Tuesday, July 31, 2007


Bill Walsh died. Bill Walsh was truly a great football coach. His work with the San Francisco 49'ers and the building of the West Coast Offense was innovative and effective. His coaching and his abilities transformed the NFL.

What concerns me is that he is labeled a 'genius.'

Bill Walsh was very smart, very capable, etc. Despite the fact that his team was often matched against my team, I appreciated his great coaching ability. But genius?

Albert Einstein was a genius. He transformed math and his brilliance was and is legend.

Thomas Edison was a genius. Whenever we go to the movies, listen to music, turn on a light bulb, or wrap something in wax paper, we participate in the genius of Thomas Edison.

I marvel at the many geniuses in the world of medicine and science.

I'll even go as far to say that J K Rowling is a genius. It is rare to watch a set of classic literature come into being and a generation recognize it. And, frankly, the way she laid out a story, created an entirely new reality in her novels, and pulled things together is brilliant.

As much as I love football, and I do love football, and as much as I appreciate excellent and creative coaching, it is not the world of genius. Geniuses change the world and change lives, they don't change football games.

Bill Walsh was a very creative and outstanding football coach and he did impact the game. But let's get a way from the genius label and honor him for what he was. A great coach.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Christians and Hate Crimes

I recently read that Christians ought to be opposed to hate crime legislation. The argument was that hate crime legislation would be a deterrent to freedom of speech and would impact the issues that Christians hold near and dear. I found myself highly troubled.

First, most obviously, I liked and celebrate freedom of speech. My having freedom of speech enables me to write here, it enables me to have significant conversation, and it enables me to preach freely each Sunday morning. Free speech is something I cherish.

I also believe, however, that Christians need to consistently be opposed to hatred in all forms. One can speak freely and effectively and one can speak forcefully without resorting to hate or hate language.

Sometimes people try to justify hate language by saying that Jesus uses the word 'hate' several times.

Some of the times Jesus was speaking to his disciples and telling them that others were going to hate them because of him. That hate that they were experiencing or going to experience would, one day, lead to their deaths. One cannot say that he was promoting hatred. He was, in fact, proclaiming that many of those who followed him would be victimized by hate.

But there are other passages, such as Luke 14:26:

Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple.

Or Luke 16:13:

No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

Jesus uses the word hate in a seemingly very powerful way. However this is part of the joy of dealing with a Bible that has been translated into English from an ancient language, in this case Ancient Greek. Ancient languages, such as Ancient Greek have far fewer words than English does. Greek has three different words for love but uses the same word for brother, sister, cousin, aunt, or uncle. Often, when we read 'love and hate' in the same sentence, we encounter Greek's lack of nuance in differentiation. If I were to ask which kind of ice cream do you like best, vanilla or chocolate, you might say that you like chocolate better. If I asked if you'd eat vanilla you'd probably say yes, but you like chocolate better. In ancient Greek the only way to state this would be that you love chocolate and hate vanilla. You really aren't expressing that you hate vanilla, you prefer chocolate. In these references the language does not clearly express Jesus' point. Sadly many people use the word 'hate' in these passages in an attempt to justify their own usage of hate language.

The thing is this. When Christians try to justify hate they are not behaving as Christians. They are blaming God for their own bad behavior. When we use vicious language towards anyone, in any way, we simply cannot claim that God is speaking through us. Frankly, when we behave like that, our only prayer can be that God is speaking despite of us.

My prayer is that one day there will come a day when we won't ever need to ponder hate crimes because they do not exist.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Frederic Von Anhalt

Frederic Von Anhalt is in the news again. He is Zsa Zsa Gabor's husband who recently claimed that he was the father of Anna Nicole Smith's baby. He wasn't.

Recently he said that he was stripped, robbed and left naked in his Rolls Royce by three women.

Frederic Von Anhalt called police around 10 a.m. Thursday to say he'd been driving near the Bel Air Country Club when he was flagged down by three women in a white Chrysler convertible with Florida plates, said Los Angeles Police Department spokesman Kevin Maiberger.

Von Anhalt said he thought the three women wanted to pose for a photograph with him, but when he started talking to them, one of them pushed a gun into his neck.

Recently there have been reports that Britney Spears might be pregnant again. I suspect that Frederic Von Anhalt will take the credit for this.

