Saturday, May 31, 2008

The world's best investment: vitamins for at risk kids

Copenhagen consensus 2008

For two years, 50 of the worlds top economists have wrestled with finding solutions for the world's top ten problems. And, during this last week of May, 8 of the top economists, including five Nobel Laureates, met together to assess all the research.

They've produced a prioritized list of 30 solutions to the top ten problems. [Article here, with links.]

Interestingly, at the top of the list is combating malnutrition in the 140 million kids who are undernourished. They've determined that providing micronutrients [vitamin A capsules and a course of zinc supplements] to 80% of the 140 million kids who lack essential vitamins would cost just 60 million dollars and yet provide an estimated yearly benefit of nearly 1 billion dollars.

In other words, each dollar spent in this program turns 17 times that amount in benefits provided -- better health, fewer deaths, and potentially increased future earnings, etc.

Ronald Bailey, in his article, "The Top Ten Solutions to the World's Biggest Problems," notes that the Copenhagen Consensus process is certainly not perfect [applying benefit cost analysis to world issues] but it surely helps elucidate the problems and brings potential solutions to bear, great market place awareness. [Note: a tip of the cap to Glenn Reynolds on this. Great site, that Instapundit place! :-)].

These findings have fascinating implications... related to orphan care and and BANA Project, for instance: what would it cost to provide courses of micronutrients [A and zinc] to Lesotho orphans, for instance? And what benefit would this bring to an already phenomenal [and exploding] grassroots care program there?

I think it's a win/win potentiality.


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Memorial Day redux

The Texaco station in Okeechobee, near midnight. The flags looked sharp! waving neatly in a row... enjoy the symmetry and visual poetry!

A ghostly pic from a haunted castle!

Ok, ok, paranormal time!

Is this a ghostly presence walking down the stairs at Tulloch Castle, in the Scottish Highlands? The castle is well known for its ethereal denizens... this pic was snapped by accident during a wedding in the castle. A 14 year old photographer was snapping pics of the surroundings, and later, while downloading the files, noticed what seemed to be a hand gripping the stairwell, surrounded by white fog.

Look at the pic -- what do you think? It looks like a left hand to me, wearing a wedding band. Perhaps it's proof that ghosts use handrails! Or, that true love never dies! :-)

Click here for the story.

Enjoy! :-)

Sunday, May 25, 2008

A blessed Memorial Day to you!

Hello dear friends and readers -- a blessed Memorial Day to you!

Here's a clip from the funeral of a great American, one of my favorite songs... and a quote from one of my favorite Presidents:

It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Friends, there is a great work left to do for America... and it begins in the spirit. May you know that new birth of spirit so that our land may have a new birth of freedom -- freedom from the metaphysical chains that enslave so many of our citizens -- and we may once again turn as friends to that divine Law, under which real freedom is known!


Friday, May 23, 2008

The crowded worship at the Church of Green

America's mea maxima culpa

Jonah Goldberg has penned a thoughtful piece called "Church of Green: America's Mea Maxima Culpa." In it, he confronts the rampant mysticism in the environmentalist movement here in America. He prophetically details environmentalism as a kind of religion. Or, to quote Glenn Reynolds, "A substitute therefor without the troubling discerning-God's-will-and-following-it part."

Jonah's words are worth hearing:

I admit it: I’m no environmentalist. But I like to think I’m something of a conservationist. No doubt for millions of Americans this is a distinction without a difference, as the two words are usually used interchangeably. But they’re different things, and the country would be better off if we sharpened the distinctions between both word and concept.

At its core, environmentalism is a kind of nature worship. It’s a holistic ideology, shot through with religious sentiment. “If you look carefully,” author Michael Crichton observed, “you see that environmentalism is in fact a perfect 21st century remapping of traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs and myths.”

