforce liberalism from the truth which threatens liberalism.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Holy Manna

When I was a small child, I sang at the mission in Chicago, though I don't remember what any of the songs were. I vaguely remember the time a fight broke out between two of the men, and I just went on singing. My parents told that story over and over again and thought me very brave, but it never occurred to me to stop. What did frighten me was the water fountain. Some trick of the light made the water look beer-colored from the stage, and to my overactive imagination it seemed that this was a sign that Something was Wrong whenever one of the men went back to get a drink.

Eventually my father and I stopped going to the mission, and what seemed like many years passed. Really, it was only a few. In my teens I began attending the church that also ran my high school, and the church sent a group once a month on a Monday (as I recall) to be in charge of the service at the mission.

Few women came with our group, and few women were needed. Our men--teens and adults--preached and led the singing, and at the end our men were the ones most needed to pray with those who came forward. There were few women in the audience.

I must have been about fourteen years old when it happened. The only other woman with our group, one of my school teachers, had already gone to pray with someone.

Then she came forward--I do not know her name--and it was my turn. I believe one of the boys had to signal me before I realized what I had to do. I went into a side room with her, we sat down on two metal chairs, and a gulf yawned between us.

No one had told me ahead of time what to do or say, though my head was full of Bible, theology, and theory. All the words went out of my head. I do not think I asked her name or told her mine. (At this time, I believed that I would be a missionary someday.)

Her hair, I remember, was red. She seemed to me very old, much, much older than I. Now I think she may have been as much as thirty. Her face had perhaps once been pretty but was ravaged by I knew not what griefs, and on her bare legs there were sores. Perhaps I exaggerated them. No doubt I stared. She tucked her legs under the metal chair as if to hide them.

I asked her why she had come. Choosing her words with care, looking at me sideways, she said that she had been bad, that she had done bad things, that she would try not to do the bad things but then would do them again. I do not remember what I said. It seems to me likely that I would have launched into a devastating treatise on "how you can know that you are going to heaven," and yet in my mind when I think of that night there is a great silence, and I think perhaps this once I did not say that. We prayed together. I do not know what we prayed.

And that is all. In this life, I will never see her again, nor she me, and I do not know if I did her good or harm or neither. But I have not forgotten her, and perhaps she has not forgotten me.

A few months ago when I spoke to my father he was pleased that, despite his poor health, he was able to go to the mission the previous Monday with the church group.

Brethren, we have met to worship and adore the Lord our God;
Will you pray with all your power, while we try to preach the Word?
All is vain unless the Spirit of the Holy One comes down;
Brethren, pray, and holy manna will be showered all around.

Sisters, will you join and help us? Moses’ sister aided him;
Will you help the trembling mourners who are struggling hard with sin?
Tell them all about the Savior, tell them that He will be found;
Sisters, pray, and holy manna will be showered all around.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving music

I have much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. Without going into details, there has been some sickness in my family lately which is now healed. The entire process has reminded me just how much I have to be thankful for.

For this Thanksgiving post, I have only two music recommendations for albums that I enjoyed listening to today. Both involve hymns, acoustic instruments such as the harmonica and penny whistle, and some of the same performers. One album I've recommended before: Acoustic Sunday by Kevin Williams (and friends). The other, which I just listened to today at the insistence of patient Eldest Daughter (who has had to wait a while to share it with me) is Michael Card's Hymns album.

Both feature Buddy Greene on the harmonica, which ought to be an enormous selling point in itself. I wish I had some whole tracks to show what they are like, but the clips on Amazon give at least some idea. The Michael Card album features a wonderful new tune (written, I believe, by Greene) for "Where Cross the Crowded Ways of Life."

Blessings to all of my readers, and I hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Local police being forced to arrest people by TSA

Previous news from the John Tyner incident said that if you left an airport without TSA permission, you would be threatened with a civil suit and an $11,000 fine. Now it has gone one notch up.

This U.S. citizen eventually got through customs and back into the U.S. without undergoing either a scan or an invasive pat-down, but he was repeatedly told that the TSA could order local police to arrest him. (Link HT: Josh Trevino) By continued, polite questioning, he induced the TSA to back down and not actually order the police to arrest him, but apparently they could have done so.

woman was told by the local police that the TSA had it in for her and could order them to arrest her if she did not "play along." She missed her flight because she had breast milk with her.

So what are the local police arresting you for? What crime? And how does the TSA have the authority to order them to do so? And can state and local governments possibly fight this regime by passing laws ordering local police not to make arrests on the orders of the TSA?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

And Hitler built the autobahn

Robert Spencer nails it. Another fake "moderate" who praises Hezbollah. Next time somebody starts talking to you about all the moderate Muslims in the world, ask him how many of them have good words for Hezbollah.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Poem recitation: "Go Down, Death"

Thanks to Eldest Daughter, here is an excellent recitation of a poem I hadn't encountered before--James Weldon Johnson's "Go Down, Death." Recited by Wintley Phipps. (The person who posted it chose to subtitle it in Portuguese. Just ignore that.)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Police state territory #2

Turns out you really can be treated as a criminal, or civilly sue-able, or finable, or something of the kind, for declining the naked-picture-or-grope regime and then simply not flying. John Tyner, the fellow in San Diego who refused both and left the airport, is being "investigated" for "leaving the security area without permission." The TSA even adds, with chutzpah, that the fine he might face is now $11,000 rather than $10,000, because $10,000 is the "old fine." Of course, that would be nothing in comparison to his legal fees. Think of the implications of this for women and children. You go to the airport, hoping you will be one of the lucky ones and not selected for this regime, but if you are, you must go through it or allow your child to go through it, or you will be punished. Still no details as to who made up this fine, how it got on the books, and who decides when it applies. A little actual investigative reporting by some news outlet on this legal situation would be helpful. Was this something put in place in the Bush administration? Was it passed by Congress? Was it meant to apply to leaving the airport, even if you were willing not to fly, without allowing the TSA to do whatever it wants to you?

HT: Josh Trevino

Sunday, November 14, 2010

"Glory Be To Jesus"

It's been too long since we had a hymn. This was our Communion hymn this morning. These are the verses found in the 1940 hymnal. Midi of the tune can be found here.

Glory be to Jesus,
Who, in bitter pains,
Poured for me the lifeblood
From His sacred veins!

Grace and life eternal
In that blood I find;
Blest be His compassion,
Infinitely kind.

Blest through endless ages
Be the precious stream
Which from endless torments
Doth the world redeem.

Oft as earth exulting
Wafts its praise on high,
Angel hosts, rejoicing,
Make their glad reply.

Lift we then our voices,
Swell the mighty flood;
Louder still and louder
Praise the precious blood!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Story behind "This Old Place"

Two entries ago I posted the Gospel song "This Old Place" together with a lengthy quotation from The Last Battle. I was reminded of that part of The Last Battle when I heard the song.

Thanks to Eldest Daughter, I have the story behind the song. Now, listen up, any of you readers who dislike emotional Gospel music but are traditionalists. You know who you are. You'll like this story. From an interview between Gospel music blogger Daniel J. Mount and songwriter Diane Wilkinson.