Oh, and Nicole Richey may be pregnant. Frederic Von Anhalt probably has stated that he is the father.

Of course, Lindsay Lohan was found with cocaine in her pants pocket. Like most people she doesn't have a clue whose pants she is wearing on any given day. (Duh!)

I, however, do believe her. The pants belong to Frederic Von Anhalt.

Friday, July 27, 2007


I have a new here. Her name is Mika Brzezinski. She works for NBC News and appears (doing the news) on Morning Joe on MSNBC. Mika Brzezinski is the daughter of Zbigniew Brzezinski who worked as the National Security Adviser during the Carter Administration. She is a journalist who takes the news seriously. She grew up in a serious home, and is a serious journalist.

Last month, when she was called on to do the news the lead story was the release of Paris Hilton from prison. She crumbled the top pages of the lead story and refused to do it. She moved on to the next story which was, actually, a significant piece of news.

In the next hour, after refusing to lead with this story, the producers of the show gave her the news stories and they again led with the Paris Hilton prison release story. This time she walked across the studio and put the story in the shredder. Then she went on to give the real news.

I say this because here are some of the major news stories right now.

There is further evidence of a dramatic cover up in the case of Pat Tillman. The cover up was worse than previously thought.

The war, of course, continues.

The FBI Director's testimony directly contradicted what the Attorney Journal said.

Obama and Clinton are having a major feud and their rhetoric has grown increasingly ugly.

The stock market plunged 300 points yesterday.

Baseball, football, and basketball, the three largest sports in the United States are all dealing with major scandals.

The lead story today was about Lindsay Lohan.

We need more journalists like Mika Brzezinski.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

More Random Thoughts

I see that there are several hundred copies of the latest Harry Potter book that are missing a conclusion. These were the books edited by David Chase, the creator of The Sopranos.

Lindsay Lohan was arrested again for drunk driving and they found cocaine in her car. It was not her's, she has told everyone. If a person with no record of alcohol or drug abuse was stopped and they found drugs in the car this might be an excuse worth giving a listen. But for an addict....

Paris Hilton, I read, is re-releasing some porn video she made with additional footage to it. I heard that both the members of the Paris Hilton fan club are very excited about this.

Oh, and Britney Spears had some sort of meltdown and appeared to be 'out of control.' This is news?

It is amazing that soldiers die in Iraq each day, we are at war in two countries, and these are the lead news stories. Okay, the Harry Potter book missing pages may actually be news. It was the hugest release of a book ever and that IS news. But Lindsay, Britney, and Paris?

Bobby Petrino left the University of Louisville with a program poised for greatness to coach the Atlanta Falcons. The big question was if he could coach Michael Vick to the potential greatness the young man may have had in him. Now he's going to have a starting QB of Joey Harrington who has amassed a 68.1 QB rating and has demonstrating a tremendous talent for hitting open defensive backs for completions. For those who take Bill O'Reilly as a serious voice of reason in the nation, hitting open defensive backs for completions is a jesting statement for saying that he throws a lot of interceptions.

The allegations against Michael Vick are very serious and awful. We recoil at cultures which eat dog as meals. However, in nations, especially poor nations, this is very cultural and acceptable. They may find our fondness of cooking lobsters alive to be offensive. I can understand hungry people eating animals.

But this isn't the same thing. This is betting on dogs with the hope and expectation that one dog would kill the other. Watching two dogs fight to the death is NOT entertainment. It's grotesque. To make matters worse, surviving but mangled dogs were killed, again for entertainment purposes, in a wide variety of ways.

If Michael Vick was indeed involved in this he ought never play football again and should spend some serious jail time. My only fear is that I wonder how many other players are involved in similar such activities.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Harry Potter

I have heard that lots of preachers are upset about Harry Potter and the damage the books and movies are doing.


I mean hogwash!

The main theme of the books has been that what makes a person 'good' is by having a strong quality of character and being willing to sacrifice one's self for one's friends. I've read and listened to a lot worse theology than that!

I have seen all the movies and read all the books. I stayed up till 1:30AM to finish book 7.


