Monday, April 28, 2008

Action Versus Words: Part 2 of a Series

The main point of contention between the Catholic faith and mainline Protestant churches is the doctrine of justification through continual good works. Protestants believe that faith alone in Jesus Christ as our savior is the only path to salvation. Some Protestants do not believe that the Catholics are even Christian - much in the way they regard Mormonism.

This is the ultimate expression of actions over words. It always puzzled me that simply declaring belief in the Lord Jesus Christ was enough to be saved from the here to the hereafter. What does this actually mean? Can one lead any kind of uncaring, cruel or criminal life one pleases up until death is imminent and then declare ones alliegence to Christ? Doesn't one have to make an account for his life at some point?

Catholics emphasize that the righteous are bound to observe God’s commandments. According to the Gospel of John Jesus said those who follow his commandments (works) will know Him, and He will be in them as He is in the Father. John's Gospel (John 6:40) also said "And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life…" So which is it?

When Catholics affirm the meritorious character of good works, their intention is to emphasize the responsibility of persons for their actions, not to contest the character of those works as gifts, or to deny that justification always remains the unmerited gift of grace. Works are not a substitute for faith but rather a result of our faith. In this sense faith is not the result of works; works are the result of faith. Truly, it would be an insult to suggest that our pitiful expressions of charity in any way measures comparison to the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross.

Jesus told us that He did not come to abolish the law, but that if we are true diciples of Him, we will obey His commandments (works). We all know that our works will not save us, and we don't "earn points" along the way... Faith saves us, and if we truly have faith, our works in this life will be a result of this faith. Can we truly have faith without works? Our actions in this life will be evidence of our faith.

Biblical literalists are rooted in a fundamentalist view that the Bible is clear and unambiguous. Far from it, Jesus Himself sought to convey His message in parables and metaphorical comparisons. Recognizing that human to human and human to God interaction is complicated, so complicated in fact that only the simple act of faith that He did not die in vain on the cross will save us. Scripture declares that Jesus gave His life because there is no other way for our sins to be forgiven. He paid the price for our sins in advance. In this I can see why my Protestant friends find the Catholic predilection for doing "works" an abomination. What can we mere sinners do that can compare to the burden that Jesus already bore?

We can only follow his commandments!

Jesus said "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father's commandments, and abide in His love. "These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full. "This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you." Jesus also clearly commanded us to celebrate mass (supper) by breaking bread and drinking wine in his memory.

There are, of course, numerous other proclamations in the Gospels and Acts of the Apostles that contradict any notion that good works have any part in your salvation. In light of this can anyone truly say the Bible is clear?

I do not pretend to be a biblical scholar. Frankly much of the Holy Bible confuses me. I can only take it in small parts because taken as a whole it is overwhelming. This is from my understanding the way it is supposed to be handled. In the early Greek tradition the biblus (little books) were taken down as individual scrolls not to be used as one large tome of unerring fact. The Bible is not and end to end blueprint for life.

Actions, it is said, speak louder than words. When it comes to faith no one truly knows what is in your heart except the Lord. If good works (actions) make faith in the Lord Jesus Christ stronger... What's the problem again?


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

You Have a Bad Dhimmitude

Once Islam has an upper hand in your country say hello to dhimmitude and goodbye to what little freedom you've had all these years. Don't kid yourself it's coming to a country near you.

Dhimmitude is the condition and experience of those who are subject to dhimma. It represents a behavior dictated by fear and pacifism, rather than resistance; servitude due to cowardice and vulnerability. Dhimmitude requires that non-Muslims peacefully surrender to the Islamic army, for which they will obtain the security for their life, belongings and religion. Non-Muslims must accept a condition of inferiority and humiliation. Dhimmi's are also expected to pay taxes to their Muslim superiors.

This is not something new, in fact it goes back to Mohammed himself. Unlike Jesus of the Christian tradition, who sought to leverage the innate sense of love, compassion and forgiveness in humanity, Mohammed sought to enslave humanity to Allah, the god of fear.

According to Bill Warner, the director of the Center for the Study of Political Islam (CSPI) in this FrontPage Magazine Interview, Mohammed had the insight into the human psyche that all human beings have a genetic disposition to submit to the will of the group and higher ranked individuals.

Warner Explains:
Dhimmi was the perfect tool of subjugation... Christians had to live without legal protection or civil rights. All public space was Islamic. The dhimmi could be insulted, abused and had no recourse. They had to pay the jizya tax. The dhimmi were cattle on the Islamic ranch, but could attend their church or synagogue... What happened to the dhimmis under these conditions? The insults, humiliations and taxes wore the dhimmis down. What happened over time was that the dhimmis converted to Islam. It was easier to avoid all this pain and become a Muslim.