My daddy came back from World War II a different person. My mother says that a man came back who looked like my daddy, but it wasn’t my daddy. And he was drinking. My daddy was never able to overcome that. And that was back in the ’40s, before there was any Al-Anon or any help for alcoholics like that.

So my daddy was a full-blown alcoholic, when he was still a young man. He was a medic; he was at the Battle of the Bulge, and he carted his friends away, what was left of ‘em. And we know now what happens with many who come back from war, but back then, I don’t think they knew how to help people like that.

Bottom line, I’m a child of divorce, and no one my age had divorced parents when we grew up. So my mother and her two little ones moved into my grandmother’s house. My granddaddy had built that house, in Blytheville, Arkansas, in the ’40s. It was on a corner of a little, sweet neighborhood there, right around the corner from the Calvary Baptist Church. So we moved into that house, and I lived all of my life in that house, till I married.

After my grandparents passed on, my mother never re-married. She lived in that house until 2001, when she began to be so weak in her legs that we had to move her to Dyersburg. So “family home” doesn’t begin to say … I grew up being raised by my godly grandmother. She taught me about Jesus, she sent me for my first piano lesson.

I love every blade of grass growing there. There’s just something about that place—of course, everyone feels that way.

Well, my brother and I were put into the position of our mother had already moved in with him. His wife doesn’t work outside the home, and I do, so she lives with him. No one is supposed to have to do the final cleanup at your family home while your parent’s still alive. We had to pack all those things—our mother wasn’t able. We would go up on Saturdays, and pack up all those things.

We didn’t know how we would get it sold. It was run-down, and old. And as it turns out, my mother’s sweet neighbors bought the house for a son of theirs. And so I was on my way up there to help my brother do the final cleanup and turn the key over.

And, Daniel, my heart was all the way down in my knees. I just didn’t think I could do it.

I was focusin’ on the boards, and the nails, and the roof. And the Lord began to speak to me with that song. He got me to focus on the people in that house who were waiting for me.

I got the whole thing before I got there. It got me through that afternoon; I don’t think I could have done it any other way.

Well, this was in the Centergy days. And it was so personal that I almost didn’t send it to Niles Borop, my publisher, ’cause I thought, “This is so my song; this happened to me.” And I made a Gospel song out of it, but it was really about my homeplace.

But I told him about it, and he said, “No, just send it, just send it..."

When any of those Cathedrals boys were lookin’, back before we could mp3 stuff, unlike we’re taught to pitch songs, they wanted to hear virtually everything I had, so they could pick and choose from a disc. So I sent Ernie probably ten or twelve songs. He picked “Pray For Me”—their version is bluesy—and he picked that one. He said, “That song touches me, because I’ve lived that song.”

So he recorded it—sings it like an angel. And what happened—I still get emails from people about that song. And I thought, “I was so wrong!” Because everyone will live “This Old Place.” You’ve either already lived it, or you’re gonna.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Police State territory--What would Patrick Henry say?

So: Because we will not stop Muslim immigration, because we will not profile passengers, everybody now, including children, must be willing either to have a photo taken of his naked body (through the clothes, by an X-ray machine), which photo will be viewed by a government agent, or must be willing to be touched all over, including in the genital area, by a government agent.

Are we insane? The government must have a warrant to search your house. Vile criminals, drug lords, et. al., can have evidence withheld from use against them in court if it was collected without a warrant, and the apparent motivation for this is to discourage police from doing "dreadful" things like looking through a window without a warrant or searching a car trunk without a warrant. But the TSA can take (with a potentially cancer-causing machine) and view a picture of your naked body without a warrant, and if you refuse, can touch your entire body, including your private parts, full palm on, without a warrant. This, as the price one pays simply for engaging in normal travel in an ostensibly free country.

This is police state territory. What would those who wrote the Fourth Amendment (that's the unreasonable search and seizure one, by the way) say about this? What would Patrick Henry say? "Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God!"

I am not in the least amused by the fact that on an ostensibly "conservative" blog site we are being told to get over our problems with having our children touched in this manner because we would presumably prefer this over their being blown up by terrorists. The stupidity of this response--again, from an ostensibly conservative source--is beyond belief. It involves the assumption that everybody, including children, must be subjected to these invasive and inappropriate measures if anybody, including children, is to be safe. This is just wrong. I am appalled by the Allahpundit article.

(For the record: If, which heaven forbid, I ever were in a situation where I had to fly with a child and the child were selected for the screening, I would have the child accept the machine screening, despite knowing the type of image it would produce. To the child it would not seem like anything untoward was happening, and hence it would be far less traumatic for the child than the "enhanced pat-down." But it is a terrible choice to make, and at this time I am determined--even more than I already was--to avoid traveling by air with children in response to these new, outrageous procedures, for as long as they are in place.)

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Hah! Take that, Barry!

Right. No kidding. Netanyahu says something that should not need to be said. Jerusalem is not a settlement! If Bibi's new spine is a result of the elections last Tuesday, that's one result I can get on board with.

And, to be fair, guess who it was that I first noticed lumping the eastern part of Jerusalem (you know, the capital city of Israel) with "settlements" in "the West Bank"? Yup. Condoleeza Rice. Obama is far more virulently anti-Israel than Bush, but Bush was in some ways more dangerous, because Israel, viewing him as a friend, made more concessions for him.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Songs to Die For--No need to grieve for this old place

"This Old Place"--Ernie Haase and Signature Sound

"So," said Peter, "night falls on Narnia. What, Lucy! You're not crying? With Aslan ahead, and all of us here?"

"Don't try to stop me, Peter," said Lucy, "I am sure Aslan would not. I am sure it is not wrong to mourn for Narnia. Think of all that lies dead and frozen behind that door."

"Yes and I did hope," said Jill, "that it might go on for ever. I knew our world couldn't. I did think Narnia might."

"I saw it begin," said the Lord Digory. "I did not think I would live to see it die."

"Sirs," said Tirian. "The ladies do well to weep. See, I do so myself. I have seen my mother's death. What world but Narnia have I ever known? It were no virtue, but great discourtesy, if we did not mourn."


It still seemed to be early, and the morning freshness was in the air. They kept on stopping to look round and to look behind them, partly because it was so beautiful but partly also because there was something about it which they could not understand.

"Peter," said Lucy, "where is this, do you suppose?"

"I don't know," said the High King. "It reminds me of somewhere but I can't give it a name. Could it be somewhere we once stayed for a holiday when we were very, very small?"

"It would have to have been a jolly good holiday," said Eustace. "I bet there isn't a country like this anywhere in our world. Look at the colours! You couldn't get a blue like the blue on those mountains in our world."

"Is it not Aslan's country?" said Tirian.

"Not like Aslan's country on top of that mountain beyond the Eastern end of the world," said Jill. "I've been there."

"If you ask me," said Edmund, "it's like somewhere in the Narnian world. Look at those mountains ahead - and the big ice-mountains beyond them. Surely they're rather like the mountains we used to see from Narnia, the ones up Westward beyond the Waterfall?"

