Jeremy Pierce: September 2004 Archives

Christian Carnival XXXVII

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The 27th Christian Carnival is up at IntolerantElle.com. I finished up my post on contraception exactly an hour before the deadline and sent it out seven minutes later, but for some reason it's under the category of fashionably late. Sam sent her Battle Ready two hours earlier, which is three hours early, but it was also labeled late. Go figure. I've sent in genuinely late entries to carnivals before, almost always with a gracious acceptance anyway, and I get one in on time only to have it marked late!

Adrian Warnock has a nice explanation of how the same policy can be put in lefty terms or righty terms, each offending the other party. In this case there's a biblical motivation to begin with, so it's the sort of thing biblically-minded Christians should believe, and their resistance to the other side's way of putting it is therefore quite revealing.

Rebecca Writes reminds me why I don't try to write comprehensive, systematic stuff on one large topic unless I teach it in a class setting at least a couple times first (as with my current affirmative action series). This sort of series takes a lot of work, perseverance in continuing to work at it one post at a time, and a willingness to cover the parts of it that are less interesting to the author. Her post on God's goodness (i.e. God's benevolence, not God's righteousness, which she already covered in an earlier post) is fairly comprehensive and is a nice addition to her overall series that by the end will be extremely systematic, just as her series on the purposes of Christ's death turned out to be. It also includes a number of things that I wouldn't have bothered to think of that are absolutely worth including, another reason why I stay away from this sort of comprehensive treatment of anything.

Beyond the Rim... has some suggestive reflections on the Greek 'metanoia', which is usually translated as repentance but involves as much a change in mind than in behavior. He explores how radical the change from the natural mindset to the Christian mindset really is.

At blogicus, there's a link to a good World Mag treatment of the problem of churches not preparing students or giving them the resources to deal with the kind of biblical scholarship they're going to find in college religion classes. I think this is one of the biggest inadequacies in youth ministries today, and even campus ministry staff aren't usually well-equipped to deal with this sort of thing. As a side note, I've noticed that Christians who are more willing to see the Bible as authoritative and reliable for historical informationa are generally inclined to present the alternative positions in classroom settings, whereas those who just assume the liberal orthodoxy on these things don't often worry about conservative arguments. I've also noticed that Christiansb who teach introductory courses in philosophy go way out of their way to avoid the perception that they're biased in favor of positions more favorable to Christianity. I've known quite a few fellow instructors who don't have any trouble seeing their course as an apologetic for the naturalistic position that they would say we've all come to see is true and now needs to be shown to college students to be true.

CBS on the Draft Hoax

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I've been trying to focus on other things than politics, and I already had two political posts yesterday, but this is too important to let stand without comment. Dan Rather seems to have stepped in it again, this time with the internet hoax about Bush wanting to institute a draft. To his credit, he mentions that Bush and Kerry both say they won't institute a draft, but the segment picks out one woman, points out that she's a Republican but a one-issue voter, and then makes it seem as if she's going to vote against Bush over the draft issue, when in reality her one-issue vote is over Iraq in general, and there's no indication from any of the quotes from her or her kids that their fear of the draft has anything to do with either Bush or Kerry. There's also no inclusion of a Democrat who is worried about the draft and willing to let it affect her vote. The reality is that some Democrats in Congress have initiated some bills that are pretty much doomed to failure. A couple Republicans have indicated interest or endorsement, but none is willing to co-sponsor, and most Democrats are against the idea also. Anyone who knows these issues will realize how awful this segment is. Unfortunately, Rather knows that most people aren't informed, which just shows how devious the guy is. For more see Joe Carter and Josh Claybourn.

Contraception

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I've had very few discussions with anyone I know about contraception. I've had some in-depth discussions with some people, but most people I know don't seem to want to raise the issue, and I don't generally bring it up. I know that a number of people in our congregation don't think contraception is a good thing. I'm not sure if they believe it to be morally wrong, but I get the impression that they think it's not a good idea. There are others in the congregation who have little problem with it (for a married couple anyway). We do have a number of large families in the congregation (quite a few with more than six kids, one about to give birth to a ninth, and one who had twelve). I'm not sure the number of children tracks with views on contraception, since most of these families place a high priority on children anyway and see families that our culture sees as large as a good thing and worth pursuing. That's consistent with thinking it's ok to use contraceptives. I do have a feeling more of the larger families are more conservative on the contraception issue, and I've heard a few people making comments here and there that seem to suggest such a view. I've been wanting to record my comments on such matters for a long time, and I'm finally getting around to it now.

Germany and France Dis' Kerry

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John Kerry has been making frequent statements that the mere presence of someone else besides Bush in the White House will be enough to get all this international support in Iraq besides what there already is, by which he means mainly France and Germany, with perhaps Russia and individual leaders of the U.N. such as Kofi Annan thrown in the mix. He hasn't said why he himself would make a difference in terms of his actions, just that his not being Bush is enough. In his NPR interview last week that I commented on here, he basically conceded this. The problem with this attitude is that the French and German governments have been fairly clear that Kerry's presence in the White House wouldn't necessarily change anything, and the impression seems to be that they just don't want to be involved. We'll see if this affects what Kerry says in the debate on Thursday. I don't expect a different message from what we've been hearing.

What really bothers me, though, has nothing to do with Kerry. The French official in particular said whether they provide troops depends as much as who's in power in Iraq as it does on who's in power in the U.S. Does this mean that they'd be supportive of those who support the insurgency win the January election but won't be supportive if the new government gets pretty much confirmed by the election> I hope not, but I can't really think of another interpretation, unless there's some minority party in Iraq that they would support (while not supporting Allawi) on some grounds that aren't worth worrying about. Is there?

Last I checked most principled Democrats had no problem with anyone's being gay and considered it rude and even cruel to use someone's sexuality for political purposes. Last I checked most principled Democrats would have cringed at deliberately outing someone who has been keeping her lesbianism private while dealing with family but talking about it online to those she trusts (and without using her real name or her full name most of the time and keeping it to sites her family wouldn't read ever). Last I checked most principled Democrats would have encouraged people to come out themselves at the right time and when they felt most comfortable doing it, with severe opposition to anyone who might take matters into their own hands to out someone merely for political purposes.

Well, that stance is reversing itself. It's become perfectly ok to point out that someone is gay purely for the purpose of destroying their political career or destroying their family member's political career. Well, the evidence only suggests that it's become ok to do this if it's Republicans you're doing it to. I don't normally link to conspiracy theorists, but I need to, just this once, to point out the evidence of the movement within the Democratic party to out gay Republicans. I don't need to link to a conspiracy theorist to show the attempt to out gay children of Republicans (though this one is highly unconfirmed and could well be an elaborate hoax, in which case it's morally reprehensible for other reasons).

Kos defends his actions by saying it's already all out there, but only a really good sleuth with a goal to tie these together will find the evidence that ties it all together without the aid of Kos and the others who are doing that work for them. I was able to find a lot of what they're talking about really quickly this morning just by using Google, but I had lots of help from blogs who have already done that and knew what keywords to use. I don't think a politician who doesn't frequent gay sites or search for his daughter's name together with the word 'gay' would be able to put the pieces together so easily. It's not so much those who draw attention to the issue that I have problems with, though notice that I'm not using any names here. The ones I find completely reprehensible are those who take delight in what will undoubtedly be a devastating situation for the people involved (if it's based in reality anyway, and if it's not then it will be devastating for other reasons). It's amazing that someone like that could reach #2 in the Ecosystem, but that just reveals much about the many people who frequent that site. A biblical passages most important for homosexuality discussions (Romans 1) mainly lists the effects of the fall in a damaged human nature, and two of the items in that list are ruthlessness and heartlessness. This perversity is an excellent example of both.

This is Part 5 of an ongoing series that started here, and you can find links to all the other posts there as well. [Update: I've restated some of this with a more careful presentation of the argument for reparations here, in Part 7 of the series. My conclusion is unaltered, but I've realized the argument for reparations had far more to be said in favor of it.]

I'm in the process of discussing the arguments in favor of affirmative action before moving on the the arguments against it, and we're up to the reparations argument now. As I summarized it in the inaugural post of the series, the argument says affirmative action is a worthy practice on the grounds that it provides compensation or reparation to underrepresented minority groups who have been harmed in the past (and perhaps still in the present) by injustices that favor the well-represented groups.

Most people I've known, upon hearing this argument, immediately object that no one today is responsible for the fact that anyone enslaved anyone else well over a hundred years ago. But the argument doesn't really assume the moral responsibility of any individual today for any actions of long-dead people. It's probably most helpful to think of this via an analogy. Suppose I grow up in a fairly wealthy family who die and leave all their money to me. I've been living a fairly comfortable life, and I haven't had to work hard to keep it that way. Then I discover something. My great-grandfather came into all this money by stealing it from another family, and I start to wonder what became of that other family. I investigate and discover that they've been living in extreme poverty since then, to the point where survival was even difficult. The last remaining member of the family is in dire straits now. I've clearly benefited greatly at the extreme expense of this last remaining family member, and it was because of a wrong that was done. I didn't do it, but isn't it at least worth considering whether I owe this person something?

How do you extend this to slavery? It seems to me that we can get a plausible moral premise for reparations by saying that, to the extent I've benefited from the existence of slavery in the past and to the extent that any have been harmed by it, I owe something to those who were harmed by it. That's the principle behind this, and it seems plausible if my conclusion in the analogy is plausible (which I think it is). What's not so clear is how to develop this specifically.

