Friday, August 31, 2007

Economic Forum with Baron Hill

Representative Baron Hill hosted an economic forum at IUS this morning. I've never really attended something like this and found it to be very educational.

I was most interested to hear why he was opposed to the current bill, the Children's Health Insurance Program. He actually supports the funding, but opposes the fact that they seem to what to fund it entirely from tobacco sales. Mr. Hill explained that if it were spread out amongst other groups he would vote for it. His main difficulty with the tobacco funding is because his region includes many tobacco farmers and there is an economic and cultural issue in addressing this.

I am sure that he's correct. It is also correct, however, that over the years many industries and farms have had to change their focus. Economics and culture can and does change.

It is painfully obvious that something needs to happen quickly with health care.

People and employers are playing higher premiums than ever before; and getting less service for this higher premiums.

Physicians are confronted with sky-rocketing costs of maintaining a practice. Doctors have to pay almost obscene premiums for malpractice insurance, purchase equipment and supplies, and maintain a staff. Many have half of their staff working exclusively on dealing with insurance companies. Doctors work long hours and are maxed out. Most do well, but most are not nearly as wealthy as they are perceived to be. Some specialists are, but most 'family doctors' work long hours and don't make nearly as much as many people presume.

One of the great prevailing myths that we have is that health insurance companies exist to provide coverage to patients by helping pay bills. Health insurance companies exist to make money for their stock holders. In order to have an income they must offer a product. It is, however, in the best interest of health insurance providers to pay out as little as they can.

Additionally, most health insurance providers offer 'sick care' but do not offer 'prevention care.' Money gets paid out to sick people but rarely for healthy people looking to remain so.

Meanwhile, health insurers have the highest profits ever. Pharmaceutical companies have their highest profits ever.

SERIOUS discussion needs to take place. We are in a national health care crisis. We are not GOING to be in one, we ARE in one now. The only thing it will do is to get worse.

I do not know the answer to the problem. I truly don't. I do know this. Any serious attempts at reform are going to be confronted by the insurance and pharmaceuticals in a huge way. We will be bombarded with ads telling us how great everything is and how the government is out to destroy health care as we know it. The will even bring out the 'socialized medicine boogey man' to frighten people and will tell you that if you need an MRI in Canada or England, the next available one is in 2010 (which is bogus, btw).

We have to have the ability to overlook the shrill commercials and the scare tactics of these industries and force our leaders to actually lead and help fix a badly broken system.

As for Mr. Hill, I'm not sure that I agree with his rationale, but I'm glad he was willing to stand before a group of people and honestly tell us what he thought and why he thought that.

Thursday, August 30, 2007


Ironically, Leona Helmsley's dog is now worth more than Michael Vick.

Ironically, Senator Larry Craig's public statements and the police transcript do not match up. It is notable, however, that perhaps Senator Craig's voting record is not completely hypocritical. He is opposed to gay marriage but has never made a speech or voted on random gay sexual encounters in public rest rooms.

Ironically, Miss South Carolina is more famous than whoever it is who won that beauty pageant.

And not in the realm of ironic, but in the realm of ranting. The New York Mets were 6 games ahead of the Philadelphia Phillies. They had a four game series. If the Mets swept them, and it is very difficult to sweep a four game series from a good team, they would pretty much have assured that they would clinch the division. If the Mets split with them, all remained the same with a month big deal. If the Mets lost 3 out of 4 they would only have lost 2 games. Bad, but not awful. If they got swept, they'd be in trouble as they would have given, as a wrapped gift, a path for the Phillies to clinch the division.

And the Mets got swept. Now they go to Atlanta and they have only one a third of their games against the Braves. Smoltz will pitch against Glavine, so the Braves will win on Sunday. On Saturday the Mets have Mike Pelfrey pitching and he is 0-7. And they have a bullpen leakier than the Titanic.

All this and the Yankees swept the Red Sox.


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Observations on Three Folks

Person One: Lauren Caitlin Upton

Well Lauren Caitlin Upton sure made the news. Miss South Carolina was asked a question concerning how a large number of Americans cannot find the United States on the map. She started down the wrong path when she began surmising that the problem was that too many people didn't have maps. After that her answer really went south. Badly. Very badly.

She's 18 years old and very pretty. She was on national TV and had a bad case of brain freeze at the worst possible time. She's been called dumb. She's been called blonde. People have had their laughs. But she's 18 years old. People need to cut this girl a break and get over the fact that she made a mistake. It's easy when TV hosts laugh at her; they're on national TV all the time. But she's an average girl who is very pretty and was in a beauty contest. First time on national TV and her brain froze. Again. Cut her a break.

Person 2: Lisa Nowak

She drove across the country to confront a woman who was dating a man she secretly loved. In the end no one was hurt, she was arrested and humiliated across the country.

Lisa Nowak is a naval officer who was also an astronaut and flew into space on the space shuttle in 2006. She had gone through a painful divorce and had a school girl crush and pretty much lost it. If you read the events of that day it becomes painfully evident that she lost it. She flipped out and was majorly dumb.