He Continues:

...this may be an extreme statement, but I am honestly unable to find even one issue on which Islam and the kafir culture agree.

Not one.

We have nothing in common. Since the Islamic civilization opposes us on every issue of art, politics, gender, education, the media, free speech, ethics, logic, family, and entertainment, it is an inevitable that the change would annihilate our civilization.

Mohammed agreed to a compromise with the kafirs once in the infamous Satanic verse when he compromised about prayer and the native Arabic gods. The Sira records that the act of compromise was the biggest mistake he ever made. After that, Mohammed never agreed with kafirs and never, ever compromised again. Total submission—annihilation---was Mohammed’s way.

There is no happy compromise that can be worked out with Islam. This is not because we are intolerant, unfeeling or stupid. As an example, the word kafir is the worst word in the human language. There is not one positive or neutral aspect to kafir. Allah loves Muslims and hates kafirs. What is the compromise that will let kafirs and Muslims live together harmoniously?

I urge you to read the interview in full.

It is rather frightening what is happening in Europe as we speak. By the year 2012 in France alone 50% of all men under 40 will be Muslims. The Christian tradition that spawned the great things we think of (and some not so great) when we think of Europe is nearly dead. Pope Benedict XVI clearly recognizes what the trends portend for the future of Europe and Western civilization. He is the second Western leader to speak forcefully on the issue - the first being George W. Bush. Whereas Bush is opposing Islam with the use of extreme force (while spewing nonsense about the "religion of peace") Benedict is busy converting Muslims to Catholicism.

There is much doubt in my mind whether either of these approaches has much chance of success in the long run. Rolling over like a dog is not an option. We must oppose any adoption of Sharia law and emphatically oppose any public concessions for Islamic traditions beyond what we have traditionally granted to Christian or Jewish communities.

Bush is right about this: this is the challenge of our time. Will we stand up for our way of life or roll over like dogs?


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Action Versus Words: Part 1 of a Series

There is an idiom in the common parlance that says "Actions speak louder than words". I find this phrase more often than not is quite literally true. It doesn't matter if we're talking about a child, a boss, or a wife, but then I'm repeating myself. Your actions (what you do) communicate more clearly than your words (what you say). As a measure of what kind of person you are - deep down - nothing speaks louder than your actions.

One can be a straight up liar or a hypocrite which reveals enough about a person up front that judging their actions will merely be a confimation. However, when dealing with someone in the context of a close or imtimate relationship, you are vunerable to the words coming out of their mouth. You want to trust that they believe what they are saying so you can believe it too. When their actions tell a different story you can feel betrayed.

At one point in our lives we have all been betrayed this way. It can be a small thing or it can be devastating. On the flip side all of us have been completely surprized by that cranky grandpa, uncle or father who does something incredibly nice that does not jibe with the words you had grown accustomed to hearing from them. Grandma would say, "Aw, don't be afraid of him, he's just an old softy". It tells you a more about his character than all his negative words and his not so subtle put downs ever did.

They say the keys to a successful relationship are threefold, communication, communication, communication. I contend that actions are the most important form of communication. Words are great, they can be comforting and they can be encouraging, but when they are not followed up by the action they suggest they become meaningless.

When a woman complains "he never talks to me" I contend she is just not listening. She gets all caught up in the words(or lack of them), and ignores the value of his actions. Some men don't feel comfortable with talk of "feelings". He will show his feelings with his actions. While this is not necessarily satisfying for her (seriously, this is what girlfriends are for), his true feelings are loud and clear. For his part he also needs to know that words, hearing "those" words, are important to her. She has at her disposal a powerful non-verbal body language of her own that says: "Get on your own side". So you see a balance needs to be struck between words and actions for any relationship to be successful. This proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am deaf, dumb and blind. But, hey, I'm speaking in generalities here...

So as I was saying... Every time we value only the words we are let down. And who lets us down? Ourselves, of course. If it is true that a huge percentage of human communication is actually non-verbal then relying on only the spoken word (or, again, the lack of them) is doing yourself a grave disservice. Listen to what his or her actions are telling you... And act accordingly.


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A Diabetes Cure!

Doctors have stopped short of calling it a cure, however a duodenal jejunal bypass may just be the first step in finding a surgical solution to the growing problem of type II diabetes. For those of us who are diabetic this is exciting news.