This coming Wednesday, September 29, is the 27th Christian Carnival, which will be hosted at IntolerantElle.com. If you have a blog, this will be a great way to get read and possibly pick up readers in the process or highlight your favorite post from the past week.

To enter is simple. First, your post should be of a Christian nature, but this does not exclude posts that are political (or otherwise) in nature from a Christian point of view. Second, please send only one post dated since the last Christian Carnival. Then, do the following:

Playful Primate

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I've gone up in the Ecosystem again, this time only to #96 (as opposed to #10 last weekend), but that's enough for a Playful Primate. Unfortunately, it's again because of Ecosystem fixes that have shifted things around a bit. I was way down yesterday because of the early stages of this update, but I guess being much higher now makes up for it. I'm sure I'm be a Large Mammal again tomorrow.

Update: I can't tell if it's done with what it's been doing yet, but most people's rankings I've checked seem to be close to back to normal. It seems that some people are getting their own links to themselves within their blogs counting as more than they previously did, and that's why I'm at #96. I don't know if this bootstrapping is permanent or just a temporary effect until it updates tomorrow. It feels like a cheat to get so high in the Ecosystem from something like that, though.

UnRight Christian Blogs

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Richard at connexions has set up an aggregator for Christian blogs that aren't politically conservative. As a conservative who thinks political views should not be a litmus test for Christianity, one who sympathizes with the premises used to support many liberal positions without always accepting the conclusions, I'm glad someone's doing this. I'm surprised it's not a less ambiguous name, since UnRight can be interpreted to mean not correct. At least it's not The Religious Wrong!

Christian Carnival XXXVI

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Neophyte Pundit is the host of this week's 36th Christian Carnival. I'm represented with Repent and Believe.

Jollyblogger has a great post called Still Trying to Get the Gospel that Adrian Warnock rightly has connected with my own post that I just mentioned. I read Jollyblogger's post right after I posted my own, even though his was up first, and I immediately thought someone should show the connections between these somehow. I just didn't think I could put what I was thinking into words. I tried a few times to put into words what his post was even about, and it just didn't sound right, so you'll just have to read it.

Viewpoint reviews Alister McGrath's book on atheism. Key quotes: "The true opium of modernity is not Christianity, which tells us that we are accountable for every choice we make in life, but rather, McGrath says, "the belief that there is no God, so that humans are completely free to do precisely as they please." McGrath's claim that Protestant descaralization of communion, icons, etc., is "a little bit like blaming the Wright brothers for 9/11". There are a number of statements about no resources within an atheistic to construct morality that I would want to qualify, since I think naturalistic worldviews have the resources for a reductionistic account of morality, but I agree that that's not morality.

Proverbial Wife argues that even sleep can be spiritual, and she doesn't mean anything weird and mystical.

As a good counterbalance to my Lying post a while back, Rebecca Writes continues her series on the attributes of God with God's truthfulness and what that means for us. I have to confess that this isn't what I think of when I think of the attributes of God. I generally think of the more abstract ones. So it's good that she's drawing our attention to this and its importance.

Mark Roberts argues for the church's role in politics. It's anything like what you might think. This whole series looks good.

Native American Offense

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La Shawn posts the results of a new survey on whether Native Americans are offended by the name of the Washington Redskins. I'd like to know the numbers on how many are offended by the term 'Native Americans', since almost every single Native American I have known prefers to be called Indian. Maybe that offends people from India or of Indian descent, but that just shows the complicated waters politically correct sailor must navigate. (I suggest that it can't really be done.)

According to the poll, 90% of Native Americans said the team's name is acceptable, and 9% considered it offensive. What was interesting to me was that the percentage considering it offensive goes up at higher levels of education. Here are more details on the breakdown:

Darth vs. Luke: Alt. Version

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In honor of the revisionist history George Lucas has introduced into the Star Wars universe with the latest round of changes to the original trilogy, Wink has posted someone's alternative account of Darth Vader's revelation of his fatherhood to Luke. It's pretty funny.

League of Reformed Bloggers

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The League of Reformed Bloggers is a news aggregator and blogroll featuring bloggers who write from the perspective of a Reformed worldview. This is being co-hosted and moderated by Jollyblogger and Challies.com. I believe I have the honor of being the third member after Adrian Warnock and Jollyblogger.

Here's a much-shortened form of the announcement. You can follow the link above for more:

Our desire is to provide a place where those who write and read blogs can find biblical, theological, cultural and social issues addressed from the richness of the Reformed theological tradition. If you have a blog and would like to be a part of this, here are some guidelines for membership (see the fuller statement for more on each of these).

1. Embracing the Five Solas of the Reformation
2. Agreement with one or more of the standard Reformed Confessions (or if you are Anglican or Lutheran, and hold to either the 39 Articles or the Book of Concord, as well as embracing a high view of God�s sovereignty and the five solas).
3. Practice civility in your interactions with others.
4. Write about whatever you want.

To join or see more information, follow the link above.

Shame and Things That Happen

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The Meandering Mind reflects on the role of shame in evaluating things that happen to you. Some things just happen to you, and we all know that things happen to you. Other things are shameful and are not known as just happening to you. To some extent this comes out of our discussion of homosexuality. It's definitely worth reading and thinking carefully about. It's not the kind of thinking about this issue that people usually do, and it involves a number of other elements unrelated to homosexuality.

Kerry on Going to War

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Robert Siegel interviewed John Kerry yesterday on NPR and asked him some not-too-hard but still important questions, some of which I hadn't heard him answer before. One thing really struck me. Siegel distinguished between two different situations, being in the president's shoes knowing what the president had access to at the time (which Kerry did, by the way, since he was on the intelligence committee) and being in the president's shoes knowing what he now knows. Kerry has said in the past that he would have made the same decision he (Kerry) had made even knowing what we now know, which was to give the president the authority to act if necessary. He just doesn't think it was really necessary in retrospect, at least not necessary yet at the time Bush made his decision to go in. I assume he leaves it open that he might have thought later that it had become necessary at some point, but I think he believes it to have turned out that it wasn't really necessary at all. What he didn't clearly answer, which is really the more important question, is what he would have done at the time given what intelligence the president (and therefore also Kerry) had access to. That's the one I really want to know the answer to. I know the answer for Clinton. He went on record saying he would have done the same thing given the same intelligence. I want to know if Kerry would have. I suspect not, given the conditions he listed for allowing such a thing. He listed three, and he said they all need to be true or the war isn't justified.

1. Saddam Hussein needs to have had weapons of mass destruction.
2. There needs to have been an imminent threat.
3. There needs to have been a connection between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda.

Carnival of the Vanities CV

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The 105th Carnival of the Vanities is at The Eleven Day Empire. In the Star Wars theme he's got going, my post on Kerry, Bush, and philosophical ability has something to do with the way Yoda speaks. One downside of not saying anything about the posts you link to is when they're Blogger posts, and you have no idea which one was supposed to be in the Carnival because the permalink won't work and there was absolutely little content in the description to help find it. I guess the bigger downside is that you're doing little to encourage anyone to read any of the posts. Oh, well.

Fringe submits an excellent post about the parallels between the X-Files and what he calls the X-Files generation. This was my favorite show for a long time, and I think the general idea behind his comparison is right. I'm not entirely sure of the causal relationship, but I think there was probably some connection.

Classical Values gathers a number of quotes and sources to show that President Bush is nothing like what people seem to want to portray him as on the matter of religion. By the end of it, the quotes he gives from Bill Clinton and John Kerry just seem ignorant.

Millenial Views

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Joe Carter has a good summary of the views on the millenium referred to in Revelation 20. It has none of the arguments for and against these views, which you can find some of in this somewhat haphazard post of mine. It does have a nice explanation of what each view says in a non-confusing format, which is rare. If eschatology confuses you, this is a good place to start.

Update: This post has retroactively become part 1 of a series: Mark Tidbits.

Jesus' first words in the gospel of Mark are "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel." (Mark 1:15, ESV) Paul summarizes the ministry of John the Baptizer: "John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus." (Acts 19:4, ESV) The nouns for repentance and faith/belief appear together again in Acts 20:21. I'm wondering if there's a connection between the two concepts and that they're not just two indepedent commands, as I think this sort of statement is often taken, but one command put two ways.

Paul's statement about John in Acts 19 seems to be saying that John's message was to repent, i.e. to believe in the one who was to come after him, Jesus. In the next chapter, Paul tells the Ephesian elders in his farewell address to them that the message he preached was of "repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ" (the same Greek word is used for faith here and belief in the other two passages). One further passage makes the connection. The author of Hebrews says his recipients don't need to keep laying the basic foundation but need to move on to deeper things. That basic foundation is " of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God". The same one foundation is those two things. So maybe they're not really two things at all. We might read the statement in Mark a little differently in light of all this.

Fidler on Homosexuality

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Update: Welcome to those who are coming from the Blogs4God plug!

It's rare that I'll find an extended discussion of anything by Tony Campolo that I agree with without reservation, but this excellent post at Fidler on the Roof includes one such discussion. He rightly condemns much of evangelicalism for how it handles homosexuality while affirming that homosexual relationships are out-of-step with being a follower of Christ. He insists that we don't have good evidence for the causes of homosexuality, and this fits with my conclusion that there seem to be biological and social causes. His main point, though, is that most evangelicals' insistence that it's purely social placed the blame on parents, which makes parents who are already scared of gay people even more scared that their kids will turn out gay. Just look at Hank Hill. There really is something called homophobia. Most people who say "love the sinner but hate the sin" really are homophobic [update: and I don't just mean people like Jimmy Swaggart, who should have given up his ministry years ago]. Many evangelicals say they're not scared of gay people, but I've seen enough detest for gay sex transferred to dislike for people who might practice it that I never believe anyone who uses that line unless I see evidence in their life that shows real love for gay people.