She is pleading temporary insanity and, frankly, I hope this works. I truly do. This story to me reminds me that we have very smart people enlist in the armed services and who willingly serve their nation by flying into space---an incredibly dangerous and stressful job. When they lose it, when they unravel, we are there to completely destroy them. Lisa Nowak is a reminder that we seem to delight in shooting our wounded. My heart really goes out to her.

Person 3 Senator Larry Craig

The problem with running on family values...

The problem with getting on TV and calling then President Bill Clinton, "a naughty boy..."

The problem with being anti-gay when you are gay...

I actually feel sorry for this guy to a point. It is painfully obvious that he did what he pleaded guilty to. It is painfully obvious that he is highly embarrassed by this whole story.

It has been thought by many for a long time that Senator Craig was and is gay. But he ran on an anti-gay platform and was gung-ho traditional family values. (Not quite sure what those are, but, okay.)

His friends and colleagues are showing their love and support by guiding him to the gangplank. His friends are suggesting that he take a long walk down a short pier. Mitt Romney, demonstrating his compassion, fired him from his campaign and blamed Bill Clinton. You have to be impressed by Romney's sheer chutzpah on that one.

The biggest problem I have with this man is hypocrisy. I frankly do not care what his sexual orientation is. I just wish:

He'd be honest to his wife and family.

He'd be honest to the people.

He'd be honest to himself.

And he'd apologize to those people he bashed.

Hypocrisy is deadly. I suspect he's finding that out.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I Found Jesus!

Michael Vick's speech, a heartfelt speech about the remorse that he felt, was quite good. He expressed a sense of humility and wrong doing that he had not expressed before. Good for him.

The thing that bugged me a bit was the, "I found Jesus," line.

I am obviously not opposed to people finding Jesus. Good, excellent, great. My sense, however, is that it's often a cheap line. It seems that when a celebrity is in trouble and rehab is not an option or a solution, they suddenly find Jesus. "Hey, I messed up but now I'm in rehab so I'm wonderful," is replaced by, "Hey, I missed up but now I found Jesus so I'm wonderful."

As most people who work at rehab and most people who have successfully been through rehab will tell us, is that showing up is great, but rehab is a long, painful, and difficult journey. The first step is showing up----but it's only a first step.

The same is true of discipleship. In reading much of what Mother Teresa wrote in her letters, discipleship, for her, was a long, painful, and difficult journey. Just saying, "I found Jesus," is just showing up. It's a great first step, but I'd love to know several things about Michael Vick.

Did he start going to church? Does he own a Bible? Does he pray more than just when he needs something? Has he given money away to charity, most especially the poor? Has he worked in a soup kitchen or anything like that?

Just finding Jesus because finding Jesus makes us 'feel good,' or 'look good' to others is not really finding Jesus. I hope for Michael Vick's sake he really did find Jesus and has begun walking down a genuine path of discipleship. But don't boast that you found Jesus until you've traveled down the road a bit.

Saturday, August 25, 2007


El Duque keeps pitching well for the Mets. Officially he's listed as 37 years old and is from Cuba. No one really believes that he's 37. I think that having played baseball against Fidel when they were both children makes it seem impossible...

Actually, he's fun to watch. He throws from so many angles and uses so many speeds he drives hitters crazy.

Top Chef was stunning the other night. Sara, who has been marginal at best, won and did a great job running a kitchen AND keeping Howie in line which was no small feat. Actually, he had so undercooked some lamb that he would have lost it for the team----until she made him do it again. He did, it was good, and they won. But Tre, who was one of the best of the chefs and a person who I thought had the most solid chance to win, was voted off the island. Too many simple mistakes and he was gone. Really too bad, however, as he was one of the best. And, very shocking, but Hung has been decent to be around the last two weeks. Actually, during a challenged, he had to cut chickens up and wow. This guy has knife skills...

Mirapex is a drug used to treat restless leg syndrome. You are supposed to consult your doctor if you have impulse control issues and lose control eating, or practice excessive gambling, or have excessive sexual urges. I'd make a joke that maybe Lindsay, Britney, and Paris all must suffer from restless leg syndrome, but I won't. That would lack class.

The thing is, I hate to say it, whenever I see a Mirapex commercial I'm always wondering if it's really a commercial or a skit on Saturday Night Live.

Well, Michael Vick pleaded out. What a fool!!! I don't even know what else to say.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Mother Teresa

I had heard about the content of Mother Teresa's diary a while back. It was said then, as it's said now, is that she wrestled with doubt through a long stretch of her life. Suddenly today when an incredibly devout woman who spent her life doing good amongst the poorest of the poor, she is cast on the front page with an almost gloomy report of her doubt.

The landmark study of faith was done by a man named James Fowler where he labels six stages o faith development. You can read them here:

Many people find Mother Teresa's doubt to be shocking because we live in a day and age when many people appear to be stuck at what Fowler calls Stage 2, Mythic Literal Faith.

