March 29, 2007


The trouble with belief is that we get our identities all tied up in it. So when our belief is challenged, we're challenged. A challenge against my beliefs gets translated into an affront to my humanity or personality.

Which is why it's so hard for anybody when our basic assumptions get challenged. Psychology has an interesting take on this problem, called "Cognitive Dissonance Theory." Basically, if a person is presented with information contrary to a held belief (or performs an action that goes against what they believe), a dissonance between the action and the belief registers in their head: they know they've been inconsistant. And so people tend to respond in various ways to this dissonace:

1) Denial: "nothing's wrong, what are you talking about?" This doesn't usually last that long.

2) Reasoning: the person tries to use logic or reason to show how the belief and the action are actually compatable. You might say it's another form of denial.

3) Interpretation: The person changes the nature of their perception of the new information in order to make it compatable with their belief, or changes the nature of their perception of the belief to make it compatable with the concrete action. This is similar to reasoning, but while reasoning involves a logical process using factual information, this involves interpretation of information already at hand.

4) Projection: often in conjunction with reasoning, this is when a person lashes out emotionally against the source of the contrary information, declaring it wrong and accusing it of impure motives (or something to that effect).

5) Cognitive Acceptance: the person accepts in their mind that there is a dissonance between the two beliefs and doesn't care. This is probably the hardest to maintain of the reactions, because our minds are not built to deal with dissonance, they are built to resolve it. For example, a person who sees a purple cat doesn't usually just accept their first look as true, they have to look again and attempt to re-perceive the purple cat; it didn't match with their accepted definition of a cat, so they had to make sure it was what they saw.

6) Holistic Acceptance: the person accepts that there is a dissonance but in this case, actually does something to reconcile it, either changing belief, action, or perhaps even both (such as compromising both to match each other). In this is the hardest solution because it involves admitting that the person was wrong, and humility is extremely hard for anybody.

Take me for example. I often say that I'm a Jesus-follower. In fact, you might say that it's one of the central core characteristics of me. I try to think of myself as a Jesus follower first, a husband second, and then friend/employee/etc. after that. Often being a Jesus follower - in fact, pretty much all the time - has an impact on every other aspect of my life. So when things come that seem to conflict with my current understanding of what being a Jesus-follower means, I get ancy.

Things like poverty-alleviation and environmentalism. But lately I've had a growing feeling inside me that tells me I'm just not living up to my end of being a follower of Jesus. My missiology professor is fond of saying "don't tell me what you believe, let me observe you and I'll tell you what you believe." My theories of religion professor in college always would ask us, "I know that's what it seems to say, but that's because you assume certain things; what does it REALLY say?" I don't pray enough. I don't read enough scripture. When it comes down to it, I probably don't even depend on Jesus enough for ... well, everything, at least, not in my head. My head tells me that I'm the one that got me a job, even though it's not a job that I'm looking forward to. My head tells me that it's about me; seminary is about me taking classes to then go get a job and teach others because I'm so enlightened and they're not (as opposed to it being a partnership between student and teacher where both learn together).

Australia was really good for me in those regards, it helped me focus on needing Him in everyday stuff where I could SEE that I needed it; walking through the CBD was an adventure in itself, and especially for the first few months, it was all I could do to stay sane as I depended on Jesus to get me from place to place without getting too lost. Even when I became comfortable with the CBD, there was always learning to drive on the other side of the road, finding places in the outer suburbs with naught but my Melways to guide me, and then all the uncertainties of getting home. Depending on God for the little stuff translated into depending on him for the big stuff.

Now I'm in seminary and my education is all that matters, and it makes me wonder, am I really learning anything?

On some level, having a daughter will do wonders for this - I have no idea how the hell I'm supposed to be a father; it'll be trusting God again daily, just to keep the kid alive. We read books that tell us that I should spend time alone with her, and it's all I can do not to burst into tears hoping that it's not so, that I can stay safe from having to learn the hard way again. The worry I have about keeping her safe and teaching her well will have to be put aside as I work through it with Jesus, day by day.