Check out the rest of Julie's post, particularly her reflections on her own struggles with same-sex desire and her dialogue with a gay man in a committed homosexual relationship for some more balanced and what seems to me to be the right attitude toward gay people and the whole issue. I'm particularly impressed with how she explains the distinction between being gay and advocating and seeking a gay lifestyle. It's people in her position who are going to make the most progress between evangelicals and the gay community.

I know people in a similar position, and they can speak to gay people in a way I would have a harder time doing, but what's more important is that what they're saying speaks to a gay person in a way that's impossible if you don't acknowledge that being gay doesn't feel like a choice. It feels like you just find yourself attracted to people of the same sex. Living a lifestyle of seeking relationships with people of the same sex is a choice on some level, but being gay is not about a choice of lifestyle. It's about acknowledging a state of being prior to any choice about lifestyle. Regardless of whatever really does cause that state of being, evangelicals need to acknowledge that reality, and they tend not to. Gay people will still usually resist the idea that they should choose a lifestyle not consonant with the way they find themselves to be, but that's where the issue lies, not with how someone comes to be gay.

Kerry and Philosophy, Part II

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Doing Things With Words has responded to my critique of his post on Kerry's philosophical ability. If you want the context, read the other posts first. I wouldn't be able to summarize them easily, so I won't try.

He objects to my argument that Kerry doesn't seem to have a coherent position on abortion with a nice theoretical distinction that fits with Kerry's words. Kerry says life begins at conception, and that's why he opposes abortion. Yet since he doesn't think a fetus is necessarily a person, he doesn't want to make abortion illegal. Life is grounds for moral status, and personhood is grounds for legal status. If a fetus is alive, it has moral status, but it might not have legal status if it's not a person. OK, that's a consistent position. It's also plausibly what Kerry meant. I'm not sure that even disagrees with how I read Kerry. My real problem with this is in how Kerry actually describes his position.

He says he opposes abortion because of human life beginning at conception. Then he says he can't bring himself to restrict in any way at all the right of a woman "to choose", simply because not everyone in the world has seen what he sees, that abortion is wrong. Once you've said something like this, though, I have to think that it's a philosophical distinction for the purposes of dodging the issue. Doesn't moral status bring moral rights? Which is more important, moral rights or legal rights? I say the former. He has to say the latter. Besides, does he really expect us to believe that every single law he's been willing to pass has been something that every single person on this planet would endorse? There are large numbers of people who would oppose many of his votes over his 20 years in the Senate. I'm afraid that merely lining up a technically consistent position doesn't really get him out of the real problem. Maybe I didn't make that clear enough.

Carnival of the Vanities CIV

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The 104th Carnival of the Vanities is at Silflay Hraka, the blog of the founder. In case you aren't aware of the significance of #104 with a weekly carnival, that's twice 52, and there are 52 weeks in a year. That makes this the two-year anniversary of the COTV. The host graciously accepted my entry on the tensions between attitudes toward affirmative action and racial profiling, even though all the ridiculous things going on last week distracted me from sending it in until the day of the Carnival, so I send forth much appreciation with my trackback.

I've never heard of anyone fisking a political cartoon before, but Alan Henderson does exactly that with Mad Magazine's Bush Campaign ad if they were running against Jesus. The one problem with Alan's fisking is that it may well miss the point. His effort is well spent arguing that the things the ad says about Jesus are misunderstandings of Jesus. I suppose it's possible that the cartoon is intended to show that Jesus is a 2004-style American liberal. I'm not sure. I think it's at least as likely that it's trying to show that the Bush Campaign misrepresents its opponents, and Alan's fisking doesn't deal with that charge at all (in fact it more explains how the misunderstandings would go in this case). I don't agree with the charge, and I think most of what he says about Jesus' words is right, but I need to acknowledge that he hasn't dealt with one interpretation of the cartoon.

Digitus, Finger & Co. reflects on the evil of Hitler but argues that evil is quite normal for human beings, and our sense that he's a monster much worse than us ignores the potential for evil in all of us.

Feste has some good fact-checking on the Cheney chickenhawk claims. The language is a tad stronger than I usually like to link to, but I didn't know about some of these matters of how the draft worked, and it's worth knowing about. I did know that college deferments were not seen by the military at the time as draft-dodging. I'm not quite sure how they came to be seen as that.

Resurrection Disproved?

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CBS has the documents to prove it, though some question their authenticity. The Holy Observer has the scoop.

Someone put together an electoral map with all the states resized according to population.

This is from a site that's generally pretty good (their Senate watch is the only thing I've seen like it), though the latest update has some strange comments about Dick Cheney's severance package from Halliburton being a salary and some comments that seem to assume that Cheney has any financial tie to the success of Halliburton, which he doesn't, as a bi-partison Congressional panel determined when they saw that his package is fixed so that nothing Halliburton gains through any government contracts can raise or lower it. The cry of "Halliburton!" reminds me of "Roswell!", the cry of conspiracy theorists everywhere.

There's also an interesting set of data on polls before the 2000 election, though the author seems to have forgotten that the reason the polls weren't as accurate just before the election is that Bush's National Guard issue was conveniently leaked right at the last minute before the election (as was done with Schwarzeneggar with the Gropinator accusations). If this had been done a couple weeks earlier, the Bush campaign could have recovered more by the election, and Florida and the claims of an illegitimate president might never even have been an issue. As it was, the election was right during the peak Gore got out of it, and it was closer than the polls had been indicating.

Christian Carnival XXXVI Plug

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This coming Wednesday, September 22, is the next Christian Carnival, which will be hosted at Neophyte Pundit. If you have a blog, this will be a great way to get read, and possibly pick up readers in the process or highlight your favorite post from the past week.

To enter is simple. First, you post should be of a Christian nature, but this does not exclude posts that are political (or otherwise) in nature from a Christian point of view. Second, please send only one post dated since the last Christian Carnival. Then, do the following:

We took the kids and the Gnu down the road to the local cultural fair that our neighborhood (a real blue state university counterculture community) does every fall. There are groups playing music on various stages, African drumming and dancing, belly dancing, various food vendors, and lots of other stuff, mostly political (and almost all of it leftward of Dennis Kucinich). One guy was brave enough to walk around with a sign saying Vote Bush, and I'm pretty sure it was I thought it might be this guy, but I guess not. I was about to go introduce myself and find out if I was right, but he was surrounded by Kerry supporters who seemed insistent on blocking the view of his sign while distracting him from talking to anyone. I heard enough of the conversation coming from those surrounding him that it realized it was civil and intelligent (though probably not intellectual). I got some good books at the local library book sale (50 cents to a dollar per book), and we heard an excellent local blues band.

Most interesting, though, was the environmentalist propaganda handed to me. I don't study this stuff as much as I used to, but I recognized some immediate problems with it, usually clues that they weren't giving all the relevant information. The language itself was pretty obviously incomplete in a few instances (e.g. reporting a fact about Bush doing X and assuming people will see how it's bad without explaining why and without paying attention to the fact that there might be a reason why Bush did X). Sam picked up on one error of assuming something was bad when it isn't (mercury in the air rather than in the water) just by glancing through it quickly.

One thing stood out though, and it confirms a thesis I've learned to recognize (once it was pointed it out to me by my Gnusome friend). That's that any stick is good enough to beat Bush with. There's never any sense from Bush opponents that they're putting him in a catch-22, but it happens all the time. Matt Lauer put him in a double-bind by wanting him to say that the war was going to be won by a certain date, and when he wouldn't bite he got portrayed as saying there was no hope of ever making any progress. This time it had to do with oil.

What the Pork?

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The Ecosystem is all messed up right now, and I'm a Higher Being for the moment. Not just that, but I'm #10. La Shawn is #6. Even so, it only has 8 links listed for me and 12 for La Shawn. I wish I knew how to get a screen shot of this!

Update: This wasn't the last time something like this happened. See here. Apparently it was because of a bug in the Ecosystem software or an update of some kind. The second instance seems to be from an update the the software or something, perhaps to fix the first problem. Whatever it is did something similar, though it didn't affect me anywhere near as greatly with the positive swing after removing most of my links from its list at first and turning me into a rodent (or maybe something lower -- I don't remember now).

Request for Blogroll Advice

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I know some people don't like to be pigeonholed, and reality is sometimes much more complex than we would like when we want to categorize, but I suspect my list of unclassified political blogs could be shortened if I knew a little more about some of the blogs in there that I look at from time to time but don't know the way a more regular reader would. Shortening isn't necessarily the goal, but I want to be accurate in placing blogs according to perspective if that perspective is one I single out for its own section in my blogroll. So I'd appreciate if anyone wouldn't mind taking a look at that part of my blogroll to see if you think any of those sites could accurately be classified as libertarian, conservative, liberal, or some other label. I'm not moving the Iraq War Was Wrong blog, because I believe that to be a deliberate conservative parody of liberal attitudes toward the war, which is itself a complicated enough situation that I want it where it is, but I believe anything else there is open for moving if I come to see that it belongs somewhere else.

I'm also looking to expand the blogroll on race. I've found a few intelligent moderate blogs on race (particularly among Latino bloggers), but I'd even list liberal ones that I find intelligent. It's overemphasizing conservative and moderately conservative blogs at the moment, and I want it to be at least a little more representative. So I'm accepting recommendations for that. If you appreciate a blog that regularly deals with race issues (even if it's not the only topic covered by the blog), let me know.