What begins to happen when people grown and transcend mythic-literal faith is that they begin to doubt. They reattain a sense of faith as they grow and then go through more periods of doubt. Often, when we find people who have never had any doubt, the sense may be that they haven't grown beyond Stage 2 in their faith development. Moving from absolute assurance (stage 2) and allowing ourselves to question and doubt is a step many people do not desire to take.

Mother Teresa, however, did not fear growth. In fact, her life was focused on growing in her faith----and in growing in her faith she experienced doubt.

On another level, well, no kidding. She was constantly in confrontation with a world that honored wealth and power and she was working with the poorest of the poor. The people no one wanted. The more ignored people in all society.

As I look at this amazing woman I can't help but admire her and her faith journey. It only occurs once in several life times when we really see a person who walked the walk very much like Jesus.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Baron Hill and Children’s Health Insurance Program

The Children’s Health Insurance Program is important legislation is a program aimed at increasing health insurance coverage for children. President Bush is promising to veto it. Strong Congressional support is needed to make this bill veto proof.

I was shocked and appalled that Baron Hill has voted against this legislation. He is going to be at IUS from 9 - 11:45 to have a town hall meeting discussing economic issues in Indiana. I personally think that this is important legislation as children's health care is getting worse and worse. I'm planning on attending that meeting. If you think that this is important, please plan to attend as well.

Commercials in Support of the War

Wow. The last couple of days I've noticed that there are commercials on TV in support of the war in Iraq.

Somewhere logged in there amidst nightly ads for McDonalds, Viagra, and Target we have soldiers (or people acting to be soldiers) speaking of their service in Iraq and how important our mission there is.

This war is a controversial war. The American death toll stands at over 3700 people and it is added to each and every day with between three and four people being killed.

War under the best of circumstances is horrible and tragic. Most rational people would say that World War II was very much a just war and needed to be fought. In hindsight most sane people do not question our involvement and see it as a war that needed to be fought. It was, however, still horrible and tragic.

We can debate whether or not we should have gone into Iraq in the first place. That argument still rages. It's pretty much a mute argument at this point, however. We are there. What we did in the past we did in the past and cannot be changed. Wringing our hands over should or shouldn't is pretty much a worthless activity.

The President has made it clear that he plans to stay in Iraq. He is the Commander and Chief and can keep the troops there as long as Congress is willing to fund the war.

Congress has had, frankly, silly little debates on the war but has not shown that it has the gumption or desire to remove funding for the war so the war continues and will continue.

Sadly, debate over the war has become a cynical little game for politicians and it is dreadful. There should not be commercials promoting or attacking the war. Individual leaders who choose to run for office based in staying in or getting out are fine. They can make their positions. It is disgraceful, however, when soldiers who have fought for their country are paraded in front of a camera to speak for the war in general, either pro or con. Disgraceful.

Amidst the ads for Budweiser, dualing Levitra bathtubs, and the autumn's new TV lineup, there are no commercials exclusively about the war.

I happen to decry the over-coverage of Paris, Lindsay, and Britney and now the war has been diminished to little 30 second ads.


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Tiki & Eli or Make that Eli & Tiki

I was surprised by the comments of Tiki Barber on Saturday night. The question was about the leadership of Eli Manning and Tiki pretty much proclaimed himself as the team leader (last season) and he made a comment that on one occasion Eli's pre-game speech was actually comical. It struck me as a bit mean spirited. Eli, to his credit, blew off Tiki's comments and he also made some observations about Tiki's leadership last year.

Tiki Barber is a class guy and was a great running back. When Tiki was drafted by the New York Giants Rodney Hampton was their main running back. Barber was drafted in the second round and was seen as the second coming of Dave Meggett. Meggett was drafted in the 5th round by the Giants in 1989 and was very much a part of their Super Bowl team. Meggett was great out of the backfield on third downs. He ran draw plays and was an excellent receiver and punt returner. Tiki Barber was not a huge guy and many people believed that he'd be the some kind of change of pace player that Meggett was and, like Meggett, it was presumed that Barber would not have the size and endurance to be a feature back.

Tiki, however, became the best running back in NY Giants history and demonstrated that he did have the ability to be the feature back. Great player.

The thing is, last year, while playing really well, Tiki got carried away with, well, Tiki. Tom Coughlin, his coach, is not the easiest guy to get along with or like, but Tiki seemed to delight in taking shots at Coughlin with the press. Actually, Barber seemed to like to take a lot of shots at his team and many people believed that when he told the world that he was retiring, his leadership ability bid a fond farewell.

Enter Eli Manning, the quarterback, Peyton's little brother.

Peyton Manning is a great player. Great passer, great play maker, great leader. He has a dynamic and fiery personality.

Eli has a bigger arm and has made some great plays and some awful plays. He has a very different personality from Peyton. Where Peyton is fiery and dynamic, Eli is very, very cool. I remember, years ago, watching Joe Namath and Johnny Unitas play. Namath was fiery and dynamic; Unitas was cool. Both were great.