"Yes, so they are," said Peter. "Only these are bigger."

"I don't think those ones are so very like anything in Narnia," said Lucy. "But look there." She pointed Southward to their left, and everyone stopped and turned to look. "Those hills," said Lucy, "the nice woody ones and the blue ones behind - aren't they very like the Southern border of Narnia?"

"Like!" cried Edmund after a moment's silence. "Why, they're exactly like. Look, there's Mount Pire with his forked head, and there's the pass into Archenland and everything!"

"And yet they're not like," said Lucy. "They're different. They have more colours on them and they look further away than I remembered and they're more .. . more . . . oh, I don't know..."

"More like the real thing," said the Lord Digory softly.

Suddenly Farsight the Eagle spread his wings, soared thirty or forty feet up into the air, circled round and then alighted on the ground.

"Kings and Queens," he cried, "we have all been blind. We are only beginning to see where we are. From up there I have seen it all - Ettinsmuir, Beaversdam, the Great River, and Cair Paravel still shining on the edge of the Eastern Sea. Narnia is not dead. This is Narnia."

"But how can it be?" said Peter. "For Aslan told us older ones that we should never return to Narnia, and here we are."

"Yes," said Eustace. "And we saw it all destroyed and the sun put out."

"And it's all so different," said Lucy.

"The Eagle is right," said the Lord Digory. "Listen, Peter. When Aslan said you could never go back to Narnia, he meant the Narnia you were thinking of. But that was not the real Narnia. That had a beginning and an end. It was only a shadow or a copy of the real Narnia which has always been here and always will be here: just as our world, England and all, is only a shadow or copy of something in Aslan's real world. You need not mourn over Narnia, Lucy. All of the old Narnia that mattered, all the dear creatures, have been drawn into the real Narnia through the Door. And of course it is different; as different as a real thing is from a shadow or as waking life is from a dream." His voice stirred everyone like a trumpet as he spoke these words: but when he added under his breath "It's all in Plato, all in Plato: bless me, what do they teach them at these schools!" the older ones laughed. It was so exactly like the sort of thing they had heard him say long ago in that other world where his beard was grey instead of golden. He knew why they were laughing and joined in the laugh himself. But very quickly they all became grave again: for, as you know, there is a kind of happiness and wonder that makes you serious. It is too good to waste on jokes.

It is as hard to explain how this sunlit land was different from the old Narnia as it would be to tell you how the fruits of that country taste. Perhaps you will get some idea of it if you think like this. You may have been in a room in which there was a window that looked out on a lovely bay of the sea or a green valley that wound away among mountains. And in the wall of that room opposite to the window there may have been a lookingglass. And as you turned away from the window you suddenly caught sight of that sea or that valley, all over again, in the looking glass. And the sea in the mirror, or the valley in the mirror, were in one sense just the same as the real ones: yet at the same time they were somehow different - deeper, more wonderful, more like places in a story: in a story you have never heard but very much want to know. The difference between the old Narnia and the new Narnia was like that. The new one was a deeper country: every rock and flower and blade of grass looked as if it meant more. I can't describe it any better than that: if ever you get there you will know what I mean.

It was the Unicorn who summed up what everyone was feeling. He stamped his right fore-hoof on the ground and neighed, and then cried:

"I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now. The reason why we loved the old Narnia is that it sometimes looked a little like this."

C. S. Lewis, The Last Battle

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Election post at W4

I've been having a terrible case of blogger's block recently. I can think of philosophy stuff to write or to prepare to write but just don't feel inspired to blog at all.

But I did put up a piece here at W4 concerning election day. I feel curiously detached (though perhaps you wouldn't guess it to read that post) because in my particular district there are no federal elections in which I am voting. We have no Senate seats empty in my state this year, and my U.S. Representative is a RINO incumbent whom I opposed in the primary and stopped voting for in the general years ago. (Did I ever vote for him in the general? Can't recall.) I imagine he'll retain his seat without my help, but what he'll do with it is up for grabs. He's certainly not reliably conservative on much of anything at all.

I can't help but be somewhat inspired by the election fever in the conservative blogosphere, though. No matter what, I think we can say with some confidence that President Punish-your-enemies Obama won't have things as easy as he had hoped for during the next two years, which is worth a good deal in itself.

I'll go vote later today when I get my car back out of the shop--quite a number of in-state races to vote in.

I've gotten the "put not your trust in princes" thing down pretty well over the past few years. But I haven't quite given up hoping that some "princes" will be better than others, and some interest in watching to see whether that works out. If the Republicans do get a solid majority, let's hope they use it to the max.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Worthy Is the Lamb--Hallelujah Chorus

Today in the church calendar used by my church is the Feast of Christ the King. In the spirit of bringing together old and new, liturgical year and Protestant music, I give you an unusual arrangement of Handel.

The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir:

Collect for Christ the King:

Almighty and everlasting God, who hast exalted thy beloved Son to be King over all worlds, and hast willed in him to make all things new, mercifully grant that th kindreds of the earth which are wounded and dispersed by sin may speedily be knit together under his gracious sovereignty, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, world without end, Amen.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Where am I?

In case my readers wonder where I am, I am taking most of my free time to draft a paper on the existence of the external world.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Another day, another tale of homosexual totalitarianism

Here's the story:

We're apparently nearing "National Coming Out Day"--as if normal people should have to know about such a "holiday." So a homosexual activist in Indianapolis makes contact with a bakery called Just Cookies and asks for rainbow-frosted cupcakes to celebrate this faux "holiday." The owner could have told him they don't sell cupcakes, just cookies, as the name of the business says (which is apparently true). But the foolish owner (for whom I have the greatest sympathy), not realizing that he lives in a homosexual totalitarian state and that his city has a "sexual orientation public accommodations law" instead tells him that he wouldn't want to make rainbow-frosted cupcakes to celebrate "National Coming Out Day" at his bakery because it's a family business, and he doesn't want his daughters exposed to that. Perhaps the poor guy was afraid the customer was going to ask for rainbow-frosted cookies if he told him they didn't sell cupcakes.

Uh-oh. This perfectly normal statement from this perfectly normal man has now gotten him in trouble. His business may lose its lease, as the mini-mall or whatever it is where he's located has of course a non-discrimination statement that includes sodomy as one of the things you're never supposed to say anything negative about in your business. And of course he may be fined. His only hope appears to be that the city doesn't seem super-eager to prosecute, but they're being pushed by the homosexual lobby. Such laws have been used to apply to situations like this before--e.g., the Elaine Hugonin case, in which she was required by non-discrimination law to use her photographic talents to celebrate lesbianism. If your business can in any way shape or form be used to make a statement, then it can be co-opted to make a pro-homosexual statement, and woe betide you if you resist.

