Dec 24, 2011

Ecclesiastical salt shakers

When men reject what they know of God, God gives them up to their own distorted notions and perverted passions, until society stinks in the nostrils of God and of all good people.

Now Christians are set in secular society by God to hinder this process. God intends us to penetrate the world. Christian salt has no business to remain snugly in elegant little ecclesiastical salt cellars; our place is to be rubbed into the secular community, as salt is rubbed into meat, to stop it going bad. And when society does go bad, we Christians tend to throw up our hands in pious horror and reproach the non-Christian world; but should we not rather reproach ourselves? One can hardly blame unsalted meat for going bad. It cannot do anything else.

The real question to ask is: where is the salt?

-- John R.W. Stott

Dec 20, 2011

Christopher Hitchens has died.

The Rich Man and Lazarus
   “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.  “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’
    “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’
   “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’
   “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’
   “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
   “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”

Luke 16:19-31

New International Version (NIV)

Nov 25, 2011

More truth than he knew (and feared).

"In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move."

- Douglas Adams 

There's something happening here...

Prayer For Now
Malcolm Boyd
Charlie Byrd, guitar


A real find earlier this week. This guy was a big influence on me in the 1960s. Adman turned beatnik priest. I didn't know this LP existed. I was being encouraged at the time to consider "The Cloth". I became an adman instead.

It has an interesting sticker on the front cover: "DEPOSITION EXHIBIT 63". Hmmmm.

Free doom.

Source: Frugal dad

Nov 22, 2011

I was there. In this crowd.

On this day in 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. After breakfast in Fort Worth he flew to Dallas and, with his wife and Governor and Mrs. John Connally, began a motorcade trip in an open car toward downtown Dallas. As the car passed through Dealy Plaza several shots rang out. Both Kennedy and Connally were hit. Kennedy died at 1:00 PM in Parkland Hospital. Vice President Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as president of the United States at 2:38 PM.

Nov 15, 2011

What Truly Counts

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 2 Corinthians 4:16

We should rejoice whenever someone gets well, especially after we have prayed for him. But our joy should not be because the person got well. There are many who must suffer sickness until the end of their lives, so why not this one? Rather, we should rejoice because we see that the Savior has done something for a particular person, that this person’s heart has changed and is awakened with new longing.

I want to say to all who suffer: Yes, pray that the Savior takes things in hand – he wants you to have hope – but do not regard getting well as being so important. The Savior himself was sick. He said, “I was sick and you visited me.” Have you ever thought about that? Have you ever thought that there must be sick people so the Savior can dwell in them?

I often feel weak, miserable, and ill – all I can do is drag myself around. Outwardly I feel like I am wasting away. Nevertheless I am kept going. Time and again I am given fresh manifestations of God’s kindliness, deeds of God that renew me inwardly and enable me to carry on. The main thing is that Jesus is present in our sickness. And so, dear friends, see to it that Jesus is free to work in you. Your longing should be that Jesus works something in you, and even more importantly, that through you he reaches others.

Whenever we are attacked by sickness, our first prayer should not be, “Lord, heal me, I want to be healed!” but, “Lord Jesus, bring about whatever is according to your will. I will accept quietly in faith whatever you decide, just as it comes.” Pray, lest evil should have the say, lest darkness hold sway. In all the pain and suffering that may befall you, even in the midst of death and the distress it brings, seek the Lord and the desires of his heart. This must be your deepest, most pressing request.

If you take this stand, you will experience something of the kingdom of God. You will know as you have never known before where your help comes from. You will grow so strong that you will be able to overcome every obstacle. Walls of Jericho will fall and mountains will be moved. No earthly power will impress you anymore, be it good or evil. The only thing that will fill your heart is what comes from above.

Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt

Nov 9, 2011

Binary thought in a Trinitarian reality.

Some Liberals and Conservatives* got together to test him, and they asked him to show them his spiritual credentials. He replied, "At dusk you say, ‘The sky is red; it’ll be fair,’ and at dawn you say, ‘The sky is red and darkening; it’ll rain today.’ You are able to read the clouds but not the signs of the times. A mean and faithless generation asks a sign from me, and the only sign it will get is that of Jonah." So he turned his back on them and left.