Eli is young. He's had great moments and bad moments. It isn't all that atypical of a young quarterback. I'm wondering, if by getting Eli mad at him of Tiki Barber is finally showing the leadership to his former team that he failed to give them when he was playing last year.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Arrivederci Michael Vick

Arrivederci Michael Vick. It looks like you have found a way to destroy a potentially great career. If nothing else, you managed to squander a huge opportunity.

With his contract playing for the Atlanta Falcons as well as many endorsements, Michael Vick's guilty plea is going to cost him over $130,000,000.00.

All for dog fighting and gambling about dog fighting. Not only dog fighting, however, but for unimaginable cruelty to the animals after the fights. From witness statements, Michael Vick seemed to enjoy finding novel ways to kill the dogs.

It does boggle my mind. For one, I cannot fathom $130,000,000.00. As a struggle to put two kids through college having enough money to purchase a college is beyond the realm of imagination to me.

What's sad about this is that Michael Vick is truly a talented young man and a very gifted athlete. People question how 'good' he is----and the jury is still out. But he's also young and it often takes great quarterbacks years and the right coaches and the right system to truly blossom. I'm steamed at Bobby Petrino for leaving U of L, but I do believe that if any coach could really help Michael Vick become an outstanding NFL quarterback, it would be Bobby Petrino. Vick has been one of the most exciting players in the game and under the mentorship of a great offensive coach, who knows what he could have accomplished.

As it stands now, Michael Vick will never play for Bobby Petrino. He would most probably never play for the Falcons again and it is very questionable if he will ever play in the NFL again. Additionally, he most probably will be serving jail time---and state charges which could add to the jail time, are pending. The only football he might be playing is flag football with other inmates. He will, undoubtedly be the best player in the prison.

The sad reality is, however, as he runs around the prison yard, dazzling fellow inmates with his great moves, one can only bow one's head and say, "What a waste."

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Was Jesus a Capitalist?

Recently, at a small college out west, a professor, Andrew Paquin, was fired. Bill Armstrong, a former United States Senator is the President of the college and fired Paquin because Paquin had students read works by Jim Wallis and Peter Singer. Singer is an atheist and an animal rights activist and a professor at Princeton University who very much promotes being gentle with the environment. Wallis is an Evangelical Christian who believes that the primary teaching of Jesus in the Gospels is caring for the poor. Radical stuff this caring for the poor.

Armstrong fired Paquin because he was teaching things not consistent with the philosophy of the college. Actually I really don't have an issue with this. Colleges have a right to set their own agendas and hire faculties consistent with those agendas. I tend to think that great education takes place when students are exposed to a wide range of thoughts from a wide range of writers, but that's just me. The school, and Armstrong, had every right to terminate Paquin.

What disturbs me is that in explaining this termination comes from this. Armstrong felt that by exposing students to these authors it was undermining the college's commitment to the free enterprise system and to quote:

“I don’t think there is another system that is more consistent with the teachings of Jesus Christ,” Armstrong told the Rocky Mountain News. “What the university stands for, among other things, is free markets.”

Free markets and capitalism are what are more consistent with the teachings of Jesus Christ than any other system?

In the early days of Pope John Paul II politically conservative people applauded the Pope in his attacks on Communism as a system which corrupted lives of people. They were, however, mortified when he later turned and claimed that Capitalism did the same thing. In essence he was saying that neither system was consistent with the teachings of Jesus.

I am not opposed to capitalism but Jesus was not a capitalist. He wasn't a socialist either. From a political perspective if Jesus spoke at the Republican Convention the paint would blister from the walls from the heat of his words to them. If Jesus spoke at the Democratic Convention the paint would blister from the walls from the heat of his words to them. The fact that political parties are able to recruit clergy to pander to their agendas does not indicate in any way that anyone is being faithful to the teachings of Jesus.

Jesus, in reality, was an economic anarchist. A thorough reading of the Gospel of Luke, which last I saw, was still in the Bible, indicates that Jesus had issues with money. His preferred use of money seemed to be something one got rid off.

Frankly, as a Christian, I'm getting tired of people in politics who take random quotes from the Bible to validate their opinions, opinions often inconsistent with the totality of the Gospel. This idea of pronouncing something "Christian" because "I found a verse" does not honor the Word of God, but frankly dishonors it by making it little more than little verses, placed in cookies, and served after chow mein.

Friday, August 17, 2007


I love being about to do random stuff.

Tony Snow is stepping down from being the White House Press secretary. Talk about thankless jobs. He said that he needs to be in a position to make more money. I sadly suspect that he is grappling with the possibility or probability that his life span is going to be on the short side and he's looking to provide for his family. Confronting one's mortality when one's mortality is SO there, right in front of you, is painful to be sure.

The coal mine disaster in Utah is just so sad. Evidently this mine has been a disaster waiting to happen. Now rescuers are among the dead. The disaster waiting to happen did happen. Federal inspections and expectations of mine safety are, surprise surprise, not up to standards and those mine was an ongoing problem.