The third request is for any sites you know that you think would be good additions to the academic blogs list. I don't want political blogs there, even if they're run by political science professors, and the philosophy blogs have their own section, but any other ones that you think could count as academic blogs are open for consideration. I have to find the site at least somewhat interesting, largely inoffensive, and intelligent enough to be worth considering a good academic blog. In some fields this will involve higher standards than others. Any recommendation is welcome, even if I don't ultimately use it.

Christian Carnival XXXV

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The 35th Christian Carnival is at Rebecca Writes. She was gracious enough to include me The Name of the Trinity even though I didn't submit it until the morning of the Carnival.

Siris posts on spiritual alms-giving suggesting that ordinary deeds of Christians can be works of mercy if done from the right motivation, and he lists some surpising items (e.g. teaching doctrine). His discussion on forgiveness at the end raises some important issues also. I'm not sure what I think about all of them, but it drove my thoughts in a direction they hadn't been before, which is good.

I have to link to this notes from the front line post on prayer and Acts 12, just to quote this section: "I've had that thought every time I've read through Acts, but Sunday as I drove home from church, I thought about it again, but this time in italics: Why couldn't they believe it when God actually answered their prayers? (I need to do a lot more of that, by the way -- think in italics. I don't think Christians in general do it enough when they read Scripture.)"

Minis Tirith does a great job explaining the Old Earth Creationist position. I agree with his general account of how to interpret the creation accounts in Genesis, in his criticism both of Young Earth Creationism and Day-Age Creationism. In my experience, Young Earthers see a day-age view as the only alternative to a young earth or the standard neo-Darwinian position (with both of those in their minds refuted by the text), but most commentators on Genesis read the creations accounts in a way that doesn't require a young earth, a day age framework, or any view on whether evolution occurred from lower species to humans.

John Kerry used the parable of the good Samaritan to criticize President Bush, but pawigoview says Kerry's assignnment of people to characters in the parable is all wrong. Kerry says Bush fails to do what the Samaritan did, but in reality it's those who wouldn't have done what Bush did who have failed in this way. I think Bush was well aware that what he was doing was going to be unpopular, but he thought it was the right thing, and I haven't seen a good argument yet that it wasn't. This post focuses on Iraq and thus doesn't really address the domestic issues Kerry was also dealing with, but that's an area where I happen to think Bush is at least no worse than Kerry when all issues are factored in.

Next week's carnival will be at Neophyte Pundit.

I've just submitted a review to Amazon on John Oswalt's New International Commentary on the Old Testament volume on Isaiah 1-39.

I enjoyed reading through Oswalt's commentary on Isaiah 1-39 while teaching a Bible study on it. It's the most comprehensive commentary from a conservative evangelical perspective, much better than its predecessor in the series by E.J. Young. I share more theologically with Young and Alec Motyer's commentary, but Oswalt is balanced most of the time and presents so much more information that I wouldn't want to use either of the others without his commentary.

Go Axe Mommy

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The kids decided to empty a huge boxed filled with class notes from high school and college, along with what I have left of my role-playing game days and a bunch of magazines I collected during college. They decided it would be nice for the box to look nice and neat with nothing in it but air. (They clear tables for neatness's sake also.) Unfortunately, it meant covering our entire dining room floor with papers that were now no longer in any semblance of order. Then they took all the books off one of the bookshelves in there and spread them out over the top of the papers just for kicks. So I spent the morning sorting through all that instead of doing anything else that I might have been able to do in the time I had before coming to campus to teach at 11:30. It took two and a half hours.

While I was doing that, Ethan walked into the dining room with a pack of microwave popcorn, as he is wont to do, and tried to give it to me to show that he wanted some, which is one of his ways of avoiding asking for things. Sometimes, much more often than he used to, he will say things like, "Want some popcorn?" This, of course, is what we say to him when he wants popcorn, but he doesn't quite understand the indexical nature of personal pronouns and the fact that different sentences are contextualized to who is saying them. So he tells us what he wants by saying what we say when he wants them. I told him to go ask Mommy, because I know she wants to limit his popcorn intake but have no idea what her criteria are for when he can and can't have it (for instance, he had three bags of microwave popcorn one day, but other days he can't have it presumably because he had some the day before; sometimes he's allowed to share a whole bag with Isaiah, and sometimes they can only have half a bag). I prodded him out of the room, and I had to exile both of them at one point with the new Veggie Tales "Sumo of the Opera", which they received in the mail from my mom yesterday.

Well, after that was over Ethan came back in the room with the popcorn, not having asked Mommy anything, and he handed me the popcorn. I handed it back to him and was about to say something, when he said "Go axe Mommy", thinking he was repeating what I had said to him last time. (He does this too, saying things like "That's Isaiah's" when we try to stop him from doing something that has nothing to do with Isaiah. All he knows is that it's what we say when we don't let him do something.) Now I don't exactly know where these violent tendencies are coming from, but I told him I don't have the proper equipment for such a procedure. Well, eventually I asked her, she said it was fine, and he had his popcorn, but what struck me as interesting in this was the combination of a normal child development issue with one of his abnormal developmental issues. Not understanding the semantics of pronouns and other person-relative expressions is normal for kids learning language, but it usually gets picked up in a short time. Kids with autism-related problems take much longer to learn that sort of thing. But reversing the 'k' and 's' in 'ask' is something kids usually take a long time to get right, and there are entire dialects of English in which it's correct to reverse them from how standard English does it (in pronunciation anyway, not in spelling). But Ethan is usually extremely good at pronunciation even without knowing the meanings. He even does the accents of the Wiggles or Veggie Tales characters. So it was weird to see him flat-out saying 'aks' for 'ask' without even thinking there was a problem with his pronunciation. He usually knows when he's wrong.

Philosophers' Carnival II

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The second Philosophers' Carnival is at Siris. Someone must have nominated my Abortion and Personhood, in which I depart from the philosophical orthodoxy on personhood. I didn't submit it myself.

Uriah at Desert Landscapes has a great post on a new way to construe modality. Instead of basing it on counterparts in other worlds, either concrete ones as Lewis did or abstract ones as most people do, Uriah wants to base statements about possibility on properties we have, such as my having the property of possibly having had blue eyes. I think this is a fascinating idea. Someone I know wanted to do it in terms of actual properties not had by me (e.g. a friend's blue eyes), and I think this has advantages over that but also brings a couple difficulties. See my comment.

Neil Levy at The Garden of Forking Paths has a careful presentation of a number of different factors related to accountability, responsibility, and whether an action can be attributed to the agent rather than some blind and unintelligent brain process, with some interesting problem cases about which I'm not certain I know what I think. I enjoyed reading it, and I think both the careful distinctions and helpful application to cases increased my understanding of what I think is a very hard subject.

More Computer Woes

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In the middle of normal computer activity this morning, I had to go in the other room to check on something. I placed my computer on the floor, went and did whatever it was, and returned to find an error message on the screen saying that there was some sort of problem and the computer had to be shut down. When I tried to restart, it said I had no bootable drive. I checked in the BIOS, and it didn't detect the hard drive. I haven't tried the hard drive again, I haven't run a disk checker on it, and I haven't tried it in another computer yet, but I think it's shot. I didn't back up some of my stuff recently either.

Fortunately, most of what I need for my teaching is online in some capacity, and the only thing school-related that I lose if I can't resurrect the hard drive is previous semesters's gradebooks. The racial classification paper I've been working on would also be gone, but I have a printout of the latest version of it. There's lots of other stuff that I've collected into easily accesible form that I'll just have to re-collect if I need it, but that can be done with some difficulty, and only the only really important thing that would be completely gone would be email. I have a backup of Outlook from a year ago, I think, but the last years' messages would be entirely gone. I can get a list of what I intended to blog about from a week or so ago, but I don't have anything I added to it in the last week, and I don't have the list of sites I was keeping to see whether I want to add them to my blogroll. The reason this is most annoying is because I've had at least one completely new and unrelated computer problem every single week this semester, actually even starting before that.

At his new philosophy blog, Doing Things With Words, Dan Quattrone argues that John Kerry is the better choice in this election because he examines the issues in a way more along the lines of what someone trained in philosophical reasoning is able to do. He gives a couple examples of Kerry's sophisticated thought that he says gets belittled by conservatives as nuance, which he of course points out is good and not bad. He then argues that Bush and the theocratic side of the Republican Party don't understand the subtlety of thought gay marriage proponents use and therefore have a simplistic view on the matter. I think he gives a better argument for the right to gay marriage than I've seen anywhere before, including what Andrew Sullivan has written, but it's a completely new argument to me, and I wouldn't have thought of it on my own. So what can a conservative philosopher who supports Bush say to all this? I'm all for a better appropriation of philosophical technique and of the debates in philosophical literature for public policy. I guess I think there are some important distinctions in favor of the other side also, and I don't want to overestimate Kerry's abilities in the philosophical arena. I'm not sure philosophical abilities are the best reason to choose a candidate anyway.

I won't deny that Kerry either tries to do what philosophers do or wants to make himself look as if he does, but I don't think he does it well at all. Dan is right that Kerry favored some sort of war and then when it happened decided he didn't like how Bush did it, and that can be consistent, but when you look carefully at his specific statements he's sometimes been opposed to pre-emptive self-defense and sometimes allowed it to be a legitimate option. He's sometimes acted as if large stockpiles of WMD would be crucial to whether the war was just and sometimes been opposed to war for humanitarian aid alone, but at other times he's defended situations where humanitarian aid is the only reason for getting involved or stated that he would have made similar decisions to Bush's with the same intelligence. I don't call that nuance. I call it wanting to have it both ways.