Mike Adams gets on a wonderful rant here in which he asks whether a Jewish bakery owner should also be required to make baked goods with swastikas on them. No, no, Mike, you don't get it: Neo-nazis don't have power, and the homosexual activists do. So the answer to your question is, "No, of course not. What a terrible suggestion. How could you make such a comparison? As for the rainbows and the bakery, well, it's just obvious: If people don't want to create rainbow-frosted baked goods in honor of Homosexual Sodomy Pride Day, they just shouldn't own bakeries."

(Since we have commentators at W4 who would bore me, annoy me, and waste my time by saying pretty much exactly this, I put this entry here instead.)

But let this be a warning if you run a business: You thought you lived in a free country? Think again, and watch your words at all times. National Coming Out Day is a hallowed day in your community if your city has a sexual orientation clause in its public accommodations law. If you don't want to help celebrate it using the resources of your business, including your children who help you...well...good luck getting out of it. And say as little as possible when you refuse.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

"Down in the River to Pray"--Allan Hall

This a great song I just heard tonight. Very much of an early American folk sound. The musician is the pianist for the group Selah.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Explosive letter on global warming fraud and cover-up in the American Physical Society

Wow. Just wow. You've gotta read this. This is a resignation letter from Harold Lewis, Emeritus Professor at U of CA, Santa Barbara to the president of the American Physical Society. It's incredibly damning and shows the utter corruption of science over "global warming." Read the whole thing. As I read the letter, the ghost of Richard Feynman--who, whatever else one may say about him, was no tolerator of politically motivated baloney and the suppression of scientific inquiry--kept rising up before me. This is a letter Feynman would have appreciated and might very well have written, except his language might have been a little saltier than Lewis's. Here are just a few nuggets (my emphasis).

It is of course, the global warming scam, with the (literally) trillions of dollars driving it, that has corrupted so many scientists, and has carried APS before it like a rogue wave. It is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist. Anyone who has the faintest doubt that this is so should force himself to read the ClimateGate documents, which lay it bare. (Montford’s book organizes the facts very well.) I don’t believe that any real physicist, nay scientist, can read that stuff without revulsion. I would almost make that revulsion a definition of the word scientist.

About a year ago a few of us sent an e-mail on the subject to a fraction of the membership. APS ignored the issues, but the then President immediately launched a hostile investigation of where we got the e-mail addresses. In its better days, APS used to encourage discussion of important issues, and indeed the Constitution cites that as its principal purpose. No more. Everything that has been done in the last year has been designed to silence debate.

The appallingly tendentious APS statement on Climate Change was apparently written in a hurry by a few people over lunch, and is certainly not representative of the talents of APS members as I have long known them. So a few of us petitioned the Council to reconsider it. One of the outstanding marks of (in)distinction in the Statement was the poison word incontrovertible, which describes few items in physics, certainly not this one. In response APS appointed a secret committee that never met, never troubled to speak to any skeptics, yet endorsed the Statement in its entirety. (They did admit that the tone was a bit strong, but amazingly kept the poison word incontrovertible to describe the evidence, a position supported by no one.) In the end, the Council kept the original statement, word for word, but approved a far longer “explanatory” screed, admitting that there were uncertainties, but brushing them aside to give blanket approval to the original. The original Statement, which still stands as the APS position, also contains what I consider pompous and asinine advice to all world governments, as if the APS were master of the universe. It is not, and I am embarrassed that our leaders seem to think it is. This is not fun and games, these are serious matters involving vast fractions of our national substance, and the reputation of the Society as a scientific society is at stake.

Okay, now that your appetite is whetted, go read the rest.

By the way, I recently saw a commentator at another blog literally state that AGW is basic physics, demonstrated in the lab, because the radiative properties of carbon are well-understood and demonstrated in the lab. I replied that I exercise a gravitational pull on the planet Jupiter. This also is basic physics. But it does not mean that I am going to cause the planet Jupiter to crash into the earth and that something must be done to prevent this.

In other news, the EPA is considering shutting down the U.S. beef industry by means of draconian regulations on...dust.

Oh, I'll lift here out of obscurity a comment I made about environmentalists in a thread at W4:

Plenty of environmentalists dislike the developed world's economy, period, because they have a romantic love of what they view as a more "pristine" earth in which man doesn't do all the things that really are good for man. How can you reason with people who think that composting toilets are great because they're natural and need less fresh water to operate? Seriously, I think you're leaving out the substantial proportion of this movement that is plain, unvarnished, anti-development, anti-technology, and anti-human and would be just as happy if human flourishing were seriously damaged so long as the world and the human "environment" were left in the end dirtier, smellier, more dangerous, and more like things were before man ever came along. This, as an end in itself.

(And I wrote that before I heard about the EPA's insanity vis a vis the beef industry.)

HT on both the letter and the beef industry news: Secondhand Smoke

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Anti-Israel idiots get fisked

There's a great, great, ranting post on idiot clerics and their recent anathemas against Israel. Desmond Tutu comes in for a well-deserved fisking. One of Tutu's biggest foot-in-mouth moments appears to have been this, which he doubtless thought was profound:

[S]urely we must recognise that people caged in, starved and stripped of their essential material and political rights must resist their Pharaoh?

Joining in the party, the Anglican Primate of Wales, one Barry Morgan, says,

[O]ur own Prime Minister has described Gaza as a prison camp.

To which Midwest Conservative Journal replies,

Then your own Prime Minister is a blithering idiot. He might be anti-Semitic as well but let’s just stick with what we know for the time being.

Midwest Conservative also gives us this great line,

All we’re doing is saying that until Israel works out a “peace” deal with people who want kill every Jew they can and wipe Israel off the map and comes to terms with the fact that Jewish deaths really don’t bother us at all, we’re going to treat Israel as a pariah.

You get the picture. If you are pro-Israel, you'll love it. If not, you'll hate it. I think it's great. Go read the whole thing if you're on my side and give yourself something to smile about this Sunday. Here's that link again.

HT Romish Graffiti

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Hey! It's Michaelmas

I put up a particularly good via media set of Michaelmas posts here and at W4 two years ago, so I'll link to them here and here.

(Trivia bit which I have gathered from novel reading: In Cornwall and perhaps other parts of England you are not supposed to eat blackberries after Michaelmas on pain of illness and possibly death. Something to do with witches. Okay, end of trivia digression.)

I'm surprised to see that I never seem to have put up the BCP collect for Michaelmas. This was remiss of me, as it seems to me to embody Cranmer's approach, which I find very congenial, to such holy days. Both my Catholic and my non-Catholic readers will notice both what Cranmer says and what he does not say. But hopefully both will acknowledge that this is great liturgy:

O everlasting God, who has ordained and constituted the services of Angels and men in a wonderful order; Mercifully grant that, as thy holy Angels always do thee service in heaven, so, by thy appointment, they may succour and defend us on earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

But for Wales?

From A Man for All Seasons:
Thomas More: There is one question I would like to ask the witness.                     
(To Richard Rich) That's a chain of office you're wearing.
May I see it? The red dragon. What's this?

Cromwell: Sir Richard is appointed Attorney General for Wales.

More: For Wales. Why Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his
soul for the whole world.