But I still wonder, is there more to it? I sometimes think that I'm afraid of people; in Melbourne that was easy, because nobody looked at me as I walked down the street, nobody bothered me in my own little world. Here everybody bothers me because they actually have the gall to say "hi" or "good morning" or "I'm Dan, where are you from?"

My friend Sally thinks that maybe it's not really a fear of people, but a fear of myself. I suppose that everybody's probably afraid of themselves at least a little bit. I'm afraid that I'll say something that will embarrass me, and for some reason it's really important to me that people like me and think I'm very smart, that I have all the answers. My friend Mike once told me that I should stop being right all the time, it bugged him. At the time, I thought he meant that I'm actually right all the time, but now I'm starting to wonder if maybe he meant that I thought I was right but maybe I wasn't. It's funny, but being around lots of academics again is really humbling because now I can't reason my way out of dissonance anymore; I get called on it every time. Maybe this means I'll have to start changing some beliefs or some actions.

Maybe both.

March 28, 2007

Name Change?

While I'm waiting for the return of my internet service, I'd like to give you, my faithful readers (I'm fairly sure I'm not just writing to myself, but tell me if I am ...), something to chew over and comment on. I'm thinking of changing the name of my blog.


"But no, Chris, you can't get rid of Random Thoughts, it's so profoundly meaningful in my daily life! I will feel that something is missing from my currently well balanced life if you change it!" I know, but I can't shake the feeling that I want my blog to mean more than just the random spewings of a deranged mind. So I have a few ideas, here they are in no particular order:

"An Infinity of Absolutes"
"Unseen Eternity"
"At Absolute Infinity"
"Fellowship of Creative Deviants"

There are stories behind them, even poetry behind one, but at this point I haven't the time to write about them much. Suffice it to say that they're phrases I've been batting around lately trying to figure out their meanings, and I think they speak volumes about life, God, the universe ... lots. They're starting to mean a lot to me, but if you think you can modify them to mean more, go for it. Feel free to suggest other names too. But be nice.

March 26, 2007

[Technical Difficulties]

Just wanted to let you all know that I've not posted in a little while for a very specific reason: internet access is very hard to come by at the moment. As it turns out, the apartment we're living in is utter crap. The people in the place are amazing, but the actual physical building is ... well, let's just say that they were hoping to demolish it at some point and replace it, but they keep putting it off. Anyway, long story short, there's something screwey going on with our internet portal and I can't get on at home. So I do it at school, which really means brief periods to check email and then run off to read something else that's due later.

Anyway, I'd love to hear from everybody. I'm adjusting to Kentucky life slowly but surely, and to my credit have not verbally said "ya'll" yet. We'll see how long I can hold out. Email me! I'll try to get back to posting as soon as I can.

[The Management]

March 22, 2007


I got John Mayer's new CD Continuum yesterday. Excerpt:

Is there anyone who ever remembers changing there mind from the paint on a sign?
Is there anyone who really recalls ever breaking rank at all
For something someone yelled real loud one time
Everyone believes in how they think it ought to be
Everyone believes, and they're not going easily

Belief is a beautiful armor, but makes for the heaviest sword
Like punching under water - you never can hit who you're trying for
Some need the exhibition, and some have to know they tried
It's the chemical weapon for the war that's raging on inside
Everyone believes from emptiness to everything
Everyone believes, and no ones going quietly

We're never gonna win the world
We're never gonna stop the war
We're never gonna beat this
If belief is what we're fighting for

What puts a hundred thousand children in the sand
Belief can
Belief can
What puts the folded flag inside his mother's hand
Belief can
Belief can

[John Mayer, "Belief"]


March 19, 2007


I've been thinking a lot about war and poverty lately. Mostly this stems from debates over Iraq, environmentalism, and of course, the ensuing discussions (and naturally, arguments) over pacifism. I hate the term pacifism. Mostly what it tells me - and this is just my own connotation - is that we shouldn't do anything. When I hear the word "pacifist" the first thought that comes into my mind is "let it take care of itself, I protest any action." Often, pacifists are the worst protesters there are. Their solution to any dilemma is to protest what's already being done, instead of coming up with an actual solution to the problem and then enacting it themselves. In other words, it's another version of the "If Nuts" conundrum: "somebody else other than me should figure out a better solution because they're doing it wrong."