Kerry has stated that he thinks abortion is wrong because human life begins at conception (as if personhood is irrelevant) but then said that a fetus isn't a person and thus abortion isn't necessarily wrong (as if human life is irrelevant). There are probably ways to make this consistent, but a careful look at his language sounds more to me as if he's unsuccessfully trying to sound philosophical but not quite pulling it off. It comes off the way his speeches in black churches do. He latches on to something without understanding it, in that case some scriptural verse taken out of context and without a biblical theological framework to place it in, and someone who really knows the subject sees it as silly. He probably knows the abortion literature better than he knows the Bible (though that's not saying much), and he certainly knows it better than the average person does, but someone who knows it as well as I do looks at his statements and has trouble figuring out what this nuanced position is supposed to be.

Ray Pritchard links to some fairly extensive lists of Christian books online, a few of which I'm very glad to recommend. You can browse through yourself to see the comprehensiveness of what's now online.

F.F. Bruce's The Historical Reliability of the New Testament is the first comparison I know of between the New Testament documents and other literature at the same time, concluding that the standards classicists use for determining authenticity make the New Testament come out as the most likely to be authentic of any ancient documents (where authenticity isn't about the proof of all its content but the reliability of its transmission and the origin in the general time period and setting it claims to be from and therefore its value as a source about early Christianity).

Two works by Jonathan Edwards come with my strongest recommendations. On the Freedom of the Will played a large part in my early thinking on the issue (though my views as they stand are much more informed by contemporary philosophical debate and D.A. Carson's Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility, the best treatment of the Bible (and intertestamental literature) on this issue that I've seen, and R.C. Sproul's Chosen By God was the first work besides the Bible that got me thinking explicitly along these lines).

The other work by Edwards that I recommend highly is A Treatise Concerning the Religious Affections, which came out of his reflections on the Great Awakening and all the spurious conversions amist the genuine ones. His distinction between the two relies on what he calls religious affections, which you might think of as somewhere between what we nowadays call the mind and the heart and include the fruit of the Spirit. A genuine conversion involves a transformation of these religious affections. This is the classic work on that sort of issue.

John Calvin's Institutes on the Christian Religion is a masterpiece of systematic theology, and he doesn't even really get to the doctrines that eventually became labeled Calvinism until the end. Also, all of Calvin's commentaries are online now.

Finally, I'll link to John Piper and Wayne Grudem's Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, though it's with some hesitation. I'm not happy with most of what's been published on this subject, and the stuff I like a lot is mostly at the academic level and not very readable to the average Christian. I've got mixed feelings about this book. The exegetical and theological section is very good, at least most of the chapters (each is by someone different). The introductory stuff is sometimes good but at a number of points makes me cringe, since it doesn't represent very well the position that I think is biblical. I haven't looked at most of the second half of the book, but I suspect some of it is good and some not. My favorite book on the subject is out-of-print, and the contributions by Craig Blomberg and Thomas Shreiner to this book are also very good. Craig Keener and Linda Bellville also have chapters in that book, and they're top-notch biblical scholars who probably best represent the view I disagree with. Anything else I would recommend is either only in scholarly journals or in a technical enough anthology that I wouldn't recommend it to most readers of this blog. I do plan to post on this subject soon, so I'll probably say some more specific things about the literature on the topic then.

Pictures

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I've finally figured out how to get pictures to display in blog entries without taking up the whole horizontal space they occupy (i.e. I can line up text next to them), so I've updated a whole bunch of entries still on the first page and had the chance to try a few different things (including parallel images on opposite sides of the same paragraph). My Jolly award now appears in the entry that earned it, in the post where I first announced it, and near the bottom of the sidebar above my sitemeter.

My Values and Priorities

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When I was in college, one of my spiritual leaders advised me to write up my values and priorities, and I did so and wrote it up on my website. I've revised it a couple times since then, the most recent version from the summer of 2002. In the interest of eventually getting the best stuff from my old website to appear here and in the interest of not having to type up too much new stuff on a day when I seem tied to a sick kid who doesn't like anyone but me, I decided to use this as my 650th post. Don't assume that I actually live up to what I say in this, but when I'm most reflective on my life and my motivations are purest this is what I'm looking toward. I've changed a little this time around, but the main body of this is as it appears on the old site. Please excuse the bad jokes.

Death in the Old Testament

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Richard Hess reviews Philip Johnston's Shades of Sheol: Death and Afterlife in the Old Testament. This is interesting to me because of Johnston's defense of a few traditional claims that recent scholarship has attempted to undermine, particularly in Hebrew belief in different destinations for the godly and the ungodly, an Old Testament doctrine of resurrection, and belief in biblical authority (and, I presume, inerrancy) but also development of doctrine on issues of the afterlife. He also argues that use in the OT of surrounding cultures' mythologies doesn't amount to endorsing the reality of the imagery anymore than an atheist's comment that life is hell requires believing in hell. I have only a basic familiarity with some of the issues he discusses, but I'm really intrigued by what he's doing with the ones I mentioned, though this review only awakens my interest and doesn't give me any sense of how convincing his arguments will turn out to be.

I've been so busy getting readings prepared for online course reserve that I haven't even had a chance to look at the second Philosopher's Carnival. I intend to post anything from it that I think it interesting at some point.

Since I have nothing else to post right now, here's my last extensive enough review that I've written for Amazon, this time my July 2002 review of D.A. Carson's How Long, O Lord?: Reflections on Suffering and Evil.

Christian Carnival Plug

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This coming Wednesday is Christian Carnival XXXV and will be hosted at Rebecca Writes. If you have a blog, this will be a great way to get read and possibly pick up readers in the process or highlight your favorite post from the past week.

To enter is simple. First, your post should be of a Christian nature, but this does not exclude posts that are political (or otherwise) in nature from a Christian point of view. Second, please send only one post dated since the last Christian Carnival. Then, do the following:

Tokenism in Illinois

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Whatever else may be true of the Republicans' choice of Alan Keyes for the Senate race in Illinois (and his acceptance of it) and whether it's carpetbagging or tokenism, this Thomas Sowell quote about the two parties and how they've treated their candidates in this race seems dead right:

While Democrats are quick to accuse Republicans of tokenism whenever they put someone black in any prominent position, it is hard to imagine that an obscure member of the Illinois legislature would have been featured at a national convention if he were white.

He goes on to argue that Obama's public face in this campaign is at odds with his record and some passionate speeches he's made in the past. When I commented on this in passing a while back, Wink called me on it for not praising him for his moderate message at the convention. I indeed liked about half of what he was saying at the convention, and the next day I put it up on the board for my students to show them that it isn't just black conservatives that say this sort of thing. It's internal criticism within black America, and one liberal black entertainer (Bill Cosby) and one up-and-coming black Democratic politician have been saying it. I do appreciate that. It not only shows that the claims of self-hating racism against those who say such things and are conservative are idiotic unless the people saying them also say them about these guys (which I know some do, at least about Cosby), but these are people who will more easily be listened to. So I do appreciate that he's saying these things. My problem is that I see his whole record as being at odds with the conservative-sounding parts of his message in that convention speech. That's why I have really mixed feelings about him, and as cranky and idiosyncratic as Alan Keyes is I'm sure I'd vote for him over Obama.

His final complaint worries me, though. He fears that people won't see the clear choice on issues in this race and in others, including the presidential election, and just vote according to image and hype. That's the problem with a media-driven election, and this country seems to want those more than an issue-driven election. That's scarier than any of the rest of the issues he raises.

John McWhorter has changed his policy on what words to use to describe his racial group. He has used 'African American' and 'black' almost interchangeably, but now he's decided not to use 'African American' anymore and only to use 'Black'. He gives his reasons in the article why he won't use 'African American' anymore. I wonder what his reason for the change from 'b' to 'B' is. He doesn't say that. I've heard other people's, but he's a linguist, so I really want to hear his reason.

Carnival of the Vanities CIII

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Pete Holiday hosts the 103rd Carnival of the Vanities. I have much more to say about some excellent posts this time around than I usually do, so I'll put it all in the extended entry.

New Spam Tactic?

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The spammers seem to be trying something new, but I can't figure out what and why. I've noticed a number of comments in the last few days on this blog and the other two Ektopos blogs (usually appearing on more than one blog at once, which is one sign that it's spammers) that have dead links, a simple comment like "nice post" or "nice blog" or "I agree with you", and an email address usually from the same domain as the dead link but sometimes from an address that looks just like the ones I've gotten most of my spam from in recent months (another sign that it's spammers and not just people being nice but wanting to remain anonymous). What's going on here? Why advertize a site that doesn't exist? Maybe it's pre-emptive spam, hoping that people won't delete the comments if there's nothing being advertized, and then they'll put something up at the address later on. Maybe it's supposed to be a test of some form. I can't really figure out a likely explanation. From now on any comment with no real content to it that links to anything that isn't a real site will be deleted, and that URL will be banned.

This post is an interlude, so it sort of doesn't fit into the schedule I set up with the six arguments for affirmative action and six against (see the first post in the series, which also has links to parts II and III). I assume I'll pick up with the third argument for affirmative action in part V.