When the students went across with him, they forgot to take bread. Jesus said to them, "Now let me warn you to stay away from the yeast of the Liberals and Conservatives." They tried to figure that one out themselves, and decided he had said it because they had no bread. When Jesus found out about it, he said, "Why was it, baby-faiths, that you were hashing over the fact that you have no bread? Haven’t you caught on yet? Don’t you remember the five boxes of crackers of the five thousand and how many basketsful of leftovers you had? Or the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many basketsful you had left over? Well, why can’t you get it through your heads that I wasn’t speaking to you about bread? Rather, I told you to stay away from the yeast of the Liberals and Conservatives." Then it soaked in that he had not warned of the bread yeast, but of the teachings of the Liberals and Conservatives.

* Originally "Protestants and Catholics".

- Source: Matt's 16, from one to twelve.

Nov 3, 2011

Naturalistic Evolution defined

Naturalistic Evolution (def.): the marvelous (presumed) capacity of nature to create the appearance of design, and to produce beings who have the ability to design and to detect design; but which itself has no ability to design, or if it does have that ability, it is forever undetectable.

- Thomas A. Gilson

Oct 16, 2011

Happy Great American Civic Culture Autumnal Festival and Commercial Orgy!

I put up my Great American Civic Culture Autumnal Festival and Commercial Orgy tree this weekend. It's a black plastic tree with orange lights, a garland of gold and yellow metallic leaves, a teddy bear with a Santa cap holding a pumpkin at the base, and topped off by a little turkey (with others decorating the tree). This neo-pagan orgy of commercialism and consumption is celebrated from October 1 through December 25 (with a gluttonous belch on December 31-January 1).

And a Merry Gaccafestco to all!

Oct 5, 2011

Without Steve Jobs' vision, you quite possibly wouldn't be reading this.

"Death is very likely the best invention of life. All pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure, these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important." 
-- Steve Jobs

Sep 27, 2011

Sep 22, 2011


“What is the New Testament? A handbook for those who are to be sacrificed.”

--Soren Kierkegaard

Aug 23, 2011

St. Bartholemew's Day

The St. Bartholomew's Day massacre (Massacre de la Saint-Barthélemy in French) in 1572 was a targeted group of assassinations, followed by a wave of Roman Catholic mob violence, both directed against the Huguenots (French Calvinist Protestants), during the French Wars of Religion. Traditionally believed to have been instigated by Catherine de' Medici, the mother of King Charles IX, the massacre took place six days after the wedding of the king's sister Margaret to the Protestant Henry III of Navarre (the future Henry IV of France). This marriage was an occasion for which many of the most wealthy and prominent Huguenots had gathered in largely Catholic Paris.

The massacre began two days after the attempted assassination of Admiral Gaspard de Coligny, the military and political leader of the Huguenots. Starting on 23 August 1572 (the eve of the feast of Bartholomew the Apostle) with murders on orders of the king of a group of Huguenot leaders including Coligny, the massacres spread throughout Paris. Lasting several weeks, the massacre extended to other urban centres and the countryside. Modern estimates for the number of dead vary widely between 5,000 and 30,000 in total.

The massacre also marked a turning point in the French Wars of Religion. The Huguenot political movement was crippled by the loss of many of its prominent aristocratic leaders, as well as many re-conversions by the rank and file, and those who remained were increasingly radicalized. Though by no means unique, it "was the worst of the century's religious massacres." [2] Throughout Europe, it "printed on Protestant minds the indelible conviction that Catholicism was a bloody and treacherous religion".[3]

Aug 3, 2011

Arkansas banshees

I run my Klipschorns (seen above tucked unobtrusively in the corners of the room) with a McIntosh MA 6100 integrated amplifier (center). After almost 40 years of faithful service, the McIntosh needed some attention, so I took it in for a full restoration. When I got it back last month, the new volume pot from Mac was kinda wonky, so I took it back to be replaced (McIntosh admits that a high percentage of the new not-quite-OEM pots are faulty).

In the interim, a friend loaned me his McIntosh C26 pre-amp, which I used with my old Harman/Kardon Citation 12 amplifier. Neither has been restored, and were used only occasionally over the last few years.