Recently a flight on its way to NYC was diverted to Baltimore because of weather. The plane was left out there for hour after hour. It was hot and the AC was not working. There was no food and no water and the commodes were overflowing making the plane smell like....well, it smelled not so good. The people signed a petition to the captain who was locked away up front that they were angry. He would not come back and not respond. They began to chant and pound their feet, etc. They had been out there for over 5 hours and were hot, thirsty, and miserable. The pilot called for help.

The help came. 10 officers from Homeland Security who were breathing threats of arrest to the passengers. I guess, ultimately, they weren't arrested, but Homeland Security sure gives me great hope.

This was the group who missed the fact that the Civic Center in New Orleans was a disaster...and they didn't even know it two hours after it was broadcast on CNN. (I think, in fairness, Homeland Security doesn't watch CNN, but Faux News which ran a tribute to Tom DeLay instead.

This is the group who tells us that taking our shoes off and having our shoes inspected pre-flight makes us safe.

This is the group that banned a mom and baby from a plane because the baby had water in her sippy cup.

This is the group that gives me the hope that my loved ones and I are far away from anything that happens because Homeland Security might miss the fact that it happened. That is unless Faux News actually goofs and reports a news story.

I do not want Michael Vick to take the plea agreement. They have him and if he goes to trial he's going to have his behind nailed in a big way and has the potential to serve lots of time in prison. Frankly, for the horror of what he's done it would be good for him to go away for a while.

One upside. Whatever flag football team he goes on in prison has to be the prison yard favorite this year.

I recently read Randall Balmer's book, Thy Kingdom Come. This is one fine book. It gives a great insight into the rise of the Religious Right and its impact on Christianity and American politics. I have always found Balmer to be very thoughtful and knowledgeable. This book is no exception to my thinking.

And finally, how I could I forget Britney Spears. She's been in rehab and some magazine has her topless (discreetly) in a pool with some guy holding a drink. I'm wondering what she was in rehab from....escape from IQ or escape from thinking??? Ugh.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Karl Rove's Legacy

People tend to leave footprints or legacies. It is, of course, impossible to tell what a person's long term legacy will be.

When Harry Truman left office most people presumed his legacy was going to be a bad one. As time went on, however, people looked back on his straight talking common sense approach to things and came to appreciate it. Now everyone wants to be the next Harry Truman.

George H. W. Bush, not unlike Truman, left office with a negative legacy. As time has gone on, however, his foreign policy decisions and ability to interact with other world leaders has improved his legacy. Ironically it was his own son's truly bad foreign policy decisions and inability to interact with other world leaders that great improved the Elder President Bush's stature.

Karl Rove is leaving the White House. On one hand people say he was brilliant. He guided George W. Bush to victory as Governor of Texas, helped create a Republican majority in Congress, and helped Bush win two terms in the White House. His strategy was to run towards the base and not seek middle ground. It was successful in winning elections and in passing some legislation.

However, it estranged the center and has made it completely impossible to accomplish anything else. Good policy often comes when people work together and grievous errors are made when only one perspective is ever examined and other opinions are vilified. Much of the hostility we see in Washington DC these days comes as the result of the strategy of Karl Rove. He may take pride in that legacy-----but if my legacy was an ability to please one group of people and create hostility with another, I'd be ashamed of myself.

The second legacy he has left behind has been a legacy of making sure everything and everyone is in synch politically. Experienced FEMA leadership and staff were replaced by people who were more attractive politically. The same thing took place in the Justice Department. The policy at FEMA became a Katrina sized disaster. Attorneys at the Justice Department now regularly LOSE their cases because the experience, competent lawyers were replaced by politically loyal appointees who great lacked the experience and often the education needed to do their jobs. These departments became more political and lost sight of the fact that their primary job was to serve the people of the nation. Katrina demonstrated politics and service. The Salvation Army which truly does try to serve people demonstrated that they make serving others a priority. They were the first people on the scene to provide food and comfort. Their legacy of service is long and honorable. FEMA's however, was forever tarnished.

If my legacy was that I lived my life assured that the people around me agree with me and by doing so I failed to serve others well, I'd be ashamed of myself.

I suspect that Karl Rove will leave the White House with his head held high and his chest puffed with pride. If his legacy was mine, I think I'd leave with my head bowed and devastated at the number of people whose lives I have damaged.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

An Official Mrs. Degree ----And It's Troubling!

I read of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary that seems to be offering an official "Mrs. Degree." It is a course of study, for women, to enable them to become, well, read this from the Washington Post:

One of the nation's largest Southern Baptist seminaries, the school is introducing a new, women-only academic program in homemaking _ a 23-hour concentration that counts toward a bachelor of arts degree in humanities. The program is aimed at helping establish what Southwestern's president calls biblical family and gender roles.

Coursework will include seven hours of nutrition and meal preparation, seven hours of textile design and "clothing construction," three hours of general homemaking, three hours on "the value of a child," and three hours on the "biblical model for the home and family."