And so they write long treatises against Bush, because it's obviously all his fault. Or they make cutesie signs at protests, believing that in protesting, they are enacting some sort of change, that they're doing their duty as a citizen to help the world. And so lots of money spirals down the drain in now TWO ways - for the mis-led (or as I prefer "could-be-done-better") war in Iraq AND in the campaign against it. Lots of money wasted instead of being fed towards solutions. Not to mention the time we put towards bashing one side or another that could've been spent on a solution.

Now, I'm aware of the irony: here I am protesing the protesters wasting more time. And so let me say this - I have begun working on a solution. It's no just "let's just figure out a nice little government that will WORK instead of Bush's moronic ideas (but I won't tell you what because I don't know)." It's something I believe will work. Here goes.

First, we have to recognize as a nation that the war isn't getting the immediate results we were hoping for, but that it's also not necessarily a bad thing - this stuff takes a LOT of dedication and time, especially if we want it to last. You only get out of it what you put in, as it were.

Second, we have to come to understand the
complex nature of things, and being looking at ALL the factors in each equation and proposed solution. There are many warring factions in the middle east - not just two sides (the pacifists seem to say it's an "us vs. them" sort of problem, and so the pacifists become the "us vs. us"). There are Sunnis and Shiites and Kurds and Arabs and Muslims and Americans and Jews and Palestinians and each and every one is tied up in the conflict somehow. We need to start focusing our efforts on unwinding and untangling the strings of conflict to find their source. I have a hunch that the source is pure old fashioned inbred-hatred, but research probably needs to be done.

Third, the best way to ... ah, currey favor, as it were ... is to put monetary efforts into relief supplies. It's easy for Al Quaeda and the various other "insurgents" (terrorists) to prey on the people's fears of America or the UN or whoever because they've been told we're evil; and then we go bomb them and lo and behold, it's a self-fulfilling prophesy. What if we bomb them with beefaroni and minute maid and poland spring and canned green beans and band-aids and hydrocortisone and all the relief support we can (doctors, nurses, aid workers, counsellors). Flood the region with all that excess food the US produces and then destroys to keep farmers in business. Mind you, this has to happen sensitive to the culture - we have to be careful we don't violate muslim or jewish dietary laws or something. The military still plays a part - they protect the relief workers.

And then we do that for a while. Conservatives will point out that we are still the largest contributor of relief supplies to the region, but I say that just because we contribute the most doesn't mean we contribute enough; and so we have to keep sending more food and medical relief and water and whatnot. Maybe some shade; people who live in deserts always need more shade, so maybe a few tents and tarps and poles to put the tarps on, and tables on which to put the waterbottles under the tarps.

Then we start aiding the industry, helping people find jobs and build their own self-determined infrastructure; unless this whole thing is ultimately Iraqi-determined, it won't last. We've been trying to establish government, but I'm not sure that a government exactly like the US is really going to work; their concept of freedom isn't necessarily the same as ours, and so maybe what we need to do is contextualize the democratic process to middle-eastern standards. Maybe one president isn't enough, maybe we use the swiss concept of seven rotating presidents, all elected, all able to keep each other accountable to the people.
It's not the best plan, but it's a start. I think it's got a lot of room to grow. Comments appreciated. We can't just say "do better" without suggesting a plan of action, and I'm sorry, but simply pulling out of Iraq and ignoring the problem is not a plan of action; that's pacifism, and it's not going to work. Letting them duke it out amongst themselves will only end more lives; they won't stop just because we're gone. To sit back and do nothing is not an option: we as a nation have to pull together and begin contributing TOGETHER to a solution, or else peace in the middle east is ultimately out of our reach.