But for Wales?
I realize that I appear to be have been living in a cave for the past year or two, but I just recently learned that Douglas Kmiec, the "Catholic pro-lifer" who so ardently and suavely supported Barack Obama through his presidential campaign and beyond, has been appointed U.S. Ambassador to Malta.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

"I Thirst"--off-schedule Good Friday meditation

Okay, time for some more Gospel music. Here is the late, great George Younce and the Cathedrals singing "I Thirst."

Here are the words to the chorus again:
He said, “I thirst,” yet He made the rivers.
He said, “I thirst,” yet He made the sea.
“I thirst,” said the King of the Ages.
In His great thirst, He brought water to me.
In line with my desire to bring together high church and low church, Protestant and Catholic, I give you the following parallel, from the liturgy of the reproaches for Good Friday:
I did feed thee with manna in the desert, and thou has stricken me with blows and scourges.

(Response: O my people, what have I done unto thee, or wherein have I wearied thee? Testify against me.)

I did give thee to drink the water of life from the rock, and thou hast given me to drink but gall and vinegar.

(Response: O my people, what have I done unto thee, or wherein have I wearied thee? Testify against me.)
In his 9/11 post, my college Jeff Culbreath at W4 reminded us that we must be careful not to turn 9/11 into some kind of holy day of mourning that overshadows much more important Christian days such as Good Friday.

We're not anywhere near Good Friday just now, of course. (In fact, we're right in the middle of Trinitytide and recently had this great collect.) But having heard "I Thirst" recently and having been reminded of the reproaches, I thought it was as good a time as any to post on it.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Man who burned a few Koran pages on camera fired

...from New Jersey Transit after an 11-year career. The reason? He violated an "ethics code."

Let me get this straight: People who work with trains for New Jersey Transit are subject to an ethics code that prohibits (somehow) mistreating a Koran? I'd love to see the quotation from the ethics code in question. What does it say? "Everybody who works with train logistics for New Jersey Transit must be a multiculturalist in good standing"? I mean, seriously.

And these are the same people who would no doubt be horrified if someone were fired from New Jersey Transit for appearing in drag (or in nothing at all) in a Gay Pride parade or doing a spread for Playboy. Wouldn't they? Bet they'd find a way to sue over it.

Ethics code, indeed.


Saturday, September 11, 2010

What 9/11 means to me [Updated]

In case I have any readers here who aren't friends on Facebook, this is what I said there about 9/11:

I remember 9/11. And the moral I take from it is this: Islam is the problem. We must defy and oppose Islam. It is a major problem that nine years after 9/11, our country is far, far more deferential to Islam than it was before, far more afraid to say that Islam is _not_ a religion of peace. Take off the blinders, America! This is what 9/11 means.

P.S. If anyone hears about whether Bob Old of Tennessee actually burned a Koran and posted it on Youtube, let me know and post a link. I'm very curious.

Ah, here we go: Bob Old followed through. And there was some poor woman (whose husband is in Afghanistan) outside his house saying, "Someone's got to stand up for our troops." Say, what? We are insane.

More pictures incidents, including a video link to another pastor, at VFR here.
I really have to hand it to Lawrence Auster. He has his readers inspired to take oaths not to submit to Islam even at the cost of their lives. Pretty impressive.

Friday, September 10, 2010

"Musical child abuse" page

I've been researching penny whistles lately, and in the process I found this absolutely hilarious page about a penny whistle set sold at Christmas some years ago. Be sure that you are all set to laugh when you read this, though actually, I agree with the guy. Whoever did this should be shot, figuratively speaking.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Acoustic Sunday--Kevin Williams, Buddy Greene, et. al.

If you like acoustic country and bluegrass music and hymns, you should buy this album. My favorites are "At Calvary" and "Amazing Grace."

Really beautiful stuff.

Amazon link here. Detailed review here.

HT: Eldest Daughter

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

The Pooh Community

Very fun satire by Richard Bauckham. Some tidbits:

The stories afford us a fairly accurate view of some of the rivalries and disputes within the community. The stories are told very much from the perspective of Pooh and Piglet, who evidently represent the dominant group in the community - from which presumably the bulk of the literature originated, though here and there we may detect the hand of an author less favourable to the Pooh and Piglet group. The Pooh and Piglet group saw itself as central to the life of the community (remember that Piglet's house is located in the very centre of the forest), and the groups represented by other characters are accordingly marginalized. The figure of Owl, for example, surely represents the group of children who prided themselves on their intellectual achievements and aspired to status in the community on this basis. But the other children, certainly the Pooh and Piglet group, ridiculed them as swots. So throughout the stories the figure of Owl, with his pretentious learning and atrocious spelling, is portrayed as a figure of fun. Probably the Owl group, the swots, in their turn ridiculed the Pooh and Piglet group as ignorant and stupid: they used terms of mockery such as 'bear of very little brain.' Stories like the hunt for the Woozle, in which Pooh and Piglet appear at their silliest and most gullible, probably originated in the Owl group, which used them to lampoon the stupidity of the Pooh and Piglet group. But the final redactor, who favours the Pooh and Piglet group, has managed very skilfully to refunction all this material which was originally detrimental to the Pooh and Piglet group so that in the final form of the collection of stories it serves to portray Pooh and Piglet as oafishly lovable. In a paradoxical reversal of values, stupidity is elevated as deserving the community's admiration.
Such insight into the tensions between various factions in the Pooh community could easily be extended into more debatable territory (the identification of the Eeyore faction e.g. is still debated - some recent scholars have argued that Eeyore is best seen as representing the adults of the village). But I move on to give you an example of the way in which various crises in the community's history have left their mark in the traditions. One such crisis, we can be sure, was caused by the arrival in the village of an Australian family. This was a highly disturbing event for such a community of rural English children - otherwise isolated from the rest of the world. Rabbit (in the book) voices what must have been the general reaction of the community: 'We find a Strange Animal among us. An animal of whom we had never even heard before!' While Rabbit voices the indignation, Piglet expresses the community's fear of the newly arrived Australian children: 'Generally Regarded as One of the Fiercer Animals.' The Australians are represented in the story, of course, by Kanga and Roo.
One small correction for Prof. Bauckham and his Pooh community scholars: He states that honey is not found in the Narnia books (while it is found in the Pooh books). I beg to differ. The Bulgy bears give honey as a gift to the exiled boy king Caspian when he is taken to visit them in Prince Caspian, and we are told that it took him a long time to get unsticky again afterwards. No doubt modern scholarship will provide us with at least one scholarly article or perhaps a dissertation on this matter.


HT: Esteemed Husband

A foreign events fantasy

My fantasy speech from an Israeli Prime Minister:

I have no interest whatsoever in the so-called peace process. The peace process is a sham and worse than a sham. We do not have a "partner for peace." The only thing that can come of our engaging in such talks is that we will make dangerous concessions to our bitter enemies, enemies who relentlessly seek our eradication. Why should we do such a thing? So far from asking for the opportunity to engage in "direct talks" with representatives of the "Palestinians," I ask only that we be left alone to get on with governing our country and keeping our citizens safe. Oh, and by the way, a construction freeze in our capital city of Jerusalem is obscene, and construction in the eastern part of our capital begins tomorrow. Have a nice day.
I can dream, anyway.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Sam Harris and the Jews

I have recently become aware of The Devil's Delusion, David Berlinski's book on the New Atheists. Berlinski has in excelsis the gift of biting invective, and to let him loose on the New Atheists is almost unfair but also highly satisfying. One might almost say that he writes like an angel, but one would immediately have to add that he writes like a cynical, secular, and very Jewish angel.