Environmentalism’s most renewable resources are fear, guilt, and moral bullying. Its worldview casts man as a sinful creature who, through the pursuit of forbidden knowledge, abandoned our Edenic past. John Muir, who laid the philosophical foundations of modern environmentalism, described humans as “selfish, conceited creatures.” Salvation comes from shedding our sins, rejecting our addictions (to oil, consumerism, etc.) and demonstrating an all-encompassing love of Mother Earth. Quoth Al Gore: “The climate crisis is not a political issue; it is a moral and spiritual challenge to all of humanity.”


Environmentalists insist that their movement is a secular one. But using the word “secular” no more makes you secular than using the word “Christian” automatically means you behave like a Christian. Pioneering green lawyer Joseph Sax describes environmentalists as “secular prophets, preaching a message of secular salvation.” Gore, too, has been dubbed a “prophet.” A green-themed California hotel provides Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” next to the Bible and a Buddhist tome.

Whether or not it’s adopted the trappings of religion, my biggest beef with environmentalism is how comfortably irrational it is. It touts ritual over reality, symbolism over substance, while claiming to be so much more rational and scientific than those silly sky-God worshipers and deranged oil addicts.

It often seems that displaying faith in the green cause is more important than advancing the green cause. The U.S. government just put polar bears on the threatened species list because climate change is shrinking the Arctic ice where they live. Never mind that polar bears are in fact thriving — their numbers have quadrupled in the last 50 years. Never mind that full implementation of the Kyoto protocols on greenhouse gases would save exactly one polar bear, according to Danish social scientist Bjørn Lomborg, author of the book Cool It!

Yet 300 to 500 polar bears could be saved every year, Lomborg says, if there were a ban on hunting them. What’s cheaper — trillions to trim carbon emissions, or a push for a ban on polar bear hunting?

Plastic grocery bags are being banned, even though they require less energy to make and recycle than paper ones. The country is being forced to subscribe to a modern version of transubstantiation, whereby corn is miraculously transformed into sinless energy even as it does worse damage than oil.

Conservation, which shares roots and meaning with conservatism, stands athwart this mass hysteria. Yes, conservationism can have a religious element as well, but that stems from the biblical injunction to be a good steward of the Earth, rather than a worshiper of it. But stewardship involves economics, not mysticism...

Thoughtful words. Read it all, here.

This is a reflection of easy morality. Such doctrine allows the follower a guilt-assuaging code where he or she feels a sense of moral well-being because s/he is obeying the culturally inculcated mores regarding green doctrine; and yet, at the same time the tenor of the life is in rebellion against divine Law. In buying off their inner moral compass with replacement morality, they are deadened to actual moral relation to God. Relation to earth has replaced relation to Creator of earth; they can live as practical enemies of God [the person] because they now relate to a cultural concept of god -- a force, a spirit, an idea, but certainly not a Holy Person, pre-existent Creator.

It is part of a long war of rejection of the transcendent, holy Deity in favor of an immanent, manageable one -- one easily structured to our earthly and sexual desires. It's no accident that the ancient goddess worship that God judged so vehemently [in fact, He commanded that no prayers should be prayed for those involved in such destructive behavior, cf. Jer. 7:15] linked the sacraments of earth and sex: the ones who worshiped thus were just doing their duty for the environment! And it felt so good. So moral and intuitive and pleasurable!

So easily manipulated to fallen human desires: the Church of Green has been in operation for a long time. And it always ends offering its children to Molech in the name of earth-good.

I believe in conservation but I cannot believe in environmentalism, because I believe in God.


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Our faltering purpose to a nobler end

Grant us your peace, for you alone can bend

Words: J.H.B. Masterman (1867-1933)
Tune: Ellers

Grant us your peace, for you alone can bend
our faltering purpose to a nobler end;
you Lord alone can teach our hearts to know
the fellowship that through your love can grow.

Grant us your peace, for we have filled the years
with greed and envy and with foolish fears,
with squandered treasures and ignoble gain,
and fruitless harvests that we reap in vain.

Grant us your peace, till all our strife shall seem
the hateful memory of some evil dream;
till that new song ring out that shall not cease,
'In heaven your glory and on earth your peace!'