March 17, 2007

Literature Review

I read this phenomenal book and wrote a review for it for my FORGE course. As I've been relatively uninspired to write much in the last week, I give you a lit review. It's not that boring, really. At least, I hope not.

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, by Patrick Lencioni


“Building a team is hard .” So summarizes The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, by Patrick Lencioni. Lencioni, in the timeless form of narrative, has given us an inside look at a dysfunctional team and its redemption. Kathryn, a middle-aged executive, has just been hired by “DecisionTech”, a fictional technology firm in San Francisco that seemingly has everything going for it; the best and brightest employees, a brilliant business strategy, and an innovative product. Despite the many advantages the company has over its competition, DecisionTech is losing ground and capital, placing successively farther and farther behind its competitors. This was, in no small part, due to the failing executive team. Under its former leader, Jeff, the team had progressively gone from a promising leadership team to a bickering, politicking rabble in desperate need of a good leader.

DecisionTech’s CEO, “the Chairman”, has decided that the company’s downward spiral has to end, and in a surprise move, hires Kathryn, an old friend, to manage the company’s executive team. Kathryn, he knows, specializes in the art of bringing teams together. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team follows the story of DecisionTech’s executive board under Kathryn’s leadership, as she introduces a new and counter-intuitive way for the team to work together and build the company back to the top.

The theory, derived from Lencioni’s many years of corporate business team experience, is that underneath every dysfunctional team is an absence of trust due to the team’s inability to be vulnerable with one another. This leads to a fear of conflict, often due to a team member’s need for artificial harmony. The lack of commitment this brings stems from ambiguity towards the team’s goals (since nobody can ever verbally disagree with one another to clarify those goals). Because of these low standards, people often avoid being accountable for their portion of the work, not wanting to spoil status and ego with the problematic results.

Critical Evaluation

I first heard Lencioni speak at a Willow Creek leadership conference back in 2004. A well-spoken man, his theory intrigued me, and I decided that some follow-up reading was in order. It wasn’t until a few months ago that I was able to buy his book, after reading many other texts on leadership in light of the emerging missional church (thus, my first thought upon completion of Five Dysfunctions was, “wow, that fits really well into missional theory”). After returning to several of the aforementioned texts, I discovered that several, namely Eddie Gibbs’ Leadership Next, referenced Lencioni on several occasions, with good reason.

Lencioni’s theory is sound and well-integrated, if somewhat counter-intuitive; one would not expect “vulnerability” to be the deepest underlying reason for a company’s problems. One might expect “laziness” or “a team member” or perhaps even “incompetent employees,” but rarely would one expect seemingly unimportant personal issues to fall into the spotlight as the cause of a corporation’s misfortunes. He is very careful to keep the reader involved, though his prose is somewhat rudimentary.

The goal of this text is admirable: given a company (or by application, a church) that seems to have everything going for it, what can go wrong? Lencioni loads up this fictional company with the best training, the best executives, the best products, and the best technology. Then he shows what happens when the executive team doesn’t work together, a message to which many church leaders would do well to listen.

Most notable is the biblical nature of the message Lencioni strives to maintain. While the text is not overtly Christian, there are certainly biblical principles at work within and through the text, most notably the image of the servant-leader, of self-sacrifice, and of putting the company (“kingdom”) before all other priorities. While Lencioni never says outright “you have to put your company before your family” (something I don’t believe he’d advocate), he does note that within a company, each individual department must put the company ahead of itself. Kathryn (the main character who leads the fictional team) says, “as strongly as we feel about our own people and as wonderful as that is for them, it simply cannot come at the expense of the loyalty and commitment we have to the [company leadership].” This harkens back to Jesus’ own message in Matthew 10, when he says,

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn 'a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—your enemies will be the members of your own household."
Our responsibility is not primarily to our families, our divisions, or our own interests, but must first and foremost be focused on the company (or kingdom, if this is a metaphor). The servant leader must model this above the whole team, who will look to his example, a principle that is shown time and time again through the text.