Books 1 and 2 are children's books but quite enjoyable for adults. Book 7 is a book for adults but quite good for kids as well. The final tale of Harry Potter is incredible!!! I don't want to share the details but if you have read the others, read this one. If you haven't read any of them start now at book 1. You will be very happy that you did.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Top Chef

One of my favorite shows is "Top Chef." I find this to be an intensely competitive show with very, very fine chefs competing. I liked the young woman they sent home. Her name was Lia and she seemed to be talented and has a sweet disposition. The reality of this show, however, is that it's all about the quality of the food and she ended up at the bottom twice.

There is some good stuff made in restaurant chains. It's not always original and not always very exciting, but I do like some of them. My two daughters are employed by chains and they have been treated well and I have enjoyed meals at both their establishments.

That having been said, I think it's awesome when independent restaurants (and chefs) open their own places with their own novel cuisine. It makes for exciting possibilities. I am excited that we are beginning to see places such as these open in downtown New Albany. It would be wonderful to see downtown revitalized because restaurants have becoming a drawing card to the downtown.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Senatorial Slumber Parties

Wow. We had a Senatorial Slumber Party. Some Senators actually stayed up all night debating the war in Iraq. It will, of course, come to nothing.

A couple of things are obvious.

The Democrats have not shown the testicular fortitude to truly stand up to President Bush. If they truly do object to the war, if they truly want to bring the troops home, they have the capacity to cut funding to the war. As this is a resolution that actually needs to be passed, Republicans cannot block the vote. A simple vote to begin the process of removing troops will not pass muster. This is the coward's way out.

The Republicans have also not demonstrated a great deal of testicular fortitude in this. They are very good at finding microphones to state that things need to change and that we are moving in the wrong direction, etc. When it comes to votes, however, they run and hide behind their ability to block votes. They are unwilling to put their votes where their mouths are.

Then there is the interplanetary travel of Joe Lieberman. Nuff said.

The officials in D.C., I dare not use the word 'leadership,' as they are not entitled, have a priority. Vote for party over country. Party loyalty is more important than serving one's nation.

It is pathetic.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Sen. David Vitter

Senator David Vitter of the DC Madam Escort Service fame has been and will continue to be the subject of numerous jokes on late night talk shows. David Letterman, Jay Leno, and the Comedy Channel, live for such moments. They are still making jokes about President Bill Clinton!

To his credit Senator Vitter has admitted he has done this and according to he and his wife, she was well aware of his behavior many years back. The joy of being in public is that past behavior often does have a habit of returning. To his credit, he admitted his sin, has moved for forgiveness, and wants to move on with his life and career.

He did some things, however, in his statement, which were wrong.

For one, he blamed his political enemies for feasting on this. Please. When a Senator has run for family values from the party that promotes family values and from a party which attempted to eviscerate the previous President for his escapades, Senator Vitter would be naive to believe that he was going to get a free pass. When one does wrong and when one truly does repent, one falls on one's sword and blames no one for anything else.

Secondly, he was alarmed on how the press chased him, even to church. When you are the centerpiece of THE story in town and you have been in hiding, guess what happens when you come out of hiding? Duh!!!

Finally, I'd have liked to have seen some humility in this. "I have run on family values and did not practice what I preached. I have judged others harshly and now that I find myself in the spotlight of judgment I realize how uncomfortable those folks were. For that I am truly sorry!"

He didn't quite get around to that. Jesus said, 'Judge not lest you be judged.' Wise advice to be heeded.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Danger of Anti-Intellectualism

The word 'intellectual' has become an almost obscene word in so many circles. When you call a person an intellectual it seems to mean that this is a person who can not be trusted because they have way out ideas.

In Congress, in recent years, complex issues are ridiculed for being complex.

Complex ideas are diminished to black and white, it's one thing or another.

Complex, abstract thinking has been replaced by simple, precise thinking.

Fundamentalism, be it Islamic, Jewish, Christian, or any other group eliminates the idea that there are complex theological positions in play and reduces things down to clear black and white doctrines. The Bible has all the answers and if you don't believe me I'll tell you exactly what they are.

Universities that have taught students not only to tolerate but appreciate ambiguity and condemned and we have many schools that teach students the 'facts' and tolerate no ambiguous thought. It's either this or that.

This whole movement of late has been to condemn intellectualism and ambiguous thinking as, well, evil. And this is dangerous.