For now I wanted to record a thought I had while hearing an argument for a minimalist kind of racial profiling, in particular with regard to terrorists since 9/11. If airline screening is completely random, it seems as if it will be far less effective than if they take into account characteristics that are more common among terrorists. Racial profiling is stupid if it doesn't involve any reason to single out the people being singled out, as with the case of stopping black people on the New Jersey Turnpike, when it turned out black motorists weren't any more likely in that context to be doing anything illegal. Even those who would resist using race as the basis for finding terrorists (which it may be a good idea to resist, since al Qaeda has been reported to be using European-looking operatives) should acknowledge that it is a factor that seems relevant enough to consider it. The discussion I heard the tail end of on one of the cable news networks a few minutes ago ended with someone arguing that race or ethnicity should at least be considered as a tie-breaker between two people who might be considered for a screening. All of this language sounded remarkably like the language used in affirmative action discussions.

Christian Carnival XXXIV

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The 34th Christian Carnival is at Fringe this week. It has my God's Image and Personhood and Sam's Single Sin. I have three other recommendations this time around.

As I think was true of the last few carnivals, there's a comprehensive and informative post at The Bible Archive, this time on what happens to believers after death. It clears up some common misconceptions Christians have and focuses on what the Bible actually says, looking at all the passages I think get ignored too much. The one hesitation I have is extremely nitpicky, and that's that I don't think we can be confident of being fully conscious in the intermediate state. I do think we'll have some level of consciousness, enough to realize that we are in God's presence, but I don't see any warrant for thinking we will be fully aware of much without bodies, which Paul says we'll be sorely incomplete without (well, he says we'll be naked, but that's obviously a metaphor because we won't have bodies that could be naked).

Exultate Justi has a great focus on what's important in how a Christian deals with people who are gay. I don't know if I would affirm every sentence in the post, but where he generally leaves us at the end seems to me to be the right place. It's more of a modification to how we should think about marriage at all, and I hesitate only a little in endorsing such a move.

Finally, for a lighter note see Mark Roberts' entrance into the realm of satire with God Sure Has Lots of Stuff.

And Jesus came and said to them, �All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.� (Matt 28:18-20, ESV)

It realized something at a baptism last year about Matthew 28's Trinitarian formula. It doesn't just use a Trinitiarian formula that assumes enough of a parity between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to put them in the same sentence in parallel. I've seen commentators mention this, but it's not a strong enough argument that all three persons of the Trinity are fully God. After all, you could list God, the church, and the world in parallel like that, although here there's a sense of commonality and joint authority in addition. One thing occurred to me that I had to go check the Greek to be sure of. Jesus talks about the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This 'name' is singular, one name for the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The name of the Father is 'YHWH' (Hebrew at the time didn't have written vowels), also called the tetragrammaton and covenant name of God. I can't think of another name that these three persons could share. Anyway, that's not the sort of thing those who deny the Trinity but want to affirm the scriptures will be able to deal with easily. Even the fact that there's one name they fall under is some threat to that view.

I think the clearest statement at least of the divinity of Jesus is in Philippians 2:1-11, but it will take some work to draw it out. Some common misreadings of what Paul says there (due to the infelicities of English renderings) hinder what I think would have been an obvious implication of the text to its original readers.

People in comments on Kerry's Vietnam record and the Swift Boat ads have assumed I believe a number of things I don't believe and forced the conversation in directions I wouldn't normally care about, so I wanted to list what I find most important on this issue, in something resembling a decreasing order of importance.

1. It's dangerous to think that a president should have any military experience whatsoever, even in a time of war, though one might think some command experience (whether as president or in some other setting) would be helpful for a war-time president (though experience as president is much more helpful compared to any other experience). It undermines the whole point of having a civilian as commander-in-chief when we place too much emphasis on military service of presidents or presidential candidates except insofar as that service might exemplify character traits, particularly ones that we have further evidence not to have been overcome. Let me repeat this before I go on. None of this stuff should be on the list of major campaign issues.

PETA hires Jack Chick

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And the most humorous post of the week award goes to Joe Carter for drawing some amazing parallels between PETA's tactics of late and those of Jack Chick, the kind of evangelist you might think up to describe how not to spread the faith (except he really did all the things you'd advise people not to do).

This sounds like good fodder for The Holy Observer.

Gender-Neutral 'Men'

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I've written at length about gender-neutral language with respect to pronouns (e.g. whether 'he' can be gender-neutral in some English dialects). I didn't say anything there about the gender-neutral 'man' or 'men' for humans as a whole without regard to gender, but I found a good example of how the Geoff Pullum view on 'he' can't be true of this usage of 'men'.

The Pullum view is that what we have taken to be gender-neutral language isn't really. It's genuinely sexist language in that it assumes a male person unless the context clearly indicates someone to be feminine. I was arguing that in some dialects (not mine) it might be that sometimes it's really gender-neutral, and I had to offer an alternative explanation for why certain sentences that don't clearly indicate maleness still sound wrong (e.g. 'Either the husband or the wife has perjured himself'). My explanation was that whenever anything in the context forces us to think about the gender of people, even if it doesn't say specifically what the person's gender is, then it's impossible to think of the person as gender-neutral and thus impossible in these dialects to use a gender-neutral 'he'.

Now I don't want to assume that 'man' is analogous in every way to 'he', but I stumbled across a sentence today that seems to confirm my explanation of what's going on over Pullum's at least for the gender-neutrality of 'man':

Blogs4God Mention

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Hey! I've gotten my first mention on Blogs4God since I switched from Pundits to Apologia, which means a different person reads for stuff to post on their main page. When I first signed up at Blogs4God I had to choose category, and both seemed equally good, but I would have preferred a theology category to either. I chose Pundits because at that time I'd done a higher percentage of posts on politics than on strict apologetics. Since then, I've realized that most people choose Apologia if their interest is mainly theology, and it also occurred to me that, even though more posts may have been political, I think my best and most in-depth stuff has been more apologetical. So I switched. I had only two posts highlighted in all the time I was under Pundits, which was at least six months, probably because what I have to offer there doesn't really stand out as different or interesting exept that I'm a white conservative man married to a black conservative woman and that my political posts are more informed by philosophical reasoning than most. In apologetics, though, I have a real diversity of interests and professional training that's much more relevant, and I've actually taught apologetics or material directly relevant to it, both formal in a classroom and informally in home study groups. So I'm under Apologia now. David Heddle of He Lives is the Apologia guy for Blogs4God, and he listed my God's Image and Personhood post in his latest survey of what he finds interesting among Blogs4God Apologia blogs. I appreciate the mention, especially because this post that took a lot of work. I also just realized that I don't even have a link to Blogs4God, so I better go put one in. It's far more comprehensive than the Blogdom of God, though I appreciate the cozier atmosphere, aggregator, and blogroll system of the Blogdom (and of course I like the list of blogs on the aggregator page in Ecosystem order, which puts me near the top). So they nicely coexist and serve different purposes.

Bush, Clinton, and God-Talk

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Paul Kengor, author of God and George W. Bush: A Spiritual Life, wrote a short piece comparing Bush's religious talk with Clinton's. I've long thought there was a double standard here, though Kengor misses one important element. Democrats tend to do most of their religious pandering in black chuches, which I think just seems completely condescending if the person doesn't seem to be a real spiritual leader in any sense (or at least a good Christian role model). That was what earned John Kerry the name Pandescenderer from fellow Democrat Mickey Kaus.

I've wanted to do an in-depth evaluation of common claims made about Bush and his statements about God for quite some time, and I haven't made the time to do it yet, but I do think Kengor is right that there's a double standard. I don't think most of the Clinton statements he cites are problematic in the least, though with some I'd want to see the context to be sure. Yet Bush's aren't much different, and those who oppose those need to oppose these as well yet won't.

Part of the problem is that Bush is misunderstood, as at least a few of the books on Bush and God spend quite some time establishing. He doesn't believe God tells him exactly what to do. He doesn't believe with full confidence that he was God's agent in attacking Iraq. He does believe it's a Christian's responsibility to seek what is right, and doing what is right is doing God's will. Therefore, when he comes to the point of believing something is the right thing to do he obviously will believe that it's God's will. So when he says he believes God wanted him to do X, he means he believes X is right and that God would want him to do what's right. Yet statements like this are compared to Pat Robertson's sort-of phone call from God telling him that Bush would win reelection in a landslide. He doesn't see God as his co-pilot, as if God could be on the side of any human. God is God, and we join God when we do what's right, but it's not as if we get God on our side because we're right. We're simply aligned with God in doing what's right. As soon as we stray from that, we're no longer aligned with God (morally speaking, anyway -- none of this has to do with ultimate spiritual alignment, which isn't immediately going to tell you anything about political decisions). I think Bush is regularly misrepresented on this by people who can't tolerate the notion of God and don't bother to figure out what Bush really believes before trying to complain about him. Yet his view is basically the standard Christian one, and these people are therefore insulting every Christian who is faithful to the Bible.

In one of the comments at the Panda's Thumb post Richard linked to on the Intelligent Design post below, the following statement appears:

The fact that an early foetus is less sentient than a carrot doesn't matter because its visible characteristics are accidents just as the communion wafer, which certainly looks like a cracker, is substantially the body of Christ.

In context, this is from the author's comparison of special creationists' views on species differentiation with Aquinas' views on substantial forms. Special creationists believe, at the very least, that it took an act of God to produce humanity as apart from any other species. Some special creationists believe evolutionary theory explains some species differentiation and just humans came separately, and some take it all the way to saying that no species can come about except by a miraculous act of God. The commenter is therefore a little unfair to those who believe special creation only occurred for humanity to come about, since the comment is directed toward those who believe in special creation at all, and the complaint is that it involves an inability to see how any species could come about through small change.