The time came to make the 500 mile round trip to pick up the 6100. As my tech friend and I were talking, I noticed he was running a Citation 12 amp just like mine. He told me a horror story about how it went into complete fail, dumping enough DC into his speakers to fry the voice coils. I hate those kind of stories.

Got home in time for dinner. Too tired to hook up the 6100. Dinner was hamburger steak cooked inside.

We (wife and aged in-laws) were listening to the Ks through my friend's C26 and the Citation 12 at low volume as we prepared to sit down for dinner, when what sounded like the LOUDEST MILITARY/INDUSTRIAL smoke alarm I've ever heard went off. My wife got her parents outside while I ran around looking for something that might have set it off. Screaming so loud I can barely think. I can FEEL the sound in my chest as I move upstairs, where the sound lessens. No smoke. No smell of smoke. Check the attic. No smoke. Run back downstairs and into the garage. No smoke. I start hitting the circuit breaker looking for the alarm (thinking the dinner smoke must have set it off). The last breaker kills the smoke alarm. TWO MINUTES? FIVE MINUTES? I don't know how long it went on, but it seemed like an eternity.

I get everyone back in, check on the condition of the elders, and they're OK. Go over to the amp to make sure there's no smoke smell there. None. But I turn it off anyway, even though it's killed on the same switched-off circuit that the alarm is on (or so I think). Again I check every room. No smoke smells, no fires, no signs of trouble.

After dinner, I have everyone cover their ears and I turn the alarm breaker back on (I think... it's not marked on the panel... the switch that killed the "alarm" says kitchen vent). All quiet. I come back in and try to relax. Decide some jazz will help.

I turn on the amp (the Citation is controlled from the C26).


It never was the smoke alarm. It was the Klipschorns screaming for their lives!

The damn Citation had died, just like the one my tech/friend and I had talked about that very day. The Big Ks seemed to have survived (somehow). Un-frigging-believable. That was the loudest thing I have ever heard (sustained). How the K's (and Bob Crites' CT-125s with his revised XO) survived that, I can't imagine. But I am thankful.

As a test, and for ease and safety, I hooked up my $25 T-amp (5 WPC) through the C26. Everything seems OK. All drivers work and sound good. My ears are still ringing, though (in addition to my normal tinnitus).

The MA 6100 is back in-system today. Sounds great. The Citation will be carted off for new outputs (although my first thought was to throw the damn thing into the lake).

"The belief that there are other life forms in the universe is a matter of faith. There is not a single shred of evidence for any other life forms, and in forty years of searching, none has been discovered. There is absolutely no evidentiary reason to maintain this belief."

-- Michael Crichton, Caltech Michelin Lecture, January 17, 2003

Jul 28, 2011

Knock, knock.

"Here, then, is the crucial question which we have been leading up to. Have we ever opened our door to Christ? Have we ever invited him in? This was exactly the question which I needed to have put to me. For, intellectually speaking, I had believed in Jesus all my life, on the other side of the door. I had regularly struggled to say my prayers through the key-hole. I had even pushed pennies under the door in a vain attempt to pacify him. I had been baptized, yes and confirmed as well. I went to church, read my Bible, had high ideals, and tried to be good and do good. But all the time, often without realising it, I was holding Christ at arm's length, and keeping him outside. I knew that to open the door might have momentous consequences. I am profoundly grateful to him for enabling me to open the door. Looking back now over more than fifty years, I realise that that simple step has changed the entire direction, course and quality of my life."
-- John Stott, quoted in Timothy Dudley-Smith, John Stott: The Making of a Leader (Inter-Varsity Press: Leicester, 1999), p. 95

John R.W. Stott, 27 April 1921 – 27 July 2011

"The Christian landscape is strewn with the wreckage of
derelict, half-built towers -- the ruins of those who began
to build and were unable to finish.  For thousands of
people still ignore Christ's warning and undertake to
follow him without first pausing to reflect on the cost of
doing so.  The result is the great scandal of Christendom
today, so-called 'nominal Christianity'."

--John R.W. Stott, from "Basic Christianity" (rev. edn. London: IVP, 1971),
p. 108.