First off, the world is a complex place. Anyone who has studied theology, deeply, can tell you that the Bible is filled with nuance. If you take it verse for verse, word for word, you can eliminate the nuance, but when you read long statements sans chapter and verse (as it was written) it becomes much more nuanced, much less precise.

Ethics is ambiguous. No matter how one slices it, ethics is an ambiguous subject when all factors are taken into account. Philosophical ethics is dissed for being too abstract but real life tends to get messy and ethical codes have to have some play in them or they do not work. They never have.

What frightens me are the people who KNOW the answers for sure. They know exactly what God meant when this was written, they know exactly what God has planned for them, and they know exactly how to fix what is broken.

So, for those who know everything exactly, here are some problems our society faces.

Iraq. We invaded a sovereign nation where the citizenry now hates us and there is a civil war going on. (A civil war is defined as people of one nation fighting against each other. No matter how people try to spin this as not a civil war, it's a fact that people in Iraq are fighting each other.) We invaded Iraq. We stay in and the unrest continues and our troops get killed. We withdraw and there is a potential things get worse. What do we do?

Our health care system has some of the best technology in the world, many of the finest doctors and facilities and we are not close to being the best nation at providing health care to our population. How do we solve this?

Social Security looms as the baby boomers retire. More people will be drawing out than putting in and we will face a disaster in the not too distant future. How do we solve this?

Our leaders are more interested in confronting gay marriage and flag burning as major issues and not poverty, health care, social security, or security in general. How do we get the bozos out and put smart people in their place?

Oh wait, that's the problem. We'd need smart people and smart people are often intellectual, and thereby dangerous.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Robyn Blumner's Latest Column

Robyn Blumner is a columnist for the St. Petersburg Times. She writes a column for their Sunday edition each week. To me, she is my weekly must read. I find her consistently interesting and provocative. She has the ability to be highly critical of both the right and the left and do so with amazing insights. Her latest column is a brilliant one. She says many things this week far better than I can.


Friday, July 13, 2007


This morning on the radio I heard the exchange between Officer Joel White and others immediately after Officer White had been shot.

He knew that Officer Frank Denzinger had been shot and was not responding. One can only presume he feared the worst. His actions on the radio were amazing. He was not saying "Help Me!" as much as he was warning any responding officers that they were driving into grave danger. He, Officer White, sounded like he believed that the shooter was going to come and finish him off and that he might be beyond the point of being helped. His concern was more for the other responding officers.

We have heard of the selfless response of Officer Frank Denzinger pushing a relative of the shooter to safety and putting himself at greater risk, and we now have heard the selfless response of Officer Joel White. If these two men are representative of those who protect us we are protected by very, very fine human beings indeed.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Harry Potter

One thing that is wonderful about being on vacation is the ability to go to the movies at 11AM. Today I went to see Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I loved it. They made the longest book into the shortest of the Harry Potter movies and did a really good job. They left out many interesting but unnecessary details to tell the story. It is a dark and compelling drama and keeps the viewer riveted.

I'm looking forward to the release of the final book. I really do want to know what happens. Ms. Rawlings, please do not kill off Harry and his two closest friends. That would be awful!!!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Ecumenism's Major Hit

The ecumenical movement just took a major hit.

Pope Ratzinger reissued comments he had made in the past concerning 'true churches.'

His document states that the Orthodox Churches are defective and Protestant Churches are not 'true churches.'

He would hate Brian McLaren's wonderful book "A Generous Orthodoxy," because to him there is nothing generous about orthodoxy, and there is nothing generous about the grace of God, and nothing innately generous in Jesus. The church, to him, is one church standing on one principle. McLaren's book is brilliant AND generous because he chronicles virtually all the expressions of Christianity and finds something unique and beautiful in each movement of Christianity.

The thing to remember is, at its core, Christianity is a movement. Or ought to be a movement. Jesus didn't come so much to establish a new world religion but to reform Judaism. Judaism, ironically, was in the midst of a huge reform at that time and Christianity moved in a new and different direction. Somehow when we drive throughout cities across the world and see churches, large institutions I suspect that Jesus would have been surprised.