What was interesting to me about all this, though, even if you ignore the inability on this commenter's part to distinguish between versions of special creation, is the substantial forms issue in relation to humans. This is something that is unfair again on one level but helps explain at least one strain within pro-life thought about personhood and complexity of development.

Well, sort of. Nick has Fringe listed on his blog as the host this week, but there's no submission info up anywhere. I would imagine the deadline is tonight. Anyone have any info? My computer is down, and the two email addresses I'm signed onto the Christian Carnival mailing list are the two that I need my Outlook on that computer to download, so if anything was sent to the list I never got it. Jeremiah's contact info is here for those of you who can actually email him without much difficulty (which most certainly does not include me, not until at least tomorrow afternoon). He's usually good with this sort of thing, giving a post well in advance of what to do for submissions, so I'm wondering if the holiday has set his time off and he doesn't realize it's supposed to be up tomorrow. I wasn't thinking about it at all until now, because it's felt like a weekend to me still. My only teaching responsibility on a Tuesday is the continuing ed. class I'm teaching this the evening.

Update: La Shawn posted the information in a comment, so click on that for what to do.

Breeding for Social Change

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Jim Pinkerton seems to be conceding the argument to pro-lifers that pro-choice people have a self-destructive view. His article is entitled "The Future Belongs to the Fecund". Most of the discussions I've seen on this have been pretty lame (asserting that Democrats would have more voters if they hadn't aborted so many children, which just ignores too many other factors to be even a halfway decent argument), but Pinkerton has a point. Pro-life people tend to produce more children than pro-choice people, though it isn't because of being pro-life. It's because more people who seek large families are pro-life and because more people opposed to birth control are pro-life. Being pro-life doesn't guarantee either a desire for large families or opposition to birth control. It doesn't even guarantee being married, having children at all, or even having sex. Still, a large percentage of those who are opposed to birth control or seek large families (or both) are pro-life.

I don't think he's right that this is the main explanation for why more people in the younger generation (i.e. early college and high school) are pro-life than in previous generations (including mine, which is overwhelmingly pro-choice). You'd have to show a correlation between the pro-life youth and pro-life parents and pro-choice youth and pro-choice parents. I haven't seen such data, but the stuff I've read about the change in views in the younger generation doesn't match up like that. In fact, according to what I've read, these are the children of pro-choice people who are disappointing their parents by adopting more conservative views, not just on this issue but also on things like supporting President Bush on the war in Iraq. The complicating factor is that this upcoming generation is much more inclined to have no problem with gay or especially lesbian relationships than their parents' generation (or their parents themselves) are. So it's much more complicated than Pinkerton allows.

He says if people who are pro-choice "want to win their long struggle" they'll have to persuade by argument. I think he's right that argument should come in here, but I hope he doesn't mean to suggest that pro-choice people should try to persuade by the ways of arguing that commonly take place, since most of that is ignorant misrepresentation and name-calling or using loaded terms and euphemisms to mask the facts. If someone wants to look at the real arguments, they'd better be prepared to respond to arguments like this one. Finally, I find Pinkerton's description of winning a long struggle a little odd. The pro-choice view won out in this country in 1972. The struggle here is the pro-life one against an orthodoxy that misrepresents, euphemizes, and belittles real argument as religious dogma. The pro-choice orthodoxy might be struggling to maintain orthodoxy, but he makes it sound like an uphill civil rights battle against a dominant majority. I believe every Supreme Court decision on abortion since 1972 has favored the pro-choice position. They've allowed restriction of abortion by states after viability, which has kept moving earlier due to technology, and it's still open whether they'll allow the law against delivering babies and killing them halfway through the process. Mostly, though, they've affirmed a woman's right to have an abortion in many circumstances that a majority of Americans would consider morally repugnant. I don't see how it's an uphill battle for the pro-choice orthodoxy, even with the increasing numbers of pro-life youth. For more, see GetReligion.

God Blogs in the Ecosystem

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Warren at View from the Pew is talking about a potential rise in God blogs once the election is over and people care less about politics, taking his view from a post by Joe Carter a few days ago. Interestingly, he thinks I could rise to the top. I think he underestimates what's requiired for that. I figure I'd have to blog as a half-time job to have enough good content to make the top 100 and stay there. Every time I approach the top 150 because of a carnival I host, the rapid drop begins a day or two later, and the higher you get the harder it is to rise or even stay. So maybe it could happen, but I don't expect much movement beyond where I am now, at least not except for short spurts or as extremely gradual progress.

Since he doesn't have comments on his blog, I wanted to correct a couple things in his post. First, he doesn't think any God blogs are in the top 100. A whole bunch are. As of yesterday (today's update hasn't gone through yet), we have God blogs at the following positions:

47 Hugh Hewitt
52 One Hand Clapping
59 Aaron's Rantblog
71 Evangelical Outpost
94 New Trommeter Times
96 La Shawn Barber's Corner

Aaron's Rantblog is in the Blogdom of God, but I'm not sure why. It doesn't seem at all like a Christian blog as far as I've been able to tell, and it's so offensive at times that I won't link it. So I know why Warren would leave that out. Trommeter Times is rigged, so it shouldn't be that high, but it is so I listed it (look at the referrals if you don't believe me; most of them are internal links). Since it hosts the Christian Carnival now and then, it should count. La Shawn and Joe both blog about Christian topics at least once a week or so, sometimes much more frequently. On average Joe probably does as often as I do, La Shawn a little less often.

In addition, others are so close that they could easily get to the top 100, since these rankings move around.

109 Josh Claybourn
111 King of Fools

I know Josh has been in the top 100. I don't know if the King has. Josh does major on politics, but he has Christian posts often enough, and he's in the Blogdom of God, as is La Shawn above (though for some reason her new site isn't anymore, after having been in it for a couple weeks, but the old one is still there). Maybe King of Fools also has more politics than religion, but he's almost the secondary founder of the Christian Carnival, so there's no way you can leave him out of consideration.

One other factor to keep in mind is that Ecosystem rankings just show how many links someone gets. I get far more links with respect to the amount of traffic I get, whereas some people get far more traffic as compared to their links. He Lives, for instance, gets much more traffic than I do, I think. I have a lot more links than he does. (Also, he blogs a lot about theology and not just about ID stuff. Recently he's even done less ID than he was for a while. I'd say ID is second to theology for him.) Oh, and GetReligion is in the Ecosystem at #1014 with about 100 links. It really should be in the top 100, but those of us who are higher up need to read it more and link to it more, so more people find out about it.

A Virgin Will Conceive

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I thought scholarship had been moving in the opposite direction, but here's a new argument for the view that Isaiah really did mean to say a virgin would conceive and not just a young woman. This seems to me to be a good argument. I was beginning to think the better arguments were for the more dominant view for a while, but I'm not so sure now.

I don't believe Isaiah 7 has to have an immediate reference to Mary's virginal conception to have some reference to it anyway, so nothing about the doctrine of the virgin birth is threatened by any conclusion here. The only issue is whether it allows an apologetical argument for Christianity based on a kind of fulfilled prophecy that couldn't be fulfilled any other way. I hasve two hesitations about seeing this as grounds for such an argument. First, it doesn't prove that Isaiah intended it to be about a virgin birth. After all, virgins do conceive on their first time having sexual intercourse. The grammar allows that even if the term requires a virgin. Second, there's no easy argument against those who would suspect Matthew, the only NT author to refer to the virgin birth, of doctoring the evidence to fit the prediction. Only one NT author refers to it. He's someone often described as misinterpreting prophecies, though I've argued against that. He also is seen by many as fitting Jesus' life to the way he read prophecy, moreso than other authors. The link I just gave has some response to that, but these people are conspiracy theorists, and it's very hard to refute a conspiracy theorist who sees everything as confirming their theory even if a perfectly plausible account fits the data when you don't share their assumptions. So for all those reasons I'm not sure this is one of the best apologetical arguments you can make. It might be helpful for some contexts, but there are too many moves someone can make to avoid seeing this as support for Christianity for me to see it as worth making very often.

Stephen Meyer, long known to those who follow the Intelligent Design issue, has published a short review of the ID arguments in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, and a lot of scientists are mad. I've tried to stay away from this general area too much, mostly because I don't know what I think about some key issues in the area. Still, I do have some thoughts on this, and I'll probably offend most everybody by the time I'm done, but I'm going to say what's on my mind anyway.

The scientific community seems to be scared. They're all upset that a peer-reviewed journal would publish a piece on Intelligent Design. I say it this way because that's what I think is going on. The statements quoted in the article don't seem to me to be the kind of statement you would make if you happen to think the paper that got published is merely not well-argued. They're the kind of statement you'd make if you think the paper that got published shouldn't have been published because you don't like the conclusion. That's not my main beef here, though.

One person quoted in the article calls ID "an evolved form of creationism that resulted from legal decisions in the 1980s ruling that creationism can't be taught in schools." This is complete ignorance. The term 'creationism' as it is normally used nowadays refers to a particular viewpoint that arose in the 20th century (or perhaps you could argue that it finds its initial stages in the late 19th), claiming in response to neo-Darwinian theories that science proves evolution to be fiction and instantaneous acts of God to be scientifically established fact. The argument form used in what they're now calling Intelligent Design goes back millenia, though, so this statement is just ignorant (or perhaps maliciously deceptive, but I'll be nice).

The Iraq War Was Wrong Blog

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I've seen a few people discussing this blog, wondering if it's satire of if the author is just really stupid. I want to go on record saying that it's almost certainly satire, sometimes very good satire and sometimes funny only if you buy into premises I won't accept about those who opposed to Iraq war. I have a few arguments for this thesis, so keep reading if you're interested in getting to the bottom of the latest mystery of the blogosphere.