I miss working at City Hall.

Jul 19, 2011

Let us prey.

"...O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle-- be Thou near them! With them-- in spirit-- we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of their guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief... for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen."

-- Mark Twain, from The War Prayer

Jun 30, 2011

An eye for the truth.

Gabriel, comte de Montgomery, seigneur de Lorges (5 May 1530 – 26 June 1574), a French nobleman, was a captain in Henry II's Scots Guards. He is remembered for mortally injuring Henry in a jousting accident and subsequently converting to Protestantism, the faith that the Scottish Guard sought to suppress.

On either 30 June or 1 July 1559, during a jousting match to celebrate the Peace of Cateau Cambrésis between Henry II and his longtime Habsburg enemies, a splinter of wood from Montgomery's shattered lance pierced Henry's eye and entered his brain, mortally injuring him.

From his deathbed Henry absolved Montgomery of any blame, but, finding himself disgraced, Montgomery retreated to his estates in Normandy. There he studied theology and converted to Protestantism, making him an enemy of the state.

Jun 25, 2011

Ruination Day

"The Christian landscape is strewn with the wreckage of
derelict, half-built towers -- the ruins of those who began
to build and were unable to finish.  For thousands of
people still ignore Christ's warning and undertake to
follow him without first pausing to reflect on the cost of
doing so.  The result is the great scandal of Christendom
today, so-called 'nominal Christianity'."

--John R.W. Stott, from "Basic Christianity" (rev. edn. London: IVP, 1971),
p. 108.

Jun 16, 2011

Evolutionary tendencies.

"People do not drift toward holiness. Apart from grace-
driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness,
prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord.
We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift
toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward
superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of
lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward
prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have
escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince
ourselves we have been liberated."

– D.A. Carson

Cribbed from CQOD.

May 12, 2011

EU Homeland Security Threat levels

  1. The French government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from "Run" to "Hide." The only two higher levels in France are "Collaborate" and "Surrender." The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France's white flag factory, effectively paralyzing the country's military capability.
  2. The English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent events in Libya and have therefore raised their security level from "Miffed" to "Peeved." Soon, though, security levels may be raised yet again to "Irritated" or even "A Bit Cross." The English have not been "A Bit Cross" since the blitz in 1940 when tea supplies nearly ran out. Terrorists have been re-categorized from "Tiresome" to "A Bloody Nuisance." The last time the British issued a "Bloody Nuisance" warning level was in 1588, when threatened by the Spanish Armada.
  3. The Scots have raised their threat level from "Pissed Off" to "Let's get the Bastards." They don't have any other levels. This is the reason they have been used on the front line of the British army for the last 300 years. 
  4. Italy has increased the alert level from "Shout Loudly and Excitedly" to "Elaborate Military Posturing." Two more levels remain: "Ineffective Combat Operations" and "Change Sides." 
  5. The Germans have increased their alert state from "Disdainful Arrogance" to "Dress in Uniform and Sing Marching Songs." They also have two higher levels: "Invade a Neighbor" and "Lose." 
  6. Belgians, on the other hand, are all on holiday as usual; the only threat they are worried about is NATO pulling out of Brussels. 
  7. The Spanish are all excited to see their new submarines ready to deploy. These beautifully designed subs have glass bottoms so the new Spanish navy can get a really good look at the old Spanish navy. 
  8. Australia, meanwhile, has raised its security level from "No worries" to "She'll be alright, Mate." Two more escalation levels remain: "Crikey! I think we'll need to cancel the barbie this weekend!" and "The barbie is canceled." So far no situation has ever warranted use of the final escalation level.
-- John Cleese - British writer, actor and tall person

A tip of the bowler to my brother and sister-in-law for the sharing this.

Apr 23, 2011

Dead man speaking.

According to the New Testament, on the day between Jesus' death on Friday afternoon and his resurrection on Sunday morning, he descended to the dead in Hades. Why? Well, he was dead. But he didn't stay dead. Nor did he just play dead. He preached.