I was raised and my post high school education was in Roman Catholic Seminaries. I went to a Roman Catholic Seminary College and a Roman Catholic Seminary in the 1970's. It was an amazing, dynamic, and incredible fertile and exciting time to be studying in RC institutions. The RC church was in the midst of great reform and there were exciting conversations. When John Paul was elected to be Pope in 1978 that excitement and reform did not only die, it was crushed. JP ordered his trusted advisor, Ratzinger, to crush any signs of life. When Ratzinger was elected Pope he decided to finish crushing what little JP had missed.

Ecumenical dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church is over. But some people live in dreamland. I quote from the MSNBC website:

Father Augustine Di Noia, undersecretary for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said the document did not alter the commitment for ecumenical dialogue, but aimed to assert Catholic identity in those talks.

“The Church is not backtracking on ecumenical commitment,” Di Noia told Vatican radio.

Does this man live in dreamland? Dialogue only takes place when two or more parties come together, recognizing that no one is totally correct and that we all have much to learn. If one is totally correct and the only correct one in the room, there is no longer dialogue.

It is, in my mind, a total disgrace. Most Roman Catholics are not arrogant and recognize that they have much to learn from others----and much to give. Their Pope is an embarassment.

I refuse to call him "Benedict." St. Benedict was a great man, a holy man, and a uniter. Pope Ratzinger does not deserve the name until he learns from Benedict's generous spirit.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Christian is a Noun

Christian is a Noun
Text: Acts 11:19-30
Rev. Dr. John E. Manzo
July 8, 2007

Several years ago I heard a talk from a minister named Erwin McManus, one of the leaders of the Emergent Church movement. I’m not going to talk about the Emergent Church movement or it would take too much time and no one would still have a clue as to what I was talking about. But McManus is an interesting character in that movement.

He is the founding pastor of a church in Los Angeles named Mosaic. There is a fascinating quality to Mosaic. They do not call themselves a church. They do their thing and have their ministries and if people tell them that they are a church, they are a church. But to them, to be truly faithful is to have others see you as a church rather than innately being called a church.

In Acts 11 there is a similar scenario. The followers of Jesus are given the name Christian from outsiders. It is not a name that they have given themselves and many saw it as a derogatory term for the followers of Jesus.

Christians. They were called Christians for the very first time. The word Christian is not used a great deal in the Bible. Christian is used only twice and Christians is once in the passage we read from today. In both cases there is something that the word Christian has in common-----Christian is a noun.

Do you remember English class growing up? A noun was a person, place, or thing. A Christian, by definition, is a person who follows Jesus Christ.

Except the word Christian is used less often as a noun and more often as an adjective; a word which describes a noun. And, frankly, one of my great rants is that the word Christian has become cheapened. In 1 Peter 4:16 he writes, “Yet if any of you suffers as a Christian, do not consider it a disgrace, but glorify God because you bear this name.” The word Christian is a noun, a word which speaks to us of a person who follows Jesus Christ. To those on the outside, the word Christian was a term of mocking; but Peter says to use it to glorify God. He infers that we, as Christians, bear the name Christian and ultimately bear the name of our Savior.

But the word Christian has been cheapened. Instead of being a noun the word has become more often used as an adjective to describe items that really have no relevance to Christianity. I did some research to find some items that bear the title Christian. It is not an exhaustive list but it short is a long list.

I found:

Christian backpacks Christian punch balloons.

Christian bouncy balls. Christian squeeze earth balls.

Christian yo yos Christian rulers

Christian ties Christian pencils, pens, and magic markers.

Christian shirts Christian lip gloss.

Christian jewelry. Christian wallets

Christian coffee mugs The Christian diet.

And I have always heard that there was such a thing as Christian breath mints. I couldn’t believe it. But they do exist.

The thing is, if you read the Bible, if you read the stories of Jesus and embrace the sacrifice of Jesus then you realize that Jesus didn’t come to endorse products. Actually, Jesus’ teachings on money were quite interesting----Jesus had issues with money and would not have been pleased to endorse products.

I don’t mind of people have products which symbols which remind them of their faith----but don’t call the products themselves Christian.

Historically, as Christians, we have proclaimed to the world that Jesus suffered on the cross for us. Martin Luther called the words of John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life, “ a brief summary of all of Christianity.

Jesus came for people. Jesus died for people. Jesus was raised from the dead for people. God sent the Holy Spirit into the world for people.