Jollyblogger has a great summary of and reflection on some debates going on right now over Al Mohler's claim that some people are sinning in their reasons for being single. I didn't read all the debates. I've barely had enough time to figure out what's wrong with my computer. I did read his whole post this morning before my motherboard got replaced. I always take great delight when I see someone looking at what people on both sides of an issue are saying and pointing out why they're both misunderstanding the other side. It's the best way to set up a middle position, since it means both sides may really just agree with you.

Also at Jollyblogger is a link to join the hallowed halls of medical snot eating and medical dirt eating: medical urine drinking!

Weird Referral

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Someone found my site by searching for this:

republican national convention + Proto-Kaw

That's not just specific. It's coordinating two things that probably don't come together on very many sites at all. Was this someone looking for me? It was someone in Central Time Zone. Kansas, perhaps?

I Like Being Right

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A Dell technician just left after replacing my motherboard because of a faulty power input. I've been running on batteries for the past few days, charging them in Sam's computer while my computer was shut down and then rebooting every time I need to use it again once the battery is charged. After the new motherboard was in, I reinstalled my sound card drivers (which I'd reinstalled many times while it wasn't working, to no avail), and the sound worked immediately (well, once I realized I needed to turn the volume back up again). So I was right all along that the previous motherboard had a bad sound card, something I thought was true back in April or whenever it was that I got the new motherboard. The Dell tech guy was insisting that it was a corrupt operating system and wanted me to wipe my whole hard drive and reinstall to see if it was software. The Dell tech I talked to this week about my power problem told me I was more likely right than the other tech guy, and the woman who came to install the new motherboard agreed. Sure enough, I was right. Well, it's nice to have sound again after months with just a system beep. Too bad they wouldn't replace my motherboard back when they should have, since it was their fault.

Update: Well, it's not over yet, I guess. This motherboard is defective and keeps freezing up, and they won't be able to fix it until Wednesday due to the holiday. So I'll have much more spotty access to anything on my computer for enough more time that this will be well over a week total by the end of it. I'm going to have to be extra careful to save important posts as I'm tying them, or I'll lose stuff, and I might not want to try taking on anything too time-consuming, e.g. the next affirmative action post on reparations. Maybe I'll just decide to do it on Sam's computer, though, and use this one primarily to transfer files. I'm not sure it's a good idea to use this computer too much with memory parity interrupt errors coming in at no provocation. I'll have to see how bad it is, and that will take some use.

Note: This is Part III, in case you didn't read the title. Read Part I for links to the rest of the series.

The second argument for affirmative action is that it provides role models for people in underrepresented groups. If young black students see a black physics professor, they'll more likely see that physics is "for black people" instead of just thinking of it as white, and the racial disparity among physics professors will decrease. If having black physics professors takes going out of your way to encourage black physics professors by being more willing to hire a professor who is black, if it takes being more willing to accept a black student to a Ph.D. program in physics, if it takes being more willing to accept black undergraduates interested in science, then affirmative action can play a role in providing physics professor role models to young black students.

Additionally, a black professor has some sort of role model effect on white students. If white students see a black professor who is really good at abstract math, it will help overcome a stereotype that black people aren't good at that sort of thing. If white students see a black professor of ancient Greek, they'll come to see that black people are not just isolative separatists who are only interested in a subject because of immediate practical concerns but can be interested in a subject simply because it's interesting. Mostly, though, having a black professor means having a black person in an authority relationship. It's always important when a group is overcoming being viewed as lower on some hierarchy of social relationships to have people in positions that are higher on the social hierarchy. It means having a reversal of the more common relationship many white middle-class Americans have with many black people they have any relation with. It means a different dynamic of affirmation and respect from what some people are used to, and it transforms how they view people. Those are all excellent effects of choices to go out of our way to select underrepresented people for positions they would less likely be chosen for otherwise.

MT-Blacklist

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Since Matthew installed MT-Blacklist on the Ektopos blog server, my life has been so much easier. I was deleting 50 comments a day at times with the three Ektopos blogs, sometimes for a few days straight, with most of them left by the same person with many different IPs (the fake email addresses were extremely similar). Rarely would there be more than one on the same entry, which means there's no way to delete them all in one fell swoop. Each has to be done with three separate clicks, each taking a few seconds at least (and on my computer one taking 15-20 seconds sometimes). Occasionally I'd have a day or two with none or a few comments to delete. Now it's rarely more than a few a day and often none. All I have to do is enter the URL and it's banned. No one can advertize that URL on any Ektopos site. It doesn't matter how many times they try again after that with a different IP or a different comment message. They need to advertize a different site to submit a comment. The number of comment attempts hasn't changed. I think it may even have increased drastically. The activity log shows much activity. It just says for each banned comment that MT-Blacklist banned it.

There's one thing that I miss about the old IP banning. MT has such a nice way of describing what happens when someone at a banned IP tries to submit a comment. It says "comment throttled". It's too bad MT-Blacklist doesn't do any throttling. What it does is nice and effective, but it would be so much more fun if it also involved a good throttling.

Update: I guess I have to take some of that back. I wrote this last night and posted it this morning. Meanwhile, someone got two of the Ektopos blogs with something like 20 comments during the night. The difference with MT-Blacklist is that I can enter the doman name once and then click on De-spam to list all the comments with any violations (which should only be ones that haven't been deleted since the latest blocking string was added). After glancing throguh the list to make sure they were really spam and making sure "rebuild each entry after deletion" was checked, all it took was one click, and they were all gone. No more going to each editing page for each comment, and no more rebuilding the whole blog to remove them all from public viewing. Anyone using Movable Type who doesn't have MT-Blacklist installed needs to get it.

Christian Carnival XXXIII

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The 33rd Christian Carnival is up at Trommeter Times. I'm not entirely sure if it's done yet, since it consists of multiple pages and was advertized not too long ago as still in process. My Reverend is part of it this week. I've got more to say about some of the posts in this Carnival than I sometimes do, so gird up your loins and prepare to wade in.

I'm very glad to see Mark Roberts taking part in the Christian Carnival again. This week's is a reflection on the gay ordination issue in mainline denominations, complete with a history lesson on how originally the arguments were focusing on whether scripture allows homosexual behavior but has veered into different directions as those lines of thought have become increasingly hard to maintain.

The link in the Carnival for Behind the Rim...'s post doesn't work, so here's the real one. I was also surprised by the Ben Stein quote: We are puny, insignificant creatures. We are not responsible for the operation of the universe, and what happens to us is not terribly important. God is real, not a fiction, and when we turn our lives over to Him, he takes far better care of us than we could ever do for ourselves. In a word, we make ourselves sane when we fire ourselves as the directors of the movie of our lives and turn the power over to Him. Amen. The rest is nice, too.

Amidst the rapid succession of posts on Christian counseling stuff by Adrian Warnock and Jollyblogger, Proverbial Wife chimes in with why Christian counseling (and not just the Jay Adams variety, though it includes that) can be very good (though some of the dangers pointed out by the Jay Adams crowd about the other varieties are real).

Rebecca Writes continues her series on the attributes of God with God's holiness. As she says, this is probably the hardes one to get a handle on, but I think this is a good explanation of some of the most important things.

Jollyblogger has a lot of worthwhile thoughts that I just can't hope to summarize well in "-isms" and "izations".

Maybe Not a Double Standard

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Here's the first attempt I've seen to defend Amazon against the double standard charge, and it looks to me to be a plausible explanation. Anthony Rickey says the reviews on this book have skyrocketed while sales haven't (at least from Amazon), and he thinks Amazon simply doesn't want to have to slog through all of them to figure out which ones violate the policies. The best they can do is do a keyword search for obscenties and just ban those reviews. I can understand that. He adds that they should have been honest about their reason if that's what it really is, and I agree, though I can imagine that they might have feared something like that happening on any book unrelated to politics that people want to get combative over. At least this way they hope not to have to do this with anything after the election is over. I don't think that's a good reason to deceive, but it's a plausible explanation.

Update: I just looked at my referrals, and it seems someone on Amazon's own network has been reading my site, coming in from the same site where I found the above argument. I just tried to go there again, and it was busy, so I guess this site is getting a lot of action right now. I went back and checked the Unfit for Command policy, and it's still worded as it was despite all the discussion.

Update 2: Here's a borderline alarmist criticism of doing things the way they did. It's a worthwhile worry for Amazon's sake and for those who will want to use Amazon as a resource.

Counseling and Idolatry

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Jollyblogger's arguing for a controversial thesis, one that I think is right. When I first saw his title, I expected an argument that counseling is idolatry, especially given his endorsement of Jay Adams books. Jay Adams really does believe that Christian counseling is evil, in my opinion from his lack of a good understanding of the doctrine of common grace and how all fields of inquiry into God's creation can come to a helpful understanding of that creation. I put it on the same level as those who say what I do by pursuing a Ph.D. in philosophy is evil or the youth group leaders who kicked me and my brother out of their youth group who thought the rock band we were in was evil (they would have thought that even if we hadn't been in a thrash band, because they didn't think our progressive/alternative band was ok either). Jollyblogger is saying something much more helpful, though. The things people go to counseling over are usually due to some form of idolatry. That I can agree with.

jolly_good_blogger

By the way, my Jolly award now exists in electronic form, and I just have to figure out what to do with it. You can see it here. I'm displaying it proudly at the post that won it, and it's here now also.

Update: I had intended to link to my post on idolatry from back in June for those who may be working with a different account of idolatry, but I forgot. Here it is.

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