Saturday, May 17, 2008

The ongoing legacy of socialism

Dostoevsky once remarked, "Socialism is atheism." A person must track with his intellect in order to understand the power behind that statement, of course... but without question the statement reflects sound logic and an incisive historical view. The current century sadly proves the prophetic value of that utterance, in the ongoing human devastation via the children of socialism. Molech isn't full, by half. Joe Huffman makes a marked point that Hitler's crimes pale in comparison by what has been and is now being wrought by socialism: a false belief system forever making common cause with the destruction of civilization and democracy -- an inveterate hatred of the life-saving ephemeral architectures of Judeo-Christian tradition.


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Thoughts on rejection of light

That which cannot be forgiven

by George MacDonald

“All manner of sin and blasphemy,” the Lord said, “shall be forgiven unto men; but the blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven.”

God speaks, as it were, in this manner: “I forgive you everything,” he says. “Not a word more shall be said about your sins – only come out of them. Come out of the darkness of your exile. Come into the light of your home, of your birthright, and do evil no more. Lie no more, cheat no more, oppress no more, slander no more, envy no more, be neither greedy nor vain. Love your neighbor as I love you. Be my good child. Trust in your father. I am light – come to me and you shall see things as I see them, and hate the evil thing. I will make you love the thing which you now call good and love not. I forgive all the past.

“I thank thee, Lord, for forgiving me,” some say, “but I prefer staying in the darkness. Forgive me that too.”

“No,” replies God, “that I cannot do. That is the one thing that cannot be forgiven – the sin of choosing to be evil and refusing deliverance. It is impossible to forgive that sin. It would be to take part in it. To side with wrong against right, with murder against life, cannot be forgiven. The thing that is past I pass. But he who goes on doing the same, annihilates my forgiveness. He makes it of no effect. Let a man have committed any sin whatever, I forgive him. But to choose to go on sinning – how can I forgive that? it would be to nourish and cherish evil. It would be to let my creation go to ruin.

“Shall I keep you alive to do things hateful in the sight of all true men?” If a man refuse to come out of his sin, he must suffer the vengeance of a love that would be no love if it left him there. Shall I allow my creature to be the thing my soul hates?”


George MacDonald, “Light,” The Truth in Jesus: The Nature of Truth and How We Come to Know It, edited by Michael Phillips (Bethany House: Minneapolis, MN), 127-28.

Monday, May 12, 2008

A rock star pastor

Ladies and gentlemen... turn the sound up and hang on for the ride [persist through the boring part], lol. Some pastors will stop at nothing! And my brother Layne, my my! how misguided is he? he gets out of the small town and now he's been tricked into rapping for those big city churches! grin. He does look good in furs and bling, though, lol. And he can sing a bit! I like him better than the original... enjoy!

Subtitles for this post:

  • My brother the rap star!
  • "Oh, how the mighty have fallen!"
  • Southern Bible Churches will stop at nothing!

Please submit your idea for the post title. Top two titles get included in this post and will finish in the money: My brother will buy you the reward with his royalty money, lol.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

To be a Christian...

Patrick O'Hannigan at Paragraph Farmer quotes Jennifer from Et Tu, in a post about waiting for a tow truck driver:

"To be a Christian is not to make God part of your story, but to realize that you are part of God's story."

Rich. Apt. Counter-intuitive for postmoderns. Definitely counter-zeitgeist. Truly prophetic.

Thanks, Jennifer! And Patrick!


Sunday, May 04, 2008

Top secret research published!

After several years intensive study, very high level classified research, I'm finally ready to publish my findings... perhaps it might help other guys out there who need to understand the finer points of the women they love! :-)

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Rise, help and redeem us

If we have forgotten the name of our Lord

Psalm 44 lined by J.B. Herbert

If we have forgotten the name of our God
Or unto an idol our hands spread abroad,
Shall not the Almighty uncover this sin?
He knows all our hearts and the secrets within.