Churches would do well to heed Lencioni’s caution about accommodating people (workers such as Mikey) who simply do not want to change. Neil Cole explains this well in his discussion on the parable of the seeds:

“I am convinced that we have made a serious mistake by accommodating bad soil in our churches. … Because we think that the number of people is a sure sign of fruitfulness and success, we do everything we can to keep people. We try to woo people to come and keep coming. What we end up with is an audience of consumers shopping for the best “services.” We cater to this sort of thinking by trying to compete with other churches with a better show. … We must invest everything in the few who will bear fruit. Life is too short and the potential yields are too great to spend our lives babysitting fruitless people.”
A reader who looks to apply Lencioni’s theory to his church must be careful that, in this goal-oriented approach to results, he does not cease to put people first. The kingdom of God is about people; we are in the “business” of changing lives. Yet while Lencioni’s critique of business models (in which “bad soil” is tolerated) might seem overly harsh (especially when applied to churches), it is not out of line. In order to change lives, those lives must be willing to change, and if they are not, we must be willing to recognize that God has not brought them to a point at which they can accept our help, brush the dust off our feet, and move on.

March 11, 2007

The Great Debate

Before you watch, you have to read this first.

I've decided not to make any claims about this being right or wrong, rather I'm hoping this will generate some discussion on the issue. As you know, I never think that an issue is simple, but rather has many complex facets to flush out and discuss. Good science means that we will have to debate about stuff, and also means that our results will never be DEFINITE, only (ultimately) a best guess. It means we are never FINISHED; it means we continually refine our theories in light of new research.

Many of you have probably seen Al Gore's take on this issue, but my friend
Rob sent me this and I found it ... well, compelling, I guess. The science behind it fits a lot of what I learned in school, but then again, the other side to the argument makes sense too. Just watch it with an open mind, is all I ask, then tell me your thoughts - positive AND negative, but try to keep some of both - in the comments section. I will warn you it's about an hour long, so make sure you've got some time on your hands before you watch it. It's worth the time.

And, to give you both sides, a rebuttal against this particular argument.

March 8, 2007


I think that Americans use words differently from one another.

If you've followed my writing for any period of time, you'd know I like to talk about the way we talk about stuff a lot. I think our language accounts for a lot of the misunderstandings about things because it's linked to something greater: culture, the summation of our collective experiences, attitudes, and beliefs.

For example, I couldn't help notice in today's
news articles on Iraq that the democrats call their ideas for removing troops from Iraq "troop withdrawal." Now, bear with me - I'm not calling it a good or bad term (just that's what they call it), nor am I asking whether or not we should remove troops. This is not a discussion on that part of morality. What I've noticed is that the way we talk about things tends to show how we feel about them, but it can also confuse other people who think about them differently.

In this instance, the democrats view "withdrawal" as a good thing. "Withdrawal" is such a nice word; it's intentional, but not harsh. It speaks of "we don't need to be here anymore." It's gentle, simple, elegant, clean.

Until you say the word "withdrawal" to a conservative republican. "Withdrawal" doesn't mean the same thing to a republican; in his mind, "withdrawal" is the equivalent of "retreat," which essentially means "they beat us." It's a bad thing. I'm speaking in broad, sweeping generalizations of course, because obviously not every republican thinks this way, nor does every democrat mean something so benign. It's an over-simplification (mostly) to make a point: how we say stuff matters.

So the democrats started using another word, "redeployment." A word many republicans don't mind so much; it too is benign, because it doesn't have the same imperative "we're leaving now" feel to it that "withdrawal" does; it's not a retreat, more like a shuffling of the deck. I think the republican agenda was like that to begin with, but somewhere over time it got lost when they discovered that 'fixing' things in Iraq was going to take a lot more time and effort than they could manage. And lots of Americans don't like the idea of staying anymore.

Another great example of the language differences, the words "a long time" mean something very different to different people. I was just reading
this news article about the troop redeployment and the title says "U.S. Commander in Iraq Sees Long Commitment." Now, when I saw the title my first reaction was "well ya think?" (I believe it'll take several generations to make the middle east into at least a semblence of non-violence, and peace another few generations). Imagine my surprise then, when I read this statement from the middle: "If you’re going to achieve the kinds of effects that we probably need, that it would need to be sustained certainly for some time well beyond the summer."