1Peter 3:19–20 says that Jesus "went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison, who in former times did not obey, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah…"

1Peter 4:6 says that the gospel (the good news) was "proclaimed even to the dead…"

In the Orthodox traditions, this is an important part of Pascha (the original name for the celebration of Christ's defeat of death, the name "easter" is actually of pagan origins) called Harrowing Saturday. The Roman Church, and the Protestant churches that came out of it, don't say much about this, even though the three creeds of Christianity (Apostles, Athanasian, and Nicene) all make it a primary tenet of the Faith.

Hades, being outside of time and space, is not a chronological place. It is reasonable to believe (if you can believe in reasonableness) that Jesus preached to all the dead of all time, and released from prison those who would follow. I know this to be true.

Why? Because he preached to me when I was yet a dead man... and he will yet preach to everyone. His sheep will then recognize their master's voice.

Apr 22, 2011


    Those who think God did this almost incredible thing call it Good Friday because only an extremely good God could do a thing like that. All religions attempt to bridge the gulf between the terrific purity of God and the sinfulness of man, but Christianity believes that God built that bridge Himself. This particular Friday commemorates His deliberate action in allowing Himself to be caught up in the sin-suffering-death mechanism which haunts mankind.
    He didn't let it end there, for He went on, right through death. But the men who believe in Him can't forget the kind of Person such an act reveals. That's why they call it Good Friday.

    ... J. B. Phillips (1906-1982)

Apr 14, 2011



Every time the disciples started establishing rules—no children near Jesus; don’t let the crowd touch Jesus; don’t talk to Samaritan women; don’t let people waste expensive perfumes—Jesus told them to knock it off, and his rebuke was usually followed by a lecture that said, “You still don’t get it! We’re not substituting religious rules with our rules. We are substituting religious rules with Me!” Jesus kept saying “Follow Me,” not “follow My rules.” So most of us have spent our Christian lives learning what we can’t do instead of celebrating what we can do in Jesus. 

... Mike Yaconelli (1942-2003), Dangerous Wonder, Colorado Springs, Colo.: NavPress, 1998, p. 53 (see the book)

Source: CQOD

Mar 31, 2011

Nonconformity in exurbia.

I live in an exurban new-urbanist "planned community", where all the houses conform to a century old design language called "American Craftsman" with a muted and narrow color pallet of dusty pastel earth tones, and all the houses have front porches and white (vinyl) picket fences. The HOA is very restrictive. Regimented nostalgia-tinged order.

I'm a rebellious sort. To differentiate myself from my neighbors, I subscribe to a daily newspaper. I appear to be the only one on my block. I expect the HOA to send notice.

Mar 26, 2011


Best photo I've ever taken with my iPhone 3GS. The pits at Smitty's Market in Lockhart, Texas.

Mar 18, 2011

The door is ajar.

Let us not mock God with metaphor,
analogy, sidestepping, transcendence;
making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the
faded credulity of earlier ages:
let us walk through the door.

- John Updike, "Seven Stanzas at Easter"

Mar 17, 2011

Empty Religion

We need to listen again to the biblical criticism of religion.  No book, not even by Marx and his followers, is more scathing of empty religion than the Bible.  The prophets of the eighth and seventh centuries BC were outspoken in their denunciation of the formalism and hypocrisy of Israelite worship.  Jesus then applied their critique to the Pharisees of his day: 'These people ... honour me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me' (Is. 29:13; Mk. 7:6).  And this indictment of religion by the Old Testament prophets and by Jesus is uncomfortably applicable to us and our churches today.  Too much of our worship is ritual without reality, form without power, fun without fear, religion without God.

--From "The Contemporary Christian" (Leicester and Downers Grove: IVP, 1992), p. 228.

- John R. W. Stott

Mar 4, 2011

Confession is good for the soul.

I am a Centrist Christian Democrat (ick, for two parts of the indentifier).

Why? Because while I believe in mankind's innate freedom (Free Will), I also believe in mankind's innate freedom (Free Will).

Left to our own resources, we (mankind) will rape and pillage.  Any attempt at correction will ultimately fail. But try we must (to prevent rape and pillage).

Have a nice day.

Mar 2, 2011

See what big letters I am using?

“People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use.”

- Soren Kierkegaard