Having first read about the phenomenon where patients under going bariatric bypass surgery to combat their morbid obesity had became diabetes free I read this news with great interest. At the time it was still a "chicken or the egg" question as it was unclear if the obesity was the cause of the diabetes. The fact that such a huge percentage of these patients with diabetes became "cured" was enough to spur further study.

Currently few surgeons in the U.S. are offering the surgery, but doctors in India and Mexico have begun their own studies. One Brazilian surgeon already has performed 70 surgeries.

The doctor I saw on a FOX news video clip was downright giddy about the prospects for a cure for millions of type II diabetics. See clip here. He had also cited a long term extensive study where researchers aggressively treated high glucose levels in an effort to get blood sugar readings to normal levels in thousands of patients. The control group in the study was treated less aggressively, a treatment regimen the vast majority of diabetics receive today. Much to the surprise of the research team there was virtually no difference in the outcomes. Just as many deaths, just as much blindness and amputations.

It seems blood sugar levels are controlled by hormones secreted within the first 1 foot of the small intestine. By bypassing this (in some experiments a tube was placed in the first foot in a non surgical procedure with much the same result) section of the small intestine they found that blood sugar levels normalized in almost all the patients.

I truly hope this not just pie-in-the-sky hype. Diabetes is a terrible disease, this procedure, if real, is a miracle!


Sunday, April 13, 2008

How Can this Nation Survive?

With Sentiment like This...

This is the headline from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
Democrats Unleashed
Why do they keep working against our national interest?
Sunday, April 13, 2008

Read these paragraphs and let the head scratching begin...

When Democrats in the 43rd state legislative district in suburban Seattle met April 5 to select delegates to the state convention, they refused to begin their deliberations by saying the Pledge of Allegiance:

"At the mere mention of doing the pledge there were groans and boos," wrote Web logger Eli Sanders, who attended the caucus. "Then, when the district chair put the idea of doing the pledge up to a vote, it was overwhelmingly voted down. One might more accurately say the idea of pledging allegiance to the flag ... was shouted down."

There is so much self loathing in this country I honestly don't see how we will survive as a united nation much longer. Say what you will about President Bush, I too am extremely disappointed, but I will not succumb to BDS (Bush Derangement Syndrome) and certainly never to the point of actually hating my country. But obviously all over this land many do.

How long before the southwest - California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas break off to become a Mexican aligned hispanic nation? Or will the coming of the so-called North American Union supersede that? Even if this grand conspiracy were actually to come true it would be dominated by the same USA that so many Americans appear to hate.

Sorry to say but this kind of stuff along with this endless presidential campaign is really making me depressed. Once actually caring about what happens goes away the door is open for all kinds of bad things.

Friend, if you're a believer now is the time to pray for this country.


Friday, April 11, 2008

Oils Well That Ends Well

There's nothing wrong with the American economy that some sanity in oil markets wouldn't cure. I'd go so far as to say that President Bush's dismal approval numbers would double if prices at the gas pump fell by a buck a gallon.

Why are oil prices so astronomically high?

None of this makes any sense. While all the econ 101 rules of supply and demand apply to the oil biz this current market is defying explanation - and something has got to give. Currently there is no actual shortage on the supply side. Demand has actually fallen a bit in recent months. Inventories are good and there has been no major interruptions in refining capacity.

In today's Washington Post this Steven Mufson article "Oil Price Defies Easy Calculation" is actually quite startling as these quotes demonstrate:

If consumers are baffled by the rising prices, so are many oil experts. "The fundamentals are no problem," Jeroen van der Veer, chief executive of Royal Dutch Shell, said in a recent interview. "They are the same as they were when oil was selling for $60 a barrel, which is in itself quite a unique phenomenon." He blamed the lack of spare oil production and refining capacity, and tensions in the Middle East, for keeping prices high. "There is no question that the continued strength in oil prices continues to challenge perceptions of what constitutes a 'sustainable' level," Citigroup oil analyst Doug Leggate said in a report. "The oil price outlook arguably remains more subjective than ever and hence leaves any long-term oil price assertion equally subjective and somewhat irrespective of traditional 'fundamental' analysis."

It has been said that high prices are the cure for high prices and historically this has been true. Unfortunately the innovation and affordable alternatives these high prices are supposed drive are a long way off. We are going to be dependent on oil for transportation for the foreseeable future.