The summer?

"A long time" to me (at least, in this context) is decades, not a summer. But that's not what he meant when he said a long time. If he hadn't clarified his definition, I would've been left thinking "oh, I guess this thing is far from over" and would've been even more confused when the troops are suddenly withdrawn from Iraq long before I expected an end.

Our language matters.

This is why I try to get my news from a variety of sources, liberal and conservative. If it's possible, I try to get the same story from three or four different places, but for
some things it doesn't always happen.

Anyway, I went to a talk today by a guy named Omar. He's half-Iraqi and half-Texan. How this combination happened, I do not know, but suffice it to say he's a really nice guy. He talked about the differences between his family in Iraq/Jordan/Amman and in the USA. He said that most conservatives that's he's met (and many liberals as well) tend to think "Arab = Muslim = Terrorist." If that's true, he's half-terrorist. He said that if you think like that, then from the Arab's perspective it's "American = Christian = KKK member."

Which is obviously not so.

The language we choose matters.

Statistics, for example, are notably easy to manipulate. I can make them say anything I want to by giving certain information but leaving out certain other information, leaving the reader's own prejudices and assumptions to fill in the blanks. What I choose to say matters, but also what I choose NOT to say (in other words, what I choose to omit). If, in an article about the toll of the war, I say "3000 people died in Iraq since 2006!" it begs all sorts of questions; which people? Americans? Iraqis? Both? And then, how does that compare to other wars? How did they die? Statistics are not really reliable unless you qualify them with descriptions of where and how you got the information.

My biggest problem with the press as it retells the story of the war in Iraq is that they tend to focus on only one part of the picture. Some press tell about the death toll of American soldiers without mentioning how many Iraqis die daily. Some press talk about the cost of the war to our budget, neglecting to mention the many sorts of cost - namely, the lives of the people over there, both American and Iraqi. Some press rant about how many civilians Americans 'brutally' (yet often accidentally) kill and how we should then pull out, neglecting to mention the many car bombs specifically targeting Iraqi civilians because they're a different religion or even a different brand of muslim than the assailants.

The story is never - EVER - simple. There are many complex sides to an issue that we must always consider, and making broad, sweeping generalizations about something is rarely, if ever, a good idea.

I am the king of broad, sweeping generalizations; trust me, I'm learning this the hard way.

I've been learning this about global warming. At
one point, I said that I didn't believe that global warming was happening. I did some reading, had a few conversations, discovered that ok, there's plenty of scientific evidence to say that the world's average temperatures are climbing. Whether this is faster or slower is debatable, mind you, but temperatures are definitely climbing. I was surprised, but ok, I can accept that. Then I wondered, "what is the cause?"

So I read statistics about human pollution and SUVs from all the Greens, and then I read statistics about natural processes like volcanic eruptions and the rise in Mars' average temperatures and Al Gore's house from the conservatives, and I came to a realization: it's not really one thing. It's never JUST one thing. We might like to generalize and SAY that it's one thing, but it's not. It's EASIER to say it's one thing and blame it on one thing, but unfortunately for our peace of mind, there are ALWAYS multiple causes for any given situation, any number of causal chains that led to a specific occurance.

To say that it's all one person's fault or all one demographic's fault or even all of one species' fault is entirely wrong. To what degree each element effects the outcome is something we can debate another time, but that's not the point: the point is, let's try to understand the whole picture before we go placing blame or rush into rash actions that will have huge impact on everybody. We've been given this planet to look after, our fellow men and women to look after; we need to honor that responsibility for its complexity.

March 3, 2007

If Nuts

I think that this statement sums up the human condition fairly well: "if only I could get somebody else to do it for me ..."