Jesus did not come for product placement. Jesus did not die on the cross for backpacks, yo yo’s or bouncy balls. Jesus was not raised from the dead for the sake of pencils, pens, magic markers, or even coffee mugs. The Holy Spirit did not come into the world so that every family can be inspired to own a punch balloon or have fresh breath. And, if my chance you get a sense that I get greatly incensed by this gross commercialization of the name of Jesus Christ than you are correct.

We might, at times, need to use the word Christian as an adjective. We refer to the Christian Church, but the Christian Church has been in existence for 2000 years with the express purpose of carrying the message of Jesus Christ into the world. Christians have a specific kind of Worship and to refer to that Worship as Christian Worship is, by my standards, acceptable. Sacred Music is sometimes referred to as Christian and I can live with that. There are times, very limited times, when the word Christian may be used to describe something.

But it’s rare. The word Christian is a noun. Jesus came for people and invited people to be disciples and any almost other use of the name Christian, any other use of the name of our Savior and Lord, frankly, is intolerable to me.

Secondly, we need to recognize what being a Christian truly means.

Sometimes the things we refer to as Unchristian are interesting. Not being nice is labeled to be Unchristian. If your view of Christianity is about being nice all the time, please don’t read the gospels or you’ll find yourself uncomfortable with a lot of what Jesus said. He wasn’t always particularly nice.

I’m not saying it’s not a good thing to be nice, but it really doesn’t rise to the level of Christianity or not.

Being a Christian is becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ. The word disciple is often a word not used with a great deal of understanding. Most of us, now, would define a disciple as a person who follows someone. Christians, we would say, are disciples of Jesus Christ. Followers.

But a disciple is more than a mere follower. In Biblical times a disciple was a person classified as a student of someone. In fact, the Latin word, discipila, is literally translated as student. But this was not the same way we refer to a student at any kind of school. A disciple, in Bible times, was a person who literally sat at the feet of another for many, many years and learned virtually everything the person knew. Socrates had a famous disciple named Plato, who in turn had a famous disciple named Aristotle, who in turn had a famous disciple named Alexander the Great.

Acts of the Apostles tells us that St. Paul was a student, a disciple of the great Rabbi Gamaliel.

Being a disciple of Jesus is not just following, but it’s almost literally sitting at the feet of Jesus and learning. Being a Christian is sitting at the feet of Jesus for a lifetime learning everything there is to know and come to know Jesus as best as we are humanly capable. It is not a brief decision but a lifetime commitment.

Going back to where I began, I was taken by Erwin McManus’ comments. He told a story about flying from the east coast back to Los Angeles when he was seated in the plane with a young man who was flying to Hollywood to become a big star. Or hoped he would be a big star.

The young man asked McManus what he did and McManus didn’t want to get into a long theological discussion so he told the guy that he was an author.

In any case as they made the trip the young man told McManus that his family was concerned for him as he didn’t know a soul in Los Angeles and was away from home on his own for the first time in his life.

Mosaic, at that time, met on Sunday evenings in a restaurant that was closed on Sundays. McManus told him that a group of his friends get together on Sunday nights at this one restaurant and talked and sang and hung out. He invited the guy and gave him the address.

To McManus’ great surprise the kid showed up the following Sunday night and watched McManus give a talk and was impressed that the guy he met on the plane was so well thought of by this group of friends that they were interested in what he had to say.

The kid came the next week and the same thing transpired.

He came a third week and the same thing transpired and the young man walked up to Irwin McManus and said, “Hey I figured it out! This is a church and you are the pastor!”

And he kept coming.

What made the story unique was that the young guy figured out it was a church by what was happening, what was talked about, and how people interacted with each other.

As Christians perhaps that is the way we need to see how we fit the role of Christianity. Our lives as Christians is not by the back packs we carry or the breath mints we use, but by what we do with our lives, what we talk about, how we interact with each other, and where we set our priorities. Being a Christian ought not be something we proclaim about ourselves; it ought to be something people recognize about us.

Facts and Hypothesis

I find it fascinating that people seem to confuse facts and hypothesis.

Facts are verifiable and essentially non-negotiable. Hypothesis is a theory that can be argued. Often when people argue a hypothesis they can be very compelling and very convincing. No matter how compelling and how convincing they are, however, a well argued hypothesis is still a hypothesis and doesn't become 'fact' until it can be totally verified.

I'll give an example.