Seminary officials say the main focus of the courses is on hospitality in the home _ teaching women interior design as well as how to sew and cook. Women also study children's spiritual, physical and emotional development.

This "Biblical model for the home and family...."

We hear this a great deal. We have to get back to a Biblical model for marriage and the family." It is troubling! Marriage in Biblical times was very, very different. I question anyone who wants to go back to that model.

What are some of the differences?

For one, in Biblical times, people got married very young. VERY young. Most people got married when they hit the age of sexual maturity. For girls it was usually at age 13 or 14. For boys it was around 15 - 16. Pre-marital sex is really not mentioned in the Bible because it was pretty much a non-issue. When people hit the age of sexual desire society did not expect them to wait 10-15 years until they got married. They simply got married at the young age.

Secondly, in contemporary times people marry for love. We meet someone we love and we pledge love and commitment to that person until death. Then, the marriage was arranged. It was usually arranged by a father who would literally pay a young man to take his daughter. This became known as the dowry. (The bride's family paying for the wedding comes from this!) The young woman would go from being her father's property and become her husband's property.

Thirdly, the woman as property issue. Women, in Biblical times, were property of their husbands. The women had no more rights than the man's cow or chickens. Cows and chickens had no rights and neither did the women. Women had no control over who they married and how they were treated in marriage. Even adultery laws were postured in a way that it was rare for a man to be punished but common for a woman to be punished. Life in Biblical times, was cruel to women.

Fourth, men had no responsibilities toward their wives. One of the most controversial documents in the early Christian Church was Paul's letter to the Ephesians. It stirs controversy now because Paul tells women that they are subjects of their husbands. In that day and age the women were subjects of their husbands and these words caused no ripple. However, when Paul went on to tell men to 'love their wives.' Men were not expected, in Biblical times, to love their wives. Actually, men had no responsibilities of fidelity to their wives. Prostitution was rampant and men could visit prostitutes and not be seen as guilty of committing adultery. As long as the prostitute was unmarried (and not the property of another man) the man was free to do whatever he desired. Interesting to note, if he tired of her, he could have HER stoned for adultery and not be harmed himself.

There were some great Biblical marriages.

Abraham passes off his wife Sarah as his sister. Sarah was attractive and he preferred that men 'play' with her thinking she was his sister rather than defend his wife.

David had an affair, impregnated Bathsheeba, and conspired to have her husband killed.

Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines.

It was an age of a lot of polygamy and a great deal of abuse.

In the New Testament we know that there were wives of the apostles, but these women are not mentioned. It never mentions if Jesus does or doesn't have a wife. Paul was never married and he strong encourages people not to marry unless they really need to.

Thus we have the Biblical model of marriage. As opposed to the model of marriage in 2007.

Now people marry for love and strive to continue to grow in love.

Now husbands and wives are equal in every way.

Now violently abusing one's wife is a criminal offense.

Now marriage is a deep and abiding partnership with two people growing.

Now fidelity is expected by both partners.

Here is what I think is going on at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

First, the men have set up standards for what they want marriage to be and pretending that they are putting forth a Biblical model. They use random Scripture quotations to validate their own opinions. This is an obscene use of Scripture to get what they want.

Secondly, they are looking to make marriage into the TV version of a 1950's couple. Ozzie and Harriet. Father Knows Best. Man goes off to work in his suit and mom gets dressed up to clean the bathroom, do the shopping, and have meat loaf on the table every night. Well, maybe not meat loaf every night, but you catch my drift.

Thirdly, the men want to assure that the man is the head of the household. My experience with people who want to hold forth this kind of vision of marriage is that they believe that a man must do whatever he needs to do to be the head of the household. Domestic violence, in this world, is tolerable if women do not behave.

Ultimately people marry and make choices in how they want to conduct their marriage. What others do is not up to me to determine or judge. What this school is doing, to me, is very troubling and a frightening trend.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Barry Bonds*

Barry Bonds* broke Hank Aaron's all time home run record. Now, perhaps the two biggest records in baseball, single season home run record and the all time home run record are held by Barry Bonds*.

I don't know how I feel about this. To be sure, Barry Bonds* has been one of the most feared hitters in baseball. Early in his career, with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Bonds* was an outstanding hitter. The incredible number of intentional walks he has received have come because managers and pitchers alike have fear pitching to him. No matter what any of us think about him, Barry Bonds* has been a major talent.

Then he grew. A lot. Even his head got bigger. His back got a tad quicker and his bulk increased. Others have said that he took steroids. He has denied it. There has been no blood evidence----tho' with the very feeble testing done by Major League Baseball, this is no great surprise.

This record has been broken and frankly, seems tainted. Frankly, I hate to see that he broke it. Sadly, if Barry Bonds* truly deserves the record, we are all being unfair. But no one hates a cheat. Alas, I suspect, whether it's in the record books or not people will always have one idea on how the record of Barry Bonds* is remembered.*

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Fantasy Facts

I keep finding myself bemused by the fact that there seems to be an abundance of what I call 'fantasy facts' roaming the world, on the media, and most especially on the radio. To my chagrin I often hear these fantasy facts from Christians who seem to be advocating that Christians ought to be lining up for lobotomies in the very near future.