When I was in Melbourne, John's wife Rachel did a sort of hands-on discussion about leadership and worry at the last FORGE intensive. She talked about how most leaders tend to be anxious around two sorts of questions: "if only" and "what if". The "if only" questions are regretting those actions - in this case outside of my own control as a leader - that didn't turn out differently. The "what if" statements are doubts about future happenings, in this case also outside of the leader's control. Rachel gave us two walnuts and had us write our two biggest worries on them, one an "if only" nut and the other a "what if" nut. They're our "if nuts" and they sit in my australia memoirs. In my next apartment, they'll likely sit on my desk.

I want to look at the flip side of those anxieties. Mostly leaders worry about the stuff outside of their control, because good leaders already took care of the stuff IN their control. However. Most people fail in this second goal; they spend lots of time trying to get others to take care of stuff for them, so they can go about frolicking around.

I've been trying to figure out what's been bugging me about the many articles I've been reading lately. The ones that I noticed first were, of course, the more liberal articles about the Iraq war or Global Warming. As I pondered, a pattern began to emerge that caught my attention. Mostly, the editorials whine about "well if ONLY this would happen." If only the war in Iraq would go better, if only Bush wasn't an idiot, if only we'd pull the troops out, if only Arab Terrorists were nice people, if only ... Or, if only people would just stop using so much electricity, if only more laws were in place to protect the environment, if only the oil companies didn't rule the world, if only ...
Jerry Falwell, of all people, brought to my attention that Christian environmentalists seem to have an extremist attitude towards things:

"I agree every Christian ought to be an environmentalist of reasonable sort," Falwell said. "We should certainly pick up trash. We ought to beautify the earth as best we can. We ought to keep the streams clean. But we shouldn't be hugging trees and worshipping the creation more than we worship the Creator ..."
Now, I'm not a fan of Jerry Falwell. I think he's an idiot. But even idiots occasionally find a grain of truth amidst their ramblings.

But then I noticed that there were conservatives who did the same thing. Christians tend to do this a lot: "I tithe so that my church will evangelize; I make the money, they do the work." In other words, "I don't want to change the way I do things because that's uncomfortable. Here's some money I have to spare, do my job for me so I'll feel better." Many self-declared environmentalists do it - they give money to organizations to plant trees or protest drilling for oil in Alaska so that they don't have to feel guilty for not changing their lifestyle.
Al Gore is the pinnacle of this - have you heard how much energy his home uses? Likewise, Christians often do this to avoid practicing the harder parts of their faith. In fact scripture DOES say to make disciples of all nations; not a few nations and not by certain people - all of us.

Most people call it "hypocrisy" and nobody thinks of that as a good thing. I'm not saying that it's possible to be free of hypocrisy - everybody fails at practicing their beliefs at one time or another - it's just that those who blatently do it all the time need to wake up and either change what they're saying or change what they're doing.

Or both.

March 2, 2007

Swiss Pride

Ok. This is probably the funniest news article I've ever read, and the best part is that it's a perfect example of what we want to happen in the middle east. Politics where people can have a good laugh - THAT is what I'm talking about.

March 1, 2007

[Insert Your Name Here]

This is my beautiful daughter! That's right, it's a girl. We found out yesterday at Liz's ultrasound; turns out they can do 4D ultrasounds now, so you can watch the baby move around as if the woman's stomach wall isn't there. It's pretty nifty, and not nearly as messy as the alternative.

It's so weird. Since I found out - and we both expected a boy, by the way - I've been having all sorts of nightmares. Not the "holy crap, I wish it was a boy" sort of nightmares, I love my little girl already. But I keep having these nightmares where my little girl is a teenager already and she's dating, or I have to pay for braces (a likely possibility), or handing her off to some guy at a wedding ... *engage panic mode* ...

Just so you all don't go asking right away, yes, we have a name, and no, we won't tell you until she's born (in early July sometime). But this proud Dad wants to share his new pride and joy with the world. Can ya blame me? Jeremiah suggested that I answer your queries with "her name is __" and then fill the blank with the name of whoever asked me the question. So to save me time and typing, simply fill in your name into the blank. Enjoy.