There were some hypotheses that came into play at the end of World War II concerning Japan. The theory was that if the United States invaded Japan we would suffer 1,000,000 casualties and the death toll amongst the Japanese would be mind-boggling. The experience in Okinowa gave planners pause as so many of the Japanese civilians jumped off cliffs to their deaths. We had built three atomic bombs. We tested one and President Truman decided to drop the other two on Japan in a hope to end the war. People still debate whether this was a correct decision and/or a moral decision.

Here are the facts. We dropped two atomic bombs on Japan. Fact.

Many people were killed and two cities were devastated. Fact.

Shortly thereafter Japan surrendered and the war ended. Fact.

Was it a correct decision? It achieved the goals. If that makes it correct, it was correct. Was it moral? Here is where hypothesis steps in. We can theorize the ethical correctness and will do so endlessly. We can argue if it was a good decision or a bad decision and we can make hypotheses and argue them and that's all well and good. As long as we are aware that the facts and the hypotheses are different, it's fine.

I've been listening to people debate on the President's commutation of Scooter Libby's prison sentence. Lots of hypotheses are flying around and being argued. Talk radio has lit up the airways and people like Rush Limbaugh are stating that Libby did nothing wrong.

The problem is, that is his hypothesis and it flies in the fact of a fact.

Libby was prosecuted. We can argue whether or not he should have been, but he was prosecuted. Fact.

He went to trial. We can argue whether or not he should have gone to trial, but he did go to trial. Fact.

He was convicted of a crime by a jury. We can argue whether or not we believe he was guilty, but he was found guilty by a jury. Fact.

I'm weary of people saying he did 'nothing wrong' when he was tried and convicted. His trial and his conviction are not theories to be argued, they are cold, hard facts. He was convicted and that is also a cold, hard fact.

Whether or not one believes that Scooter Libby ought to have gone trial is great theater but we need to get past this talk radio culture of believing that hypotheses are facts and learn that facts are not negotiable.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Some Helpful Hints

It's funny. No one ever comments. Oh well.

I have two helpful hints for people. I love being helpful.

First, do you love to cook but tend to be a klutz? Afraid to cut yourself while chopping those veggies?

Here's a helpful hint. Have someone else hold the food in place for you so that you are free to chop away and not have to worry about cutting yourself.

Secondly, people often find themselves sitting in church or sitting in the movie theater and they develop cough. And they don't want to cough and don't know a good cough suppression methods.

Here's a helpful hint. Drink a quart of prune juice. You'll be too terrified to cough.

You're welcome in advance for these helpful hints.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

The New M Phone

M Phone from Microsoft

Microsoft is releasing its competition to the I Phone. Their new product will be called the M Phone.

The M Phone will be designed to synch with Outlook enabling people to keep their contacts and calendar on their phone. All outgoing e-mails and phone calls from the M Phone will automatically add people to your contact list allowing you to max your memory within three months.

The calendar will be able to track your dates leading up to 2010 at which time users will be charged a nominal fee of $100.00 per year for each year.

Optional ear pieces are available with a simple software up grade to M Phone 1.0MX at a nominal fee of $100.00.

M Phone is secure. If anyone else tries to use your M Phone it will self destruct in 10 seconds.

You’ll be amazed at M Phone’s ability to access the Internet, You Tube, and MSNBC News Reports. For a nominal fee of $100.00 per month you can watch unlimited videos on a 1.5" x 1.5" screen.

The M Phone will be able to not only send a receive e-mails but can send attachments, fully downloadable on PC’s and M Phones. For a nominal $100.00 per month fee this service will be available.

M Phone runs on an exclusive network with clear coverage and excellent signals. To maintain this high quality M Phone users will only be able to speak to other M Phone users thus making other cellular services and home phone numbers obsolete.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Scooter Libby

Scooter Libby is not going to jail. He ultimately may be pardoned by President George W. Bush.

I actually do find myself pleased at this and my reaction does surprise me.

I recognize that it appears that a great deal of time and effort was wasted in this. A diligent prosecutor made his case, the judge, a law and order judge, presided, and a jury found Mr. Libby guilty. The judge sentenced Libby to the typical prison term for the crime and gave him a lecture about how officials are supposed to act.