Through Berlinski's book I have become aware of something that I'm sure caused a flap in the blogosphere, but as it was a flap I missed, and as some of my readers may have missed it too, I will report it here. The atheist Sam Harris has made some...striking comments apropos of the Holocaust in his book The End of Faith. Predictably enough, Harris attempts to blame anti-semitism in part on religion (Christianity and Islam, which he treats as equivalent in this regard), but Harris has an additional theory about the causes of anti-semitism that is more surprising. After documenting contemporary Muslim anti-semitism for a couple of pages, Harris proceeds (pp. 93-94) to say this:

The gravity of Jewish suffering over the ages, culminating in the Holocaust, makes it almost impossible to entertain any suggestion that Jews might have brought their troubles upon themselves. This is, however, in a rather narrow sense, the truth. Prior to the rise of the church, Jews became the objects of suspicion and occasional persecution for their refusal to assimilate, for the insularity and professed superiority of their religious culture-that is, for the content of their own unreasonable, sectarian beliefs. The dogma of a "chosen people," while at least implicit in most faiths, achieved a stridence in Judaism that was unknown in the ancient world. Among cultures that worshiped a plurality of Gods, the later monotheism of the Jews proved indigestible. And while their explicit demonization as a people required the mad work of the Christian church, the ideology of Judaism remains a lightning rod for intolerance to this day. As a system of beliefs, it appears among the least suited to survive in a theological state of nature. Christianity and Islam both acknowledge the sanctity of the Old Testament and offer easy conversion to their faiths. Islam honors Abraham, Moses, and Jesus as forerunners of Muhammad. Hinduism embraces almost anything in sight with its manifold arms (many Hindus, for instance, consider Jesus an avatar of Vishnu). Judaism alone finds itself surrounded by unmitigated errors. It seems little wonder, therefore, that it has drawn so much sectarian fire. Jews, insofar as they are religious, believe that they are bearers of a unique covenant with God. As a consequence, they have spent the last two thousand years collaborating with those who see them as different by seeing themselves as irretrievably so. Judaism is as intrinsically divisive, as ridiculous in its literalism, and as at odds with the civilizing insights of modernity as any other religion. [Emphasis added]

Berlinski on this passage is inimitable.

Having rejected the suggestion [that the Jewish people brought their troubles on themselves] as an impossibility, Harris at once proceeds to embrace it....Although Harris is officially committed to assigning the blame for intolerance on the intolerant, there is blame enough left over to assign some to the intoleree as well....To be a lightning rod for intolerance is a moral defect, the more so when the remedy--get rid of those divisive sectarian beliefs--lies close at hand. (pp. 28-29)

Berlinski on the "civilizing insights of modernity" with which Judaism is allegedly incompatible:

No doubt the civilizing insights of modernity appear considerable in Santa Barbara, where Sam Harris lives; but as travel broadens one's mind, it enlarges one's perspective, and those civilizing insights of which he writes are apt to seem a good deal less persuasive five thousand miles farther to the east, where modernity expressed itself in cattle cars rumbling from all the ancient civilized cities of Europe in order days later to deposit their famished, suffering victims at German extermination camps. (p. 30)

There's much more, including a terrific riff on Richard Dawkins's attempt to claim that atheism had nothing to do with the evil behavior of Stalin, Mao, et. al. (pp. 25-26).

I am, in point of fact, seriously considering sitting down and actually reading the entire Berlinski book, and if you knew how seldom I actually sit down nowadays and read a new book cover to cover, you would know how high a compliment that is. From what I've seen already, it's highly recommended.

As for Harris's disgusting anti-Jewish remarks I have nothing much to add to Berlinski's scathing response, except that when, just past the section I quoted, Harris manages to drag in the Evil Israeli Settlers (a principle obstacle to present peace and a cause of future wars, according to Harris), a few dots connected up for me. A certain type of secularist does find anti-Israel sentiment to be a gateway drug, as it were, for more sweeping anti-Jewish opinions.

I think that Harris's remarks should be more widely known and should call down upon him a due measure of opprobrium from non-Christians as well as Christians. But they probably won't. When I was seeking the electronic text of the Harris passage for easy copying into this entry (and, yes, I did also find it in its context in Harris's book on Google books), it was interesting to find one atheist blogger seeking help to answer criticisms of Harris based on the remarks--anti-atheist propaganda, as he called it.

That tells one a lot about the way a "rational skeptic" thinks. At least, it should.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Clueless in Iowa

You can't make this stuff up. Black wilding gangs openly hold a "beat whitey night" at the Iowa State Fair ("Our state fair is a great state fair..." sorry, Rodgers and Hammerstein), and the police merely find it "very possible" that the attacks had "racial overtones."

And you thought the British were the masters of understatement.


The Obama administration's "special policy"

On tax exempt applications from pro-Israel groups. See the lawsuit here. An IRS agent got a little too talkative. (It was a woman, in case that's relevant.) Apparently applications from groups whose educational activities concern Israel are sent to a special unit to see if the group's policies contradict those of the present administration. That's, um, problematic from a legal perspective. It doesn't surprise me at all, though. What does surprise me is that the agent blabbed about it. I hope the lawsuit is successful and embarrassing for Obama. Not that we're hearing about this elsewhere in the news, of course.

HT: Carl in Jerusalem

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Ayn Rand was a prophet

Rand once said that she had seen someone claiming that people had a right to, shall we say delicately, sexual satisfaction.

Well, look here. It's true. Britain is paying for the disabled to go to Holland and visit prostitutes. It would be a violation of "human rights" not to do so.


I apologize for not moderating comments in a timely fashion. I had thought that blogger would be sending me e-mail notifications when they were awaiting moderation, but evidently not. I've now entered the e-mail address in a second place on settings, and we'll see if that works as planned.

Apologies again.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Comments moderation enabled

Dear friends,

I'm sorry to have to do this, but I am getting sufficiently fed up with the steady trickle of spam (and nothing but spam) and have enabled comments moderation. Those of you who do post substantive comments, please do not be put off by this. I will be quite quick at moderating.


Sunday, August 08, 2010

Get up in Jesus' name

If you didn't listen to the song in the previous post, go listen to it now. I'll wait here.

Okay, great. That song ("Wake up Dancin'") is beautiful and should be widely known.

This next one is completely different, though it's also sung by Gordon Mote. In fact, this one is not the kind of song I would usually post. It's not very melodic, and it's a bit too rocky for my taste, though I don't see how anyone could fail to appreciate the fun, wonder, and glory of Gordon's jazz piano playing, which you didn't get to see much of in the previous song. The harmonica and electric guitar here are also pretty cool, and the complicated rhythm with the Gaither Vocal Band backup is fascinating.