Hybrid cars and the promise of electric cars just will not have enough of an impact in the short term to decrease demand all that much. Unless there is a phenomenal breakthrough in an alternative to gas and diesel we are stuck with an oil based economy.

The sad thing is that there is plenty of oil right here in our own country but our "leaders" lack the will to confront the environmentalists and the Socialists who block every attempt Americans make to improve our own energy situation. By and large the pain and suffering is a badge of honor for them - it proves that free market systems are a failure. The only failure is political courage on the part of those who actually believe in common sense.

We have oil in Alaska waiting to be tapped and the people in Alaska are all in favor of tapping it. The Gulf of Mexico off the Florida coast holds untold oil reserves. We have billions upon billions of barrels in oil shale in the western United States that has suddenly become economically viable when barrel prices shot past $60.

Today I learned about a huge deposit in the northern plains. The USGS estimates there are at least 4.3 billion barrels of oil that can be recovered from the Bakken shale formation in North Dakota and Montana, using current technology. While this oil reserve has been known by oilmen for decades recent developments in drilling techniques make even more it recoverable. At least one man in Washington is thinking right. Sen Byron Dorgan (a Democrat no less) is a proponent of getting this oil out of he ground. Of the report released Thursday by USGS, done at the request of Sen. Dorgan, over the past 18 months he says: "This is great news. This is 25 times the amount of the previous assessment."

How much pain will Americans endure before finally rejecting the conspiratorial Global Warming narrative designed to get us out of cars? When will Americans finally realize that our economic future is being dictated by thugs in Saudi Arabia, Russia and Venezuela because we lack the good sense to use the resources sitting under our lands instead of theirs.

With 70% of the 87 million barrels the world uses everyday controlled by state owned companies and a majority of that oil in the hands of unstable, unfriendly dictators we are paying our enemies to screw us. Isn't it bad enough that are own western oil companies are screwing us?

Like I said we need some sanity in this oil mess. Too bad our "leaders" enjoy wearing straight jackets in their padded rooms.


Sunday, April 06, 2008

Whiteness In America

Twice in one day I heard two different people refer to the notion that the white narrative we have become accustomed to in our popular culture does not equal "America". These fine intellectuals - no surprise - were not white, one being Michael Eric Dyson and the other a second generation Asian-American, Eric Liu. With me being a middle aged white man I can't really formulate a counter other than to try to understand why "we whites" see whiteness as being the face of normalcy in America.

Culturally it seems OK to believe that blacks or second generation immigrants have been uniquely shaped by their experiences growing up in America, but the white experience was somehow inauthentic. I don't mean this as a slam or a refutation of the bitter experiences some have had. My point is that we only knew what we were exposed to. If we were the beneficiaries of the dominant culture we did not know it - because we knew nothing else. This should not be thrown in our faces as if we conspired to deny any one else these so-called advantages. Just being white in America is not the criteria for being labeled a racist.

For one, in the middle class suburb in the northern United States where I grew up there were very few blacks or immigrants. The people who didn't look exactly like me still acted like me and sounded like me. Whether or not they felt like they were treated differently because of their skin color did not enter into my conscious because I didn't treat them differently.

Yes, we saw inner city riots on TV and knew of the "ghetto", but it may as well have been on another planet for the effect it had on our lives. Having had so few experiences with non-whites our notions of what they were like came from listening to an older generation that grew up when institutional racism allowed them to deny basic human dignity to blacks and immigrants. So, when a black family did rise out of poverty and attained a lifestyle that equaled our own we didn't think of them as selling out or acting white - they were acting normally - and good for them.

In the north we knew nothing of a black or immigrant sub cultures the way folks would have in the deep south or the California coast. So when the elements of these sub cultures began to permeate "white America" it looked to us as if American culture was being chipped away. It really didn't sink in until it seemed to become culturally unacceptable for minorities to slip into "whitey's world". Those that did had somehow become traitors. Suddenly, the culture we saw as perfectly normal had become tainted and inexplicably offensive. To further confuse the issue we saw highly accomplished minorities like Thomas Sowell, Bill Cosby, Larry Elder, Walter Williams and Clarence Thomas (none of whom despised whitey's world) become labeled sell outs or Uncle Toms.

It has gotten so that today our popular culture in music, movies and many sports is dominated by a sub culture mentality. Anything that smacks of Leave it to Beaver white is totally uncool. It has become a culture that instead of lifting up those who have been treated poorly it's better to tear everyone and everything else down. To devalue all that came before, the good along with the bad, as if "white" culture is and always has been invalid. Hmm... American whiteness is arrogant and self centered...