Some of the fantasy facts that are roaming around:

The intellectual and scientific case for evolution is beginning to fall.

I guess that I missed this memo. Everything that I read is that evolution is a foundational statement in biology. I've read of no scientist with credible credentials and a measurable IQ raise questions about this. For one, the case against evolution demands that we throw out years and years of dating fossils and affirm that the world was created 6000 years ago despite fossil evidence to the contrary. It means that despite fossil evidence, people and dinosaurs walked the planet at the same time. Oh, and in my Bible, Genesis states that we have a roof over us. I actually met Neil Armstrong and he's a very honest man who never mentioned going through a roof.

We deal with the fact that there is a great deal of revisionist science out there. If science doesn’t give you the answer you want, change the answer.

Global Warming is a myth

Again, to believe this is to believe that scientists are wrong and that the climate changes that we are experiencing globally are really not what scientists think that they are. I’ve read about the scientists who claim that global warming is a myth and I found out who employs most of them. Exxon. Mobil. Shell. BP. Duh.

That separation of church and state was not the desire of the founding fathers.

I find this one to be amazing. Thomas Jefferson declared in the Declaration of Independence that we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. This passage makes many people state that Jefferson’s ‘Creator’ was the God of Christianity. These words were not divine revelation to Jefferson. They were, in fact, an adaptation of words written by the English Political Philosopher John Locke who wrote that these rights are life, liberty, and estate (property.) Jefferson would probably not have declared himself to be a Christian or, if he did, he didn’t see himself as much of one. Jefferson edited a version of the Bible to his own liking and found doctrines of Christianity, such as the Trinity, to be absurd and silly. Ben Franklin used to attend revivals because he found them to be entertaining and wrote that it is wise not to carry much cash to them as the preachers were very adept at getting people to part with their money. Jefferson, who wrote the Declaration was very much for a separation of church and state and James Madison, who was a close friend of Jefferson’s, a political ally with the same beliefs, was the primary author of the Constitution.

Interestingly enough it was the Baptists who were real proponents of a strong separation of church and state. Roger Williams, who founded the First Baptist Church in America (in Providence, Rhode Island) was a fierce opponent to mixing church and politics. He fled New England Congregationalism because he found that the Congregationalists of that era were denying people the right to vote unless they joined a Congregational Church. I find that the founding people of this country espoused religious freedom and or a freedom from religion. We are encountering a lot of revisionist history (like the revisionist science) to remake something in an image that we desire.

Lastly, Satan dominates the media.

With this I agree. As long as media people keep selling to Rupert Murdoch, this will not change. Such notable legends as the New York Post, Faux News, and such remind us that there is demonic oversight of much of the media. It goes to show you that not everyone is wrong all the time and that some fantasy facts may actually be true!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

A Failing Infrastructure

There is something frightening about the bridge collapse in Minnesota that goes beyond that particular tragedy.

New Orleans was able to survive Katrina. It was unable to survive an inadequate infrastructure set up to 'protect' the city.

Recently, in New York City, a steam pipe exploded causing major havoc and death in the mid town region. It was a failure of infrastructure.

The bridge collapse in Minnesota is just the latest example of a failing infrastructure.

The President, in a recent veto on something, spoke about how government is inadequate and shouldn't be called upon to fix things, etc., etc., etc.

Well, here's the news flash. The government is in charge of the nation's infrastructure. Be it local, state, or federal, our roadways are the responsibility of the government and they are failing us. Miserably and tragically.

I do understand that people do not want to pay high taxes. Frankly, I do not want to pay high taxes. The issue is, to me, that elected officials, in government, ought to believe in what they are working for. A President, who is the head of the government, who doesn't believe that the government can do anything good and worthwhile, ought not be there. I would like to have a person who has some convictions that he or she can actually do something to improve the lives of people. Or at least keep them safe.

I am concerned at the moment because our government is really doing a poor job.

The response to Katrina was beyond awful and remains so.

Our infrastructure is rapidly deteriorating and nothing is being done about it.

Recent drug issues and tainted food have shown that the FDA is way understaffed, inadequately trained and funded, to do an even reasonable job.

Homeland Security is run by a man who, an hour after CNN and MSNBC had run footage of the disaster of the civic center in downtown New Orleans, had no awareness that this was taking place. None. Zip. His idea of competent security is to have us board planes barefoot and dump baby sippy cups.

Career attorneys who have gone up against the justice department in courts for years have said that government attorneys have always been well trained and formidable. Most of these career, government attorneys have left the justice department and been replaced by poorly trained individuals who cannot even argue a case.

Walt Kelly, who created Pogo, summed it up better than anyone. We have met the enemy, and he is us.

Friday, August 03, 2007

NFL Hubris

Wow. NFL Hubris. I'm amazed at the hubris of some individuals in the NFL.