The reason I'm posting this is because of the Prop. 8 decision. Yeah, I know, leave it to me to politicize a great song. But wait until you hear the second verse, and you'll know what I mean. It talks about how the church seems discouraged and fearful, the world full of evil, and about how we need to get up in the name of Jesus and be His soldiers.

So now you see why I made the connection. Get up, Christians. Get up, church. Don't listen to those who would tell you to give in. Resist. Get up, in Jesus' name.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Songs to Die For: "Wake Up Dancin'"

Just encountered this wonderful country song (not even gospel, just country) yesterday, courtesy of Eldest Daughter.

The artist is Gordon Mote, the blind pianist for the Gaither Vocal Band, but as you can see, a singer in his own right.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

But of course, there could be no "rational basis" for...

...a state to restrict marriage to one man and one woman.

See here. In case you're wondering why you should read it, it's called "Open Monogamy" and is about how some social scientists think it's just ducky that homosexual "marriage" will lead to a redefinition of "monogamy" to'm not sure. I think it means that you can have sex with anybody you want to and still call yourself "monogamous" as long as you are emotionally unattached to all the sexual partners other than the partner with whom you are said to be in a "committed relationship."

I'm waiting for the apologies from all the people who said, "How could this possibly hurt straight marriages?" in 3...2...1. Oh. Guess I shouldn't bother waiting.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

We Give Thanks to Thee for Thy Great Glory

I've started going through parts of the Anglican liturgy (the Cranmerian parts, mostly) with two of my daughters. We were doing the Gloria in Excelsis the other day and came to my favorite line: "We give thanks to thee for thy great glory..." There have been plenty of songs and, I'm sure, many sermons on this line. We praise God and thank God for who He is, not only for what He has done for us.

As I was trying to explain what is so important about this particular line, I was inspired to make a point I have never made before: We catch a small glimpse of this notion of praising God for who He is when we have a sense of thankfulness for someone we know, just for that person's being, for that person's existence. Sometimes we have this sense about a person in the past whose works we have read. It's hard to communicate this to children, especially children who have been loved and sheltered, but there is so much evil in the world, so many people who are not what they seem, who fail us and let us down, so much bad faith, that to find and know a man of integrity and greatness, to be able to admire someone, brings a sense of enormous relief. The mind and the heart rest in the sense that here at last is someone truly good.

If, in mere mortal human beings, sinners like ourselves, we can find greatness, if we can feel gratitude for their character and for our opportunity to know them or even just to know of them and to be refreshed by the knowing, how much more is this true of God Himself, the source of all goodness?

And so the mind moves upward from the creature to the Creator, and we say with the church throughout the ages, "We give thanks to Thee for Thy great glory."

"Shall We Gather At the River" with Irish whistle

Here's a really nice rendition of "Shall We Gather At the River" with accordion, penny whistle, and acoustic guitar. Has a folk sound. Buddy Greene singing, Jeff Taylor on accordion and penny whistle.

Buddy Greene is the harmonica player for many Gaither homecomings, and here he is bringing the house down at Carnegie Hall (!) with his harmonica:

Sunday, July 18, 2010

New manuscript discovery (satire)

Those of you who have been following the outrageous treatment of Christian missionaries in Dearborn, MI, through my coverage at W4 or at the blog of Acts 17 ministries may or may not be aware that the Acts 17 guys and their friends have had a fair bit of their time wasted--on blogs, on Facebook, etc.--answering Christian "friends" who accuse them of being "too confrontational," etc., and hence getting themselves in trouble. (Never mind the rule of law, the freedom of religion, the mandate to proclaim the gospel, and all that. We're busy proving how hard we can be on fellow Christians who have the audacity to run afoul of the sharia police.)

Anyway, I cannot reveal here how the following came into my possession. I will only say, for the record, that I did not write it. I wouldn't want to take credit for something that isn't my own.

Don't forget to note the acronym at the end...


[The following document, written in Koine Greek on a surprisingly intact sheet of fine vellum, was recently found in a drawer in the British Museum, where it had lain uncatalogued for an unknown time. Scholarly opinion is divided, but some experts believe that it may have been a document that was considered and then rejected for inclusion in the fourteenth chapter of Acts. It is translated here for the first time.]

Dear Brother Paul,

We were grieved to hear of the commotion caused when you and Barnabas were here last month. Though we are, of course, grateful that you suffered no bodily harm, we feel it our duty to point out that what you were doing was in every way calculated to inflame strong passions and to incite violence. Because we love you as brethren, we feel it necessary to “show unto you a more excellent way,” lest your actions should cause a breach in the excellent relations we enjoy with the Jewish community here and in our sister cities to the south, Lystra and Derbe.

First, it is reported that you and Barnabas entered a synagogue. You of all people must understand that this placed you in a sensitive position. It is one thing to speak on a public street – sensitively, of course – but it is quite another to go forcing one’s way into the very house of worship of our Jewish friends. Ask yourselves: what would Jesus do? Would he have caused trouble in the Temple itself?

Second, it is reported that when you and Barnabas had entered the synagogue, you began openly preaching the gospel. Brethren, this is out of character with the behavior of our blessed Lord and Saviour, who, as the prophet Isaiah foretold, “opened not his mouth” – a moving description that we have taken as our motto for the Ministerial Society.

Third, it is reported that you engaged in this activity for an extended period of time, speaking boldly and with confidence. We entreat you: was there any need for this? Was there not a time and a place for sharing your convictions that would have been more compatible with the excellent advice you yourself have been known to give from time to time, that “all things might be done decently and in order”?

Under the circumstances, it is no wonder that the civil authorities and a sizeable portion of the religious population joined forces to prevent your actions. Without seeming to condone any violence you might have suffered, we feel compelled to point out that we in the Ministerial Society have never been the focus of such actions from either the civil or the religious direction. Indeed, several of the leading Rabbis here in Iconium have assured us that they have not the least problem with the manner in which we conduct ourselves.

This manner of conduct we earnestly commend to you. There is no need for you to suffer for your faith, whether out of misplaced piety or a juvenile desire for public attention. Our God, who is able to make the rocks cry out His praises, neither requires nor is glorified by brash attempts to proclaim His word in unseasonable circumstances. It is better – safer, and, we think, wiser – to remember the words of the preacher, that there is “a time for silence.”


M. W. T. Rollos, secretary

Worship, Iconium! Ministerial Peace Society

“... ουκ ανοιγει το στομα αυτου”

Sunday, July 11, 2010

New phonics material

A couple of years ago I put up on the Internet a first set of phonics lessons for beginning readers, along with some instructions for starting to teach your child to read. Here is my post on that, which I see is almost exactly two years old.

I now have a huge amount of additional phonics material available here. It begins with quite easy lessons, and most of the first one hundred pages or so are hand written. (Some of these were small pages from a tablet, so it isn't quite as impressive as it sounds. Still, I'm impressed looking back at how much was hand written. Don't know quite why I didn't start typing sooner.)