Rise, help and redeem us, Thy mercy we trust;
Rise, help and redeem us, Thy mercy we trust.

Not trust will I place in my strength to defend,
Nor yet on my sword as a safe-guard depend;
In Thee, Who hast saved us and put them to shame,
We boast all the day, ever praising Thy name.

Rise, help and redeem us, Thy mercy we trust;
Rise, help and redeem us, Thy mercy we trust.

O why art Thou hiding the light of Thy face,
Forgetting our burden of grief and disgrace?
Our soul is bowed down, yea, we cleave to the dust;
Rise, help and redeem us, Thy mercy we trust.

Rise, help and redeem us, Thy mercy we trust;
Rise, help and redeem us, Thy mercy we trust…



J.B. Herbert on Psalm 44, "If We Have Forgotten the Name of Our Lord," Songs for Christian Worship: A Selection of Psalms and Hymn for Use in the Church, the Bible School, the Youth Groups, and the Home, Board of Christian Education of the United Presbyterian Church of North America (L.H. Jenkins: 1950), 225.

Friday, May 02, 2008

The discipline of solitude

Making all things new

From all that I have said about our worried, over-filled lives, it is clear that we are usually surrounded by so much outer noise that it is hard to truly hear our God when He is speaking to us. We have often become deaf, unable to know when God calls us and unable to understand in which direction He calls us.

Thus our lives have become absurd. In the word absurd we find the Latin word surdus, which means “deaf.” A spiritual life requires discipline because we need to learn to listen to God, who constantly speaks but whom we seldom hear.

When, however, we learn to listen, our lives become obedient lives. The word obedient comes from the Latin word audire, which means “listening.” A spiritual discipline is necessary in order to move slowly from an absurd to an obedient life, from a life filled with noisy worries to a life in which there is some free inner space where we can listen to our God and follow His guidance.

Jesus’ life was a life of obedience. He was always listening to the Father, always attentive to His voice, always alert for His directions. Jesus was “all ear.” That is true prayer: being all ear for God. The core of all prayer is indeed listening, obediently standing in the presence of God.

The concentrated effort

A spiritual discipline, therefore, is the concentrated effort to create some inner and outer space in our lives, where this obedience can be practiced. Through a spiritual discipline we prevent the world from filling our lives to such an extent that there is no place left to listen. A spiritual discipline sets us free to pray, or, to say it better, allows the Spirit of God to pray in us.

A time and a space

Without solitude it is virtually impossible to live a spiritual life. Solitude begins with a time and place for God, and Him alone. If we really believe not only that God exists but also that He is actively present in our lives – healing, teaching, and guiding – we need to set aside a time and a space to give Him our undivided attention. Jesus says, “Go into your private room and, when you have shut the door, pray to the Father who is in that secret place…”

Inner chaos

To bring some solitude into our lives is one of the most necessary but also most difficult disciplines. Even though we may have a deep desire for real solitude, we also experience a certain apprehension as we approach that solitary place and time. As soon as we are alone, without people to talk to, books to read, TV to watch, or phone calls to make, an inner chaos opens up in us.

This chaos can be so disturbing and so confusing that we can hardly wait to get busy again. Entering the private room and shutting the door, therefore, does not mean that we immediately shut out all inner doubts, anxieties, fears, bad memories, unresolved conflicts, angry feelings, and impulsive desires. On the contrary, when we have removed our outer distractions, we often find that our inner distractions manifest themselves to us in full force.

We often use these outer distractions to shield ourselves from the interior noises. It is thus not surprising that we have a difficult time being alone. The confrontation with our inner conflicts can be too painful for us to endure.

This makes the discipline of solitude all the more important. Solitude is not a spontaneous response to an occupied and preoccupied life. There are too many reasons not to be alone. Therefore we must begin by carefully planning some solitude.


Henri J. M. Nouwen, Making All Things New, quoted in Devotional Classics, edited by Richard J. Foster and James Bryan-Smith (HarperSanFranciso: 1991-3), 94-96.