The Hubris of the Year award goes to Brady Quinn. Quinn had a decent career at Notre Dame. There were a couple of concerns about him. First, he has maintained a strong reputation of choking in big games. He lit up the scoreboard on inferior teams, but when he faced big games against tough defenses, he disappeared. Many questioned his arm strength and felt that he might have had success because he was in a good system. He anticipated going really high in the draft but many teams in need of quarterbacking helped didn't choose him. Finally, in the 22nd round, the Browns, his favorite team growing up, drafted him. Nice ending to the story. In the first mini camp Brown's coaches were concerned. It was a bit windy and Quinn's passes were floating around in all different directions. The questions about his arm strength resurfaced.

So, one would presume, Brady Quinn was humbled by his low draft status and initial poor performance with the Browns. One would presume that Brady Quinn would have been the first player in camp working hard to prove his critics wrong and determined to show the world that the rest of the NFL erred in underestimating him.

Ah, but hubris is such a funny thing. Brady Quinn is home, holding out. The Browns are looking to pay him as a 22nd round draft pick (which is was) which would a a lower salary than someone chosen higher (even though all first round quarterbacks make a lot of money.)

But Quinn is holding out. He thus proves several things.

Other teams look justified in passing him by and that in addition to choking in big games and having a suspect arm, he's an imbecile. It's funny how hubris lowers one's IQ.

Then there is Michael Strahan. Now, Stahan has played for my team, the New York Giants and unlike Quinn, Strahan has made his bones in the NFL. Michael Strahan is the single season sack leader in NFL history and has had, most probably, a Hall of Fame career. He also did it in the largest media market in the country. Strahan has been a great player with an outstanding NFL career. Unlike Quinn, Strahan's greatness is not all in his head.

But Michael Strahan is holding out. Michael Strahan is 36 years old and probably entering his final year in the NFL if he doesn't retire now. His contract calls for him to earn $4,000,000.00 this coming year. This works out to a feeble $250,000.00 a game for a defensive end.

Strahan is holding out and proclaiming that the Giants are betraying him by not paying him more.

Strahan is being hit by hubris as well. As great a player as he is, he's only played, at best, half of the previous two seasons. He's been injured in both seasons and there are obvious questions if he will be able to play an entire season for the Giants this year. The team, by keeping him, is paying a lot of money for a player who may or may not be able to perform, let alone well, for an entire season. But Michael Strahan wants more. So he's holding out, threatening to retire. The Giants are saying that he's welcome to come back after paying a fine for holding out, and that they want him to come back. But, if he chooses to retire, they are willing to let him and they are going to wish him a great life.

As a Giants fan I see the Giants as a team that is rebuilding. They had three older players who they need to be replacing to move on. Tiki Barber was one and he retired. Amani Toomer, who missed a large portion of last season due to injury, is back, but they drafted a WR to essentially replace him in the next year or two, and then there is Strahan. They will miss the ability of Michael Strahan, but in fairness they have not had him for most of two seasons and will be without his services in the near future anyway.

Michael, your hubris is getting in the way of your common sense. This is the NFL, which stands for Not for Long for older players who think that they are more valuable than they really are. When it's your time to retire, go out with class and not with a blue face because you are holding your breath like a small child who didn't get his way.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Random Thoughts

Tom Glavine was set to win game number 300. And it all rested on the right arm of Guillermo Mota. Guillermo Mota? He who has an ERA higher than the Dow Jones?

Guillermo Mota? Ugh.

Robin Roberts has breast cancer and we do need to keep her in our thoughts and prayers. Robin Roberts is one of the finest people on TV. She replaced another one of the finest people on TV, Charlie Gibson, when he very deservedly became the anchor of the ABC Evening News. He has quietly moved into the number one slot.

Dick Cheney told Larry King that he hasn't made any mistakes. This was after a very well thought out, articulate question from Larry King. I must confess, King knocked me over with the question, I very much underestimated him. But we can all rest easier now knowing that Cheney is perfect and obviously things are going as planned. It's funny because both Bush and Cheney have decreed that they haven't made any mistakes. This means the response to Katrina was, as planned. The war in Iraq has gone, as planned. The Harriet Miers nomination went as planned. Etc.

Nicole Richey has proclaimed that the father of her baby to be is a rocker, Joel Madden. I was really holding out for Frederic Von Anhalt.

Rumor has it that Paris Hilton is going to get cut off, financially, from her grandfather. This means that she'll have to make a living using her, ahem, talent. What can I say?

The sad thing about Lindsay Lohan is that this gal actually does have talent. She has been quite good in several movies that she's made and can sing reasonably well. She can act and she can sing and had a bright career ahead of her. Now.

Speaking of Lindsay, I heard that in addition to her ankle alcohol detecting device she has a nose piercing that is really a coke detecting device.

I sure do feel relieved that Dick Cheney hasn't made any mistakes. I bet that he wouldn't have brought in Guillermo Mota to protect the lead.