The lessons get quite advanced as they go on, teaching complex phonics concepts like words ending in -tial, hard and soft c and g, and many more. There are, unfortunately, no supplementary materials such as instructions or even a table of contents. It's just the lessons themselves. You have to browse for what you need. One suggestion for browsing would be using the underlying OCR layer to search for a word that has the phonics idea you need to drill, though this won't work on the handwritten portions.

The lessons are obviously written for my own children and sometimes refer to specific family situations and so forth. Parents who want to use the material might have to skip some of that or adapt it, unless you just want to use it as drill as you would with any material that uses unfamiliar names and situations.

I'm proudest of the stories in this big document. With a very few exceptions (toward the end) these stories were written by me (occasionally adapted from other things I have read), and nearly every story drills or reviews a phonics concept. Sometimes this leads to stiltedness in the prose, but looking back from the distance of a decade, I'm surprised at my own energy and ingenuity.

Here, for example (from pp. 122-123 of 327 total), is a fairy tale that drills single and double consonants before suffixes (for example, filling, filed, stopping, hoping). With apologies to lots of other stories, including the stories of Pandora, Psyche, Cinderella, the fairy tale version of "Beauty and the Beast" (not the movie), and probably others I'm not thinking of. I think I called the girl "Marie" because my reader at that time was having trouble distinguishing "Marie" and "Maria." (I also notice now that for most of these I wasn't observing the requirement to start a new paragraph for every new speaker in a dialogue.)

Once upon a time there was a lovely little girl named Marie who lived with her wicked stepmother. Her father and mother had died, and Marie's stepmother made her work hard all day, filling buckets of water and scrubbing the floors. If she did not do the work fast enough, she was whipped and put in a dark room in chains. Marie was very unhappy, but she kept hoping that she would be free some day.

One day, while she was sitting in a small room, wiping tears from her eyes, a little mouse came in carrying a file which he had stolen from the kitchen. He began sawing away at her bonds. Finally he had filed them loose, and Marie was free. The mouse led her quietly out of the house and into the woods. Suddenly, when Marie looked, the mouse was gone. At first she was frightened, but then she saw a robin looking at her very brightly. "Can you help me?" she asked the robin. It said nothing, but it pointed the way with its wing and then flew in front of her.

At last, she arrived at a golden house in the middle of the wood. Marie went up to the door and rang the bell, but no one she could see carne to the door. The door opened, and invisible hands led her inside. They took her into a room with a long table, filled with all sorts of food, and helped her to sit down. Marie began to get the feeling that she was not alone. The room appeared empty, but soon, someone spoke. "You cannot see me, but I am the master of this house. I am a prince, and I am under a spell. Your wicked stepmother is a witch who has also enchanted me, so that I am invisible. Only if you will go on a long journey can I be freed." "What must I do?" said Marie. "You must take this golden box, without saying a word to anyone, and without opening it, and carry it through the woods to the good fairy of the lake."

Marie picked up the box and carried it away. But the task was hard. The wood was scary; it was full of matted thorns, and bats which hated people and flew at her. Once she met an old woman who tried to talk to her, and once a man who looked kind asked her where she was going, but she remembered what the prince had said and refused to say a word. sometimes she found herself scraping away clinging vines in order to make her way. Sometimes she stopped and rested, but she never gave up. And sometimes she wished she knew what was in the box, but she never opened it.

And at last, the wood was behind her and a beautiful lake was in front of her. And there, beside the lake, was a lovely woman who could only be the good fairy of the lake. Taking the box from Marie, the fairy said, "My child, you have fulfilled the task which was laid on you. Now I shall open the box, and both you and the prince will be free forever." The fairy opened the box, and a sweet smell filled the air. Suddenly, the prince was standing beside Marie, now visible. He kissed her and said, "Your wicked stepmother, the witch, is dead, because you were faithful. Now you shall be my queen."

And they lived happily ever after.

I hope there are some parents out there who will find the material useful, despite the need for browsing. I've been wanting for a long time to get it preserved electronically. The problem was that much of it was hand written and, beyond that, the old floppy disks containing all the typed lessons have been misplaced. My heartfelt thanks to Jason Thueme for the scanning job and to Tim McGrew for help with the scanning, for the use of his fancy scanner, and for the underlying OCR layer.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Welcome "Ruminations" readers

At the urging of a friend I've recently installed Statcounter, a free software that allows me to find out how many people are viewing Extra Thoughts and where they are coming from. In this way I have learned something I hadn't noticed before--namely, that the Israeli historian Yaacov Lozowick has a link to Extra Thoughts from his blog, Ruminations. And people do come to Extra Thoughts by way of that link. I am extremely pleased to learn this.

Those of you who come to Extra Thoughts by that route may find yourselves a bit surprised or even disoriented. Here is a link from a blog by an Israeli historian to the personal blog of a devout, Protestant Christian who, nowadays, seems to be blogging American gospel music videos in more than half of her posts. Well, stranger things have happened in the blogosphere. Nor should this be very surprising to the politically astute, who have long known that evangelical Christians in America are Israel's best friends--sometimes even more vocal in Israel's defense than Israel's own leaders. Please do look around, and especially, please see the Israel label, the Holocaust label, and the Buchanan label. (There is some overlap among the posts under these labels.)

If you are an Arab or Muslim reader of Yaacov's blog, please understand that I am much less nice than he is, as well as a good deal farther to the right. I treat Extra Thoughts more or less as a personal space, and I don't lose a wink of sleep over deleting comments from Israel-haters, leftist trolls, and the like.

Just now my main thought about Israel is a feeling of bafflement that Netanyahu would consider it something gained to have "direct talks" between Israel and the "Palestinians." As far as I'm concerned, something gained would be cutting off all talks, since they are obviously worse than pointless from Israel's perspective and can do only harm to Israel and no good. (Lawrence Auster calls the Middle East "peace process" the Dance of the Undead, and boy, is he right.) Which, if you are new to Extra Thoughts, probably tells you (along with the scare quotes around "Palestinians") all you need to know about my perspective on Israel.

Bonus: I just learned today of this incredible outrage. The rule of law in England is taking a real beating. A judge (who, despite his blandly British name, apparently was born in Jaffa) led a jury by his summing up to aquit seven thugs who did 180,000 pounds in damage to a factory on the purely political grounds that they were motivated by opposition to Israel. (Evidently they believed that the company in question sold arms to Israel.) The judge sympathizes with their political motives and brought the supposed plight of the Gazans into his summing up to lead the jury to aquit them, despite the fact that the evidence of their actual destructive actions is beyond all question. This isn't the first time that political motivation has been used to acquit thugs in England. The previous time a jury found that a group of thugs had "lawful excuse" to damage a power station because it was allegedly contributing to global warming. But in the anti-Israel case, the judge appears to have been more directly involved; in the "green" case, the cause of the jury's acquittal was apparently sheer propaganda from defense attornies. (HT on this story, VFR.)

How long, I wonder, before this kind of rank court anarchy comes to the United States?