As for this so-called American arrogance, again it's a label foisted on us by the intellectually lazy. Frankly I have grown weary of hearing that Americans of my generation are ignorant, self centered and arrogant. We are as much a product of our place and time in history as any enlightened European or Canadian. Who we became was dictated by the idiosyncrasies of our respective environments. We had a mono-lingual, myopic view of the world because for thousands of miles in every direction there was only one language spoken and a common cultural experience shared by 85% of the people. Why we would we bother with bilingualism or multiculturalism?

People in Europe commingle with people from dozens of countries and dozens of languages on a daily basis. For us exotic meant one of your friends parents was hosting a foreign exchange student. So, for Europeans to act smug and superior to Americans because we are still largely a mono-lingual and provincial is the epitome of arrogance. The clashing of cultures and languages has always been a recipe for conflict, violence and war. This truth is no different on the streets of Paris or the streets of Detroit.

Diversity being simply a fact and not necessarily something that needs to be celebrated doesn't mean that it is inherently superior to a homogeneous culture. For those in America who find themselves in a culture that is not their own they can choose to allow themselves to become part of the melting pot or forever live on the outside all the while complaining and whining. Yes diversity makes the potpourri of American culture richer and more enlightened, but it doesn't make the "whiteness" in our culture any less valid. If we all were to embrace true patriotism as Americans like Eric Liu encourages us to do in his book "True Patriots" instead of focusing on what makes us different we will go a long way toward healing our culture.

Easier said than done...


Saturday, April 05, 2008

Second(Amendment)Thoughts on Obama?

When Obama first crossed my radar I too was intrigued. This articulate, soft spoken, seemingly reasonable fellow could well be the one that could "heal" this country from the real or imagined effects of BDS (Bush Derangement Syndrome). It didn't take long, however, to uncover the truth behind the facade.

Barak Obama is a socialist. His voting record is about as hard left as it can get, eclipsing his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton and even Ted Kennedy. With the revelation of his choice in worship places we learn he is either a black revolutionary or a conniving opportunist using an inner-city mega church as a place to enhance his standing in the black community and to gather votes. His appeal as the oracle of racial healing fades when we hear him throw his own grandmother, a typical white woman, into the fray in some bizarre attempt to defend the anti-American diatribes of his personal minister, Rev. Wright.

With his pronouncements on foreign policy issues ranging from sending American troops into Pakistan, an ally, to ill-considered comments on NAFTA and angering our number 1 ally in Canada and a continuing verbal spar with President Uribe of Columbia, our number 1 ally in South America, it seems clear he would be a disaster as President.

When last week he flippantly declared that having a baby was a punishment akin to contracting a sexually transmitted disease we heard an audible gasp across the country as even his supporters were taken aback. When you add the fact that he was in the forefront fighting the legislation in the Illinois statehouse that would have erected protections for babies still alive after an abortion procedure you start to get the picture of just how far left this guy is.

All this being reveled still might not cost him the general election in a country ready for a change in Washington and on the nightly news as saintly coverage of Obamessiah would soon edge out coverage of Bushitler. But - his views on the second amendment might just be the "smoking gun".

Sharon Froman's piece on explains:

Like many of Obama’s contradictions, his stated belief in the individual rights view of the Second Amendment is at odds with his support for DC’s categorical ban on handguns. That law is currently being challenged in District of Columbia v. Heller, now pending before the Supreme Court. Fifty five senators and 250 house members (including many Democrats in both chambers) signed a brief in that case supporting the individual rights view. Obama was not one of them.

And now we know why. As has been reported all week, in 1996 Obama filled out a candidate questionnaire where he revealed his true beliefs on all sorts of subjects, from abortion to school choice.

One question that has not gotten much attention, however, asks if Obama supports legislation to, “ban the manufacture, sale and possession of handguns.” His one-word answer—uncommonly direct and lacking the flowery eloquence we’ve come to expect from him—was “Yes.”

Where are Obama's advisers? This is crazy talk. Even hard core rank and file union members love their guns. Handguns are of course just the start. The end game being the scrapping of the second amendment altogether. Second amendment supporters have the same visceral reaction to the slippery slope of gun control as abortion on demand supporters have against ANY legislation leaning towards the pro-life crowd. And yes the two are analogous... Tens of millions of babies have died, far and away more than have ever been killed by handguns.

The question is will any of Obama's less than centrist views being given scrutiny outside the marginalized conservative side of the media? Don't count on it.