I scoff at those who called this a witch hunt. Amazingly many of the people who called this a witch hunt were after Bill Clinton's scalp for lying about, well, a, ahem, experience with Monica Lewinsky. This wasn't a witch hunt. A grand jury found ample cause for prosecution and the case went forward and a fair trial was had.

What does impact me, however, is that I believe it is most obvious that Scooter Libby was the fall guy. He was going to go to prison for the crimes of others. He participated in the crimes, but was only one player.

What is bizarre about this is that George W. Bush has always played the role of Mr. Law and Order. He has less commutations and pardons given than any modern day President. As the governor of Texas he willingly carried out executions on people even when their defense attorneys had spent the trials passed out and sleeping through the trial. He said that he was sure that the trials were fair. When Karla Faye Tucker, a convicted murderer who had become a prison evangelist and who by all accounts had truly turned her life around, asked for clemency he denied it. She did not ask to be freed but asked to be able to continue doing ministry in the prison. Many people almost begged Mr. Bush to spare her. He made fun of her and had her executed.

But Scooter Libby is not going to jail. I'm sure he's happy. Frankly, I can't blame him. Perhaps now he can find some more honest work than working for the Bush Administration. I heard that Joe's Fly By Night Used Car Sales is looking for help....

A Sign of Not so Good Things

Sunday marked a sign of not so good things. Maybe this isn't the biggest story of the week, but it certainly has gotten my attention.

On Sunday Yankee's third baseman Alex Rodriquez, one of the highest (if not the highest) paid professionally athletes on the planet was playing against the Oakland A's in New York. His wife, Cynthia, came to the stadium to watch her husband play. She wore a T-shirt with the words 'F@*% You" on it.

The New York media, obviously, has been following this as have the Yankees, etc.

Several things come to mind.

A-Rod has been booed once or twice in Yankee Stadium. He has put up big numbers but during the post season his productivity has been very poor. Many/most Yankee fans will say that paying him all of this money and building the offense of the team around him has been a mistake. Thus he has been booed a few times. He's also been cheered.

He's also making millions and millions of dollars to play a game. The people sitting in the stadium are paying good money to watch a game. They don't need to be insulted by his wife or any other play or any other player's family members.

But, most of all, people take children to baseball games. Baseball has been a part of the American landscape for a long time. Great plays of almost mythical proportion are burned in our memories.

Bobby Thompson hitting a game winning and playoff winning home run off of Ralph Branca in 1951. Or Mookie Wilson grounding the ball down the first base line and going through the legs of Bill Buckner. The second memory I remember all so well. It was late, my wife and 1 year old daughter were asleep upstairs. I had my finger on the 'off' button of the TV so I could immediately switch it off and not watch the Red Sox celebrate on the defeat of the Mets, and suddenly the game changed directions. I woke both of them up screaming and dancing downstairs. (Red Sox fans had a somewhat different reaction to this great event, by the way...)

Baseball has an almost mythic quality and the love of the game is passed on from generation to generation. Wearing T-shirts with obscenities on them to a ballpark is an affront to all those introducing their children to this very American game. Shame on her.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Chef Competition Shows

I do not watch Survivor. I watched it in its first season and I believe I watched one other season. It was their 'all star' season of sorts. But I'm not a fan. I've never watched the show American Idol and the only person I know who was on there was the guy named Sanjaya. If they all sing like him, wow.

But I've become a fan of Top Chef and The Next Food Network Star. Part of my problem is that I like to eat and so I've come to love cooking shows. I used to be a big fan of The Frugal Gourmet years ago. He was my favorite TV minister.

Top Chef and The Next Food Network Star are quite different. The contestants on Top Chef are competing to be high level chefs in great restaurants. They don't need to have endearing personalities, but they must perform, culinary wise, in a very high level with complex recipes.

The Next Food Network Star requires people who can make very tasty, but simple food that the average person can make at home. The thing that stands out about this show is that they must cook well, but they must perform on camera at a very high level. Personality is important.

Some things have impressed me greatly.

I enjoy cooking and can be decent at it. Watching these people, on both shows, and the level that they cook at, I am very much an amateur. When I see them, especially on Top Chef and what they create, I'm dazzled. On the other show the ability to put things together quickly, on camera, wow.

A lot of these competition shows are pretty bogus to me....but this is a show where very skilled people compete with one another at very high levels. They've hooked me for sure.